Presleep protein does not make you gain fat

guest blog by: Michael J. Ormsbee, Lillie Renteria, and Casey Greenwalt.


Most people believe eating before sleep makes you accumulate fat because you are resting for multiple hours after you eat. However, research suggests this to be untrue with pre-sleep protein consumption.

Infographic effects of pre-sleep protein

Why protein presleep?

Protein consumption is important to facilitate protein synthesis, promote lean muscle growth, improve strength, recover from exercise, as well as maintain and improve metabolic and structural health. There is evidence now that the average person should consume at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (g/kg), while athletes should consume closer to 2g/kg. Adequate protein consumption also promotes increased satiety, leading to a reduction in over-eating tendencies. Additionally, protein consumption before bed has been found to decrease next-morning hunger.


What type of protein should I eat before bed?

Realistically, it comes down to dietary preference. Most of the literature, however, suggests that whey or casein proteins are most effective due to their amino acids profile, including a high leucine content (the amino acid that is thought to “trigger” muscle growth). These proteins are also popular due to their ease of digestion, and bioavailability. Importantly, most plant-based proteins lack adequate amounts of leucine, so a greater volume of plant-based protein is likely required to elicit the same response to a lower volume of animal-based protein. Most presleep protein research uses casein (whey comes in at a close second), however, recent literature suggests no difference in muscle recovery after presleep consumption of dairy- or plant-based proteins (rice/pea combination), so long as enough of each is consumed.


Who is presleep protein helpful for?

The recommended amount of protein, particularly for athletes, can be difficult to achieve throughout the day, which is where presleep protein consumption can become beneficial. The target dosage of presleep protein is 40g, which will certainly help athletes attain their daily protein goals with greater ease. This is also true for the general population to help support healthy muscle and body composition. Presleep protein consumption favors many beneficial processes, such as improved muscle protein synthesis, recovery from exercise, and increased lean muscle mass, especially when exercise is also performed in the evening (as opposed to in the morning).


Presleep protein does not result in fat gain

Data from men and women indicate that protein presleep does not change overnight fat metabolism. When research participants consumed either casein protein or a non-caloric placebo, there was zero difference in the overnight fuel use or energy expenditure, or the amount of fa