Best Casein Protein Powders: How to Pick the Right One
Casein protein is derived from milk protein, which is a mix of whey and casein protein, in a 20%: 80% ratio. When consumed, casein is slowly digested, and it feeds the body for 6-8 hours with an almost constant stream of amino acids. This is very important during the night, especially during periods of diet and hard workouts.
There are many casein protein supplements on the market, so we have chosen some of the best according to our opinion.
Updated: September 21, 2023.
Casein Protein Power Supplements
There are many things to consider when choosing the best casein protein powder: taste, macro- and micronutrient content, packages, price, mixability, flavors, availability, type and amount of natural and artificial aromas, sweeteners, and other compounds that are added to sports supplements, etc.
The following table lists the most common casein protein powders and their content per single serving. Note that supplements are listed alphabetically - if there are more flavors, the flavor with the highest protein content is listed.
|Casein Protein Supplement
||Flavor||Single Serving||Protein||Total Carbs||Sugars||Fibers||Fats||Calcium|
|Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein||Vanilla||32g||25g||2g||0g||1g||1g||60% RDA|
|Bulksupplements Casein Protein Powder||Unflavored||30g||25g||<1g||0g||0g||<1g||578 mg|
|Dymatize Elite Casein||Smooth Vanilla||33g||25g||2g||0g||0g||1.5g||60% RDA|
|Muscle Feast Grass Fed Micellar Casein||Unflavored||24g||20g||1.2g||1g||0g||0.5g||595 mg|
|MuscleTech Platinum 100% Casein||Vanilla Ice Cream||30g||24g||2g||1g||0g||0.5g||570 mg|
|Naked Nutrition Micellar Casein Protein||Unflavored||30g||26g||2g||2g||0g||0g||618 mg|
|Now Foods Micellar Casein Powder||Unflavored||24g||19g||<1g||<1g||0g||0.5g||33% RDA|
|Optimum Gold Standard 100% Casein||Creamy Vanilla||33g||24g||3g||1g||1g||1g||50% RDA|
Note: Amazon affiliate links in the table ("Casein Protein Supplement" column) open in the new windows, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.
Pure casein protein powder is very low in carbs, fats, fibers, and cholesterol, has some sodium and potassium, and is very rich in protein and calcium.
Best Tasting Casein Protein
The taste of unflavored casein protein powder is somewhere between chalk and sand, with some sawdust added. Seriously, unflavored casein protein is an excellent source of lean, slow-digesting protein and calcium, but it doesn't taste well.
Also, the mixability of such protein powder is not good - in order to improve the mixability, compounds like lecithin are used. This and additional flavors (vanilla, cocoa, various fruits, nuts, etc.) increase amounts of fats, but 1-2g more fats per single serving is, IMHO, acceptable for much-improved mixability and taste.
In any case, mixing casein powder in a shaker with plastic/metal mash makes shake (almost) free of lumps, but also creates some foam - in most cases, foam settles in few seconds.
Some casein proteins are so instantized that they can be mixed in a glass with cold water using nothing but a spoon.
Personally, the best-tasting casein protein powder, with excellent mixability, is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein Protein.
Dymatize Elite Casein is right behind Optimum Casein in terms of taste and mixability. However, other casein protein powders are very close, and it would be rather hard to single out the third one.
Except for perhaps Naked Nutrition Micellar Casein Protein - it is manufactured from milk from US farms, and it is a non-GMO product that is also soy-free, gluten-free, growth hormone-free, and contains no rBGH (or rBST). Also, it is manufactured via a cold, acid-free, and bleach-free process - there are absolutely no heavy metals or other similar pollutants. And it is anything but budget-friendly casein protein. :)
Best of all, it is not the worst tasting casein around.
Optimum and Dymatize casein supplements are great, but others are good, too, especially if one needs a supplement with minimum carbs and fats, regardless of taste and mixability.
Such supplements are excellent for healthy shakes and smoothies, where protein powder is combined with other foods and mixed with the blenders.
The Best Casein Protein Powder
Thus, we have come to the final question - which casein protein is the best?
