Key Points on Benefits of Consuming a Protein Shake Before Bed

  • The study found that elite cyclists did not benefit from a protein shake before bed when consuming a high-protein diet.
  • The athletes did not report improvements in indicators of fatigue/recovery, body composition, or performance.
  • There is a ceiling effect for protein in which additional protein will not further enhance training adaptations or recovery.

Are you a fitness enthusiast or an athlete who swears by whey protein shakes for weight loss and muscle gain? Do you often wonder if having a drinking a protein shake before bed will result in more lean muscle and improved sleep quality? Recent research has uncovered the truth about protein powder before sleeping, shedding light on its effects. In this article, we will dive deeper into the science of whey protein supplementation and its impact on athletic performance, metabolism, and muscle recovery. Read on to discover the surprising findings!

Protein is an essential nutrient for athletes; protein increases muscle protein synthesis, reduces muscle protein breakdown, and helps build muscle mass and strength. However, the timing and type of protein supplement is intensely debated. In this blog, we dive deeper into the effects of protein supplementation on athletic performance and whether having a protein shake before bed will help maximize muscle recovery. We also provide practical recommendations to help you optimize your nutrition intake for optimal performance. Read on to find out more!

Whey and Casein Studies

Sleep plays a vital role in muscle recovery and growth, and protein intake is crucial in supporting muscle adaptation and overall athletic performance. While protein supplementation has been extensively studied in the context of resistance training. Although most of the studies regarding pre-sleep protein have been in resistance-trained men, its effects on endurance athletes are less known.

Protein supplementation in endurance athletes has gained increasing attention for its ability to improve recovery and performance. (Huang et al., 2017; Lin et al., 2021) This article will explore the scientific evidence surrounding protein intake before bedtime and its potential benefits for muscle recovery and performance.

The Importance of Protein for Athletes:

Protein is the building block for muscle tissue and is essential for repairing and rebuilding damaged muscle fibers caused by exercise-induced stress. While the recommended daily protein intake for sedentary individuals is approximately 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, athletes often require higher amounts, ranging from 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kilogram, depending on their training goals and intensity. (Jager et al., 2017)

Optimizing Protein Intake, Nutrition, and Calorie for Weight Gain:

Consuming enough protein throughout the day is essential for individuals aiming for weight gain and muscle growth. Distributing protein intake evenly, including post-workout protein consumption, promotes muscle recovery and adaptation. Alongside protein intake, it is crucial to maintain a well-balanced diet that includes an appropriate amount of dietary protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This combination supports overall health, digestion, and optimal nutrient absorption.

Effects of Protein Supplementation on Metabolism, Recovery, and Muscle Gain:

Protein shake before bed Protein before bed Protein before sleep Casein protein Protein pre-sleep Evidence based muscle

Numerous studies have shown that whey protein supplementation significantly enhances muscle hypertrophy, muscle protein synthesis (MPS) rates, and strength gains, especially when combined with resistance exercise. It promotes overnight muscle protein synthesis, leading to improved muscle recovery. Additionally, whey protein supplements are known for their fast absorption and high-quality protein content, making them an ideal post-workout snack for muscle recovery and growth.

Effects of Protein Supplementation on Recovery Adaptations

Numerous studies have shown that protein supplementation significantly enhances muscle hypertrophy and strength gains when combined with resistance training. (Morton et al., 2018) Additionally, protein supplementation may attenuate muscle damage and facilitate skeletal muscle mass remodeling in endurance athletes, potentially improving tolerance to training loads and physiological adaptations. (Impey et al., 2018) However, some studies have reported no beneficial effect of protein supplementation on endurance training-induced adaptations or performance indicators.(Hansen et al., 2016; Jonvik et al., 2019; Roberson et al., 2018)

The Importance of Protein for Athletes and Weight Loss:

 Evidence based muscle

Protein supports weight loss, lean muscle development, and overall metabolism. Athletes, including endurance athletes, require sufficient grams of protein intake and calories to support muscle adaptation, recovery, and performance. Consuming enough protein, especially essential amino acids found in whey protein, aids in building lean muscle mass and boosting metabolism. It is recommended that athletes consume an adequate amount of plant-based protein, such as pea protein, along with whey protein for optimal results.

Protein Supplementation and Endurance Performance:

Athletes, including endurance athletes, have increased protein requirements to support muscle adaptation, recovery, and overall performance. (Tarnopolsky et al., 1988) The study found that endurance athletes need 1.67 times more daily protein than sedentary controls, supporting the claim that athletes, including endurance athletes, have increased protein requirements.  Williamson et al. suggested that endurance athletes should consume a minimum of 20 g of protein at 3-4 h intervals. (Williamson, 2016)

Protein Shake Before Bed and Muscle Recovery:

The timing of protein intake, including pre-sleep consumption, has been a subject of interest in optimizing sleep quality. While some studies suggest that pre-sleep protein consumption, such as a whey protein shake, may positively impact sleep quality due to its amino acid composition and potential effects on growth hormone release, further research is needed to establish conclusive evidence. However, it is important to note that individual responses to pre-sleep protein supplementation and its influence on sleep quality may vary.

