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Let’s Talk Protein Supplements

Nate September 25, 2012 Fitness, NLU STORE 30 Comments

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 Concentrate

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

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

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

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…

Comparison Time

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.

Swole Life.

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About The Author

Fitness and health nut by day, lecherous drunkass by night. Follow me on Twitter @nate_moneyh. I also write at flyfreshandyoung.com

30 Comments

  1. Matthew September 25, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Would you consider a whey/casein/egg white blend like Trutein to be a good compromise? I was considering mixing my own whey/casein blend but Trutein looks like it covers all bases for less cost.

  2. A Axe September 25, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I mentioned Examine for beta-alanine. Same applies for whey: http://examine.com/supplements/Whey+Protein/

    Relevant: http://examine.com/supplements/Whey+Protein/#summary3

  3. Bronan The Barbarian! September 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Matthew – I tried an egg-based protein powder once. Not sure of the nutritional benefits, but wow was that shit nasty. Once it sits for a minute it basically takes on the texture of an actual egg. Pretty rough going down the hatch.

    FFY – Are you doing protein powder again instead of just chocolate milk after working out?

    • flyfreshandyoung September 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Yeah. When we lifted that was the tail end of my no-powder experiment.

  4. M3 September 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I used to buy the concentrate stuff exactly because it was cheaper.

    That was when i used to go to GNC.

    That changed when i got membership at Costco. Now i get the 2 kilo tub of Whey Isolate for the same price i used to pay for the 1.5 kilo Whey concentrate.

    Win Win.

    GNC’s a rip.

    • Bronan the Barbarian! September 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Fuck GNC. You have to buy their “gold” membership just to get their prices down to the same level as every other place.

      When I first started working out at 24 hour fitness I saw that they sold supplements, but everything was 2x-3x the price of a normal retail outlet. A regular 5 lb container of protein powder is like 95 bucks there. Luckily for 24 there’s a huge population of herbs who actually buy their products.

  5. Takeshi September 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for the article, I am interested in trying this casein protein. When do you drink the protein, is it right after you work out or throughout the day? And how much should you take? I am about 170lbs. Also, does it work for people who are lactose intolerant? Thanks for the help :)

    • flyfreshandyoung September 26, 2012 at 12:54 am

      Take as much as you want, within reason.

      I take a scoop and half + 12 oz of 2% after working out, and then another scoop in water 6-7 hours later.

      Just did a quick google check for casein and lactose intolerance and came up pretty light on references. Mostly forum stuff with guys saying it doesn’t bother them, which is far from conclusive. I know little about L.I., so I would urge you to do a little more digging before trying it out.

  6. Peter Phoenix September 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Hey FFY,

    What amounts of protein are you taking and in what time-frame? (ie. Do you have 1 or 2 scoops a day? Do you take your protein right after the gym or do you wait an hour? Would you take more on workout days? Do you take less if you have had a big steak/chicken meal?)

    Thanks!
    - Pete

    • flyfreshandyoung September 26, 2012 at 12:57 am

      See my above response.

      And yeah I take it as soon as I get home after my lift, accompanied by a post-lift meal e.g.- a pound of chicken breast, and a big ole’ juice from my juicer, maybe some cottage cheese.

      I take the same on lift and non-lift days- non-lift days are just as important protein wise as you are still recovering.

      • K_C October 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm

        I just had to drop a note in here because while your articles jibe with all the other research I’ve read, your post-workout meal description rang alarm bells. I don’t have the reference handy but the gist is that drinking sugared drinks (including fruit/carrot juices and recovery drinks with glucose, etc.) after working out halts HGH production cold. So, you end up effectively killing one of the most important factors in fat loss and muscle growth by consuming something that’s normally considered ‘healthy’. If you are simply looking for energy recovery after an endurance workout (well over an hour) then maybe it’s acceptable but not after heavy lifting or cardio intervals, etc. Also, at other times it’s not so detrimental, just not for a while after your workout when your HGH production is spiking.

