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Casein Protein

Best Casein Protein Powders (Summer 2019 Report)

What’s the best casein protein powder? Our 2019 guide highlights the 10 best casein protein powders for muscle mass, athletics, weight loss, taste, price, and more.

Below our top picks, we have a fleshed-out guide on the research behind casein protein, as well as its recommended dosage.

Top 10 Best Casein Protein Powders

Best Casein Powder Overall

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein Protein

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“Gold Standard” may be a branding moniker, but Optimum Nutrition’s casein protein powder truly is just that—the gold standard.

This all-rounder is the best casein protein powder for almost every goal. Athletics, weight loss, health and wellness—you name it. You can’t go wrong with this clean casein powder.

5g BCAAs

Long-lasting absorption

Paleo-friendly

30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
21.8g
protein
2.7g
carbs
109
calories
$0.78
serving

Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Gold Standard casein powder is the most popular choice on Amazon. For hardened athletes and wellness amateurs alike, this clean, delicious protein powder is a top choice.

Like all micellar casein, this protein powder forms a thickened clump in the stomach, providing up to 8 hours of steady-release amino acids. This is ideal for anyone wanting to keep full throughout the day or feed the body throughout the night.

Optimum Nutrition’s casein powder comes in five delicious flavors: banana cream, chocolate peanut butter, chocolate supreme, creamy vanilla, and cookies and cream. No matter which palate you pick, the powder mixes easily and goes down smoothly.

Each 33-gram serving packs 5 grams of BCAAs, which help stave off the body’s natural post-workout muscle breakdown mechanisms. In addition, each serving contains 50% of your daily calcium needs, as well as 3 grams of carbohydrates for a little energy boost. It’s also a great paleo protein powder.

BOTTOM LINE

If you simply need a solid, no-nonsense protein source, Optimum Nutrition offers one of the best casein protein powders for the job.

Pros

  • 100% micellar casein protein powder
  • 5g of BCAAs per serving
  • Inexpensive per serving
  • Minimal added ingredients

Cons

  • Contains lactose
  • Not advertised as gluten-free

Best Casein Protein Powder for Bulking

JYM Supplement Science Protein Blend

Using lean and clean ingedients, JYM Supplement Science’s protein blend is the perfect casein powder for packing on muscle mass.

This powder is a blend of casein, whey, and egg white proteins, formulated to deliver both an immediate and a slow-release supply of amino acids. It’s one of the best casein protein powders for feeding hungry muscles.

5g BCAAs

Multi-phase absorption

Varied protein sources

30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
20.6g
protein
3.4g
carbs
120
calories
$0.99
serving

JYM Supplement Science delivers one of the best casein protein powders for a clean bulk. This tub of top-tier muscle food contains a blend of 50% casein, 40% whey, and 10% egg white protein. Available in banana cream pie, caramel macchiato (caffeinated), chocolate mousse, mint chocolate, and Tahitian vanilla bean, you’re sure to find an option that tickles your palate.

Each 35-gram scoop measures out to 7.5 grams of whey protein isolate, 7 grams of micellar casein, 7 grams of milk protein isolate, and 2.5 grams of egg white protein. This blend of quality protein sources provides the body with a multi-phase release of protein. You get an immediate spike for your post-workout needs, followed by the slower digestion of casein for sustained nutrition.

BOTTOM LINE

JYM’s casein protein blend as an excellent choice for athletes looking to pack on muscle mass without compromising a healthy diet.

Pros

  • Ideal for building muscle mass
  • Casein, whey, and egg white blend
  • Contains BCAAs
  • Multi-phase protein release

Cons

  • Contains lactose
  • Not gluten-free

Best Casein Protein Powder for Weight Loss

Ascent Native Fuel Casein Powder

Ascent delivers a clean casein protein powder that’s perfect for getting lean. Just a glance at the minimal, all-natural ingredient list makes it an easy choice for any diet.

This casein protein powder contains fewer calories and even more grams of protein per standardized serving than many other brands. And it manages to taste great even with zero grams of sugar.