 Evidence based muscle Earlier studies found that drinking a protein drink (pre-sleep casein) was able to increase overnight protein synthesis. (RES et al., 2012) Subsequent studies have found that drinking a protein drink such as casein protein can stimulate muscle mass; however, this effect was driven by higher protein intake in the casein group compared to the placebo group. (Snijders et al., 2015) While some studies suggest that drinking a protein drink  may promote exercise training-induced adaptations, others have found no beneficial effects. (Holwerda et al., 2018; Larsen et al., 2019; Reis et al., 2021)

New Study on Pre-Sleep Protein and Endurance Athletes

Casein protein, a slow-digesting protein found in milk, has been widely studied in the context of pre-sleep protein ingestion. Research has shown that pre-sleep casein protein supplementation can increase the incorporation of amino acids into myofibrillar protein during overnight recovery, leading to improved muscle protein synthesis. (Kim, 2020) Additionally, studies conducted on professional soccer players have demonstrated that pre-sleep casein protein ingestion accelerates functional recovery, reducing muscle soreness and improving muscle function the next day. (Abbott et al., 2019)

The Study on Pre-Sleep Protein

Researchers wanted to explore the effects of pre-sleep protein supplementation on professional U23 cyclists during a training camp. The study involved 24 professional U23 cyclists with an average age of 19 years and peak oxygen uptake of 79.8 ml/kg/min. (Note: average VO2 max values for healthy adults typically range from 30 to 60 ml/kg/min for men and 25 to 50 ml/kg/min for women). So, these athletes had superb cardiovascular conditioning.

The study aimed to assess the influence of protein timing on the effects of pre-sleep protein supplementation on recovery/fatigue indicators, body composition, and field-based performance in professional cyclists. The trial employed a three-arm randomized controlled design, comparing pre-sleep protein supplementation (i.e., 40 grams of casein before sleep) to the same supplement provided at different timings (i.e., 40 grams of casein in the afternoon) and an isoenergetic placebo (i.e., 40 grams of carbohydrates) before sleep.


The study’s results indicated that pre-sleep protein supplementation, regardless of the timing, did not exert beneficial effects on professional cyclists during the short-term strenuous training period of the training camp. This could have been due to the endurance athletes already consuming a high-protein diet. The endurance athletes consumed> 2.5 g/kg/day or 1.13 g/pd/day. (Valenzuela 2023)

The study’s findings suggest that the potential benefits of protein supplementation may not solely depend on the timing of protein intake but could be attributed to other factors, such as overall protein intake. As there were no differences between the group that consumed protein before bed or in the afternoon. Antonio et al. found no differences between protein consumed in the morning or protein before bed over an 8-week study period. (Kim, 2020)

Protein shake before bed Protein before bed Protein before sleep Casein protein Protein pre-sleep Evidence based muscle

This three-arm randomized controlled trial contributes to the existing research on protein supplementation in endurance athletes, specifically professional cyclists. It highlights the need for further investigation into the potential effects of protein supplementation on performance, recovery, and body composition in this population.

Evidence-Based Guidelines

Evidence-based guidance for professional cyclists before Sleeping: The study provides valuable insights for professional cyclists and their coaches regarding the effects of pre-sleep protein supplementation. The findings suggest that pre-sleep protein supplementation, regardless of the timing, may only offer a few benefits during short-term strenuous training periods if already consuming a high-protein diet. This information can help inform dietary strategies and optimize nutrition plans for professional cyclists during training camps.

Refinement of protein supplementation strategies: The study’s results indicate that the timing of protein intake before sleep may not be a critical factor for professional cyclists’ performance and recovery during training camps. This finding can contribute to refining protein supplementation strategies in endurance sports, encouraging athletes and practitioners to focus on overall protein intake rather than specific timing.

Future research directions: The study underscores the need for further research to better understand the effects of protein supplementation on performance, recovery, and body composition in professional cyclists. Future studies can explore different protein timing protocols, investigate the interaction between protein intake and training load, and examine the long-term effects of protein supplementation in this population.

Individualized nutritional approaches: While the study did not find significant benefits of pre-sleep protein supplementation, it is important to note that individual responses to dietary interventions can vary. Therefore, this study’s practical applications could involve individualized nutrition approaches for professional cyclists. This may include monitoring and evaluating an athlete’s specific nutritional needs, considering other factors such as total protein intake, and tailoring dietary strategies accordingly.

Practical Recommendations:

Based on the available evidence, incorporating protein intake before sleep, particularly with slow-digesting protein sources like casein, may offer additional benefits for muscle recovery and adaptation if you are not consuming a high-protein diet. Pre-sleep protein will likely have little beneficial effects if you consume a high-protein diet. 

What are the benefits of drinking protein shakes before bed?

Recent studies have shown that incorporating protein intake before sleep, especially with slow-digesting protein sources such as casein, may benefit muscle recovery and adaptation. However, the effects of protein timing may be insignificant for those who already consume a high-protein diet.

