The topic of today’s article is casein, a milk protein often used as a dietary supplement by athletes.
In the following lines we attempt to clarify the nature of casein and its work in the organism, along with the pros and cons of using it as a dietary supplement.
In detail, here are the topics of today’s discussion:
Casein – what it is – its relation to milk – if suitable for people with intolerance – why athletes prefer it
All the answers come below.
Casein Protein and Whey Protein are the two most important proteins in milk, very common in dietary supplements for training and increasing muscle mass, a phosphoprotein found in the milk of all mammals (in different ratios).
Human milk contains the protein casein at a rate close to 30 to 45%, while cow’s milk presents higher rates (approaching 80%).
Being used as a sports nutritional supplement, mainly due to amino acids provided to organism, along with the carbohydrates offering significant amounts of energy.
However, casein also contains 2 very important nutrients, extremely valuable for the organism: phosphorus & calcium.
Casein supplements available in the market include:
The various forms of casein though all considered of high quality and biologically valuable proteins – are not the same.
On the contrary, they have significant differences between them.
A key feature of casein – differentiating it from whey protein in quality are the amino acids found in its composition, having no relationship and basis of comparison have with those of whey protein, meaning that casein is in a much lower position in terms of quality compared to whey.
People intolerant to milk mainly target lactose, in their majority this however, not being absolute and clear.
According to scientific research, another major factor causing possibly intolerance and unpleasant symptoms (such as bloating, gastrointestinal disorders, gas, etc.) is the casein.
More specifically, research reached the conclusion that A1 beta casein may be responsible for these symptoms (and not A2 beta casein, explained later the meaning of this finding).
Especially most of commercial cow milks contain both of these forms of casein (this is why many people tend to be intolerant).
The scientists isolated the second form of casein and monitored the reactions of various people who had previously had problems with intolerance to cow’s milk.
Participants in the study who had milk containing only the A2 beta casein protein showed significantly fewer symptoms and pain (proving that A1 beta casein was associated with milk intolerance in many people).
This is due to the process by which the body digests milk proteins. Many gastrointestinal disorders of a large part of the population relate to this metabolic process of the organism aiming at the assimilation of milk proteins.
The amino acids contained in the casein protein as released remain in the body for almost 7 hours (while the amino acids in whey remain only for about 3 hours respectively).
Nevertheless, why is this so important?
Proteins such as whey (providing rapid release / absorption) allow faster results in organism, as their essential amino acids are absorbed and utilized almost immediately. This practically means that such forms of protein are to be consumed as dietary supplement just before or immediately after training.
However, casein is not such a form of protein, having a significantly slower rate of release and absorption by the organism. Its slow digestion is what – according to experts – facilitates muscle rebuilding and promoting the maintenance of lean muscle mass in a demanding workout.
Especially bodybuilding athletes (since they need energy and muscle gains) have been using protein supplements to help their workouts for many decades.
This means that facilitates the reconstruction of muscles and strengthens their maintenance during the hard and painful trainings.
Studies show just that people taking a casein supplement regularly show twice as much muscle growth over shorter time.
Besides, these same people tended to show a significantly greater loss of fat mass from their body, helping to rib their body faster.
Therefore it’s no coincidence that casein as a dietary supplement is used by “connoisseurs” especially at night. Its ability to “protect” lean muscle mass and prevent the breakdown of protein due to night fasting are the reasons making it especially popular to athletes.
The double gain offered (muscle mass enhancement and fat mass loss) is extremely valuable for any professional or amateur athlete.
Research studies reveal additional benefits of casein protein in human organism, with some of them shown below:
There is great concern from many persons that high protein intake can have negative health consequences.
We still do not know if this statement is true.
However, the scientific studies so far are clear about this: There is no evidence that protein consumption can have a negative impact on health.
Certainly, we consider perfectly healthy people following the rules of taking a dietary supplement.
In the case of people with kidney or liver damage / dysfunction the data are different.
It is very important for these people to limit their intake of protein supplements and to consult a doctor about the right amount for consumption.
As a dietary supplement, casein protein can supplement the protein intake of your meals.
Casein is an ideal choice received before bedtime. Its slow release & assimilation by the organism helps protect lean muscle mass from the body overnight fasting.
In case you need a supplement “boosting” you directly in a workout, then you may choose whey protein) which is much faster in its release and absorption.
As a milk protein, casein is abundant in dairy products (and especially in cheese and traditional yogurt).
It can be taken daily via the diet, without using dietary supplements, so the process is smoother and more natural.
Small meals with casein-rich dairy can be great snacks before or after a workout.
Below examples of similar meals:
But dairy is not – as many think – the only source of casein protein. Casein is also present in other – less obvious – foods might causing you health problems in case you are allergic.
Take a look:
Yes. Greek traditional yogurt is a very good source of protein (including casein protein).
In fact, the majority of proteins provided by the Greek yogurt to organism are casein proteins, of slow release, making yogurt an ideal bedtime snack for athletes wishing to maintain their muscle mass.
According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell – author of China Study – studies have shown that milk protein casein may be responsible for causing various cancers.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell – known especially in vegan circles – created a concern with this report as he stated that casein consumption could reduce the incidence of various cancers dramatically.
He even stressed the addictive ability of dairy products in organism and the emotional / psychological disorders possibly caused when abstain from them.
According to a scientific study published on veganforlife.nl, scientists can easily activate and deactivate cancer in experimental animals, simply by adapting to these levels of their dietary casein.
So is this a confirmed issue?
No. Experts so far say there is no concern about protein intake and the truth not yet proved.