11g BCAAs

Minimal ingredients

Gluten-free

30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
23.4g
protein
1.9g
carbs
103
calories
$1.08
serving

Ascent prides itself in its clean, minimalist sports supplements. And true to their goal, their Native Fuel casein protein powder delivers a whole lot of goodness without any artificial ingredients. You can use just your fingers to count the all-natural ingredients.

Since this powder has very little added, it’s really nutrient dense. Not only does Ascent’s casein deliver more protein per serving than many other brands, but it’s also jam-packed with BCAAs. Each 36-gram serving contains 11 grams of BCAAs—nearly double what you see in many other powders.

Those extra BCAAs can help with maintaining muscle mass, and muscle is incredibly important for weight loss. It’s one of the most calorie-hungry components of the body, and helps with boosting metabolism even at rest.

While Ascent’s casein powder isn’t advertised as being lactose free, some people with lactose sensitivities report being able to take it without any stomach issues. Since casein is a dairy product, it’s difficult for manufacturers to remove every trace of lactose from the final product. For those with lactose sensitivities, this casein protein might be fine, but don’t put your guard down.

BOTTOM LINE

Ascent’s lean, all-natural, nutrient-dense casein powder is one of the best casein protein powders for weight loss on a healthy diet.

Pros

  • Minimal ingredients list
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Zero grams of sugar
  • 11g of BCAAs per serving
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • May not be lactose free

Best for High-Performance Athletes

Genius Casein & Whey Isolate Protein Blend

Genius delivers an all-natural protein blend that’s perfect for the most demanding athletic goals.

This protein blend contains 50% whey isolate for an instant amino acid supply and 50% casein protein for a slow-release protein source. The result: happy, healthy muscles.

Grass-fed sourcing

Multi-phase absorption

No artificial ingredients

30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
22.5g
protein
3.2g
carbs
103
calories
$1.12
serving

Genius offers one of the best casein protein powders for the health-conscious, high-performance athletes. The combination of quickly-absorbed whey isolate and slow-release casein provides the building blocks needed to build and maintain muscle.

This protein blend contains nothing but a handful of healthy, all-natural ingredients. Casein is a milk product, and Genius sources their milk only from grass-fed cows. On top of that, the powder doesn’t have any artificial flavors or sweeteners. There are no fillers or dyes, either. This is 100% natural coco protein goodness.

BOTTOM LINE

The Genius casein/whey isolate protein blend is the perfect all-natural, no-nonsense muscle food for high-performance athletes.

Pros

  • Minimal ingredients list
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Multi-phase protein release

Cons

  • Not advertised as lactose- or gluten-free

The Bodybuilding Casein Blend

UMP Casein/Whey Protein Blend

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Beverly International is a long-establish bodybuilding brand. Founded in California in 1967, they’ve been delivering high-quality sports supplements to generations of athletes.

Their Ultimate Muscle Protein (UMP) is an 80:20 blend of casein and whey, respectively. It’s a great protein powder for bulking up or getting toned.

Multi-phase protein

Easy on the stomach

Established bodybuilding brand

30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
19.1g
protein
3.8g
carbs
114
calories
$1.29
serving

Beverly International delivers one of the best casein protein powder blends for bodybuilding. This 80:20 blend of casein and whey feeds muscle tissue with a blast of amino acids within a few minutes. After that, the slow digestion of the casein provides the body with a sustained source of amino acids for hours.

One of Beverly International’s prime selling points for Ultimate Muscle Protein is its easy digestibility. They advertise that their casein powder doesn’t cause any bloating or gas, and customer reviews back up that claim. No worrying about protein bloat affecting your session at the gym.

From amateur to expert, seasoned bodybuilder to novice gym rat, Ultimate Muscle Protein is a safe, delicious, no-nonsense solution for the body’s protein needs.

BOTTOM LINE

Ultimate Muscle Protein is one of the best casein protein powders for bodybuilders and athletes. Easy digestibility means no bloat in the gym, and multi-phase protein release means hungry muscles get amino acids when they need them.

