When people talk about protein supplements, more often than not, it is whey protein powder that gets all of the praise, whereas poor old casein protein barely gets a look in at all. In reality there are many, many different types of protein supplement out there, and to look at them all would take hours upon hours, so instead, we’ll simply be focussing on one of the most beneficial, yet highly overlooked types of protein supplement in the entire world – casein protein. Casein protein, like whey protein, is naturally derived from milk, and more often than not, that milk comes from cows. However, contrary to what many people often believe, whey protein does not actually make up the majority of protein found in this milk, as in actual fact, most of the protein comes from casein. Roughly around 80% of the total protein content found in milk, comes in the form of casein. Casein has a very high natural biological value, so it basically contains all essential amino acids required by the body, as well as a number of non-essential ones as well. Molecularly however, it is very different to whey, and because of that, it behaves very differently once it has been consumed. If you are looking for another quality supplement to add to your stack, especially if you are trying to build muscle, here are 5 of the primary benefits associated with casein protein.
It is slow digesting
When people finish their workouts, their muscle glycogen levels are virtually empty, and their muscle cells lack the proteins, amino acids, and other nutrients required to initiate protein synthesis and to help the body begin rebuilding bigger and stronger muscle fibres. Because of this, they need to get these nutrients into the muscle cells as quickly as possible, which is why they will often consume a whey protein shake mixed with water. Whey protein is a fast absorbing protein, meaning it will make its way into the muscle cells very quickly. Milk slows down the absorption process, which is why post-workout shakes should always be mixed with water. On the exact opposite side of the spectrum however, we have casein protein, which is molecularly very different to whey protein, which means that it behaves very differently once consumed, and provides different physiological values and benefits. Casein protein is a slow digesting protein, meaning that it is absorbed much, much slower by the body than whey. Sometimes it is important to provide a slow and steady stream of proteins and amino acids into the body, especially when you are sleeping. A casein protein shake before bed will help prevent the body from entering a catabolic state due to a lack of nutrients, as it will ensure the muscles are fed with a steady stream of proteins and amino acids whilst you sleep, thereby helping to preserve muscle mass and promoting new growth in the process.
It is very filling
Because casein protein powder is so slow to be digested and absorbed by the body, it stays in your system for much longer, helping to keep you feeling full, and thereby reducing your appetite and hunger cravings. For people trying to watch their caloric intakes in order to keep their weight under control, or even to lose weight, a casein protein shake will provide important macronutrients and micronutrients required by the body, whilst keeping you feeling full for longer and reducing your appetite. If you feel full then obviously you will be less likely to overeat, and if you don’t overeat you don’t consume more calories than you require.
Better quality of protein
Although it is important to meet your daily protein requirements no matter what, ideally you should always get much of your protein from healthy and good quality sources that have very high biological values. Numerous studies have found that casein protein is one of the best quality sources of protein you could wish for, which means that it contains more important nutrients that are required by the body for all kinds of physiological processes. Casein is rich in amino acids, both essential and non-essential, plus it is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it extremely beneficial for your body.
Assists with fat loss
Not only can casein protein assist with fat loss by helping to keep you feeling full for longer, and thereby reducing your appetite and food intakes, but as well as that, casein also assists with fat loss due to the fact that it is a naturally rich source of the mineral calcium. Calcium has been found to increase the metabolism of fat within the body, helping to speed up the metabolism and allow the body to convert calories stored in body fat into energy. This means that not only will it help to speed up fat loss, but as well as that, it will provide you with more energy, so you’ll be more active, and will be able to burn off even more fat in the process.
Helps retain lean muscle mass
Most people who are actively trying to build muscle, will also be looking to lose body fat, or at the very least, prevent fat gain, which is very difficult. More often than not, anybody looking to lose body fat, or prevent fat gain, will lose a little lean muscle mass in the process, because doing so would require a caloric deficit, or at the very least, it would require calories to not go above maintenance. If you are cutting and are trying to preserve lean muscle mass however, make sure you invest in a casein protein supplement because study after study has actually revealed that casein protein can preserve far greater percentages of lean muscle mass than other types of protein.