Casein protein powder is a nutritional supplement that is commonly used by fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders to help them gain muscle mass. The term "casein" comes from the Latin word caseus, which means "cheese." Casein is a natural type of protein that is found in both human milk and cow milk. In powder form, casein protein acts as a concentrated source of important amino acids.
Phosphoprotein is a core component of casein protein powder. This supplement contains a high amount of phosphoric acid, which is important for muscle function. This supplement is also very high in glutamine, an amino acid that helps preserve muscle mass and improve the human immune system. The amino acids naturally found in casein make it a popular choice for people who are trying to gain muscle.
Casein protein powder is not the only type of supplement that contains helpful amino acids. Whey protein, for instance, also can be used to increase muscle mass. Although whey protein is digested rapidly, casein powder is processed slowly and can remain in the stomach for several hours. This digestive delay makes casein a good choice for bodybuilders to take before going to bed. The beneficial proteins found in casein powder provide a steady nutritional source between dinner and breakfast.
The use of this supplement does have several potential disadvantages. If protein powders such as casein or whey are taken in excessive quantities, the kidneys can become stressed. Additionally, high levels of casein powder increase dehydration and can lead to digestive discomfort or cramps. This discomfort can be alleviated by increasing the one's water intake and avoiding strenuous exercise immediately after taking the supplement. A small percentage of people are allergic to casein and can develop reactions such as bloating and stomach pain.
The benefits of casein outweigh the disadvantages for many fitness users, and potential problems can be minimized by following the manufacturer's dosage recommendations printed on the container. As with any type of nutritional supplement, casein protein powder is not a magic solution, and it should be used in conjunction with a well-balanced diet. Casein can significantly increase the gains experienced by bodybuilders, but it must be combined with a muscle-building workout plan to be effective. When used as part of an overall fitness plan, casein protein powder can be greatly beneficial.