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Non-Stop Growth

Non-Stop Growth
[Editor's Note: Welcome to the latest installment in our celebrated Stacking for Success Series! This week, we're taking on the challenge of continuous and unchecked muscle growth with The 24-Hour Growth Stack. Are you sacrificing hard-won muscle gains overnight as your body slips into fasting mode and starts cannibalizing muscle tissue? Fast-acting whey proteins are only half the muscle growth story, with longer-release micellar casein performing an essential function in maintaining an anabolic environment for growth at night. Read on as Chad Kerksick, PhD, investigates the anabolic potential of supplying relentless amino flow to muscle tissue. Also, be sure to check out previous entries in the series, including the Total Workout and Recovery Stack and the Ultra Quick-Build Power Stack!]

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Getting bigger and stronger requires intense workouts, an aggressive, focused mindset and the proper dietary components. Some amount of growth and strength increase may occur without optimal nutrition, but rest assured that you're sacrificing gains when you cut back on dietary fuel (Cermak 2012). Making correct strategic supplemental choices is essential. 

A very general starting point for the caloric needs of strength athletes striving to pack on mass is to calculate your resting metabolic rate and multiply by 1.7. It's likely for many this may not be enough calories, but that depends upon current body composition, training intensity/volume, etc. You'll find a number of handy nutritional calculators right here at the ProSource website.

Athletes who are training intensely need a higher percentage of the calories they consume to come from protein. The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass, but a number of published studies indicate that greater protein is needed (Phillips 2004, Campbell 2007, American Dietetic Association 2009). While a number of food sources are excellent choices for added protein, 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight is a lot of protein! That's where proper supplementation comes in.

A closer look at all of the available protein sources reveals that the two protein sources found in milk, whey and casein, are two of the highest quality proteins available (Phillips 2009). Whey protein isolate is ideal for fueling growth and recovery in the short term, immediately after your workout. A slower-uptake protein like micellar casein, meanwhile, is perfect for sustaining your gains over the long overnight fasting periods that can trigger catabolic muscle loss. 

[Editor's Note: Of course, there are considerable differences in protein purity and potency from brand to brand. NytroWhey Ultra Elite is justly celebrated for its synergistic complex of dynamic, cutting-edge protein technologies, including an ultimate premium-grade whey isolate and a rapid action whey protein hydrolysate, both from America's premier provider, Glanbia Nutritionals. This combination ensures ultra-fast and efficient nutrient delivery to muscles unlike any other protein on the market. NytroWhey Ultra Elite also contains an anabolic-activating ingredient called Leuvon 590, a leucine-bound leucine peptide (LBLP). With Leuvon added to NytroWhey Ultra Elite, this product boasts up to 4 times the leucine content of other premium whey protein products. This is particularly important because leucine acts as a physiological trigger for muscle anabolism.

When it comes to casein, a product like BioQuest's Ultimate Casein is the way to go. Ultimate Casein is processed using an advanced microfiltration technology that yields the most undenatured form with the highest amounts of bioactive peptides and other growth factors. this stands in stark contrast to other casein products on the market, which are typically undermined by poor raw material sourcing and crude manufacturing protocols.]

Fuel Round-the-Clock Gains
With the 24-Hour Growth Stack

The 24-hour Growth Stack is a killer combination consisting of ProSource's NytroWhey Ultra Elite and BioQuest's Ultimate Casein. Why is this combination so valued in the bodybuilding and sport nutrition world? For starters, a small handful of studies were completed a few years ago by European scientists that demonstrated digestion rate of a protein was dependent upon whether it was primarily whey or casein protein. In other words, one protein was found to digest in a completely different manner than the other (Boirie 1997). 

In this respect, whey protein isolate like that found in NytroWhey Ultra Elite is acid-soluble and because our stomach is a very acidic environment, whey protein upon ingestion digests rapidly (Boirie 1997, Dangin 2002). As part of the rapid digestion, the bloodstream is quickly flooded with amino acids and these amino acids can then be transported anywhere in the body, in particular the muscles you just finished pounding during your last workout.  In addition, rapid delivery of the amino acids results in sharp, drastic increases in muscle protein synthesis which ultimately results in whey protein being labeled a highly "anabolic" source of protein.

The highly anabolic properties of whey protein isolate are best seen from a study published by a research group out of McMaster University.  In this study, the authors had a small group of healthy, college-aged participants ingest a small (10 grams) single dose of either whey protein isolate, micellar casein or soy protein isolate with and without the additional influence of completing a single bout of lower-body resistance exercise (Tang 2009).  The authors reported that at rest without any exercise being performed, a single dose of whey protein isolate was responsible for the greatest increases in muscle protein synthesis.  After exercise, the same results were amplified and even greater increases in muscle protein synthesis were found to occur (Tang 2009).

