Should I eat protein before bed if I want to gain muscle?

The quick answer

The quick answer is yes you should but probably not for the reason that you think. Most people think that you need to eat protein before you went to bed to prevent muscle loss. When the body has no nutrients it´s starts to break down it self for energy, right? NO, you’re not going to lose muscle because that’s not how it works Studies have shown that the body simply doesn’t cannibalize muscle tissue that easily. You don’t have to eat protein before you go to bed to preserve your muscle.

The real reason you should eat protein It’s because it helps you gain muscles faster. The reason why this is an optimal from a muscle-building perspective is muscle growth requires two things, it requires a stimulus from training and from raw materials. When you train your muscles that is a stimulus and when you eat protein that is also a stimulus both of those things tell your body to build an repair muscle tissue. The raw materials is simply amino acids and most importantly essential amino acids which our body can not create by ourselves. You have to get your essential amino acids from the protein that you eat. These amino acids are what muscle tissues is built from. Amino acids is in all protein but the ratio will be different.

Muscle growth cannot occur without raw materials such as amino acids and that is why research has shown that If no protein has been eaten before you go to bed your protein synthesis rate is going to be very low. The amount of protein your body will be able to create (including muscle tissues) is going to be very low. Eating protein before we go to bed will help us gain muscle and strength faster which is exactly what study conducted by scientist at Maastricht University. When we eat protein before you go to bed, we give our body both stimulus for protein synthesis and the raw materials to build muscle tissues. The most people spend about a third of our lives sleeping so you can understand how this can add up over time.

But how much protein should you take before you got to bed?

The short answer is 20-30 gram of high quality protein about 30 minutes before bed is god i would recommend a high quality Casein. It is a slow digested protein that keeps the protein synthesis going for as long as possible during the night. If you are vegetarian you can choose from rice and pea protein as well.

What is a high quality protein?

The key to ensuring you eat sufficient high-quality protein is to include different types in your diet, rather than relying on just red or processed meat.

Fish. Seafood is generally high in protein and has low saturated fat. Fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, sablefish (black cod), and herring are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Experts recommend eating seafood at least twice a week.

Poultry. Removing the skin from chicken and turkey can substantially reduce the saturated fat. In the U.S., non-organic poultry may also contain antibiotics and been raised on GMO feed grown with pesticides, so opt for organic and free-range if possible.

Dairy products. Products such as skim milk, cheese, and yoghurt offer lots of healthy protein. Beware of added sugar in low-fat yoghurts and flavored milk, though, and skip processed cheese that often contains non-dairy ingredients. Whey and Casein is also a good protein source made of dairy

Beans. Beans and peas are great! it ispacked full of both protein and fiber. Add them to salads, soups, stews or anything to boost your protein intake.

Nuts and seeds. As well as being rich sources of protein, nuts and seeds are also high in fiber and “good” fats. Add to salads or keep handy for snacks. Very good to eat if you have a hard time putting on weight due to the high fat in combination with protein.

Tofu and soy products. Non-GMO tofu and soy are a relatively good alternative for red meat, it´s high in protein and low in fat. The downside with tofu and soy is that the anti nutrients in soy has the enzyme inhibitor called BBI that blocks the effect of the enzyme trypsin and other enzymes necessary for protein degradation. BBI and other enzyme inhibitors are not completely deactivated during normal cooking.

If you are looking for a supplement for protein. The most commonly used protein is Whey and Casein  (that is for a very good reason). Whey takes short time to fully metabolized. More specifically, the time it takes for it to be digested is relatively short. Somewhere between 20-40 minutes, the level of amino acids in your blood has reached its high point. Within the hour it will have gone through the various metabolic processes, either protein synthesis, or oxidation. That is Why i recommed Casein before going to bed insted. The body absorb casein protein very slowly and that leads to a slower release of amino acids in the protein. Thus, casein protein will be present in your digestive system and will be present in your diet regimen for a long period of time, thus providing your body with amino acids during this time while your body has no other acces to protein.

What is amino acids and why is it so important?

Amino acids is the building block of all protein in our body and has a lot of functions in our body. Eating Amino acids will stimulate protein synthesis and give you the raw materials necessary to primarily build muscles but also organs etc.  

