The Best Casein Protein For Taste, Digestion, and More

Discover which of the best casein proteins on the market is right for you.

We receive free products and receive commissions through our links. See disclosures page.

There are two types of protein in milk: whey and casein. Both can help aid in muscle growth and recovery after a workout, but many prefer casein protein powder because it digests more slowly and is more filling. Additionally, due to its molecular structure, it’s really easy to make puddings and ice creams out of it. Given the popularity of protein powders and the potential advantages of casein, how do you decide which is the best casein for you?

We tested some of the best casein proteins on the market and selected our favorites to build this guide to help you decide. Whether you’re after the best tasting casein, the best all-natural casein, or simply the best value casein, we have a pick for you.

Best Casein

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended to diagnose, prevent, and/or treat health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual needs for vitamins and minerals will vary.

Best Casein Protein

Sometimes, a simple and straightforward product gets the job done better than almost anything else. Our top casein pick is a simple and all-natural formula with everything we want to see from a casein product without a lot of fluff.

Promix Casein

Promix made their casein protein supplement with the same care and attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from them, featuring casein sourced from grass-fed dairy cows. This casein is less likely to make you feel bloated as others may thanks to the micro-filtration method Promix uses to remove lactose for potentially easier digestion. In each two-scoop (29g) serving you’ll get 25g of grass-fed Micellar Casein to help feed your muscles over a longer period of time than whey. Each Unflavored serving equals 105 calories.

If you opt for their Chocolate flavor, you’ll get a bit more protein with 26g total of grass-fed Micellar Casein along with seven grams of carbs from the natural flavors and sweeteners. You’ll also get one gram of fat. The calorie count for Chocolate is 145 calories per serving. The Casein from Promix is low in fat, yet high in calcium with 63 percent of the daily recommended value per scoop. If you like to have some carbs with your nighttime casein shake, the Chocolate flavor is a good option, or you can get a carb supplement and add that to the Unflavored for overnight feeding. If you’re watching your sugar intake, you may want to opt for the Unflavored option which has zero sugar. The Chocolate option has six grams of sugar per serving thanks to the natural flavorings and sweeteners.

Promix Casein
Promix Casein
Promix Casein

Promix Casein comes in Unflavored which gives 25g of grass-fed Micellar Casein per scoop, providing 105 calories with no fat or carbs. You can also opt for Chocolate which uses the same high-quality casein, but provides 145 calories from 26g of protein, one gram of fat, and seven grams of carbs.

Who Should Buy Promix Casein

  • Anyone who wants a casein supplement free of artificial flavors, colors, and ingredients. Promix prides themselves on all-natural ingredients.
  • Buyers who prefer grass-fed dairy products as this product is 100 percent grass-fed.
  • People looking for unflavored casein. Most companies don’t make an unflavored option, forcing you to settle for vanilla or chocolate.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Promix Casein

  • Customers who want a wide variety of flavors to pick from. You’ll only find this protein in Chocolate or Unflavored. 
  • Casein notoriously doesn’t mix as well as other forms of protein, and this is no different. If having a protein shake that is slightly clumpy bothers you, you’re better off opting for a whey protein or mixing this in a blender.
  • Anyone on a budget. This casein is top quality, but it’s more expensive than other options on this list.

Athletes generally take casein at night since it is slow-digesting, but some may prefer it mid-day when they have a long time between meals. If you like to get only high-quality and all-natural ingredients, then Promix Casein might be the product you’ve been looking for.

[Related: Could Baking Soda Be The Best Workout Supplement You’ve Never Tried?]

Best Tasting Casein Protein

Taste, of course, is subjective. However, everyone at BarBend and many people online happen to agree that this flavor (or flavors, rather) takes the cake.

Kaged Kasein

Kaged offers a well-rounded line of great-tasting products, but we think their casein powders are some of the best flavors on the market — and you can trust us, we’ve tried a lot of protein powders. This casein comes in Chocolate Peanut Butter, Vanilla Shake, and Chocolate Shake. On top of its great flavor, this powder packs 26 grams of slow digesting casein protein, contains three or four grams of carbs, 1g of sugar, and 0.5g or 1g of fat (all depending on flavor). You can buy it in a two-pound tub, and the price is pretty reasonable compared to the rest of the casein market.

