Asking if there is a difference between whey powder and protein powder is like asking if there is a difference between regular gas and supreme. The two concepts are similar, as they are both ways to get additional protein into your diet just like gas is fuel for cars, but that is about as far as it goes.
So what types of differences would you expect between whey powder and other protein powders? There is the type of protein, the potency, the absorption and digestion rate, and of course the cost. Let’s jump into it a little more so we can clearly see why whey is such a popular choice out of all the options.
Common Powder Options
- Whey Powder – Created from milk (which is a mix of whey and casein). Usually this form comes in three varieties – concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. Easily digested and typically a high quality.
- Casein Powder – The other part of milk. This protein digests slowly and is utilized because of that aspect. It is a high quality protein as well.
- Egg Powder – Derived from dehydrated eggs, this is third on the list for quality and packing a powerful punch of protein.
- Milk Powder – By far the cheapest option for protein, milk is made from dehydrated milk and as such typically has a high percentage of casein in it compared to whey powder.
- Soy Powder – Made from soy beans, this protein is a bit lower quality in regards to the protein and amino acids it provides.
So Why Whey
When protein powders started to hit the market years ago it was a soy world. The soy products were very popular. Then other options started to show up such as egg and milk. In some cases people had digestion and bloating problems so they preferred soy.
Whey powder and casein hit the market, and honestly they tasted awful and were very hard to drink. Over time the manufacturers learned to make the product taste better, absorb more easily, and it also became more potent. Soon enough whey powder was the way to go with casein being utilized by people at night specifically for the slow digestion.
As whey protein was developed they created three specific types. Concentrate was the original version which featured a concentrated amount of protein, anywhere from 35 to 80% of a scoop. Next they refined the process to take out more stuff like lactose from the concentrate to make isolate, which has to be 90% protein per scoop. Finally they created hydrolysate which uses enzymes to create a product that is essentially partially digested. It tastes horrible but absorbs very quickly into the body.
Because of the popularity of whey and the subsequent money spent developing new products, whey powder now has various levels of purity, absorption rates, and cost.
The Biggest Difference
If you look at all of the protein powders out there, what really sets whey powder apart is that it has the highest rating of all of them. That means not only does it absorb the easiest, but what it provides is the most amount of usable material in terms of amino acids that our bodies need.
As the cost is fairly negligible in comparison to your health and reaching fitness goals, plus there aren’t that far apart, whey powder has proven itself to be superior all across the board for providing the human body with the best source of protein it can have. So yes, there is a difference between whey powder and other options; whey is way better.