Are you a fitness enthusiast who actively eats clean and trains hard? Then you probably already know how important supplementation can be. Although supplements are not required for results, they may speed up the process.
Most people consume whey during or after a workout, but that's not the only beneficial type of protein. Whey's older sister casein provides some serious benefits too, including some that even whey can't touch. And when combined, the two are unstoppable and may be able to maximize your results. Here's the breakdown on casein and our top 5 list of legit reasons to give it a try.
What is Casein?
Milk is made up of two types of protein, casein and whey. Casein accounts for roughly 80% of the milk protein and whey for the remaining 20%. If you are consuming any dairy products made from milk, you are getting a combination of the two. But they are also available separately via supplementation.
Whey protein is probably the most common protein powder on the market, but casein protein powder is a little harder to come by. Casein can be taken in two different forms: micellar casein and casein hydrolysate.
This is the most natural form of casein protein that closely resembles its chemical structure found in milk. Casein groups together in tiny balls called micelles that allows it to clot in your stomach when digested - which in turn may slow the absorption.
Hydrolyzed protein is partially broken down to allow for quicker absorption and digestion. This form is predigested and rapidly absorbed.
Casein vs. Whey
Whey protein is fast digesting—which is why it is recommended to drink a protein shake directly after a workout. Your muscles are literally hungry for carbs and protein after a hard workout session, so it's most beneficial to consume during this recovery window. It takes roughly 20 minutes for whey protein to be digested and absorbed, which allows for rapid support in muscle recovery and synthesis.
On the other side we have casein. Casein is slow digesting , which means that when you consume it, it delivers amino acids in smaller amounts, but over a longer period of time than whey - roughly 2 to 4 hours. This means you are getting a steady stream of nutrients to your muscles, which may be more beneficial for protecting existing lean mass, or in other words, acting as an anti catabolic protein.
Like other animal proteins, both casein and whey are considered complete proteins - containing all the essential amino acids you need in your diet. While both proteins are great supplements, they have different purposes. And incorporating both into your lifestyle to score optimal results from your workouts.
Top 5 Reasons to Try Casein Protein
1. Build More Muscle
Several diet plans, including RP, recommend consuming casein protein directly before bed because it is slow digesting and provides a steady flow of amino acids while you are sleeping. When you go to bed, your body releases human growth hormone, which is important for building lean muscle mass, but this process requires available protein for synthesis.
2. Increase Fat Loss
Smaller studies suggest that both whey and casein protein, when included in a calorie controlled diet along with resistance training, may help protect lean mass and promote more fat loss (4). But more research is definitely needed.
Regardless, studies do imply that consuming more protein in general may have some merit when it comes to weight maintenance and increasing protein intake might be beneficial for dropping pounds when calories are controlled (5).
3. Improve Your Recovery
You would think that going to the gym would make your muscles bigger and stronger instantly, but your body may not be able to do that without proper nutrition. The two go hand-in-hand.
It has been shown that supplementation can aid in muscle repair, maintenance and growth. And casein is an important tool to support this process. After a workout, muscle fiber is damaged. Our bodies utilize protein and amino acids to repair and build the muscle bigger & stronger than before.
What's unique about casein is its ability to supply protein over multiple hours after a workout, keeping your body protein positive, and in turn, protecting existing muscle mass and potentially supporting muscle growth (6,7).
4. Promote Dental Health
Like other dairy sources, casein may improve your dental health. Studies have suggested that casein's calcium, phosphate and hydroxide content has the potential to strengthen tooth enamel against acid erosion and damage (8,9,10). And that casein may prevent tooth decaying bacteria from attaching to teeth, helping to keep cavities at bay.
5. Casein Cookies
Casein is a versatile powder that can be enjoyed a number of ways. If you’re looking for a quick dose of casein, you can mix it with milk or water as a shake. Or if you aren’t a fan of shakes, you can bake casein into several different things, such as bars, muffins, cookies, for a healthy treat before bed.
Get an Expert Opinion
Dr. Mike Israetel of the RP Diet shares his knowledge regarding Casein
Other Sources of Protein
While casein is a fabulous supplement to a nutrient-dense diet, it's not sustainable as your main source of protein. For standard meals, turn to lean food sources like grass-fed beef, chicken, turkey, or seafood.