15% Off
Kaged Kasein
Kaged Kasein
Kaged Kasein

This protein powder only contains 0.5g to 1g of fat (depending on flavor), 3g to 4g of carbs, 1g of sugar, and 26g of protein. Since it’s only 120 calories, it’s great to mix into milk or baked goods for added nutrients. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Kasein

  • Customers who are looking for a great-tasting casein protein powder with multiple milkshake-based flavors to choose from. 
  • Anyone who wants a slow digesting protein that may help you build muscle over time.
  • People who want the option to subscribe and save a little cash can get their protein automatically shipped to them each month. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Kasein

  • Athletes who are cutting and trying to avoid carbs and sugar altogether. 
  • Folks who want more than three flavors to choose from can find brands that offer a much wider variety of flavors. 

Kaged Muscle is a big name on the market for both high quality protein powders and other performance-enhancing products. If you’re looking for an objectively great-tasting protein powder, this one provides 26g of protein and three different flavors. 

Best Casein Protein for Weight Loss

If you’re trying to lose weight, you may be looking for a casein protein that’s lower in calories. Casein also digests slower than whey protein, making it a great choice for those who want to feel full longer, which can help out a ton when trying to lose weight. This casein is lean and all-natural making it our top choice for those looking to lose some weight.

Promix Casein

Losing weight can be difficult even under the best circumstances, but a high-quality casein protein may help make the process a little smoother. This all-natural Micellar Casein is sourced from grass-fed dairy cows and micro-filtered to remove lactose — which may help to alleviate bloating while still giving you a lasting full feeling that you expect from casein. The macro split on this casein is diet-friendly, especially on the Unflavored version with just 105 calories per serving to give you 25g of protein and no carbs or fat.

If you like some flavor with your protein you can opt for the Chocolate flavor, which is naturally sweetened with cocoa. Because this casein doesn’t have any artificial ingredients or sweeteners, you’ll get some extra calories from six grams of sugar here. Each serving comes with one gram of fat, seven grams of carbs, and 26g of protein which total 145 calories. That is still comparatively lean with other casein proteins, but more than the Unflavored version. This casein is a great choice for keeping a steady stream of amino acids supplied to the muscles either before bed or when you know you’ll be going a while without a meal. It can also be helpful for folks transitioning to different meal frequencies and timing.

Promix Casein
Promix Casein
Promix Casein

Promix Casein comes in Unflavored which gives 25g of grass-fed Micellar Casein per scoop, providing 105 calories with no fat or carbs. You can also opt for Chocolate which uses the same high-quality casein, but provides 145 calories from 26g of protein, one gram of fat, and seven grams of carbs.

Who Should Buy Promix Casein

  • Athletes who want a lean and lower calorie casein protein to help along their weight loss journey. This casein is leaner than most other ones on the market with just 105 calories for Unflavored and 145 calories for Chocolate. 
  • Anyone who prefers all-natural ingredients will appreciate that this doesn’t have any artificial ingredients whatsoever. 
  • People who still want a low number of carbs in their protein powder to help replenish post-workout.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Promix Casein

  • Folks who are looking for more of a meal replacement casein powder may want to look for some higher calorie options that offer a more diverse macro split.
  • Anyone who wants more than two flavors to choose from — this product only comes in Chocolate and Unflavored.
  • Anyone who wants a protein powder to take post-workout may be better off with either a whey protein isolate or a post-workout supplement

If you’re trying to lose weight and want a casein protein powder that’s low in calories, Promix’s casein may be a great option for you. The Chocolate flavor does still have some carbs and sugar but is generally leaner than many other options. It’s hard to beat this casein supplement if your goal is losing weight while still hitting your protein macros.

Best Casein Protein for Weight Gain

For those who are looking to gain weight, it’s important that your protein powder contains the proper macros — this is a solid option for this purpose. 

Kaged Kasein

Kaged Kasein may not have the highest calorie count on the market but it has the right macros for lean weight gain. If you’re trying to pack on a few additional pounds, it’s important that you’re getting the proper nutrients to do so — a protein powder that’s high in fat will likely not give you the outcome you want. This protein powder only contains 0.5g to 1g of fat (depending on flavor), but still has 3g to 4g of carbs, 1g of sugar, and 26g of protein. 

Since it’s only 120 calories, it’s great to mix into milk and drink multiple times a day to add extra nutrients into your diet. It’s also great to drink before bed as it is slow digesting and can help build muscle overnight. However, if you’re only looking to drink one protein shake a day and gain weight, this is best combined with a high calorie and solid macro diet since it is only 120 calories per scoop on its own. 

15% Off
Kaged Kasein
Kaged Kasein
Kaged Kasein

This protein powder only contains 0.5g to 1g of fat (depending on flavor), 3g to 4g of carbs, 1g of sugar, and 26g of protein. Since it’s only 120 calories, it’s great to mix into milk or baked goods for added nutrients. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Kasein

  • Anyone looking for a protein they can blend into a higher-calorie shake that may potentially help with weight gain.
  • Folks who want a lower calorie protein powder that they can implement into their diet multiple times per day. 
  • Those who want a protein powder that contains carbs — this product has 3g to 4g per serving. 
  • People trying to build muscle — this is a slow-digesting protein that can help you build muscle overnight if you drink it before bed. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Kasein

  • Athletes who want a higher calorie protein powder may be better off looking for a mass gainer. 
  • People looking for more than three flavor options can find other brands that offer 10+ flavors to choose from. 

Though low in calories, this product is slow-digesting, which means it’s great to drink before bed to help build muscle overnight. It also blends well with milk, so you can pack some extra calories into your shake that way, as well. 

Best Mixing Casein Protein

For all-natural, high-quality supplements, we often look to Legion. Known for their vast array of research-backed products, their casein powder is no different, and this is one of the best mixing proteins we’ve tried. 

Legion Casein+

The casein is sourced from free-roaming Irish dairy cows, and while it’s not technically 100 percent grass-fed (they have to come inside in the winter), it’s still a great quality product made from cows that spend a ton of time outside and that aren’t treated with bovine growth hormone. They’re also big on sourcing casein from sustainable farms. Legion Casein+ is completely free from artificial flavors and sweeteners, and mixes seamlessly into water or milk due to its soy lecithin. It’s also low in fat, and higher in protein than most other caseins we’ve seen — it has 0.5g of fat and 25g of protein per scoop. Plus it comes in four great-mixing flavors — Banana Cream Pie, Milk Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla. 

Legion Casein+
Legion Casein+
Legion Casein+

Legion's Casein+ has more protein per calorie than any other casein we've seen, plus it has no artificial ingredients. Each serving provides 5.2 grams of branch chain amino acids.

Who Should Buy Legion Casein+

  • If you have concerns about conventionally raised dairy, you’ll be glad to learn this casein is sourced from cows that free roam in small, Irish dairy farms.
  • Folks who want as much protein as they can get: It’s among the most protein-dense caseins we’ve seen.
  • People who prefer all-natural supplements that mix well in water. There are no artificial flavors or sweeteners in the product.

Who Should Buy Legion Casein+

  • Anyone who wants to save money. Given all the quality controls, it may not be surprising that this is one of the pricier casein products.
  • The ingredients include soy lecithin, which helps with mixability but isn’t great for folks with soy allergies. (Or folks who try to limit soy.)

Legion has landed many high-profile athlete sponsorship deals for a good reason: They back up their claims with science and use high-quality ingredients. If you want a great-mixing product that’s free of artificial ingredients, Legion Casein+ is a great way to go. 

[Related: The Best Types Of Supplements For Performance, Weight Loss, And Health]

Best Casein Protein for Baking and Pudding

Many people like to mix protein powder into cookie dough or puddings to add protein into their diet in a tasty way. This casein protein by Kaged is here for all your protein-packed baking needs.

Kaged Kasein

Each single-scoop serving of Kaged Kasein provides 26 grams of protein with just one gram of sugar. Varying by flavor, this blend contains one gram of fat, three grams of carbs, and a variety of vitamins and minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron. Although it is a stellar option to use in recipes for baked goods as it mixes well, it also mixes well in a shaker bottle, or in foods like yogurt or oats. It comes in Vanilla Shake, Chocolate Shake, and Peanut Butter Chocolate, which is important to note if you’re looking for the right flavor combination for your baking. 