  Amino acids is a kind of monomeric units and protein is a polymer. A polymer is comprised of the repeating unit called monomer. (Mono means one, Poly means many) A protein (polymer) is formed when many amino acids (monomer) is linked together. Each protein has its own type of Amino acids. Every amino acid has its own unique structure and reactivity and it´s the variation in the side chain. The side chain determined the characteristics of the molecule that’s formed when many amino acids join together.

  The most important amino acids is the essential amino Acids (EAA) and that is because we can´t make them on our own so we have to eat them in our diet.

This is the 9 essential amino acids and its characteristics:

Leucine is important for protein synthesis and many metabolic functions. Leucine contributes to regulation of blood-sugar levels; growth and repair of muscle and bone tissue; growth hormone production; and wound healing. Leucine also prevents breakdown of muscle proteins after trauma or severe stress and may be beneficial for individuals with phenylketonuria.

Phenylalanine plays a key role in the biosynthesis of other amino acids and is important in the structure and function of many proteins and enzymes. Phenylalanine is converted to tyrosine, used in the biosynthesis of dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitters. The L-form of Phenylalanine is incorporated into proteins, while the D-form acts as a painkiller.

Threonine is an important residue of many proteins, such as tooth enamel, collagen, and elastin. An important amino acid for the nervous system, threonine also plays an important role in porphyrin and fat metabolism and prevents fat buildup in the liver. Useful with intestinal disorders and indigestion, threonine has also been used to alleviate anxiety and mild depression.

Tryptophan is necessary for normal growth in infants and for NITROGEN balance in adults. It is a precursor of INDOLE ALKALOIDS in plants. It is a precursor of SEROTONIN (hence its use as an antidepressant and sleep aid). It can be a precursor to NIACIN, albeit inefficiently, in mammals.

Lysine is for growth and tissue repair, Lysine is supplied by many foods, especially red meats, fish, and dairy products. Lysine seems to be active against herpes simplex viruses and present in many forms of diet supplements.

Methionine is required for growth and tissue repair. A sulphur-containing amino acid, methionine improves the tone and pliability of skin, hair, and strengthens nails. Involved in many detoxifying processes, sulphur provided by methionine protects cells from pollutants, slows cell aging, and is essential for absorption and bio-availability of selenium and zinc. It also acts as a lipotropic agent and prevents excess fat buildup in the liver.

Isoleucine has diverse physiological functions, such as assisting wound healing, detoxification of nitrogenous wastes, stimulating immune function, and promoting secretion of several hormones. Necessary for hemoglobin formation and regulating blood sugar and energy levels, isoleucine is concentrated in muscle tissues in humans. Isoleucine is found especially in meats, fish, cheese, eggs, and most seeds and nuts.

Valine a extremely hydrophobic essential amino acid in humans related to leucine, Valine is found in many proteins, mostly in the interior of globular proteins helping to determine three-dimensional structure. A glycogenic amino acid, valine maintains mental vigor, muscle coordination, and emotional calm. Valine is obtained from soy, cheese, fish, meats and vegetables. Valine supplements are used for muscle growth, tissue repair, and energy.

Histidine is a semi-essential amino acid (children should obtain it from food) needed in humans for growth and tissue repair, Histidine is important for maintenance of myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells and is metabolized to the neurotransmitter histamine. Histamines play many roles in immunity, gastric secretion, and sexual functions. Histidine is also required for blood cell manufacture and protects tissues against damage caused by radiation and heavy metals.


Conditionally essential amino acids can be synthesized in your body, but in certain circumstances, like young age, illness or hard exercise, you need to get them in additional amounts from foods to meet the body requirements for them. Ornithine is considered conditionally essential amino acid, but it does not form proteins.

This is the 7 Conditionally essential amino acids and its characteristics:

Arginine is an essential amino acid in juvenile humans. Arginine is a complex amino acid, often found at active sites in proteins and enzymes due to its amine-containing side chain. Arginine may prevent or treat heart and circulatory diseases, combat fatigue, and stimulate the immune system. It also boosts production of nitric oxide, relaxing blood vessels, and treating angina and other cardiovascular problems.

