Best Protein Bar Before Bed – Is It a Good Idea?
Many clients have asked us if its a good idea to eat a protein bar before bed. We’re going to tell you the best times and worst times to eat a protein bar or shake before bed, and what kind to have.
Like many things we eat, its not always about the timing, but what you choose to eat. Choosing clean protein bars 😋 can enhance recovery while the wrong protein bar may add inflammation and impair sleep.
There are times when eating a protein bar before bed is good.
There are also times when is not so good, and it can have detrimental effects on your health.
With the experienced dietitians on our team who do online nutritionist consultations for active individuals and pro athletes, we’re going to explain exactly when you should and shouldn’t consume a protein shake or bar before bed.
Table of contents
- Is it Okay to Eat a Protein Bar Right Before Bed?
- When You Should Have a Protein Bar Before Bed
- What You May Want to Consider Instead of a Protein Bar Before Bed
- When It’s a Bad Idea to Have a Protein Bar Before Bed
- Pro Tips on Achieving Optimal Health with a Protein Bar Before Bed
- The Best Protein Bar Before Bed
- The 7 Best Protein Bars for Before Bed List
- The Best Protein Powder for Before Bed
- Does it Matter Which Protein Source You Choose?
Is it Okay to Eat a Protein Bar Right Before Bed?
Research suggests it may be beneficial to eat a protein bar right before bed if you’re an active individual. Doing so can boost workout recovery and reduce fatigue. Additionally, depending on your overall calorie intake, it may assist with building lean mass or healthy weight gain.
To determine if its OK to eat a protein bar before bed, the most important things to know are:
- The type of workouts you’re doing
- The intensity of your workouts
- What your total macronutrient intake is during the day
- What your goals are
- When your last meal was prior to bed
- Wha your ovall goals are
It is a (somewhat) a myth that eating before bed will make you fat.
Research shows it can be unhealthy to eat large meals before bed in those who do not exercise.
However, for those who exercise regularly, eating a small but nutrient-dense meal or protein bar before bed can enhance muscle growth and improve health.
When You Should Have a Protein Bar Before Bed
Protein is the building block of recovery, and getting enough protein is critical to muscle recovery and growth.
Are you an active individual and getting at least 1.4g/kg or, ideally, 1.6g/kg of protein per kilogram of body weight?
Are you increasing your training for an event such as a marathon or CrossFit competition?
Are you working out and breastfeeding at the same?
There are a lot of scenarios when it can be not only a decent idea, but absolutely crucial to consume a protein bar before bed.
Below is a list of our top 10 times active individuals should consider having a protein shake or bar before bed.
10 Times You Should Consider a Protein Bar Before Bed
- When daily protein intake was less than 1.4 grams of protein per a kilogram of body weight. 😲
- When trying to maintain muscle mass while losing weight (cut calories but keep lean protein intake high)
- When seeking healthy weight gain, your last meal was more than 4 hours before bed.
- If you’re someone who regularly skips breakfast.
- On days you dramatically increased your training (long runs, intense HIIT workouts, double workouts, etc.)
- When you’re suffering from hormonal imbalance due to a lack of protein intake and lack of calories.
- If you frequently wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.💤
- This can often be caused by the body raising cortisol to wake you up to go look for food because it is under-fueled.
- If you’re training early in the morning and want to avoid eating before your workout but want to still have some fuel in your system
- You have a hard time digesting large amounts of protein at one time making it easier to consume small amounts throughout the day, including before bed.
- You’re traveling and need the convenience of a protein bar before bed to stay on point with your macro goals.✈️
>>>Want to put on weight? Learn how to make the Best Weight Gain Shakes.
A Real-Life Example from Our Clients on When to Have a Protein Bar Before Bed
We have several clients who are sick right now, super busy, and can’t sit down to eat a real meal or guys who refuse to cook.
Instead of starving or finding yourself in a DoorDash bind, we tell them to keep a protein bar on hand, including keeping gone in their bathroom vanity in case they can’t fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night. This can help manage cortisol and blood sugar.
