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Consuming Protein Before Bed Does Not Cause Fat Gains

According to research conducted at Florida State University, “physically active women who have ceased bed-time snacks should feel no fear cracking open the cup-boards after sundown for a protein-rich treat”.

Almost all the previous research on this issue focused on men. This study performed by Florida State University study was conducted using female strength trainers. FSU Nutrition Science Department showed that protein consumption before sleep, compared to protein consumption during the day, does not negatively affect lipid (fat) metabolism, or whole-body fat burning.

The FSU findings were published in the “Journal of Nutrition”. This research has the opposite results of the wide-spread misconception that much of the public and a great deal of fitness and nutrition professionals have concerning late night eating and fat storage.

The misconception has always been that eating late at night will cause you to gain fat, especially abdominal fat.

This research only addressed protein consumption at night.

Consuming fat and/or simple carbohydrates at night, the “binge macronutrients”, that much of the population is guilty of, may still lead to fat gain. This part of the popular belief may still be true.

This research was conducted on women only and it is commonly known that males tend to gain fat in the abdominal area, far more than females.

These factors should be considered with your clients’ meal planning.

According to the author of the study, Dr. Michael Ormsbee, “for far too long, people have been led to believe that eating before bed causes metabolic disturbances and will make them gain fat, however, the data simply does not support this when the food we choose to eat before bed is protein-based and small in size”.

Study Conditions:

In one condition, the research subjects consumed a casein-based protein shake 30 minutes post strength training and a taste-matched placebo shake 30 minutes prior to sleep.

In the second condition, the research subjects consumed the same shakes in reverse order.

The primary objective of the research according to Dr. Ormsbee, “was investigating how consuming a protein-shake before bed influenced over-night metabolism of fat in fit women, as compared to consuming that protein shake at another time of day”.

Researchers then used a strategic measurement approach designed to comprehensively assess the full, multitasking process of overnight fat metabolism.

Step One:

The researchers documented the subjects “lipolysis,” or fat-release from the subjects’ fat cells. This step was necessary to document the subjects’ Baseline, of whether the timing of protein consumption was linked to cell’s ability to release stored fat into the subject’s surrounding tissue.


Step Two:

The researchers then used “breath sample measurements,” to measure the subjects “Fat Oxidation”. Fat Oxidation was used to determine the subjects’ bodies’ ability to metabolize the fat released as energy within the subjects’ muscles.

The researchers’ results showed that for females who strength train, the well-known benefits of a before sleep, high protein shake far outweigh the costs.

According to co-author of the study, Dr. Brittany Allman, “in women who weight train, there are no differences in overnight local belly fat metabolism or whole-body fat burn, whether you eat protein in the form of a protein shake during the day post-workout, or at night-presleep. So essentially, you can eat protein before bed and not disturb fat metabolism.

There are such bad misconceptions about eating at night, that it will: “make me gain weight,” or “slow my metabolism.”  The research suggests that only holds true if you’re eating a ton of calories and they carbohydrate and/or fat laden. 

There are so many potential beneficial effects of eating protein at night, and it will be extremely important to take all of this science to the community to try to change the outlook of these dietary habits.”

Among the Nutrition issues presented above, always keep the Nutrition basics in mind in your meal planning:

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories

1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories

IFPA Macronutrient Recommendations:

Fat: 15%

Protein: 20%

Carbohydrate: 65%

Water: Consume sufficient water to keep your Urine Clear or nearly clear.

Snacks: Consuming 100 calories or less did not cause an insulin response or blood sugar spike.

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