Whey Protein vs Casein Protein: Understanding the Differences
When you enter the supplement aisle at your local health and fitness store, the amount of choices available is seemingly endless. It is enough to make your head spin.
Whey and casein protein are both milk based proteins that have been a popular choice in the health and fitness community. So much so that there are many who believe that whey is casein’s inferior twin.
Believe it or not, the truth is actually the opposite. There are quite a few differences between whey protein and casein protein that make it impossible to say one is better than the other.
Frequency of Consumption
Where whey protein has a short digestion time and a rapid rate of absorption, casein protein has a slower digestion time and absorption rate. This means that, unlike whey, casein is not ideal for pre or post workout shakes. Instead, it is often taken before bed to allow the body to take advantage of the slow-digesting properties.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein powders are arguably the most popular supplement in the fitness world. It has plenty of research that supports its positive impact on muscle and strength in people who work out regularly.
The name whey protein comes from the watery substance that separates from cheese as it’s processed. This protein is also commonly found in milk and other dairy products. The human body even produces it naturally. In fact, whey protein is one of the two proteins that make up human breast milk.
While many people like the taste of whey protein, it does have a few downsides that have led to its popularity waning in recent years.
First, is it’s relatively short digestion window (roughly 3 hours).
Second, some find the taste unpleasant.
Third, it’s high in lactose, which some people are sensitive to.
For these reasons, some people look to alternate forms of protein such as casein protein to get their intake of this extremely important macronutrient.
But what exactly is casein protein?
It’s a mixture of whey and casein protein. The casein from the milk is filtered out and added back in powder form. It has a longer digestion window, which makes it a favorite for nighttime eating.
What is Casein Protein?
Casein protein, like whey protein, is a protein extracted from milk. Casein makes up about 80% of total milk protein, so it’s a very good food source.
What is Casein Protein good for?
Unlike whey, casein is slow-digesting and provides a long-lasting source of protein to help maintain muscle and lean mass when eating a low calorie diet.
Casein’s primary source is milk, but it is also found in cheese and certain types of soy.
There are many types of casein protein, including casein hydrolysate, micellar casein, and calcium caseinate.
Casein protein is lower in lactose and higher in glutamine and l-proline (both promote muscle recovery). Casein protein is also absorbed slower than whey protein. Although both types of proteins are from milk, they have different characteristics that make them useful for each a different purpose.
Casein versus Whey Protein “ Which is more effective?
Whey protein is the better choice for a pre-workout meal, while casein protein is probably better as a post-workout meal due to its slower digestion rate.
Whey Protein or Casein Protein? Learn the Pros and Cons of Each!
The two proteins come from two different sources, and most of the time, they are isolated and separated from the remaining parts in their original source.
Whey protein is the “baby” of the family, and it’s the purest form in which you can find a protein supplement. Whey is the watery part of milk that is left over after cheese is formed. It’s the primary ingredient in cheese. Whey protein is also referred to as “golden milk” in the fitness community because of its golden color.
When you consume whey protein, your body digests it extremely quickly, delivering nutrients with a nearly instant effect. Whey is highly recommended as a post-workout supplement because it replaces the nutrients that your body depleted during the training session. The effect is also similar to that of sugar for energy, so it’s perfect before you go to the gym and during your workout.
However, whey protein has one drawback – it’s not very effective when consumed before you go to bed, and it’s not very good at keeping you full when you don’t exercise.
Pros of Whey Protein
Whey is fast absorbing and therefore quick to put into use in the body.
Whey is high quality since it is from milk.
Whey is easy to mix into liquid and can be used in a smoothie.
Whey is absorbed quickly, so it easily fits into a busy lifestyle.
Whey is better for fat and muscle gain, as well as recovery.
Whey is a source of glutamine, which contributes to amino acid, thus protein, recovery.
Whey protein is less expensive.
Whey is lower in carbohydrates than casein and can be consumed at any time.
Whey protein provides the quickest protein source for muscles.
Whey protein increases the insulin response.
Cons of Whey Protein
There are numerous studies that prove that whey protein powders make up a big component of people’s diet in the average household.
This is usually due to the fact that whey protein powder is “the first thing the body absorbs”, and it is therefore preferred by the majority of individuals, many of whom are men.
Whey protein is a protein powder that is derived from the liquid left over after cheese and dairy products are produced.
It is important to note that whey is actually the most commonly used protein in the bodybuilding world.
This is because this type of protein retains water, something that keeps the muscles plump. This process helps the muscles create the appearance of size without creating excess muscle bulk.
In addition, this preserve fat environments are the most effective way to gain muscle mass.
Used in conjunction with a high protein diet where the body is not deprived of nutrients, this product has kept millions of men “lean and muscular”.
