Demmy James - One of the top supplements used by athletes is casein protein powders. Along with this are whey proteins and its many different forms.
Both forms of protein can provide numerous benefits for athletes, but the average person really has no use for this type of supplement unless recommended by a physician.
Do you train often and need something that will aid your diet? Then read on this expert guide to find out if casein protein is right for your needs.
What is Casein Protein?
Casein comes from dairy milk and is the reason why it is actually white. The total amount of protein found in milk is 70-80% casein, and this is also a complete protein meaning it contains calcium as well.
The importance of milk protein is not just for bodybuilders or athletes. Protein content from dairy is responsible for the uptake of nutrients and vitamins, amongst other processes within your body.
People argue about the consumption of dairy milk, but this is just a great cheap source for protein, calcium, peptides, and even fats if you need it. Casein protein powders are taken away from whey protein and created to be in pure form.
Some companies mix several proteins together, but casein on its own is noted to be the best between the two.
What is Protein Used for?
Protein is the building blocks of life as many will state, which means you need this macronutrient to survive.
For an athletic person, protein is used for muscle recovery, repair and growth. This is known as protein synthesis, which is a very important process for the repair of damaged muscles leading to growth.
Protein synthesis in its simplest of explanations is when protein consumed enters the bloodstream and goes to the area in need, which in this case are your damaged muscles. Muscles are injured after strenuous activities beyond that of daily use such as weight training, running, hiking and sports.
When the protein reaches your muscles, it enters muscular proteins and begins to repair them.
Repairing could mean replacing damaged proteins with new ones, or just simply repairing the older proteins. Regardless, the repaired proteins are slightly stronger and denser, thus the reason your muscles get bigger.
Now, casein protein powders come into use because they provide your body with the extra protein needed to make this all possible. Post and pre workout supplements have been proven to increase muscle recovery and possible growth. These supplements aids in the consumption because it is conveniently ready for digestion, but is not intended to replace whole food entirely.
What is so Special About Casein Protein?
Casein protein differs from whey because it is slow digesting, which means your body is being fed protein throughout several hours instead of just 2-3.
This has been seen to be beneficial because muscle recovery is a 24-48-hour process, so receiving protein in small amounts over the course of hours is actually a good thing.
Your body can only digest so much of one nutrient within an hour, and anything more than this is simply disregarded as waste by your body.
When using casein protein, you do not have to worry about this because it is not being digested all at once. The only time a person truly needs casein protein is following a workout and possibly before bed time, which we will cover soon.
One study actually discussed that casein protein surpasses whey protein in terms of athletic needs. Casein slowly gives the protein to your body as discussed, while whey protein is supposed to digest immediately to provide maximum benefits for post workout use.
However, this study noted that there was no difference in results between the two proteins, so casein is better since it delivers this nutrient in doses naturally.
Casein Protein can be Great Before Bed
Your body is hard at work while you sleep, ensuring that everything is recovering properly. That being said, you obviously need protein to keep protein synthesis on a continuing process.
A study proved for the first time that casein protein digested before sleep is fully absorbed and capable of increasing protein balance and synthesis. In short, this means your muscles are recovering quite well and growing stronger.
The reason casein is chosen has to go back to how it digests slowly to drip feed your body protein. You need to rest for around 7-9 hours each night for maximum recovery for growth and maintenance, and since this is a long time, you need a protein release to match this time frame as much as possible.
You can also consume yogurt, cheese, or cottage cheese to receive similar benefits to casein protein powders if you wish to keep it all natural.
Casein Protein Supplements Are Not Necessary, but Come in Handy
As mentioned, casein can be received through consuming dairy products, and it may actually be much cheaper for you to do this as well.
Supplements are just used to aid your diet and not replace your consumption of whole foods. Always eat food and then add supplements when you realize you just can’t fit enough calories for protein within your meal.
Casein supplements do come in handy because they are ready to mix in water and come in powdered forms to bring with you to the gym. You most likely don’t want to carry a refrigerated item such as yogurt to the gym because it may spoil out of cool temperatures.
Also, supplement companies may add in extra nutrients that may be of interest to you for your goals such as amino acids, creatine, and even ingredients that aid in better nutrient absorption.
The choice is yours, but casein protein does have great potential for athletes, especially in the areas of muscle recovery and muscle growth!
Demmy James is a fitness buff as well as a strength and conditioning specialist. He is also a content contributor for Muscle & Strength.