New research in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that eating protein before bed can help you recover from workouts overnight.
For the study, 10 active women in their 20s ate 30 grams of protein (from fat-free cottage cheese) 30 to 60 minutes pre-sleep. The snack sped up muscle recovery and boosted metabolism. This is one of the first studies to look at the effects of whole-food protein on the body, rather than supplements.
Your muscles can only recover from daytime stress while you sleep if there are enough nutrients in your body, explains study author Michael Ormsbee, Ph.D., associate director of the Institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine at Florida State University in Tallahassee. By eating protein before lights-out, you encourage muscle protein synthesis (or growth) instead of breakdown.
The new research looked only at women, but past findings show that eating 30 to 40 grams of protein from shakes and supplements boosts metabolism, improves body composition, and speeds up muscle recovery in both men and women.
Eating 30 grams of dairy protein (from things like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese) half an hour before bed may boost metabolism and speed up muscle recovery. Ormsbee thinks plant-based proteins should have the same benefits, though to a lesser extent.