Much like rest and good nutrition, an important part of training is the taking of fitness supplements.
No matter what your training regimen is for; whether it’s for bodybuilding, peak performance, or just overall health, supplements assist in helping your body acquire the necessary ingredients it needs to build muscle and enhance your training.
Even outside the realm of training, supplements assist with nutrient deficient diets.
Even if you do follow a nutrient-dense diet, fitness supplements aid in diminishing genetic weaknesses.
They assist in the prevention and aid of health conditions such as high cholesterol, arthritis, and cancer.
Why is Protein so important?
For those on a training regimen, one important aspect of sports nutrition is protein. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, protein facilitates “muscular repair and remodeling,” which enhances “post-exercise strength- and hypertrophy-related adaptations.”
In other words, protein is incredibly important for individuals looking to maximize their efforts in the gym.
When it comes to protein supplements, most know about whey protein.
Whey is a by-product of the cheese making process.
When milk separates during the production of cheese, the liquid part that separates is whey.
Essentially, whey protein is “a mixture of proteins isolated from whey.”
Containing essential amino acids, whey protein is used as a supplement to aid muscle recovery and growth.
It’s a fast acting protein supplement that’s often taken immediately after a workout.
Usually between 30-45 minutes post-workout.
But whey isn’t the only protein supplement on the market.
This article will examine the importance of casein, a slow-acting supplement with numerous benefits.
It will highlight the importance of casein as both a supplement and complementary to whey.
What is casein?
A type of protein found in dairy products, casein is an alternative dairy-based protein supplement to whey.
The main protein found in dairy products, such as milk, casein is relatively insoluble, offering a positive protein balance within the body.
It’s slower rate of digestion and steady release of essential amino acids is why casein is known as a “slow acting” protein.
In a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers found that the benefits of whey protein were short-lived, despite a “rapid increase in blood amino acids and protein synthesis.”
Casein, on the other hand, had a superior long-lasting effect, blocking protein breakdown, resulting in “prolonged increase in blood amino acids.”
Benefits of casein
For individuals who follow a strict training and diet regimen, casein is proven to have numerous benefits.
Protein has been shown to increase the development of lean muscle mass and the repair and recovery of muscle fibers post-workout.
This not only diminishes muscle soreness but also enhances gains in muscle strength.
This allows individuals to train harder in the gym, allowing them to go that extra mile, improving both strength and power.
The benefits of casein are only found in individuals who train religiously.
In fact, adding casein protein to your nutritional diet can make a real difference.
Studies show that consuming a higher-protein diet result in greater satiety, which promotes weight loss and fat mass loss.
Since protein is a macronutrient, it aids in the ability to feel fuller.
Individuals can benefit from consuming this nutrient-rich supplement without the consumption of excess fat and carbohydrates.
Aside from its role in muscle development, casein protein also has other health considerations:
- Casein protein can be used as a flour replacement during baking to prepare low-carb, high-protein food.
- For elderly and malnourished individuals with difficulty acquiring adequate protein, casein has been shown to boost their protein levels.
How To take Casein
As a slow digesting protein, casein is excellent for avoiding muscle catabolism while extending the protein synthesis rate in your body.
Its slow digestion speed means it can take up to seven hours to digest.
As a slow acting protein, it’s best to take casein protein before sleep.
Research has demonstrated that protein ingestion before sleep not only increases muscle mass and strength gains but also results in increased morning resting energy expenditure.
The consumption of casein protein before bed elicits favorable effects for next-morning metabolism.
This is an effective dietary strategy that augments the effects of aerobic and anaerobic exercises.
As casein doesn’t have the immediacy or anabolic effect that whey has, it’s advisable to complement both dairy-based protein supplements.
Combining the immediacy of whey protein and the latency of casein provides your body with a host of extra benefits.
The combination of both is conducive to muscle growth and strength gains.
But it’s not just about consuming both proteins all at once.
There’s a precision protein supplementation process to maximize the effects of both dairy-based protein supplements.
Casein has a unique ability in that it is a binding agent.
In other words, it coagulates in the stomach.
This is how it serves as a slow digesting supplement.
It slows the rate of protein breakdown, which will nullify the effects of whey protein and its ability to flood your system with essential amino acids and increase protein synthesis rates.
Since whey protein provides beneficiary effects during peak anabolic periods, its consumed immediately after workouts.
Casein should be digested right before bed.
This will provide your body with a more sustained amino stream as you rest and recovery for the coming day.
If you decide to forgo taking whey protein and choose to take casein alone, it’s important to understand how much casein to consume.
A number of factors will come into play when determining the right quantity of casein for your supplementary needs.
Things like weight, total protein intake, and other protein sources will play a role.
Foods that contain casein protein
The most important part of any training regimen is one’s diet.
Good nutrition and a balanced diet will serve to fuel your daily activities alongside your regular exercise.
When it comes to casein protein, supplements and powders are not the only way to get it.
As a dairy-based protein, it would make sense that higher concentrations of casein can be found in milk-based foods.
Foods such as cottage cheese and Greek yogurt has been shown to have high degrees of casein protein.
Other casein-containing foods that are less obvious include:
- Semi-sweet chocolate
- Baked goods, due to the use of milk or buttermilk
- Cream-based soups.
If you have no desire to consume protein supplements, then the foods highlighted above will provide you similar benefits.
If you’ve only taken whey protein to supplement your recovery and gains, then it’s time to consider the benefits of casein.
Not only does casein wonderfully complement whey protein, but as a standalone protein supplement, casein has been shown to have numerous health and training benefits.
Working in tandem together, both milk-based protein supplements are sure to aid your training regimen, increasing muscle mass and strength gains while providing improved rates of muscle recovery and rest.
It should be noted that since both casein and whey are dairy-based supplements, those who are lactose intolerant or have casein allergy should avoid products that contain milk.
In such instances, there are non-dairy based protein powders.
Other high-quality protein powders include soy protein powder, plant-based powders such as hemp or vegan protein powders.
Such options will have significant muscle-building benefits comparable to casein or whey.