One of the oldest nutrition / fitness myths is that you shouldn’t eat carbohydrates after 6PM as it’ll lead to fat gain.
While this belief is wrong (for multiple reasons), it does make you wonder if there are certain foods you should or shouldn’t eat before bed.
Specifically, what foods (if any) could/should you eat before bed for better results (i.e. recovery, strength, muscle growth, immune support, etc.)?
On the flip side, what foods should you avoid before bed that could disrupt your ability to sleep soundly, thereby impairing muscle recovery, fat burning, and results during your transformation challenge?
We’ll answer all of that (and more), up next!
What Foods Should I Eat Before Bed?
The basis of any meal or snack you have before bed should be protein.
- Boost protein synthesis
- Combat protein breakdown
- Repair damaged muscle fibers
- Enhance muscle recovery
- Improve metabolism
- Support hormone production
- Keep hunger at bay
Furthermore, pre-bed protein consumption does NOT impair fat oxidation.
This begets the question, “how much protein should I eat before bed?”
The answer will vary based on a number of factors, including age, sex, weight, height, lean muscle mass, and how much protein you’ve already consumed during the day.
Generally speaking though, between 20-40 grams of protein is sufficient.
Now, the idea of eating a whole serving of fish, chicken, steak or eggs might not sound exactly enticing right before bed, and that’s perfectly ok.
It requires next to no effort, won’t dirty a ton of dishes, and won’t leave you with an overly stuffed feeling that could lead to difficulty sleeping.
Having a protein shake will supply the body with all of the building blocks it needs to support an anabolic environment during sleep, promoting greater muscle recovery, energy replenishment, and growth!
If you’re not in the mood for a shake, you can also try making a serving of protein yogurt by mixing together a scoop of your favorite protein powder with 6-8 ounces of Greek yogurt.
Yet another option for those who may enjoy the sensation of chewing something for their bedtime snack is to try one of our top-rated 1UP Protein bars.
Foods to Avoid Before Bed
We’ll start this off by saying that beyond protein, what foods you eat and how much of those foods you eat will vary greatly from one individual to another.
Some people prefer a heavy meal, rich in carbohydrates and protein before bed and finds that it helps them sleep better with a very full stomach. Others can be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum -- they don’t enjoy the stuffed sensation and want something very light.
As such, it may take some experimentation to figure out the ideal pre-bed snack or meal that fits your goals and preferences.
Speaking in general terms, meals that are very high in fat or contain lots of fiber may lead to disrupted sleep for some individuals on account of the fact that the more fat and/or fiber a meal contains the slower it digests, which may lead to you experiencing heartburn or GI discomfort when trying to get to sleep.
At the end of the day, if you want to experience better recovery, less soreness, and get more results, it makes sense to consume enough protein each day.
Having a light pre-bed protein shake can help individuals hit their protein intake goals for the day.
And, if you’re not sure whether you’re consuming enough protein and/or eating too many/few calories during the day, make sure to check out the 1UP Fitness App, which is available for FREE on both Apple and Google Play.
The 1UP Fitness App is a comprehensive health and fitness app designed for ease of use to help individuals track their success both in the kitchen and in the gym by allowing you to track your calories/macros as well as your workouts.
- Kinsey, Amber W, and Michael J Ormsbee. “The health impact of nighttime eating: old and new perspectives.” Nutrients vol. 7,4 2648-62. 9 Apr. 2015, doi:10.3390/nu7042648
- Costa JV, Michel JM, Madzima TA. The Acute Effects of a Relative Dose of Pre-Sleep Protein on Recovery Following Evening Resistance Exercise in Active Young Men. Sports (Basel). 2021;9(4):44. Published 2021 Mar 26. doi:10.3390/sports9040044
- Madzima TA, Melanson JT, Black JR, Nepocatych S. Pre-Sleep Consumption of Casein and Whey Protein: Effects on Morning Metabolism and Resistance Exercise Performance in Active Women. Nutrients. 2018;10(9):1273. Published 2018 Sep 10. doi:10.3390/nu10091273