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Strength training in the evening and a protein shake before bed - does it work?

If you drink a protein shake before going to sleep, you'll make more muscle protein during the night. You knew that already. And if you do weight training that evening too, the muscle build up will increase even more. Ok, you knew that too. But strictly speaking, it hadn't been scientifically demonstrated. Now it has, and Dutch nutritionists have published their findings in the Journal of Nutrition.


Strength training in the evening and a protein shake before bed - does it work?
The researchers gave two dozen men, average age 70, an evening meal at 18:30, and then just before they went to bed a shake containing 40 g casein. Amino acids in the protein were labelled so that the researchers could see whether they entered the bloodstream or were absorbed by muscle cells.

Half of the men trained their legs on the leg press and a leg-extension machine at 20:00, so 2.5 hours before they were given the protein shake.

The researchers took samples of muscle cells from the men's legs just before they went to bed and early the next morning, and measured the muscle tissue manufacture. They also monitored the concentration of amino acids in the men's blood via catheters.

During the night, just over half of the amino acids in the protein shake appeared in the blood of both groups, and the net production of muscle protein increased. The increase was about a third higher in the men who had trained [PRO+EX] than in the other group [PRO].

Strength training in the evening and a protein shake before bed - does it work?

The protein shake did not have a negative effect on the men's sleep – in fact it improved the quality of sleep.

Strength training in the evening and a protein shake before bed - does it work?
"Protein ingestion before sleep may represent an effective nutritional strategy to preserve muscle mass by stimulating and supporting muscle protein accretion during overnight sleep", the Dutch nutritionists wrote.

"The current data extend on previous observations and are the first, to our knowledge, to show that physical activity performed throughout the day increases the efficiency by which dietary protein ingested before sleep is directed toward de novo muscle protein synthesis in older individuals."

"However, ingesting larger protein doses may not be feasible or practical in all older or clinically compromised populations."

"Therefore, older individuals who are unable to ingest large amounts of protein can still benefit from ingesting smaller amounts of protein (less than 40 g) before sleep by performing physical activity beforehand. As such, a physical activity program should be implemented in combination with presleep protein ingestion to benefit from the synergy between physical activity and protein to increase overnight muscle protein accretion to support healthy aging."

J Nutr. 2016 Jul;146(7):1307-14.

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Five months of strength training with and without whey 04.12.2010

Nutrition & Strength Training