Pros

  • 80:20 casein to whey blend
  • Multi-phase protein release
  • Easy digestibility
  • Established brand and reputation
  • Delicious flavors

Cons

  • Cookies and cream, arguably the best flavor, is not gluten free

Best Low-Calorie, All-Natural Casein

Legion Casein+ Protein Powder

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Legion’s Casein+ protein is a great low-calorie, all natural powder. Without sacrificing flavor, this entry has the lowest calorie count on our list of best casein protein powders.

And Legion manages this feat without skimping on ingredients. This non-GMO, stevia-sweetened powder is great for anyone on a calorie budget.

Low-calorie

All natural

Keto-friendly

30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
22g
protein
2.6g
carbs
97
calories
$1.17
serving

Legion manages to deliver a great-tasting, low-calorie, keto-friendly protein powder with Caseine+. Each standardized 30-gram serving contains only 97 calories. This is the only protein powder on this list to dip below that 100-calorie mark per 30-gram serving.

As a bonus, Legion’s sourcing and processing is healthy and all-natural. And there are only four ingredients, each just as pronounceable as the last. The milk for the casein comes from non-GMO grass-fed cows in Ireland. The powder is naturally sweetened with stevia extract instead of sugar. The sea salt comes from the sea—presumably.

Featured on our gluten-free protein powder guide, this protein powder is 100% free of gluten, soy, GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, artificial ingredients, fillers, dyes, and lactose. That’s a long list! And that last one is important. It can be pretty difficult to find casein protein powder that is truly 100% lactose-free.

And Legion is so confident in their product that they offer a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee. Per their Amazon listing, if you’re not satisfied for any reason, they’ll give you a full refund and let you keep the protein. It’s one of the best no-hassle guarantees on the market.

BOTTOM LINE

Legion’s Casein+ is the best casein protein powder for anyone looking for a low calorie, no junk, no-nonsense option. With just four natural ingredients, it’s a great choice for lean, clean diets.

Pros

  • Super low-calorie casein protein
  • Doesn’t skimp on protein content
  • Free of lactose, gluten, soy, artificial ingredients, GMOs, MSG, hormones, and antibiotics
  • No fillers, dyes, or added chemicals
  • Four ingredients
  • Keto-friendly

Cons

  • A little difficult to mix—best to use a shaker or blender

Best Tasting Casein Protein Powder

MET-Rx Casein/Whey Isolate Blend

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MET-Rx’s casein/whey protein blend is a treat for the taste buds. For both its chocolate and vanilla variants, this powder hits that perfect texture/flavor sweet spot.

This one is a good choice for anyone looking for an inexpensive, great-tasting casein powder. As an added bonus, it mixes really easily—even with cold water.

Tastes great

Mixes easily

4g BCAAs

30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
23.2g
protein
2.1g
carbs
105
calories
$0.55
serving

If you’re looking for some sort of cinnamon-dusted gingerbread-marshmallow frappuccino flavor, you won’t find it here. MET-Rx keeps it simple with their vanilla and chocolate flavors, each tweaked to perfection. The formulas for both flavors lack any sort of chemically harshness. They don’t swing too far the other way with overpowering sweetness, either. This is Goldilocks’ protein shake.

And great flavor doesn’t come at the expense of quality. Each standard serving of MET-Rx’s casein/whey blend contains just as much protein as most other picks on this list of best casein protein powders. No fillers here.

Also, despite the great taste and quality ingredients, MET-Rx manages to keep the price really low. In fact, this casein powder is one of the most inexpensive per serving on this list. Talk about win-win!

BOTTOM LINE

MET-Rx’s casein/whey blend tastes great without being too sweet. As a bonus, it’s really inexpensive per serving.

Pros

  • Tastes great
  • Low price per serving
  • Multi-phase protein release
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • Not advertised as lactose-free (although reviews indicate no lactose-intolerant reactions)

Cleanest Unflavored Casein Protein

NAKED 100% Casein Powder

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Naked delivers the purest, cleanest, most top-shelf casein powder on the market. No need to check the ingredients—there’s only one.

Naked’s sourcing and processing methods are incredibly selective. This means their casein is a little more expensive to produce than most others, but it still won’t break the bank.

