You may be familiar with whey protein, but what is casein protein and why should you be taking it?
If looking to maximize your lean muscle mass and increase your strength, proper protein intake is a must. For, as I’m sure you’ve heard, protein rich foods and supplements are the building blocks of quicker recoveries and lean muscle mass increases. But while most people now know the benefits of fast digesting proteins like whey, the vast majority are unaware of the importance of slower digesting casein supplements.
But what’s so special about casein, and how does it differ from whey protein? What does it have to offer other protein sources do not, like say a piece of steak or a couple of eggs? Well, you’ve come to the right place as we’re about to break down the benefits of casein.
Superior Lean Mass Retention While Dieting
The first benefit of adding more casein protein to your diet is it helps you retain lean muscle mass than most other protein sources. When on a fat loss diet, this slow release of amino acids over a 6-8 hour time horizon can be extremely helpful.
Any time you’re reducing calories you’re vulnerable to muscle tissue loss, as your body is generally in a catabolic state. This happens because as you ingest fewer calories, your body finds its energy from alternative sources which often includes breaking down muscle tissue for fuel.
The same thing happens when asleep (or any time you go through periods of intermittent fasting). In order to offset this, 1-2 scoops of casein before long periods without food will help you retain muscle mass and avoid catabolism. That’s precisely why casein protein has been called the anti-catabolic protein.
Greater Appetite Suppression
The second reason casein is a great addition to any supplement routine is its appetite-suppression qualities. Unlike whey, when casein is digested it morphs into a gel on the inside of your stomach lining (as opposed to dissolving right away as whey does). This gel-like substance sends a message from your stomach to your brain that you’re full, preventing you from overeating.
For this reason, many people find that they can go hours without food after having a casein protein shake or some cottage cheese (which is also naturally high in casein). Just another reason it’s a perfect option for the athlete looking to lose fat, as well as the athlete looking to retain muscle mass.
The Promotion of Strong Bones
The last benefit of casein is it’s high in calcium, key in the promotion of strong bones. If you aren’t drinking lots of milk, or aren’t a big fan of dairy products in general, you may be setting yourself up for osteoporosis down the road. Finding a great tasting alternative calcium source is essential in fighting off long term diseases and the Complete Casein from Cytosport legitimately tastes good (unlike many, older, casein blends) when mixed with ice.
In addition to aiding bone strength, calcium is also necessary to fuel the muscular contractions that take place during workouts and prevent the occurrence of muscle cramps. Which is why, if getting the most out of your workouts is something you’re generally interested in, hop on the casein train.
While casein protein is found in alternative protein sources like cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, casein powders often provide a better tasting, more easily transportable alternative. But regardless of how you choose to consume casein, just make sure you add it to your diet as it will help you lose fat, retain lean muscle mass, and fuel the muscle contractions needed to get you performing optimally.