Caseín versus Whey Proteín


I’m just wondering, thinking about the separation of milk into curds+whey, why does Soylent use the Whey as a proteín source?
I went searching and, although it’s a bit hard to find impartial data, both the caseín and the whey proteíns are complete in terms of essential amino-acids. However, Whey Proteín includes hormones (including growth hormone) and antibodies, can have allergenic proteíns others which are hard to digest and absorb, which worries me. On the other hand, it seems to have a better BCAA, and there are some interesting but still unfounded health claims about it.
Here is a list of my findings:


  • Easy and cheap to make from milk (just add vinegar, allow to curd, strain, wash and dry)
  • Easy to digest and absorb
  • Reliable and constant composition
  • A small portion of the population s allergic to Caseín, and it has a similar structure to gluten (so gluten-intolerant people should take care)

Whey Proteín:

  • Has to be bought as isolate (so it doesn’t contain lactose, fat and other non-proteic residues)
  • Is a vast array of different proteins, including antibodies and hormones
  • Includes some allergenic/hard to digest proteíns
  • The composition is very variable
  • Has a better BCAA
  • There are some interesting health claims about it, but scientific studies are preliminary at best
  • Has a lot of woo around it (I’ll admit, this is a pet peeve of mine)

So, considering both lists, is there a reason I haven’t found by which whey protein is clearly better? Could I use caseín in my formulation without trouble?


Although I haven’t put it into practice yet, I have also looked into both whey and casein and here’s what I’ve concluded:

Whey is a fast acting protein, kicks in faster but stays in blood for less time.
Casein is the opposite, it keeps amino acids flowing in blood even for 7 hours after consumption.
I workout trying to bulk up so I had this idea of using whey as my protein source in my post-workout soylent ‘meal’ and casein for the other two meals. It seems doable on paper, safe and the cost is equal to using just whey isolate, for me. Can’t wait for my final ingredients to arrive and put this to test.

So instead of choosing either of them, why not both?

Also you say it is possible to DIY casein…I’m interested in that!
But is my homemade casein going to be reliable enough to be used as a source of protein for something like soylent?
will its nutritional facts be comparable to manufactured casein?
…assuming that my method of producing it is correct.

Is it really that simple to make it?


Dr. Thomas Campbell did some research (The China Study) that shows that rats fed a very high-casein protein diet (20%) were at a greatly increased risk for cancer. The research isn’t really applicable to the casein levels normally consumed, but in something like Soylent, where you are playing with the extremes of nutrition, it could put you at an increased risk for cancer. Whey protein on the other hand might be beneficial.


I’m quite wary of all these rat studies where they feed rats high amounts of this and that for a year.

Of course a rat would die of hundreds of diseases when you feed it nothing but casein and water, or nothing but corn (gene-manipulated or not) and water, or nothing but anything else and water for 2 months straight!
The same would go for humans too.
Half a year of carrots only will cause stomach cancer in humans too I bet :wink:

What I’m saying is th…actually, Paracelsus is saying it, not me:

Everything is poison, there is poison in everything. Only the dose makes a thing not a poison

I wouldn’t worry too much about macronutrients. If they are safe, researched food products like casein or whey protein, they will be safe even in the amounts that we use in Soylent, as long as they actually contain everything we need.
The micronutrients is where things can really go wrong. :slight_smile:

I think this might have been too much rant for such a short message. :smiley:


Thank you so much for the replies!
@sogviper, caseín is not manufactured, it’s from milk just like whey protein. When you curd milk, the casein is the solid (with maybe calcium and magnesium) and the whey protein is in the liquid (together with lactose and other sugars and fats). So, while the whey protein is pretty hard to purify (hence the use of isolate versus concentrate), the curds should be pure caseín as long as you wash it with enough water to take out any whey residues. Cost and ease are major factors for me, that’s why I started looking into homemaking the proteíns. =)

@Tai, I did find that in Wikipedia, but a book is not peer-reviewed, and the described methodology seemed a bit odd to me. And then there is a study mentioned in the same paragraph that says caseín is anti-mutagenic in rats, but it’s from the Australian Dairy Association, so I’m not sure how impartial it is. But seeing as I’m a chemistry grad student and so I’m pretty exposed to carcinogens and other bad stuff, I’ll have to take that into account.

@CuriousBen You’re right, that’s pretty much my philosophy when it comes to food, but seeing as I probably won’t be able to take regular blood tests I wants to be as sure as I can I’m not harming myself. Then again, I’ve been living on pasta and fast food for a couple of years now… xD


@QuanticSakura He’s published a lot of stuff in peer-reviewed journals on the casein/cancer connection. You can look it up on pubmed if you want.

@CuriousBen I think you’re right that macronutrients are a big deal in a balanced diet. But soylent isn’t really a balanced diet, is it? Since you’re getting all of your protein from one source, all of your fat from one source, etc, any issues with that source are going to be greatly magnified.


What about using a variety of proteins? Getting your protein exclusively from casein might not be a good idea, but such might be equally the case with whey protein. Maybe a mix of whey protein, milk casein and egg albumin would be better.


I’m going to add to what I previously said that I am going to be getting my protein from They have the option of creating a custom mix from numerous proteins in multiple forms: whey protein, milk protein, casein, beef protein, egg protein, pea protein, rice protein, soy protein, hemp protein and a few others. The prices are generally good and you have the option of adding flavors and such. I’m going to be taking a mix of whey isolate, whey concentrate, hydrolyzed whey, milk protein, pea protein and rice protein.

I strayed away from the egg protein because it’s only pasteurized, whereas egg whites need to be fully cooked to denature the avidin (which blocks biotin absorption) and make the proteins fully bioavailable. I strayed away from soy protein because it apparently contains significant quantities of phytic acid. I strayed away from hemp protein because it’s actually quite expensive measured per gram of protein. It is a good source of fiber, but the fiber content doesn’t make it worth it for me.

You can also add maltodextrin to the mix. The price is a bit higher than the sources I’ve found, but it is convenient.


Regarding Casein: Correlation does not equal causation. Yes, there is a correlation between casein and cancer, but that’s because protein is required for cancer to grow, as cancer requires the same things that normal cells require for growth. Casein happens to be a great protein for promoting overall cell growth, and thus, it increases ALL cell growth, cancer included… but the cancer has to exist already for casein to increase its growth. Sadly, any good nutrition will increase cancer growth. Whey, on the other hand, isn’t correlated with colon cancer specifically because it’s so highly soluble and it gets digested before it even hits the colon.

In short, the China Study is a single study that has methodological issues from the get-go… and while the data that was collected seems to implicate certain nutrients as the cause of cancer, it’s in all likeliness missing a few very large pieces of the puzzle.

It’s worth noting as well that the study was done in concert with the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine … and Chinese medical science has been plagued with traditional chinese medicine woo for quite a long time now. Soylent is a project that seems to be attempting to avoid fear-based traditionalist woo in favour of hard scientific facts. Let’s not get it caught up in the same kind of fear-based decision making that it’s attempting to transcend. Casein is a perfectly healthy form of protein that helps proper cell growth… and it would make a great addition to the currently used whey.


How about just use milk then you will get both casen and whey proteins plus it would probably be cheaper