Is Whey Protein Really the Best?

Whether your goal is to see muscle gains at the gym or lose a couple of pounds, working out can help you reach it. But the type of workout matters. If you want muscle gains, you’ll train differently than if you want to lose weight.

The same goes for nutrition. What you eat, how you eat and when you eat can make a big impact on whether you lean out or bulk up.

And believe it or not, this includes protein, too. Protein has been viewed as a one-size-fits-all supplement, but different protein sources have different effects on the body.

Whey is arguably the most popular post workout protein out there. But is it really the best? It can be, but it depends on your goals.

Do you want muscle gains?

If you want to feed your muscles when they’re starving post-workout, think whey. Whey is best at supporting muscle protein synthesis, which is a fancy way of saying that it makes your muscles big and strong.

The reason why whey can do this is because it acts “fast” in the body (it gets digested in around one hour). This fast action can make whey useful if you want to support repair and re-growth in your muscles post-workout.

When to take whey protein to support muscle growth:

  • 15-30 minutes before a workout to increase strength and endurance
  • Within an hour of your resistance workout to replenish your muscles

How to choose a whey protein powder:

  • Whey proteins come in 3 forms: concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate
  • Look for a whey protein in isolate form, which is high in protein (at least 90%) and is digested quickly, making it ideal for pre- and post-workout
  • Make sure that the whey comes from grass-fed milk, and does not contain a long list of additives

Do you want to lose weight?

If you want some help with losing weight, or if you want to feel fuller in between meals and prevent the dreaded hanger, look no further than casein, another type of protein found in milk. In fact, 80% of the protein found in milk comes from casein!

While whey is considered a “fast” protein, casein is more slowly digested by the body[1]. This comes in handy when you want to feel fuller and eat less between meals. Studies have also found that casein could be even better than whey at maintaining lean mass, aiding in fat loss and even improving muscle strength[2].

In another study, researchers looked at how yogurt snacks, which are rich in casein, impacted appetite control. They found that an afternoon snack of Greek yogurt – made with milk as a whole ingredient and containing 24 grams of protein – reduced hunger and increased fullness compared to lower protein snacks.

Clearing up confusion about casein

There have been suggestions that milk consumption might promote inflammation in the body – but human intervention studies using casein protein have shown that this is not true[3]!

When to take casein-based protein to increase satiety:

  • For breakfast, blended into a smoothie with greens, a bit of fruit and a fat source
  • As a snack between meals, shaken with water or nut milk

What to look for in a casein protein:

  • Look for a protein made with milk as a whole ingredient, and contains the natural ratio of whey and casein found in milk
  • Ensure that the milk comes from cows raised, pastured and farmed in dairies committed to sustainable practices – and is free of hormones, antibiotics and GMOs
  • Look for a casein protein that is fermented to make it easier to digest and absorb

That’s why we made fermented Greek yogurt proteins+, which contains 25 grams of a casein-rich protein made from consciously sourced milk that has been fully fermented.

Let’s talk about fermentation

Dairy can be hard on the stomach, and many people avoid dairy because they find that it can cause digestive disturbances like gas and bloating. We believe in a world without digestive complaints – and to overcome these rather unpleasant effects, we were intrigued by what the research said.

Researchers have consistently found that people with lactose intolerance have an easier time tolerating fermented vs. unfermented milk[4].

Here’s why: Fermentation is an amazing process that improves the digestibility and absorbability of proteins by unlocking nutrients like vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Fermentation can even amplify the nutritional value of foods by concentrating certain nutrients.

And sometimes fermentation can even make brand new nutrients – lots of them. One study found that fermenting milk created 236 new protein structures called peptides from casein[5]. These nutrients can aid in digestive health by helping to prime and strengthen the gut, and support a healthy bacterial ecology and body.

So, is whey really the best? It depends on your goals: If you want to support muscle mass, yes! But if you want to feel fuller between meals and support weight loss, reach for casein – particularly if it’s made with grass-fed dairy and fermented for optimal absorption.

 

Sources

[1]Demling. Effect of a hypocaloric diet, increased protein intake and resistance training on lean mass gains and fat mass loss. Ann Nutr Metab. 2000;44(1):21-9.

[2] Demling

[3] Bohl, et al. Whey and Casein Proteins and Medium-Chain Saturated Fatty Acids from Milk Do Not Increase Low-Grade Inflammation in Abdominally Obese Adults. Rev Diabet Stud. 2016 Summer-Fall;13(2-3):148-157

[4] Lee H, et al. Factors affecting the nutritional quality of yogurt. J Dairy Sci 1988;71:3203-3213.

[5] Ebner, et al. Peptide profiling of bovine kefir reveals 236 unique peptides released from caseins during its production by starter culture or kefir grains. J Proteomics. 2015 Mar 18;117:41-57