1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein
It comes in several sizes and many flavors, some of them are Banana Cream, Blueberry & Cream, Chocolate Cake Batter, Natural - Chocolate Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Supreme, Cookies & Cream, Creamy Vanilla, Natural - French Vanilla, Mint Chocolate Chip, Raspberry Smoothie and Strawberry Cream.
Thanks to the added lecithin, which helps with mixability, Optimum casein mixes very well in the common shaker or even in the glass with the spoon.
Powder gives a thick texture to the shake, with no lumps and very little foam, even when mixed with cold water. Thickness can be varied by changing the amount or type of added liquids.
Taste differs from flavor to flavor. People who like chocolate taste will prefer chocolate flavors, while others may like fruity flavors. Creamy Vanilla is great for fruit smoothies and shakes. Cookies & Cream flavor is OK for most of the trainees.
Note that there are casein powders with fewer carbs and fats and more protein per gram of powder, but Optimum Nutrition 100% Casein Powder has great taste, mixability is excellent, and it is very easy on the stomach - it is for a reason one of the most popular casein powders on the market for years.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Micellar Casein Protein Powder Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
2. Dymatize Elite Casein
Dymatize Elite Casein does not contain sugars, saturated and trans fats, while cholesterol is very low. Casein protein supplements are also an excellent source of calcium, with Dymatize Elite Casein containing 60% of calcium RDA (70% calcium RDA in Rich Chocolate flavor) for a 2000 kcal 'standard' diet.
Dymatize Elite Casein mixes with water easily, with no lumps, especially when there is plastic mesh in the shaker. The foam settles quickly, within a few seconds. Also, it sets easily on the stomach, with no digestive issues.
For short, Dymatize Elite Casein is an excellent casein protein supplement. It tastes good, mixes easily, it is easy on the stomach, digest slowly, and often can be found on sale.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Dymatize Elite Casein Protein Powder Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
3. Naked Nutrition Micellar Casein Protein Powder
Naked Nutrition Micellar Casein Protein Powder comes in 1-pound and 5-pound packages and as Chocolate, Vanilla, and Unflavored powder - nothing special.
However, Naked Nutrition Micellar Casein Protein Powder is GMO-free, gluten-free, soy-free, preservative-free, grow hormone-free (no rGBH, and no rBST hormones), and is manufactured using a cold process (with no acid, no bleach, etc.) and using the milk from US farms only.
Unflavored protein powder features a 30g serving size and contains 26g of proteins, ~0g carbs, ~0g fats, and 0g fibers.
While the Chocolate and Vanilla flavors can be used for bedtime shakes with plain water, Unflavored is excellent for shakes and smoothies where the powder is mixed with other foods.
Although it is not the cheapest casein protein powder, Naked Nutrition Micellar Casein Protein Powder is one of my favorite casein supplements!
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Naked Nutrition Micellar Casein Protein Powder Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
4. Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein Protein Powder
Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein Protein Powder is a certified gluten-free micellar casein supplement with zero artificial ingredients.
For example, the Vanilla Bean flavor contains Micellar Casein, Natural Flavors, Acacia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, and Monk Fruit Extract.
Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein Protein Powder comes in three flavors: Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Vanilla Bean.
Singe scoop contains ~32g of powder, 25g of protein, but also 11g of BCAA.
Powder comes in 32 and 64-ounce bags.
While Vanilla Bean flavor is excellent for mixing with fruits and for increasing slow-digesting protein content in smoothies and shakes, Chocolate and Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors are excellent mixed with plain water or with nuts, peanut butter, in brownies but also in various smoothies.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein Protein Powder Amazon link (links opens in the new window).
5. Bulksupplements Casein Protein Powder
Bulksupplements Casein Protein Powder comes as unflavored casein powder in packages containing 100g, 250g (8.81 ounces), 500g (17.6 ounces), 1 kg (2.20 pounds), and 20 kg (44 pounds).
The only ingredients are pure micellar casein with some soy lecithin added as an emulsifier for better mixing with water and similar liquids.
