Whether you’re new to the supplement world or a seasoned veteran, the plethora of choices in protein powder can be absolutely overwhelming. Here at Advantage, for example, you’ve got over 300 different choices when it comes to protein – everything from your basic Whey Concentrates to premium products like Micellar Casein. What’s the difference? Is it worth the extra money? Let’s dig into the science behind supplemental protein and find out; I’m not going to tell you where to place your dollar, but the facts speak for themselves.
Let’s lay out some key points – Casein is, in general, a better protein source for muscle building, strength gain, and thermogenesis than Whey protein. Whey is simply a “leftover” protein source that’s siphoned off during the process of making cheese, whereas Casein comes directly from milk itself. If not for recent scientific advances in protein processing, whey would be tossed aside completely. This directly impacts the cost, of course. Whey is significantly cheaper than Casein unless you can swipe it up while it’s on sale.
That being said, Whey Concentrate does have some benefits that you won’t find with Casein; particularly in regards to immune system health. Whey Concentrate is a valuable supplement for those who are fighting some sort of immunodeficiency due to the immunoglobulins contained within the protein structure. For people with healthy immune systems, however, this effect is negated… the majority of the human race already has a sizeable amount of immunoglobulins coursing through their blood vessels at any given time.
This brings us to Whey Isolate – a slightly more refined form of Whey. Unfortunately, the processes that refine Whey further tend to remove the majority of these immunoglobulins… rendering Whey Isolates largely useless in this regard. That being said, Whey Isolate is extremely useful for those who are searching for a protein supplement and are lactose intolerant. The processes which refine the protein remove the majority of the diary sugars that trigger reactions to lactose, making Whey Isolate a solid choice for the people who have found themselves to be sensitive to concentrates.
Refine Whey even further and you end up with Whey Hydrolysate, a partially-digested protein that is rapidly metabolized and absorbed by the body. Hydrolysate tends to have very little, if any, fat or cholesterol, and is about as pure of a protein source as you can get when it comes to Whey. It’s perfect for those who believe in nutrient partitioning and timing, as it is absorbed almost instantly upon ingestion. You’ll pay a pretty penny for Hydrolysate – but as always, you get what you pay for.
What makes Casein a better choice? Let’s take a look at what the science: Casein results in greater deposition of protein, which directly results in more muscular growth. Whey DOES result in a rapid increase of protein synthesis – but unfortunately, that increase doesn’t last very long. Protein oxidation and synthesis increase, but there’s no change at all in protein breakdown… which is where Casein shines. Casein inhibits protein breakdown to a large degree, simultaneously preserving and building muscle.
Studies have validated that casein leads to greater gains in both lean mass and strength. One study of Casein supplementation in subjects that practiced weight training showed a 200% difference in lean mass gains and a 150% difference in fat loss over a similar Whey group; this Casein group also increased strength on all major lifts by a collective 31% more than the group that ingested Whey. Another study involving burn patients showed that 75 grams of Casein significantly outperformed an equal amount of Whey, resulting in lean muscle gains 100% greater than that of the whey group despite increased protein oxidation from the burn wounds.
So what’s the word? Which should you choose?
I’m not here to tell you how to spend your dollar; I’m simply here to state the facts. That being said, I’d recommend a blend of the two – you’ll decrease your cost and reap the benefits of both forms of protein. At the time of publishing this article, Advantage is running a killer deal on BSN’s Syntha-6 protein: a fantastic blend of all of the forms of protein discussed in this article. I’d suggest picking some up and implementing it into your protocol.
Jared Boynton is a proud Advantage Supplements athlete with a wide range of knowledge on nutrition, supplementation, kinesiology, and biomechanics. His experience has been proven through years of real-world implementation with both his own physique and the physiques of numerous clients. You can contact Jared via email at Coach@JaredBoynton.com, as well as follow follow him on social media and his personal website as listed below:
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