Whey Isolate vs Whey Concentrate

Protein supplements are becoming a standard part of the diet to get lean body mass and muscle while maintaining weight or just maintaining your daily protein intake. If you’re also looking to add a protein supplement to your diet, you must have come across different types of protein, including whey protein.

Whey protein is very prominent in the fitness industry because of its many nutritional benefits over other proteins. It has a high biological value (BV) which is the measure of recovery in the body. Whey protein stands on top of all the other protein supplements in terms of its quality and health benefits.

Whey protein is of different types: Whey concentrate, whey isolate and whey hydrolysate. Although having the same protein source, they have slightly different nutritional values.

So, which one to choose, whey isolate or whey concentrate? Should I consider whey hydrolysate? Which one is best suited? To conclude, we have to know everything about whey protein, its types and their differences.

 

What is whey protein?

whey protein

Whey protein is derived from milk. Milk is a natural source of protein. It contains 86.5 % of water, 3.5% of protein, and the rest of 10% consists of other nutrients and lactose. The 3.5% protein in milk is two types of protein, casein (80%) and whey (20%).

This whey (liquid) separates from casein (solid) during the formation of curd or cheese (paneer) from milk. The liquid that you see in your curd and paneer is nothing but whey.

Further processing of whey through the microfiltration technique leads to an increase in its protein content. Filtration also gets rid of extra fat, carbs and calories. Drying this processed whey gives us what we know as ‘whey protein’.

 

The nutritional content of whey protein

Protein helps in mass building and also improves strength. And whey protein is a complete protein, which means it has all nine essential amino acids. It is rich in Leucine that helps in muscle building.

High BV of whey protein results in high aid exercise recovery, giving a quick muscle repair after an intense workout.

Whey proteins are low in carbohydrates, fat, lactose, and calories and only contain a macronutrient proportion of fats and carbohydrates.

Whey protein contains healthy fats like immunoglobulins and lactoferrins for improving immune and overall health.

It also contains Cysteine, an antioxidant glutathione that protects your body from toxins and pollutants and reduces heart disease risk.

It contains polypeptides, so it is easily digestible.

Health Benefits of Whey protein

  1. Promotes muscle growth
  2. boost exercise performance
  3. Lowers blood pressure
  4. Stimulate weight loss
  5. improve mood and sleep
  6. Reduce inflammation

Types of whey protein

Depending upon the processing, the content of protein by weight, and nutritional facts, whey protein is of three types:

  • Whey Concentrate
  • Whey Isolate
  • Whey Hydrolysate.

 

Whey protein concentrate

Whey protein concentrate

 

Concentrating the milk proteins in whey through cold microfiltration until the protein content is increased by 35-80% protein by weight and then drying the liquid whey gives us Whey concentrate. The rest of 20% is lactose and other nutrients.

It is easy to digest and takes only 2 to 3 hours to digest properly.

The process of isolating the whey also decreases the Heavy metal concern.

Pros of Whey concentrate

  • Wholesome for meal replacements because it has a macronutrient proportion of fat, carbs and calorie and has a good 35-80% protein by weight.
  • It has a natural flavour of sweetness due to lactose and tastes like milk.
  • Better immune fraction.
  •  Less expensive.

Cons of Whey concentrate  

  • Not a great option for lactose intolerants
  • Low BV, and take more time to digest so not as fast as isolate for recovery.
  • It has more carbs and fat so, not suitable for diet.
  • Whey concentrate doesn’t necessarily need to have 80% of protein content. It can have low protein content too.

 

Whey protein isolate

Whey protein isolate

Further processing of whey concentrate via ion exchange and ultrafiltration leads to further isolation of protein and yields at least 90% protein by weight.

Whey Isolate contains less lactose, fat, and carbs than whey concentrate owing to extra filtration.

It only takes about 30 mins to one hour for digestion. So, it is the perfect choice for post-workout for quick recovery.

Pros of Whey isolate

  • It has the highest protein content of at least 90% by weight.
  • It is low in fat and carbs, and so it is complimentary while dieting.
  • High BV and easily digestible.
  • Great for lactose intolerants.