One last pro tip: During the holidays or when going to a party of some sort, it is often to have a protein bar in hand or be able to bring one from yourdesk before leaving the office to avoid showing up at a place with junk food feeling ravenous after a busy day where meals were skipped.
What You May Want to Consider Instead of a Protein Bar Before Bed
The International Society of Sports Medicine’s statement on protein timing suggests that “protein pacing” evenly throughout the day is ideal for maximal recovery.
What is “protein pacing”?
Simple, protien pacing consists of consuming 20-40 grams of protein from whole-food and protein supplements every 3-4 hours throughout the day.
Additionally, 30-40g of protein before bed has been proven to increase muscle recovery and growth.
Now, what does this mean for having a protein bar before bed?
Well, most clean protein bars only have 10-20 grams of protein per bar which falls short of the 30-40 grams which is optimal before bed.
Even our favorite protein bar, arguably the most clean high-protein bar on the market, RAWR Organics Bars, falls short of the 30-40g goal for optimal recovery before bed.
So, what should you do instead?
If your gut tolerates it, have a casein or whey protein shake before bed with 30-40g.🐄
If you prefer to chew instead of drinking your protein, or you don’t tolerate dairy, don’t hesitate to stick with a RAWR Organics bar and a humanely raised, grass-fed, grass-finished beef stick from Chomps. This would put your right at 30 grams of protien.
If you have gut issues with dairy or want to keep it plant-based, it may be good to try hitting your target with a high-quality organic plant-based protein powder instead.
When It’s a Bad Idea to Have a Protein Bar Before Bed
Eating before bed, whether it’s a large meal or a protein bar, is not always a great idea.
It all depends on your goals, when your last meal was, what you consumed during the day, when your last workout was, and so much more.
Keep in mind is that if your body is always focused on digestion because we’re eating around the clock, it will be less focused on cellular clean up which is also known as autophagy.
So, what are your goals?
Do you want to live as long as possible? Well then, you probably should not constantly have a protein bar before bed unless you frequently skip breakfast.
The body needs regular periods of fasting, or periods between meals, which allow gut healing and cellular clean up.
Confused about what to do? Are you serious about optimizing your health? Then check out our nutrition coaching packages and then schedule a 👉free 15-minute strategy call to map out an individualized nutrition plan to fix health issues and achieve optimal health.
What is Autophagy?
Autophagy is the body’s natural clean-up process. It helps renew cells and slow aging.
Think of this like keeping your house organized and taking out the trash. If you’re always buying new stuff and never throw anything out, your closets get stuffed, things pile up, and disorganization happens.
To keep things in your house orderly, you need to have a regular process of cleaning, organizing, and getting rid of things that don’t work or you don’t need anymore.
This is what autophagy is like.
Why is this important?
We need to clean up dead, impaired, or damaged cells to keep the body running in optional condition.
The results of fasting and boosting autophagy include decreasing cancer risk, reducing inflammation, increasing lifespan, and more. 💪
Pro Tips on Achieving Optimal Health with a Protein Bar Before Bed
Do we have a protein bed before bed?
Do we perform smart, specifically timed intermittent fasting?
Yes, almost every week.
I also do a 3-5 day fast every year sometime in December before I ramp up training for a spring marathon.
So, here are some pro tips we use to achieve optimal health and our recommendations on when to have a protein bar before bed.
- Have a protein bar or shake before bed on heavy training days if you don’t get enough protein during the day. Keep track occasionally, and you will be surprised how hard it is to hit your protein goals.
- Perform intermittent fasting (12-24 hours) on off training days.
- Never do intermittent fasting the day after a tough workout.
- Avoid intermittent fasting when sick, fatigued, or in the weeks or months of peak training.
- If you’re training hard throughout the year, just try to find 1 day every 3 months to do a 18-24 hour fast.
- Choose protein bars lower in carbs to avoid having a spike, then drop in blood sugar while sleeping.
