Casein vs Whey Protein

in Sportsfuel Articles and Blog
Casein vs Whey Protein

The difference between casein and whey

Casein and whey protein make up 80% and 20% of milk proteins respectively, and while both are derived from cows' milk, casein and whey are both distinctly different in both their make-up and benefits. 

Both are the by-products of cheese production. Thats right, the good stuff we use to build our muscles bigger is largely thanks to our filthy cheese habits, go figure. During cheesemaking, certain enzymes are added to heated milk, which causes the casein in the milk to coagulate (become firmer) and seperate from the liquid substance. The liquid left over is the whey, which is then washed and dried to become the yummy supplements we love. The left over casein curds then do the same, become supplements or can be added to other dairy products like cottage cheese. 

As mentioned, both are animal proteins, so each can provide a great source of the essential amino acids our bodies need to repair and grow, which our bodies can't produce naturally. 

The main difference between casein and whey protein is their absorption times, the levels of BCAA's and how long the protein can be detected in your body for. 

The benefits of casein protein 

Casein is a slow absorbing protein, also known as a 'time release' protein. It releases the protein and amino acids into your muscles over a longer period of time, at a slower rate. 

This can be a great supplement for people who may not be able to eat as regularly throughout the day as they'd like. The slow release of protein can prevent the body from breaking down muscle tissue to feed itself, if you haven't managed to fit your lunch time feed in. It reduces the risk of general muscle breakdown big time, due to this slow release.

Many athletes and competitors use it as an ideal supplement to take before bed, again due to the slow absorption into your system. It can prevent your body from feeding on your muscles while you sleep, which is a crucial time for recovery due to the length of time your body goes at night without having anything fuelling it. 

Casein protein has a naturally lower level of BCAAs than its whey counterpart, but helps to stop the body from breaking down the amino acids that are already available in your muscles. 

A man seated in a gym scooping protein powder into a shaker cup

The benefits of whey protein

Whey is a fast absorbing product. This means that the protein and amino acids are detectable in your system and begin working their recovery magic much faster than other products (like casein). It has a great level of those essential aminos, like leucine and cysteine. 

The fast absorption of whey is a big benefit for athletes who are doing frequent or high impact workouts and need a reliable, instant replacement of energy and protein into their bodies to begin that quick recovery. Whey is also the most popular supplement for athletes due to its easy digestion and versatility. 

There are a few different kinds of whey; concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. The main difference in these supplements is how they've been processed. 

Concentrate whey is usually 70-80% protein and has some lactose (milk sugar) and fat in it, making it the best tasting. Isolate is 90% or higher in protein and contains less lactose and fat than concentrate does, leaving it with less of the beneficial nutrients. Hydrolysate is a pre-digested protein so that it can be digested easier, allowing it to cause less of an upset stomach with people that have bowel conditions like IBS. 

Can I alternate between whey and casein supplements?

Yes! One of the best ways to utilise the differences in these proteins is to alternate your use of them. As we've learnt, whey is better for muscle growth, while casein is more beneficial for preventing muscle breakdown. 

The best way to capitalise on your daily daily protein intake is to have a whey protein shake immediately post workout to kickstart that instant recovery and help build your muscles, and then have a casein shake before bed, to prevent muscles from breaking down while you sleep. Casein can also be taken first thing in the morning for a slow release of protein that will last you further into the day. 


Whey protein

  • Works faster after ingestion
  • Works in shorter bursts and leaves the body quicker 
  • Causes a faster amino acid spike

Casein protein

  • Works slower, because it digests slower
  • Works for longer, because it stays in your body longer 
  • Lower % of BCAAs

Sportsfuel Spotlight 

Sportsfuel offers a heap of great casein protein options that you can start incorporating into your daily routine. Make the most of those gains, help prevent muscle breakdown and see the results you're working for!

Check out one of the best options below!

A 1.8kg tub of vanilla flavoured Optimum Casein Protein

Optimum Nutrition Casein Protein 1.8kg

This product produces particularly delicious and satisfying shakes. Because of the naturally creamier nature of casein protein, it is a great pre-bedtime mini meal. It can also be used to make Casein Pudding which is a delicious guilt free dessert alternative, yum! 

Optimum Nutrition always deliver quality products, this one is no different! It has 24 grams of protein and only 3-4 grams of carbohydrates per serving. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published