What is the difference between a whey protein shake and a protein shake?

Are protein shakes a dime-a-dozen? Or is there more to them than that? Plenty of people are ready to jump on the whey Whey Protein Shakeprotein shake bandwagon, but it is never a good idea to go bandwagon jumping without doing the proper amount of investigation.

So what is the difference between a “protein shake” and a whey protein shake?

No Whey

When people talk about protein shakes, they might mean a whey protein shake or one of the other varieties. So what are those other varieties?

  • Casein – This is a protein that is derived from milk. On average about 80% of the protein you get from milk is casein, depending on brand. Casein is considered a slow-release protein because it takes longer to digest and absorb into the bloodstream. One reason it is popular for serious athletes and bodybuilders is because if you drink it at night before bed, it will release longer during sleep to prevent the body breaking down muscle tissue for any needed amino acids.
  • Milk Protein – This is a dried out version of milk which means it has the casein along with 20% whey. But it also has lactose and typically more carbohydrates than other protein powders. It is cheap and works.
  • Egg Protein – Eggs are the top source for natural protein. They score high on quality and have a lot of needed amino acids. The powder is derived from dried out eggs and should be considered superior to soy and milk in regards to the quality you get.
  • Soy Protein – This type of powder is derived from soy beans and used to be fairly popular with vegetarians. One issue that has been brought up is long term affects of too much soy protein in the body because of phytic acid. However, the research is still young on the topic.

Yes Whey!

For a whey protein shake there are two basic types:

  • Whey isolate – This is a product that has been refined at least twice. It is considered to have a higher quality of protein in it due to the refinement process along with less fat, lactose, and other items.
  • Whey concentrate – The cheaper of the two whey products, concentrate is only refined once and still has more lactose and fats than isolate. However some people feel there are valuable nutrients that the body needs in concentrate over isolate. No matter which version, whey protein is the highest quality protein option you can consume.

What is the difference?

In the case of a whey protein shake it is all about quality. The whey isolate shakes have the highest quality protein with most useful amino acids for the body along with ease of digestion. From there the list goes to whey concentrate, casein, egg, milk, and then soy.

Casein has the slow release factor to it, along with milk which is mostly casein. Those fill a specific need that sets them apart in many people’s eyes. After that the differences has to do with prices. The best way to look at it is in terms of steak. They whey options are a prime cut of high quality meat while the soy is just a rib-eye. Both of them are steak and give you sustenance, but the high quality tastes better and usually gives you better nutrition.

Most people chose a whey protein shake because the quality is the most important factor. In the long run it makes the most sense to pay for a quality fuel if you want results.