Stack Attack: Casein + Echinacea

Protein your muscles require and a boost in appetite for building more muscle
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Casein

Casein digests much slower than its milk protein counterpart, whey. Because of this, most bodybuilders assume that slow-digesting casein will make them feel much fuller for much longer than whey. Yet, research from the University of Surrey (Guildford, United Kingdom) shows the opposite to be true. The study found that subjects consuming a casein protein shake 90 minutes before eating as much as they wanted at a buffet-style meal were hungrier and ate more than when they consumed a whey protein shake. The reason? Casein protein does not raise the levels of hunger blunting hormones as high as whey does.

Echinacea

Although you probably know that this herb is used to boost the immune system to help defend against colds and flu, you may not know that it can also help to boost your appetite. Echinacea contains compounds known as alkylamides that interact with cannabinoid receptors, which are involved in appetite control. By interacting with these receptors, alkylamides increase hunger or bring on the “munchies” in a similar fashion to Cannabis sativa (marijuana). Having the munchies is critical for a hard gainer trying to pack on mass, as quality calories are a critical component of muscle growth. Additionally, keeping your immune system functioning optimally will keep you healthy and in the gym where you’ll be able to put those calories to work.

Stack it like this: Go with 20-40 grams of casein protein powder for between-meal snacks and take 800-1,200 milligrams of echinacea immediately before meals and snacks, for a total of up to 8 g per day.

— Jim Stoppani, PhD

References: W.L. Hall et al., “Casein and whey exert different effects on plasma amino acid profiles, gastrointestinal hormone secretion and appetite,” British Journal of Nutrition, 89(2):239-248, 2003; S. Raduner et al., “Alkylamides from echinacea are a new class of cannabinomimetics: Cannabinoid type 2 receptor-dependent and -independent immunomodulatory effects, ” Journal of Biological Chemistry, 28 (20):14192-14206, 2006;

S.A. Shah et al., “Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis,” The Lancet: Infectious Diseases, 7(7):473-480, 2007.

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