Casein Has Staying Power

In the world of protein powders, there are numerous types available and each serves a unique purpose. The staple for many years has been whey protein, which is a great choice pre- and post-workout because it's so rapidly digested and absorbed by the body. There are some times, however, when you don't always want a quick-acting protein. Your muscles do the bulk of their rebuilding from the stress of training while you're sleeping. And, because you won't be consuming amino acids (or anything else) until you wake up, slowly-digesting casein protein is ideal right before bed.

Hard-training bodybuilders and strength athletes benefit greatly from a steady stream of muscle building amino acids – especially the branched chain amino acids and glutamine. Casein gels, or clumps up, in the acidic environment of your stomach to continue digesting for hours after it's consumed. This makes it ideal for supporting anabolic (growth) as well anti-catabolic (muscle sparing) processes while you dream of bigger, fuller muscles. The gelling factor exerts slight pressure on stomach walls to provide a feeling of fullness or satiety. For athletes on strict diets, this craving-calming effect also makes casein a good choice between meals.

There are two main types of casein: Calcium caseinate and micellar casein.
Both are derived from milk and valued for their slow, sustained release of amino acids. Calcium caseinate is low in fat, lactose and sodium while serving as a rich source of bone-strengthening calcium. Micellar casein contains important growth factors as well as microfractions which may help support immune system health. Because both caseins become thicker in water, a casein shake will mix up a bit differently than whey protein. For an ideal consistency, try using a little more liquid and an electric blender. Because ON's Gold Standard 100% Casein is instantized, if you don't have a blender you can use a shaker cup to mix up a perfect casein shake every time.

A good night's sleep is important for all types of people, but athletes want to make the most of our precious muscle gains as we sleep. Casein protein can provide an environment that promotes both muscle growth and preservation. My personal favorite before-bed meal is either a scoop of Gold Standard 100% Casein with a scoop of 100% Whey Gold Standard or two scoops of Gold Standard 100% Casein. This provides nearly 50 grams of protein to complement my intense efforts in the weight room.

Daniel Stevens
NPC Bodybuilder
ON Athlete

The author is a compensated ON Athlete, however, the views, opinions, and comments expressed here are those exclusively of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Optimum Nutrition.
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