Search icon

Fitness & Health

12th Mar 2019

A bedtime protein shake will boost your muscle gains without adding fat

In one study, people who sipped on a casein protein shake before bed developed a stronger barbell squat and bigger quad muscles

Alex Roberts

Sinking a protein shake before you hit the hay can increase your muscle mass and strength – without adding unwanted body fat

It’s long been claimed that drinking a protein shake before bed will help you gain size and strength, but tests have rarely been thorough enough.

As a result, many people dismissed the idea of bedtime protein as a marketing ploy. That is more than a little hasty.

Sipping on a bedtime shake works – and it’s proven by science.

A recent review looked at all the major studies surrounding a pre-bed protein shake.

Muscle matters

In 2015, Maastrict University put 44 people on a 12-week weight training programme. Half of the group were given a pre-bed protein shake with 30 grams of casein and 15 grams of carbohydrate. The other group gulped down a drink that was free from protein and carbs.

Both groups developed a stronger squat and bigger quad muscles over the three months, but those sinking a casein shake gained more mass and strength.

Sleep is a crucial time for ensuring you’re taking on enough protein.

One of the studies included in the review surveyed over 500 athletes. They were generally consuming more than enough protein in main meals, but only seven grams of protein before bed.

Amino acids are responsible for muscle gains through protein synthesis, and this can still be achieved overnight when you take on a protein shake.

Fighting fat

Bedtime protein won’t make you fat, either. For too long, there’s been a misconception that eating after 6pm promotes fat gain – but this doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.

In an eight-week study comparing morning and evening casein intake, gulping down an additional 50+ grams of casein did not lead to fat gain.

If anything, consuming casein before bed can even help you lose weight. Another study discovered a greater rate of fat burning the day following a pre-bed protein shake.

Keep a lid on calories if you’re looking to stay trim. If you’re consuming more calories than you burn off, you’ll find it difficult to lose weight – regardless of how much protein you’re taking in.

Which kind of protein?

Although whey is the most popular whey shake, you’ll need a different kind before bed. Casein is a slowly-digesting protein, which is useful if you’re going for six to eight hours without a meal.

Read more from JOE: