From Charles Poliquin
Get lean and improve your athletic performance by taking a large dose of at least 25 grams of whey protein after training. Research shows that taking the right protein after exercise can significantly improve body composition, strength, power, and even agility—and doing so benefits the young, old, male, and female alike.
For example, a new study is one of the first to compare the effect of taking casein with whey protein in young female athletes. Study participants were Division III basketball players who engaged in an 8-week pre-season weight training and plyometric program. They took 24 grams of either whey or casein protein before and after workouts.
Results showed that both groups produced significant beneficial changes in body composition and performance, and although not statistically greater, the whey protein group had better outcomes as follows:
• The whey group lost 2 percent body fat and gained 1.5 kg muscle mass, compared to only 1.6 percent body fat loss and 1.4 kg muscle gain in the casein group.
• The whey group gained 88.7 kg in the leg press, 7.5 kg in the bench press, and increased vertical jump and shuttle run speed significantly more than the casein group, which gained 90 kg in the leg press and 4.3 kg in the bench press.
Researchers suggest that taken with previous research outcomes, this study shows the more favorable effect of whey protein because it is “fast” digesting, making the amino acids available for protein uptake and muscle building more quickly after consuming it. For example, a previous study done on male body builders revealed that a group that took 1.5 g/kg/bodyweight a day had much greater gains in all strength tests in addition to increasing lean mass by a rather amazing 4.2 kg more than a casein group (whey +5.0 kg lean mass, casein +0.8 kg lean mass).
The study authors conclude that men and women may respond somewhat differently to casein and whey since the difference in body composition changes between the female basketball players was not statistically relevant, whereas the male bodybuilders experienced a big difference. This is possible, but it could also be that the weight training program used by the players was not ideal. It followed an undulating periodization model with the trainees doing only one set of all exercises on two of their training days.
The take away is that you should opt for whey protein for your preferred post-workout protein source whenever possible because of the overwhelmingly favorable benefits for building strength, power, and getting you lean. Whey has also been shown to sustain protein synthesis to a greater degree than straight amino acids at 5 hours after taking it.
However, if you are allergic to whey, take amino acids with added leucine since a large proportion of leucine is one of the principal benefits of whey. Also, if you can’t take whey, shoot for a larger dose per kg of body weight of protein daily because there is some evidence that providing an extra large pool of amino acids can sustain muscle building to a similar degree as whey protein.
Churchward-Venne, T., Burd, N., et al. Supplementation of Suboptimal Protein Dose with Leucine or EAAs: Effects of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis at Rest and Following Resistance Exercise in Men. Journal of Physiology, 2012. Published Ahead of Print.
Wilborn, C., et al. The Effects of Pre- and Post-Exercise Whey Vs. Casein Protein Consumption on Body Composition and Performance Measures in Collegiate Athletes. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2012. 12, 74-79.