The role of protein ingestion before sleep on metabolism was the aim of an interesting study published by the group of Professor Luc Van Loon, Maastricht University, in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise last year (Res et al., 2012).
What they did?
Sixteen healthy men volunteers performed resistance exercise in the evening (20:00 h) and ingested 20 g of protein and 60 g of carbohydrate immediately after exercise (21:00 h). Thirty minutes before sleep (23:30 h) participants received either placebo or 40 g of proteins. Protein digestion and absorption, whole-body protein balance and muscle protein balance were assessed for the sleep period.
Main findings & practical applications
- Dietary protein ingested before sleep was normally digested and absorbed
- This raised plasma amino acid levels and stimulated muscle protein synthesis
In conclusion, dietary protein ingested immediately before sleep seems to increase plasma amino acid availability and stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Res et al. (2012). Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc 44(8):1560-1569