There are many types of proteins and protein powders, each offering its unique benefits. Depending on your health and fitness goals, it can be difficult to decipher which protein is most suitable for YOU.
One popular choice that you may have heard of already is Casein. If you haven’t heard about this milk-derived protein source, you’re about to be taken to school!
In this article, you’ll learn about all things casein protein, from what it is, how it works, and what are the benefits, to more specific answers to the most frequently asked questions surrounding this popular protein source.
First thing first, what is casein protein? You’re about to find out!
What Is Casein Protein?
Casein is the predominant protein source found in milk. Through an isolation process that we won’t go into detail with, casein can be extracted and curated to make what is more commonly known in its supplement form as casein protein powder.
For those that thought that whey protein, the more popular protein source of all protein sources, was the main component protein of milk, think again! In fact, casein accounts for almost 80% of milk protein, while whey only accounts for the other 20%.
We’ll discuss the key differences between casein and whey in the frequently asked questions portion of the article.
There are two main types of casein protein:
- Micellar Casein
- Casein Hydrolysate
We’ll discuss the key differences between casein hydrolysate and micellar casein in the frequently asked questions portion of the article.
In short, casein is a top-quality, slow-digesting, widely bioavailable, complete protein source that comprises of branched-chain amino acids, making it an incredibly useful tool on your journey towards bigger, stronger muscles and repair!
Casein protein is best consumed before bed. Why? Simply put, because it allows your body to digest the protein over time, thereby eliciting sustained energy and protein levels throughout the day.
It also inherently aids in recovery while you sleep!
Because of its unique properties in comparison to the aforementioned whey protein, casein tends to be given a poor reputation. However, for those more educated on the matter, casein protein offers a variety of benefits. In what follows, you’ll learn of these benefits and why you should consider supplementing with casein protein powder!
Let’s get into it, shall we?
The Benefits of Casein Protein
Because of the slow-digesting properties of casein protein, its best taken before bed for optimal repair and recovery. Jam-packed with slow-release amino acids, and rich in beneficial nutrients, casein protein offers several various benefits for general health, wellness, and physical performance, among other things.
For starters, its primary function as a protein is, of course, muscle growth and repair. However, as previously mentioned, casein protein offers much more than that. In this list that follows, you’ll learn about all the amazing benefits of supplementing with casein protein.
Top Benefits of Supplementing With Casein Protein Powder:
- Stimulates Muscle Growth
- Repairs and Recovers Damaged Muscle Tissue
- Suppresses Appetite/Hunger and Assists in Weight Loss
- Improved Health Biomarkers (i.e. Reduced Blood Pressure)
- Supports Bone, Vascular, and Muscle Health
- May Boost Immunity
- And More!
Let’s dive into the benefits in more detail, shall we?!
Stimulates Muscle Growth
If your goal is to build muscle, casein protein is a necessity. While many see its slower digestive properties as a less effective, almost negative characteristic, research has shown quite the contrary.
Additionally, while it’s commonly recommended to consumer casein protein as a bedtime snack (and for good reason), it can still be quite effective as a post-workout shake.
In summary, because of its steady release of complete amino acids throughout the night, casein has a keen ability to support muscle recovery, and thus, muscle growth.
Much like other sources of protein like whey, casein protein reduces appetite by increasing the level of satiety on feels after consumption. In other words, consuming protein increases feelings of fullness, thus reducing one’s appetite to continue eating.
The benefit here? It directly impacts fat loss and weight reduction. For those seeking to shed a few extra pounds, casein consumption is an effective tool to have in your toolbox!
Casein protein also can reduce hunger because of its slow-digestive properties. Because it takes so long to digest, you inherently remain full for longer periods.
As such, if you’re ever feeling a craving coming on, or you simply want to add an extra level of protection against weight gain, supplementing with a quality casein powder daily may just do the trick.
Supports General Physical Health
Because casein is derived from dairy milk, it naturally contains high levels of calcium and other highly beneficial nutrients. If you have yet to be informed, calcium’s primary function is to support the functionality of the body and ultimately aids in overall bone, muscle, and vain health.
Other than calcium, casein contains great quantities of other nutrients as well. Without going into too much detail, because of the high level of bioavailability and absorption of these nutrients, casein remains atop the leaderboard for the best protein sources to supplement with.
How to Use Casein
Supplementing with casein protein powder is an effective tool for muscle growth and recovery. When and how to take it, however, is up for debate. Should you consume it through food? Or should you drink it via a powdered shake? Is supplementing as effective? When should you consume it?
All of these questions are valid and should be addressed, and in this section, we’re going to address them!