- Be careful with intermittent fasting and relying on bars to achieve protein goals if you’re an active female. This could cause hormone imbalances. We go in-depth on hormonal imbalances and how to manage intermittent fasting and menstruation in females in our other blog posts.
The Best Protein Bar Before Bed
The best protein bar before bed is one that is low in sugar, balanced in macronutrients AND avoids inflammatory ingredients.
To our knowledge, a clean and all-natural protein bar with casein does not exist. So, if choosing a protein bar before bed, simply choose a clean protein with super high protein such as the ones below. For some people, it may be necessary to eat 2 before bed to achieve the 30-40 grams of protein necessary for optimal recovery.
This is a select list just of the best protein bars for before bed. For a detailed list of all the top protein bars on the market, be sure to read our post on the Top 17 Clean and All Natural Protein Bars
The 7 Best Protein Bars for Before Bed List
- Freshest bar on the planet- every bar is made as the order is received
- Super clean- no preservatives, real ingredients, mostly organic
- 18-21g or protein, depending on which bar you choose 💪
The RAWR Organics Bars are our all-time favorite protein bar and would make a great option before bed because it is made of real food and has a high amount of protein.
Want to know hor fresh these bars are?
Well, they make them as your order is received and they can only be kept in the fridge or freezer.
We keep RAWR Organics Bars ih our fridge at all times and is frequently our go-to when we’re in a hurry in the morning. While we personally prefer a protein shake before bed, if you’re looking for something to chew on, this is our top recommendation because of its clean ingredients and high amount of protein.
- 20g of whey protein per bar
- Just 3 ingredients in the Almond Honey flavor- almonds, whey, and honey
- Gluten Guard and Kosher Certified
The rise Bar Protein Bar (it’s not a typo, the first letter of the brand is lowercase) could make a strong case for being the best protein bar for before bed due to its high amount of protein, simple ingredients, and the type of protein it uses.
Compared to plant-based sources of protein, whey is higher in amino acids and has higher bioavailability meaning your body absorbs it better.
When your body can absorb it better, it can use it better. So, if you tolerate whey protein, it is likely to boost your recovery better than plant-based sources of protein. Heck, biohacker Dave Asprey said he won’t even count plant-based sources of protein towards his daily macronutrient goals because its bioavailability is so low.
If you choose to try the rise Bar Protein Bar before bed, we recommend sticking with thier Almond Honey or Snicker Doodle flavors which are their only flavors with 20g of protein (the others have 15-16g), and its the only options without chocolate which may impair sleep.
- 20g or protein that includes a blend of collagen, low-lactose milk protein, and whey
- Great taste and mostly clean ingredients
- Sometimes out of stock 😕
- May not be a good choice if you do not tolerate dairy
While you won’t find a protein bar with casein in it, which is the most helpful protein to consume before bed, a bar with whey in it is the next best thing.
The Vital Performance Protein Bar is a really solid bar when it comes to taste and texture, and it has mostly clean ingredients. Its also one of the only bars on the market with collagen peptides.
- 17g or protein from milk, peanut butter, and whole egg powder
- Uses organic honey for sweetening/taste
- Includes 20 superfoods such as flax seed, dulse, keep, and more
How about a great-tasting protein bar that you might even be able to find at Costco?
Arguably the best tasting bar on the list, the Perfect Bar Protein Bar is an awesome bar if you tolerate dairy. If you get bloating or any type of gut issues with dairy, then it is inflammatory for you, and it is best you avoid foods like this.
This bar is a bit on the higher end of carries at 340 and also has a higher amount of total fat of 19. This is a great bar for when you’re training hard and having a hard time getting enough calories. Remember, if you don’t get enough calories, your muscles won’t be able to recover fully.
- 12g of protein
- High in amino acids
- Great taste
There are a lot of meat products out there, so why did we choose this one for the list?
WHile a lo of meat sticks have 6-9g or protein, the EPIC Venison Sea Salt & Pepper Bars stand out by having 12g of protein.😉
Yes, there are some great brands of grass-fed, grass-finished beef sticks out there like Chomps, Paleo Valley, and more. And yes, we often consume 2 sticks at a time to meet our daily protein goals.
