Beyond an efficient workout plan and a healthy diet, a smart bodybuilder incorporates protein supplements in their fitness regimen. This convenient source of proteins aids in maximising training programs by facilitating muscle growth and restoration, among other things.
Of all protein supplements, whey and casein are two of the most popular— and for several beneficial reasons. Both being high-quality complete proteins that carry the same branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), these two are great tools for muscle gain and repair.
But while casein protein and whey protein are similar on a surface level, they contrast each other on a molecular level. The question is, which protein is better— casein or whey?
What is Whey Protein?
Between the two, whey protein is the more popular, mainstay choice. Due to its fast-digesting nature, gulping down a whey protein shake right after a workout helps promote muscle synthesis. This is especially useful for people performing resistance-based training.
Whey can be processed into different forms: whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate. The main difference between these two is their carbohydrate and fat levels; concentrate will be about 70% protein and 30% carbohydrates and fat, while isolate is roughly 95% pure protein. You can read more about the range of whey protein supplementation in our ultimate guide to protein powder.
What is Casein Protein?
Contrasting whey's rapid digestibility is casein's nature of being a slow-release protein. It drip-feeds your muscles over a long period instead and is considered a beneficial supplement to consume during fasting periods or before going to bed.
Casein vs Whey
So, what is the best protein supplement for you in the casein vs whey debate?
There is actually no better protein between them; it's a matter of being strategic as to when to consume each protein. Whey is better for muscle-building, while casein is beneficial in preventing muscle and protein breakdown. Both can help you reach your fitness goals faster when supplemented alongside a balanced diet and exercise program.
When to Take Each Protein
When it comes to post-workout, whey protein is still the best supplement to consume, especially for those with rigorous, intense workout routines. You need a source of protein that will quickly supply the body with the amino acids required to repair muscles and allow them to adapt and grow. Whey is also higher in lactose and less costly compared to casein.
Casein protein, as it is digested and releases amino acids slowly, is best taken before bed. Its protein-supplementing benefits may take a longer time compared to whey, but it’s an excellent option for fasting periods. If you're doing intermittent fasting, casein is your best friend. It aids your appetite control by making you feel fuller for longer, which helps you lose weight easier.
To maximise muscle growth and facilitate faster recovery, consider taking both supplements in combination at different points in the day.
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