Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey. Was it the spider that sat down beside her that scared her away or her GAINZ! This week maximalbeing.com is going to look deep into your casein protein shake!
What is casein protein powder? As the nursery rhyme suggests, curds and whey go hand and hand. Dairy milk is heated, followed by the addition of enzymes or an acid, leading to the production of cheese. Cheese is then filtered and pressed leading to separation of:
- curds (casein)
- liquid (whey).
When these are dried and turned into a powder, you get whey protein powder and casein protein powder. Leaving them together is essentially cottage cheese (20 grams of protein per serving PS).
Casein Protein Powder Versus Whey
Given the solid versus liquid state and molecular complexity, whey protein is more easily broken down and absorbed in your gut in the form of amino acids, which can be transported to your muscles to assist with rebuilding exercise induced damage.
Casein protein powder on the other hand contains denser molecules that are slowly digested, leading to a low, steady absorptions.
Casein Protein Shake Benefits
As long as you are getting in adequate protein (at least 1 closer to 2 grams per pound per day) you are fine either way. Whey protein is simpler and more easily digested, therefore if you have a finicky tummy you may want to select this protein after exercise.
You may hear that eating protein within 15, 30 or 120 minutes is vital to optimizing your muscle building. Turns out this is just not true. More important is to focus on your total daily intake, not the timing per a recent meta-analysis
It is also possible that whey protein contains more branched chain amino acids (BCAA). BCCAs are believed to help initiate muscle building. I will say, the data regarding this subject are mixed and most proteins contain enough BCCA to get the job done.
The timing really doesn’t matter unless you are trying to fuel up before another training session. For the rest, if you are hungry after eating…which you likely will be…eat! Eating is fun!
Casein Protein Shake Before Bed
Meal timing aside, casein protein is more slowly digested and therefore you will get the benefit, it may take longer to get to your tissues. Some advocate for a nocturnal casein protein shake, as it will slowly digest through your gut while you sleep, fueling recovery and muscle reconstruction.
There is some evidence to suggest that a nocturnal casein protein shake may improve muscle building. That said, the number of participants is low such studies. These individuals did not “get fat,” and did not have issues with am hunger as a result. They did see benefit in muscle building and performance.
However, studies arguing to the contrary on timing of casein intake also show benefit in performance, again asking the question…does timing matter or is it the amount of protein?
Natural Casein Protein
There are so many different types of casein, so what to buy? Just keep it simple! You do not need special micellar, isolates, blends, added BCAA…blah blah. Just pick a casein that is affordable and tastes good. We at @maximalbeing use this one. It is affordable and as far as casein protein shakes go, tastes great.
Just know that the consistency of a casein protein shake will be different than whey. When you mix it with the same concentration of milk or water (compared with whey) it will have more of a pudding consistency. You can use this protein like a pudding, or up the liquid content of your shake. You can also mix it with oats, granola or make protein chocolate mousse.
Protein Chocolate “Mok-Mousse”
- 1 scoop casein protein
- 1 cup of 2% fage Greek yogurt
- Milk (cows, almond, soy, coconut) 1 tsp increments
Place in a bowl, mix and add liquid in 1 tsp increments until the consistency is right. Then eat your super healthy Mok-Mousse!
Personally, here at @maximalbeing we supplement with protein at nighttime more due to a few factors.
- To meet the total daily demand of protein intake needed for muscle building
- To avoid the 2 am wake up with a growling gut
Since doing this, yes, we have seen improvement in our performance, body comps, etc, but is it the casein, or just the amount of protein, quality sleep (no growling tummy) or placebo effect? Not sure, but the evidence would suggest that the amount of protein, not type or timing is what matters. It certainly cannot harm anything, so worth adding to your nighttime ritual on your path toward @maximalbeing.