DOES PRE-SLEEP CASEIN MAKE YOU BURN MORE CALORIES DURING SLEEP? The researchers found that calories burned during sleep were about 12 calories higher when the subject’s consumed casein before bed compared to the placebo group. Appetite scores were lower the next morning, and fullness scores were higher the next day for those that consumed casein before bed.


  • Casein before bed led to an increase in sleep calories burned of roughly ~12 calories.

  • Casein before bed resulted in a decrease in appetite the next morning.

  • Casein before bed has a very small effect on burning calories while sleeping and will have minimal effects on weight loss.

Over the past decade, it has been recommended to avoid meals later in the day to prevent weight and fat gain. (Kinsey & Ormsbee, 2015; Mukherjee et al., 2020) Eating late at night has been associated with negative cardiometabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. (Matheson et al., 2014) Traditionally, calories consumed before bed were believed to be not conducive to weight loss and was suggested to contribute to fat storage. (Katayose et al., 2009) This belief was been debunked in recent years.

In the last few years, protein before bed has not been associated with weight gain or increases in fat gain. Other benefits of drinking a protein shake before bed are increased muscle protein synthesis and increased lean muscle tissue. (Trommelen et al., 2018; Trommelen & van Loon, 2016)

However, recent studies have shown that total protein intake is more important to build muscle rather than eating protein before bed. The notion that a casein shake before bed will magically result in gaining muscle has been referred to as the casein before bed myth.


Dietary protein has a greater thermogenic effect compared to carbohydrates and fats. (Arciero et al., 2013; Whitehead et al., 1996) A study by Madzima et al. found that 48 grams of casein before sleep resulted in an increase in the metabolic rate the next morning. (Madzima et al., 2018)

Other benefits of casein before bed in a reduction in appetite the next morning. (Ormsbee et al., 2015; Ormsbee et al., 2022) If casein before bed can increase metabolic rate and reduce appetite, this could be a potential way to reduce body weight over an extended period of time.


One of the potential limitations of previous research was that the protein before was not the same as the control group.  Did the increased protein intake drive the beneficial changes in gaining muscle or was the specific timing issue of protein before bed that elicited the effects?  Are the beneficial effects of protein a “total protein effect” (the changes are a result because the subjects are consuming more protein in their diet) or a “time effect” (the changes are being elicited because the protein is being consumed before bed)?

Researchers had subjects consume 40 grams of protein (i.e., casein protein) with dinner after resistance exercise, and a placebo group performed resistance but got a placebo. They had the subject sleep in a metabolic chamber for 24 hours that measures metabolism (i.e., total calories burned, sleep calories burned) and fat burning during sleep. Appetite was also measured the next morning as well. A key component of this study was that all the subjects consumed the same total daily protein.


The researchers found that calories burned during sleep were about 12 calories higher when the subject’s consumed casein before bed compared to the placebo group. Appetite scores were lower the next morning, and fullness scores were higher the next day for those that consumed casein before bed. Another interesting finding was that protein before bed increased carbohydrates burned during sleep, but it did not lower fat metabolism.(Hao et al., 2022)

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So pre-sleep protein does not affect fat burning. The researchers suggested that the slow-releasing nature of casein may have resulted in a slow increase in insulin levels throughout the night that could have resulted in a greater contribution of carbohydrates being burned over fat.

The casein protein powder before bed (i.e., TEE= 1,945 calories) was slightly higher than the placebo group (i.e., TEE=1939 calories). For weight loss to occur, you either need to either increase total energy expenditure (i.e., burn more calories) or reduce total energy intake (i.e., consume fewer calories). Neither one of these occurred to any meaning difference with casein protein powder before bed, so taking a casein protein powder before bed is probably not going to be an effective strategy for fat loss.

A similar occurrence occurs with taking protein post-workout. Total protein intake is more important than just consuming protein after exercise to improve athletic performance and muscle growth. There are many slow-digesting proteins other than casein. Alternative slow-digesting proteins are cottage cheese.


Arciero, P. J., Ormsbee, M. J., Gentile, C. L., Nindl, B. C., Brestoff, J. R., & Ruby, M. (2013). Increased protein intake and meal frequency reduces abdominal fat during energy balance and energy deficit. Obesity (Silver Spring), 21(7), 1357-1366.

Hao, Y., Li, X., Zhu, Z., & Cao, Z. B. (2022). Pre-sleep Protein Supplementation Affects Energy Metabolism and Appetite in Sedentary Healthy Adults. Front Nutr, 9, 873236.

Katayose, Y., Tasaki, M., Ogata, H., Nakata, Y., Tokuyama, K., & Satoh, M. (2009). Metabolic rate and fuel utilization during sleep assessed by whole-body indirect calorimetry. Metabolism, 58(7), 920-926.


Kinsey, A. W., & Ormsbee, M. J. (2015). The health impact of nighttime eating: old and new perspectives. Nutrients, 7(4), 2648-2662.

Madzima, T. A., Melanson, J. T., Black, J. R., & Nepocatych, S. (2018). Pre-Sleep Consumption of Casein and Whey Protein: Effects on Morning Metabolism and Resistance Exercise Performance in Active Women. Nutrients, 10(9).

Matheson, A., O’Brien, L., & Reid, J. A. (2014). The impact of shiftwork on health: a literature review. J Clin Nurs, 23(23-24), 3309-3320.

Mukherjee, S. D., Koch, L. G., Britton, S. L., & Novak, C. M. (2020). Aerobic capacity modulates adaptive thermogenesis: Contribution of non-resting energy expenditure. Physiol Behav, 225, 113048.

Ormsbee, M. J., Kinsey, A. W., Eddy, W. R., Madzima, T. A., Arciero, P. J., Figueroa, A., & Panton, L. B. (2015). The influence of nighttime feeding of carbohydrate or protein combined with exercise training on appetite and cardiometabolic risk in young  women. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 40(1), 37-45.


Ormsbee, M. J., Saracino, P. G., Morrissey, M. C., Donaldson, J., Rentería, L. I., & McKune, A. J. (2022). Pre-sleep protein supplementation after an acute bout of evening resistance exercise does not improve next day performance or recovery in resistance trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 19(1), 164-178.

Trommelen, J., Kouw, I. W. K., Holwerda, A. M., Snijders, T., Halson, S. L., Rollo, I., Verdijk, L. B., & van Loon, L. J. C. (2018). Presleep dietary protein-derived amino acids are incorporated in myofibrillar protein during postexercise overnight recovery. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 314(5), E457-e467.

Trommelen, J., & van Loon, L. J. (2016). Pre-Sleep Protein Ingestion to Improve the Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Exercise Training. Nutrients, 8(12).

Whitehead, J. M., McNeill, G., & Smith, J. S. (1996). The effect of protein intake on 24-h energy expenditure during energy restriction. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 20(8), 727-732.

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