Bulksupplements Casein Protein Powder is highly recommended for people needing a very pure form of casein protein powder that doesn't taste very well but can be mixed with water in the shaker.
Also, it is an excellent source of slow-digesting unflavored protein for various meals, including shakes, smoothies, pancakes, brownies, and similar - dieting doesn't have to be boring. :)
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Bulksupplements Casein Protein Powder Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Casein Protein Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some of the most common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about casein and casein-based protein supplements.
What is the difference between micellar casein and caseinates: Micellar Casein vs. Ordinary Casein?
When discussing protein supplements derived from milk, casein is one of the two primary proteins, the other being whey. Casein provides a slow, sustained release of amino acids, making it a favorite among athletes and fitness enthusiasts for overnight recovery or longer periods between meals.
However, not all casein supplements are the same. The distinction between micellar casein and ordinary casein primarily lies in their processing and composition.
Processing and Composition
- Micellar Casein: This form of casein remains in its natural, undenatured state. 'Micellar' refers to the natural globular structure in which casein exists in milk. The micellar structure is beneficial because it forms a gel in the stomach, leading to a slow and steady release of amino acids over time.
- Ordinary Casein: Often termed as "caseinates" (like calcium caseinate or sodium caseinate), this type of casein undergoes more processing. It is created by treating casein with an alkali substance, which changes its structure and results in a faster digestion rate compared to micellar casein.
Digestion and Absorption
- Micellar Casein: Due to its natural gel-forming characteristic, micellar casein ensures a prolonged release of amino acids, potentially lasting several hours. This makes it particularly suited for nighttime use or periods when one won't be consuming protein for a while.
- Ordinary Casein: While it still provides a relatively slower digestion rate compared to whey protein, caseinates are absorbed faster than micellar casein. They might be a good choice for those seeking a middle ground between the very fast absorption of whey and the slow release of micellar casein.
Taste and Mixability
- Micellar Casein: Generally, micellar casein is considered to have a thicker consistency and may not mix as easily in water or milk as caseinates. The flavor might also be more muted due to the minimal processing.
- Ordinary Casein: Caseinates tend to mix more readily in liquids and might offer a smoother texture. They can also be found in various flavored options.
- Micellar Casein: Beyond sports nutrition, micellar casein is also used in food production for its unique gel-forming properties, contributing to the texture of certain products.
- Ordinary Casein: Due to its solubility, caseinates are often used in various food applications, including creamers, protein bars, and other processed foods.
While both micellar casein and ordinary casein offer valuable protein supplementation, the choice between them depends on your specific goals, preferences, and dietary needs. Whether you prioritize a natural, slow-releasing protein or seek something that combines the benefits of casein with a slightly faster release, understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision.
As always, it's a good idea to consult with a nutritionist or healthcare professional to determine the best fit for your individual needs.
What is the difference between casein and grass-fed casein? Casein vs. Grass-Fed Casein
The primary distinction between casein and grass-fed casein lies in the source of the milk from which the casein is derived and its nutritional profile.
Source of Milk
- Casein: Typically comes from conventionally raised cows that might be fed a combination of grains, soy, corn, and other feed. These cows may or may not have access to pasture.
- Grass-Fed Casein: Derived from cows that graze primarily on grass. These cows are raised on pastures where they consume a natural diet rich in grasses.
- Casein: While the amino acid profile is largely consistent across casein sources, the fatty acid composition and micronutrient content can vary based on the cows' diet.
- Grass-Fed Casein: Milk from grass-fed cows often has a more favorable fatty acid profile, including higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), both of which have potential health benefits. Additionally, grass-fed milk might contain higher levels of certain micronutrients, including vitamin E, beta-carotene, and antioxidants.
Hormones and Antibiotics
- Casein: Conventionally raised cows might be given hormones to boost milk production and antibiotics to prevent or treat illnesses. Concerns about potential residues in milk and meat products have led some consumers to seek alternative sources.
- Grass-Fed Casein: Grass-fed cows are less likely to be given hormones or antibiotics, especially in farming systems that prioritize organic or natural practices. As a result, grass-fed casein products are often sought by individuals who wish to avoid these substances.
