As you all know by now, adequate protein intake is of vital importance to getting the most out of your weight training.
For many of us, getting at minimum 1 gram per pound every day can be tough and even expensive. When you consider that 4-5 oz servings of most meats will get you 30g at most, it can be an gastrointestinal adventure cramming all that protein down your gullet to meet your goals without any additional help. Shit, not too long ago I tried experimenting with reaching my goals without taking protein supplements, and while I was able to hit them every day it was not anything I’d do again voluntarily. I went through something like 25 pounds of breast, a 44 gallon drum of milk, and a farm’s worth of eggs over the course of maybe two weeks, and it was really only possible due to the fire sale my grocery store had one day on chicken.
Eating like that is hardly realistic for most of us because of cost, appetite, or both, so naturally we look to other sources: Protein Supplements.
Let’s take a look at each of the common protein supplements out there-
Whey is the most popular protein supplement out there. You’ve probably all heard of it, and most of you are probably taking it as well. Whey has the highest Biological Value (BV) out of all protein sources, which is its trademark. Due to it’s high BV, your body is able to use the most out of every gram, and quickly. Most whey concentrate blends have some extra fat and carbs leftover, which, although negligible, cause some people to opt for…
Whey Isolate is exactly how it sounds. It is whey concentrate, only filtered additionally to give you almost pure whey. While that sounds appealing and all that, Isolate is usually a good ten or more dollars per tub than concentrate, and when you consider the marginal difference in fat and carb values between the two I cannot recommend Isolate to anyone except if they have problems with lactose. And speaking of lactose issues…
Soy Protein, in my ever so humble opinion, is a terrible product. Billed as a viable alternative for lactose intolerant people and tree huggers, it is, for some reason, still on shelves at nutrition stores. Soy protein has a bad BV compared to Whey, and just to make things more fun also has estrogen mimicking compounds- which is enough for me to stay the hell away. Even if it takes significant amounts of soy to start growing bitch-tits, it’s not something I want in my body and I don’t think my insurance covers mammograms. Joking (kind of but not really) aside, even on its protein merits and cost-benefit ratio, soy is not worth it. Lactose intolerant people, I’d really suggest trying out Isolate if you aren’t already.
Casein is a slower acting form of protein found in milk. Characterized by the glob it forms in your stomach and its decidedly non-smooth texture going down the hatch, it chills in your body slowly releasing protein for hours and hours. This also means it has a lower BV than whey, but that may not be a bad thing in this case. Unpopular mostly due to confusion and broscience, Casein is that kid that always gets picked last in dodgeball and never gets to play because he looks like a nerd, but when coach finally puts him in that fateful day he sends three kids to the nurse and bangs your little sister atop the bleachers afterwards. Follow me on this…
Unfortunately for you guys, I do not have a lab, otherwise I’d have a post up every day documenting my journey to combine beta-alanine, creatine, arganine, citrulline malate, glutamine, zinc, magnesium, and god knows whatever else into one pill (which would also have 30g of protein per serving). Fortunately, other people have labs and also want to know how these proteins stack up.
Now I’m going to do a big academic no-no and use a secondary source, this T-Nation article, as my primary source because it does a really good job of summarizing all the studies it cites (which you can check out yourself if you feel so inclined. At least read the article itself).
In comparisons between Casein, Whey, and No Protein Supplementation, the biggest gains and most weight loss came from… Casein supplementation. The Whey group experienced almost half of muscle gains and weight loss from Casein, while the control group didn’t accomplish very much at all (so at least be supplementing with some form of protein).
There are two main functions at work- the amount that the protein hinders protein breakdown and the amount that the protein helps protein synthesis. Immediately after taking Whey, it rushes into your system, spiking your synthesis by upwards of 60% while gradually tapering off to nothing five hours after intake while not preventing breakdown at any point after intake. Casein, by function of its slower action, only raises synthesis to around 30% but continues this steady drip into your system, maintaining this synthesis rate longer than five hours past intake. It also hinders protein breakdown by 30% or so. Like I said, read the article if you are interested in learning more, it’s pretty fascinating.
A casual application of Occam’s Razor would suggest finding a way to take advantage of both proteins, and perhaps creating some mixes of your own. I haven’t had the opportunity to do so, but if one of you does I’d love to hear your results.
As for me, I have been riding the Casein train for four months now since reading those studies and have yet to hop off (with the exception of my no protein supplement experiment, in which I barely gained by the way). I have experienced more lifting gains and yes, more fat loss, doing the same program and eating the same things after switching from whey. It’s the same story for everyone I have converted to Casein- I’m building a Casein Army. Whey is all fine and dandy, and like I said earlier, you should be at least supplementing with one of these, but if you want to take things to the Nexxt Level I suggest trying Casein.
Casein can be pretty tough to find, but luckily Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard is around to save the day. I’m a big fan of their stuff anyway, so it was an easy decision and I haven’t been disappointed.
The flavor selection for Casein is pretty sparse compared to Whey, but I definitely recommend Chocolate- it’s my favorite, especially mixed with milk. Check out Gold Standard 2 pound Chocolate and 4 pound Chocolate. I also liked the 4 pound Cookies and Cream Casein, or the smaller sized 2 pound Cookies and Cream.
If you still want to stick to Whey, once again you can’t go wrong with Gold Standard. Whey mixes vary widely in quality and fat/carb content, and Optimum Nutrition keeps it real. You can pick any flavor or size you want here, but in my opinion you can’t go wrong with Chocolate Malt- it’s the shit.
Disclaimer: By buying from these links there is no extra charge to you whatsoever and Nexxt Level Up gets a small slice, helping us to keep quality content coming your way every day. Win-win situation.