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For a Good Night's Sleep, Try Steak

By , Melissa Rudy, Health & Fitness Journalist
Out of all the nutrients, protein arguably gets the most attention—and for good reason. It's pretty powerful stuff. Its most important job is building and repairing muscles, which is why athletes and bodybuilders are so adamant about getting enough protein in their diets. Protein also creates antibodies to fight off disease and infection, hemoglobin to ensure adequate oxygen supply and hormones to keep bodily functions humming along smoothly. What's more, it keeps you feeling fuller longer, which aids in weight loss. As if that wasn't enough, a new study from Purdue University suggests that protein may also help you sleep better.
The four-month study followed a group of 44 overweight or obese people between 35 to 65 years old, many of whom reported having difficulty sleeping. Half of the group consumed a regular diet with recommended daily protein amounts, while the other half ate higher-protein foods. The results, which were published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicate that the high-protein group reported not only greater weight loss, but also a higher quality of sleep based on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. To assess how well each person is sleeping, the index measures seven key components: Subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, habitual sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances, use of sleeping medications and daytime dysfunction over the last month.
Nutrition science professor Wayne Campbell, lead author of the study, points out that the research didn't use any extreme weight loss plans or fad diets. Participants followed a dietitian-endorsed meal plan that cut 750 calories of fats and carbs while maintaining either a regular or elevated level of protein, which came from a variety of beef, pork, legumes, soy and milk protein.
This is likely the first of many investigations into protein's impact on weight loss and overall health. "Most research looks at the effects of sleep on diet and weight control, and our research flipped that question to ask what are the effects of weight loss and diet—specifically the amount of protein—on sleep," Campbell said in a statement. "We've showed an improvement in subjective sleep quality after higher dietary protein intake during weight loss, which is intriguing and also emphasizes the need for more research with objective measurements of sleep to confirm our results."
Healthy sleep has a myriad of benefits, including better memory, a healthier heart, more efficient metabolism, a stronger immune system and greater weight loss.
What do you think of the study's findings? Have you found that high-protein foods help you sleep better?

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ELRIDDICK 10/17/2020
Thanks for sharing Report
EVILCECIL 10/5/2020
Always room for a steak. Report
CTUPTON 8/16/2020
Swiss cheese makes me sleepy. Has anyone else experienced that?
Thanks for sharing Report
Protein yes, steak no Report
I might need more protein. I sleep ok the first half of the night but often wake at about 2:30 to 4 and can't go back to sleep Report
Thank you. Report
thank you Report
You angered a lot of people by suggesting they eat steak. Was that really necessary/? Report
thanks Report
Thanks for the info. Report
Thanks for an interesting article! :) Report
I think 44 people for 4 months is just the start of a study. You can't judge on that little information. I get what you're saying, maybe it is true, more research is needed. I think the biggest mistake with this article is using the word steak in the title instead of protein."For a good night's sleep eat more protein". It say's what you're trying to get across The world is changing, many, many people don't consume animal products anymore. Protein is protein, you can get it from many sources.I think it's time everyone moved with the times & included everyone, not just meat eaters. Report
42.5% protein/42.5% fat/15% carbs is how I lost 100+ pounds. I focus on getting good fats (avocado, olive oil, fish oil...) and a lot of my protein is protein powder but I don't rule out red meat, pork or saturated fat. This plan works well for me. Pain is what interrupts my sleep more than anything else. Report
I'm going to give it a try. Starting today Report
I'm going to give it a try. Starting today Report
That is what I need more of. Thanks for the info. Report
I eat a lot of protein but I still don't sleep well. I eat as much as the sparkpeople tracker suggests. Report
--I thought you were kidding me--but--its true--more protein! Report
well that would certainly help explain why I haven't been sleeping as well, since I had cut out a lot of the protein in my diet. Report
Studing 44 people for 4 months isn't a very good study. Isn't there a better study that came up with similar results? I enjoy all your articles a lot, and they have really helped me. But...not happy with this kind of thing. Report
My diet is from 18-20% protein. I use the Lose It! app to help me keep track of this. Since keeping track, which has been about a week, I have been sleeping better. You do not need to eat steak! I'm a vegetarian, and I can attest to that. Report
I have not been getting the recommended amount of protein. This surprises me as I assumed I would be fine in that area. One observation, in the comments above, many folks seem to be confusing "protein" with "meat." We can certainly get plenty of "protein" without eating more (or any) "meat." Right? It's just more difficult or takes more advance planning, I think. Report
It is a promising study, but I wish it had more people and for a longer time, to see if it is really valid... Report
I get protein boost using Carbmaster milk and oiko tripplr protein yogerts made by danon. Report
How much protein do we need? Divide your weight by 2.2...will give the kilogram weight, One gram of protein per kilogram. You need more than you think!!! Usually about 60 grams a day. Start journalling...:) Report
No, eating more protein doesn't make me sleep better. And that would be eggs or fish as I don't eat "meat". Report
"For a Good Night’s Sleep, Try Steak"

No thanks. I'd rather go without sleep than have animal be killed. Report
I don't get enough protein most days. I will try harder to get the minimum of 60g. Report
Hmmmm. I only know when I eat protein too close to bedtime I don't sleep well. Report
It's not clear from the study whether it was the weight loss or the high protein intake that improved sleep in the test subjects. Report
I don't eat red meat. So I have to take a medicine for that. Report
Warm milk or cheese and crackers before bed seem to help me! Report
I love animals. They taste great. AND they help sleep. Yay! Report
I try to eat protein with every meal. As for sleep, I need to go to bed a little earlier. Report
This may be true, but when I eat protein at dinner I will have night-mares.
My protein intake is usually around 30% split between lunch and dinner and a small snack. Report
There are MANY other ways to improve sleep. There are a lot of downsides to eating a lot of protein and there are many studies about this too.

I don't eat meat. We are primates really, physically and they do not eat meat (except a tiny 2 % of their diet which is for social reasons not for nutrition). Our bodies weren't meant to digest lots of meat.
Of course the reasons to avoid meat are plenty. Think of all the hormones and antibiotics and other rubbish that's in meat these days. Think of the way the animals are treated in bio-industry. Read the reports about how eating animal products can increase the risk of getting cancer.

So 'try steak'? Ha, ha.

Also, eating too much protein can be quite heavy on the kidneys. So let's not jump at every study outcome that becomes available. Report