Casein

Ori Hofmekler has brought out a fantastic book called “Unlock Your Muscle Gene” discussing strategies on how we can learn how to trigger the genes in our muscles for greater longevity and reveals false modern fitness theories that can hinder our progress.

As consumers we should know what goes on behind the dazzling label of many mainstream brands, so at least then we have a chance of buying a product that actually does some good for our bodies.  This article is going to cover casein, according to the findings of Ori Hofmekler.

Industrial Casein

Casein is present in raw milk.  It is the main protein and it is often present in many supplements, including whey protein supplements.  Casein has been given a good press and we are told that is good for us, but in actuality in most cases it is not.

It is the processing that can render casein potentially one of the least desirable proteins for your body, this leaves the protein in a state where it unfortunately is bathed in toxic residues.

Ori says that the common side effects are quite noticeable such as indigestion, heartburn and  a funny after taste.  This is all in addition to allergies.

It is vitally important to take note of these findings and act upon them for the sake of your health.  Even if you are perfectly happy with your “chocolate creme bulk powder”, as there is a reason why there is a vast difference in price in the world of whey protein…

Ori Hofmekler slams the manufacturers for selling us rubbish and putting an fancy label on it.  It is an inferior food product as they use cheap methods to obtain the casein and it is the heat and acid processing that leave with the toxic residues, acids that are found in fertiliser and even cleaning products you can buy in the supermarkets.

These methods of extraction are cheap but line the pockets of the manufacturers with lots of your hard earned money, money that would be better spent on perhaps a costier product, but at least a beneficial one.

Ori states in his article that their profit margins are massive, 10,000%.  They keep their place up in the forefront of the fitness industry by mass marketing within all the various forms of media, from fitness magazines to radio and internet.  This doesn’t mean that they have YOUR best interests at heart though.

Casein has earned a reputation as a beneficial product.  One that contains anabolic properties and is used to support the growth of muscle and help to prevent its breakdown.

There are three forms of casein and its reputation rests on the qualtities of the good kind, the kind that hasn’t been bathed in toxins…

  • Native whole milk casein
  • Cheese casein
  • Industrial casein

Native Whole Milk Casein – the best choice for your body

Native whole raw milk casein accounts for around 80% of milk’s amino acid content.  Since its protein clusters (micells) are present at a pH level of 6.6, it is complementary to our body’s pH level.  These micells are bound together with calcium, phosphate and citrate ions, a functional and nourishing protein indeed and is one of the best proteins for muscle building due to its anabolic properties.

Effective for Building Muscle

With the ability to provide a slow release of amino acids by forming a clot in the stomach, casein has been allocated a reputation as being one of the most effective for building muscles and maintaining them.  This is great for muscle anabolism and is why it is great to take before sleeping as it provides a constant drip feed to the bloodstream throughout the night, keeping the muscles in an anabolic state.

These attractive qualities are what have urged protein manufacturers to create something similar to native raw milk casein without the price tag.  Up on the list are milk protein concentrate (MPC) and micellar casein.

Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) – the closest thing to Native Whole Milk Casein

Milk Protein Concentrate is extracted by filtering protein through membranes.  This process produces a product that contains both whey and casein and due to the method of ultrafiltration, it is pretty much the same as the milk it comes from.  It is also very stable.

Having almost the same properties as native casein, milk protein concentrate is also neutral to alkaline and is water soluble.  It is heat resilient and keeps to the same ratio of whey to casein as it is in its natural form.

The most beneficial MPC products are from the raw milk of grass fed cows, since grass is their natural food as opposed to grain.  This diet produces a milk that maintains the delicate immuno-factors and amino acids whole.  It also contains none of a harmful enzyme called enzyme xanthine oxidase.  This is a byproduct of milk homogenisation that has been linked to cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.

Cheese Casein – Fantastic for feeding muscles

Cheese casein is unlike raw milk casein but it still comes with many benefits for your body.  The casein is extracted through enzyme processing and many beneficial peptides (glycomacropeptides) are left behind, but still it is a complete protein.  Like native casein, it delivers nutrients to your muscles in a slow, steady way and is good to take before bedtime to keep the muscles in a sustained anabolic state.

