Whey vs Casein Protein

Protein is a vital part of any diet or lifestyle. Among other things, it promotes normal growth, helps repair damaged tissue, manufactures enzymes and contributes to the body’s immune system. Whey and Casein are 2 of the most well-known types of protein. We all know they exist, but what do they really do? What are the differences between them and which one is better for you?

Whey Protein

Whey protein is generally a term used to describe a bunch of globular proteins that may be separated from Whey. It is a naturally complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the Essential Amino Acids required in one’s daily diet and the ideal combination of Amino Acids to help improve body composition and enhance athletic performance. It also assists in maintaining a healthy immune system, especially in athletes, by increasing the levels of Glutathione in the body. Glutathione is an anti-oxidant required for a healthy immune system, but exercise and resistance training lower one’s Glutathione levels. Whey protein helps keep athletes healthy and strong in order to perform at their best.

Whey is also a source of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) which are used to fuel working muscles and stimulate protein synthesis. Unlike the other Essential Amino Acids, they are metabolised directly into the muscle tissue and are the first ones used during periods of exercise and resistance training. Whey protein provides the body with BCAAs to replenish depleted levels and start repairing and rebuilding lean muscle tissue.

It has therefore become essential in the bodybuilding world today because it is so easily digested, allowing the protein to become available for muscle building very quickly. Predominantly it is used after a workout in order to increase Amino Acid levels in the blood, which are taken up by the muscles to increase mass. During exercise, Whey assists in improving the flow of nutrients in the blood to help repair and rebuild muscle tissue.

Besides being a good bodybuilding source of protein, Whey also plays an important part in low-carb, high-protein diets because of its inordinate amount of Essential and Non-Essential Fatty Acids.

Casein Protein

Casein is a generic name for a unique protein found in milk. It makes up 80% of total milk protein, the remaining 20% being Whey.

Unlike Whey, Casein protein is digested much slower and provides a steady stream of Amino Acids to the muscles, long after Whey proteins have dropped off and with less of an insulin spike. As a consequence, Casein is most effective for feeding the body over the fasting period of sleep.

For optimal muscle recovery, the body needs a constant supply of nutrients and, most importantly, protein. When taken before bed, Whey protein will be absorbed within 45 minutes, leaving the body without a protein source for several hours. Casein, on the other hand, will provide the body with a protein source for up to 7 hours, greatly reducing muscle catabolism (break down). Because Casein moves through the digestive tract more slowly than Whey, it is more likely that the body will be able to absorb and use the protein in a more efficient way.

If you are on a low calorie diet, one of the first issues that will become a growing concern is the loss of lean muscle mass. Since you are not supplying your body with enough calories to fully support the energy levels needed to get through the day, your body will be forced to turn to stored tissues for energy. In the best case scenario, your body will tap into fat stores and, in the worst case scenario, it will turn to muscle tissue. Typically it is a bit of both. However, an adequate amount of Casein protein will help prevent this attack on your muscle.

In one study that tested the variations in lean muscle mass gains as well as total fat loss with the use of either Whey or Casein protein, combined with a low calorie diet and resistance training, the group using Casein showed greater mean fat loss and a higher increase in strength than the group using Whey.

Casein is also higher in Calcium than other proteins, which is certainly a benefit with regards to fat loss.

In another study, it was observed that those who combined high Calcium with normal protein intake over a 24 hour period showed increased fecal fat and energy excretion for that day than those who took either low Calcium, normal protein, or high Calcium, high protein.

Casein will help you to accomplish both goals by giving you a higher Calcium intake as well as boosting your protein intake, allowing you to maximise your fat loss.

Lastly, Casein is considered one of the best quality sources of protein available. While meeting your minimum protein requirements is always a priority, doing so with a high quality protein source will mean less protein is excreted by the body and you’ll need less overall to maintain your lean muscle mass.

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