Only 1 ingredient

No GMOs or chemicals

11g BCAAs

1 lb for $22.995 lb for $94.99
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30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
26g
protein
0g
carbs
110
calories
$1.19
serving

Naked is king when it comes to clean, unflavored supplements, and their casein powder is no exception. Their exclusive sourcing and unadulterated processing makes perhaps the most pristine casein powder on the market.

Now there are a few reason’s for this casein powder being a little more expensive than others on this list. First, it is 100% casein powder after all, with absolutely no other ingredients. As casein is more expensive than whey protein and most other flavoring ingredients, this bumps up the price a little bit.

Secondly, Naked sources their casein only from US farms without any growth hormones or GMOs. On top of that, the casein is cold processed without any additional substances, such as acid or bleach. The sourcing and processing methods are very clean and high-end, but are both more expensive.

BOTTOM LINE

Naked offers the best casein protein powder by the very definition. It’s 100% pure, cold-processed, has no added ingredients, and comes from GMO-free US farms.

Pros

  • Only one ingredient: micellar casein
  • From US Farms only
  • No growth hormones or GMOs
  • Gluten-free
  • 5.4g BCAAs per serving

Cons

  • Premium sourcing and processing is more expensive

Most Economical Casein Protein

Bulksupplements 100% Casein Protein Powder (1 kg)

Bulksupplements prides itself in its pure, no fillers, no nonsense nutrition supplements. Their 100% casein protein powder is no exception.

Right now, nobody on the market can beat their bulk casein prices. If you want the best bang for your buck, this is it.

Most economical option

100% pure casein

No added ingredients

11 lb for $96.9644 lb for $177.96
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30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
26g
protein
<1g
carbs
112
calories
$0.27
serving

Let’s say this right up front: The absurdly low price of $0.27 per 30-gram serving is for the massive 44-pound bag. Looking for a lot of casein protein for the cheapest price possible? That’s it.

Most people will probably opt for the 11-pound option, clocking in at a cool $0.58 per 30-gram serving. This is still the cheapest 100% casein protein under $100 on this list.

The 44-pound bag is sold at an insane bulk discount of over 50%, which won’t be around forever. We’re tempted to ask them how they even make a profit.

Bulksupplements’ casein protein powder is 100% pure and US-sourced, with absolutely no fillers or additives. This is the best casein protein powder for anyone wanting some slow-release protein at the best price possible.

BOTTOM LINE

This 11 lb bag of 100% pure casein is the most economical option under $100. If you choose the massive 44 lb bag, you get an insane bulk discount of over 50%.

Pros

  • Most economical 100% casein powder
  • Insane bulk discount
  • US-sourced
  • No added ingredients

Cons

  • 100% casein needs a shaker or blender to mix

Most Sustainable and Humane Casein Protein

PROMIX 100% USA Casein

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PROMIX’s pasture-based casein protein is easy on the conscience. Happy cows, happy customers.

This casein protein powder is free of all soy, gluten, GMOs, added hormones, chemicals, bleaches, and additives. It’s 100% casein protein with just a dash of sunflower lecithin for easier mixing.

Humane sourcing

Sustainable processing

No soy, gluten, GMOs, or hormones

30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
25.9g
protein
0g
carbs
109
calories
$1.12
serving

PROMIX’s big selling point is their sustainability and humane sourcing. All of the milk for their casein protein comes from the Midwestern US. The cows are given the freedom graze openly in pastures and aren’t subjected to added hormones.

But for PROMIX, the sustainability doesn’t end at the farm. For all of their casein processing, they abstain from all foreign chemicals and additives. They use clean, pure filtration processes that leave the casein protein unadulterated and intact.

This casein protein might seem a little spendy, but the sustainable sourcing and processing methods are a big factor. You can stick with unflavored powder or opt for chocolate, which only has two additional fair trade ingredients.

BOTTOM LINE

PROMIX offers some of the most sustainable and humane casein on the market. This pure casein powders comes from pastured cows and is processed without any added chemicals or fillers.

Pros

  • Humane sourcing (pastured cows)
  • Sustainable processing (no added chemicals)
  • Free of soy, gluten, GMOs, and added hormones,
  • Pure casein protein (with less than 1% non-GMO sunflower lecithin)

Cons

  • Sustainable sourcing and processing methods cost more

All About Casein Protein Powder

Casein is a milk product, and is actually the basic structural component of cheese. It makes up 80% of the total protein content in milk, with the other 20% being in whey. Despite the fact that it’s the more abundant constituent, casein protein tends to be lesser known than whey.

