Three popular types of protein supplements are casein, egg and whey varieties. Each offers its own distinct advantages over the others, so it’s important to know a little about each. Whey, egg and casein protein supplements can help to improve your body composition and can even promote weight loss when taken correctly and as part of a consistent exercise program.
Casein protein is derived from cow’s milk; it accounts for about 80 percent of the milk protein. It is a slow-digesting protein that is about 92 percent protein by weight, according to Muscle and Strength. According to Eric Satterwhite of Bodybuilding.com, the human body achieves peak levels of protein synthesis and blood content of amino acids – key measurements of the muscle-building process -- between three and four hours after consuming casein. The peak levels are far lower than those of whey protein. Casein may be ideal for pre-bedtime protein shakes due to its slow-digestion properties, which may help to prevent muscle catabolism – breakdown of muscle tissue – while you sleep.
Egg protein is often derived from egg whites, so the cholesterol content is far less than whole eggs containing the yolk. According to Muscle and Strength, egg protein supplements are the best alternative to whey and casein proteins for people who are lactose intolerant or who have severe milk allergies. Egg protein contains all of the essential amino acids the human body needs yet can’t make on its own; this is also true for whey and casein proteins. A cheaper alternative to egg protein supplements is to simply consume egg whites daily.
Whey is derived from cow’s milk; it makes up about 20 percent of milk protein. There are two main types of whey protein: concentrates and isolates. Concentrate formulas are less expensive and more widely available. This type of whey protein contains less protein and more lactose by weight. Isolates contain a higher level of protein and lower levels of fat or cholesterol. Whey protein is a fast-absorbing protein source that causes peak blood amino acid/protein synthesis within 20 to 40 minutes of consumption, according to Satterwhite. It’s an ideal choice for consumption immediately following a workout or right after you wake up in the morning.
The recommended dietary allowance for adults is 0.8 g per kg. of bodyweight, which equals about 0.4 g per lb. of weight. However, "Muscle and Strength" suggests that anyone looking to build muscle as part of a resistance training program consume 1 g to 1.5 g of protein per lb. of bodyweight. In terms of taking an egg, whey or casein supplement, one serving of 20 g to 30 g per day is generally sufficient to meet a physical person’s daily protein needs.