Industrial Casein

All industrial caseins – unlike whole milk caseins – are whey protein isolates.  They are undesirable for consumption since they are usually extracted from ultra-pasteurised skimmed milk through intensive heat /acid processing methods.

The common industrial casein found today is also highly lacking in essential amino acids; namely methionine and the amino acid cysteine, which are important sulfur containing elements that help to support our immune system.

Casein processing usually involves the use of chemical acids – hydrochloric acid or natural acids – lactic acid.  This leads to destabilisation of the micells and coagulates the protein.  This is precipitated protein, but other methods use microfiltration or enzymes instead of acid to extract the casein.  This creates micellar casein and rennet casein respectively.

Both of these acid caseins are insoluble in water, this is why the manufacturers have to add alkalies to the product to make it water soluble and to give it a higher pH.  This product is then called “caseinate”.

Chemical Acid Casein

This is probably the worst choice of casein, since the processing methods include precipitating it with chemical acids – hydrochloric and sulfuric acids to be exact.  Sounds off putting and it is, especially when you know it is the “dirtiest” protein when compared to others.

Unfortunately for unsuspecting  consumers, residues from these acids remain behind in the final product, this is after it is washed and milled.  It also explains why there is usually a nasty acid aftertaste…

Sulphuric acid is highly toxic, causing many ill effects to health including skin burns, possible neural damage, tooth erosion and damage to the respiratory tract.  Hydrochloric acid is commonly used in household detergent formulations and is an ingredient in the processing of PVC.  It also causes damage to human tissues, particularly the intestines, skin, eyes and lungs.

This processing is not something that is widely advertised and for good reason.

But that’s not all, once the casein has been processed with acid and precipitated, it is heated again.  However, this stage degrades the protein into smaller components.  It forms clumps of curd and is either pressed or placed in a centrifuge to extract the water.  This is the stage which after having been assaulted by acid, heat, pressing/centrifuging renders the protein’s matrix pretty much destroyed.

Then, the protein is dried with hot air (which thermolyses it even more) then it is milled, shifted, blended and bagged.

Lactic Acid Casein

Lactic acid casein is a little bit cleaner than chemical acid casein.  This is the byproduct after the fermentation of milk.  First, skimmed milk is pasteurised and cooled.  It is then infused with bacteria that produce lactic acid.  These bacteria are known as “starters”.  A few hours later; about 14-16 hours, a great deal of the lactose in the milk is turned in lactic acid and coagulation of the casein occurs as the pH level goes down to around 4.6.

Milk fermentation is not as healthy as one might think, this is because many delicate amino acids and immuno peptides are damaged through this process and even creates MSG.

The protein is then heated through heat exchange and steam injection.  It is then processed in a similar way to the chemical acid protein.  Though it doesn’t have the same contaminants as chemical acid casein, it is still an inferior protein, damaged by heat and fermentation and yields MSG.

Casinate

Caseinate is the result of treatment with alkalies to render it water soluble.  These alkalies –  calcium caseinate and sodium caseinate – are commonly used, however the problem with them is that they can suppress or damage the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

There is yet another problem, caseinates are ultra thermolysed at almost boiling point – 95ºC.  This is a cheap method to improve its solubility and to decrease its viscosity.

This process douses the Caseinate in MSG, which is a byproduct of the heat treatment.  But disturbingly, ultra thermolysed casein has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.  This is because the stomach cannot fully digest it, so it ends up in the colon, where the bacteria present there ferments the residues into incredibly carcinogenic phenolic compounds that can contribute to colonic tumors and cancers.

Products that can contain Caseinates

  • Baking goods
  • Coffee creamers
  • Yogurts
  • Spreads
  • Ice creams and frozen desserts
  • Cheese products
  • Infant foods
  • Pasta
  • Meat products
  • Soups and gravies
  • Whipped toppings
  • Protein powders
  • Protein bars
  • Sport drinks
  • Rennet Casein

Rennet Casein

Rennet casein is extracted by milk clotting enzymes, so it isn’t quite as damaged as acid casein, but still it is a protein isolate which tends to be derived from pasteurised milk.

Calf rennet or microbial rennet enzymes are added to pasteurised skimmed milk and when mixed thoroughly, the protein coagulates.  This is a similar process to cheese making.  Because the process is so similar, the process cleaves a very beneficial component of the protein – a peptide called glycomacropeptide.  It is a pity as it is a very useful peptide called glycomacropeptide for its satiety enhancing effects and for immune support.

