Why Casein Protein Digests Slowly


casien proteinSo you’ve reached a point where you have your diet and workouts all figured out. But are there any supplements that could maximize your results further? What kind of shakes do you usually go for and why? If you are still unsure hopefully this article will clarify which ones to use and when.
Casein is the main protein present in milk and cheese and it is considered a ‘slow’ protein. In practice this means that around 3 to 4 hours after consumption it reaches the highest levels of blood amino acids and protein synthesis. But what is the reason for this? The simple answer is that it moves through the digestive tract slower and it takes up to 7 hours to fully digest. One common explanation is that casein coagulates in the stomach and forms gel-like ‘clots’ that cannot be quickly digested.
According to the study conducted at the University of Giessen the explanation for the slow release of casein protein is different altogether. The study concludes that the slow digestion of casein can be attributed to casomorphins (protein particles) present in casein. In casomorphins are peptides formed during the digestion of casein. These particles can cause in some aspects similar results to those of opiates. Of course, they do not cause any sort of intoxication but they can be expected to bind to the opiate receptors in the digestive tract and affect the intestinal activity, slowing down the digestion process.
Thanks to the slow release slow digest properties, casein has been called an ‘overnight protein’. It is excellent to take before bed to ensure you put your body in the optimal state for muscle recovery and growth all night long. No need to get up and have a ‘mid-night shake’. According to a study conducted at Baylor University, men who drank a casein protein shake for 10 weeks gained significantly more muscle mass than the ones who consumed whey only. For long term muscle recovery casein as opposed to whey, which may pass through your body before you reap all its benefits, will provide a lasting anticatabolic effect. It is also believed to have metabolism increasing properties so that you can build lean muscle mass and burn fat quickly and more efficiently. What’s more, it turns out that casein significantly increases strength! In a Massachusetts study, it was discovered that casein doubled the effect of whey protein on legs, chest, and shoulder strength. But you don’t necessarily need to drink shakes ever night. If you opt for a late night snack (or simply for your supper) consider including milk products such as milk and cheese. Also, if you are on a low calorie diet, casein will prevent muscle breakdown that could normally occur in a calorie deficit.
Additional benefits of casein include protecting tooth enamel, promoting intestinal health (especially when compared to meat and soy protein sources). Finally, casein is a good choice for vegetarians who work out and want to maintain a good level of high quality protein in their diets.
Even though there is no magical supplements out there, slow digesting casein such as Rule 1 Protein, is superior for muscle recovery and quality protein. Don’t forget about balance (whey also has its benefits and uses) and try to keep a healthy proportion between shop bought supplements and natural milky products.