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The Myth of the Protein Nightcap

An extremely muscular bodybuilder scoops protein from a large container.
The article debunks the theory that consuming more protein before sleep enhances recovery, performance, or muscle gain. It emphasizes the importance of meeting daily protein requirements, rather than the timing of consumption. Consuming about 1.6g/kg per day of body weight is sufficient for muscle building and recovery.
Source: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Pump Club email 2024-April-03.
A recent study found that taking extra protein before sleep won’t improve recovery, performance, or muscle gain.

Is consuming more protein at night better if protein during the day is beneficial? A recent study debunks this theory, stating that an additional protein intake before sleep doesn’t enhance recovery, performance, or muscle gain.

The Pre-Bed Protein Boost Theory

Due to the fasting period during sleep, some experts theorize that a pre-bed protein boost could enhance your condition the next day. To test this theory, scientists conducted an experiment with over 100 British army recruits during basic training. The recruits were divided into four groups: high protein before bed (60 grams), low protein before bed (20 grams), carbs before bed, or no meal at all.

The Impact of Additional Protein Intake

Despite the additional protein intake, all four groups experienced similar changes in fat mass, bone mineral density, exercise performance, recovery, muscle soreness, and the perception of fatigue.

Understanding Protein Thresholds

Why didn’t additional protein make a difference? The answer lies in the protein threshold. The participants were likely already consuming enough protein. From a muscle and performance perspective, there’s a certain threshold you need to reach for protein to be effective.

Optimal Protein Intake for Muscle Building and Recovery

Consuming about 1.6g/kg per day of your body weight is sufficient to help build muscle, train hard, and improve recovery. Consuming more than this amount doesn’t result in significant additional changes.

Bodyweight (lb)Bodyweight (kg)Daily Protein When Training
200 lb91 kg145 g per day
190 lb86 kg138 g per day
180 lb81 kg131 g per day
170 lb77 kg124 g per day
160 lb72 kg116 g per day
150 lb68 kg109 g per day
Note: kg and g per day columns are rounded

The Importance of Meeting Minimum Protein Requirements

While consuming more protein may offer some benefits, it’s more crucial to meet the minimum protein requirements than to consume the maximum amount.

Key Takeaway: Focus on Total Daily Protein Intake

To maximize the benefits of your diet, focus on consuming enough total protein throughout the day rather than worrying about when you consume it. There’s no need to take protein before you sleep, but there’s likely little downside if you do.

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