There's a vital truth about fitness that many people tend to miss or flat-out ignore when planning their routines: Recovery is key. It doesn't really matter what your workouts look like or how hard you push yourself in the gym.
If you aren't allowing your body to fully recovery, your muscles will not improve and no progress will be made. In fact, denying your body a chance to thoroughly recover can actually weaken your muscles and put you at risk for injury and host of potentially serious health problems.
Recovery, though, is a pretty complicated topic – involving much more than just taking some time off. So, to make the best use of our time, we're just going to focus on one aspect of recovery: nutrition.
Specifically, how casein protein powder can help with muscle recovery.
In truth, all protein is a potent recovery aid. When you exercise, your muscles experience damage in the form of microscopic tears. To fix the problem and prevent it from happening again, your body starts a chain of events designed to repair the damage and strengthen your muscles against future stress.
Protein provides the raw materials, in the form of amino acids, needed to carrying out these repairs quickly. Regardless of exactly what form it takes before it enters your body, then, protein is absolutely necessary for muscle recovery.
When, then, makes casein powder so special?
Slow And Steady
To understand the unique properties of casein, it helps to know where it comes from.
Like whey, casein is derived from milk. Whey, however, makes up the liquid portion of milk while casein comprises the solids in the beverage. When milk is exposed to heat or another curdling agent, these two parts of milk are separated with casein binding up and floating to the top.
And, it's this tendency to clot together that makes casein of special interest to a discussion on muscle recovery. After you ingest casein powder, it forms what is essentially a ball of protein in your stomach. This mass takes hours to break down.
During that time, your body has a steady supply of all those extremely useful amino acids. This is why casein is typically taken at night, right before bed. Unlike whey – which is absorbed extremely quickly – casein will contain to feed you throughout the night when your muscles are actively going through the repair process.