Casein is a protein that’s found in abundance in dairy products such as milk and cheese (it actually comes from the Latin word ‘caseus’, meaning ‘cheese’), and although it’s often used in products like paints and glues, it’s also a very important food source. Casein contains calcium ions that hold the protein together quite strongly, making it very slow to break down in the body. This means it’s able to release beneficial amino acids slowly, over a long time, helping to repair, develop, and maintain muscles and muscle mass.
When to Take Casein
You may have heard that it’s best to take casein supplements before bed, rather than in the morning or at lunchtime, but why is this? Does it really matter? Well, research suggests that casein supplements may be able to provide the body with greater benefits if taken at night, rather than during the daytime.
While the mind may rest overnight, the body doesn’t. In fact, this period of ‘rest’ is when the body does some of its hardest work, taking the opportunity to repair damage to the muscles during exercise, and helping them to grow larger. When casein is taken before bed, it provides an extra helping hand, boosting this overnight recovery process. Research shows that mixed muscle protein synthesis rates are typically 22 percent higher in those who take casein 30 minutes before bed, than in those who don’t.
Casein & Fat Metabolism
Traditionally, protein supplements, such as shakes containing casein, have been taken as pre-workout nutrition, with exercise helping to use up the extra energy provided by these supplements and effectively ‘burn it off’. This is why some people have been concerned that taking casein protein before bed (an extended period of inactivity) could affect metabolism and result in weight gain. But there’s good news! Aside from potentially inducing hunger in the morning, casein before bed does not affect fat metabolism.