When it comes to promoting muscle growth or muscle building, pure vegetarians and elite athletes dynamically depend on various alternative sources such as plant-based proteins or dairy proteins. Whey protein is well known for muscle building due to its rapid-digestion and absorption, however few people know that Micellar Casein can boost muscle growth too. In fact the difference is the speed of absorption: micellar casein has slower digestion and will be more recommended to take at breakfast or dinner, as it can prevent the “normal” muscle protein breakdown during the day or the night. Let’s discuss some of the nutritional and functional aspects of micellar casein and explain when to take Micellar Casein and Whey protein supplements in order to optimize muscle building.
Milk: Source of Micellar casein and Whey protein
Micellar casein is a milk protein mainly derived from dairy (bovine’s milk). Typically, bovine’s milk is comprised of two types of milk proteins with a specific ratio-whey and micellar casein. Unlike whey protein, micellar casein exits in micelle form and is present in the highest ratio approximately 79-80% in milk. Like animal protein, micellar casein is also classified as a complete protein because of having all the nine essential amino acids that a normal healthy body needs for muscles synthesis, growth, and building.
Micellar casein is produced through microfiltration, a soft process that preserve all the nutritional and functional benefits.
Nutritional Aspects of Micellar casein
Since micellar casein is an animal protein, it contains all the nine essential amino acids that support muscles growth.
And like Whey protein, Micellar Casein contains Leucine and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) that are the most important amino acids for stimulating muscle protein synthesis. (but whey protein is richer in Leucine and BCAA than Micellar casein!).
In addition, micellar casein protein contains high calcium content (much higher than whey protein) which contributes to the normal functioning of muscles and further to maintaining the strength of bones and teeth.
Functional Aspects of Micellar casein
Micellar casein is also known as slow-digesting milk protein due to its structural property and slow absorption rate. Micellar casein is rapidly coagulated by the acidic environment of the stomach when ingested. Hence, the slow absorbing property of micellar casein releases amino acids at a slower rate to feed your muscle cells in a steady stream over a long period of time. Micellar casein protein possesses dual functionality-promoting muscles building and preventing muscles breakdown at the same time.
Due to its micelle form and its structure, Micellar caseins has many functional properties like improving the viscosity of products, gel formation and has very good emulsifying properties. Besides, Micellar casein is resistant to high heat treatment, that’s why you will find them in a lot of products: powdered protein drinks to rehydrate, heat-stable RTD beverages, yogurts, cheese, etc..
Micellar casein Promotes Muscle building
Elite athletes and bodybuilders have been using milk proteins as supplement for decades. Whey protein is well known for its rapid absorption and digestion, which make it the protein of choice right after an exercice for a fast recovery of the muscle which has been damaged.
Micellar casein is a slow digesting protein, which also contains Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) which stimulates protein synthesis in muscle (1). That is why Micellar Casein will be the best supplement during the morning or before betime.
As it prevents muscle breakdown by slowly releasing the amino acids compared to whey protein (2).
To confirm it, a clinical study has examinated.
The effect of micellar casein in 16 resistance-trained young males. The resistance-trained males took beverages (with active 40g micellar casein protein) 30mins before sleep.
The findings revealed that individuals who took casein protein shake have a balanced net-protein ratio and showed an increased rate of whole-body protein synthesis compared to a non-protein placebo group. Hence, taking casein protein before sleep indeed enhances the synthesis of muscles protein and promotes strong muscle building (3).
Phillips SM, Tang JE, Moore DR. The role of milk-and soy-based protein in support of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein accretion in young and elderly persons. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2009 Aug 1;28(4):343-54.
Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson MP, Maubois JL, Beaufrère B. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences. 1997 Dec 23;94(26):14930-5.
Res, P.T., Groen, B., Pennings, B., Beelen, M., Wallis, G.A., Gijsen, A.P., Senden, J.M. and Van Loon, L.J., 2012. Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 44(8), pp.1560-9.