Monday, February 25, 2013

Micellar Casein v/s Calcium Caseinate. By Vic Goyaram

Not All Casein Supplements Are The Same

Researched and composed by Veeraj Goyaram
Casein Verdict: The Real casein is Micellar Casein, not Caseinates. The latter digest rapidly and thus it defeats the purpose of using a casein protein.
Casein basics
There are two main proteins in milk, namely whey and casein, with casein making up approximately 80% of the protein and the remaining 20% consisting of whey proteins.  As you probably already know, casein is a slower digesting protein compared to whey protein. The result is that casein releases amino acids into blood circulation (aminoacidemia) at a slower and more sustained rate than whey (Fig. 1).  Casein is marketed on this basis, that by virtue of its slow-digesting properties it acts as anti-catabolic protein and is suitable for keeping the body in an anabolic state for a long time after ingestion (about 6-8 hours).
Fig 1: Casein releases amino acids into the bloodstream at a significantly
slower rate than whey protein. (Tang et al., 2009)
Are all casein the same?
However, not all casein proteins are the same. If you take the time to read casein protein labels you will see that some products contain calcium caseinate or sodium caseinate (caseinates) while others contain micellar casein. The products that contain Micellar casein will most often display it prominently on the label, for one good reason: the micellar form is better than caseinates. You will also note that micellar casein products are tougher on the wallet than caseinates. But what really is the difference between the Micellar and the Caseinate forms of Casein?

Casein, as it exists in milk, is Micellar Casein. Micellar is derived from the term “Micelle” which is a chemical term for a special type of aggregate or “bubble” (Fig. 2). Micellar casein, when consumed, clots in the stomach, forming relatively large globules of protein that empty from the stomach much more slowly than whey protein and is thus digested slowly. 

The problem with micellar casein is that it is not soluble and therefore less desirable to the food industry. To solve this problem, caseinates are made by reacting micellar casein with alkalis like sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide to make sodium caseinate and calcium caseinate respectively. As you would expect, this treatment with alkalis affect the quality and biological value of the caseinates, making them of lesser quality to Micellar Casein.

Fig 2. The Casein micelle
In a recent study done in Denmark (Reitelseder et al., 2011), the researchers found no difference between whey and calcium caseinate in terms of release of amino acids into the blood stream (Fig. 3).  Calcium caseinate, as distinguished from micellar casein, is soluble (and is thus used in numerous food processes), and so digestion rates of this form of casein are not likely to be overtly different from those of whey, as explained by Prof. Phillips, a well-known scientific expert in protein (Phillips, 2011)
Fig 3: Caseinate released amino acids into blood at the same rate as Whey protein
(Reitelseder et al., 2011)
The take-home message
  • When buying a casein product or sustained-release protein product make sure to read labels and ascertain that the source of casein is micellar casein. 
  • Micellar casein is much more expensive than caseinates and if your goal is to get a true slow-release protein, then micellar is worth your buck.
  • If your supplement label lists Total Milk Protein or Milk Protein Isolate please know that these contain casein (about 80%) in the MICELLAR form and whey (20%). 
  • Be careful of supplement companies trying to pass caseinate as a slow-digesting product
  • If you are not able to afford micellar casein, milk is nature’s blend of whey and micellar casein (if you don't mind the lactose carbs).
Life lesson: I used to see the casein on the shelves costing R400 and above. I had only R10 in my pocket with which I bought a litre of milk and drank it in 3 minutes. The litre of milk brought me about 33g of whey and casein blend. Do what you can.

Phillips SM. A comparison of whey to caseinate. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 300: E610, 2011.

Reitelseder S, Agergaard J, Doessing S, Helmark IC, Lund P, Kristensen NB, Frystyk JF, Flyvbjerg A, Schjerling P, van Hall G, Kjaer M, Holm L. Whey and casein labeled with L-[1-13C]leucine and muscle protein synthesis: effect of resistance exercise and protein ingestion. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 300: E231–E242, 2011.

Res P.T., B. Groen, B. Pennings, M. Beelen, G.A. Wallis, A.P. Gijsen, J.M. Senden, and L.J. van Loon. Protein ingestion prior to sleep improves post- exercise overnight recovery. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 44:1560-1569, 2012.

Tang JE, Moore DR, Kujbida GW, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol 107: 987–992, 2009.

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1 comment:

  1. Thankyou sir very informative, it's a pity micellar casein is not used more often in blended proteins etc...