This is partly because of the way the dairy industry uses the two ingredients. When milk is separated into whey and casein, the casein is most often used for making cheese. Whey, on the other hand, is most often dried down into a powder to be sold as a supplement or mixed into other foods.

Despite its lesser popularity, the best casein protein powders are an excellent choice for achieving health and fitness goals.

SUMMARY

Casein protein is a component of milk often used for protein powders.

Protein-Rich Cheese
Casein is the major structural component of cheese.

How to Take Casein Protein Powder

Once you’ve picked the best casein protein powder for your goals, what’s the best way to take it?

Most people prefer to mix their casein powder into shakes and smoothies. Sometimes it may take a little effort, but casein blends into liquid fairly well.

Bear in mind that since casein naturally clumps together, there may be sticky lumps in your shake if it’s not mixed well enough.

How Much to Take

  • For Building Muscle Mass

For building muscle mass, studies have shown that it’s best to take between 0.73 and 1.1 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (or 1.6 to 2.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight).1A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults2Do athletes need more dietary protein and amino acids? The higher your activity level, the more protein you’ll need.

For anybody wanting the best casein protein powder for building muscle mass, we recommend JYM Supplement Science Protein Blend for its high protein content. If you prefer pure casein powder over blends, NAKED 100% Casein Powder is a great choice.

  • For Weight Loss

For fat loss goals, protein requirements are lower than what’s recommended for building muscle. Studies have found that the best protein intake range for fat loss is between 0.36 and 0.73 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (0.8 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of weight).3A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults4Dietary protein intake and human health. Those who work out will want to stick to the higher end of that spectrum.

For weight loss, the best casein protein powder is Legion Casein+ Protein Powder. You would be hard pressed to find pure casein protein with a lower calorie count.

Don’t feel like doing the math yourself? Use our protein needs calculator.

When to Take It

  • For Building Muscle Mass

There might be a little debate at the gym as to when you should drink your protein shake, but the body of research has one resounding answer: right after your workout.

There are a whole lot of benefits to taking protein right after a workout. Research has demonstrated the following:

There is also some benefit to taking the best casein protein powder for your goals at night. Since casein protein is digested so slowly, it can be a great way to continually supply the body with amino acids throughout the night.

This provides some extra benefit for those trying to bulk up. Since casein can suppress appetite, it may not be ideal for those trying to reach high calorie goals to take any during the day. By taking it at night, no potential calories are lost to appetite suppression.

  • For Weight Loss

For those trying to lose weight, it’s helpful to drink protein right after working out to maximize fat loss and muscle preservation. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate, and the more calories you burn at rest.

Beyond that, it’s better to drink protein shakes with meals instead of between meals. Research has demonstrated that this can also boost fat loss.14Effects of protein supplements consumed with meals, versus between meals, on resistance training–induced body composition changes in adults: a systematic review

Nutritional Value of Casein Protein Powder

Casein is a high-quality protein source with lots of nutritional value. Here’s a brief overview.

  • Protein Content & Quality

Casein is one of the highest quality protein sources. It has a complete essential amino acid profile, meaning the body can get the recommended daily intake of amino acids from casein powder alone.

One reason many people opt for casein powder over whey is that its proteins are absorbed much slowly. Casein coagulates and forms a lump in the stomach, which is slowly digested for up to 8 hours, proving a steady stream of amino acids.

Casein vs. Other Animal Proteins

Protein SourceProtein Efficiency RatioBiological ValueNet Protein UtilizationPDCAAS
Whey Protein 3.2104921.00
Casein Protein2.777761.00
Egg Protein 3.9 100921.00
Milk Protein2.591821.00

Table adapted from our protein powder guide. You can read about these protein quality measurements here.

Man Flexing
Casein powder is a great way to feed protein-hungry muscle.
  • Beyond Protein

In addition to protein, casein powder also contains several other beneficial nutrients.

