Protein supplements are designed to be as much about an impressive protein profile as they are about convenience because quite frankly, chickens would be an endangered species if all of us depended solely on them to source our protein requirements. What’s more, given the pace of modern life, sometimes it’s just much easier to make a protein shake than prepare a meal every time you need to consume a considerable amount of protein. Another feature of modern day life is the incredible amount of choice we now have for supplements. A case in point is the availability of both whey and casein protein. Read on to find out which one is best for you and your fitness goals.
Where do they come from?
Whey is a by-product of milk, which over an extended period of time separates into two different substances – whey, and curds (sour milk). In fact, milk consists of roughly 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein. Whey protein is a complete protein that contains the 9 essential amino acids and is very low in lactose content.
Casein protein is derived from the curds that come from milk. Chemically speaking, casein molecules cluster together in groups called ‘micelles’, ultimately forming casein protein powder.
Benefits of Whey
Whey protein is the fastest protein that can be absorbed by the body, making it an excellent choice for consumption after a workout, first thing in the morning or even before working out.
Short term satiety
Proteins in general help keep us feel full and ultimately reduce the likelihood of eating unnecessarily. Jim Stoppani supports this explaining that whey protein is adept at keeping hunger at bay in the short term by lowering the levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.
Whey protein helps improves protein synthesis as well as muscle recovery, repair and growth, making it an effective supplement for improving lean muscle mass. It does this by increasing your insulin levels. Insulin is an anabolic hormone that will help to drive the amino acids from whey into your muscles and turn on protein synthesis. (Jim Stoppani)
Improved body composition
Lastly, the increase in lean muscle mass and the fat loss aided by less hunger also mean that whey can improve your body composition.
Benefits of Casein
By comparison to whey, casein takes much longer to digest which is why it is often recommended that it’s taken just before bed to counter catabolism which takes place during sleep.
The slow and gradual release of protein and amino acids by casein makes it ideal for muscle retention, especially during sleep.
Long term satiety
In comparison to whey, casein can leave you feeling fuller for longer has been proven to reduce morning satiety.
Similar to whey, casein can also help you develop lean mass and ultimately improve your body composition.
Making the right choice
As seen above, the effects of the two different types of protein supplements are complementary so you don’t have to choose between the two. In fact, as the saying goes, you can have your cake and eat it too. In short, if you’re looking to pack on muscle during the day whey is the way forward and casein should be saved for night time feeding. Protein supplementation pre and post exercise can improve both performance and composition (Wilborn et al, 2013)
Wilborn, C. D., Taylor, L. W., Outlaw, J., Williams, L., Campbell, B., Foster, C. A., … Hayward, S. (2013). The Effects of Pre- and Post-Exercise Whey vs. Casein Protein Consumption on Body Composition and Performance Measures in Collegiate Female Athletes. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 12(1), 74–79.
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