Which is better, Whey or Casein?

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  1. Nelson
    Nelson's Avatar

    Whey or Casein?

    How to Use Various Proteins for Maximal Results
    Jeff Stout, PhD

    Protein ?Ethe building blocks

    The word protein is derived from the Greek word meaning "of prime importance." And suffice it to say that protein is pretty darn important to the human body. Enzymes, antibodies, muscle tissue, red blood cells, organs, and many other structural and functional components of your body are comprised of proteins.

    Although the primary function of protein is to provide the needed amino acids for maintaining an anabolic state, there are times when it may actually be used as a fuel source. This usually occurs when you’re in a carbohydrate-depleted state (ex. on a low carb diet, exercising continuously for >2 hours). The RDA of 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight per day is much too low for athletes. Current research suggests that 1.5-2.0 grams per kilogram per day is better suited for athletes. If you happen to be metric-illiterate, that translates into 0.68 to 0.90 grams per pound of bodyweight. To be on the safe side, perhaps 1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is best.

    Which proteins are best?

    You want to eat a complete protein; one that has all of the essential amino acids. Incomplete proteins, such as from peanuts, do not contain all essential amino acids. But if you mix incomplete proteins (e.g., rice and beans), you can get all the essential amino acids. But they are not as well assimilated as protein from animal sources. In addition, we have fast and slow proteins. How can we take advantage of the properties of these special proteins? Like the glycemic index for carbs, the speed in which you absorb various amino acids dictates how well your body uses them. For instance, when you eat a large protein meal, you’ll get an initial high peak in blood levels of amino acids followed by a rapid decline. But if you take the same protein in a slow but continuous fashion (e.g., eat small meals throughout the day) you get a smaller, but more sustained increase in serum amino acids. And even though you may be eating the same quantity of the various amino acids, the time in which they’re delivered can have a profound effect on protein synthesis and breakdown. So which is better, a large quick rise followed by a quick drop? Or a slow rise that’s sustained for a longer period of time? The answer’s easy. Both.

    In a study performed by French scientists, they examined the effects of casein and whey protein as a single meal ingested (dose = 0.45-0.61 grams protein per kg body weight) by normal healthy adults. They examined blood levels of amino acids for up to seven hours after consuming the protein meal. As expected, the whey protein group experienced a quick rise in blood levels of amino acids with a steady decline while the casein group showed a slow increase that was sustained for the seven hour period. Whole body protein breakdown decreased by 34% after casein ingestion but not with whey protein. On the other hand, protein synthesis increased by 68% in the whey protein group while the casein group increased by 31% (1).

    So why the tremendous differences in protein metabolism? Whey protein is rapidly emptied from the stomach yet casein clots in the stomach. Casein’s absorption tends to be much slower. Although casein stimulated protein synthesis less than whey, it had a better effect on inhibiting protein breakdown. This was not due to differing insulin levels (i.e. insulin is a potent inhibitor of protein degradation) since blood levels were similar between the two meals. Interestingly, it may be that you need to maintain a minimal sustained level of blood amino acids in order to inhibit (support?) protein synthesis.

    So which is better, casein or whey? Depends on your circumstances. If you are pressed for time and can only get in 2 or 3 meals a day, perhaps a combination of whey and casein will work. On the other hand, if you can eat multiple meals (5-6) throughout the day, it may be best to stick with whey protein. Also, whey protein contains subfractions of various peptides (i.e. small proteins) (e.g., alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, immunoglobulins, and lactoferrin). Each of these subfractions may have health benefits.

    1. Boirie Y et al. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Dec 23;94(26):14930-5.

  2. yup. I'm partial to a combo mine own self... I use Optimum Nutrition's 100% Whey Chocolate Mint with Universal's Milk and Egg Vanilla.

  3. it says it's ok to take whey anytime...i thought you're supposed to only take it post workout and have protein blends rest of day?

  4. well, the "whey anytime" concept only works insofar as you are able to keep yourself "whey saturated" every couple of hours... if you are unable to eat for more extended periods of time (3 1/2+ hrs) a blend becomes crucial because the absorption is slowed drastically, thus ensuring more steady amino supplies until you are able to eat again... this is probably not the best analogy, but it's like sand in an hour glass, if all you have is very very fine grains (whey) your sand will very quickly move through and be gone... if you create a mixture of smaller (whey) AND larger (egg, casein etc) grains, your emptying of the hourglass will take much longer... make more sense?