15% Off
Kaged Kasein
Kaged Kasein
Kaged Kasein

This protein powder only contains 0.5g to 1g of fat (depending on flavor), 3g to 4g of carbs, 1g of sugar, and 26g of protein. Since it’s only 120 calories, it’s great to mix into milk or baked goods for added nutrients. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Kasein

  • Anyone who is looking to add a vanilla, chocolate, or peanut butter chocolate protein boost to their baked goods as this product is creamy and mixes well.
  • Those who want to mix their casein into foods like yogurt or puddings. 
  • People who value a lean casein blend as this product contains 26g of protein, but is low in carbs, fats, and sugar. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Kasein

  • Anyone who wants a fruity flavor, like strawberry, they could use for baking will want to look elsewhere.
  • Folks who are looking for a higher calorie option may be better off looking for a meal replacement or mass gainer. 

If you want to put a healthy, protein-packed spin on your baked goods or pudding, this casein may be a great tool. Use this powder in brownies, cookies, cakes, and more to add extra protein and potentially replace the high levels of fat or sugar that are typically found in baked goods. 

[Related: The Actual Pros And Cons Of The Paleo Diet]

Best Whey Casein Protein Blend

Whey protein can help kickstart muscle protein synthesis, as casein may provide long-lasting supplementation of amino acids. This combination may lead to better muscle growth, which is why some prefer a blend of whey and casein proteins.

Muscle Feast Premium Whey Casein Blend

At 100 calories and 21 grams of protein per scoop, this blend of micellar casein, whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey can potentially aid in better muscle growth. It contains no fat or sugar and 1.5g of carbs, so even though it’s lean, this particular blend of whey and casein can pack a punch. The whey can help kick the muscle building process into gear while the casein can help prolong it. This powder also contains 4.7g of BCAAs per serving, and comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, and an unflavored powder.

Muscle Feast Premium Whey Casein Blend
Muscle Feast Premium Whey Casein Blend
Muscle Feast Premium Whey Casein Blend

With 100 calories and 21 grams of protein per scoop, this blend of micellar casein, whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey can potentially aid in better muscle growth. It also contains no fat or sugar and 1.5g of carbs, so it's particularly lean. 

Who Should Buy Muscle Feast Premium Whey Casein Blend

  • Folks who are looking for a blend of whey and casein protein that may help grow muscle more effectively than a casein on its own. 
  • Athletes who want a protein powder that contains little to no fat, sugar, and/or carbs will appreciate how lean this blend is.
  • Anyone looking for a great-tasting protein powder in either chocolate or vanilla. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Muscle Feast Premium Whey Casein Blend

  • Those who want a higher protein content per scoop — this product only has 21g of protein per scoop. 
  • People who want a straight casein protein powder that does not include whey protein. 

For those who value the blend of casein and whey for potentially better muscle growth, this pick is the way to go. Just note that it does not have a super high protein content compared to other options on this list. 

Best Casein Protein for Digestion

For this category, we needed a supplement that had a lot of protein per calorie, that tasted good, was reasonably priced, and had specific additions to aid in digestion.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard contains Aminogen®, a blend of digestive enzymes that some research suggests may improve the absorption rate of the protein. It also packs 120 calories, 24g of protein per scoop and is very high in calcium with 50 percent of the recommended intake in each dose. It has only 1g of fat, 4g of carbs, and 1g of sugar. Another big draw is that it has a wider range of flavors available than most caseins we’ve seen on the market — it comes in Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Supreme, Cookies and Cream, and Creamy Vanilla.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein

Well-rounded, well-priced casein that contains enzymes that might improve its digestion. Each single-scoop serving packs 24 grams of protein and just a single gram of sugar.

Who Should Buy Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein

  • Anyone with an interest in maximizing absorption; Gold Standard Casein contains Aminogen®, a blend of digestive enzymes that some research suggests may improve the absorption rate of the protein.
  • People looking for a wide range of flavors; Optimum Nutrition provides more flavors for their casein than any of their competitors we’ve seen.
  • Folks looking for casein that’s low in cholesterol and high in calcium.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein

  • The ingredients include artificial flavors and artificial sweeteners, which some try to avoid.
  • Soy lecithin is on the ingredients list, which improves mixability and texture, but some customers eschew soy.

