Researchers found that protein consumption before bed compared to protein consumption during the day does not disturb overnight belly fat metabolism or whole-body fat burn. The findings, published in the journal of "Nutrition", challenged widespread misconceptions about the relationship between nighttime eating, weight gain, and metabolism, especially in women. In this study, Ormsbee and his team used two experimental conditions to investigate fat metabolism in a sample of women weight trainers. In one condition, the study participants drank a case in protein shake 30 minutes after a workout and a taste-matched placebo shake 30 minutes before bed. In the other condition, the participants drank the shakes in the reverse order.
Researchers then deployed a strategic measurement approach designed to comprehensively assess the full, multistep process of overnight fat metabolism. First, they documented participants' lipolysis -- or fat release from fat cells -- in order to determine whether the timing of protein consumption was linked to cells' ability to unleash stored fat into the surrounding tissue. Then, the team used breath sample measurements to evaluate participants' fat oxidation, or their bodies' capacity to burn the fat released as energy in the muscles. Scientists have long known that protein consumption paired with exercise can help trigger the release of fat by cells, said study co-author and former FSU doctoral student Brittany Allman, who wrote her dissertation on this study. She and her partners were eager to identify whether, in an active resistance training population, there were any additive effects of protein consumption before bedtime -- a window of accelerated fat release. The team's measurements revealed that, for women who lift weights, the well-known benefits of a nighttime, high-protein snack far outweigh the costs.