Casein protein powder is similar to whey protein in that they both come from milk, but they do have some differences. Both are good types of protein, but knowing the difference is important to determine what’s best for your needs. The biggest difference is how quickly your body absorbs them.
When consumed, your body breaks protein down into smaller molecules called amino acids. These circulate through your bloodstream until they’re absorbed. When you consume casein, these amino acids stay in your bloodstream for around 4 to 5 hours, while the amino acids in whey are absorbed more quickly, often within 90 minutes.
This is why whey is so popular with athletes and anyone who likes heavy workouts – it digests quickly and elevates the muscle rebuilding and recovery process. Casein is better for situations where you need a slower, more steady release of protein over time. For example, it’s great before bed when you won’t be eating for a while. It’s also good for other fasting or dieting situations as it’ll keep you fueled for longer.
Where these protein types don’t differ much is their nutrient content. Calories, fat, carbs, iron, calcium, and protein content per serving of each are all pretty similar. Whey protein is usually a little lower on carbs and calories, but not by much. On average, it contains ten fewer calories and two fewer grams of carbs. Both can be suitable for diets like keto and paleo, depending on other ingredients, though it’s important to remember that they aren’t entirely plant-based. Many people prefer plant-based protein as the most important factor.
The Best Casein Protein Powder Brands
1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein Protein
The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein Protein Powder is a high-quality, slow-digesting protein that’s perfect for overnight muscle recovery. It has 24 grams of protein and five grams of naturally occurring branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) for even more muscle support. It’s perfect for use before bed and/or between meals.
It’s also a very clean protein, with only 1 gram of sugar, 0.5-1 gram of fat, and 4 grams of carbs. It offers about 40% of your daily recommended calcium as well. They use only premium quality micellar casein as their source, to ensure it meets their gold standards with every scoop.
Gold Standard is a very well-known supplement brand with good quality options in every category. Their products are especially good if you’re looking to work out heavily and build lots of muscle, as they have the perfect stack of supplements for all needs – all of which meet the gold standard.
2. Dymatize Elite Casein
Dymatize Elite Casein is made with 100% micellar casein and uses a crossflow microfiltration process that preserves the natural state of the casein's most powerful muscle-building properties. The formula is made by in-house scientists who carefully research and select ingredients with strict quality specifications and standards.
Even though they’ve already created their protein, they never stop studying! They’re always making little updates and improvements to keep up with the latest scientific discoveries and advancements. The formula is also frequently put to the test through university studies and at professional training facilities.
Dymatize supplements are also manufactured at Sport Certified Facilities, meaning that all ingredients are tested and validated to be clean and safe. They’re also third-party tested for banned substances to put athletes' minds at ease. This protein comes in several different flavors and offers 25 grams of protein, 5.3 grams of BCAAs, and 2.3 grams of leucine.
3. Bulk Supplements Casein Protein Powder
Bulk Supplements offers a clean and pure casein protein with no extras, no fillers, and no fuss. One serving has only 106 calories and 25 grams of protein. It also has less than one gram each of sugar, fat, and carbs. The incredibly low carb content makes it perfect for anyone following a keto diet, and the overall cleanliness of the formula makes it a healthy choice for anyone.
Bulk Supplements lives up to its name and also likes to help you save a little money if you want to buy in bulk. Their smallest size protein powder is 100 grams but goes up to 20 kilograms, or 44 pounds at a time. This is a great option if you’re buying for multiple people or you know you’ll use a lot of it up quickly.
They offer the same thing on their large list of other supplements, too. They have just about everything, from other workout supplements like creatine and amino acids to things for immune support, heart health, and more. They’ve also got a great selection of soft gels for omegas, multivitamins, fish oil, and more!
4. Ascent Micellar Casein Powder
Ascent Micellar Casein Powder is a clean, healthy, premium-quality choice. It provides a slow and sustained release of amino acids for those who aren’t afraid of hard work and long days. It’s certified gluten-free, Informed Sport Certified, and contains zero artificial ingredients.
It comes in classic flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and chocolate peanut butter. Each serving has 120 calories, 25 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and no sugar whatsoever. It also has a strong serving of calcium at 663 mg which is 50% of your daily recommended intake.
It also has 5 grams of BCAAs and 2.7 grams of leucine. Its slow-digesting properties also make it a good thing to take before going to sleep.
Ascent has a nice selection of products for those who want to get healthy and work out. They also have a blog with all kinds of useful information, on topics like nutrition, fitness, recipes, and advice for athletes.
5. Legion Casein+
Legio Casein+ Protein Powder is a natural, grass-fed micellar casein protein that’s made with milk from small and sustainable farms in Ireland. It’s a little higher in calories than the average protein at 140 per serving, but it also offers 26 grams of protein, 5 grams of carbs, only 2 grams of fat, and 5.2 grams of BCAAs. There are no added sugars and a decent amount of calcium – about half of your daily requirement.
It’s flavored naturally with stevia leaf extract and uses whole foods like red beets for coloring. It may seem random that they use milk from Ireland, but Ireland actually has some of the healthiest and cleanest milk in the world coming from their farms. They also work closely with the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme in Ireland, which ensures farms are following the absolute best practices in terms of sustainability, quality, soil/grass management, and most importantly, animal welfare.
They also have an array of other products available and offer a 10% discount if you get your entire stack from them – pre-workout and post-workout supplements in addition to protein, for example.
Meal Replacement Casein Protein Shakes
Protein shakes and smoothies are, of course, among the most common methods of using protein powder. They are popular to drink before and/or after workouts and training sessions as they help you, your body, and your muscles recover.
This is not all protein shakes are good for, though. Sometimes they’re a great meal replacement if you’re busy, low on time, or trying to lose weight! There are many delicious protein shake recipes out there, but not all of them are suitable to actually replace a meal. You need a certain amount of nutrition and calories to do that. If you’re looking to use your casein protein for this purpose, try one of these recipes:
Sweet Meal Replacement
If you’ve got a sweet tooth but want to replace a meal, this recipe is for you! It’s got almond butter and oats for substance and added protein, with blueberries and bananas for a sweeter flavor. It’s also got a touch of greens for a nice nutrition shot.
If you’re not into nut butter, blueberries, or bananas, though, don’t worry! The article contains much more than just the recipe. The recipe is just one great example. Also included is a guide to building a meal replacement shake with what types of ingredients you want, such as protein sources, fruits, nuts, etc. You can use this information to create your own signature recipe with whatever flavors you want!
Coffee Cinnamon Shake
If you’re looking for something a little warmer and spicier, this is a fantastic recipe with enough protein, natural sugars, and caffeine to keep you energized and full for hours. Ingredients include simple things like flax seeds, honey, cinnamon, coffee, yogurt, bananas, and nutmeg. It’s packed with nutrition and offers a unique and decadent taste you’ll be craving every morning!
The recipe comes from this post, where you can find a variety of other meal replacement shakes and smoothies as well. If you plan to use shakes to replace meals, it’s important to mix things up in the flavor department so you don’t get bored and give up!