Protein in the Evening Better for Muscle Mass?
Scientific research states protein in the evening is better for building muscle.
Many lifters think that protein directly after training is the most important time to drink your shake; however, research suggests that whey protein in the evening is more important for muscle mass. It has been overwhelmingly clear that increased protein is not only useful for maintaining an ideal body composition, but it’s also beneficial for muscle recuperation and increasing muscle mass. The new research was published in a study titled, “Protein timing during the day and its relevance for muscle strength and lean mass.” The study is based on several other studies suggesting that there may be a protein circadian rhythm. Just like there is a circadian rhythm in which the sleep hormone melatonin peaks at night, the researchers are suggesting that evening protein consumption may be more anabolic and better for increasing lean muscle mass. This is a revolutionary new concept, but here are a few studies that have found similar findings:
– One study examined responses in a small group of young men (about 22 years old), showing that 40 grams of protein 30 minutes before sleep, in addition to 20 grams of protein post exercise, led to a 22 percent increase in muscle protein synthesis as well as an improvement in whole-body protein metabolism compared to a placebo group.
– A follow-up study showed that 27.5 grams of casein protein before sleep, following a resistance training bout, increased quadriceps lean mass more (10%) than in a placebo group (6%) over a 12-week period.
– Additionally, Burk et al. (2009) found that morning/evening ingestion of protein in combination with eight weeks of resistance training was associated with increased lean mass, whereas there were no changes in lean mass associated with morning/afternoon protein consumption.
The study examined by researchers at the University of Mississippi examined the associations between afternoon and evening protein consumption, at different protein thresholds (i.e. 15, 20, 25, and 30g), in relation to leg lean mass and leg strength in men. The study only examined older men. A total of 553 adult males (50–85 years old) with no apparent health problems were included in the following analysis. Dietary protein consumption was assessed using 24-hour dietary interview format.
Leg lean mass was estimated from whole-body DXA scans. When all the data was analyzed, the participants who consumed 20-30g of protein in the evening had greater leg lean mass than those who consumed protein in the afternoon. However, there was no difference in leg lean mass for 15g of protein consumption in the evening compared to the afternoon. This means that protein intake must be greater than 30 grams for optimal increases in muscle mass.
For strength, there were no differences between evening and afternoon consumption of protein for 15, 20, or 25g; however, those consuming at least 30g of protein in the evening had greater knee extensor strength compared to those consuming similar amounts in the afternoon. These findings suggest that evening protein consumption is associated with greater leg lean mass and knee extensor strength when compared to afternoon protein consumption.
The researchers concluded that consuming at least 30g of protein later in the evening (during dinner time) was associated with greater leg lean mass when compared to individuals consuming a similar amount of protein in the afternoon. Moreover, consuming at least 30g of protein in the evening was associated with greater strength, compared to consuming 30g of protein in the afternoon.
Buckner SL, Loenneke JP, Loprinzi PD. Protein timing during the day and its relevance for muscle strength and lean mass. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2017 May 5. doi: 10.1111/cpf.12440.
Res P, Groen B, Pennings B, et al. Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc (2012); 44: 1560–1569.
Burk A, Timpmann S, Medijainen L, et al. Time-divided ingestion pattern of casein based protein supplement stimulates an increase in fat-free body mass during resistance training in young untrained men. Nutr Res (2009); 29: 405–413.
Snijders T, Smeets JSJ, van Vliet S, et al. Protein ingestion before sleep increases muscle mass and strength gains during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in healthy young men. J Nutr (2015); 4: 1178–1184. jn208371.