Countless individuals around the globe consume protein shakes as a part of their diet or fitness regime, predominantly because of the benefits that can come with doing so.
As you may guess, this can be more effective at certain times than others – which most will assume is after a workout session. However, research suggests that drinking a shake before bed could be the optimum time instead.
Why are protein shakes so popular?
While there are quite a few different health supplements out there, one of the most widely used for more active and fitness-conscious adults are protein shakes. Not only are they incredibly convenient and often tasty, but they can also be a great supplement to your diet, too. For example, if you’re lacking in amino acids or oxidative stress (which can be caused by exercise), having a quick protein shake could help to balance your body out for optimal muscle growth and health.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle, or simply boost the amount of protein you’re getting in your diet, there’s a good chance that protein shakes could be just perfect for your needs.
What’s the best way to use a shake to supplement my diet?
Most people consider post-workout to be the ideal time for a protein supplement, especially for muscle growth and refuelling after some exhausting exercise. For those who are more active, this is easily the most common time to add one to your diet, but another very popular opinion is to have a shake at breakfast time (or even to replace breakfast with one).
If you look into it though, you may find that a shake before going to sleep might actually be a better idea, due to the additional health benefits that can come with this simple switch to your current schedule. Additionally, depending on your goals, the calorie intake that will be ideal for you will vary.
Here’s a quick look at what amount is likely to be more worthwhile:
- For those trying to lose weight, it’s often best to choose a low calorie, low sugar shake
- For those who are trying to build muscle, a mid-calorie shake that has a balance of carbs and protein will probably be the best option
- For those looking to gain weight, higher-calorie shakes are likely to be the best form of protein supplement
4 key benefits of having a protein shake before bed
1. Higher athletic performance
Thanks to the way that consuming protein before bed can help to regulate our muscle protein metabolism, there are often several different benefits that can come in terms of our athletic abilities. If you’re hoping to get the most out of your exercise and push yourself to get in better shape, there’s no doubt that a protein supplement before bed can be the way to go.
There are a number of ways in which this can benefit you, such as:
- Enhanced strength during workouts
- Better muscle adaptation to exercise training
- Increased durability (resulting in longer workouts)
- Improved overnight muscle reconditioning
- Higher lean mass and quadriceps muscle strength
2. Better post-exercise recovery
Alongside this, another great benefit of protein shakes before bed is how they can improve muscle recovery after working out. This is all thanks to the way our bodies ingest protein during our sleep, which most will find to be the better choice when compared to how it works during the day.
One study in particular examined the effects of consuming protein before going to bed, with results showing that the protein was digested and absorbed far quicker, creating a higher body protein synthesis rate.
3. Improved muscle growth and preservation
Research on this subject also showed that when individuals exercise at night and consume protein before bed, their muscle protein synthesis is increased. This, alongside the boost of amino acids in the muscle tissue, leads to overall better muscle growth and preservation. The same goes for healthy older males when it comes to muscle growth too, predominantly because a loss of muscle mass in older bodies is often attributed to the blunted anabolic response to protein intake that comes with age.
All in all, having a protein shake before bed could be an excellent way to help preserve muscle mass in aging and with disease.
4. Promoting weight loss
Those who are using protein supplements as a part of a dietary plan rather than for muscle growth will be glad to hear that there are certainly weight loss related benefits to consuming shakes before bed, too. This is simply because of how it boosts your metabolism, which will help you to burn calories faster.
It’s worth noting that you should pay attention to your calorie intake as well – consuming too many calories than you need can lead to weight gain. It’s always best to pick a protein supplement that’s best suited to your individual needs (which in these cases, generally means those with low calories).
Consider the different types of protein and how they work
Studies also reveal that animal-based protein sources can help to increase overnight muscle protein synthesis rates too, which is well worth keeping in mind
Research shows that casein protein tends to have a slow digestion time, allowing for slow release and increase of amino acids (making it ideal for use at night)
Since this form of protein is digested faster, it can often be more effective when used post-workout instead of before sleep
Will having a protein shake before bed affect my sleep?
Depending on the type of supplement, you may find that it could disturb your rest to have a shake before sleeping. This could be because of a surge in energy caused by the sugars in a liquid protein supplement, for example. However, this doesn’t mean that all shakes will cause you to lose sleep. Typically, by consuming the right protein source, you’ll be able to stimulate muscle protein growth overnight without impairing your sleep.