Which Is Better Casein or Whey?
October 4, 2021 • 11 min read
Whey and casein are high-quality protein sources, each with different benefits. Whey is a fast-acting protein while casein is a slow-acting protein. Learn all about the differences and the perfect times to take them. You deal with the topics of nutrition, fitness and supplements and have recently stumbled upon the terms whey protein and casein? Are you now overwhelmed by the amount of information and just want to know which product is right for you and your goals? In this article, you will learn all about the difference between whey and casein!
Casein vs Whey
You want to find out as soon as possible which protein is right for you and your goals and when it should be taken. But you don't feel like reading through pages of text to find out all the facts? I can only understand too well, that's why you will find all the important information about whey and casein here as a summary!
Everything you need to know about whey and casein in brief!
What Does Whey Actually Do?
Whey protein is obtained from the whey of milk during cheese production. It is a very high quality protein, with a high biological value. This means that your body can very well produce endogenous tissue such as muscle from whey protein. It contains all essential amino acids and is therefore called a complete protein.
In particular, whey protein is an easily digestible, quickly absorbable protein. After you have consumed a whey protein shake, amino acids can be detected in your blood after just a few minutes. This leads to high concentrations of amino acids, which in turn are completely utilized after a short time. So this means that you quickly have high levels of amino acids in your blood for a relatively short period of time. Studies clearly show that this leads to increased protein synthesis. So, given a certain training stimulus, you build up muscles. The effect of whey protein is therefore primarily anabolic, i.e. muscle building.
When looking for suitable products, you will come across whey protein isolate. Whey isolate has a higher protein concentration than a whey protein concentrate. This is achieved by the fact that the carbohydrate and fat components could be significantly reduced again. Especially with lactose intolerance, low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets, a whey protein isolate is superior to an ordinary concentrate.
If you would like to deal intensively with the topic of whey protein, you will find an article here that leaves no question unanswered!
What Does Casein Protein Do?
Cow's milk contains two different forms of protein. One you have already learned about is whey protein. The other form of protein is casein, colloquially known as milk protein. This protein takes its name from cheese and is therefore a natural source of casein.
Like whey protein, casein has outstanding properties, but they differ in important aspects. In contrast to whey, casein is a slowly digestible or slowly absorbable protein. "Slow" is not a disadvantage, but an important property that you should take advantage of.
Casein is digested slowly; it provides lower amounts of amino acids than whey protein, but over a much longer period of time. Conversely, you are supplied with important amino acids for a long time and can thus bridge long phases in which you do not eat any food.
Lower concentrations of amino acids do not stimulate protein synthesis as strongly as higher ones, but they do prevent muscle breakdown. Especially with long-acting casein, you can prevent catabolic, i.e. muscle-degrading, processes. The specialist literature rightly speaks of an anticabolic, i.e. muscle-protecting property.
You should be prepared for the next sections with this information. If you would like to delve deeper into the topic of casein, we have prepared a comprehensive article on the subject.
When Should I Take Whey and Casein?
What you have certainly experienced are two camps, with opposing convictions. Both are narrow-minded and convinced of their own point of view. With almost missionary zeal, they try to convince others, including you, of their point of view. As a nutrition and training expert for many years, I have witnessed numerous of these discussions. One very popular topic of contention is casein versus whey protein. Which of the two proteins is better, which is superior to the other. You will understand why this comparison is nonsensical and why both forms of protein have their right to exist. As in many areas of life, it's all about the right timing and that's what it's all about here!
Take casein before bed and whey after you wake up!
What Protein Should I Have In the Morning?
After getting 8 hours of restful sleep, your body is in a catabolic state. Sleep amounts to about a third of the entire day and represents a time of fasting for the body. The entire stomach contents could be metabolized. The concentration of amino acids in the bloodstream is now at a minimum. Your organism begins to metabolize its own muscle cells in order to release energy. You want to stop this situation as soon as possible. The perfect time for a fast-acting whey protein shake.
After consumption, it takes just 40 minutes for amino acids to be detectable in the blood. The protein synthesis is thereby at a maximum, while the protein breakdown rate has been minimized and catabolic processes have been stopped. So you can see that whey protein or whey protein isolate should best be taken right after getting up.
As a serving, I recommend you take 30 to 40 g (1 to 1.5 SCOOPS) of whey protein with 200 to 250 ml (6 to 8 FL OZ) of water, low-fat milk or oat milk.
What Is the Best Protein After a Workout?
The situation has similarities to the one after getting up. The glycogen stores of your muscles are heavily stressed by sports. Also, when the muscles are heavily stressed, so-called microtraumas occur; microtraumas are the smallest tears in the muscle tissue. Due to the consumption of your energy reserves, the body goes into a catabolic state, but at the same time is like a sponge ready to absorb nutrients. Above all, it now needs quickly available amino acids to initiate the regeneration process. Surely you can already imagine that this is also the perfect time to take a serving of whey protein! If you want to optimize this with complex carbohydrates, the use of easily soluble instant oatmeal is recommended. A targeted carbohydrate-induced insulin release after training leads to the amino acids from the whey protein being absorbed even faster and more effectively by your muscles.
As a serving, I recommend you take 30 to 40 g (1 to 1.5 SCOOPS) of whey protein with 200 to 250 ml (6 to 8 FL OZ) of water, low-fat milk or oat milk. For instant oats, depending on your calorie needs, it should be 50 to 100 g (1 to 2 SERVINGS) of oatmeal and an additional 200 - 300 ml (6 to 8 FL OZ) of liquid of your choice. Be sure to shake vigorously and long enough. You may need to increase the amount of liquid so that everything dissolves well.
Which Protein Is Best Before Bed?
You have learned in which situations it is important to take quickly absorbable protein to boost protein synthesis. Now you're wondering whether the same applies to the meal before going to bed. That's a good question, which is now answered.
Whey protein is a fast acting protein. It quickly creates high levels of amino acids in the blood, but they return to their original levels a short time after the peak is reached. Casein, on the other hand, as a slowly digestible protein, only takes 3 to 4 hours after consumption to reach the maximum amino acid concentration in the blood. In addition, these values can be maintained over a significantly longer period of time. So you will be supplied with a moderate amount of amino acids for a long time, the protein breakdown rate is minimized. You should take advantage of this anti-catabolic property by taking a shake with casein before bed to protect your muscles.
Again, the serving recommendation is 30 to 40 g (1 to 1.5 SCOOPS) of casein with 200 to 250 ml (6 to 8 FL OZ) of water, low-fat milk or oat milk.
Is It Bad to Mix Casein and Whey Protein?
By now you have probably thought that you would take whey protein and casein mixed and thus combine the best of both worlds. That is intuitive and a good idea, unfortunately our digestive tract is thwarting our plans.
The coagulation processes of casein in the stomach lead to the fact that the digestion of other foods is also delayed. Specifically, this means that whey protein also loses its special properties in the stomach and is digested just as slowly as casein. Casein therefore represents the proverbial bottleneck in this mixture. You will only benefit from the special properties of casein and whey protein if you take both types of protein strategically and separately. Follow the strategies described above to be on the safe side.
What Did You Learn From This Article?
In this article you have learned everything you need to know about the perfect time to take whey protein and casein. Now you have in-depth knowledge and can make well-considered purchasing decisions. The following points summarize for you what you should remember!
- After getting up and after training, fast-acting whey protein is the protein of choice.
- Before you go to bed, you should consume slowly digestible casein.
- Casein is also recommended for longer periods without food intake.
- Whey and casein should not be taken together.
- Casein slows down the absorption time of whey protein.
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