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Jim Stoppani
JimStoppani

Ask The Supplement Guru: ''When I Have No Whey, What Takes Its Place?''

Whey may be the reigning king, but its parent protein still offers some unique advantages. Don't underestimate milk protein, especially in a pinch!

Ask The Supplement Guru

"When I Have No Whey,
What Takes Its Place?"
Q

I didn't plan ahead, man. Now I'm heading down the highway with no whey in sight, trying to figure out how I'm going to meet my macros. Have any suggestions for a quick protein source?

When I'm out on the road and need a convenient, low-carb protein source, I often pull into a gas station or convenience store and grab an RTD (ready-to-drink) like Muscle Milk. But the last time I posted a photo to Facebook of the Muscle Milk that I grabbed while on the go in Florida, I was surprised at how many negative comments it generated.

The reason was that if you look at the ingredients list, you'll notice that whey protein is way down on the list. The main protein source at the top of the ingredient list (meaning the product has the highest amount of it) is milk protein, in the form of milk protein isolate and milk protein concentrate.

So is milk protein isolate or concentrate a low-quality protein source? No! It's actually a high-quality protein source. Here's why you shouldn't overlook it.

What's Milk Protein Made Of?

Milk protein is made of whey protein and casein protein. More specifically, it is about 20 percent whey and 80 percent casein. It is manufactured by removing a good portion of the carbohydrates and fat from milk through gentle filtration processes.

This leaves the milk protein in its natural state, as it would be found in milk. It contains the same beneficial peptides and microfractions, such as beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin peptides, immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, and lactoperoxidase, all of which provide performance- and physique-enhancing benefits, as well as antioxidant and immune-boosting properties.

What's milk protein
made of?

20%
Whey

80%
Casein

The casein in milk protein is also maintained in its original state, known as micellar casein. This form of casein digests the slowest, providing a prolonged delivery of amino acids to muscle fibers.

Whey and Then Some

From my perspective, the only reason people think that milk protein is a lower-quality protein is because they believe that whey is the only high-quality protein, and all other protein powders are seriously inadequate compared to it. This is far from the truth.

Now, there is no debating the fact that whey is a superior protein. You definitely want to make sure that you get some whey any time you consume a protein powder, but especially around workouts. This is due to whey's high content of BCAAs and because of its rapid digestion rate. Plus, it also contains the specific peptides and microfractions I discussed earlier.

However, it's also important to remember that milk protein is whey protein. Well, 20 percent of it is, anyway. Of course, the rest of it is micellar casein. But that doesn't decrease the quality of milk protein—it actually increases it.

As I've written many times, research shows that adding casein protein to whey enhances the anabolic effect of the protein. Whey protein is important for quickly spiking muscle protein synthesis, but when casein protein is included with whey, it maintains that higher protein synthesis for considerably longer than whey by itself. Casein also puts the breaks on muscle protein breakdown. And since muscle growth occurs when muscle protein synthesis is greater than muscle protein breakdown, this all adds up to greater muscle growth.

Milk Delivers!

Don't take this the wrong way, but if I was given a choice of just whey or milk protein isolate, I would choose the milk protein. This is because you get a high-quality protein blend of both whey and casein in their most natural states.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but if I was given a choice of just whey or milk protein isolate, I would choose the milk protein."

Ideally, I would prefer a little bit more whey and possibly a protein source that digests somewhere in between whey and casein, such as soy or egg protein, to bridge the gap between the fast-digesting whey and the slow-digesting micellar casein. But really, milk protein does the job well.

So the next time you see milk protein isolate or milk protein caseinate listed on a protein powder, RTD, or protein bar, don't snub it. Milk protein is one of the highest quality forms of protein you can consume. Now you know why.

References

  1. Soop, M., et al. Coingestion of whey protein and casein in a mixed meal: demonstration of a more sustained anabolic effect of casein. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Jul 1;303(1):E152-62.
  2. Kerksick, CM, et al. The effect of protein and amino acid supplementation in performance and training adaptations during ten weeks of resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20(3), 643-653, 2006.
  3. Tipton KD, Ingestion of casein and whey proteins result in muscle anabolism after resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Dec;36(12):2073-81.
  4. Paul, G. L., et al. The rationale for consuming protein blends in sports nutrition. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 28 (4):464S-472S, 2009.
  5. Reidy, P. T., et al. Protein Blend Ingestion Following Resistance Exercise Promotes Human Muscle Protein Synthesis. J Nutr., in press, 2013.

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About The Author

Jim holds a doctorate in exercise physiology and has been the personal nutrition and health consultant for numerous celebrity clients...

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djonsix

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djonsix

all day i drink one or 2 scoop of milk, and before bed i drink one glass of milk 0% fat
and i feel good.

Sep 5, 2013 5:58pm | report
jswartou

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jswartou

This is all true....of raw milk.

Pasturization and homogonization restructure the proteins in store bought milk...essentially creating a white sugar water, with some proteins that can't be broken down effectively because the lactase has been taken out due to the pasturization process...

