What's The Difference Between Whey And Casein Protein?

Whey and casein are two of the most popular protein supplements on the market, and for good reason. They're both high-quality, highly bioavailable, complete proteins that are particularly rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which makes them great for muscle growth and repair. However, despite both coming from dairy, there are distinct differences between these muscle-building brothers.

Both whey and casein are milk-based proteins derived from the cheese making process. (As if cheese could get any better, right?) In fact, all dairy products contain a blend of both whey and casein. Milk is roughly 80 percent casein and 20 percent whey.

What's The Difference Between Whey And Casein?

Whey protein is known as the "fast" brother because it's rapidly digested. Casein protein, on the other hand, is often called a "slow" protein because it's gradually digested. Casein globs when it hits the stomach and can take 5-7 hours to digest, whereas whey can be digested within a couple hours.

Although both bros in this protein pair possess a high amount of amino acids per serving, whey is considered to be more anabolic, or muscle building, because of its ability to rapidly promote a spike in blood amino-acid levels, which are necessary to kick-start muscle protein synthesis. Casein, on the other hand, is often considered to be anticatabolic, or good for preventing muscle breakdown, because it produces a steady stream of aminos over time that keeps breakdown at bay.

When Should I Take Protein?

The quick-digesting nature of whey protein makes it an excellent option to have before, during, or after your workouts, because it will hit your muscles with fuel quickly with minimal risk of GI distress. Casein, on the other hand, is best used before fasting, such as before bed or a long day of nonstop meetings, because the slow release of amino acids promotes fullness.

How Should I Use Whey And Casein Protein?

Whey protein is extremely versatile: It mixes beautifully with water or milk, but also pairs well with oats, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, or your favorite protein shake. If you have a hankering for something even more high-powered, try one of the many whey-protein-powered recipes in our Healthy Recipe Database or a treat from Protein Pow chefAnna Sward.

Casein makes for an excellent bedtime snack. Simply mix it with a splash of water or milk to make casein pudding, add it into some Greek yogurt (which is a fantastic source of casein on its own), or make a slightly fancier snack with these delectable before-bed recipes made with a whey and casein mix.

Just as tasty peanut butter and chocolate are best when taken together, these two all-star protein sources may provide further benefit when paired together post-workout. Try a 50-50 whey-and-casein blend after your next workout for a rapid and sustained delivery of amino acids for hours to come!