Many people who start taking casein supplements do not initially know the right time of taking it. As it is a slow-digesting protein, the most suitable time for casein supplement intake is the nighttime. That is why most athletes and bodybuilders consume it before bed.

In this article, we have thoroughly talked about casein, the right time of taking it, and its suitable dosage.

Casein Protein Before Bed

What is casein protein?

Casein protein is an animal-derived protein that has all the essential amino acids your body needs to perform different tasks. Casein makes 80% of cow milk’s protein and 40% of human breast milk. It is the curd part that is obtained as a by-product while making cheese. This curd part has no taste or colour. It is processed and dried until it becomes casein powder which is the most popular casein supplement available in the market.

Casein is rich in branched-chain amino acids, particularly leucine. Branched-chain amino acids are well-known for their ability to increase muscle mass and volume. Due to this reason, casein supplement is popularly used among weight lifters and athletes. It also contains other healthy nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, etc.

Two common forms of casein

  • Micellar casein protein: Micellar casein protein is a form of casein that is usually sold as a supplement. It is the pure form that is not pre-digested, due to which it breaks down slowly in the body and provides the body with amino acids for several hours after ingestion.  
  • Casein hydrolysate: Casein hydrolysate is processed and heated, which makes it pre-digested. Since it is digested beforehand, it gets absorbed in the body pretty fast.

How is casein supplement digested in the body?

Amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins. Upon digestion, your body releases these amino acids that perform different tasks in the body, particularly build muscles. Casein digests slowly compared to the whey protein.

Studies indicate it is because casein turns into curd when it enters the acidic environment of the stomach. This thick curd then takes time to dissolve. [2] For this reason, casein is considered a slow-digesting protein.

Why is it important to take a casein supplement before bed?

Your body repairs and heals itself before sleep. It repairs all the muscles that have worked continuously throughout the day. At night, your growth hormones have higher levels in the bloodstream. They also work on the muscles and boost their growth.

When you provide your body with the essential and non-essential amino acids in the form of casein before bed, you actually maximize muscle growth by taking the help of the spike of growth hormones. Your body needs these hormones for repair, so when you offer it the amino acids, the natural healing process speeds up multiple times. [3]

Casein protein is called slow-digesting protein because it releases its amino acids at a slow pace. So, while sleeping, you keep providing your body with amino acids, which also prevents the decay of muscle proteins that may occur when you stay without food for hours (like during sleep).

Micellar casein protein may also boost the rate of metabolism and help you burn more fats. In this way, you will also be able to lose weight fast.

How long before bed should you take protein?

Taking protein before bed is beneficial in many ways. It fuels your body and gives the components that it needs to recover fast. That is why older people and athletes consume it before bed. There is no time restriction for drinking a casein protein shake, but experts believe that taking it 30 minutes before bed is more beneficial.

How to take a casein supplement?

Micellar casein protein powder is the most common casein supplement that people take before bed. It digests slowly and provides a continuous supply of amino acids for hours. If you are planning to take casein before or after a workout, then it is better to take casein hydrolysate because it digests faster, or you can simply take whey.

Bodybuilders and older adults take micellar casein protein before bedtime because it is slow digesting. You can prepare a casein protein shake by mixing 1 to 2 scoops of casein protein powder in a shaker bottle. You can also add ice and blend the mixture in the blender.

Another way of consuming the casein supplement is mixing the powdered supplement in the water in a bowl and placeing it in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. The solution will gain pudding-like consistency and look like ice cream or frosting. The casein supplement comes in different flavours as well. You can buy a flavoured supplement to consume it as a tasty and healthy snack.

What is the recommended casein supplement dosage?

Protein is one of the essential macronutrients that you must take every day. For protein, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 0.3 grams per body pound. People who take this amount of protein every day do not develop any protein deficiency.

Bodybuilders and athletes have higher protein requirements because they are more active and their bodies consume more protein every day. Their protein requirements are two to three times more than the mentioned RDA. 

A person who is not as active as athletes or bodybuilders and also eats a balanced diet may not need an additional protein dose. On the other hand, if you are an active fitness enthusiast or athlete, then you should increase your daily protein intake by having 1 to 2 scoops (20 grams to 40 grams) of micellar casein protein every day. [4]

Summary

Since casein digests slower, it is recommended to consume it 30 minutes before bed. Doing so will help you increase the muscle recovery rate and build muscles faster. Read the manufacturer instructions properly before consuming micellar casein protein.

References 

  1. Milk Casein Proteins: Ancient, Diverse, and Essential
  2. Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery (nih.gov)
    Postprandial kinetics of dietary amino acids are the main determinant of their metabolism after soy or milk protein ingestion in humans (nih.gov)
  3. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise - PubMed (nih.gov)