What is Casein: Uses and Benefits
If chemistry was a strong subject for you, we’re all jealous. For the rest of us, we’ll keep this simple…
Before we dive into the world of casein, its uses, and benefits, we must first understand the general function of protein and the power of amino acids.
What Is Protein?
At least 10,000 different proteins exist in the human body. Protein comprises the enzymes that catalyze internal chemical reactions, vital to proper bodily function. It’s a macronutrient, alongside fats and carbohydrates, needed to create energy. Protein fuels muscle mass, helps you stay full, and helps boost your immune system.
Protein itself is made of amino acids, organic compounds created from sulfur, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, or carbon.
What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the “framework” of a protein's chemical composition. Twenty plus amino acids exist to create proteins.
Our bodies are unable to store amino acids so they must be built from scratch or by modifying one another, while nine essential amino acids must come solely from food.
These nine amino acids are responsible for making protein in the body.
Essential Amino Acids:
You can find these essential amino acids in animal products like red meat, chicken, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, and yogurt. In addition to dairy products and meats, essential amino acids can be found in quinoa, soy, and buckwheat. Other plant-based protein sources like mushrooms, beans, or nuts contain some, but not all, of the essential amino acids.
However, many people have turned to amino acid supplements in order to optimize their essential amino acid intake. This supports their exercise performance, mood, sleep, and muscle recovery, while preventing muscle loss.
If you don’t believe you’re eating enough protein or consume enough of the essential amino acids, protein supplements such as protein powders may be helpful in your fitness journey.
How Can I Eat Enough Protein?
It has been recommended that for every 20 pounds of body weight, 7 grams of protein are necessary for the average adult daily.
A protein deficiency, or lack of amino acids, can result in a loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, and weakening of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. In the most severe of cases, a major protein deficiency can lead to death.
Thankfully, there is an overabundance of these necessary nutrients available in the supermarkets and grocery stores today. Protein can be found in red meats and poultry, as well as plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables.
Also, casein, or the main milk protein found in dairy products, is one of the best ways to consume all of the essential amino acids.
What is Casein?
All mammals produce casein, the main protein found in dairy products. Casein contains all of the essential amino acids needed to carry out necessary bodily functions. Casein comes in many forms, and you may see it as an ingredient listed on nutrition labels as calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, potassium casein, or micellar casein.
The protein composition of milk makes it a great source of calcium and phosphorus, important minerals the body needs. Human breast milk alone is 40% casein and 60% whey (another type of protein) while cow’s milk is 80% casein and 20% whey.
Casein works by supplying our muscles with the full set of amino acids required for physical activity, strength building and muscle recovery. The protein in casein aids the body in healing small tears in the muscle fibers due to rigorous physical activity.
Not only does casein heal, it adds an extra layer of protein to support the muscles tissue. If you’re a dedicated gym goer or only partake in 30 minutes of regular exercise, muscle care and recovery is important.
Casein can be ingested as a protein supplement in powder form or through milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and other dairy products. Athletes looking for muscle building or muscle growth should consider adding casein protein powder to their pre-workout routine, or fill their stomach with protein shakes directly after exercise.
Uses & Benefits of Casein Protein
If you’re a dedicated gym-goer or only partake in 30 minutes of regular exercise, muscle care and recovery is important. Due to casein’s slow digestion and absorption time, there is a longer rise of blood levels in amino acids. Because of this, casein has been regarded to support protein synthesis longer than other forms of protein, like whey protein powder.
Boosts Muscle Growth
When you go to sleep, your body releases human growth hormones that help create lean muscle growth. However, for that growth to occur, you need proteins available to be synthesized.
Because casein is slow digesting, it delivers amino acids for up to four hours, meaning it can support muscle growth overnight by interacting with the human growth hormones. This increases your overall muscle gains.
Aids Muscle Recovery
Workouts damage our muscle fibers. As our muscles repair themselves, they become stronger and more able to lift heavier weights or endure longer workouts. Muscle recovery is the key to lean muscle growth, and it requires proper nutrition. Protein and amino acids are what our bodies use to rebuild our muscles—so we need protein and amino acids present, with enough available to best support the muscle recovery process.
Not only is casein an amino acid powerhouse, but its slow digestion means that your body will remain protein positive over multiple hours. This provides more time for your muscles to grow and protects the muscle mass that you already have.
If casein is being used for muscle recovery, it should be consumed prior to sleep or immediately after a workout.
Some studies have shown that casein may increase fat metabolism, especially when consumed before bedtime. Casein can help reduce your body’s insulin response, stimulating your body to use fat stores for energy. This is partially because all proteins help suppress appetite, boost energy, and decrease overall body fat. However, because casein doesn’t inhibit the oxidation of fat, it also might not stop your body from metabolising fat during fasting periods (like sleep).
This means that unlike other midnight snacks, casein won’t stop your body from benefitting from a nightly fast, while helping you wake up satiated.
Reduced Enamel Erosion
Casein isn’t just a hefty source of amino acids—it also contains hydroxide, phosphate, and calcium necessary to protect your tooth enamel against erosion and damage caused by acid. This is true of many dairy sources, but casein again shows unique benefits. Casein might be able to reduce cavities and tooth decay by making it more difficult for bacteria to stick to your teeth.
Promotes Growth in Infants
Casein is used in infant formula as a substitute for break milk as well. Although it has some surrounding criticism and extensive research, it is an effective substitute that promotes growth in infants.
Casein is an easy source of protein for all types of individuals, regardless of activity level. It is a complete protein produced by the casein micelle, and it contains all the essential amino acids and many proline amino acids. The A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins are digested differently by different digestive enzymes
It can be consumed through milk, yogurt, cheese, curds, or other dairy products as well as an isolated powder supplement form. It is not found in non-dairy products preferred by people with lactose intolerance, like rice- or soy-based milk. Casein can even help stabilize ACP (amorphous calcium phosphate) in dental products to help remineralize teeth!
While casein has many benefits, one of the most important is athletic performance and muscle recovery. Casein also leaves the consumer feeling full longer due to its prolonged release time in the body. This can help individuals with weight loss and weight management. It can also improve body composition, aid muscle protein synthesis, and prevent muscle breakdown to maintain and increase lean muscle mass.
BioHealth Nutrition’s Precision Blend proteins contain Pasture-Fed Micellar Casein alongside Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC), Milk Protein Isolate (MPI), and Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) for a powerful serving of amino acids and a higher level of protein purity in every serving. You’ll love our exceptional flavors like churro, and cookies and cream — but you’ll love the Precision Blend’s remarkable results even more.
Visit BioHealth Nutrition to learn more about our clean, all-natural health supplements, protein powders, and more!
Protein | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
Casein: What It Is, How It Works, Uses | Verywell Health
The Effect of Casein Protein Prior to Sleep on Fat Metabolism in Obese Men | NCBI