Protein shakes have become a staple in the world of health and fitness, favored by athletes and gym-goers alike. With their thick, creamy texture and delicious flavors, these shakes offer a quick, easy and tasty way to get a boost of protein, whether it's to support muscle growth or aid in recovery after a tough workout.
But protein shakes aren’t just for athletes — they’re also a convenient way for anyone to supplement their diet.
However, there is some debate around the timing of protein supplement consumption, particularly when it comes to drinking protein shakes before bed. Some believe that consuming protein before bed can be beneficial, while others worry that it could have negative effects on sleep. So, can you drink a protein shake before bed? Let's explore the science behind this question and find out.
When Can You Drink a Protein Shake?
Protein is an essential nutrient that acts as the building blocks of our body. Beyond playing a role in the growth and repair of cells to increase muscle mass, protein can also:
Reduce appetite and hunger levels
Support bone health
That said, experts believe that the best time to consume protein is while your body is at rest, rather than during physical activity. Therefore, many athletes may consume protein shakes on rest days. However, the most advantageous time to drink a protein drink will largely depend on your health and fitness goals.
For example, those wishing to lose weight can utilize protein shakes as meal replacements to fend off hunger, curb appetite and create a calorie deficit that may provide weight loss support. As such, it’s generally recommended to consume protein throughout the day, as protein can:
Reduce levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone
Increase levels of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), an appetite-reducing hormone
However, if you’re particularly prone to late-night snacking, drinking a protein shake before bed may help to stave off cravings.
Protein shakes are also used by athletes to support muscle growth and produce energy stores. In this case, it’s optimal to consume a nutrient-rich shake roughly 15 to 60 minutes following a workout. If you reserve your sweat sessions to the midnight hours, it’s perfectly fine to drink a protein shake before bed.
Alternatively, if you’re a morning or afternoon athlete, your body may benefit most from a near immediate dose of protein following a workout. This time is referred to as the “anabolic window”, and consuming protein during the anabolic window has been shown to optimize muscle growth. However, some research has found that your body can still benefit from a protein shake up to two hours after a workout.
Conversely, athletes looking to improve exercise performance are typically advised to drink a protein shake immediately before a workout. In this case, it may be beneficial to make yourself a protein shake the night before a particularly intense training session. Even still, you’ll experience the greatest effects when drinking a protein shake roughly 15 minutes before your workout.
What Types of Protein Powders Are Recommended Before Bed?
There are many different types of protein powder on the market, ranging from plant powders to milk and egg powders. That said, some protein powders may be more effective when taken at night, thanks to their unique compositions and digestibility. So, as you learn how to use protein powder, consider the three most popular nighttime protein powders below:
Casein protein powder – When looking for a late-night protein shake, find a protein powder that’s slow-digesting to help refuel your energy stores and facilitate all-night muscle recovery. When casein protein powder enters the stomach, it forms a gel-like substance that takes longer for digestive enzymes to break down. This “casein clot” provides a slow release of protein throughout your body, essentially acting as a sustained protein source. Casein is made from dairy, meaning it has significant levels of calcium. As a result, it may also benefit bone health. Its high glutamine content can also support gut health and immune function.
Egg protein powder – Egg protein supplementation is also a slow-digesting option that’s made from whole eggs or egg whites. It may help decrease your appetite and keep you feeling full. It’s also packed with all nine essential amino acid types and high leucine content, which can play a role in muscle health.
Soy protein powder – Soy-based and slow-digesting, soy protein powders are a protein alternative for those with plant-based or vegetarian diets. This type of protein powder is most often made from defatted soybean flakes, and it can contain many essential nutrients, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Whey protein, which is one of the most common protein sources found in protein shakes, may be harder to digest at night because it contains a component called lactose. Lactose is a milk sugar that some people find difficult to digest. Additionally, it’s a fast-digesting protein, meaning it’s quickly absorbed by the body.
Drinking a whey protein shake before bed may affect your blood sugar levels as well, which can negatively affect your sleep cycle. That said, a whey protein shake before bed is unlikely to have any negative effects on muscle growth — its effects just won’t be sustained throughout the night.
Are There Any Side Effects To Drinking a Protein Shake at Night?
A slow-digesting protein powder made with casein, egg or soy may improve your quality of sleep. However, drinking a fast-digesting protein shake before bed may have adverse effects on your body, as a result of:
High blood sugar levels (thus disrupting sleep)
Potential allergic reactions to ingredients in the protein shake
Benefits of Drinking a Protein Shake Before Bed
If you’re asking yourself, “Can I drink a protein shake before bed?”, the answer is yes. Drinking a slow-digesting protein shake before bed can deliver all-night benefits to your body. You can even add a fast-digesting whey protein shake to your nightly routine, although it won’t be as effective as drinking it directly after a workout.
All that said, consuming a protein shake before bed can provide several post-workout advantages:
May promote muscle repair and growth – If you exercise at night, your body is more likely to absorb your late-night protein shake effectively. In effect, a larger number of amino acids can reach your muscle tissues to facilitate overnight muscle protein synthesis, the act of maintaining and building muscle mass. It may also support the recovery of skeletal muscles following a high-resistance exercise. All in all, consuming a protein shake or protein supplement before bed can enhance overnight muscle recovery, improve muscle strength, increase lean muscle mass and improve physical endurance.
Can support a healthy weight – When done strategically, adding a protein shake to your nightly routine can help promote weight loss or maintain a healthy weight. This is due in part to protein’s ability to promote muscle growth: The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. To avoid tacking on extra calories, refrain from adding unnecessary ingredients to your nightly shake, such as nut butters or milk. Protein can also speed up your metabolic rate, effectively helping you burn more calories.
May improve sleep quality – Protein powders, particularly those that are high in the amino acid tryptophan, can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Some research has also found that consuming a casein protein shake before bed can improve sleep quality in individuals with trouble falling (and staying) asleep.
Can provide essential nutrients – People with low-protein or plant-based diets may benefit from a late-night protein shake, especially if they look for a protein powder that’s made with beneficial ingredients, like green veggies, seeds, probiotics, prebiotics and more. Some protein shakes, like the INVIGOR8 All-In-One Superfoods Shake, are also curated with additional nutrients and minerals to support cognitive, digestive, immune and heart health.
How Much Protein Should You Take Before Bed?
Generally, dietary guidelines recommend that your diet consists of a balance of protein (10 to 35%), carbohydrates (45 to 65%) and fats (20 to 35%).
To further finetune your meal plan, it’s recommended that the average person consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, those who regularly participate in high-intensity exercise should increase their daily protein intake to 1.3 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
As long as your nightly protein shake falls into these numbers, your body will be happy.
Additionally, try to finish your shake at least 30 minutes before bed to avoid potential digestive discomfort.
Support Your Health and Fitness Goals With INVIGOR8 Protein Shakes
Drinking a protein shake before bed can have several potential benefits, including supporting muscle growth and repair, improving sleep quality, controlling hunger and cravings and promoting a healthy metabolism. However, it’s important to choose a high-quality protein powder and consume it in moderation to avoid potential side effects, such as digestive discomfort or interference with sleep.
At INVIGOR8, we craft our protein powder with high-quality, grass-fed whey protein, making it optimal for post- and pre-workout recovery. Our pure protein complex supports muscle growth, strength and endurance, and works alongside a number of essential nutrients. These include green powder, vitamin D, vitamin K and vitamins B6 and B12.
To support your health goals — day or night — choose INVIGOR8.
Our weight-loss products all work great on their own, but they work even better together! Try our Superfood Shake in combination with our Collagen Peptides or Fat Burner to promote healthy weight loss.