 Cons of Whey isolate

  • Healthy for lactose intolerant people.
  • Low immune fraction.
  • Tasteless without added flavouring.
  • Little more Expensive

 

Whey Protein Hydrolysate

Whey hydrolysate is whey isolate with added enzymes and more processing that makes it a pre-digested protein.

It has finer particles than whey isolate and takes only 0-30 min for digestion.

Whey hydrolysate has similar nutritional benefits to whey isolate, and yet it is more expensive just for being a pre-digested protein. It can be great for a speedy recovery of muscles but still doesn’t meet the expectation of being so expensive.

 

Whey Concentrate vs Whey Isolate

There is not much difference between whey concentrate and whey isolate, both have incredible nutritional values, but they are comparable.

Similarities

Apart from the same source, whey concentrate and whey isolate both have the same amino acid profile. That means both contain all the nine essential amino acids.

Both have high absorption and digestibility. The Aid exercise recovery rate for concentrate and isolate is almost the same.

Isocaloric control of both proteins is also the same. Moreover, both concentrate and isolate have biological values higher than eggs, and they are low in carbs, fat and calories.

 

Differences

So, both proteins have the same nutritional content but what makes them different is processing and the ratio of each nutrient per weight.

Whey isolate has higher protein content than whey concentrate. So, you will have more protein per serving from isolate than from concentrate. Also, isolate has low fat, carbs and calories. So, if you’re cutting your carbs and fat, whey isolate is your whey/way.

Although there isn’t much lactose in whey protein anyway, Low lactose concentration in isolate makes it suitable for lactose intolerants, unlike concentrate.

Isolate also has higher BV than concentrate but a low immune fraction because it has low immunoglobulins and polypeptides as it is more processed. So, concentrate is more beneficial for your immune system.

Isolate is more easily digestible than concentrate because it has finer particles. So, it is an idle choice after a workout as it will quickly dissolve in blood sugar and give a quick recovery.

Some studies show that concentration is a better option for fat loss, while others contrast this statement.

The more processed whey isolate is more expensive than whey concentrate as it has more protein percentage by weight and low lactose, fat and carbs.

Some people even consider whey concentrate a better option for bulking and whey isolate for cutting. But, there aren’t enough studies to compare the two. Both have almost the same benefits, but there might be little to no differences.

 

Nutritional facts and comparison of whey concentrate and whey isolate

Whey Concentrate Whey Isolate
Processing  More Less
Protein  21.9g 19.3g
Carbs 0.2g 2.4g
Fat 0.2g 1.7g
Lactose  0.7g 3.5g
Calories  80kcal 98kcal
Cost High Low

TIPS

  • Look out for protein content by weight while buying whey concentrate. Some products have a low protein content.
  • Be aware of products with protein spiking.
  • Stay away from products having proprietary blends.
  • Check protein per serving vs serving size.
  • Try to buy products from the company’s website.

 

FAQs

Can I have whey protein with milk?

 Ans: Yes, you can have whey protein with milk or with just water. It depends on your preferences. But whey protein has more protein content and low fat, carbs and calories than milk, so adding whey protein to milk will affect its nutritional facts.

 

Amount of serving per day?

Ans: Usually recommended serving is 25-30 grams per day for ordinary people and 40-50 grams per day for gymnasts and athletes or recommended by the dietician.

 

Can women also have whey protein?

Ans: Yes. Women also have to fulfil their daily protein intake required according to their needs, and so they can also have whey protein supplements. But consulting your dietician is recommended.

 

Does Whey isolate create foam?

Ans: Yes. Just like egg white protein creates foam, Whey protein also creates foam. The creation of foam because of protein is very normal.

 

CONCLUSION

So, have you made your choice? There isn’t any wrong or right whey. It all depends on your preferences and needs.

While the isolate looks like an idle choice, concentrate is just as good as isolate. If you aren’t lactose intolerant and you are not dieting, go for concentrate. Otherwise, isolate is your whey.

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