What is Casein Protein Powder?
Casein protein is one of two milk proteins derived from cow’s milk, with the other being whey protein. It accounts for 80% of cow’s milk proteins, and whey makes up the remaining 20%. Casein comes from milk curds and is essential for making cheese, while whey is the liquid that remains after straining the curds. The name casein is a direct reflection of its involvement in the cheesemaking process, as it comes from the Latin word for cheese, caseus. Casein is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. These include the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) l-leucine, l-isoleucine, and l-valine, which help muscles recover and grow following exercise. It’s also a good course of calcium and phosphorous.
What is Micellar Casein?
Whey protein is good for immediate and short-term muscle repair, but muscle recovery and growth are continual processes. Casein protein is best when taken before bed, as it helps fuel the body with the proteins it needs to rebuild and grow muscle fibers. Micellar casein gets its name from the primary source of casein—micelles. These micelles clump together in the stomach, which provides a slow release of amino acids as the body digests them. Micellar casein is the best casein protein, as it is the least processed of the various types of casein. It also contains several types of caseins, including alpha (αS1, αS2), beta, and kappa.
Casein vs. Whey Protein
Like casein, whey protein is a complete protein and a rich source of BCAA amino acids. Whey protein works best when taken shortly after a workout. It is the fastest digesting protein source and provides a rapid supply of amino acids to start repairing and rebuilding muscles straight away. Casein digests slower and is best during periods of fasting and rest—typically before bed.
Potential Casein Protein Powder Benefits
Casein Protein for Muscle Growth
Casein protein has high levels of leucine, which helps build lean muscle by catalyzing muscle protein synthesis. It is the slowest digesting dietary protein source and provides a steady release of amino acids to further facilitate muscle growth. It also has anti-catabolic properties that allow it to prevent muscle breakdown during periods of fasting. The body will break down muscle to fuel itself if necessary, but casein can attenuate this by boosting protein synthesis in cells. Individuals that typically consume low to average amounts of protein may experience muscle growth by increasing their protein intake.
Research shows casein improves strength compared to training without supplements. It also helps build type 2 muscle fibers. These fibers are fast twitch muscles and offer more power than type 1. Type 2 fibers are essential for high-intensity exercises like heavy weightlifting and running sprints. Type 2 fibers fatigue faster than type 1, which limits their usefulness. Building up these muscles may allow individuals to perform with more power.
Casein is also a good source of glutamine. Glutamine may help reduce muscle soreness after a workout and expedite muscle recovery. Less soreness and faster muscle tissue repair allow individuals to exercise more often for better muscle growth. Glutamine may reduce aerobic exercise-induced inflammation, too.
Casein Protein for Weight Loss
Casein protein may support weight loss efforts. It takes longer for the body to digest casein protein, which may help individuals feel full for longer and delay hunger. One 12-week study found that fat loss was three times greater in strength training individuals taking casein protein supplements compared to the placebo group. The casein group also experienced more fat loss than the whey protein group.
Vegan and Vegetarian Protein Sources
PureBulk carries several protein powders for vegans and vegetarians. These include:
*Most vegan and vegetarian proteins aren’t considered complete, as they’re often missing some essential nutrients. Vegans and vegetarians have to make sure they consume a mix of proteins to obtain all the essential amino acids their bodies need to function.
Chlorella is a notable exception, as it is a vegan- and vegetarian-friendly complete protein. Spirulina is technically a complete protein, but it has low lysine levels.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
Protein needs vary by exercise intensity level and weight. At a minimum, individuals need to consume 0.36 grams of protein per pound or 0.8 grams per kilogram to meet basic nutritional needs. Individuals that exercise regularly need two to three times that amount to sustain muscle repair, recovery, and growth. For example, a 150-pound individual that works out consistently needs 109-164 grams of protein daily. However, it can be challenging to consume that much protein from food. Casein protein powder can help bridge the gap to ensure the body has optimum nutrition to support muscle growth.
A 30-gram serving (three scoops or six tablespoons) of PureBulk’s casein protein powder yields the following nutritional values:
- Calories: 110
- Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 1g
- Sugar: 1g
- Protein: 26g
Potential Casein Protein Side Effects
Most individuals can take casein protein powder without side effects. Some individuals may experience bloating. Individuals with lactose intolerance should not take casein protein, as it comes from cow’s milk. Individuals with liver or kidney disease should consult a physician before taking protein supplements, as they may need to limit how much protein they consume.
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