Optimum Nutrition is one of the most popular companies in sports supplementation, which means they can keep prices low and expand their flavors and offerings. All that combined with this product’s digestive enzymes make it one of the best options for those concerned about better digestion. 

[Related: Intermittent Fasting 101: A Guide To Benefits, Muscle Gain, And More]

Best Value Casein Protein

It can be hard to find a good combination of quality and value in protein powders. But across all their products and particularly their casein, we’ve found Muscle Feast to stand out from the pack. Muscle Feast is a supplement company that produces high-quality products that are remarkably inexpensive, and their casein fits the bill. 

Muscle Feast Grass Fed Micellar Casein

With 37 servings per two-pound tub or, for greater savings, 75 servings in four pounds, the cost per gram of protein is lower than the vast majority of casein products. Add all that to the fact that it’s all-natural, soy-free, and grass-fed, and there’s a clear case for this being the best value casein on the market. Muscle Feast Grass Fed Micellar Casein only contains 88 calories and 19g of protein per scoop though, which is on the lower end of what we see across the casein protein market. Though it keeps its blend fairly lean with just 0.5g of fat, 1.2g of carbs, and 1g of sugar per serving. 

Muscle Feast Grass-Fed Micellar Casein
Muscle Feast Grass-Fed Micellar Casein
Muscle Feast Grass-Fed Micellar Casein

This inexpensive casein is all-natural and sourced from grass-fed cows. It is available either flavored or unflavored in a two or four-pound tub.

Who Should Buy Muscle Feast Grass Fed Micellar Casein

  • Penny pinchers — on a cost-per-gram-of-protein basis, this casein delivers the one of the best values on the market.
  • The all-natural crowd. This product contains no artificial flavors or sweeteners.
  • Paleo types as this product is totally free from soy, and it comes from grass-fed cows, two factors that are typically important among Paleo adherents.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Muscle Feast Grass Fed Micellar Casein

  • Those buying it because it’s grass-fed. It is higher in beneficial fatty acids, but given how low-fat protein powders are, there aren’t really any practical health benefits relative to conventional dairy. That said, grass-fed cows spend more time outside, so it could be worth it for those who prefer dairy made from free-roaming cows.
  • Those who want the best-tasting protein powder. This protein is good, but the fact that it’s all-natural means it’s not the most scrumptious available.
  • Anyone who wants more than 19g of protein per scoop.

It’s easy to confuse inexpensive with poor quality, but Muscle Feast doesn’t fall victim to that trap. For low-cost, effective supplements, we often turn to Muscle Feast.

[Related: Nutrition For Bulking: 10 Tips For Intelligent Muscle Gain]

Best Casein Protein for Athletes

How do you decide on the best protein for athletes? Third-party testing. Companies like Informed Choice, Informed Sport, and NSF test batches and/or facilities for banned substances. Ascent Casein provides all the regular features of casein — quality protein, slow digestion — but with a couple of extra benefits for athletes.

Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein

Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein is certified by Informed Sport, a third-party testing company that batch tests supplements to make sure they’re free from banned substances. (Many athletes only consume supplements with this certification, and it’s considered more rigorous than Informed Choice, which “only” tests the facilities in which they’re made.) Add that to the fact that it’s soy-free and contains more carbs than usual (six grams per 25 grams of protein), and you’ve got a great option for athletes and non-athletes alike. This product comes in three flavors, as well — Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Vanilla. 

Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein
Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein
Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein

This slow-digesting protein powder is all-natural, soy-free, and tested for banned substances by Informed Sport. It's available in three different flavors in either a 32 or 64-ounce pounch.

Who Should Buy Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein

  • Athletes. Native Fuel is tested by Informed Choice, a company that ensures the product is free from substances banned in athletic competitions.
  • People who avoid artificial flavors and sweeteners — there are none to be found here.
  • The ingredients don’t include any gluten or soy, qualities valued by “all-natural” and paleo folks.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein

  • People looking to minimize their carb intake. With six grams per scoop, this is higher in carbs than usual. This is certainly not necessarily a “con” for everyone, but this isn’t the best casein if you’re restricting carbs.
  • Penny pinchers. This casein is relatively pricey compared to other options.
  • There are three types of gums here (guar, acacia, and xanthan), which a tiny portion of the population may have trouble digesting.

