Whey vs. Micellar Casein
In the cold war for protein supremacy, there are two super powers. Standing in opposite corners, their champions are many and their detractors few, their benefits myriad and drawbacks minimal. They both tout powerful muscle-building arsenals and have reputations in the bodybuilding game that are beyond dispute. Brothers from the same dairy mother, these two factions of protein microfractions are often pitted against one another in the anabolic debate. But with the end game of physique crafting in mind, these two protein titans may be better allies than enemies.
Fast against slow, thin versus thick, postworkout or before bed. These are the attributes that are most often ascribed to these two potent milk constituents, placing them in opposition. But the argument can and should be made that these two proteins so perfectly complement one another that to incorporate one in your program without the other would be to miss out on your maximum muscle building potential.
Whey: The Fast & The Furious
Whey has been the go-to protein of choice for bodybuilders the world over for more than a decade. And for good reason, this once considered worthless milk byproduct has endless value for the process of building new muscle tissue.
Who: Anyone looking to add muscle, lose bodyfat or recover from strenuous training can benefit from supplementation with whey protein. A bodybuilding basic, this should be a staple supplement for anyone who lifts weights seriously.
What: Mixing thinly in solution, whey protein can be found in various forms, including most prominently, concentrate and isolate. Whey protein concentrate (WPC) contains about 75% protein by weight, is rich in branched chain amino acids (BCAA) and includes all of the biological components native to whey, like peptides and immunoglobulins. A product that contains WPC in abundance would be Universal Ultra Whey Pro.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) is almost entirely protein, with little to no fats and carbohydrates. WPI also tends to be low in lactose, making it easier to digest for some. Because of the purity of WPI, it tends to come with a higher price tag per lb than whey protein concentrate. Universal Ultra Iso Whey is a popular whey isolate powder.
When: Whey protein is best consumed around the workout, especially postworkout, and first thing in the morning, upon waking and “breaking the fast” of slumber.
Why: Whey is the fastest of proteins. In this context, the term “fast” refers to the quickness with which whey protein is digested and assimilated, reaching the bloodstream in a flash, causing a booming spike in plasma amino acid levels than comparatively lasts only a short period of time.
Casein: Slow & Steady Always Wins
Casein has recently rushed to the fore as a prized protein source for physique enthusiasts serious about adding new muscle. With benefits that clearly differentiate it from whey, a compelling case can be made for casein as a protein supplementation must-have.
Who: Athletes who are dieting rigorously, those using shakes as meal replacements or those who seek to maximize recovery abilities and growth opportunities in between whole food meals or when fasting.
What: Casein is the most abundant protein source found in milk. Mixing thickly in liquid, casein forms a gelatinous mass, or bolus, in the stomach, digesting slowly. The most pure and biologically intact form of casein protein is micellar casein, considered far superior to its cheaper and lesser counterparts, sodium and calcium caseinate. The new Universal Casein Pro formula features 100% micellar casein.
When: Whereas whey is utilized most efficaciously at times when speed is in dire need, casein supplementation can be most advantageous when time is on your side. For periods of prolonged fasting, like in between meals and before bed, casein use makes the most sense, helping to aid anabolism and stave off catabolism.
Why: The slower-processed properties of casein facilitated by the gel formed in the stomach upon ingestion, allow for the slow and steady streaming of amino acids into the bloodstream for a much longer duration than whey. For this reason, seasoned bodybuilders have long touted the potency of micellar casein when utilized during times when whole food is not being consumed—between meals and while sleeping. Another benefit of the slow digesting tendencies of casein is the fact that it remains in the gut longer, thus leaving the dieting bodybuilder on restricted calories more satisfied and far less hungry overall.
The basics aren’t always sexy, but they are basics for a reason—they represent the simple fundamentals necessary for success in any chosen enterprise. If your vocation is the crafting of a champion physique, the potent power of proteins in their various forms and functions is a topic of the highest priority. The harmony and symbiosis of whey and casein represent the ideal balance of fast and slow; the core components of milk, separated and isolated to the benefit of bodybuilders, brought together again in the daily diet plans of the hulking masses. In the epic struggle for the next inch on your pecs, or the next five lb plate on the squat bar, you’ve gotta come out with both guns blazing. Arm yourself appropriately, with both casein and whey.