Whether your personal goal is to lose weight, gain strength, get toned, or build lean muscle mass, nailing down your nutrition is a definite must. Because you can’t outwork bad eating habits!
Regardless of what your fitness goal is, a HUGE part of mastering your nutrition is getting enough protein every day.
And a great way to reach your daily protein needs is to use casein!
Meeting your daily protein needs just through the food you eat can be easier said than done though.
I mean, one person can really only eat so much chicken, eggs, and tuna right?
That’s exactly why protein supplements are so awesome!
The Best Protein Supplements
While there are seriously a ton of protein choices available, not all of them are created equal.
Two stand apart from the rest as higher quality and basically just better protein sources.
You’ve heard me rave about the benefits of whey protein isolate for years now because it’s amazing!
Whey provides a fast digesting complete protein source your muscles need right after your workout.
But there’s actually another protein that deserves its fair share of attention, and that is casein! Casein is just as awesome as whey, but for different reasons that I’ll go over in just a minute.
But first things first, let’s talk about the question some of you are surely asking.
What the heck is casein anyway?
Well don’t worry, I got you covered! 😉 By the end of this blog, you’ll be a casein expert.
What Is Casein
Like whey, casein is one of the proteins in milk.
When the protein is extracted from the milk, about 20% of it is whey, while the remaining 80% is casein.
After they’re extracted from milk, these proteins can be separated from each other.
The casein is then made into a usable form, packaged, and sold as a protein powder. The reason casein is so valuable as a protein supplement is that it’s digested and absorbed very slowly.
Casein vs Whey
Even though they both come from milk, whey and casein are actually pretty different from each other.
What’s the difference between whey and casein? I’ll tell you!
Whey is highly touted for its quick digestion and high bioavailability, making it a great post-workout protein option. On a micro scale, it’s also a relatively small protein, so it mixes up very smoothly in liquid.
Casein is not highly soluble, meaning that it doesn’t dissolve quickly. Because of this, it’s digested much more slowly than whey (or really any other protein).
This actually makes casein uniquely valuable and sets it apart from other proteins!
Casein also has a different taste, or mouthfeel, than whey. Casein is a bigger protein, and so it shakes up to be much thicker than whey.
In fact, if you’re used to drinking whey on a regular basis, you might be a little surprised the first time you shake up some casein. It’s definitely thicker than whey, which many people actually prefer!
But which is better whey or casein?
The answer is both! They basically do different things, and they excel at their individual jobs better than any other protein out there.
Types of Casein
There are two basic forms of casein, and both are marketed as a casein protein supplement.
Micellar casein is the immediate product extracted from milk, and it’s better for use as a protein supplement. This is because it’s broken down and digested very slowly (more on this in a minute).
When you’re in the market for a casein protein powder, I suggest looking for one that’s composed primarily of micellar casein.
This is the other form of casein that’s sometimes marketed as a supplement. It’s basically casein combined with calcium in order to increase solubility, which greatly speeds up digestion.
While it’s sometimes used as a supplement, it’s more common as an ingredient on food labels. This is because it helps to improve mixability in processed foods, and also adds calcium.
The Importance of Protein Timing
To reap the maximum benefits of the hard work you’re putting in, you should be using both whey and casein. Together they can be a dynamic duo helping you reach your fitness and nutrition goals!
The main variable is timing, as they’re each well suited to be the perfect option for different situations.
Whey protein (especially whey isolate) is the perfect post-workout protein source. It’s digested quickly and can get to your hungry muscles asap where it can help the recovery process begin right away.
But right after your workout isn’t the only time you need protein.
Whether you’re trying to gain muscle, lose fat, or maintain your body composition, you will benefit from having a steady source of protein during times when you aren’t eating.
Studies show that mixing up a casein shake before bed can keep your muscles supplied with a steady slow digesting source of protein that will help you recover while you sleep!
How to Use Casein
Due to its slow digesting nature, casein is meant to be used when you know you probably won’t be eating for a while.
For pretty much everyone, this is right before you go to bed.
You may not be worried about your nutrition during the night, but the truth is that your muscles never sleep.
In fact, the hours when you’re snoozing is when most of your recovery actually takes place!
Keeping your muscles fed with protein all night long will help you get the most out of your hard work by giving them what they need to fully recover.
It’s important to understand that your protein requirements go beyond just your post-workout needs.
While whey is super awesome, it can’t do everything alone– it needs a protein sidekick!
Casein protein can be the sidekick to your favorite whey protein product.
Use casein in tandem with whey protein to own your nutrition and get the maximum results from all your hard work!