Cysteine is important for protein synthesis, detoxification, and diverse metabolic functions. Found in beta-keratin, the main protein in nails, skin, and hair, Cysteine is important in collagen production, as well as skin elasticity and texture. Also required in the manufacture of amino acid taurine, Cysteine is a component of the antioxidant glutathione, and plays a role in the metabolism of essential biochemicals such as coenzyme A, heparin, and biotin.

Glutamine is involved in many metabolic processes. It is synthesized from GLUTAMIC ACID and AMMONIA. It is the principal carrier of NITROGEN in the body and is an important energy source for many cells.

Glycine an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the CNS, triggers chloride ion influx via ionotropic receptors, thereby creating an inhibitory post-synaptic potential. In contrast, this agent also acts as a co-agonist, along with glutamate, facilitating an excitatory potential at the glutaminergic N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors. Glycine is an important component and precursor for many macromolecules in the cells.

Proline is an essential component of COLLAGEN. Collagen is the main supportive protein of skin, tendons, bones, and connective tissue and promotes their health and healing.

Serine is present and functionally important in many proteins. With an alcohol group, serine is needed for the metabolism of fats, fatty acids, and cell membranes; muscle growth; and a healthy immune system. It also plays a major role in pyrimidine, purine, creatine, and porphyrin biosynthetic pathways.

Tyrosine is an essential amino acid that readily passes the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, it is a precursor for the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, better known as adrenaline. These neurotransmitters are an important part of the body’s sympathetic nervous system, and their concentrations in the body and brain are directly dependent upon dietary tyrosine. Tyrosine is not found in large concentrations throughout the body, probably because it is rapidly metabolized.


Finally the nonessential amino acids, These amino acids can be synthesized in your body from other amino acids, glucose and fatty acids, so you do not need to get them from foods.

 This is the 5 nonessential essential amino acids and its characteristics:

Alanine is one of the most widely used for protein construction and is involved in the metabolism of tryptophan and vitamin pyridoxine. Alanine is an important source of energy for muscles and central nervous system, strengthens the immune system, helps in the metabolism of sugars and organic acids, and displays a cholesterol-reducing effect in animals.

Asparagine is involved in the metabolic control of cell functions in nerve and brain tissue. It is biosynthesized from ASPARTIC ACID and AMMONIA by asparagine synthetase. (From Concise Encyclopedia Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 3rd ed)

Aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid in humans, Aspartic Acid has an overall negative charge and plays an important role in the synthesis of other amino acids and in the citric acidand urea cycles. Asparagine, arginine, lysine, methionine, isoleucine, and some nucleotides are synthesized from aspartic acid. Aspartic acid also serves as a neurotransmitter.

Glutamic acid is the most common excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.

Selenocysteine is an unusual amino acid of proteins, the selenium analogue of cysteine, in which a selenium atom replaces sulphur. Involved in the catalytic mechanism of seleno enzymes such as formate dehydrogenase of E. coli and mammalian glutathione peroxidase.

What amino acids is relevant in muscle building?

EAA and BCAA is most commonly know in the market for it´s effects for muscle-building. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) include leucine, isoleucine and valine, are essential amino acids that stimulate protein synthesis in the muscles.

Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) are required in order to help build new muscle tissue and help with cell repair which occurs when muscles are recovering. EAA’s can not be produced by our body and must then in turn come from your diet or supplementation. EAA’s are required for complete protein synthesis and actually also contain BCAA’s as well but typically have a smaller quantity.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) only consist of 3 of the 8 essential amino acids (Leucin, Isoleucin and Valin), which are used primarily for growth, repair of muscle and thus recover optimally from exercise. When we eat protein rich foods or drink protein powder, the body must first break the protein into smaller parts before we can absorb it in the body. But when we eat Branched-Chain Amino Acids that is already divided, the absorption of the amino acids will go much faster and the stimulation of protein synthesis will be greater.

Studies have shown that EAA’s are better utilized by the body pre-training and a high requirement for BCAA’s is needed post-workout to help speed up the recovery process. So if you are lifter or someone who has an intense training routine it would be beneficial to invest in both products.









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