It’s after dinner and your stomach starts to growl. Before reaching for the comfort carbs, try to snacking on protein.
It’s been shown that consuming protein an hour or so before bed not only is prime for muscle building and recovery but also can trigger better sleep.
What type of protein is best?
Casein protein is the better protein to consume at night. Similar to whey protein in that it is derived from milk, casein protein is the curd produced by cheese-making and whey is the liquid produced.
Muscle growth benefits
Why was Little Miss Muffet so buff-et?
She was eating her her curds and whey.
While whey protein is ideal for post-workout (it gets into the muscles quickly), casein protein is considered a slow-release protein, making it ideal for maxing muscle-building benefits while you sleep. Getting a steady stream of amino acids to the muscles this way keeps muscles “fed longer” versus a whey or vegetarian protein source.
Furthermore, since your body revs up its release of growth hormone while you sleep, this is the best time to ensure your muscles have the fuel they need to get bigger and stronger.
*Case in* point, in one Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise study, consuming casein protein immediately before bed boosted young men’s levels of circulating amino acids for 7.5 hours; they built muscle all night long while they slept. source
Better sleep benefits
Casein protein, being that it is from milk, also contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep and is found in small amounts in all protein foods. It is a precursor to the sleep-inducing neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin. Though there’s likely not enough tryptophan in milk to immediately induce sleep despite the age-old remedy of drinking warm milk before bed, the ritual of consuming a casein food or drink can have calming effects and shift your body into drowsy-mode.
Weight management benefits
Eating a casein protein-rich snack can also help to stabilize blood sugar, keep you from waking up really hungry and it increases metabolism for better weight management because more muscle means more calories burned just being ‘you.’
How much protein is ideal before bed?
Women aim to make your nighttime snack 10-20 grams and men 20-30 gramsof protein.
What foods and drinks contain casein?
Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and smoothies made with casein protein powder are great snacks at night if you’re truly hungry and/or want to gain muscle. Try adding some fresh fruit or nut butter for flavor variety. Those who are lactose intolerant can still consume casein (and whey) protein since the allergy is to the sugar, not the protein. Of course, if you do have milk protein allergies, consuming casein is not for you. In that case, we recommend a plant-based vegan powder like Complete protein from Juice Plus+ – incredible in taste and nutrition.
Cheers to muscle growth, better sleep, weight management…and a little cottage cheese at night!
Jess + Team Valeo