Whey protein is one of the most popular supplements on the market. People involved in health and fitness, athletes, and sometimes everyday people with no serious physical pursuits use the product. It is an ideal way to get a boost of high quality protein that digests quickly and easily into the body. However there tends to be a little confusion with the average consumer when they see products labeled as ‘whey protein isolate’ or ‘whey protein concentrate’.
Obviously manufacturers do what they can to ensure the maximum amount of sales so it is hard to simply take the writing on the container at face value. Let’s take a minute to jump into the subject of whey protein isolate to help gain a better understanding of what it is, what it does and whether or not you should be taking it or another variety.
What is Whey?
Whey protein is one of two protein sources isolated from cow’s milk during the process of making cheese. Caesin is the other source. It is considered the highest quality protein the human body can consume because of the number of amino acids within it, ease of digestion, and amount of the product the human body can use.
In the case of why protein, it absorbs into the bloodstream from the stomach very quickly which makes it a great option before or after workouts to get a quick burst of protein. On top of that, the amino acids it contains are some of the most used in exercise such as glutamine and leucine.
Isolate vs. Concentrate
The terms whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate have to do with how they are processed during creation. Concentrate means that the source was filtered to take out water and minerals leaving a high quality protein source that is about 75% protein but still has some lactose in it.
The isolate process usually takes place after the concentrate is made. The protein is filtered yet again, but this time removing more fat, carbohydrates, and lactose generating an ever purer product that is closer to 95% protein with trace amounts of lactose.
The difference between the two is the quality of protein is higher in isolate. Also the isolate is often easier to digest and easier on the stomach. For people with lactose intolerance the whey protein isolate is definitely the way to go.
Which is Better?
It is hard to simply say whey protein isolate is better than the concentrated version. To be fair, both products provide needed protein and thus amino acids. While some people like to speculate that the isolate is better because of the ‘quality’ there have been no studies to support that the small increase between the two generates more muscle growth or repair.
An important note for most people is the cost of a product and that extra filtration typically doubles the cost of isolate versus concentrate. A final point is that filtering out more things is not always beneficial because the human body needs some of those things that provide valuable immunity boosting.
The bottom line is that whey protein is very valuable to people who are exercising regularly because it is a great form of protein that is higher quality than meat sources. It really doesn’t matter which form you use as both whey protein isolate and concentrate provide that good protein your body needs. For most people, the cost will outweigh any minor benefits and concentrate will be found on their shelves.