The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a whole-food protein (cottage cheese, CC) consumed before sleep on next-morning resting energy expenditure (REE), RER and appetite compared with an isoenergetic/isonitrogenous casein protein (CP) supplement and placebo (PL) in active women. In a beverage-blinded, randomised, cross-over design, ten active women (age, 23·1 (sd 1·9) years; body fat, 22·0 (sd 4·6) %) consumed pre-sleep CC (30 g of protein, 10 g of carbohydrate and 0 g of fat) or energy- and protein-matched liquid CP or PL (0 kJ). Participants arrived at 18.00 hours for an overnight stay in the laboratory. At 30–60 min before normal bed time (2 h post standard meal), participants consumed CC, CP or PL before measurement of REE. Upon waking (05.00–08.00 hours), REE was repeated and subjective appetite was recorded. Statistical analyses were conducted using repeated-measures ANOVA (SPSS). Significance was accepted at P≤0·05. There were no significant differences in acute REE (CC, 7217 (sd 1368); CP, 7188 (SD 895); PL, 7075 (sd 1108) kJ/d, P=0·95), acute RER (0·79 (sd 0·05), P=0·56), morning REE (CC, 5840 (sd 1225); CP, 5694 (sd 732); PL, 5991 (sd 903) kJ/d, P=0·79) or morning RER (0·77 (sd 0·03), P=0·52). Subjective measures of appetite were not different between groups. In active women, pre-sleep consumption of CC does not alter REE or RER more than a CP or PL beverage. These data suggest that the metabolic response from whole-food protein do not differ from the metabolic response of liquid protein.