In short, casein is widely recommended to be consumed at night before bedtime due to its slow-digesting properties. This allows for a slowly absorbing protein to be elicited to the muscles over time whilst sleeping.
Taking 1-2 scoops, preferably about 25 grams at a time, of casein protein powder mixed with water or milk seems to be the most optimal dosage. Simply mix, shake, and drink away.
Not only does consuming it at night helps avoid midnight snacking, but it also provides a means that many lacks to recover while sleeping.
With that being said, while whey protein certainly seems to be the most popular choice for post-workout protein shakes, and for good reason, casein powder can also act as an effective supplement for repair and replenishment after an intense workout. Just note that whey protein is much faster at digesting and absorbing into the muscles, while casein takes longer to reach said muscle.
To keep it simple, the best recommendation when it comes to casein consumption is to take it before bed. But when? The sweet spot seems to be approximately 15-30 minutes before laying head to the pillow.
Casein Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we’ll be reviewing some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding the topic of casein protein and supplementation. Let’s get into it:
Is Casein Safe to Use?
Much like whey protein, casein protein is generally safe for the majority of individuals who choose to consume it or supplement with it. Studies have shown some impressive long-term benefits to one’s health for those who are consistently consuming it and optimal dosages.
However, like most things, casein can be potentially dangerous for some individuals. While there isn’t yet enough data on this subject, it’s better to be safe than sorry. With that being said, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, have a lactose or dairy allergy or plan to give it to an infant or child, it may be smart to first consult with your doctor or primary care physician.
Lastly, if you’ve studied casein already, you’ve likely heard of the A1 vs A2 controversy. In short, there are two types of cows that produce differing casein products. To get to the point, there’s been research to suggest that consuming A1 beta-casein can cause some health issues. This, however, isn’t yet totally conclusive.
Nonetheless, from a broad standpoint, casein is very safe for oral consumption.
When Should I Take Casein?
It’s recommended to consume casein protein before bedtime, preferably 30 minutes before. With that said, it’s safe, and can be effective, when taken post-workout as well!
In special circumstances, casein can also be consumed as a meal replacement of sorts when you’re going without food for longer periods. Nonetheless, Casein is best served cold, mixed with either water or dairy milk, and consumed as a nighttime snack to elicit peak recovery, repair, and growth.
What is the Difference Between Micellar Casein and Casein?
Micellar Casein is the most popular type of casein. It’s the type that is known to be slow-digesting. Casein hydrolysate on the other hand is the form that’s pre-digested and absorbs at a rapid pace.
Neither is superior to one another, however, if you’re consuming casein for its traditional benefits (muscle growth and repair at night), micellar casein is likely your safest choice.
What is the Difference Between Whey Protein and Casein Protein?
While casein protein is a slow-digesting protein, whey protein happens to be just the opposite; a fast-acting protein. Additionally, casein is anti-catabolic meaning that it protects from muscle breakdown.
Both whey and casein are fantastic options that simply provide different, unique benefits. To compare, for example, their leucine content, casein contains less leucine than whey. This may be why whey is largely more beneficial for a post-workout shake!
Lastly, while both are derived from dairy milk, casein makes up almost 80% of milk protein, whilst whey only makes up about 20%.
Is Casein Better Than Whey?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to protein consumption. Why? Because each option provides unique benefits. For a slower-digesting, night time repair protein source, casein is your go-to. For a daily post-workout shake that’s fast-acting and accessible, whey is likely your best bet.
It can’t be concluded that casein is better than whey, nor vice versa. It simply comes down to your preference, goals, and budget. If you can take both, take both!
What Foods Contain Casein?
Because casein is derived from dairy milk, all dairy sources contain high levels of casein. For starters, casein makes up almost 80% of the protein in milk. Additionally, cheese, yogurt, butter, and other dairy products contain high amounts of casein. Lastly, processed foods like baked goods and ice cream contain amounts of casein as well.
As mentioned, casein is an incredibly effective, slow-digesting protein that derives largely from dairy milk and is known to boost muscle growth and retention. It also aids in overnight recovery among other things.
While taking it can improve one’s overall health, there are certain circumstances where it can elicit an unsafe, negative response. Take the A1 vs A2 controversy for example.
Nonetheless, broadly speaking casein protein and its supplemented form in that of casein protein powder is largely safe and effective to consume. Taking 1-2 scoops nightly has shown positive results in recent studies.
In conclusion, casein is widely disregarded as the best protein, however, research suggests quite the contrary. Casein is an effective, highly underrated source of protein, and many can benefit from taking it.