Protein Before Bedtime: Improve your Recovery!

Protein Before Bedtime: Improve your Recovery!

Those athletes who want to improve both their recovery and muscle growth need a proper protein supply in their diet. Actually, one of the most important moments to take protein is when we sleep.

The Importance of Protein to Adapt to the Workout

Protein plays a key role when it comes to adapting the skeletal muscle to the workout.

A single workout session stimulates the synthesis of muscle protein and the breakdown of muscle protein to a lesser extent.

Female athlete

However, the post-workout protein balance will still be negative if we do not eat food.

Adaptive Response of the Muscle

Taking protein in the diet stimulates the protein synthesis. Therefore, it increases the accumulation of muscle protein after an strength and resistance workout.

Consequently, this leads to a better adaptive response of the muscle to exercise, resulting in a more efficient muscle conditioning.

A man swimming

Consequently, there are dietary strategies that are being designed to enhance the post-workout protein synthesis

Currently, the aim is to find out the proper amount of protein and the source that we must take and the best moment to do so. All of this will help us enhance the muscle protein synthesis after the workout.

When to Take Protein

Apart from the amount and protein source that we take during the post-workout recovery, there is a another crucial factor when it comes to taking protein. We are actually talking about the moment when we take it in order to regulate the post-workout anabolism.

In fact, a post-workout protein supply results in a more positive protein balance when compared to a supply after several hours after the exercise.

A man drinking a shake in the background

Moreover, recent studies suggest that taking carbs and protein before and/or during the workout can increase the accumulation of muscle protein after the workout even more.

If you want to know Why You Should Take an Intra-workout Drink, click here

Protein Synthesis during the Night

Most athletes who do exercise late in the evening usually take 20-25g of high quality protein during or after the workout. This is done to increase the accumulation of muscle protein during the post-workout recovery phase.

But this strategy does not allow a sustained increase of the muscle protein synthesis rate during the following recovery.

Therefore, a low muscle protein synthesis rate while we sleep could be due to a limited amino acid availability during the night.

Man weightlifting

Consequently, a good strategy could be to provide protein while we rest in order to increase the plasma amino acid levels.

If you want to learn more about Casein Before Bedtime, click the following link

Amino acids While Sleeping

It has been proven that protein are properly absorbed while we sleep at night. Moreover, they also increase the plasma amino acid levels, stimulating the synthesis of muscle protein. All in all, it improves the protein balance of the whole body while we sleep at night.

A man making a protein shake in his bedroom

A shake of time released proteins before sleeping is a perfect strategy

Take Protein Before Sleeping

So, we could say that it is really advantageous to take protein during the night since it stimulates the accumulation of muscle protein.

For example, taking protein during the night can improve the post-workout recovery while we rest.

Scientific Evidence

Case Study

A study selected a group of athletes who performed a single strength workout session in the evening (8:00 p.m) after a full day of dietary control.

All the participants followed a proper recovery diet (20g of protein and 60g of carbohydrates) immediately after the workout (9:00 p.m). Then, 30 minutes before sleeping (11:30 p.m) the participants took a drink with or without 40g of casein and phenylalanine.

They researchers assessed both the digestion of protein as well as the absorption kinetics. Moreover, they measured the protein synthesis rate of the whole body and muscle during the night sleep.

Results of the study

After taking protein, the blood phenylalanine levels suddenly increased. All in all, this means that the protein that they took was properly digested and absorbed. Consequently, it resulted in a constant amino acid discharge.

Study 1 Taking protein before sleeping

A higher availability of the amino acids during the night increased the post-workout muscle synthesis. Thus, it improved the protein balance of the whole body throughout the night.

Figure 2 Study about Taking Protein before Sleeping

In addition, the researchers also performed a muscle biopsy before and after waking up. This is due to the fact that the protein from the whole body does not necessarily reflect the muscle protein. In fact, they were 22% higher than the muscle protein synthesis while they slept the night after the workout.

Figure 3 Study about Protein before Sleeping

This information shows how the protein supply before sleeping was the result of an effective diet that increased the plasma amino acid. Consequently, it stimulated the post-workout muscle protein synthesis and improved the protein balance of the whole body during the night.

The latter can provide an effective supplementation strategy to increase the adaptive response of the muscle even more. Therefore, it will improve the efficiency of the workout.


Protein Before Bedtime to Improve the Night Muscle Synthesis

Taking protein immediately after the workout increases the protein synthesis after the workout. Thus, it improves the adaptive response of the skeletal muscle to prolonged workouts. However, the post-workout protein synthesis rate changes while we sleep the following night.

Amino Acid Availability

We have observed how the protein we take before sleeping is properly digested and absorbed during the night. Consequently, this increases the plasma amino acid availability and stimulates the accumulation of protein after the workout. Therefore, taking protein before bedtime can be an effective strategy to inhibit the breakdown of muscle protein. In addition, it will stimulate the muscle protein, improve the response of the muscle to the workout and the effectiveness of the workout.


  1. Beelen M., L.M. Burke, M.J. Gibala, and L.J. van Loon (2011a). Nutritional strategies to promote postexercise recovery. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 20: 515-532.
  2. Groen B.B., P.T. Res, B. Pennings, E. Hertle, J.M. Senden, W.H. Saris, and L.J. van Loon (2011). Intragastric protein administration stimulates overnight muscle protein synthesis in elderly men. Am. J. Physiol. 302: E52-60.
  3. Howarth K.R., N.A. Moreau, S.M. Phillips, and M.J. Gibala (2009). Coingestion of protein with carbohydrate during recovery from endurance exercise stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in humans. J. Appl. Physiol. 106: 1394-1402.
  4. Koopman R., A.J. Wagenmakers, R.J. Manders, A.H. Zorenc, J.M. Senden, M. Gorselink, H.A. Keizer, and L.J. van Loon (2005). Combined ingestion of protein and free leucine with carbohydrate increases postexercise muscle protein synthesis in vivo in male subjects. Am. J. Physiol. 288: E645-653.
  5. Res P.T., B. Groen, B. Pennings, M. Beelen, G.A. Wallis, A.P. Gijsen, J.M. Senden, and L.J. van Loon (2012). Protein ingestion prior to sleep improves post- exercise overnight recovery. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 44:1560-1569.
  6. Tang J.E., D.R. Moore, G.W. Kujbida, M.A. Tarnopolsky, and S.M. Phillips (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: Effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J. Appl. Physiol. 107:987-992.
  7. Tipton K.D., A.A. Ferrando, S.M. Phillips, D. Doyle, Jr., and R.R. Wolfe (1999). Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids. Am. J. Physiol. 276:E628-634.

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About Paloma Sala
Paloma Sala
Paloma Sala is an athlete in continuous training to give the best of herself, who has been practising and competing in athletics for more than 20 years.
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