Hitting daily protein intake targets has been a part of the muscle-building lifestyle for decades, and over the years, research has only backed up its effectiveness. But having that info out there doesn't make it easier to actually eat 1 gram per pound of body weight per day—or 0.8 grams, or whatever other number for you.
Here's what does make it easier: Looking at rituals in your life that are largely protein free and finding simple ways to fortify them. The evening pre-bedtime snack is a classic example.
You may have heard about taking casein protein before bed as a way to boost overall protein intake and boost muscle growth. It's not just bro-science! A number of studies have found that this practice can help increase both muscle and strength, and that, yes, casein digests more slowly than whey protein.[1-3]
So, what's the holdup? For many people, it's the texture of casein supplements, which can sometimes be far thicker than whey—too thick to make an appetizing and easy-to-drink shake. But get this: That tendency toward thickness can be an advantage, says Kaged Muscle CEO Kris Gethin. Here's how he uses Kaged Muscle Kasein to kill cravings and get protein at night to help build muscle mass.
Why take casein before bed?
"There is a lot of confusion about what proteins to take at the right times," Gethin says. "The time when you should definitely take micellar casein is before bed. Why? Because it's a protein that is digested very slowly. When you mix it, it mixes extremely thick, and it causes a gel-like substance in your stomach, which allows a slow release of amino acids into your body. This is perfect while you're sleeping. It's also great at killing cravings at the same time."
Gethin's ritual is to make this pudding, let it chill out in the fridge or freezer until it gets even more pudding-like, and then do some chilling himself with a book or show.
"Especially if you're in a calorie deficit, you want a lot of volume, so you want it to be as thick as it possibly can, be" he explains. "You can mix it in a shake for sure, but I much prefer to have it in a bowl."
Does it work at other times of day? Of course. With only a gram of sugar and 26 grams of protein, this can be a filling protein snack to hold you over through the afternoon or any other time that hunger and cravings strike.
"Why on earth would you want to 'cheat' with anything other than something like this, that's healthy for you?" Gethin says. "Satisfy your taste buds and your muscular needs."
- Madzima, T. A., Panton, L. B., Fretti, S. K., Kinsey, A. W., & Ormsbee, M. J. (2014). Night-time consumption of protein or carbohydrate results in increased morning resting energy expenditure in active college-aged men. British Journal of Nutrition, 111(1), 71-77.
- Res, P. T., Groen, B., Pennings, B., Beelen, M., Wallis, G. A., Gijsen, A. P., Senden, J. M., & Van Loon, L. J. (2012). Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 44(8), 1560-1569.
- Snijders, T., Res, P. T., Smeets, J. S., van Vliet, S., van Kranenburg, J., Maase, K., Kies, A.K., Verdijk, L.B., & Van Loon, L. J. (2015). Protein ingestion before sleep increases muscle mass and strength gains during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in healthy young men. The Journal of Nutrition, 145(6), 1178-1184.