What is Micellar Casein Protein?
Both micellar protein and whey protein come from milk, but they act in very different ways in the human body. Whey works fast... the body absorbing it quickly for an extra boost when needed. For example body builders would take a whey protein powder directly before, during, and right after a workout since it digests so quickly.
Micellar casein on the other hand takes time to work its way into the cells, blood, and muscles. Those same bodybuilders would do better to take casein before going to bed or at other times when they won't be having a meal for a while. Micellar casein stays in the system longer and keeps doing its work building and helping to maintain lean muscle mass.
The word "micellar" refers to the fact that the casein protein is separated from the milk without using chemicals. It's specially filtered so that the process won't interfere with its naturally beneficial qualities. You may also see it called "milk protein isolate or concentrate". However it's listed, it usually means there is mostly micellar casein with a bit of whey. Because of the way it's extracted from the milk it's considered an extremely high-grade protein.
You may also run across caseinates. They are still proteins but the processing is not pure as chemicals are used. Another term for creating chemical reactions is denatured. Rather than purchasing an altered form, it's best to find a true micellar casein protein powder or product containing micellar casein. It may cost more, but the purity and effectiveness are worth it.
Two terms you will see when reading about body building and strength enhancing protein powders and other products are "anabolic" and "catabolic". If these are new words to your vocabulary, anabolic refers to muscle growth, while catabolic is the opposite; muscle loss also known as atrophy.
Benefits Of Micellar Protein:
The Positive Attributes of Micellar Casein Protein
We've already talked about the fact that casein protein helps promote strong, lean muscles. Studies have shown that it keeps the amino acid levels higher for as long as seven hours. This is an unusually long time and scientists are impressed by these results. It means that micellar casein allows the amino acids to keep stressed muscles from deteriorating for longer than other proteins.
Micellar casein protein also strengthens the immune system, an important function in an age where there are so many new viral strains. That's because it contains glutamine and immunoglobulin, good all-purpose amino acids our bodies need. Glutamine aids in protein absorption by the cells and new studies indicate that it helps body builders and other athletes that put tremendous strain on their muscles.
Other tissues utilize glutamine as well and ingesting extra amounts keeps them from taking it from muscles. Additionally glutamine helps the digestive tract renew its lining which is a normal process happening about every three days.
Possible Negative Attributes Associated with Micellar Casein:
Because it comes from milk, micellar casein could possibly cause problems for anyone that is lactose intolerant. Symptoms may range from digestive distress, mild or severe, to the extreme condition called anaphylaxis, which is potentially life-threatening. Generally speaking however, since it isn't the actual milk, high quality micellar casein doesn't affect those with that specific allergy.
As mentioned above, confusing micellar casein with caseinates isn't good, so extra care should be used in reading labels. Manufacturers using caseinates in their products tend to do so because it tastes and feels better in our mouths. With all the technology available these days, micellar casein protein powders and supplements are no longer as unpleasant to swallow as in the beginning of their use.
Some makers and sellers of whey protein give micellar casein protein a bad rap, saying that it's destroyed upon contact with stomach acid. After so many studies, it looks more like marketing wars than anything substantive. In fact most nutritionists, trainers, and those interested in body building seem to agree that a combination of these two proteins leads to optimal benefits for those taking them.
Digestibility of Micellar Casein Protein:
Micellar casein is one of several proteins that scores at the top of the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). This is the measurement recognized by the FDA. Since there have been a number of others, the Federal Drug Administration felt it necessary to endorse one method to be used as the standard. One is the highest that any protein is rated. You may see some listed over that number, but anything beyond 1.0 isn't used by the body.
Some people that have studied micellar casein believe that it forms a sort of gel-like substance in the digestive system. That would explain why it stays in the system for so many hours.
Comparison to Other Proteins:
Micellar casein protein is most often compared to whey protein. This is probably because they both come from milk. Some folks like to debate whether it's best to use a fast or slow acting protein or protein powder.
Logically speaking, it makes sense that each type would have its own role to play. There are times when it would be important for a protein to enter the bloodstream quickly, do its work, and then get out. In other instances a slow acting protein is needed to stay longer.
Try using your car as an analogy. You're out on a two-lane road and want to pass a slower car. You definitely don't want to stay in the opposite lane very long so you step on the gas or downshift... whatever means you use to get a quick power boost. The rest of the time you drive at an even speed and make sure you have plenty of fuel.
Fast acting whey protein gives you that extra boost to get through a power lift, a sprint, or whatever you need more acceleration for. Slow acting micellar casein protein keeps feeding your cells, blood, muscle and other tissue after the stress is over. Not only does it repair the stretched out, exhausted muscles; it helps keep them from deteriorating from the heavy work they just did.
It takes several hours for micellar casein to be synthesized and reach its maximum amino acid level in the bloodstream. As we mentioned before it may stay for as long as seven hours. It's obvious that this remarkable protein takes a long time performing its important functions. On the other hand whey protein is working at its maximum within about twenty minutes of ingestion. Within an hour it's completely metabolized.
Remember that a slow metabolism burns calories more slowly while a fast metabolism runs through them quickly. Healthy muscles depend on a good balance between when the proteins are synthesized and when they start breaking down. During the slower synthesis of micellar casein the muscle mass increases.
Remember the terms "anabolic" and "catabolic"? Micellar casein promotes the anabolic phase or muscle building and preserving activity. Whey protein leads up to the catabolic phase. It helps the muscles power through strenuous work and then as it leaves the bloodstream the hard-working muscles begin to deteriorate.
Of course you need to make your own decision on what works best for your needs, but it appears from all the data that consuming some micellar casein and some whey protein is usually a good idea.
Who Should Use Micellar Casein Protein and Protein Powders?
Some of the people most interested in using micellar casein may be:
- This slow acting protein helps build muscle mass and it's extremely helpful after an intense workout. During a training session the muscles are taxed to their maximum ability and the pain and exhaustion that follow indicate that they are beginning to break down. Because it stays in the body for so long, micellar casein protein powder works to protect them for hours.
It's a good post workout protein and is also good during long periods without food. For example, many body builders take micellar casein protein powder before going to sleep at night. This saves them from consuming large amounts of cottage cheese and other casein rich foods before going to bed.
- Anyone that is physically active benefits from micellar casein. We've seen what it does for building and preserving muscle mass. Studies show that it's particularly effective in chest, shoulder, and leg muscles. It helps retain nitrogen that assists in the anabolic effects
- Micellar casein promotes a healthy immune system since it contains glutamine
- Protein is good for us but unfortunately many protein rich foods also contain high amounts of fat and calories. By consuming micellar casein protein powder (as well as others) we ensure that we'll remain healthy longer and always perform at the top of our abilities no matter how active we are
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