For example, casein contains peptides that help with immune system, digestive system, and cardiovascular function. It also contains small amount of fats and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and mineral such as iron and calcium.

Casein Protein Side Effects and Considerations

There are a few precautions to bear in mind for those looking for the best casein protein powder for their goals.

  • Gastrointestinal Discomfort

As mentioned above, a unique characteristic of casein protein is its ability to coagulate, or clump together. When it does this in the stomach, it allows the proteins to be digested over a longer period of time.

However, for people not used to casein, this filling sensation may be uncomfortable initially. This trait can also suppress hunger, so there may be loss of appetite initially. This is why it’s often recommended to take casein protein at night.

  • Lactose Sensitivities

Casein protein powder is a milk product, so those with lactose sensitivities should be wary. Some of the best casein protein powders and isolates are able to remove all lactose completely, but most brands do contains some lactose.

For those with only mild lactose sensitivities, many casein brands may not cause any reaction. Looking at the reviews can be helpful, as those with lactose sensitivities will often relate their experiences with the powder.

How Casein Protein is Made

Here’s a simplified overview of how manufacturers make some of the best casein protein powder.

To make casein protein powder, manufacturers start with cow milk, typically skim. (Lower fat content leads to higher-quality casein.) After warming the milk up, special enzymes are added, causing different components of the milk to separate. Some manufacturers use an acid instead of enzymes, but the end-product is similar.

By the time the acids or enzymes are finished with their work, the milk has been separated into whey, fat, lactose, minerals, and clumps of casein. The solid materials are then separated, including the casein. They then go through several stages of washing in water, leaving behind nothing but casein itself.

Once the casein has been isolated, it’s either used for making cheese or dried as a food supplement. That dried food supplement ends up on shelves as casein protein powder.

Casein curds
Casein curds after the whey has been drained away during the cheesemaking process.
Photo courtesy of Bob Nichols under CC BY 2.0. Cropped.

Casein Protein Benefits

Casein is one of the highest-quality protein supplements, despite not being as popular as its little brother whey. The two milk-based protein sources both contain all essential amino acids in good quantity.

1. Casein is a high-quality protein source

There are several measures used to determine the quality of a protein source. We won’t explain them here thoroughly, but below you’ll find a table with a comparison among some popular protein powders. (For more thorough information on protein quality, refer to our protein powder guide.)

For our purposes, you’ll want to key in on Protein Efficiency Ratio and Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).

Casein vs. Other Proteins

Protein SourceProtein Efficiency RatioBiological ValueNet Protein UtilizationPDCAAS
Casein Protein2.577761.00
Whey Protein 3.2104921.00
Soy Protein2.274611.00
Pea Protein2.383660.89
Hemp Seed Protein0.785ND0.51

Table adapted from our protein powder guide.

Protein Efficiency Ratio, one of the two columns we want to key in on, is a measure of a protein’s mass-building potential.

To determine Protein Efficiency Ratio, researchers feed test rats the protein source in question. After a set period of time, they compare the weight gained by the rat per gram of protein fed to it compared to a control rat.

Casein protein actually serves as the standard for Protein Efficiency Ratio. It earns a score of 2.7, and any protein with a higher score is considered by this scale to be of excellent quality.

Looking at the table above, whey is one of the few protein sources with a higher Protein Efficiency Ratio than casein. All this is to say that the best casein protein powders are an excellent choice for gaining muscle mass.

Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS—still a mouthful) is a measure of amino acid source quality. The scale looks at the quantities of all essential amino acids per serving and compares them to the current dietary recommendations.

The score is determine by the most limited essential amino acid. Protein sources that contain all essential amino acids in adequate quantities earn a full 1.00. If any essential amino acid is missing, the score is 0.00.

If the lowest amino acid in a protein source would meet only, say, 50% of a person’s dietary needs, the score is 0.50. Note that all essential amino acids are still present. A score of 0.50 simply means that person would need to consume double the amount of that protein source to meet their amino acid needs.

Taking another look at the table above, casein protein powder has a perfect score of 1.00. In fact, almost all animal sources earn a perfect score. Some plant sources do as well, such as soy protein.

SUMMARY

Several different measurements of protein quality give casein protein powder a high score.

