Aminoacids are the building blocks for formation of new muscles, which comes from protein source. Different proteins contain different aminoacids or even varying number of same aminoacids. The effectiveness of a particular protein in building muscle mass thus depends on the nature of aminoacids, amount of aminoacids, and their metabolism.

Whey vs. Casein protein

For the past few years, there seems to be a great deal of controversy over the individual effectiveness of whey and casein protein. Keeping in mind that both proteins are milk derivatives and contains almost equal amount of essential aminoacids, they only differ in one aspect i.e. their digestion time. Read on to find more interesting information that may help you choose your favorite flavor.

Whey protein

Had you ever noticed those small particles embedded in a layer of water, floating on the surface of fresh yogurt? This mixture is whey. It makes up 20% of cow’s milk and usually derived as a byproduct from fermentation of cheese. Whey contains all essential aminoacids (linoliec, linolenic and arachidonic acid), lactose, lactalbumin, and to small amount polyunsaturated fats.

The reason behind why bodybuilders usually take it during and after workout is its short period of absorption that results in abrupt increase in aminoacids level (takes approximately 20-30 minutes to fully saturate the plasma). Rapid increases in plasma level of aminoacids thus contribute as a powerful stimulant for other protein synthesis. Muscle growth is directly proportional to the protein cycle in the body, means that if protein synthesis is greater than protein degradation, the muscles growth is sustained.

Beside protein synthesis, whey is also known for its powerful antioxidant action due to presence of glutathione. Glutathione combats with free radicals and protects the body from oxidative damage.

  • Pros:  Increase protein synthesis, antioxidant, readily digestible
  • Cons: in most cases associated with decrease protein degradation
  • Suggestion: Best time to consume it is during and after workout

Casein protein

It is thickened part of yogurt and approximately constitutes for 80% of the protein found in milk. Casein is also known as “slow-protein” due to its sluggish absorption from GIT into the blood. As compared to whey, it will take 3-4 hours to reach a peak concentration of aminoacids in the plasma. The slow absorption of casein is due to its micelles (lipoprotein droplets) forming property. Because micelles are water soluble, so it takes more time to digest and absorb. However it is not bad too…

Casein contains the same amount and types of aminoacids (essential and branched chain), hence not prove as inferior from whey. It slows the breakdown of proteins hence shifting the protein cycle in positive side, phenomena called “anti-catabolism”. Due to micelles forming and anti-catabolic action, it maintains a steady level of aminoacids in the plasma for a longer period of time.

  • Pros: provide continues supply of aminoacids, rich in calcium (consider bone health)
  • Cons: Not ideal for after workouts and lactose intolerance patients, can cause bloating (due to sodium), allergy
  • Suggestion: To get optimal results, take it before going to bed

Last thoughts

Both proteins are of equal importance in building muscle mass, however the key is their time of consumption, whey (right before and during workout) while casein (before going to bed).