What is it for: Casein in Gluten-free Protein Waffle Mix

Introduction to “What is it for” series

Welcome to “What is it for,” our new blog series at Proven Provisions dedicated to explain the ingredients in our gluten-free protein waffle mix as part of our commitment to education and transparency. We are starting this series with casein, not only because it is our main ingredients, but also it is truly a remarkable source of protein.

a bottle, a jug and a glass of milk which all would contain casein as its main form of protein.

In this blog, we will explore casein’s molecular structure, nutritional roles, and how it contribute to the delicious taste and texture of our product. In our first feature, we uncover the wonders of casein. Known for its slow digestion and unique molecular structure, casein is integral to the sustained energy and nutritional profile of our Wise Waffles. We’ll examine its complex form, understand why it digests slowly, and discuss intriguing aspects like casomorphin formation.

Molecular Structure of Casein

Casein is a complex protein that naturally found in milk. To understand casein’s unique structure we first must understand the basics about protein structure. There are four level of protein structures, primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structure. The primary structure is the most basic form of protein which is the sequence of amino acids in a polypeptide (poly meaning many, peptide meaning two or more amino acids) chain. When the polypeptide interact with each other due to hydrogen bonds, they will form the secondary structures (α-helices and β-pleated sheets). Example of α-helices can be found in keratin which can be found in hair and nails. When multiple secondary structure comes together forming 3D structure through hydrophobic interactions, hydrogen bonds, ionic bonds, and disulfide bonds, they are now called tertiary structure. Classic example of tertiary structure would be hemoglobin where groups of α-helices and β-pleated sheets fold together to form hemoglobin and in the middle binds iron. Lastly, quaternary structure is when multiple subunits (can be tertiary, secondary or primary structure) comes together forming a larger active protein complex. Example of a tertiary structure is collagen, the very protein that makes our skin elastic.

Unfortunately, casein somewhat a misfit because it lacks defined secondary and tertiary structure. Casein exists naturally in a form of a micelle, subject to a debate by experts, which is a ball like structure along with calcium and phosphate ions. In addition, the casein micelles are colloidal in nature, meaning they are large aggregates that remain suspended in milk. This colloidal structure is what gives the properties of milk, such as its white color and ability to be form cheese when denatured.

In our Wise Waffle gluten-free protein waffle mix, we have harnessed the unique properties of casein, much like it is used in cheese-making. When casein is heated and exposed to the right amount of moisture, it undergoes denaturation. This process enables the casein to form a structured protein network, effectively retaining the shape of the waffle mold. This characteristic of casein is a key factor in achieving the desired texture and consistency in our waffles, paralleling the transformation it undergoes in cheese production.

molecular image of beta-casomorphin 7

What happen when we eat casein?

One of the hallmark features of casein is its slow digestion rate. This property stems from its ability to form a gel or clot in the stomach, which results in a sustained, slow release of amino acids into the bloodstream. This slow digestion rate is highly beneficial for prolonged nutrient absorption and maintaining a feeling of fullness, making it an ideal ingredient in a breakfast food like our waffles.

Also, during digestion, caseins can be transformed into casomorphins—a family of peptides with opioid activity. Casomorphins are formed when the protein is broken down by our digestive enzymes. The opioid activity is thought to lead the feeling of comfort or mild pleasure, which is often associated with dairy consumption. We will not dwell deeper into the pros and cons of casomorphins, as experts are split on whether they are friends or foes. Our take on this is simple: milk is of great importance in mammalian diets right from childbirth through to adulthood and even in the elderly’s dietary needs. We believe that nature does not provide humans with evolutionary elements that are detrimental to our well-being. In Proven Provision, we respect nature’s bounty and its complexity, relying on scientific research and cultural insights to discern what’s beneficial in our diet, always aiming for a balance that promotes human health and well-being.


In summary, our discussion of casein in this “What is it for” blog series highlights its unique and vital role in our gluten-free protein waffle mix. From its intriguing molecular structure as a micelle to its functionality in providing sustained energy and fullness, casein stands out as a key component of our Wise Waffles. Furthermore, its transformation into casomorphins during digestion, contributing to a sense of comfort and well-being, underscores the multifaceted importance of this protein in our diets. At Proven Provision, we remain dedicated to uncovering and sharing the science behind our ingredients, marrying our respect for nature’s offerings with a commitment to scientific rigor and cultural understanding. It is through this blend of knowledge and respect for natural nutrition that we continue to craft foods that are not only delicious but also conducive to a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

P.S. On a related note, I’d like to mention Magic Spoon, a grain-free breakfast cereal that I am personally a fan of. Just like in our Wise Waffles, I believe casein plays a pivotal role in Magic Spoon’s cereal, contributing to its high-protein content and unique texture. It’s always inspiring to see how versatile ingredients like casein can be used in different food products.

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