2. Casein protein digests slowly

One of the most popular reasons for taking the best casein protein powders is its slow digestion. Earlier we discussed how casein protein naturally clumps together, which is essential in the cheese-making process.

Well, casein protein powder (particularly micellar casein protein powder) similarly clumps up when you eat it. The casein coagulates into a lump in the stomach, and is slowly digested from the outside in.

This slow digestion can last up to eight hours. This is a great way to supply the blood with essential amino acids over a long period of time, which can be helpful for athletes and health enthusiasts alike.

Because of casein powder’s slow digestion, some people like to drink a casein protein shake right before bed. The idea is that the slow-digesting protein will supply the body with amino acids throughout the whole night.

SUMMARY

Casein clumps up in the stomach, allowing it to digest easily and more slowly.

3. Casein can help manage appetite

Casein protein powder’s ability to clump up is useful for more than just slow digestion. When the proteins in casein form a clump in the stomach, they keep you feeling full for a longer time.

Since that casein powder clump takes up space in the stomach, those hunger signals will be delayed. You can expect to feel fuller for up to several hours, after which the casein should be entirely digested.

Compare this property to whey protein. Whey is popular for its ability to be digested really quickly, supplying the body with a spike of amino acids. Its quick digestion is aided by the fact that whey doesn’t clump together in the stomach.

Casein is the exact opposite. Because of this, some people keep a supply of both whey and casein protein powder. With both available, you always have the right powder for the job.

SUMMARY

Casein’s ability to form a lump in the stomach helps to suppress hunger.

Casein Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High-quality protein
  • Slow digestion for steady supply of amino acids
  • Can help manage appetite

Cons

  • For bulking, casein should be taken only at night to avoid appetite suppression
  • Doesn’t dissolve as well as whey
  • Some casein protein powders contain traces of dairy

Quick Protein Overview

Here’s a quick rundown of what protein itself actually is. This brief explanation will help you understand why the best casein protein powders are perfect for building muscle. For more thorough information, see our protein powder guide.

Proteins are the basic building blocks of the body. They’re composed of amino acids, which are used to build muscle and other structural tissue.

Out of the twenty amino acids needed by the body, there are nine that it can’t produce on its own. Those nine are referred to as essential amino acids, and they have to come from our diets.

Protein sources that contain all nine essential amino acids are referred to as complete proteins. Since the body needs every one of those essential amino acids, protein powders typically made from complete sources. Casein and egg white protein powders are good examples.

Most people can reach their protein needs through diet alone. However, protein powders can be helpful for reaching more demanding health and fitness goals. Casein powder is particularly effective for this, as explained below.

SUMMARY

The amino acids in proteins are used to build muscle and other tissue. Complete proteins have all amino acids that body needs from a healthy diet.

Protein Powder Benefits

While it’s true that nobody needs protein powder to reach their fitness goals, research has continually shown how much it can help. Here’s a quick overview:

Athletics

  • Building and Preserving Muscle Mass

Study after study has demonstrated how helpful protein is for building muscle mass. Protein supplementation in combination with athletic training (such as weightlifting) leads to boosted bodyweight and muscle mass.15Whey Protein Supplementation Improves Body Composition and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis16A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults

Part of this has to do with something called protein turnover rate. After an intense workout, the body actually starts to metabolize (break down) muscle tissue as an amino acid source. However, if you simply supply the body with dietary amino acids, this process shifts. Studies show that drinking a protein shake after a workout boosts muscle protein synthesis (building) and decreases that muscle metabolization.17Reduced resting skeletal muscle protein synthesis is rescued by resistance exercise and protein ingestion following short-term energy deficit.18Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids19Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders.20Effects of exaggerated amino acid and protein supply in man.

Simply put, the best casein protein powders can help you gain and maintain muscle mass.

