By Jeremy Scott, PROLAB Sponsored Athlete
Protein is not stored in the body like fat is in fat cells or how glucose is stored in the muscle or the liver. Since muscle is built from protein we have to consume and synthesize enough to maintain that hard working lean muscle. How much is enough? Well, take away water and about 75% of your weight is protein, and for most people who strength train the standard recommended protein intake is 0.8g to 1g per lb of bodyweight. Now that we know this, lets breakdown the difference between two popular protein types Whey and Casein, and which ones will work best for you and your goals.
Whey Protein Isolate
What is the Benefit of Whey Isolate?
Understand not all types of Whey Protein are created equal and the three most common are isolate, concentrate, and hydrolyzed whey. Isolate contains a protein concentrate of 90-95% on average, while most of the standard protein powders contain 25-89%. Whey Isolate contains a low level of lactose, so anyone who is lactose intolerant can process isolate better than other proteins styles. The fat is generally very low with isolates, which makes it a great choice for those trying to get lean or gain lean mass as well.
When should one take Isolate?
Whey Isolate is a great option pre workout, post workout and just about anytime of the day you need a quick protein boost. Isolates are one of the quickest absorbing proteins you can take, think of it like an instant shot from the doctor. It hits you almost immediately. For this reason I personally love Isolates as my go-to protein source; both pre and post workout.
I love Whey Isolates as a protein source; they are a staple in my nutrition program all year round. They are great, in my opinion, for almost anyone no matter if your goal is to gain some size or get lean they can help in both areas. For those on low carb diets, Isolates are a great choice as they are very low in sugar and carbohydrates. If you are looking for a great choice pre and post work whey isolate is your choice.
What is the Benefit of Casein Protein?
Like Whey Isolate, Casein helps promote and build lean muscle gains. However, unlike Isolate –Casein protein is slow digesting protein that forms a “gel” in your stomach. Think of Isolate as an instant quick shot of protein to the system and Casein as an I.V. drip slowly releasing into your body. The amino acids breakdown into the bloodstream slowly unlike whey which peaks around 40 minutes, casein protein takes 3-4 hours to reach peak levels. A nice added benefit is that your body can continue to absorb casein protein for up to 6-7 hours.
When should one take Casein Protein?
There are various times casein can be taken to maximize results. One of the most popular is before bed time; like I mentioned earlier it breaks down over a period of 3-4 hours and extends longer in some cases. So ingesting some casein before bed will fuel your muscle and allow your body to grow while you sleep. Another nice option is to take casein in between meals, so if you are on the go and unable to eat slam some casein to help get you through to your next meal.
Casein Protein is a great choice if you’re going (to be going) without food for more than a period of about 3-4 hours. It’s perfect before bed as it will fuel you while you sleep and allow the body to recover and grow at the same time. A great way to get the best of both worlds would be to mix your whey isolate and your casein protein in a 50/50 60/40 70/30 blend to ensure you are getting instant-released and timed-released protein.
Just to give you guys a quick idea of the absorption rate per hour of various types of protein, here is a quick breakdown courtesy of “The Protein Book.” As you can see there is a wide range of rates. I do want to mention these are estimates; to give you an example of the breakdown rate for whey protein 40g would be totally absorbed around 4 hours.
||Absorption Rate (g/hour)
| Raw Egg Protein *
| Cooked Egg Protein *
| Pea Protein
| Milk Protein
| Soy Protein Isolate
| Casein Isolate
| Whey Isolate
| Tenderloin Pork Steak *
- Chart courtesy of “The Protein Book”
Now we know a little more about the major differences and some benefits of whey and casein protein. For optimal results, including both whey and casein in your nutrition program is a great idea. When it comes to fitness and nutrition it’s a balance and finding what works for you and your goals. Including these two high power proteins into your day will most certainly help you get there sooner than later. Train hard, eat right, and watch the changes take place!
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