If you’ve spent any time in a gym, you’ve probably heard about whey. It offers an invaluable source of protein for immediate absorption – ideally in the hour before and after a workout. Not all proteins are created equal, however, and your body needs a wide range of amino acids to stimulate muscle growth. Casein can play a leading role in that process.

What Is Casein?

Casein, like whey, is a form of protein commonly found in dairy products – it makes up around 80% of cow’s milk, for example. It’s typically sold as a standalone protein powders or as part of a blend with whey.

Casein is a slow-release protein, which means its larger molecules take longer for your body to digest, so you get more of a drip-feed effect of protein into your bloodstream over a longer period. This makes it unsuitable for taking immediately after your workout when you need an instant hit of protein.

When Should You Take Casein?

While casein should be swerved when you’re sweaty, it’s ideal for consuming before bed or when you first wake up.

Having casein in a protein shake with water before bed helps your body continue to repair and grow muscle tissue while you sleep, which sounds so good it’s almost like cheating (it is not).

Alternatively, knocking back a casein shake first thing in the morning means your body gets a steady supply of protein throughout the day. Don’t use it as a breakfast replacement, though – it won’t provide all the nutrients you need.

What Else Is Casein Good For?

Casein is also useful for people who go long periods without eating or having the opportunity to consume a solid meal. If you’re a delivery driver, shift worker, teacher or someone who does a lot of travelling, sittingdown to a balanced meal can be tricky. This is where casein comes in handy: it’s an easy way to provide your body with a steady flow of essential amino acids to help grow and repair muscle tissue, as well as keep you feeling full.