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The effects of consuming protein during or immediately after exercise have been extensively studied, but less is known about the effects of consuming it before bed.
Researchers had 16 healthy young men eat a standardized diet all day long, complete a resistance workout at 8 p.m. followed by eating an after exercise snack (20 grams protein, 60 grams carbohydrates) at 9 p.m.
At 11:30 the men got a bedtime beverage that randomly contained 40 grams of casein protein or no protein. (A litre of milk contains about 30 grams of casein, otherwise you can try these muscle-building foods, too).
Continuous blood monitoring was conducted all night to track digestion and absorption, blood amino acid levels, and muscle protein synthesis.
Casein protein was effectively digested during sleep resulting in a rapid rise of amino acids in the bloodstream and increased whole body protein synthesis rates in the men who got casein as apposed to the men who did not.
The researchers suggest consuming protein at bedtime may be useful to athletes for muscle recovery/building and to older adults who wish to reduce age-related muscle loss.