Ascent has a solid reputation among functional fitness athletes and influencers like Tim Ferriss. It’s not the cheapest casein, but it’s a standout for athletes — very few caseins are certified by Informed Sport, and it’s earned product endorsements from several athletes.

[Related: The Lifter’s Guide To Magnesium: What This Nutrient Does For Strength]

When Should I Take Casein Protein?

There isn’t necessarily a best time to drink your protein shake. Just because you don’t drink your protein within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, does not mean you worked out for nothing. To keep your gains, it’s most important to make sure you’re getting enough protein throughout the day, rather than focusing on timing. While it’s not a terrible idea to drink your protein right after a workout, as long as your daily protein and calories are on track, your muscle gain should remain on track too. If you’re still curious about this concept, we covered it in depth here

How Much Does Casein Protein Cost?

Instead of determining the value of a casein based on its container price, try comparing the price of the container to the number of servings you’re receiving. A typical price range for casein is somewhere between $1.00 and $2.00 per serving.

Transparency and ingredients typically determine how expensive or inexpensive your casein powder will be. Generally, the more transparent, natural, and extensive the label, the more you will have to pay. And on the other hand, the more basic the casein, the lower the price tag.

How We Decided Our Picks

We looked at several factors — and dozens of products — that helped us develop this list of the best casein protein powders. Here are the criteria we decided were the most important for the average gym-goer.

Calories Per Gram of Protein

We are, after all, talking about protein powder — people buy these products to get as much protein out of a scoop as they can, so we assessed the amount of protein in each product’s serving relative to carbohydrates and fat. In other words, how much of each calorie you consume is protein? 25 grams of protein with four grams of carbs and no fat would be 116 calories overall, and 4.64 calories per gram of protein.

Casein
Image via Shutterstock/TanyaKim

That’s an excellent (low) score; a product with more carbs and fat might have you consuming, say, nine or 10 calories for every gram of protein consumed. We tried to keep most of our picks on this list near those ideal numbers.

Price

There are calories per gram of protein and cents per gram of protein because, again, the product’s value is in its protein content. Five or so cents per gram of protein is ideal, but we considered higher numbers when the product offered something exceptional, like a lot of protein per calorie or…

Enzymes and Other Additives

You may have noticed some of our picks include digestive enzymes, which can help with protein absorption. Other handy additives that are sometimes seen in casein products include lactase, which may lower the odds of indigestion among those with lactose allergies, and vitamins and minerals.

Flavor Range

This is where larger companies tend to gain an edge: The more product a company sells, the more flavors they can play with. So, for example, Optimum Nutrition has a famously wide range of flavors for most of its products, including their casein. We appreciate a variety of flavors, but we also appreciate delicious flavors — we have included both products with many flavors to choose from, as well as products that make some of the best basic vanillas or chocolates we have tried.

Controversial Ingredients

We would never say that you should avoid soy, assuming your doctor hasn’t told you to. There’s no good evidence it decreases testosterone, but the fact remains that many people try to avoid it just in case it does. There’s a similar sentiment around gluten, artificial sweeteners, and corn: If you’re healthy and you eat a balanced diet, they shouldn’t cause health problems, but it’s fine if you’d rather avoid them anyway. We haven’t excluded products from this list because of these ingredients, but we have noted them in case you are worried about them.

[Related: Should Athletes Try Low-Carb Diets?]

Whey vs. Casein: Is One Better?

Both whey and casein are sourced from milk (they get separated in the cheesemaking process), and they’re both really high-quality proteins (meaning they contain all your essential amino acids). But the question remains: Is one superior to the other?
Whey vs Casein
One study was published in 2000 that many consider an answer to this question. 38 police officers on low-calorie diets were split into three groups: high protein with whey, high protein with casein, and a group that was just low calorie. (1) After 12 weeks, the casein group lost fifty percent more fat and gained thirty percent more strength than the whey group. But that study was small and broadly considered a one-off. Many others have found no practical difference between whey and casein regarding muscle gain or athletic performance. (2)(3)(4)

That said, casein is lower in lactose, and it digests more slowly than whey, so some find it to be a little more filling, though research isn’t unanimous. (5)(6)(7) While both whey and casein are great ways to manage appetite, if hunger is a big obstacle for you, then casein could potentially be a better pick. It tends to be slightly more expensive, though, because casein can be used to make cheese, while whey has historically been considered a waste byproduct of the cheesemaking process.

