For anyone in the bodybuilding world, you are more than likely familiar with casein. Since protein is essential for building muscle, casein offers a wide range of benefits within the bodybuilding community. Casein is a protein found in mammalian milk, making up 80 percent of the proteins found in cow milk and anywhere between 25 and 45 percent in human milk.
Although it may not sound attractive, one of the best properties of the casein molecule is its ability to clot in the stomach. This makes it an excellent supplier of nutrients, as the clot slowly releases amino acids into the blood stream. This steady release of amino acids allows for a prolonged rate of muscle protein synthesis. This is what makes casein the perfect supplement when you know you’ll be going long periods without refueling.
Why Take Casein?
Like other protein sources, casein provides an excellent supply of amino acids throughout the body. When exercising or working out, protein needs can increase and that boosting your intake can significantly improve your ability to train. Since it’s slowly digested, it helps impact protein synthesis throughout the day. Supplementing after you workout also helps your muscles repair, rebuild, and recover.
In terms of building muscle mass, one study examined 17 men who had drank two casein shakes a day. These were either consumed before and after working out or at least five hours after they trained. After ten weeks, it was found that those who drank shakes both before and after working out had built almost twice the amount of muscle in comparison to the other group of men. This has been seen across multiple studies.
When speeding up recovery, casein powder is able to move through the digestive tract at a slower pace than whey and can take up to seven hours to digest. Most muscle repair actually occurs when you’re asleep which is why it’s ideal to take this supplement before bed. The protein will be slowly released throughout the course of the night, aiding in recovery.
What are the Benefits of Casein?
There are many benefits associated with casein, especially when building lean muscle mass. In terms of bodybuilding and athletic performance, casein offers:
- A slow releasing protein that can be utilized throughout the day
- An increase in energy to tackle intense workouts and training sessions
- Support to stay leaner while gaining solid muscle
- Recovery support post-workout
When aiming to build muscle, you’ll want to maintain a sustained balance between protein breakdown and protein synthesis. It only makes sense that if you’d like to add muscle mass more rapidly, you’d need to boost protein synthesis, while reducing protein breakdown.
Since casein is released slowly, it has a more minimal effect on synthesis, yet a powerful impact on protein breakdown. When taken at the right times, casein can significantly impact your ability to build muscle mass. Within one study, it was found that men who drank a casein and whey shake for ten weeks gained more muscle mass than those who only consumed whey without the addition of casein.
While focusing on muscle recovery, whey tends to be a good source of protein directly before and after a workout. It digests more quickly, helping to refuel and recover muscles that have been overworked. With that being said, whey is not ideal to take before bed. Instead, casein is the perfect solution, slowly releasing protein to benefit muscle repair and growth as you sleep.
Casein vs. Whey Protein
There’s no doubt that both whey and casein are excellent sources of protein and can be added to any training schedule, enhancing results and performance levels. They both offer amino acids required to build protein and maintain muscle mass. Both of these proteins come from milk, so they’re similar in that regard. The key difference is, casein is a slow-digesting protein and whey is a fast digesting protein.
While focusing on whey for a second, fast-digesting means that it’s dumped from the stomach quickly. This results in a rapid increase in amino acids, increasing protein production. After protein synthesis is enhanced, protein breakdown isn’t affected. Also, whey’s effects are short-lived and repeated doses are needed in order to sustain high levels of amino acids.
Casein, on the other hand, is the most abundant protein found within milk. Due to the way in which casein is produced and extracted, causes this protein to have a slower rate of digestion. This means that amino acids are released into circulation much slower, at a more sustainable pace.
Within one study, researchers gave subjects either whey or casein protein and measured both catabolic and anabolic effects for seven hours following their meal. Whey was found to create a spike in blood amino acids and protein synthesis. Casein resulted in a prolonged increase in blood amino acids that yielded a 34 percent reduction in protein breakdown.
It’s not a matter of which one is better because both offer benefits in separate areas. Based on this, it’s best to take whey and casein protein together. That way, you experience the combination of both protein synthesis and casein breakdown.
Possible Side Effects of Casein Protein
Since casein proteins are normally consumed through milk, they’re considered to be highly safe. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to milk, then avoid taking casein. This means that you experience an allergic reaction when consuming casein peptides.
If you are planning on having surgery, casein could affect your blood pressure. If you have a set date for your surgery, please discontinue using casein two week prior. In relation, casein can interfere with blood pressure medication so please speak to your doctor if you’re taking any medications.