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Whey vs. Casein: Knowing your Milk Protein and Their Properties

Protein provides the body the critical amino acid balance which serve as a building block for several, several functions. However, not all dietary proteins are equal.

While we do know there are protein from animal sources and plant sources, these are not the only two classes in which proteins are classified. Milk, one of the animal sources for class-1 protein gives you two different types of protein- Whey and Casein- both unique in its own properties, functioning and digestibility. While Whey is a rapidly digesting protein, casein is the slow-digesting protein.

Here are the differences between the two, laid bare.

Whey Protein:

Fast digesting, whey protein is a natural by-product of the cheese making process. It comprises of the 20% of the total protein from milk. Whey is touted as one of the best sources of protein as it has a rich BCAA profile, has lactose, minerals, vitamins and contains lactalbumin and lactoferrin.

Suggested Read: All about Protein, Weight loss and How to Keep Up With Good Health

Whey has also shown powerful antioxidant effects as it enhances glutathione levels. Glutathione is a tri-peptide that contains one amino acid residue from each of the following: glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine. Glutathione occurs widely in plant and animal tissues and plays a major role in protecting skeletal muscle and other body tissues from oxidative damage.

Whey protein is greater at improving protein synthesis rapidly, but since this effect is short-lived, repeated doses of whey allows for a sustained and increased level of amino acids in the blood and repeated episodes of protein synthesis that work efficiently on muscle protein balance.

Casein Protein:

This protein type contributes to the rest 80% of the milk protein and is known for an excellent amino acid profile content, slow digestion that pans of hours and anabolic effect.

The most abundantly available protein in milk, it is relatively insoluble as compared to whey and tends to form micelles (particles) that are insoluble in water. During processing of milk (involving heat and acid) casein peptides become denatured and form a gelatinous material. This is the reason for a slow rate of digestion with regard to casein with a steady release of aminos.

Battle of the proteins:

Although, much debate has been fired off over both types of protein; Whey protein rapidly breaks down and is up for absorption quickly thus enabling better utilization of fuel by the muscles, while casein prevents the breakdown of muscle thus helping maintain a positive nitrogen balance in the body. Therefore, an ideal combination is where both the proteins are involved in a diet.

The scientifically backed results from several studies involving both whey and casein show that the important factor of protein is the digestibility. Whey is good at providing instantaneous burst of protein for optimum fuel use by the muscle (through protein synthesis) while casein makes for an ideal choice for a sustained release of amino acids over a long period thus creating an anabolic environment in the body for muscle synthesis to take place and maintaining a positive nitrogen balance at the same time, thus both contributing to better recovery and growth of muscles. While the ideal time for taking whey would be around workouts as the uptake of nutrients majorly happens around workouts, casein is best suited to be taken around bed-time to promote anabolism in the body while you sleep

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