You are what you eat. It’s been known for a long time. If you want to be covered in lean muscle, then you need to eat lots of protein. More specifically, you need to eat the right sort of protein at the right times. Fast-acting protein, typically whey protein, is great for during the day, when you’re gearing up for a workout or recovering from it, but night-time is different. Your hard-working muscles use your sleep time to repair themselves, you want to help them out by giving them a supply of protein which will last them all night long. Step forward casein. The body digests casein at about half the rate at which it digests whey (5g per hour compared to 8-10g per hour), which means that an equivalent serving will last about twice as long and hence is perfect for overnight use. As an added bonus, casein is rich in the amino acid glutamine, which plays a crucial role in muscle recovery.
Sources of casein protein
Casein is a component of milk, so one way to get a supply of it is to eat lots of dairy products. This is probably a reasonable approach for people leading a moderately-active lifestyle, but is likely to be hugely impractical for anyone working out hard, whether it’s to build lean muscle or for general endurance training. This is why casein protein supplements are a staple of the major health-and-fitness ranges. They generally come in two forms, pure casein and casein blends. As a rule of thumb, the former are better for nighttime use and the latter for the day. Depending on how much casein is in the blend, they may be good breakfast drinks to keep you fuelled throughout the day, with top ups as appropriate, or they may be better as pre-/post-workout drinks. Unlike whey protein, which is available in bar form, casein supplements are typically powders.
Best casein Protein Powder
Dymatize Nutrition Elite Casein
Each 35g serving provides 24g of protein derived from a combination of micellar casein and calcium caseinate. The presence of the latter means that this product provides a helpful amount of calcium for strong bones. It is also a rich source of amino acids. Elite Casein scores particularly well on taste being available in: cinnamon bun, cookies & cream, rich chocolate and smooth vanilla. This is one of the more affordable casein protein supplements out there and still provides a very respectable level of performance.
- 21 grams of multi-sourced protein per serving including whey protein concentrate, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate and micellar casein
- Each serving also includes 4.5 grams of BCAAs and 2.2 grams of Leucine
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MusclePharm Combat 100% Casein
Each 34.5g serving contains 28g of protein from 100% micellar casein and what makes this product distinctive is the addition of a digestive enzyme blend, which aids in the release of the protein and helps combat the feelings of bloat and gas which some people can experience when they eat a high-protein diet. There are also plenty of vitamins and minerals and an outstanding amino acid profile. Combat 100% Casein is gluten free and although it’s only available in two flavours, chocolate milk and vanilla, the taste does get good review. The only downside to this product is that it comes with an allergens warning which states: “CONTAINS MILK. Made in a facility that may also process egg, soy, tree nuts, sesame, peanuts, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, and wheat products.” While this does look like a “catch-all” statement to protect MusclePharm from potential lawsuits, it is still bad news for allergy-sufferers looking for a product which is safe for them to use.
- Made Exclusively With 28 Grams Of Micellar Casein Per Serving
- Use Between Meals To Support Satiety And/Or Before Bed To Support Your Muscles While Asleep
- 0 Grams Of Fat And Only 1 Gram Of Sugar
MuscleTech Platinum Casein
Exact nutritional values for this product depend on the flavour, but the serving size is around 30g and it delivers around 24g of protein, 5g of BCAAs and 5g of glutamine and precursor. The protein is a blend of alpha, beta and kappa casein protein. MuscleTech uses ultra-pure, cold-processed microfiltered casein micelles and filters out lactose, ash and fat. In addition to doing you good, it also tastes very good and is available in three flavours: gourmet milk chocolate, strawberry shortcake and vanilla ice cream. Platinum Casein is at the upper end of the price range, but if you’re looking for the highest possible performance then this is an investment purchase.
|Serving Size: 1 Scoop (31 g)|
|Servings Per Container: Approx. 27|
|Amount Per Serving||% Daily Value|
|Calories from Fat||5|
|Total Fat||1 g||2%*|
|Saturated Fat||0.5 g||3%*|
|Trans Fat||0 g||†|
|Total Carbohydrate||2 g||1%*|
|Dietary Fiber||2 g||4%*|
|*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. †Daily Values not established.|
MuscleTech Platinum 100% Casein, Slow-Digesting 100% Milcellar Casein Formula, Gourment Milk Chocolate,...
- Every scoop delivers only the purest form of casein - micellar casein
- Packed with 24g of protein, 5.2g BCAAs and 4g glutamine
- Subjects consuming daily dose experience a 34% decrease in muscle breakdown
- Contains a higher concentration of protein per scoop than the competition
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein
It’s Optimum Nutrition, the name pretty much speaks for itself. Each 33g serving contains 24g of protein derived from all-micellar casein. It also has 3g of carbohydrates, minimal fat and zero added sugar, plus there is an impressive 9g of essential amino acids. Optimum Nutrition has long since grasped the fact that people prefer products which taste good as well as performing well and they offer by far the biggest range of flavours. You can choose from: chocolate supreme, creamy vanilla, banana cream, cookies ‘n’ cream, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla.
- Fast-digesting gold standard 100% casein
- Slow-digesting gold standard 100% casein
- Comprehensive protein support day and night
Optimum Nutrition Platinum Tri-Celle Casein
Optimum Nutrition may be one of the longest-established brands in the health-and-fitness world, but they’re also one of the most innovative. Each 43g serving of Platinum Tri-Celle Casein delivers an impressive 30g of protein from restructures micellar casein. Restructured means that the casein molecules have been reengineered to make them three times bigger than their everyday counterparts, thereby making for an even slower release of its amino acid goodness. One corollary of this is that Optimum Nutrition Platinum Tri-Celle Casein makes a seriously thick shake, so if you usually take your shakes with milk, you might want to try out water first for this one unless you’re absolutely sure you want a really rich, filling drink. Available flavours are chocolate decadence, strawberry indulgence and vanilla bliss.
- Casein not only supports muscle rebuilding, it may also help with weight management support by helping you feel fuller longer.
- The Gold Standard for Slow-Digesting Protein, delivering 24 Grams of slowly digesting protein per serving that is best used between meals or before bed.
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Universal Nutrition Casein Pro
Universal Nutrition is another company which has made a respected name for itself in the health and fitness world. Each 33g serving of Casein Pro provides 24g of protein from micellar casein. It’s available in four flavours: chocolate milkshake, chocolate peanut butter, cookies & cream and vanilla soft serve. All of these seem to get the thumbs up from most users as does its mixing ability and consistency.
- 100% Micellar Casein
- Sustained Release Protein
- Steady Flow of Amino Acids
- Delicious Taste
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Best Casein Protein Verdict
When you’re looking for the right casein protein for you there are four key factors to consider.
Quality of the ingredients
All of the products in our list score here, that’s one of the reasons why they’re in our list.
Value for money
In our opinion, all the products in our list score here too, again that’s one of the reasons why they’re in our list.
Taste and texture
This one is totally individual. If you’re fine with the old favourites of chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and banana, you should be able to use pretty much any product you want. If you crave something different, head to Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein, which has by far the biggest and most diverse range of flavours.
Level and nature of protein
If you want absolute optimum performance, then you’re going to have to invest in a super-premium brand, but we know that some people are perfectly happy with a lower level of protein at a more affordable price, which is why we’ve included a couple of “lighter” options. Like taste and texture, this is all about working out what you want and need.