  5. yea it makes sense...i eat every 2-3 hours and i just ordered a blend of milk isolate and egg from customizer. i'm on a short budget and should have just kept with my optimum

  6. it's cool either way, and you now that you have it it's no biggie since you're providing more complete protein variety fo yo bod

  7. Unless one is bulking, the insulin response from the whey may not be the desired effect IMO except PW. I like blends of slower digesting proteins like that found in "The Complete Protein diet" by optimum.

  8. Nelson
    Nelson's Avatar

    Bump for Optimum`s Complete Protein Diet.
    IMO it`s very underated, reasonably priced & versatile in that you can add some oatmeal &/or flax to suit your needs.

  9. Originally posted by chi_town
    Unless one is bulking, the insulin response from the whey may not be the desired effect IMO except PW.


    Plasma glucagon and insulin responses depend on the rate of appearance of amino acids after ingestion of different protein solutions in humans.

    J Nutr 2002 Aug;132(8):2174-82

    Calbet JA, MacLean DA.

    Copenhagen Muscle Research Center, Rigshospitalet, Section 7652, Blegdamsvej 9, Denmark. [email protected]

    To find out whether the hormonal response to feeding with protein solutions is influenced by the nature and degree of protein fractionation, we examined insulin and glucagon responses after intake of protein solutions containing the same amount of nitrogen (2.9 g each) in three men and three women. Four test meals (600 mL) [glucose (419 kJ/L), pea (PPH) and whey peptide hydrolysates (WPH) (921 and 963 kJ/L, respectively) and a cow's milk solution (MS) containing complete milk proteins (2763 kJ/L)] were tested. Peptide hydrolysates elicited a faster increase in venous plasma amino acids than did MS (P < 0.05). Despite the higher carbohydrate content of the MS, the peptide hydrolysates elicited a peak insulin response that was two and four times greater than that evoked by the MS and glucose solutions, respectively (P < 0.05). The insulin response was closely related to the increase in plasma amino acids, especially leucine, isoleucine, valine, phenylalanine and arginine, regardless of the rate of gastric emptying. The three protein solutions elicited similar increases of plasma glucagon; however, the response was fastest for both peptide hydrolysates (P < 0.05) and more prolonged for the MS (P < 0.05). The glucagon response was linearly related to the increase in plasma amino acids, regardless of the rate of gastric emptying or meal composition (r = 0.93, r = 0.96 and r = 0.78, all P < 0.05, for the PPH, WPH and MS). Among the plasma amino acids, tyrosine (r = 0.82-0.98, P < 0.05) and methionine (r = 0.98, P < 0.001) were most closely related to the plasma glucagon response. This study shows that the glucagon response to feeding with protein solutions depends on the increase in plasma amino acid concentrations. The combined administration of glucose and peptide hydrolysates stimulates a synergistic release of insulin, regardless of the protein source.

  10. here's abit more evidence suggesting we should probably not go with straight whey all day long (note the differences in fat loss, muscle and strength gain between the whey and casein groups... note also though, that it does not tell us the timing of meals, if the whey group ate more frequently, etc)

    Effect of a hypocaloric diet, increased protein intake and resistance training on lean mass gains and fat mass loss in overweight police officers.

    Ann Nutr Metab 2000;44(1):21-9

    Demling RH, DeSanti L.

    Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA. [email protected]

    We compare the effects of a moderate hypocaloric, high-protein diet and resistance training, using two different protein supplements, versus hypocaloric diet alone on body compositional changes in overweight police officers. A randomized, prospective 12-week study was performed comparing the changes in body composition produced by three different treatment modalities in three study groups. One group (n = 10) was placed on a nonlipogenic, hypocaloric diet alone (80% of predicted needs). A second group (n = 14) was placed on the hypocaloric diet plus resistance exercise plus a high-protein intake (1.5 g/kg/day) using a casein protein hydrolysate. In the third group (n = 14) treatment was identical to the second, except for the use of a whey protein hydrolysate. We found that weight loss was approximately 2.5 kg in all three groups. Mean percent body fat with diet alone decreased from a baseline of 27 +/- 1.8 to 25 +/- 1.3% at 12 weeks. With diet, exercise and casein the decrease was from 26 +/- 1.7 to 18 +/- 1.1% and with diet, exercise and whey protein the decrease was from 27 +/- 1.6 to 23 +/- 1.3%. The mean fat loss was 2. 5 +/- 0.6, 7.0 +/- 2.1 and 4.2 +/- 0.9 kg in the three groups, respectively. Lean mass gains in the three groups did not change for diet alone, versus gains of 4 +/- 1.4 and 2 +/- 0.7 kg in the casein and whey groups, respectively. Mean increase in strength for chest, shoulder and legs was 59 +/- 9% for casein and 29 +/- 9% for whey, a significant group difference. This significant difference in body composition and strength is likely due to improved nitrogen retention and overall anticatabolic effects caused by the peptide components of the casein hydrolysate. Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

  11. i also got this from the holy grail thread -

    "most single species protein powders such as whey concentrates and whey isolates also do NOT have much desirable thermogenic action. It could be almost a tragedy that many bodybuilders’ fat loss efforts have been thwarted by mistakenly using a single species whey protein. Single species protein is assimilated so quickly that it is often burned as fuel inhibiting the burning of your stored body fat.

