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High-performing athletes need to consume enough protein to help their muscles recover from tough workouts. Since it can be difficult to meet 100 percent of their nutritional needs with food, many young athletes take protein supplements.

The main types of protein for athletes are whey and casein. Both are derived from cow's milk, but they provide different benefits. Jim White, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, breaks down each type so you can use them correctly to build game-changing muscle.


What it is: Whey is a fast-digesting protein that makes up 20 percent of the protein found in milk.

How to Take It: You need to feed your muscles protein almost immediately after working out. Since whey protein is digested quickly and gets into your bloodstream fast, it's the best type after training.

White recommends taking in 20 grams of whey protein mixed with about 60 grams of carbohydrate within 30 minutes after workouts. This provides the amino acids your muscles need to rebuild. "[The protein] is easily absorbed, especially after your workout," says White.

Try these great protein products:

Gatorade Recover 03

Great if you hate thick shakes.

Serving size: 16.9 ounces
Calories: 120
Protein: 16 grams
Carbs: 14 grams
Fat: 0 grams

EAS Myoplex Strength Formula RTD

Throw it in your duffel bag and slug it down after the gym.

Serving size: 14 ounces
Calories: 210
Protein: 25 grams
Carbs: 23 grams
Fat: 2.5 grams


What it is: Casein is a slow-digesting protein that makes up 80 percent of the protein in cow's milk.

How to Take It: Casein breaks down slowly in the body, so it's not ideal as a post-workout supplement. White suggests drinking before bedtime to prevent muscle breakdown during sleep. Stick to around 20 grams so your body can use the entire amount.

Cytosport Complete Casein

The slow-digesting protein is a healthy late-night snack.

Serving size: One scoop
Calories: 110
Protein: 25 grams
Carbs: 1 grams
Fat: 1 grams

Optimum NitroCore 24

The 50/50 split of casein and whey may provide added muscle-building benefits.

Serving size: One scoop
Calories: 20
Protein: 24 grams
Carbs: 14 grams
Fat: 5 grams

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