Does a protein shake before bed burn fat?

No evidence suggests that a protein shake before bed specifically burns fat. However, consuming protein before sleep can help promote muscle recovery and growth, which may indirectly support weight loss efforts by increasing lean muscle mass and metabolism.


Abbott, W., Brett, A., Cockburn, E., & Clifford, T. (2019). Presleep Casein Protein Ingestion: Acceleration of Functional Recovery in Professional Soccer Players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform, 14(3), 385-391.

Hansen, M., Bangsbo, J., Jensen, J., Krause-Jensen, M., Bibby, B. M., Sollie, O., Hall, U. A., & Madsen, K. (2016). Protein intake during training sessions has no effect on performance and recovery during a strenuous training camp for elite cyclists. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 13, 9.

Holwerda, A. M., Overkamp, M., Paulussen, K. J. M., Smeets, J. S. J., van Kranenburg, J., Backx, E. M. P., Gijsen, A. P., Goessens, J. P. B., Verdijk, L. B., & van Loon, L. J. C. (2018). Protein Supplementation after Exercise and before Sleep Does Not Further Augment Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Resistance Exercise Training in Active Older Men. J Nutr, 148(11), 1723-1732.


Huang, W. C., Chang, Y. C., Chen, Y. M., Hsu, Y. J., Huang, C. C., Kan, N. W., & Chen, S. S. (2017). Whey Protein Improves Marathon-Induced Injury and Exercise Performance in Elite Track Runners. Int J Med Sci, 14(7), 648-654.

Impey, S. G., Hearris, M. A., Hammond, K. M., Bartlett, J. D., Louis, J., Close, G. L., & Morton, J. P. (2018). Fuel for the Work Required: A Theoretical Framework for Carbohydrate Periodization and the Glycogen Threshold Hypothesis. Sports Med, 48(5), 1031-1048.

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Jonvik, K. L., Paulussen, K. J. M., Danen, S. L., Ceelen, I. J. M., Horstman, A. M., Wardenaar, F. C., LJC, V. A. N. L., & JW, V. A. N. D. (2019). Protein Supplementation Does Not Augment Adaptations to Endurance Exercise Training. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 51(10), 2041-2049.

Kim, J. (2020). Pre-sleep casein protein ingestion: new paradigm in post-exercise recovery nutrition. Phys Act Nutr, 24(2), 6-10.

Larsen, M. S., Clausen, D., Jørgensen, A. A., Mikkelsen, U. R., & Hansen, M. (2019). Presleep Protein Supplementation Does Not Improve Recovery During Consecutive Days of Intense Endurance Training: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 29(4), 426–434.

Lin, Y. N., Tseng, T. T., Knuiman, P., Chan, W. P., Wu, S. H., Tsai, C. L., & Hsu, C. Y. (2021). Protein supplementation increases adaptations to endurance training: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Nutr, 40(5), 3123-3132.

Morton, R. W., Murphy, K. T., McKellar, S. R., Schoenfeld, B. J., Henselmans, M., Helms, E., Aragon, A. A., Devries, M. C., Banfield, L., Krieger, J. W., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med, 52(6), 376-384.

Reis, C. E. G., Loureiro, L. M. R., Roschel, H., & da Costa, T. H. M. (2021). Effects of pre-sleep protein consumption on muscle-related outcomes – A systematic review. J Sci Med Sport, 24(2), 177-182.

RES, P. T., GROEN, B., PENNINGS, B., BEELEN, M., WALLIS, G. A., GIJSEN, A. P., SENDEN, J. M. G., & VAN LOON, L. J. C. (2012). Protein Ingestion before Sleep Improves Postexercise Overnight Recovery. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 44(8), 1560-1569.


Roberson, P. A., Romero, M. A., Mumford, P. W., Osburn, S. C., Haun, C. T., Vann, C. G., Kluess, H. A., & Roberts, M. D. (2018). Protein Supplementation Throughout 10 Weeks of Progressive Run Training Is Not Beneficial for Time Trial Improvement [Original Research]. Frontiers in Nutrition, 5.

Snijders, T., Res, P. T., Smeets, J. S. J., van Vliet, S., van Kranenburg, J., Maase, K., Kies, A. K., Verdijk, L. B., & van Loon, L. J. C. (2015). Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Prolonged Resistance-Type Exercise Training in Healthy Young MenNitrogen1, 2, 3. The Journal of Nutrition, 145(6), 1178-1184.

Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDougall, J. D., & Atkinson, S. A. (1988). Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass. Journal of Applied Physiology, 64(1), 187-193.

Valenzuela, P. L., Alejo, L. B., Montalvo-Pérez, A., Ojanguren, D., Górriz, M., Pagola, I., Ozcoidi, L. M., Lucia, A., & Barranco-Gil, D. (2023). Pre-sleep protein supplementation in professional cyclists during a training camp: a three-arm randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition20(1), 2166366.

Williamson, E. (2016). Nutritional implications for ultra-endurance walking and running events. Extreme Physiology & Medicine, 5(1), 13.


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