Increasing muscle mass is actually a pretty challenging process – despite what late-night informercials would like you to believe. The process takes time and dedication, in addition to a properly designed workout and diet routine.
And diet is exactly where many people fall short. Gaining weight isn't all that difficult – simply eat more. But, what if you specifically want to gain more muscle than fat? What do you do then?
Although it's a little lesser known than the related whey protein, casein protein powder might be exactly what you're missing.
Why You Need Protein
First of all, why should you be mindful of your protein intake when you're trying to build lean mass? When you work out, you are creating microscopic tears in your muscle fibers – damage that has to be repaired.
But your body is smart and is constantly concerned with preventing further injury. So, instead of just fixing the damaged tissue, it makes the damaged muscle bigger and stronger in an effort to be better prepared for the next workout.
In order to carry out this rebuilding work properly, though, the right materials need to be present in adequate amounts. Protein, as it happens, is made of amino acids – which are commonly called the building blocks of life.
When you ingest a protein, your body breaks it down into its amino acids and turns them into whatever is needed, including muscle fiber. Here's the problem, though: your body needs fuel all day, every day and the more you use it the more fuel you need.
But when there isn't enough carbohydrates or fat available, your body will start using protein instead. Not only can this mean less protein goes to your muscles, but it can also result in a frightful process called catabolism, wherein your body actually breaks down your muscles for fuel.
And that cannot be allowed to happen. You worked hard for those.
Adequate intake of carbohydrates and fats – in addition to protein – is necessary then to make sure that those nutrients are going where they need to go. Protein powders are a common and helpful tool to ensure proper protein intake.
But, what specifically makes casein so special?
Casein for Gains
When compared with whey, it does appear as though casein is a more effective muscle-builder.
Unfortunately, scientists aren't entirely sure why. The prevalent theory has to do with a unique tendency that casein has to clot up into a little ball of protein. This occurs when casein is exposed to any liquid and is especially potent when it is dunked in acid or heat – conditions similar to those in your stomach.
When you ingest casein, then, it pulls together in a mass of protein that takes several hours for your body to fully break down and use. This is a sharp contrast with whey which is rapidly digested.
This time-release function of casein makes sure that you have a steady, internal supply of protein that continues to feed your muscles even when you aren't actively eating.