When on a diet, it can be difficult to figure out what to eat and when to eat it. There is a lot of information floating around out there telling people to split up their calories between 3 - 10 meals per day; when to eat the 3 - 10 meals each day; and what types of food should be eaten at each of these meals. It can be awfully difficult to sort through the mess of all these conflicting ideas and figure out what to eat and when to eat it. Right now, there are conflicting ideas on whether or not a person should eat protein before bed and whether shakes made of casein or whey protein are the best choice.
Casein protein metabolizes more slowly than whey protein does which is why it is often suggested that if you eat protein before bed, regardless of your diet, it would be the best choice. Casein metabolizes slower which means the body can pull at the protein stores overnight during sleep and use it for repair. Is this really a good thing though? Does the body need to ingest protein before bed in order to be healthy, or is it perfectly fine to eat the allotted protein throughout the day instead?
The fact is, it doesn’t matter to the body what time of day any macronutrient is eaten. A number of studies have been done that have concluded that when food is eaten it has no effect on a person’s metabolic rate - a diet plan that says otherwise may be suspect. Factors that do matter include the amount of food a person eats, how much exercise they get, and how healthy their body happens to be at any given time. If a person is going to eat protein before bed, though, as far as digestion is concerned, it may be a good idea to go the casein protein route, whether via shakes or another source.
Why is this? The answer is simple. Whey protein is comprised of the part of milk that metabolizes fairly quickly whereas casein takes longer to digest. The longer something takes to digest, the longer it takes for the body to use it as energy. Drinking casein shakes 30 - 40 minutes before bed can help a person avoid the quick energy boost from most types of protein. There can be some drawbacks, though. Namely, how the body reacts to casein.
If a person is lactose intolerant, it may not be a good idea to use casein before bed since it is a dairy product. Other than this possible issue, casein in the diet, best gotten from shakes, is a good source of protein, regardless of the time of day it is eaten. The only effect regulating when food is eaten has on the body is that a person who eats regularly spaced meals is less likely to overeat than a person who eats three large meals a day. So, is it good or bad to eat protein before bed? Basically, unless you already have issues with sleeping or digestion by eating close to bed time, having protein shakes before bed won’t make any difference to your overall health or diet.Last Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2012