However, if you’re looking to get 20-40g or protein before bed, that’s a lot of meat stick. You can get by with 1-2 EPIC bars and be close enough to keep your recovery on point.
The taste is greater and they use wild-caught, pastured, and grass-fed meats for their bars. If you haven’t tried EPIC yet, especially the EPIC Venison Sea Salt & Pepper Bars, give them a try.
Great tasting but definitely not clean. When the first ingredient is a “syrup” and it has a seed oil in it which is inflammatory, we would not put this at the top to the list.
With that said, if you’re someone who hates the test of clean and all-natural protein bars, this is a great in-between bar as it is made up of mostly clean ingredients.
The Best Protein Powder for Before Bed
- Just 1 simple ingredient in the unflavored option or 3 simple organic ingredients in their vanilla or chocolate
- 26g of protein per serving (2 scoops)
Want to keep things super clean and pure? If you’re choosing a casein protein, it doesn’t better than Naked Casein by Naked Nutrition.
With just 1 simple ingredient, this is the top option for those trying to keep their diet void of additives or inflammatory ingredients.
Good news though!
- Best option for optimizing sleep
- Less protein than other choices
- Amazing reviews
Thorne is one of the most innovative and trusted companies in the market when it comes to sports supplements. Used by pro and olympic athletes and fighters, Thorne is always a good company to look to when looking for a supplement to fit your needs.
When looking for the best protein powder to consume before bed, RecoveryPro by Thorne should be at the top of the list as this is the top option for achieving quality restorative sleep.
This powerful nighttime sleep protein supplement is packed with:
- GABA to enhance sleep
- Magnesium glycinate to reduce muscle tension (along with many bodily processes)
- Tryptophan to reduce stress and enhance blood sugar regulation
The end result? Some of the best sleep an athlete can get. Don’t take our word for it though, check out the reviews for yourself:
If you want to get some of the best recovery sleep of your life, you can purchase RecoveryPro by Thorne on Amazon, or, if you want to 👉save $5 you can purchase it through our Fulscript affiliate link.👈
Just create your account and search “recoverypro” in the catalog search box.
Once you create your account you’ll have exclusive access to 20% off any supplement you want and free shipping when over $50.
- NSF Certified for Sport- Highest quality testing for banned substances. Safe for athletes of all levels to use with drug testing.
Does it Matter Which Protein Source You Choose?
At the end of the day, you could likely choose any whey protein and have nearly as much benefit as a casein protein powder.
The reason for choosing a casein protein is that it breaks down slower. This provides a slow-steady release of protein and amino acids for rebuilding throughout the night.
With that said, you could also choose just a high-quality grass-fed whey protein and likely get nearly as good of results, just stay away from the chocolate flavors to avoid disturbing deep sleep.
If you would like to purchase a traditional whey protein powder, here is a complete list of the top grass fed whey protein powders🐮.
Be sure to check that out as there are a couple of options on the list that will blow you away with how powerful they are in boosting recovery. Hint- they don’t have whey protein in them!
The decision to consume a protein bar before bed likely depends on your goals, training level, and intake throughout the day.
If your goal is to achieve maximal muscle recovery and athletic performance, it is often a great idea to consume a protein bar, or if your gut tolerates it, a 30-40g protein shake with casein or even a high-quality grass-fed whey protein will likely do the trick.
If your goal is to live a long time, it may be best to find ways to perform intermittent fasting and often skip a snack or protein bar before bed.
If your goals are similar to ours, which is to do both, then you will need to cycle back and forth throughout the week and year on how often you do either method.
Lastly, don’t only focus on protein for recovery. Anti-inflammatory foods enhance recovery and are a crucial component of optimal recovery. Remember, managing your macronutrients is just one piece of the puzzle.
Always be sure to consume colorful foods (AKA eat a rainbow) which are rich in powerful antioxidants like quercetin, and if necessary, replace your protein bar with a super tasty anti-inflammatory weight gain shake.