The Benefits of Drinking a Protein Shake Before Bed

Drinking your protein powder before you go to sleep will allow you to gain more muscle by synthesizing more proteins.

To gain more muscle you should consume on average 40 grams of protein before bedtime to increase muscle protein synthesis.

At least this is what different studies show according to some results of protein intake (Protein shakes) minutes before going to sleep and after having finished some resistance training workout performed precisely stimulate myofibrillar hypertrophy, no matter if this kind of workout training routine was pointing on working muscule resistance to force and/or one that also involves stimulation to improve lactic or alactic anaerobic resistance

Well, in fact it is mentioned an intake of at least 40 grams of protein before bedtime period (before you go to sleep), so that way during the sleep period the protein synthesis can be enhanced and thus this could stimulate a good gain of muscle (myofibrillar muscle hypertrophy) and also the gain of strength either relative strenght (ability to handle or "conquer" own body weight) or absolute strenght (ability of muscles to oppose, move or lift external weights).

Drinking 40 grams of protein before bedtime increases the synthesis of muscle proteins

One study evaluated a group of athletes who were first given a beverage containing 20 grams of protein.

This beverage or drink (protein shake) was consumed a few minutes before going to sleep and of course after they had completed their resistance training routine (the study does not mention what kind of training they performed) in the afternoon/evening, taking into account that previous to this training session they (athletes evaluated) would have applied/consumed an adequate diet (the study does not mention the diet of the athletes).

It was observed that these 20 grams of protein ingested minutes before bedtime did not significantly increase the protein synthesis throughout the night sleep period, so it was then decided to increase the protein intake to 40 grams through the Protein shake (it is mentioned that it was casein protein from milk).

One group was provided with these 40 grams of casein protein and another group with a placebo drink with a different type of protein.

The results showed that muscle protein synthesis increased significantly compared to the 20 grams previously supplied, and it was also mentioned that there was a 22% increase in protein synthesis compared to the placebo group (Trommelen & Loon, 2016).

Well, I want to make clear that in this study is mentioned that this good synthesis of proteins during the sleep period and after having performed a training workout routine performed in order to increase myofibrillar hypertrophy and muscle strength, was thanks to the good variety of amino acids that this drink or supplement provided to the athletes contained...

... since the more variety of amino acids the bigger the chances for our body to synthesize different types of proteins and thus increase this synthesis to stimulate physiological adaptations in the organism, the main being the hypertrophy of skeletal muscle tissue at the myofibrillar level and of course the increasing of its strength.

Different kind of proteins

These kinds of protein supplements, protein supplements, protein shakes or simply known as Protein powders (or whatever you want to call them) usually provide a good amount of protein per serving (or per scoop), but not all provide a good amount and variety of amino acids, so what you should keep in mind when buying your Protein (protein powder supplement) is that behind or on the back of the package, in the nutritional facts you can see it contains all essential and non-essential amino acids, and so this ensures that the rate of protein synthesis in your body can be higher.

Of course this high synthesis of muscle proteins is not only happened during the sleep period, and is not given only by consuming these 40 grams of protein before going to sleep and after having performed your training session with or without weights.

If you train in the afternoon / evening or morning, drinking a protein shake containing 40 grams of protein is also a good choice to stimulate protein synthesis in a period different through the rest of the day.

However, it may be much cheaper to drink a supplement that per scoop provides 20 grams of protein and 20 grams of carbohydrates (which are usually cheaper) than drinking one that per scoop provides 20 grams of protein (which is the usual) and with the recommended serving or dosage of 2 scoops, and also keep in mind these kind of supplements are usually more expensive.

This in a more or less indirect way is demonstrated in a study where three groups were required (every group performed high intensity workouts).

One group was given X amount of a drink with only proteins (whey protein), another group consumed X amount of a carbohydrate-only drink, and the third group a drink with X amount of protein (also whey type) with Y amount of carbohydrates.

In the groups where the beverage or drink contained protein (also the one with carbs), a good post-training recovery was observed and with significant increases in protein synthesis.

In the group where only the carbohydrate drink was ingested, a good recovery and an acceptable protein synthesis were also observed (if we consider that the glucose can be converted to amino acids and vice versa) but also an increase in the levels of body fat (Hulmi et al., 2015).

The commercial value of protein shakes

You must understand that proteins are usually given a lot of commercial value and therefore protein products or Protein powders containing only proteins (worth redundancy) are often more expensive than those that also contain carbohydrates (independently of other compounds that can contain and the variety of amino acids they can offer).

If you buy a protein powder which the dosage or serving suggested is 2 scoops (taking into account that each scoop provides about 20 grams of protein) and you compared it with another Protein powder that per scoop provides 20 grams of protein and about 20 grams of carbohydrates, do not think twice and choose the second option (if we go on terms of economy).

The first option is also good but will be more expensive (this is explained in the last paragraph of this article).

