Casein Compared with Whey Proteins Affects the Organization of Dietary Fat during Digestion and Attenuates the Postprandial Triglyceride Response to a Mixed High-Fat Meal in Healthy, Overweight Men

J Nutr. 2015 Dec;145(12):2657-64. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.216812. Epub 2015 Oct 21.


Background: Postprandial lipemia is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The potential impacts of the type/nature of dietary protein on postprandial lipemia and associated dysregulations have been insufficiently investigated.

Objective: We investigated the postprandial effect of including in a high-fat meal some milk protein fractions that markedly differ in their physicochemical properties and composition [either casein (CAS), whey protein (WHE), or α-lactalbumin-enriched whey protein (LAC)].

Methods: The protein fractions were incorporated as 15% energy in a high-fat meal in a 3-period, crossover postprandial study of 10 healthy overweight men with an elevated waist circumference (>94 cm). We measured postprandial changes in plasma lipids, amino acids, glucose, and oxidative stress markers, vascular function (using pulse contour analysis), and low-grade inflammation (using plasma markers). We also characterized in vitro the meal structures, including the size of the fat globule, and possible changes during digestion.

Results: The type of protein did not affect postprandial plasma glucose, amino acids, insulin, or nonesterified fatty acids, but, compared with WHE and LAC, which did not differ, CAS markedly reduced postprandial triglycerides (TGs), achieving a 22 ± 10% reduction in the 6-h area under the curve (P < 0.05). Similar trends were shown for plasma chylomicrons [apolipoprotein (apo)B-48; P < 0.05]. However, there were no significant differences between the meals regarding postprandial oxidative stress (plasma hydroperoxides and malondialdehyde), endothelial dysfunction (salbutamol-induced changes in pulse contour analysis), or low-grade inflammation. In vitro studies showed that when the pH of the meal decreased to stomach pH values, the reduction in the solubility of casein resulted in a phase separation between fat and protein, whereas the proteins in the other meals remained suspended with fat globules.

Conclusion: In healthy overweight men, casein has specific physical interactions with fat that affect postprandial TGs, leading to the formation of fewer chylomicrons or an increase in chylomicron clearance. This trial was registered at as NCT00931151.

Keywords: dietary protein; high-fat meal; humans; meal structure; metabolic dysregulation; milk protein; postprandial period; triglycerides.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apolipoprotein B-48 / blood
  • Caseins / administration & dosage*
  • Caseins / chemistry
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chylomicrons / blood
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Digestion
  • Energy Intake
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Meals
  • Overweight / metabolism*
  • Postprandial Period
  • Solubility
  • Triglycerides / blood*
  • Waist Circumference
  • Whey Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Whey Proteins / chemistry


  • Apolipoprotein B-48
  • Caseins
  • Chylomicrons
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Triglycerides
  • Whey Proteins

Associated data