Whey vs Casein

by | Jun 27, 2016

Proteins supplement usually a combination of whey and casein protein. Proteins provide critical amino acids that serve as building blocks for new muscle in the body. Whey and casein are different types of proteins that are both present in milk. When milk is coagulated, it automatically divides out the proteins into semi-solid lumps and a liquid portion. Casein is found in the lumps, or curds, whereas the whey protein is found in the liquid portion. The ratio of protein within a glass of milk is about 20% whey to 80% casein. These proteins differ in their rate of digestion as well as their amino acid profiles. Whey is digested more quickly by the body and may be most beneficial when consumed immediately after workouts. Casein is a slower-digesting protein that is used less efficiently by the body. Whey and casein protein are both valuable for muscle growth and repair.

What is whey?

Whey is a protein found in milk and dairy. Whey is separated from milk as part of the cheese making process. During the cheese making process, the milk curdles (this is the casein) and the remaining liquid is known as whey. Whey contains a number of different proteins. Whey is a high quality food. It contains nutrients such as whey proteins beta-lacto globulin, alpha-lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, immunoglobulin ,lactoferrin, fatty acids, lactose (milk sugar), lactic acid, vitamins, minerals and other substances. It is a complete protein. This means it contains all the amino acids your body needs to function and build important body parts like liver cells and muscles. Due to the fact Whey is known as the “fast-acting” protein because it is digested more quickly.

What is Casein?

Casein protein found in milk products and in higher concentrations in cheese. Casein is a dairy protein source, coming from milk. It is a major component of cheese and a great source for amino acids and calcium. It is mainly high in glutamine, which is a conditionally indispensable amino acid. Glutamine is important when the human body is put under physiological stress due to endurance exercises, and the body wants to obtain glutamine from an external food sources. The percentage of protein in casein is similar to that of whey, but it will actually curdle in your stomach, meaning it will take much longer to absorb, meaning it works great as a slowly digested supplement. That is why casein is known as the “slow-acting” protein.

Whey vs Casein

Whey and casein are excellent sources of protein and offer a complete amino acid profile including the essential aminos that your body is not capable of making itself. Here is the difference between Whey and Casein.

Digestion – Whey is water soluble and casein is water insoluble. Casein is made up of long chains of amino acids that don’t dissolve in water. In the stomach casein forms a mass that is digested relatively slowly. Whey on the other hand consists of short amino acid chains that do dissolve in water and is quickly digested in the body.

Biological value– The biological value of a protein is a measure of how efficiently that protein can be utilized by the body. The biological value of whey is more than the casein. Whey is more easily utilized than casein. This means that the majority of the protein found in whey will be directly absorbed and utilized. Casein, on the other hand, has a biological value inferior to whey, and even lower than many popular bodybuilding protein sources such as eggs, beef and milk.

Metabolism rate-Whey is a fast acting protein with amino acid levels in the blood peaking 20-30 minutes post consumption, and fully metabolized within the hour. Casein is absorbed at a much slower rate, peaking in the blood 3-4 hours after it is consumed, with peak levels much lower than those experienced with whey.

Amino acids-Some amino acids are more valuable than others when it comes to building muscle. There are 22 amino acids, 8 of which are known as essential amino acids. Whey protein has the best amino acid profile in terms of providing the essential aminos. Not only does it beat out casein, it also has a higher amino acid profile than any whole food protein source. The superiority of whey protein is largely due to its branch chain amino acid profile.

Recovery and Injury– Whey proved to be more effective than casein in restoring muscle function in the form of power and force. In terms of muscle recovery, whey protein is regarded as the most effective source of protein for the immediate repair of lean muscle mass. This is mainly due to the fact it has an amino acid profile, but also due to its ability to digest rapidly and get absorbed quickly from the intestines into the muscle. While quickly digested whey protein is ideal immediately before and after your workout to help refuel recovering muscles. A slow releasing protein will be much more beneficial to muscle repair and re-growth during your sleeping hours. Casein is exactly that a slow digesting protein.

Muscle Building Casein is a muscle-sparing protein that is released in the bloodstream at a slow rate, it has a minimal effect on protein synthesis. However, it has a powerful effect on reducing protein breakdown, which makes it a highly potent muscle building supplement when taken at the right times. Whey protein has been shown to contribute to greater fat loss and greater muscle mass accumulation compared to carbohydrate supplements and other protein sources. Muscle growth increases when a balance is sustained between protein synthesis and protein breakdown. To add muscle faster and more efficiently, your goal should be to increase protein synthesis while decreasing protein breakdown.

Which one is better?

The decision between whey and casein depends on what you need out of your protein supplements. 20 % of the protein found in milk is whey and 80% of milk protein is found in casein. Whey protein makes a great post-workout meal because of its quick absorption into the bloodstream, and it contains branched-chain amino acids that the body doesn’t produce on its own. Casein is well-known for its anti-catabolic effects, slow digestion and for being high in amino acids. Whey provides an ideal mix of available nutrients that are waiting in line to replenish your body fuel after a hard workout. Whey increased protein synthesis, but at the same time do not influence protein degradation process. Casein, on the other hand, cuts down protein degradation process. Whey and casein protein after workout increases muscle mass of protein balance, resulting in net muscle mass protein synthesis even though there are different patterns of blood amino acid response. Casein is generally a better muscle builder, a better strength builder, and a better fat burner than whey. Whey is highly regarded for its antioxidant properties and ability to enhance the immune system. So, basically, whey is the quick one, used immediately before or after workout sessions, and casein is taken before going to sleep because it works slowly. A mix of whey and casein proteins resulted in greater increases in lean muscle mass and muscle strength. So, the final answer they are both good for you, it just depends on your preferences. You just have to figure out what works best for you.


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