If you’ve been perusing supplement shops and websites then you’ve probably noticed various types of protein on offer, the most common of those is without a doubt whey protein, but another one commonly mentioned is casein protein, but what’s the difference and which one is for you?

Whey and casein protein are the most popular duo when it comes to protein food supplements in the market, but do you need both, just one, or none at all?

There are quite a number of good reasons why whey and casein are two of the most popular protein supplements on the market. Some of the reasons why the duo are popular is because of their high bioavailability (how much your body actually absorbs), high-quality (assuming it’s a reputable brand) and finally, the tasty flavours on offer!

Despite the similarities, these supplements are not the same and they have quite a number of distinct differences. Whey and casein are dairy based products that are created from the process of making cheese. You’ll be hard pushed to find a diary product that doesn’t contain a blend of whey and casein. In fact, milk has whey and casein in it!

How Do Whey And Casein Work?

  • Whey is referred to as the fast brother protein because it digests rapidly in the body, while casein is referred to as slow brother protein because digestion is gradual and takes longer.
  • Whey is considered as more anabolic while casein is considered as anti-catabolic or muscle spearing
  • For the muscle to grow, the synthesis of protein must be greater than the breakdown of muscle and since whey helps increase the synthesis of proteins and casein prevent breakdown of muscle they work hand in hand to build strong muscle.

Whey Protein

Digestion of whey protein takes just 20 minutes to be digested and absorbed into the tissues. It is used up for synthesis in less than an hour. This is considerably faster than casein.

Casein Protein

Digestion of casein takes between 2 to 4 hours (some studies show a whopping 7 hours!) . It also slows the rate of protein breakdown.

When to Take Which Protein

  • Whey protein has a quick digesting nature which makes it a perfect match for you during or after your workout or training session. Whey has the ability to fuel your muscle without stressing you except if you have always had problem digesting milk.
  • Casein on the other hand is ideal before fasting or before a long day of meetings or work because it releases amino acids slowly which promotes fullness. Casein is recommended for consuming just before bed to keep the body in an anti-catabolic state for longer and to repair your muscles while you sleep.

How to Use Whey and Casein Protein Powders

The use of whey protein is versatile and it can be mixed with milk or water. You can also add it to baking recipes too, such as protein waffles!

Casein protein is perfect for your bedtime snack and can be added to water, milk, and yogurt and can even be added to some snack recipes.

Research showed that leucine (A BCAA) attained its peak levels in the blood after taking casein. However the whey protein group attained the peak at the higher level and got back to the standard after 4 hours while the casein group attained peak a lower level and failed to return until after 7 hours.

Casein decreases protein degradation and does not affect protein synthesis while whey protein enhances protein synthesis and had no effect on protein degradation.

In conclusion

  • Casein supplement is a slow digesting protein that prevents excess breakdown of protein and it can be seen as anti-catabolic
  • Whey protein stimulates the synthesis of protein, fast acting and is anabolic.

Both whey and casein can be added to diet to encourage anabolism and discourage catabolism.