        • flyfreshandyoung October 17, 2012 at 1:08 am

          If you could find that link, that would be great.

          Otherwise, everything I have found links back to an article in HGH Magazine by a dude who doesn’t link to/share what study he got this information from so I am dubious.

          Side Note: This is how broscience myths get started

  7. youngmanrp September 25, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    FFY-
    Do you think there is a link between casein protein and cancer?

    • flyfreshandyoung September 26, 2012 at 12:57 am

      No. Why?

  8. Virgle Kent September 25, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Yo FFY,

    I mess with both during end of winter and through spring when I’m trying to put on that big boy mass. I take something with Whey during the day and then at night right before bed take a Casein shake to get sleepy time whey in my body.

    When you sleep you go the longest without any protein or supplements to help your body build muscle so from what i understand it’s almost like building muscle in your sleep. Again this is for putting on mass

    • flyfreshandyoung September 26, 2012 at 12:59 am

      Yeah that’s definitely a common practice for mass building. So those of you going for mass would do well to steal a page from VK.

      I’m doing Intermittent Fasting at the moment, but I definitely get a scoop of casein in on my last meal of the day.

  9. Virgle Kent September 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    P.S I’m using Monster Milk right now, peep it. Yeah it’s pricey but I enjoy all the little extras that come with it.

  10. The Bastard September 26, 2012 at 3:00 am

    Not trying to kill your cash cow but check out truenutrition.com. I stumbled across it earlier today when I was researching Doggcrapp training and it looks like a bomb place to get protein since you can customize your protein blend and buy in bulk plus you can add all sorts of other supps to your powder (vitamins, electrolytes, etc.). I’m getting a 16lb bag of chocolate-banana flavored blend of 60% micellar casein/40% whey concentrate blend for about $180 (that’s shipping/tax included + a bulk discount and a promotional code discount I picked up off the forums there) and the same amount of 100% micellar casein is around $200. It’s highway robbery.

    • Carnivore November 23, 2012 at 7:01 am

      Yes! Been buying there for years (was TrueProtein before). Dante Trudel is one of the owners and he codified Doggcrapp training. “Doggcrapp” is his screen name on some forums.

  11. dumasworld September 27, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Here in the UK, I’m using Dymatize ISO 100, it’s the best isolate on the market, it’s only a tad more expensive than most of the concentrates here. Advantage of this product is there arent even any trace levels of carbs, sugars or fats.

  12. bodybuilder October 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Whey before and during workout.
    Casein after workout and before bed.
    They have different roles – one is not “better” than the other.

    • flyfreshandyoung October 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      While I didn’t, and would never say, casein trumps whey all the time-
      Did you read any of the articles or studies I linked to? There is a strong case to be made that casein is superior at *almost* all times

  13. Franz October 23, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Hi FFY

    Nice post and thanks for linking the T Nation article, pretty good one.

    Just a question:
    you think that there is a big difference between micellar caseine and calcium caseinate?

    They are prepared in different ways but calcium caseinate is cheaper.
    I did some research online but I haven’t read any definitive article that supports one against another (like the one from T Nation above).

    Thanks

  14. Smooth November 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Great stuff…as far as whey goes do some research on MTS machine whey by marc lobliner.

  15. thecaptainpower November 25, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I don’t mess with protein supplements, they make me fat immediately…..whats wrong with eggs, tuna, chicken and steak? If you guys are going to take protein supplements you better justify it with some hard workouts, otherwise its gng to be all fat…

  16. goy February 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    http://www.punchsupplements.co.nz/supplements/optimum-nutrition-100-casein-gold-standard.html
    soy lecithin is an ingredient in optimum nutrition 100% casein gold standard sadly.
    is soy lecithin in all protein powders?

  17. K_C March 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    If anything, I’m thorough, albeit late. Here’s the link I was talking about regarding sugar after workouts killing HGH. It’s a synopsis article that links to a couple of other articles and studies: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2010/07/27/the-growing-promise-of-shorter-more-intense-strength-training-workouts.aspx

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