Whey Protein Isolate
By Brice Woodard, ABS Team Member
Protein is the most important macronutrient in building a body that builds high-quality muscle and burns fat like a furnace. Getting more protein in our diets is a struggle some days, which makes protein-based supplements an attractive option.
How many times have you taken a gander at the ingredients list of some of your favorite supplements? What are some of the more common ingredients you see? Some probably have Stevia for sweetening, maybe a little salt for flavor. Then you have whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. What's the difference between the concentrate and the isolate?
A Primer on Milk and Cheese
When making cheese, milk is separated out into part liquid and part curds. These small curds are used to create cheese, while the remaining liquid is the starting point for whey protein.
The liquid portion is further processed by passing it through a filter. After the process is complete, you are left with a more refined liquid called whey protein isolate. The residue left in the filter is called whey protein concentrate.
Isolating the Protein
So, why are these important and how do they differ? When the liquid is initially separated from the milk, it is a combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Further processing allows for a bigger separation of the macronutrients.
In whey protein concentrate, protein accounts for anywhere between 30-80% of the total composition. Fats and carbohydrates exist in the form of lactose to make up the remainder of the macronutrient profile.
When the filtration happens, the majority of the lactose stays in the concentrate leaving you with a much more protein-dense whey protein isolate as a result. Whey protein isolate consists of about 90% protein, leaving only about 10% left for fat and carbohydrates.
Which is Better?
Both whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate have their benefits and drawbacks.
Whey protein concentrate is a cheaper source of protein since it doesn't require as much processing as isolate does. This makes it a great option for those that are more budget-conscious and looking for a cheap method to incorporate more protein into their diet. Since whey protein concentrate goes through less processing, it also contains higher levels of lactose. If you are sensitive to lactose or lactose intolerant, this may not be the best option for you.
Whey protein isolate is the more expensive option due to the processing required. One of the biggest benefits of the extra processing is the reduced lactose left in the final product. The lower fat and carbohydrates allow for a faster digesting protein than whey protein concentrate. This makes whey protein isolate ideal for both pre and post workout.