Should You Take Casein Protein Before Bed?

Taking casein protein before bed can benefit you if you're trying to minimize muscle protein breakdown during sleep, and promote optimal muscle growth and recovery.

Here are the key benefits of pre-sleep protein in the form of micellar casein.

  1. Slow Digestion and Sustained Release: Casein protein is a slow-digesting protein that allows for a sustained release of amino acids into the bloodstream over several hours, providing a steady supply of protein to the muscles during sleep.

  2. Muscle Protein Synthesis: During sleep, the body undergoes muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which is the process of repairing and building muscle tissue. Consuming casein protein before bed can supply the necessary amino acids to support MPS throughout the night, helping with muscle recovery and growth.

  3. Satiation and Reduced Nighttime Hunger: Casein protein is known to have a higher satiating effect compared to other protein sources. Consuming casein protein before bed may help curb nighttime hunger and reduce the risk of cravings or excessive snacking at night.

  4. Individual Needs and Goals: It's important to consider your overall protein intake and dietary goals. If you're already consuming enough protein throughout the day and meeting your daily protein requirements, additional casein protein before bed may not be necessary.

Muscle Recovery During Sleep

People tend to view sleep as a time of complete inactivity, during which your body is simply resting from the previous day. 

Perhaps because of this perceived slow-down, some individuals are hesitant to eat anything soon before bed for fear that it will somewhat automatically get packed away as fat. 

Here's the thing, though: that's not an accurate picture of sleep. 

And, because of this false impression, many are losing out on the true benefits of micellar casein – a sometimes overlooked milk protein. 

Eating casein protein before bed can offer benefits to your body that you may not realize.

Casein Compared to Whey Protein

Casein is one component of milk protein. It comes from the same source that gives us whey protein, which has firmly dominated the arena of fitness supplements for years. 

 In truth, however, this idea that whey protein and casein are in competition is deeply flawed since they really complement each other incredibly well.

For one thing, both whey protein and casein are quality sources of complete proteins, as they both contain all nine essential amino acids.

Amino acids are key building blocks when it comes to preserving and building muscle mass.

But the nutrients in whey are absorbed and put to work at an impressively fast rate – making it ideal for recovery after a strenuous workout. 

This very trait, though, means that whey is less suited for things like meal replacement which requires you to stay fed and full for several hours. 

This is where casein comes in.

When milk is processed to separate whey and casein, micellar casein clots up into solid chunks that float on the liquid whey. 

Which is pretty much what casein also does in your stomach.

While the idea of solid chunks of milk protein in your stomach may seem weird and unpleasant, it's exactly what makes casein protein beneficial when it comes to slow-release of protein.

Your muscles get a steady supply of amino acids while you sleep.

This tendency of casein to form gel-like structures means that it will be digested and metabolized slowly – over the course of several hours.

Why Take Casein Protein Before Bed?

So, why should you take it before bed? 

The theory is that by throwing back a couple scoops in a casein protein shake right before going to sleep, you give your body all the protein (and branched chain amino acids) it needs to rebuild and repair your muscles.  

And you also increase your daily protein intake.

Remember: Sleep does not equal inactivity. 

When you work out, you are actually damaging your muscle fibers. In response, your body fixes them up to be bigger, stronger and better prepared for the next challenge. 

This all happens while you're sleeping but can't be done properly if adequate levels of protein aren't present.

This approach has been backed up by several studies, showing that consuming casein before bed is not only absorbed while you're sleeping but that it also improves muscle recovery

Additionally, consuming casein at night before sleep has been shown to positively influence next morning's resting metabolic rate (RMR).

Casein May Support Muscle Growth

Choosing to take casein protein may help support muscle growth, especially if taken before bedtime

In one study, men were told to perform a single bout of weightlifting in the evening and were given protein afterwards. Half of these men were given a drink that contained casein right before bed, and all of the men were assessed.

The results suggest that those who ate the casein before bed had increased muscle synthesis rates (muscle growth), therefore suggesting that eating casein before bed offers a benefit for muscle recovery.

Before bedtime, doing something as simple as mixing a scoop of casein protein powder with water and drinking it can possibly give you the edge you need to reach your muscle growth goals.

Does Casein Protein Burn Fat at Night?

It is known that a diet rich in protein supports weight loss goals. Eating casein in particular can help you feel fuller longer, and therefore may result in eating fewer calories over the long run.

In fact, results from one study evaluating overweight men who took casein supplementation suggest that this particular protein supports an average of 8% body weight loss.

Including casein protein in a diet can be a simple swap that may help support weight loss goals.

Key Takeaways

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition , “casein protein (~ 30-40 g) prior to sleep can acutely increase MPS [muscle protein synthesis] and metabolic rate throughout the night”.  

Experts routinely recommend casein-rich foods like casein protein powders before bed to give a boost of this important protein.

If choosing a casein protein powder, ensuring that you are using one that is clean, non-GMO, and is made with minimal ingredients like Naked Casein micellar casein protein powder can give your body the edge that it may need if taken before bedtime.