- Casein: Conventional dairy farming practices can have varying environmental impacts based on factors such as land use, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Grass-Fed Casein: Pasture-based dairy farming might have a different environmental footprint, with potential benefits in terms of soil health and biodiversity. However, it's worth noting that the overall environmental impact can vary based on factors like pasture management and land efficiency.
- Casein: Typically less expensive due to the economies of scale associated with conventional dairy farming.
- Grass-Fed Casein: Often comes with a higher price tag, reflecting the costs of pasture-based farming and the perceived premium nature of grass-fed products.
Taste and Texture
- Casein: The flavor and texture of casein products might vary based on additives, flavorings, and processing methods.
- Grass-Fed Casein: Some consumers believe that grass-fed dairy products have a richer or more "natural" taste due to the cows' diet, though individual perceptions can vary.
The choice between casein and grass-fed casein primarily hinges on personal preferences, dietary priorities, and budget considerations. If factors like the fatty acid profile, hormone and antibiotic use, and environmental impact are crucial to you, you might lean towards grass-fed casein. Otherwise, regular casein might suit your needs, especially if budget is a concern.
As always, it's essential to read product labels and do some research to ensure you're getting a product that aligns with your values and needs.
What is the difference between casein protein and whey protein: Casein vs. Whey?
Casein and whey are the two primary proteins found in milk. While they are both derived from the same source, they have distinct differences in terms of their digestion rates, amino acid profiles, and use-cases. Here's a comparative analysis of casein protein and whey protein:
- Casein: Makes up about 80% of the protein content in cow's milk. It forms curds when milk coagulates, leading to its thicker consistency.
- Whey: Constitutes the remaining 20% of the protein in milk. It is the liquid part that separates from the curds during the cheese-making process.
Digestion and Absorption
- Casein: Known as a "slow-digesting" protein, casein forms a gel in the stomach, leading to a slow and steady release of amino acids over a prolonged period. This characteristic makes it ideal for nighttime consumption or periods of fasting.
- Whey: Referred to as a "fast-digesting" protein, whey is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. This leads to a quicker spike in amino acid levels, making it a popular choice for post-workout recovery.
Amino Acid Profile
- Casein: While casein contains all essential amino acids, its levels of leucine (a key muscle-building amino acid) are lower than in whey.
- Whey: Also contains all essential amino acids and is particularly rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) like leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These BCAAs play a crucial role in muscle protein synthesis.
- Casein: Has a lower biological value compared to whey, which means it is slightly less efficient in promoting growth and repair.
- Whey: Possesses one of the highest biological values among proteins, indicating its efficacy in supporting muscle growth and repair.
- Casein: Often consumed as a nighttime protein due to its slow release, aiding in muscle recovery and preventing muscle protein breakdown while sleeping.
- Whey: Frequently consumed post-workout because of its rapid absorption rate, which helps in quick muscle recovery and growth.
- Casein: Some individuals may be allergic or sensitive to casein, leading to symptoms like gastrointestinal distress or skin reactions.
- Whey: While less common, whey allergies do exist. However, many who are lactose intolerant prefer whey isolate, as it has minimal lactose content.
Texture and Taste
- Casein: Generally has a thicker consistency when mixed, leading to a creamier texture.
- Whey: Tends to mix more easily in water or milk and comes in a wide variety of flavors in supplement form.
Both casein and whey proteins offer valuable benefits for muscle building, recovery, and overall health. The choice between them should be based on your specific goals, timing of consumption, and personal preferences.
Some individuals even choose to combine both proteins to get the benefits of rapid amino acid release from whey and sustained release from casein.
Long Story Short: Casein protein powders can help one lose or even gain weight, feel better and more energetic in the morning, can be used as full meal or snack, can be used for increasing protein content in other meals and snacks, and can be used for many other purposes.
There are other good casein powders on the market - don't forget that smaller companies must make good supplements at very affordable prices to be able to survive on the supplements market.
Also, big and popular brands are there for good reason - they make good products at acceptable prices. And when found on sale, even better ... :)