Can I eat a protein bar before bed?
In this brief guide we will address the query “Can I eat a protein bar before bed?” Additionally, we will present valuable information like the mechanism of muscle repair during sleep, and what other food snacks you can opt as a protein source before bed.
Can I eat a protein bar before bed?
Yes, in fact, consuming protein before bed can be beneficial for muscle recovery, increase muscle strength, and hypertrophy (1-3).
Can a protein bar before bed aid in muscle recovery and growth?
Maybe just a protein bar before bed is not going to be enough to help in muscle recovery and growth. According to different studies, you may need around 30 to 45 g of protein (whey or casein) to induce muscle recovery and growth (1-3).
Usually, protein bars contain from 20 to 50 g of protein each 100 g of product; so you can check the product’s label to see how much protein you are eating in each bar (4,5).
If you do not meet the 30 to 45 g of protein with a single protein bar, you can look for a complementary food to reach your protein requirements (2).
Are there specific types of protein products that are more suitable for consumption before bed?
You should look for complete (high quality), and highly digestible proteins; you can find proteins with these characteristics in animal-derived foods like milk, dairy products, meats, and eggs (6).
Protein quality refers to the content of essential amino acids, the essential amino acids are those that your body cannot synthesize, therefore you should obtain them from the food (6).
Leucine is one of those essential amino acids which is crucial for protein synthesis, in fact, it is one of the key amino acids to stimulate muscle growth. You can find Leucine in all animal derived foods, particularly in eggs (7).
What are some alternative bedtime snack options for individuals seeking protein intake?
You can take alternative bedtime snacks like milk and Greek yogurt, both are easy to digest and will not cause any discomfort; but if you have an allergy to milk’s protein or lactose intolerance, you should not eat these products (2).
Soy protein products could be an option, even if soy proteins are not complete, soy protein has demonstrated to induce muscle synthesis because soy contains Leucine (8).
How do muscles repair during sleeping?
It is not very clear the specific muscle repair pathways during sleeping, but there are some scientific fundamentals (2,9,10) that could explain this phenomenon:
- During sleeping, there are some genes that activate during sleeping, which are needed for myoblast differentiation and, therefore, create muscle fibers.
- When you sleep, the cortisol levels are lowered and muscles are more sensitive to insulin and glucose; cortisol is the stress hormone, which induces muscle breakdown, whereas insulin promotes muscle energy recovery.
- Specifically, protein intake before bedtime could increase the bioavailability of essential amino acids; the increase of amino acid availability could trigger genes and metabolic pathways to introduce amino acids into muscles, and increase muscle synthesis.
In this brief guide we addressed the query “Can I eat a protein bar before bed?” Additionally, we presented valuable information like the mechanism of muscle repair during sleep, and what other food snacks you can opt as a protein source before bed.
- Snijders T, Trommelen J, Kouw IWK, Holwerda AM, Verdijk LB, van Loon LJC. The impact of pre-sleep protein ingestion on the skeletal muscle adaptive response to exercise in humans: An update. Front Nutr, 2019;6:17.
- Kim J. Pre-sleep casein protein ingestion: new paradigm in post-exercise recovery nutrition. Phys Act Nutr, 2020;30,24(2):6-10.
- Trommelen J, van Lieshout GAA, Pabla P, Nyakayiru J, Hendriks FK, Senden JM, et al. Pre-sleep protein ingestion increases mitochondrial protein synthesis rates during overnight recovery from endurance exercise: A randomized controlled trial. Sports Med, 2023.
- Małecki, J., Tomasevic, I., Djekic, I., & Sołowiej, B. G. The effect of protein source on the physicochemical, nutritional properties and microstructure of high-protein bars intended for physically active people. Foods, 2020; 9(10):1467.
- Jovanov P, Sakač M, Jurdana M, Pražnikar ZJ, Kenig S, Hadnađev M, et al. High-protein bar as a meal replacement in elite sports nutrition: a pilot study. Foods, 2021;10(11):2628.
- Huecker M, Sarav M, Pearlman M, Laster J. Protein supplementation in sport: Source, timing, and intended benefits. Curr Nutr Rep, 2019;8(4):382–96.
- Zaromskyte G, Prokopidis K, Ioannidis T, Tipton KD, Witard OC. Evaluating the leucine trigger hypothesis to explain the post-prandial regulation of muscle protein synthesis in young and older adults: A systematic review. Front Nutr, 2021;8:685165.
- Day L. Proteins from land plants – Potential resources for human nutrition and food security. Trends Food Sci Technol, 2013;32(1):25–42
- Vitale JA, Bonato M, La Torre A, Banfi G. The role of the molecular clock in promoting skeletal muscle growth and protecting against sarcopenia. Int J Mol Sci, 2019;20(17):4318.
- Lamon S, Morabito A, Arentson-Lantz E, Knowles O, Vincent GE, Condo D, et al. The effect of acute sleep deprivation on skeletal muscle protein synthesis and the hormonal environment. Physiol Rep, 2021;9(1):e14660.