Protein before sleep - good or bad?

Searched the podcast but I don’t think the topic has been approached in this way yet. Maybe it’s a question submission - or maybe link me to it!

In short, I’ve observed what appears to be conflicting advice on the subject of what and how to eat around sleep and interested in opinions.

Firstly, in this discussion I am assuming that you’re fuelling your workouts and successfully completing them - this is a bit further up the hierarchy.

The podcast often recommends that you don’t eat meals close to sleep, as it impacts sleep quality (which is a key pillar for recovery and for glucose control).

Agrees - and puts a guideline of ‘no food 3hrs to bed’. Similarly, they also raise the long-term benefits to gut health (microbiome), metabolism (good insulin sensitivity) and good sleep to both not eating close to bed AND having some kind of fasted period (they speak about min 12h, ideally 14hrs) daily.

But at counterpoints to all of this is loads of older research that shows that feeding (especially protein) prior to sleep reduces catabolism of muscle and helps maintain lean mass - especially in ageing athletes.

So in short; are you losing the benefits of sleeping low by ingesting protein (which will generally come with at least some carbs and fats) prior to sleep, and if so, should you prioritise maintaining lean mass over this?


I think as long as you hit around 1.6g/kg throughout the day it wont really matter, as usual it’s quality and consistency that reaps the rewards. If you’re interested listen to this pod with Stu Phillips, he knows a thing or two about protein.

There is some unrelated chat for the first 20mins or so IIRC, the interview is about ~1hr.

I’ve tried supplementing ‘slow release’ protein before bed but found that (a) it interfered with my sleep quality, (much prefer having a good 2.5-3 hours of zero eating prior to bed), and (b) I was waking up still feeling full from the protein which I didn’t like.

My rough protocols to aim for 1.8g per kg of protein, which I hit with 4 protein ingestions a day, 3 being with regular meals and the 4th being a protein centric afternoon snack. On low days (no-training) I skip the snack.

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There was a sigma nutrition podcast a few years back which discussed a study that showed no benefit of “slow release” protein at night over whey. It’s a bit moot for me at the moment, as milk or protein blends are significantly cheaper than pure whey, so that’s what I’m supplementing with!

I haven’t looked into it recently, but as of a year or two ago, while as that there was some evidence to suggest that fasting may help gut biome, it wasn’t really conclusive. Could’ve changed in the meantime. 3 hours before bed would mean no main meal of the day a few days a week for me!

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I mean the alternative to that would just be not to eat breakfast until 11amish?

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Especially from here

1:19:50 - Muscle protein synthesis: ideal timing, small meals vs. big meals, and more

1:33:07 - How important is timing protein intake around training?

My takeaway from the podcast was

  • eat biggest amounts of protein at start (most important) and end of day, in between not as important
  • keep protein amount as absolut calories (~1,5g protein / kg body weight) and not as percentage of calories
  • the more trained the athlete the less important protein feeding direct after training becomes

My take from podcasts and such is that getting in enough is 90% of it, timing is sorta important but getting enough every day is way more important than timing.

these were my takeaways too


My n=1 is I train in the morning, so that doesn’t really work in terms of fuelling the workout and post workout nutrition either.

Let me clarify: these all speak about the value of protein in general. Happy with this. Similarly, the value of protein before sleep. So, let us assume you are getting sufficient protein, and that you are sufficiently fuelling your training, and that you are able to complete your workouts in both cases (as these are bigger priorities).

The question I want to understand is: for, health, longevity, recovery, and athletic performance (in probably that order?), should one aim to:

A) Not eat close to bed, sleep low and lightly fast each night.


B) Take in protein (which, generally, will come with a small amount of fats and carbs) prior to sleep.

Do you really think that a fast of 8 hours of no food, versus maybe 10 hours is really that big of a difference?

If you are really concerned about how long you will have food digesting, then why don’t you try a good high quality whey protein isolate before bed. That way you will give yourself some protein, but it will clear through you pretty quickly. Also a good quality WPI will have little to no carbs or fat.

However, if you are already consuming enough protein throughout the day, then I wouldn’t worry about needing to add some pre-bed. But I would look hard as to how much you are actually consuming, as most endurance athletes likely do not consume enough on a daily basis.

From the linked Attia podcast I’d tend towards B and as @cnigro noted use good protein source with little fat/carb).

As you said you get enough protein each day so that it only becomes a matter of distribution/timing…so in that case personally I wouldn’t stress too much about it and would think that a combination of A and B in dependency of training plan could be good choice (just anecdotal, I’m no expert) and I would use B the day before and the day of the harder training sessions (feeding work ahead and preventing catabolic state).

Chad revisits the topic in later podcast. Two more takeaways to add are wait at least 1 hour post workout to consume protein for optimal absorption. Having protein before bed is beneficial as long as it’s a slower processed protein source. I.e Casein protein such as eggs vs whey protein such as a protein shake

There isn’t an absolute answer to this.

Do you do a lot of damage to your muscles and struggle to eat enough protein, but have no issues sleeping? Have an extra shake before bedtime.

Do you suffer from gut issues and bad sleep, but feel you eat ok during the day? Try a longer fast and don’t eat before bedtime.


Good. Done this for a long time during intense training.

The effect on sleep is from larger meals, not from a small protein snack. Two eggs, a shake, or a bowl of yoghurt doesn’t affect your sleep negatively. In fact I felt I slept better but that may be subjective.

The other effects as linked in the studies are probably good.

So try it out and see how it leaves you?

It’s probably more like aiming for a 14hr fast per night vice 10 - and if you have a listen to the first podcast (v interesting) there is a pretty in-depth discussion of the benefits for a daily temporary fast in terms of glucose control and autophagy. But yeah, without meal prep this makes it either hard to get food in or you end up fasting until lunchtime the next day!

I lift regularly and have done for years (transitioned from that into cycling) so I probably get 2g/kg a day (two protein snacks, protein heavy meals and a shake a day) without too much issue.

Definitely good.

I find it so strange that people can fast before sleeping, I can’t sleep hungry, at all. If I go to bed hungry I just lay there for as long as it takes for me to get frustrated and get up and eat, then I fall asleep straight away. I can lay there for hours some times, not wanting to get up, just hoping to fall asleep. Sometimes works.

For me a casein shake before bed is a no-brainer, helps me sleep and certainly seems to help with recovery.


Is there a big difference between protein casein and whey concentrate protein?
Can we eat whey concentrate protein before going to bed?

Immediately after training (around 6 p.m.), I drink a recovery drink with 60 g of CH and 30 g of protein.
Can we consume an additional 20-30g of protein half an hour before bed (around 9:30 p.m.)?

^ This.

I frequently eat a lump of cheddar cheese just before bed for some last minute protein. I figure it’s going to do some useful magic for my tired legs while i’m asleep.
My wife, on the other hand, places far greater value on the need for a 12 hour period of fasting for the myriad other health benefits.

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I eat a bowl of oatmeal right before bed. It makes it much easier for me to fall asleep. Go figure.