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Is casein protein better than whey protein?

Casein protein and whey protein supplements have distinct yet complementary effects on your body.

The two proteins may be taken separately or in combination, depending on the results you are seeking.

One of the three main food groups required by your body, proteins are made up of amino acids.

Proteins are often called the building block of your body's cellular structure.

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Proteins play a central role in cell growth as well as cell repair and rejuvenation.

Proteins are especially important for weight management, muscle development and post-workout recovery and muscle repair.

What is casein protein?

Casein protein is the predominant protein found in mammal milk. It makes up about 80% of the protein in cow's milk and between 60% to 65% of human milk.

When milk curdles, casein is found in the solidified part of the milk, which is also known as curds. As a source of nutrients, casein supplies amino acids, carbohydrates, calcium and phosphorus to your body.

Casein peptides are formed in your body by the breakdown of casein by digestive juices. They are used to prevent or treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatigue, intestinal disorders and stress reduction.

What is whey protein?

Whey protein is found in milk and forms 20% of its total protein content. When milk is processed to make cheese, it separates to make whey and curds.

Whey protein is globular protein that is isolated from whey, the watery portion of separated milk. The National Institutes of Health reports that using supplementary whey protein along with resistance training will help you improve athletic performance.

You can also use whey as an alternative for milk if you are lactose intolerant. It is also a popular replacement or supplement for milk-based infant formulas.

There is ongoing research into the impact of whey protein on diseases such as asthma, colon cancer, and high cholesterol. Additionally, whey protein is recommended for people who are suffering from HIV/AIDS as an aid to reverse weight loss and increase glutathione (GSH).

According to WebMD, whey protein should be taken orally in certain recommended doses depending on the purpose. For improving athletic performance, they recommend 1.2-1.5 grams/kg of whey protein in combination with strength training for 6-10 weeks.

For HIV/AIDS-related weight loss, WebMD recommends 8.4-84 grams of whey protein per day, or 2.4 grams/kg per day in a high calorie formula, or 42-84 grams per day in a glutamine-enriched formula.

Which protein supplement is better for you: casein protein or whey protein?

According to WebMD, protein supplementation is especially important if you are a starting a new workout program, increasing your workout or athletic intensity or time, recovering from a sports injury or are a vegan or vegetarian.

Casein protein is a slow digesting protein that forms a gel like mass in the stomach. Amino acids are then steadily released into your blood stream over the course of time.

The body can absorb casein protein for up to seven hours. This slow rate of absorption suppresses protein breakdown, which in turn allows superior muscle growth.

The Livestrong website says that casein protein is most effective when taken in a timely manner. For instance, this is the best source of protein you can choose for the night or during prolonged periods of fasting. 

Casein protein’s slow breakdown will allow your body to absorb protein as you sleep or are unable to eat at regular intervals.

On the other hand, whey protein is considered the highest quality natural protein. It has all nine essential amino acids that help prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue.

Whey protein is also a rich source of naturally occurring branched chain amino acids such as leucine, isoleucine and valine.

According to WebMD, the higher concentration of these amino acids in whey protein assists more efficiently in muscle recovery. Some clinical research has also shown that taking whey protein improves body composition and muscle performance.

Given its ability to be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, whey protein makes an excellent source of quick energy.

Experts at Livestrong suggest that an equal blend of whey protein and casein protein can be an appropriate choice for meal replacements. The 50/50 combination will give you a quick release of energy from whey protein while a steady release of casein protein will sustain you till your next meal.

Whether you choose to take the protein supplements separately or as a combination, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects, interactions with medications you might be taking, and allergic reactions. Protein supplements are now a regular part of a healthy lifestyle.

To learn more about products that contain casein protein and whey protein, use the supplement finder now!