YOU HAVE PROBABLY HEARD about whey protein (the stuff is all over the place) and maybe even pea protein (the plant-based newcomer), but there’s another protein that’s popular among the fitness community: casein.
Casein shares more in common with whey than it does with peas, but casein is also markedly different from the two and has some unique benefits.
“There are two different types of protein in cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk: casein and whey,” explains Kim YawitzRD, owner of a gym in St. Louis, MO.
“About 80% of cow’s milk protein is casein and about 20% is whey, according to a to study in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research,” said Amy GorinMS, RDN, a plant-based inclusive dietitian in Stamford, CT and owner of Plant Based with Amy. “Whey and casein are both complete proteins and are different in several ways. For one, whey protein is digested faster than casein protein.
Ahead, the scoop on all things casein protein.
What is Casein Protein?
As a reminder, casein is one of the two main proteins present in dairy products. “It’s also used to make protein supplements,” Yawitz says, noting that these supplements come in two forms: micellar casein and casein hydrolyzate. “Micellar casein is slow digesting, while casein hydrolyzate is pre-digested for faster absorption.”
Because casein protein contains all of the amino acids required by the human body, it’s a complete protein, Gorin says. “It’s also more slowly digestible than whey protein and is released more slowly in the body, which means it keeps you full for longer periods of time.”
Additionally, as Gorin points out, “research has shown that casein offers numerous health benefits, including potential cancer-fighting properties.” Of course, more research is needed to verify these results, but the possible health benefits of casein protein seem encouraging.
Do you need a casein supplement?
As you’ve probably figured out, dairy products are the best source of casein protein. “Casein is found primarily in dairy products — milk, hard cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt,” Yawitz says. “There’s no specific recommendation for how much casein men need per day (and you won’t find grams of casein on a food label, so it can be hard to know exactly how much you’re getting from it). ‘feed).”
If you’re not eating a ton of dairy, should you take a supplement? Probably not. “You don’t necessarily need to use a casein supplement, especially if you’re consuming a lot of protein throughout the day,” says Yawitz, sharing that a typical dose for men who choose to use casein supplements is 20 to 40 grams per day.
Can casein protein help with muscle building and physical recovery?
If you want to bulk up, casein protein can be especially beneficial.
“Assuming you lift weights or perform other resistance exercises regularly, casein protein may help you build muscle and recover faster,” Yawitz says. “Most importantly, casein supplements can help you get enough protein for muscle repair and growth.”
As Yawitz points out, studies suggest that daily protein intakes ranging from 0.73 to 1 gram per pound of body weight can help maximize muscle growth induced by resistance training. “And getting that much protein is often easier said than done, especially if you have a busy schedule or tend to get full quickly when eating protein-rich foods,” she says.
Casein supplements typically contain around 25 grams of protein per scoop, Yawitz says, commenting that they’re quite convenient to consume, which is one of the reasons they’re so popular with bodybuilders and other fitness enthusiasts. .
“Even if you’re consuming enough protein throughout the day, there may be additional benefits to taking casein supplements (or eating casein-rich foods) before bed,” adds Yawitz. “Going to bed on an empty stomach can increase the likelihood that your body will break down muscle protein into energy and nutrients, making it harder to repair and build muscle. Casein takes many hours to digest and absorb, so taking before bed could help spare muscle protein, allowing your muscles to recover better and possibly even grow.
Yawitz indicates a study where muscle protein synthesis was 22% higher in subjects who took a casein supplement before bed, compared to those who took a placebo.
Still, it’s worth pointing out that casein probably isn’t the best choice if you’re looking for a post-workout protein supplement. “Whey protein is digested and absorbed much faster than casein, so your body can get right to work repairing and building muscle,” Yawitz says.
Are there any downsides to casein protein?
It may be obvious, but it bears saying: if you’ve been diagnosed with a milk allergy, avoid casein-rich foods and supplements.
“I often get asked about casein for people who are lactose intolerant. With lactose intolerance, the sugar in milk is problematic rather than casein or whey,” says Yawitz. “Most lactose-free dairy products still contain casein, so these are great options if you have a diagnosed intolerance,” she continues, adding that casein powders can be tricky, as they sometimes contain traces of lactose, so it is best to proceed with caution.
And another word for the wise: always check supplement labels and look for products that undergo third-party testing – you can confirm this via a badge on the product packaging – as the FDA does not regulate most nutritional supplements, which leaves a lot. room for inaccuracy on product and nutrition labels, Yawitz says. “Supplements that have undergone third-party testing are evaluated by an objective party to ensure labeling is accurate.”
Perri is a New York born and based writer; she has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University and is also a graduate of the plant-based Natural Gourmet Institute Culinary School, which is now the Institute of Culinary Education’s Natural Gourmet Center. His work has appeared in the New York Post, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Oprah Daily, Insider.com, Architectural Digest, Southern Living, and more. She’s probably seen Dave Matthews Band in your hometown, and she’ll never turn down a Bloody Mary. Learn more at VeganWhenSober.com.
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