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What Are the Benefits of Eating Cottage Cheese before Bed?

By A.M. Boyle
Updated: Jan 27, 2024

Many people associate cottage cheese with breakfast. Consequently, cottage cheese before bed might seem like an odd choice of snack. Some research has shown, however, that eating cottage cheese before going to bed might carry certain desirable health benefits, especially for individuals who are bodybuilders or who are trying to lose weight. Due to the type of protein in cottage cheese, it might help retain and support muscle mass during sleep. It also contains a host of other beneficial nutrients.

Cottage cheese is made from curdled milk and its whey. Due to this fact, it generally has a high concentration of casein, the protein found in milk. Casein is a highly desirable protein that is made up of nine essential amino acids. It is unique in that, when it combines with the enzymes in the stomach, it clots and becomes a gel-like substance that is digested at a very slow pace.

When people go to sleep, their metabolisms slow down, and they enter a fasting mode in which the body is not given any food to use as fuel. The body still must maintain its vital functions, such as breathing and blood circulation. This requires energy, and typically, the body pulls that energy from the muscles in a process called catabolism. Catabolism can therefore break down muscle mass, something which most bodybuilders seek to avoid. Additionally, because muscle burns calories very effectively, those struggling with weight loss usually want to build muscle mass rather than have it broken down.

Per serving, cottage cheese has anywhere from 12 to 15 grams (about a half ounce) of protein. If a person eats a serving of cottage cheese before bed, the digestive system is given a high dose of casein protein. Due to the fact that casein is digested so slowly, while asleep, a person’s body tends to draw upon the energy provided by the cottage cheese rather than siphon energy from the muscles. This effectively stops the catabolic process and preserves a person’s lean muscle mass.

Aside from the anticatabolic benefits, cottage cheese before bed provides a person with a host of other nutrients. For instance, in addition to protein, cottage cheese contains a generous amount of calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus, all of which the body needs to stay healthy. It is also low in carbohydrates, a bonus for those watching their total carb intake. Individuals choosing low-fat cottage cheese have the benefit of minimal fat content and low calories, generally around 80 per serving. Furthermore, cottage cheese before bed can prove to be a very satisfying snack because of its rich and creamy texture and taste, and it generally staves off any cravings for less nutritious choices.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Nov 17, 2013

@ddljohn-- I think that cottage cheese before bed is a good idea, if it's going to replace a snack with carbs and sugars.

Cottage cheese is rich in protein and low in fat, which is important when you're building muscle as well as cutting (losing fat). I don't think there is any harm in having cottage cheese before bed. It's just more protein for you body to use.

By ddljohn — On Nov 17, 2013

I'm trying to build muscle. I've heard about the benefits of cottage cheese and I try to have it as a snack during the day. But I highly doubt that cottage cheese before bedtime prevents muscle loss at night. I actually don't think that there is muscle loss during the night.

By fBoyle — On Nov 16, 2013

I had no idea that eating cottage cheese before bed has so many benefits. I've actually been doing this lately because it was recommended by my doctor. I have type two diabetes and I have some cottage cheese and a small fruit before I go to bed. It keeps my stomach full during the night and keeps my blood sugar in balance.

Some diabetics experience a fall in blood sugar during the night when they are sleep and that is dangerous. It's good to eat something that gets digested slowly before going to bed. So cottage cheese is a great option. I'm going to continue doing this!

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