Author: Raj Chandler • Fact checked by: Tara D. Thies • Sept. 15, 2020
Protein is a dynamic, multifaceted nutrient that is found in many different types of foods and beverages. As such, there are dozens of different styles of protein supplements created for different kinds of people. Selecting the right protein source will help you achieve the results you’re looking for from your diet and fitness routine.
Micellar casein is one example of a protein source that may not be as common as whey, but still serves an important role. This article will discuss what micellar casein is, how it can help with your fitness goals, and what to look for when selecting casein-based protein supplements.
Casein is one of the two types of milk protein that are derived from dairy (cow's milk). About four-fifths of the protein content of dairy milk is derived from casein - the rest is whey. The biological purpose of casein is to form “clots” in the stomach that aid in the body’s digestive process. Other medical research indicates that casein may also contain antibacterial properties which can help with the regulation of processes within the gut.
Like whey, casein is a complete protein. This means it contains all of the 9 essential amino acids that are not produced naturally within the body, including the 3 branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are particularly beneficial for aiding muscle recovery and growth. Both protein sources are excellent options for increasing muscle mass – but compared to whey, casein digests through the human body more slowly.
In the supplement industry, casein is a popular protein powder available at many retail stores as well as online vendors - but not quite as widely available in as many different flavors and varieties as whey.
The phrase “micellar” refers to submicelles, tiny particles that are created when calcium phosphate is removed from the native form of casein. Eventually, the submicelles in micellar casein aggregate together, forming a gel-like substance that becomes thicker and more dense as the concentration of casein increases. .
Micellar casein is the highest grade casein available, and it feeds your body a steady stream of muscle-building amino acids over the course of many hours. Casein is especially helpful if you have a protein shake before bed, as it aids in important muscle recovery during your sleep and prevents muscle breakdown. And, of course, having a slow-absorbing, high quality protein source like casein in your personalized blend will be very effective at keeping hunger at bay.
Because both casein and whey protein come from dairy, they share many similarities. Both can be great sources of protein that help you get closer to achieving your fitness goals. Neither is inherently better or worse as the foundation in a high protein diet - they are simply formulated differently.
The biggest difference between casein and whey protein is the speed at which they digest. In a study that examined the body’s breakdown of different kinds of protein molecules, it was found that after 7 hours subjects had metabolized more whey protein than casein protein. This has led to casein frequently being categorized as a slow release or "slow protein,” while whey is considered a “fast protein.”
You might think fast proteins like whey are always better, since they have a faster absorption rate. However, there are certain situations where you will want to use a slow release source of protein, depending on what you are looking to achieve. Both fast and slow-digesting proteins have been shown to aid muscle protein synthesis.
Many consider whey the “standard” of protein powder because it is a complete protein and digests faster, which theoretically could make you build muscle faster by helping to increase protein synthesis at a quicker rate. However, there are a few situations when casein may work better for you:
Starting your day. Casein protein powder is better for satiety. If you’re consuming a protein shake in the morning ahead of a busy day, casein may be a better option than whey since it digests more slowly.
Overnight metabolization. If you are consuming a protein shake at night and want to give your body a steady dose of bedtime protein that will help with muscle growth while you are sleeping, casein is a great option. Your metabolism also slows down naturally at night, so a slower protein may be better.
Thicker consistency. When making a protein shake recipe that has a lot of different ingredients and calls for a bit of a thicker base, casein may be a good option. It tends to create a thicker shake than whey-based protein powders.
If you’ve traditionally only used whey protein supplements, it might be worth giving casein a shot in some of the situations mentioned above. You could also experiment with different types to see how your body responds and how well a casein shake fits in with the rest of your fitness plan.
One note to keep in mind: Medical research has indicated that for elderly people, “fast” proteins like whey typically lead to greater retention of muscle tone and strength when compared to casein protein. However, people of all ages can and should try different protein formulations until they discover one that is ideal for their fitness requirements.
It’s important to fuel your fitness regimen with the highest-quality nutritional supplements available. You want to find a merchant that can provide you with transparency about what they put in products while sourcing the best possible ingredients. Always look for merchants that provide things like:
Product labels that contain an exact breakdown of the amount of macronutrients in the supplement
Understanding of where ingredients are sourced from, manufacturing information, and certifications for quality and safety assurance
User reviews that provide feedback from real people who have used the supplement and can attest to what it’s like
Quality customer service for prospects and buyers who have questions about what they offer or may need help with their purchase
Like most fitness questions, it’s impossible to broadly address whether or not micellar casein protein powder supplements will be right for your needs. Everyone’s needs and preferences are different depending on their diet, resistance training or exercise plan, and the goals they’re looking to achieve. As a dietary supplement, both casein protein and whey protein isolate can make for a tasty post-workout shake after a resistance training or cardio workout. Milk proteins can also be helpful for weight loss, since they can assist in satiety.
The benefits of casein compared to whey protein are mainly related to the rate of absorption. Most people find that casein protein supplements are ideal for keeping them full throughout the day. Casein is also typically preferable as a bedtime protein supplement. Whether you decide to use whey protein or casein protein as part of your fitness regimen, be sure to source your protein from a trustworthy provider that is transparent about using the best possible ingredients in the supplements they offer.
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