The process is described as follows:

Casein is made out of three kinds of proteins:

  • ∂-casein
  • ß-casein
  • k-casein

The k-casein is the stabiliser, it works to keep the water soluble nature of the native casein protein’s matrix stable.  During the first stage of renneting, one of the bonds of the k-casein is cleaved by the enzymes, which releases the glycomacropeptide into the whey liquid.  This destabilises the micells of the casein, which then form a clot with some of the calcium ions of the milk.

What you have left is a casein curd, this is cooked and thermolysed in a similar way to acid casein, deviod of its health boosting glycomacropeptides.  So one can conclude that this rennet casein is low quality.

You can also note that the whey liquid is boosted by the addition of glycomacropeptides, at the expense of the original source – casein.

Casein Hydrolystate

This casein is a popular choice to its “fast to assimilate and digestible” properties, but it is still an inferior casein.  Its popularity is due to its predigested properties.  Unlike other casein products that are popular because of their slow assimilation, this protein can be utilised by the body almost as quickly as whey protein.  It still comes with the same problems as the other inferior caseins though.

Hydrolysed Casein – an inferior protein isolate infused with MSG 

 Whey protein is superior to hydrolysed casein.  It outperforms every casein product in terms of its capacity to promote muscle growth after ingestion.  Whey protein is better than casein for muscle building – when pitched against one another; casein will be weaker than whey, probably due to its lower protein content.

Micellar Casein

This casein is lauded as the best protein for supporting muscle accretion and helping to prevent muscle wastage.  However, it may not be a good as it is cracked up to be.

  • Poor functionality and stability

This casein is processed in a similar way to milk protein concentrate but this process separates the casein micells from the whey during microfiltration.  Its functionality is a problem though.  This is because of its poor solubility in water.

Micellar casein is not easy to reconstitute in liquid at low temperatures.  This is not good since if the body is to make full use of it, it needs to be fully dissolved and edible.  The manufacturers get over this problem with the use of high heat or high sheer.  Canned protein is apparently made in this way.  Other techniques to improve solubility are heating it up before membrane filtration and adding polydextrose, salt or sodium caseinate.

Micellar casein tends to be unstable too, which worsens as it ages.  This is because with increased storage time, the proteins cross link with each other and deteriorate due to the interaction of the micells.  Fat particles float to the surface and the casein degrades.

This instability renders micellar casein as inferior as other industrial caseins, even though it is supposed to be the best one.  It is best to perform your due diligence when buying a micellar casein product.  Always ask for a certificate of analysis to prove the protein’s integrity.

Conclusion 

It’s easy to conclude from the notes above that whole casein is a very beneficial product; found in raw milk, milk protein concentrate and aged cheese.  It is absolutely superior to any other casein isolate, yielding a steady flow of nutrients and anabolic effects of your muscles.

Fresh cheese casein as in cottage cheese is useful in that it yields a higher percentage of protein to fat, pound for pound.  It is high in BCAA and leucine, though it is lower in nutritional value than aged cheese or milk.

  • Avoid chemical acid casein at any cost.  It is degraded casein and is loaded with dangerous chemicals.
  • Caseinate is always ultra thermolysed and is linked to increased incidence of colonic tumors and cancer.

BEST PRACTICES

  • Daytime:  use a good quality whey protein to help you recover after workouts and to feed your muscles: after exercise your muscles need a fast assimilating protein to help combat the effects of working out and even daily stressors.
  • Night-time: use a good quality casein present in good cheese products to help your muscles maintain an anabolic state during sleep.  This type of slow protein is perfect to sustain your muscles over a long period of time: feeding them a steady dose of amino acids for hours, which is why night-time is ideal.

Types of cheese

Best cheeses should come from premium sources such as cheddar, colby, gouda, swiss and emmental, or organic cottage cheese from grass fed cows.

Read the label 

Anything containing casein hydrolystates should be avoided.  These can be found in protein bars, drinks and powders and this type of casein is drenched in MSG.

Finally, milk, cheese and whey protein products have tremendous benefits on human health, heart health, weight management and muscle building and sustenance just be careful of the source and only buy the highest quality casein that you can.

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