Casein Protein vs Whey Protein
Casein vs. Whey Protein: Which Supplement Should I Use?
The answer is BOTH! There are definite benefits to both whey and casein protein, but the critical factor that comes into play is timing. Timing is everything when it comes to protein supplementation.
When should I take whey protein?
Whey protein can be broken down and absorbed by the body very quickly. It may be best consumed in liquid form, for the sake of convenience and is known as the “fast-acting” protein. This is the protein of choice for pre-workout (1 hour before) and immediately post workout (within 30 minutes) supplementation and has been associated with increased muscle mass and increased strength. Whey protein is high in the essential, branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which the body needs to maintain muscles, preserve glycogen stores, and prevent muscle breakdown during exercise. When whey is manufactured, it is broken down into various concentrations including isolate, concentrate, and powder. In the highest concentrations, such as isolate, the product is around 90% protein. Hydrolyzed whey protein, another form of whey protein, is already partially digested, allowing the quick delivery to be expedited even more.
Research also supports that idea that the benefits of protein supplementation can be maximized when used in conjunction with carbohydrates. “Consuming the right combination of carbohydrates to protein, in a 4:1 ratio, is associated with faster glycogen replenishment in the muscles, better muscle protein synthesis, reduced muscle soreness, and improved muscle strength and body composition.” (Wein, 14)
When should I take casein protein?
Casein is a much slower acting protein. It takes longer for the body to digest, and slowly delivers amino acids into the bloodstream. In fact, studies have shown that casein can sustain amino acid levels for a remarkable 7 hours. Therefore, it is most beneficial when taken during the day and especially at bedtime, and is often referred to as the “night time” protein. It also contains a different amino acid profile than whey protein. It is high in the amino acid glutamine which can be beneficial when the body is under high physiological stress, inhibiting muscle catabolism (the breakdown of protein). Because much of the repair process happens during sleep, having a nutrient source such as casein that feeds the muscles through the majority of the night is critical. Casein is also a good choice for meal replacement when used in conjunction with essential oils and carbohydrates.
While it is always best to consume protein through whole foods if at all possible, when supplements are a must, both casein and whey are GREAT choices, in their own right, in helping to maximize training and encourage muscular acclimatization. However, whey protein does appear to have superior qualities over casein, when you take into account all the other bonuses such as benefits to the immune system and antioxidant properties.
Antonio, Jose, PhD, CSCS, FNSCA and Ziegenfuss, Tim, PhD. (Downloaded Oct. 30, 2008). The Role of Nutrient Timing in the Adaptive Response to Heavy Resistance Training. NSCA Hot Topic Series. Retrieved on Nov. 3, 2011 from http://www.nsca-lift.org/HotTopic/download/Nutrient%20Timing.pdf
Casein Protein Information and Product List. Retieved on Nov. 3, 2011 from http://www.muscleandstrength.com/supplements/ingredients/casein-protein.html
Geiser, Marjorie, RD, NSCA-PT. (October 2003). The Wonders of Whey Protein. NSCA’s Performance Training Journal, vol. 2, number 5, 13-15. Retrieved Oct. 7, 2011 from http://www.nsca-lift.org/Perform/issues/0205.pdf
Wein, Debra, MS, RD, LDN, CSSD, NSCA-CPT, *D. and Miraglia, Megan, MS, RD, LDN. (Downloaded Aug. 2, 2011 ). Whey Protein vs. Casein Protein and Optimal Recovery. NSCA’s Performance Training Journal, vol. 10, issue 4, 14-15. Retrieved on Nov. 3, 2011 from http://www.nsca-lift.org/Perform/articles/100405.pdf