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male torsoSince the science of bodybuilding and strength training first discovered it, whey protein has been considered the ultimate and most essential bodybuilding supplement.  Then came along casein and for many the battle lines were drawn. No matter what side people took, everyone agrees that protein is the cornerstone of all fat-burning and muscle-building diet regimens. So which protein is better? Read on!

Which is better, Whey or Casein?

The answer to this question is both. They both are great and both serve different purposes. Both are derived from milk with whey making up about 20% of the protein in milk and casein making up about 80%. Whey protein has an extremely quick digestion and absorption rate in the body.  Casein solidifies in to a more solid substance in the stomach which makes for a much slower digestion and absorption rate.

Whey has is short lived in your stomach releasing a rapid and large increase in plasma amino acids. Casein as anti-catabolic which means it aids in preventing muscle breakdown. Casein and whey both have beneficial effects on fat-burning and muscle-building. Because whey quickly increases protein synthesis and casein impedes protein breakdown, a combination of both in a protein milkshake cocktail is ideal.

A study conducted in 2006 compared the effective results of supplementing with a combination of whey and casein protein or just carbohydrate on several markers of muscle anabolism during strength training.1 Men without previous strength training experience engaged in a 10-week resistance training program and either consumed 40 grams of carbohydrate or 40 grams of protein milkshake cocktail containing a mixture of whey and casein.

Half of the total amount of either supplement was consumed one hour before training and the other half immediately after training on workout days. The results were overwhelmingly positive for the combination protein group. Though the subjects had similar backgrounds and diets and though all trained exactly the same, supplementation with protein resulted in greater increases in many measures of muscle anabolism. Some of the most notable markers were greater increases in muscle strength, lean muscle mass, thigh muscle mass, anabolic hormones and muscle specific proteins.

Another study conducted lasted 14 weeks and had very similar results. Like before, men without previous strength training experience engaged in resistance training and received either 25 grams of carbohydrates or 25 grams of a whey and casein protein milkshake cocktail one hour before and immediately after exercise.2 The combination protein milkshake cocktail group had significantly greater increases in muscle fiber size compared to the carbohydrate group.

Both of these studies, and many others, provide strong evidence that a whey/casein combination protein milkshake is the best way to go.

Sources Cited:

1. Willoughby DS, Stout JR, Wilborn CD. Effects of resistance training and protein plus amino acid supplementation on muscle anabolism, mass, and strength. Amino Acids. 2006 Sep 20.

2. Andersen LL, Tufekovic G, Zebis MK, Crameri RM, Verlaan G, Kjaer M, Suetta C, Magnusson P, Aagaard P. The effect of resistance training combined with timed ingestion of protein on muscle fiber size and muscle strength. Metabolism. 2005 Feb, 54(2):151-6