[Related: IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros): Your Ultimate Guide To This Diet]

What To Consider Before Buying

Whether this is a new supplement in your routine or you’ve been taking it for a while, there are a few things worth thinking about before making the buy. To reiterate, there doesn’t seem to be any practical difference between whey and casein protein powders when it comes to muscle gain or athletic performance, but if you’re considering casein, here’s what you should think about. 

Most Casein Powders are Micellar Casein

Many companies act like it’s a huge deal that they only use micellar casein — the kind that’s encased in a globular structure called a micelle. But the vast majority of casein powders use micellar casein; this isn’t unusual. Calcium caseinate and hydrolyzed casein are less common, and more processed, so micellar casein is typically the way to go. 

You Can Make Pudding With Casein

This is a huge advantage that casein has over whey. If you add water or (even tastier) milk to casein in a 3:2 ratio and stir it up for a few minutes, it becomes a pudding-like substance. Eat it straight away or freeze it for a few hours, and it becomes ice cream. If you plan on making either pudding or ice cream with your casein powder, make sure you select a preferable flavor for doing so. 

[Related: Does The Ketogenic Diet Work For Strength Training?]

Final Word

There are plenty of good reasons to experiment with casein protein, and given it usually costs just an extra cent or two more than whey per gram of protein, the “more expensive” label shouldn’t be too much of a deterrent. 

Before you start taking casein protein though, it’s always important to speak with your physician to make sure it’s a good choice for your health. After, simply use this list to pick the best casein for you, mix, and enjoy the gains. 

FAQs

Is casein or whey better for weight loss?

Neither whey nor casein are superior for weight loss. Neither protein is more anabolic or “fat burning.” However, casein does digest more slowly so some find it a more filling snack. If it helps you eat less, it’s a good supplement for weight loss.

Does casein protein powder contain lactose?

It has very little lactose, less than whey protein, however it’s not always lactose free. If there’s no sugar on the label then there’s under half a gram of lactose per serving, and probably none. But people with serious allergies should contact the manufacturer to confirm.

Should I have casein protein before bed?

Casein is a slow digesting protein, so it will release amino acids into your bloodstream for a longer period of time than a lot of other proteins, like whey. The slower digestion rate can make it more filling and might prevent midnight snacking, but it doesn’t make it more “anabolic” than other protein.

References

  1. Demling, RH, et al. Effect of a hypocaloric diet, increased protein intake and resistance training on lean mass gains and fat mass loss in overweight police officers. Ann Nutr Metab. 2000;44(1): 21-9.
  2. Messina M, Lynch H, et al. “No Difference Between the Effects of Supplementing With Soy Protein Versus Animal Protein on Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Response to Resistance Exercise.” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2018 May 3:1-36.
  3. Wilborn CD, Taylor LW, et al. The Effects of Pre- and Post-Exercise Whey vs. CaseinProtein Consumption on Body Composition and Performance Measures in Collegiate Female Athletes. J Sports Sci Med. 2013 Mar 1;12(1):74-9.
  4. Fabre M, Hausswirth C, et al. Effects of Postexercise Protein Intake on Muscle Mass and Strength During Resistance Training: Is There an Optimal Ratio Between Fast and Slow Proteins? Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2017 Oct;27(5):448-457.
  5. Boirie Y, et al. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Dec 23;94(26):14930-5.
  6. Abou-Samra R, et al. Effect of different protein sources on satiation and short-term satiety when consumed as a starter. Nutr J. 2011 Dec 23;10:139.
  7. Bendtsen LQ, et al. Effect of dairy proteins on appetite, energy expenditure, body weight, and composition: a review of the evidence from controlled clinical trials. Adv Nutr. 2013 Jul 1;4(4):418-38.