Casein, the best source of milk proteins for athletes and those who follow a hyperproteic diet and want to keep the correct habits to improve recovery, sports performance and even to mantain or gain weight.
Casein is a protein that contains all the essential amino acids and helps to increase the biological value of vegetable proteins.
It is a component of milk and is also present in some of its derivatives, such as cheese. Casein is responsible for the transport of calcium and phosphate in the body and contains essential amino acids which can not be synthesised naturally by the organism. Casein is especially important for muscle growth and toning.
When ingested, casein forms a clot in the stomach that slows down the rate of gastric emptying, which in turn affects the rate at which amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream. In other words, because of this clot, casein takes longer to be digested in the stomach which slows down the amount of amino acids that are released into the small intestine where they are absorbed.
What is casein protein?
The human body has 22 amino acids that combine in different ways with the proteins and various functions of the body. Some amino acids are produced by our own bodies and others are obtained through the food that we consume.
Casein contains essential amino acids, such as isoleucine, lysine, phenylalanine, leucine and valine, which play a crucial role in the growth, formation and definition of muscles. As a result, casein is one of the most favoured dietary supplements among athletes.
Effects of casein
Casein transports the minerals calcium and phosphate. This is essential both for newborn infants and adults. Calcium ensures the formation and stability of bones and teeth and is essential for muscle contractions, as well as ensuring the stability of the cell membrane.
The phosphate stored in casein is important because it interacts with calcium during bone formation and is involved in the regulation of the acid-base balance. The essential amino acids contained in casein help the formation of muscle mass, improve the quality of vegetable proteins and facilitate the regeneration of calcium by the body.
The amino acids contained in a casein protein have an additional effect on the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is very useful for people who follow a diet or want to lose weight, since serotonin suppresses appetite and may reduce food cravings, in combination with the aforementioned reduced rate of digestion.
Casein is recommended for:
High performance sports
Vegetarian or low-protein diets
What food contains casein protein?
Casein is contained in all dairy products, with the exception of whey. The different types of milk differ in terms of their concentrations of amino acids. Cow's milk has a high biological value and the proteins it contains can be divided effectively by the human body into its endogenous amino acids and be used to rebuild the proteins needed by the body.
What are the consequences of a lack of casein?
A severe shortage of proteins can be seen in the bellies of malnourished children, whose bodies are simply storing water due to extreme protein deficiency. Even if such images are usually associated with developeing countries, these deficiencies also occur in Western developed countries.
The risks of malnutrition and excessive dieting should not be underestimated. A deficiency of the amino acids contained in casein manifests itself as a deterioration in the muscle tissue, lack of motivation, problems healing wounds, anxiety and depression.
Calcium deficiency associated with a deficiency of casein, in the worst cases, may cause decalcification of the bones and osteoporosis. Casein is especially important for vegetarians whose diet excludes dairy products, since casein increases the biological value of vegetable proteins.
Forms of casein and its ingestion
Milk and its dairy derivatives, such as cheese and curd are the natural providers of casein protein. Protein powder, optimised with vitamins and other vital substances is available for use by athletes.
Since casein protein is digested more slowly in the body than other proteins, the amino acids will be released over a longer period. Casein is usually consumed in the mornings and evenings.
Consuming casein in the morning assures a good saturation, and at night it guarantees a supply of long-term important amino acids for muscle growth and repair.
Who is casein especially important for?
For athletes and bodybuilders
For people who suffer from a protein deficiency
For those with general malnutrition
What do experts say about casein protein?
Casein is an excellent nutritional resource to help fulfill the daily protein requirements in our diets, and also benefit us with properties that relate to the continuous and sustained supply of amino acid, it's a source of calcium, and also helps prevent catabolism (protein degradation)
Advantages of casein over whey protein
Studies on casein mostly concern how it differs from whey protein, which is another very popular product among sportspeople and bodybuilders.
Whey protein can be absorbed more quickly by the body and is available for the muscle almost immediately. It is usually taken before or after training.
Casein is the best protein option if you wish to obtain the effects of amino acids during the night in order to carry out repairs and aid muscle growth, as well as to achieve a constant flow of amino acids for several hours. It is usually taken between main meals or in the evening.
Combining casein and whey protein
However the uses of casein and whey are not mutually exclusive. They can even be combined, for example, in a shake with a 2:1 proportion of whey + casein, favoring whey. This improves the overall amino acid profile and thus has excellent nutritional value that will help to stimulate MPS ("muscle protein synthesis" or "protein synthesis"), while at the same creating a longer-lasting hormonal environment which is favourable to the building of muscle tissue.