  • Boosting Performance and Decreasing Soreness

The benefits of protein supplements go beyond more muscle. As expected, research has shown that drinking protein shakes in combination with working out leads to greater performance, strength, and one repetition max.21A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults/mfn]21target=_blank ref=nofollow Timing of postexercise protein intake is important for muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in elderly humans22Effects of resistance training and protein plus amino acid supplementation on muscle anabolism, mass, and strength

However, this performance increase isn’t due to muscle mass alone. When you work out, you muscles rely on glycogen storage and production as a source of energy. After a sufficiently intense workout, those glycogen stores are depleted. Studies have shown that drinking a protein shake after working out more effectively restores glycogen levels, which in turn boosts performance.23Early postexercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement24Carbohydrate-protein complex increases the rate of muscle glycogen storage after exercise25Postexercise protein-carbohydrate and carbohydrate supplements increase muscle glycogen in men and women26Regulation of Muscle Glycogen Repletion, Muscle Protein Synthesis and Repair Following Exercise

Any beyond energy stores, protein powders such as casein are helpful for soreness-related performance drops. While soreness can be a sign of a good workout, it also temporarily decreases your athletic abilities. Damaged muscle fibers don’t perform as well as healthy ones.

Luckily, science has an answer! Research has thoroughly demonstrated that consuming protein after workouts can help. Not only does this decrease muscle soreness itself, but it also helps to minimize performance dips related to that soreness.27THE EFFECT OF A CARBOHYDRATE AND PROTEIN SUPPLEMENT ON RESISTANCE EXERCISE PERFORMANCE, HORMONAL RESPONSE, AND MUSCLE DAMAGE28Effect of milk-based carbohydrate-protein supplement timing on the attenuation of exercise-induced muscle damage29Acute milk-based protein–CHO supplementation attenuates exercise-induced muscle damage

SUMMARY

Taking protein supplements can help with gaining muscle mass, boosting performance, and decreasing soreness.

Weight Loss

It might seem backwards that taking casein protein powder can help with weight loss, but it’s true!

Research has repeatedly shown that drinking protein shakes can help with losing fat. With or without exercise, supplementing protein shakes as part of a healthy diet can lead to more fat loss and muscle preservation.30Whey Protein Supplementation Improves Body Composition and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis31A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese subjects: a randomized human clinical study32Effects of protein supplements consumed with meals, versus between meals, on resistance training–induced body composition changes in adults: a systematic review

Why do protein shakes help with weight loss? There are a few factors at play.

The first is that supplements like casein protein can replace unhealthy foods. Take, for example, someone who is restricted to a 2000-calorie diet. If they drink a 300-calorie casein protein shake, those are 300 calories spent on something nutritious instead of, say, a small bag of chips.

Secondly, protein supplements help with increasing and maintaining muscle mass, as mentioned above. This is particularly important for someone trying to lose weight. Muscle mass has a greater basal metabolic rate than fat tissue. That’s the technical way of saying muscle burns more calories at rest.

Here’s why that’s significant. Let’s you have a pair of twins who are exactly identical in weight, height, diet, activities, and everything else except one thing: muscle mass. One twin has more muscle and less fat, and the other has more fat and less muscle, though they weigh the same.

The twin with more muscle mass would actually burn more calories throughout the day due to their higher metabolic needs. This means that if they ate the exact same diet, the twin with more muscle would lose more fat.

And, finally, casein protein in particular can help with appetite control. Casein protein powder has the ability to clump together in the stomach, dissolving over a longer period of time. This means the body is supplied with a steady stream of amino acids over several hours. This, in turn, helps with appetite suppression and portion control.

SUMMARY

Protein supplements can help with losing fat and maintaining calorie-burning muscle mass.


Summary

Casein protein powder is a great choice for anyone wanting to improve their health and fitness. For both muscle building and weight management, supplementing casein is a great way to feed your body the essential amino acids it needs.

For more information on protein supplementation, see our complete protein powder guide.

Sale
Top Pick: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein Protein

“Gold Standard” may be a branding moniker, but Optimum Nutrition’s casein protein powder truly is just that—the gold standard.

This all-rounder is the best casein protein powder for almost every goal. Athletics, weight loss, health and wellness—you name it. You can’t go wrong with this clean casein powder.

5g BCAAs

Long-lasting absorption

Paleo-friendly

30g 1 oz 1/4 cup
21.8g
protein
2.7g
carbs
109
calories
$0.78
serving


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