  12. I use Optimum's Pro Complex, and I love it, but lately i've been thinking about beefing it up a bit. I was thinking of getting some casein to throw in with it. What's everyone's opinions on this? I figure it would be a good decision for night, but I'm not so sure it would be a good choice for my first shake in the morning since I eat 2-2 1/2 hours later.
  13. Nelson
    Nelson's Avatar

    Couple of questions:
    Would the insulin response be reduced with the addition of oatmeal &/or flax?
    Would the thermogenic effect be increased with the addition of oatmeal &/or flax to the whey?

    N`Pursuit - Procomplex should be fine as is during the day, you could maybe add some flax or macademia oil.
    However, before bed the addition of flax & casein/cottage cheese would be perfect IMO.

  14. Originally posted by Nelson
    Couple of questions:
    Would the insulin response be reduced with the addition of oatmeal &amp;/or flax?
    Would the thermogenic effect be increased with the addition of oatmeal &amp;/or flax to the whey?

    N`Pursuit - Procomplex should be fine as is during the day, you could maybe add some flax or macademia oil.
    However, before bed the addition of flax &amp; casein/cottage cheese would be perfect IMO.

    Yeah I figured it was fine for the day.&nbsp; I put flax in my first shake.&nbsp; My before bed shake I add peanut butter (which is a new thing for me).&nbsp; I just thought instead of paying a ton of money for Optimum's night time or complete I could just pick up some casein form protein customizer and toss a scoop in and a scaoop of pro complex and bang a nice nightime formula

  15. has anyone tried mixing some unflavored protein from customizer with another flavored protein powder like optimum? saves more money doing it this way

  16. That's exactly what I'm trying to do Pinoy.

  17. YO Npursuit , i think you should consider using whey strictly at your first meal , you want those amino acids arrivign at the bloodstream ASAP since your body is in a catabolic state once you wake up, other than that a protein blend like your OPTIMUM NUTRITION COMPLEX SOUNDS great for the day and for bed what you said, buy some casein from proteinfactory and wala , mix it with complex , flax and drink.

  18. Raul I believe Pro Complex is around 50% whey so that turns out to be around 27 grams of whey. Wouldn't you agree that is sufficient?

    Have you mixed casein into another protein? How does it mix up?

  19. Yeah I believe pro complex has enough of the whey protein but since it has casein in it , the absorption won't be as fast as a regular whey isolate protein. As far as mixing casein into another protein , just buy it from proteinfactory no flavor and mix it in a shake along with your Pro-Complex, I have done it and it tastes wonderful, specially with Optimum or Muscle Milk + casein +flax .

  20. just ordered a blend from customizer...50/30/20 MPI/Egg/CFM wtih vanilla flavoring...it only costs like 5 more bucks than getting MPI unflavored

  21. I don't believe pro complex has casein in it. It's not on the lable hence why I wanted to buy some seperately. Being a blend you would think it would, but that's why they have the nighttime formula, which is way too much for the amount of powder I go through.

  22. Pinoy how much did you get and how much was it? I'm interested to see how the texture and taste is. I'm not too picky, but I have heard their proteins don't mix well.
  23. Nelson
    Nelson's Avatar

    NPursuit - Optimum`s Complete Protein Diet has casein in it & it`s about the same price as ProComplex.

  24. I've got a blend similar to Pinoy from Customizer (50/30/20 MPI/CFM/Egg) and I really do like their flavoring systems. Really subtle taste. Mixes fine for me. However it does clump to the cup at times. I just add a bit more water after finishing and shake it up to break it up. I paid a little under $40 shipped for 5 lbs.

  25. Originally posted by NPursuit
    Pinoy how much did you get and how much was it? I'm interested to see how the texture and taste is. I'm not too picky, but I have heard their proteins don't mix well.
    it was $23.92 for 4 pounds with flavor...$19 if you get MPI unflavored...it's worth getting it blended and flavored and doesn't cost that much more


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