More fodder for the “when should I eat protein to build muscle?” debate: A Journal of Nutrition study found that a protein shake before sleep can up muscle synthesis by 22%.
In the 12-week study, 39 young men lifted weights three times a week and ate a 275-calorie snack (cheese sandwich, apple, no-cal drink, for 37g carbs, 10g protein, 9g fat) afterward; otherwise, they kept to their normal diet.
But 19 of the guys also drank a protein drink (27.5g protein, 15g carbs) before bed. At study’s end, that group had more muscle and were significantly (3%) stronger.
“It’s remarkable that ingesting protein before sleep increased muscle mass and strength even when these men already took in relatively high daily protein (.6g protein/ lb of body weight),” says study head Tim Snijders, Ph.D.
Bottom line: “We can’t conclude that [nighttime protein] is more effective for muscle building,” Snijders says, “but it’s certainly a viable option.”