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What's The Difference Between Whey and Casein Protein?

by Collin Stark October 01, 2021 5 min read

As people become more conscious about their overall health...

The popularity of the health and fitness industry as a whole has continued to grow quite a bit over the last few years.

Along with that, so has the presence of supplements, one of the most popular categories being protein powders.

I remember my first protein powder that I got over a decade ago. Thankfully, they have come a LONG way since then!

Now, one thing I wish I would have known at the time was the difference between all of the various types of protein powders.

Just as there are differences in whole food protein sources, certain protein supplements are more advantageous in certain situations than others.

Because of that, it is important to know which one to use for your specific needs to ultimately help you earn the best results.

See, there are quite a few different types of protein powders out there, but I want to focus on two of the most popular options, whey and casein.

We'll cover not only what they are, where they come from, and when to use them ... but also how they can influence your results.

Where do they come from?

Whey and casein protein are both derived from milk. Approximately 20% of the total protein in milk is whey, and the remaining 80% is casein.

So, when you drink a glass of milk from the store, the protein content is the split mentioned above.

If you are drinking a whey protein supplement, that means most of the product is whey ... but at one point, it was mixed with milk and had to be separated out.

The process to separate it can be done in a few different ways, but we'll cover that in a different blog ... as it can become fairly complicated.

For now though, there are distinctions between different “whey proteins”. I will explain this in more detail later, as well as how knowing the difference between them can help improve your results.

What are the major differences?

For starters, there are 2 main differences between whey protein and casein protein.

1)Digestion rate - Whey protein digests more rapidly than casein protein and typical whole food protein sources.

Depending on which subcategory of whey protein (whey isolate vs. whey concentrate) it is ... that digestion and absorption of the protein can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

On the other hand, casein protein can take upwards of 4 hours to completely digest and absorb into the bloodstream.

2)Amino Acid Content - Now, it's important to know that amino acids are what the body actually breaks protein down into.

See, protein is made up of chains that contain amino acids, and each of these chains have a different amount of the specific amino acids in them naturally.

Whey has a stronger amino acid profile than casein protein in the sense that it has a higher content of the Essential Amino Acids (EAA's).

These EAA's are important, because our bodies cannot produce them on its own and must be consumed through our food and/or supplementation on a consistent basis.

With the higher EAA content in whey, our body can stimulatemuscle protein synthesis more effectively ... meaning you can repair or rebuild lean muscle, while using carbs and fats more effectively as fuel.

So, which is better, whey or casein?

When we consider this question, and then add in the fact that most of us have goals to lose body fat, gain lean muscle, or just live an overall healthier life...

That allows me to confidently say that whey protein is superior in many cases.

With that being said, casein can play an important role as well.

Since it is slower digesting, you could use it for times that you are not able to consume food for over 2 hours to help bridge the gap.

How do we get the benefits of both then? Simple ... find a supplement that contains both.

For a situation where you cannot get a whole food protein, or are lacking in daily protein intake, using a sustained assimilation protein can be super helpful.

A good sustained assimilation protein supplement will often have a blend of whey and even some casein to help slow down the digestion of the protein, allowing the product to mimic a whole food protein source.

This is exactly why our Level-1 is a blend of both types of protein, and why it is ideal for the situations mentioned above.

Different Types of Whey Protein

One other thing I said I was going to talk about was the different types of whey protein.

Now, we talked about how a blended protein can have digestion similar to whole foods.

There is another type of whey protein called “whey protein isolate” and it is a  “rapid assimilation protein”, which means it digests more rapidly than whole food or other types of protein.

Where can this be advantageous? The best place to use this type of protein is around your workouts.

Since the protein can be broken down and absorbed quicker, it can give your muscles a more immediate source of amino acids.

Moreover, in the post-workout setting, this will help kick-start the repair and recovery process.

See, when you workout, you are actually breaking down your muscle fibers, and the faster you can get protein to the muscle, the better results you can earn over time.

Phormula-1 is our whey protein isolate.

A whey protein isolate simply means that the protein supplement contains AT LEAST 90% whey protein or higher.

Because Phormula-1 is a whey protein isolate, your body can break down and absorb the protein more rapidly than it could when consuming a whey concentrate or even a blend of other forms of protein.

As a result, this is your best option to use as your post-workout protein source.

Don’t Forget Your Nutrition

Something I feel is necessary to mention is that your overall daily intake of protein is important as well.

Taking a protein shake instead of skipping breakfast or eating a pop tart is a great option in many cases ... and so is drinking a post-workout protein shake after your workouts!

But … you still need to focus on getting an optimal amount of protein in every day.

No matter what your health & fitness goals are, this is a crucial part of your nutrition plan ... and can have a huge impact on your results over time.

Understanding that protein can not only help with rebuilding lean muscle tissue, but so many other functions inside the body — like hair, skin, nails, hormones, immune function, etc. can be very beneficial for looking, feeling, and performing at your best long-term!

In addition, if your goal is to lose body fat, hitting your daily protein goal can help you maintain/preserve the muscle tissue you do have, which can then result in a higher percentage of your weight loss coming from body fat.

In addition to that, it can also help with maintaining a better overall metabolism and helping you earn that fit, toned, and athletic look that so many of us are working toward!

Conclusion

Whey and casein protein can both play a great role in your fitness journey. It really comes down to WHEN and WHY you are wanting or needing to take a protein powder.

Fortunately, those of us here at 1st Phorm HQ have been in your shoes before, wondering what the best option for our goals was.

That is exactly why we have a fully NASM Certified staff on our customer service team who would love to chat with you and help you in the right direction.

Give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 to talk with a REAL person, who can help you earn REAL results ... or send us a message, and we'll get ya taken care of!

Collin Stark
Collin Stark

NASM Certified Personal Trainer NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist NASM Certified Nutrition Coach