Sep 5, 2013 6:53pm | report
delfartel

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delfartel

You can find milk in places with lactase added back to it. Since most adults do not produce lactase they should supplement lactase if they consume a lot of dairy. I don't believe that not having any lactase will prevent your body breaking down the proteins in milk. Lactase has to deal with digesting lactose which is a sugar not a protein.

Sep 6, 2013 5:41am | report
P3TrainingP3

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P3TrainingP3

This article does not apply to the conventional milk solid in stores today. Only unpasteurized, non-homogenized, raw milk will offer the benefits touted about milk protein in this article.

Sep 5, 2013 7:22pm | report
XxmetallicaxX

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XxmetallicaxX

milk pasteurization doesn't change the amount of protein in milk, only how its broken down, as in denaturing, and if its denatured this just means the protein bonds are already broken down and much more easily digested...

Sep 5, 2013 9:20pm | report
P3TrainingP3

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P3TrainingP3

I agree with you XxmetallicaxX. It might not change the total amount of protein in the milk, but the quality and integrity of the proteins are severely compromised. The proteins are not more easily digested as a result of being heated to a temperature of 280 degrees F for a short period of time in the case of standard ultra-pasteurized versions.

Sep 6, 2013 12:03pm | report
Saltus

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Saltus

Denaturing proteins does not compromise it. Anytime you cook meat, eggs, etc you are denaturing the proteins within. It's proven that your body absorbs the denatured form of most proteins more easily.

Sep 8, 2013 6:22pm | report
calimocho

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calimocho

milk is nom. I like.

Sep 5, 2013 8:14pm | report
XxmetallicaxX

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XxmetallicaxX

actually pasteurized milk contains undenatured proteins of the same quality of 20 whey and 80percent casein just as this article states unlike what mosr people here seem to think, only difference from unpasteurized and past. is flavor, natural enzymes and other nutrient quantities that are destroyed during high heat

Sep 5, 2013 9:17pm | report
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

I agree with you on that. Plus, this article isn't about whole milk, it's about milk protein isolate/concentrate.

Sep 6, 2013 1:07am | report
imamirkhan

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imamirkhan

From what you're suggesting, would MusclePharm's Combat >> Other Whey products be true since it contains a mix of casein whey.

Sep 6, 2013 1:00am | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 15'1"
  • wt: 181.66 lbs
  • bf: 14.2%
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Yes, a blended protein would work better than plain whey.

Sep 6, 2013 1:06am | report
cold_steel12

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cold_steel12

As always thanks for this awesome article Jim.

Sep 6, 2013 1:09am | report
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

You got it!

Sep 6, 2013 12:22pm | report
xHiroko

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xHiroko

Glad to know milk could be a replacement.

Sep 6, 2013 2:00am | report
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  • ht: 15'7"
  • wt: 187.39 lbs
  • bf: 18.0%
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Yes, you can simply use milk... but one cup of milk only provides about 8-10 grams total protein, along with 12-15 grams of carbs, and fat depending on the milk fat you choose. So postworkout when you need a good 40 g protein, you would also be getting in about 60 grams of carbs, which may not work for everyone's diet. So a milk protein isolate would remove most of the carbs and fat.

Sep 6, 2013 12:21pm | report
jonymateus

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jonymateus

Jim stoppani always talking ********

Sep 6, 2013 4:34am | report
daryl.davis

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daryl.davis

Dr. Jim your articles are always full of good info and I enjoy reading every one of them. I've always been a firm believer of milk being a great mix of proteins, sugars, and fat for post workout and or just as a meal replacement. Not sure why there's so many nah sayers out there on the milk protein, o well more for me!

Sep 6, 2013 7:03am | report
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Yes, and it is what bodybuilders used as a staple back before there was whey protein powder.

Sep 6, 2013 12:19pm | report
silversx80

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silversx80

I've always enjoyed reading your articles, Dr. Stoppani; logical and objective. One more reason now, I think I have the same frames (Salt?).

I've found myself turning to milk (and Greek yogurt) for a protein source more and more (egg, pea, soy as well). Whey isolate has given me serious indigestion the past few years and the discomfort just isn't worth the benefits.

I may give the Muscle Milk a try.

Sep 6, 2013 7:06am | report
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

There you go. The bottom line is to find what works for you. We're you asking about my frames and in my glasses? They're Ray-Ban actually.

Sep 6, 2013 12:18pm | report
upiwaly

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upiwaly

great article

Sep 6, 2013 7:12am | report
chiefgreybeard

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chiefgreybeard

It's not a good idea to avoid any food group for any extended period of time. If you have ever passed a kidney stone, you may know why you need an easily digestible source of calcium.

Sep 6, 2013 7:40am | report
curtstyle24

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curtstyle24

so what is the absolute best milk to mix your whey with?

Sep 6, 2013 8:05am | report
RelaxImJoking

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RelaxImJoking

I dont think there is an absolute, try and see what you like. If your whey is already a mix of slow and fast digesting proteins you might want to try a almond or hemp milk to get in some omega 3s. A local raw milk might aid in any allergies you have.

Sep 6, 2013 9:17am | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 76 Comments

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