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What's the difference between whey and casein?

You're probably familiar with whey protein--it's a fitness staple--but what about casein? It's a favorite at the gym, especially among bodybuilders.

So which one should you take? Is one better than the other?

FIRST, SOME BASICS

What is whey?

Whey is a protein-rich substance derived from milk. It contains a complete amino acid profile to build muscle and boost strength, and can also make you feel fuller longer, potentially helping you shed those last few pounds.  It's best to take whey within 30 minutes of completing a strength training session to refuel a tired muscles.

What is casein?

Remember Little Miss Muffet? (This is relevant, we promise). Sat on a tuffet? Eating her curds and whey? (Ew.) Curds and casein are the same thing--a milk-derived protein rich in amino acids just like whey. In fact, about 80% of the protein in milk comes from casein, so maybe Little Miss Muffet was just stacking up for bulking season. (x)

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

Your body absorbs whey protein fairly quickly, while casein takes longer to absorb.

This means that if you want a quick amino acid release for immediate muscle repair after a tough workout, whey is your best friend. But if you prefer a more sustained release of amino acids (which could mean greater muscle growth over a shorter period of time), casein might be your go-to protein.

Which one you choose depends on your body and fitness goals. Both have been shown to improve strength and muscle mass.

And both may be essential for a well-rounded fitness routine: whey is more effective at building new muscle, while casein helps maintain muscle mass. When taken strategically, whey and casein can help improve your strength and muscle mass. Experiment to see what works best for your body and your training program.

WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE THEM?

Tough strength training can burn you out--refuel with whey within 30 minutes of completing your workout. It'll get right to work repairing sore muscles.

You can also take casein after you work out, but for a more effective muscle maintenance strategy, try taking it before you go to bed--that way, it will keep you strong while you snooze. (Talk about a sweet deal.)

CAN YOU TAKE THEM TOGETHER?

Yes! Well, sort of. We don't recommend taking them at the same time--research suggests you'll get better results if you take them separately--but you can take them both as part of your training plan. Try whey 30 minutes after you work out and casein before bed.

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