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At Night, Slower Is Better
Micellar forms of casein protein like that found in Ultimate Casein exhibits properties that are largely the opposite of whey! For example, casein is not acid-soluble. Thus when it enters the acid-rich environment of the stomach it clumps together and it takes much longer for it to be digested.  Because it takes longer for the protein to be digested, the extent to which amino acids enter the bloodstream is somewhat slower and it occurs over a longer period of time. 

In this environment, the rate of muscle protein growth is still increased, but not to the same magnitude as that seen with whey protein. Alternatively, the slow release of amino acids results in a much stronger attenuation of muscle protein breakdown (Boirie 1997, Dangin 2001). For these reasons, casein is commonly viewed as a protein that works best to prevent muscle breakdown and as a result it is referred to as "anti-catabolic."

To further support casein's label as anti-catabolic protein, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota conducted a fascinating study where they infused a cow with specially labeled proteins and then "milked" the cow and fed the milk to research participants to further determine the impact of the two protein sources of muscle protein changes (Soop 2012).  In this study, the authors further supported the notion that whey and casein protein exhibited differing properties upon their digestion.  Moreover, the authors concluded that overall changes in muscle protein metabolism were powerfully controlled by the anti-catabolic, time-released nature of casein protein.

Read Your Casein Protein Label Carefully
Like whey protein, are all forms of casein the same?  No they are not and in particular, the valuable properties of casein protein are best exhibited in a micellar form of casein.  In this respect, caseinates are commonly produced in the form of sodium or potassium caseinates (just look on the label) and while these products do contain casein, the chemical production results in a loss of the valuable time-release properties that are known to exist with micellar casein. In other words, if you are out there looking for a casein product, make sure it contains micellar casein and not sodium and/or potassium caseinates as the casein source.  Just like with finding a whey protein product consisting of whey protein isolate, a micellar casein-based product like that found in Ultimate Casein contains the right type of casein to take full advantage of the time-release properties of a whey and casein combination.

If you extrapolate these differences across a 24-hour period you can see why a combination of whey and casein should be an effective combination to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, while also keeping under control increases in muscle protein breakdown.  Due to its sustained release, casein has been touted as a night-time protein allowing for a long, prolonged period of amino acid release during a time in the day when you are not going to be regularly providing more fuel (when you are asleep).  When you are awake, however, you will likely be fueling your body with other protein sources throughout the day. Then at critical times such as surrounding your workout or first thing in the morning, a whey protein isolate can work quickly to increase amino acid levels in your bloodstream and to promote sharp increases in muscle protein synthesis. Use the science surrounding whey and casein protein to fuel your muscles "around the clock" with the 24-Hour Growth Stack.


American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and American College of Sports Medicine (2009). "American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Nutrition and athletic performance." Med Sci Sports Exerc 41(3): 709-731.

Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson MP, Maubois JL and Beaufrere B (1997). "Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 94(26): 14930-14935.

Campbell B, Kreider RB, Ziegenfuss T, La Bounty P, Roberts M, Burke D, Landis J, Lopez H and Antonio J (2007). "International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise." J Int Soc Sports Nutr 4: 8.

Cermak NM, Res PT, De Groot LC, Saris WH and Van Loon LJ (2012). "Protein supplementation augments the adaptive response of skeletal muscle to resistance-type exercise training: a meta-analysis." Am J Clin Nutr 96(6): 1454-1464.

Dangin M, Boirie Y, Garcia-Rodenas C, Gachon P, Fauquant J, Callier P, Ballevre O and Beaufrere B (2001). "The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention." Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 280(2): E340-348.

Dangin M, Boirie Y, Guillet C and Beaufrere B (2002). "Influence of the protein digestion rate on protein turnover in young and elderly subjects." J Nutr 132(10): 3228S-3233S.
Phillips SM (2004). "Protein requirements and supplementation in strength sports." Nutrition 20(7-8): 689-695.

Phillips SM, Tang JE and Moore DR (2009). "The role of milk- and soy-based protein in support of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein accretion in young and elderly persons." J Am Coll Nutr 28(4): 343-354.

Soop M, Nehra V, Henderson GC, Boirie Y, Ford GC and Nair KS (2012). "Coingestion of whey protein and casein in a mixed meal: demonstration of a more sustained anabolic effect of casein." Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 303(1): E152-162.

Tang JE, Moore DR, Kujbida GW, Tarnopolsky MA and Phillips SM (2009). "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(3): 987-992.

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