Casein vs Whey Protein

Casein vs Whey Protein

Most people  understand the value of protein in general.  But if you are consuming a protein shake to help build muscle or simply supplement your protein do you know the type of protein in your powder?

There is an extensive, complex, and honestly confusing debate about whether or not you should consume a casein protein or whey protein.   We believe the simplest truth is that you really do benefit from both types of protein because of the way both proteins are metabolize (or break down) in the body.

Here are the basics:

  1. Both casein and whey are proteins.
  2. Protein in simplest terms are numerous amino acids linked together in the body.
  3. Amino acids are critical in protein synthesis (the process our cells goes through to build protein).
  4. Our muscle growth is dependent on the balance between the amount of protein synthesis and its breakdown.
  5. You need a sufficient amount of protein to add muscle to your body.

How does protein build muscle?

The gain in muscle mass that everyone likes to see as a result of their weight training workouts can promote synthesis of new muscle only if the synthesis is greater than the breakdown of muscle post workout.

In very simple terms:  you don’t want to break down the muscle without replenishing it with sufficient protein (and rest).

So what is the difference between casein and whey protein?

The major difference between casein and whey protein is how long it takes for the proteins to break down into amino acids, then be absorbed into the blood stream, and ultimately how it affects protein synthesis and protein breakdown.

  • Casein is considered a “slow” protein.
  • When you consume casein it will take a person’s body three to four hours to reach its peak synthesis.
  • Whey protein reaches peak synthesis in 40 minutes (about 5 times faster than Casein protein).

So which is better?

Casein should be consumed because it dramatically slows the rate of protein breakdown in the body, and as mentioned above, in order to gain muscle mass you need to make sure that protein breakdown does not pass protein synthesis.  All of that being said, it is important to actually consume both.  But please do not consume most of your protein in the synthentic form.  Real food is still better.

Warning:  A word of caution though, it is not possible to take the two type of proteins together because their interaction causes coagulation and that slows the digestion and absorption of both. 

written by Christy Gheselli (POW MMA intern ad UIC Senior) and Katalin Ogren

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