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[Study] Looking To Amp Up Muscle Recovery & Growth? Guzzle A Protein Shake Before Bed

The next time you hop into bed, don’t forget to cozy up under the covers with your brand new BFF in hand (appointed by us) — a massive, frosty protein shake.

Outside of the all-important post-workout protein infusion, chugging a protein shake before you let the ZZZZs fly might be the next best window to effectively turbocharge muscle recovery after an intense workout.

In a 2012 study published in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, researchers tested the effects of pre-sleep protein intake on 16 young males. After grinding out a resistance-based workout 3 hours earlier (at 8PM) and consuming a post-workout meal (loaded with 20g of protein; 60g of carbs), participants were later fed a heavier dose of pure protein — 40g, specifically from slow-digesting casein — 30 minutes before bed.1

Blood and muscle samples were taken overnight. Two major findings, with major implications, popped out:

  • 1. Pre-sleep protein was effectively absorbed and digested, which sparked a sustained jump in amino acids in the blood. That led to…
  • 2. a 22% jump in muscle protein synthesis and significantly increased overall protein balance.2

Elevated muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is CRITICAL when it comes to effective muscle growth and recovery; plus it helps prevent muscle breakdown (what’s know as catabolism). Keeping MPS rates up can help make it easier to construct a lean physique.


Protein Before Bed — The Bottom Line

Guzzle a protein shake before you hit the sack — it’s a dead-simple way to boost your overall protein intake and rev up muscle recovery.

BONUS POINTS: you’ll induce a prolonged state of muscle growth during what would be a typical 8 hour fast, and perhaps even more importantly, shield precious muscle tissue from breakdown overnight. That’s VALUABLE time when it comes to optimizing results.

As for the protein, the study used casein. While it hasn’t been duplicated for other types of protein, any whey (or plant-based) blend should pack a near-similar punch.

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Owner & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
Bryan DiSanto is the Owner & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, ACE-CPT & CSN, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness/nutrition nutjob.

When he’s not working on his (or somebody else’s) abs, whipping up Eggocados, or running a Tough Mudder, he’s probably off yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
Bryan DiSanto

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References, Notes, Links

  1. Res PT, Groen B, Pennings B, Beelen M, Wallis GA, Gijsen AP, Senden JM, VAN Loon LJ. Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Aug;44(8):1560-9. []
  2. Res PT, Groen B, Pennings B, Beelen M, Wallis GA, Gijsen AP, Senden JM, VAN Loon LJ. Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Aug;44(8):1560-9. []


  • Jason


    I weigh 180-185. I drink a protein shake first thing in the morning after a glass of water. One after my nooner workout and one after yoga at night. My question is: What if I have already consumed three shakes that contain 40-50g of protein throughout the day plus food. It is recommended to drink 1 g / lb of body weight correct? So if I drank a 4th shake, I would be going over the recommended amount of protein.

    Was this noted in the study? If you need more details about my diet I will gladly fill you in. Thanks.

    • Joshua Nackenson


      I’m one of the contributing authors on this site and I’d be happy to answer your question. Assuming you are not in a caloric deficit and your goal is either maintenance or hypertrophy around 1.66g/kg body mass is sufficient for optimal gains. Therefore someone your size that would be a minimum of 135g of protein daily. If you are trying to trim some fat and your in a deficit you will likely need to up your protein intake from anywhere to 180-200g depending on how significantly you’re limiting your caloric intake.

      The 1g/bodyweight is tossed around because its easy to compute, a safe bet in multiple situations, and not harmful in anyway.

      I hope this answered your question.

      — Josh

    • Bryan DiSanto

      I’ll also add that you might want to shift some of your protein intake around. 4 shakes is A LOT, and I’d definitely recommend displacing some of your supplement-based protein to whole food sources (meat/fish/chicken/eggs/dairy/etc.).

      Maybe switch your breakfast and/or post-yoga shake to some sort of whole food, and then add a shake with water pre-bed.

      As for numbers, I’m with Josh. I really wouldn’t worry about going over a certain number. As long as you’re getting enough nutrients/healthy fats/fiber/complex carbs to complement the protein intake, you’re fine.