Whey protein is the go-to choice for a large percentage of those trying to supplement their healthy diet, lose weight, build muscle, and get fit. Not only is it easy on the digestive system, but it’s a quick-acting form of protein that will promote immediate muscle repair and recovery.
Most of us take our whey protein to boost our immune system, but unsure as to when to drink protein shakes. What about using whey protein as a pre-bedtime supplement? Casein is the most common option, but is whey protein a good alternative?
Why Take Whey Protein Before Bed
There are a few reasons to consider a protein shake before going to bed.
Benefits of taking whey protein before bed:
- Burn Fat — One of the best things about whey protein is that it provides a boost of amino acids. This leads to an increase in your metabolism, which will help you to burn calories even as you sleep. Your body will need those calories to make the repairs to the muscles you damaged (the good kind of damage) in your workout during the day.
- Speeds Recovery — Did you know that MOST of your recovery takes place as you sleep? During the day, you are using your muscles, so your body can’t really make proper repairs until you finally stop moving (at night). Thanks to the whey protein, it will make those repairs more efficiently, leading to enhanced recovery.
- Boost Energy — Studies have proven that protein helps to speed up your metabolism, which means that you will have more energy when you wake up in the morning. By providing more amino acids, the protein powder will top up the “gas tank” of your muscles–replenishing ATP energy.
- Make Waking Up Easier — Did you know that taking protein at night helps you to wake up more easily? According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, both protein and carbs can help you to have more energy in the morning.
- Maintain Muscle Mass — As you give your body the proper amount of amino acids, you ensure that it receives all of the protein needed to build muscle. Instead of allowing your body to break down muscle cells to use for energy, high protein consumption encourages the maintenance and growth of muscle mass
It’s no surprise that taking a whey protein shake before bed is the way to go!
Benefits of Whey Protein Before Bed for Weight Loss
If your goal is to lose weight, drinking whey protein before bed may be the way to go. As you saw above, it can help to speed up your metabolism, making it possible to burn more fat.
The best way to have whey protein for weight loss: mix it with water instead of milk. While the taste isn’t as pleasant with water, the health benefits remain! You still get all of the amino acids in the protein, but with half of the calories.
A single cup of milk has around 120 calories, and a scoop of protein powder has between 115 and 150 calories. By mixing the protein with water, you get plenty of protein with 50% of the caloric intake.
Drawbacks of Having a Whey Protein Shake Before Bed
Now we come to the DOWNSIDE of having whey protein before bed, something you need to understand before you change your nighttime habits.
Whey protein is designed to give you a quick infusion of amino acids and some calories. This means that it’s highly useful to have before, during, and immediately after your exercise.
- Before your workout helps to produce ATP energy to use during training
- Mid-workout helps to keep your energy levels high and your muscles workout
- After your workout helps to replenish lost nutrients and speed up recovery
But the fact that whey protein is fast-acting means that it’s NOT the best option for you to take right before bed. Why is this?
Protein boosts your metabolism
While this is an awesome thing during the day, it is the last thing you want to happen at night. After all, you’re trying to sleep, so why would you want your body to produce more energy?
A metabolism boost means that your body’s internal calorie-burning furnace kicks into high gear. It burns calories to provide you with energy, but at night you want to relax and go to sleep. The fact that protein leads to the production of energy (particularly whey protein) means that it’s not the best thing to take at night.
With casein protein, you get a very slow-burning form of energy that your body is able to digest and absorb over the course of the evening. It takes hours to break down the casein protein, so it’s a slow trickle of energy. There’s far less chance of your waking up at night when you consume casein protein. You still give your body all the amino acids it needs to make repairs to your damaged muscles, but without having difficulty sleeping.
Whey isn’t as effective as casein
In the study mentioned above, British scientists compared the effects of carbs, whey protein, and casein protein on the human body overnight. The effects of whey protein was comparable to that of carbs, but it was the casein protein that showed the greatest boost to morning energy and alertness levels.
This is due to the fact that the whey protein is digested and processed so much more quickly. Within the first couple of hours of sleep, it will be distributed to all of the muscles and organs in your body. With casein protein, it takes all night long to distribute the amino acids. Though the repairs will be made more slowly, the steady stream of amino acids will give you more energy in the morning.
When comparing casein and whey protein’s effects on your body, it’s like the difference between a bowl of oatmeal and a candy bar. Casein protein is like oatmeal, which slowly releases energy over the course of hours. Whey protein is more like the candy bar, giving you a shot of amino acids all at once and running out of steam more quickly.
So what does all of this mean for you? Is whey protein before bed a good idea, or are you choosing the wrong protein?
The truth is that casein protein is the better choice for your pre-bedtime smoothie or protein shake. It’s designed to give you a steady stream of amino acids, enabling your body to make repairs more efficiently over the course of the evening. Whey protein powder will run out of steam within a few hours, so it’s better to go with casein protein powder as the optimum pre-bedtime protein drink.
Still, it’s worth trying whey protein a few nights, if only to see what effects it may have. You may find that it works almost as well as casein protein, and who knows, you may sleep better and wake up with more energy thanks to whey protein powder!
If you’re looking for a quality whey protein powder, look no further than Well Wisdom’s Vital Whey. Not only is it 100% natural, but it’s fast-acting, easy on your digestive system, and absolutely delicious when mixed into a pre-bedtime whey protein shake.