If you're choosing a protein supplement, the two main candidates are whey and casein, with a third choice, egg protein, a handy alternative for those who are dairy intolerant. So what is actually in these two different types of protein?
Both are made from milk, but utilize different parts:
- Whey protein is made from sweet dairy whey, a by-product of the dairy industry - until recently it was considered a waste product and thrown away!
- Casein, meanwhile, is the other half of Little Miss Muffet's lunch - it is made from curds.
The first difference between them is the rate at which they are absorbed by the body. While these figures ultimately depend on a number of variables (individual differences, form of the protein, fluid intake, etc), in general, whey is absorbed in about two hours, while casein takes at least five hours.
For many athletes, that's reason enough to choose whey - it gets in to your muscles fast, and thus is there when you need it. But recent research suggests that there's some even more compelling reasons that whey should be your first choice.