Differences Between Whey and Casein Protein

Ever wonder what the differences are between standard whey, grass-fed whey, and casein protein? We did too, so we put our expert writers up to the task of explaining it to us all. Here is there take.

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As you begin working out or dieting, two things become very apparent. First, protein is good for you [1]. And second, there are many types of protein supplements out there.

Essentially, the longer you look, the more types of protein supplements you’re going to come across…

The two heavy-hitting proteins that you are going to find on your fitness journey are Casein protein and Whey protein.

They are both milk-derived proteins, and can be further purified to produce micellular casein and whey isolate. Both of which are the same core proteins, just without all the extra sugars and fats found in natural whey or casein after separation from milk product (or byproduct) [2].

So, which type of protein should you be taking? Casein or Whey? And, what other types are out there?

That’s the purpose of this article, because there are a lot of variations and important factors to consider. So first we are going to dive real deep into the differences between Whey and Casein. After that, we’re going to go over protein purity, quality, and extraction practices, and then, lastly we will talk a bit about what else is out there.

By the end, you should be equipped with a significant amount of knowledge and peace of mind regarding protein supplements. Let’s begin!

Casein Vs Whey Protein

  • Whey protein is a much more popular source of protein than casein for bodybuilding and dieting. This is due to whey protein being a faster absorbing protein, as well as whey being extracted faster from milk (at least by practices used in New Zealand).
  • On the flipside, Casein protein is a slower digesting protein due to its affinity to ‘clump’ and form a ball in your stomach that takes more time to digest from the outside working inwards. This doesn’t mean that Casein is inferior, rather, it means that casein is meant to be utilized during different times [3].

When Whey and Casein are considered for supplementation, it generally goes down like this…

  • Whey protein is utilized immediately after training (and sometimes an hour before) [4].
  • Casein protein is utilized before bed or before times of unavoidable fasting.

On occasion, these two types of proteins can be combined, typically after workout or in conjunction with a meal to produce both fast and slow digesting protein sources for the body. From an amino acid perspective, these two proteins are very complete, like an egg.

Which is Better to Take – Casein or Whey?

Unless you are looking for a protein supplement to take before going to bed, whey protein is the superior protein to take. This can be summed up by the anabolic and reparative response to a quick hitting protein, versus a delayed slow release. The quick hit produces more results.

From there though, you are still left with a few questions. Most importantly, where will you source your whey protein from? If you step into a supplement shop, you’re probably going to see these whey containing protein powders: Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein, and Whey Protein Isolate. What’s the differences?

Differences between Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein, and Isolate

It all depends on the level of purity, and it pretty much goes like this…

Whole Milk –> Skim Milk –> Protein Concentrate –> Whey Protein –> Whey Protein Isolate

How does this purity variate from its whole milk beginnings? Well, as the process continues: fats, sugars, minerals, and lactose are removed. The only protein free of nearly 99.9% of these other ingredients is whey protein isolate.

With that being said, whey protein isolate is often the #1 protein type that we recommend. From there, it is advised to go as raw/organic as possible.

So, we covered Casein, Whey, and Whey Isolate proteins… But what about all those other proteins out there?

Other Common Sources in Protein Supplements

Aside from Milk Derived proteins, there is still a ton out there. Egg, Wheat, Soy, Pea, Etc. If there is a bit of protein in it, someone is out there condensing it into a product for vegetarians, etc.

But, are they worth while?

Not so much in our opinion, when compared to milk derived. Protein extraction from plants is pretty harsh, and extraction from egg whites is easy, but one cannot skip out on their eggs via a powder.

If you are going to go with a plant derived protein though, you’ve got to make sure it’s organic. Otherwise, the possibility of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers in your powder is very high. For a few recommendations, you can check out our top proteins. It’s still a work in progress but what is up on it already is gold.

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