You must understand that carbohydrates do not have the only purpose of increasing body fat levels, and also understand that proteins do not have the only purpose or function of repairing, building and increasing the volume of skeletal muscle tissue (or repairing other tissues), because an excess of proteins (and therefore of amino acids) could be converted and stored as body fat in adipose tissue if the body requires it, something that happens a lot when, for example, a person who does not train or train "soft " usually abuse by consuming high amounts of Proteins (both supplement and food).

And when speaking about carbohydrates, the glucose they provide can be converted to amino acids if the body requires it, something that is usually observed in athletes or ordinary people who usually train like "beasts".

Of course the conversion of one nutrient to another usually spends a lot of water and vitamins and minerals to create enzymes (something that must be taken into account).

The casein protein shake

Returning to the aforementioned study where the protein drink of casein was supplied to the evaluated athletes, I must say that these kinds of proteins are ideal to be consumed before going to sleep because they are proteins of a relatively slow absorption, and therefore they are often used as an option to "face" the many hours of sleep that can be enjoyed (I say enjoy because for many people to sleep a good amount of hours is a real prize).

It is also worth to say (even when this study did not mentioned it) that it is important to avoid staying overnight to avoid hormonal disorders that compromise the anabolic processes of our body, including of course the aforementioned protein synthesis, since if the circadian rhythm is affected then there will be a lack of control in the endocrine and nervous systems.

In a study evaluating the action of Whey Protein (a fast-absorbing protein) and a Soy protein (slow absorption as well as milk casein), where a drink with the whey protein was provided to one group and the other drink with Soy protein to another group, both 1 hour after finishing their high intensity training session, it was observed that both kinds of proteins significantly increased the transport of amino acids to the skeletal muscle tissue...

... and therefore it was possible to stimulate hypertrophy at the myofibrillar level, but in the group where Soy Protein was consumed showed that the transport and concentration of amino acids lasted longer in the bloodstream of the evaluated muscle (biceps femoral, through the femoral artery) through biopsy and blood samples.

It should also be mentioned that the preparation of these two beverages (Protein shakes) as well as that one mentioned in the first study mentioned in this article, was made only with water to allow an optimal nutrient absorption (Reidy PT, Walker DK, Dickinson JM, et al, 2013).

Conclusions and other aspects to keep in mind when talking about protein shakes

- In order to face a period of relative fasting such as the sleep period, consuming a Protein (protein supplement) that provides slow absorption proteins, is essential to increase protein synthesis and at the same time avoid high catabolism (degradation ) of muscle proteins.

Here is when is mentioned consuming at least 40 grams of this kind of proteins.

But of course we are talking about people who train to increase their muscle and not sedentary people or people who train in a "soft" way (aerobic thresholds), since as I mentioned in one of the paragraphs of this article: Excess protein (more if consumed in large amounts per unit of time) can cause a person to accumulate body fat since the "fate" of proteins does not belong only to muscle tissues.

- At the same time I must emphasize the gastrointestinal problems that many supplements of this type usually cause in some people, either because of allergies or intolerance to some of their components, or because they are simply ingested when their bodies do not require them (because they did not train sufficiently "hard", because they did not not train at all or because the body is simply "full" of nutrientes)...

... and for this reason I must say everyone should test with what kind of supplement and therefore with what kind of proteins the body usually produces the best reactions, since cow's milk and its derivatives are bad for health, and this does NOT exclude the supplements that are manufactured based on it.

For this reason there are viable options such as Proteins powders made from beef, egg, soy and other vegetarian compounds.

- For a faster recovery it is recommended to consume a Protein that provides proteins of rapid absorption and in this case Whey type are the best option, but also those that are made from beef are excellent options too.

But when your are talking about consuming one before going to sleep, it would be better to consume food in case you can not drink a casein protein (either because you do not have one or because it simply generates you bad reactions or Gastrointestinal discomfort).

- Whatever the protein supplement powder chosen, it must always be mixed or blended only in water.

However, if the Protein chosen is zero carbs and per scoop only provides about 20 grams of protein, then it can be supplemented with a fruit such as banana, for example, to provide carbohydrates and thus better stimulate muscle recovery (in addition, The banana contains vitamin B6, a vitamin that stimulates the synthesis of proteins).

- What happens when you consume the 40 grams of only proteins in your protein shake? Many of these proteins or better said, many of the amino acids provided must be converted to glucose in order to first restore energy levels (hepatic and intramuscular glycogen levels), since this is what your body take care first, and then it will focus on the Aesthetic and improvement of physical performance.

For this reason it is better in terms of economy to consume a protein that also provides carbohydrates in each scoop, to avoid "waste", so to speak.


Coingestion of carbohydrate and protein hydrolysate stimulates muscle protein synthesis during exercise in young men, with no further increase during subsequent overnight recovery. J. Nutr. 2008, 138, 2198–2204.

The effects of whey protein with or without carbohydrates on resistance training adaptations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 48.

Soy-dairy protein blend and whey protein ingestion after resistance exercise increases amino acid transport and transporter expression in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology.

Pre-Sleep Protein Ingestion to Improve the Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Exercise Training. Nutrients 2016, Vol. 8, Page 763, 8(12), 763.