Since it is so widely popular, it is important to note the benefits and detriments of whey protein.
The pros of this particular product include: light on the stomach, increases metabolism and carbohydrates burn quicker, gives energy for longer and harder workouts, and it tastes good and is easy to drink.
Pros of Casein Protein
The reactivity of casein to insulin is particularly low, resulting in a slower more consistent build of muscle and a slower spike in blood sugar. The increased utilization of amino acids from casein leads to greater protein synthesis and muscle protein accretion.
Casein’s slow digestion rate and longer lasting amino acid release is the main reason why casein is classified as a slow-release protein. The slow absorption rate of casein results in a slower release of essential amino acids into the bloodstream.
While whey protein elicits a quick release of amino acids, casein releases 80% of its protein in a slow consistent manner over an extended period of time.
Decreases Glycogen Depletion
Whey protein leads to a reduction in glycogen levels. However, studies have shown that consuming a greater amount of casein protein actually increases muscle glycogen levels. This is due to casein’s delayed digestion rate and slower absorption time.
Combines Well with Whey Protein
Casein can be used as a companion protein to whey. The slow-release nature of casein protein can help to maintain steady amino acid levels while whey is being used to meet a muscle protein synthesis.
Cons of Casein Protein
Some people may feel that casein protein is a nuisance because it doesn’t mix well into water and tends to clump. Unlike whey protein, casein will not dissolve readily with water.
It’s also slightly more expensive than whey protein.
And while casein protein does provide a bit more overall protein than whey protein, the excess won’t be as beneficial as your body may not even be able to utilize it all, due to a variety of reasons. You are putting expensive protein into your diet that your body can’t process, which defeats the purpose of protein.
Casein protein also has a somewhat disagreeable chalky aftertaste.
Most protein enthusiasts find this aftertaste to be disgusting, which really ruins what could otherwise be a good product.
But the biggest drawback to casein protein is that it isn’t as effective as whey protein.
Casein is absorbed much slower by the body and may not provide the effects that you’re looking for.
It is best to choose whey protein instead as a supplement when you are looking for maximum gainz.
Whey Protein vs Casein Protein: Which is Better for Weight Gain?
So you’ve decided that you’re going to start a fitness program and support it with a weight gain supplement like protein powder. Which one should you choose?
There are some important facts to know about each. Starting with whey protein, there are two types.
One is whey isolate, which is produced in a way that allows for a higher amount of protein content.
The other is whey concentrate, which is more economical because it uses more protein. However, it is also less pure and more processed.
Another difference is that whey isolate is absorbed by your body more efficiently. Because it is so pure, it doesn’t remain in your stomach very long. Instead, it passes through your body quickly and is used by your muscles very quickly. Because whey isolate is absorbed quickly, it is best for after a workout.
Now for the casein protein. It is made out of milk protein and is absorbed slower by your body.
This makes it a good choice for bedtime, especially if you want to sleep a little longer. Because it isn’t absorbed as fast, it can keep your muscles full of the nutrients you need to stay strong throughout the night.
The next question is, which one is better? The answer is, that depends on your goals.
Which One Should You Take? Whey Protein or Casein Protein?
Whey protein is generally considered to be the best for weight loss and bodybuilding. The reason for this is because whey protein is considered to be a fast digesting protein. It’s said to be analogous to white sugar, where it can be broken down and used quickly.
What this means in terms of bodybuilding is that whey protein can be taken immediately after a workout, provided that your specific workout does not last longer than 30-45 minutes. When you combine whey and carbs at this time, it is said to create an insulin spike, which makes your body store it as fat because it’s not “burning” it. If you want to take whey protein, you should do it immediately after a workout that does not last longer than 30-45 minutes followed by a carb-rich meal.
With the emergence of whey protein, the popularity of casein protein has declined, but it shouldn’t be sidelined just yet.
Whey will help you gain muscle and lose fat, but it’s the combination of the two proteins that will get you big, shredded gains. Casein protein is great for overnight muscle growth.
The importance of nutrition at night can’t be overstated. On the average, humans are awake 16-19 hours a day. I’m not going to go on about the importance of sleep, but we do need our sleep and the benefits are many. Growth hormone is at its highest at night.
So while sleeping, your body is repairing, regenerating and growing. Your body is also more capable of absorbing the most nutrients.
When you exercise, your body needs certain nutrients and vitamins to repair and rebuild muscle. Casein protein is protein that is digested very slowly, and it is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly than whey. For this reason, it’s popularly used before bed and provides high-quality protein to muscles throughout the night.
Whey protein is a fast-digesting protein, so it’s best utilized when you need a quick boost to your protein for intense workouts.