Most people think that whey protein and whey protein isolate are the same thing. However, that is not the case. When you’re deciding which protein to add to your supplement regimen it’s important to know the differences between whey protein, so that you can make the best choice in order to fit your health and fitness goals. With so many different options, such as whey concentrate, whey isolate, whey hydrolysate, and micellar casein it can be confusing to know what type of protein will give you the best results. We're going to talk about the fundamental differences between whey concentrate and whey isolate, so you can decide which one is right for you.
In this article, you will learn about
- What Is Whey Protein Concentrate?
- What Is Whey Protein Isolate?
- Whey Protein Isolate Vs Concentrate Key Differences?
- How Much Protein Do I Need To Build Muscle?
- Which One Is Better Whey Protein Isolate Vs. Concentrate?
What Is Whey Protein Concentrate?
Whey protein concentrate is the liquid by-product of the manufacturing process of cheese. When the casein and water are removed from this by-product, you are left with, what’s better known as whey protein concentrate. Most whey protein concentrates are composed of 70-80% pure protein and contain over 50% lactose, with a higher content of fat and carbohydrates, as compared to whey protein isolate.
What Is Whey Protein Isolate?
Whey protein isolate is a highly purified form of Whey protein. Whey protein isolate goes through a rigorous filtration process, known as a cross-flow micro-filtration as compared to whey protein concentrate. Through this filtration process, protein content is separated from any additional fat, carbohydrates, cholesterol, and lactose, resulting in a more purified form of protein.
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Whey Protein Isolate Vs Concentrate
Whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate are both derived from the same milk concentration. However, the main difference between whey protein concentrate vs whey isolate, is that whey isolate has been put through a micro-filtration process to help remove the lactose, to derive a more highly purified and refined form of protein. From deriving this highly purified form of protein. Both forms of whey are known as complete proteins, and contain all 9 essential amino acids, to help build and rebuild lean muscle mass while optimizing post-workout muscle recovery. Since these amino acids are essential, they must be obtained through diet or through supplementation.
Of these 9 essential amino acids, whey concentrate and whey isolate also contain the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) often referred to as the building blocks of protein. Studies show that the branched chain amino acids, particularly leucine have significant anabolic effects and enhance muscle growth. The benefit of supplementing with whey and whey isolate is the fast digestion rate. Delivering a high level of amino acids rapidly to the muscle tissue will replenish your body with the fuel it needs to gain lean muscle mass and strength. The process of building lean mass is called muscle protein synthesis.
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What's the Difference Between Whey Isolate and Whey Concentrate?
- Whey isolate contains a higher protein content, ranging around 90% purity compared to whey concentrate, at 70-80% protein purity.
- Whey protein isolate contains less than 1% lactose and milk fat, as compared to whey protein concentrate, which contains over 50% lactose per serving, and over 2% fat per serving.
- Whey protein concentrate can cause bloating, due to the lactose and carbohydrate content.
- Whey protein isolate has a lower calorie count as compared to whey protein concentrate
- Whey protein isolate absorbs faster, which makes it an ideal post-workout supplement to help with crucial amino-acid delivery.
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The table below shows the key differences between a standard whey isolate and whey concentrate supplement per 100-calorie serving
How Much Protein Do I Need?
Although whey protein is classified as a supplement, a high-quality protein powder, is essentially the same as whole food. Protein powder is just delivered in a far more concentrated and fast absorbing form.
The recommended minimum amount of daily protein intake is .37 gram per pound of body weight (or .8 grams per kilogram of body weight). Although protein requirements depend on several other variables such as fitness goals, age, height, weight, activity levels, and weight loss goals, the calculation can be used across the board as a general reference.
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|Weight in lbs.||Minimum Protein||Athletes Minimum|
|100||37 grams||74 grams|
|110||40 grams||80 grams|
|120||44 grams||88 grams|
|130||47 grams||94 grams|
|140||51 grams||102 grams|
|150||55 grams||110 grams|
|160||58 grams||116 grams|
|170||62 grams||124 grams|
|180||65 grams||130 grams|
|190||69 grams||138 grams|
|200||72 grams||144 grams|
|210||76 grams||152 grams|
|220||80 grams||160 grams|
|230||84 grams||168 grams|
|240||87 grams||174 grams|
|250||91 grams||182 grams|
|260||95 grams||190 grams|
|270||98 grams||196 grams|
|280||102 grams||204 grams|
|290||105 grams||210 grams|
|300||109 grams||218 grams|
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What Are The Similarities Between Whey Vs Whey Isolate?
Whey Protein Isolate Vs Concentrate Both Build Muscle Mass
Muscle tissue is composed of protein. Both whey concentrate and whey isolate are incredibly well researched backed by hundreds of clinically studies. Whey and whey isolate both play an essential role in fat loss, muscle growth, exercise recovery and the muscle building process.
In fact, a study conducted at the University of North Carolina investigated the effects of whey vs other forms of whey protein. All 56 study participants increased total body muscle mass and strength supplementing with 60g of whey protein per day in conjunction with an 8-week resistance training program [R].
Whey Protein Isolate Vs Concentrate Both Help Fat Loss
Protein is a valuable macronutrient for weight loss. Unlike carbohydrates, protein has no effect on blood glucose and insulin levels. Increased blood glucose from consuming refined sugars and simple carbohydrates can increase body cat accumulation.
That being said, whey isolate does contain fewer calories, carbohydrates, and fat per serving than whey concentrate. A common misconception when it comes to weight loss, is that you should cut calories and eat less, forcing yourself into a caloric deficit in order to burn body fat. The ladder of that statement, is in fact true. You do need to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose weight. However, more often than not, under-eating will cause your body to store more body fat and slow down metabolism, resulting in sub-optimal results, and can lead to further frustration.
One of the most crucial elements to losing weight, is making sure you're eating enough. That includes protein. It may sound counterintuitive, that you need to eat more to lose weight. But i assure you, it's not.
A study published in Obesity Surgery examined the effect of whey protein supplementation on weight loss and body composition of women who regained weight after bariatric surgery. Patients recieved 0.5kg of protein per pound of body weight for 16 weeks accounting for a 75% increase in total protein intake. Participants who supplemented with whey protein, as opposed to placebo, significantly reduced total body weight and fat free mass [R].
Whey Protein Isolate Vs Concentrate Both Help Exercise Recovery
Protein provides the vital amino acids you need to ensure quick and efficient muscle recovery.
If you can actively recover faster, then you can increase your training volume, which translates into better athletic performance and better results. Supplementing with Whey Protein Isolate or Whey Protein Concentrate before, during, or after your training, stimulates muscle protein synthesis and minimizes protein breakdown (proteolysis), which are the two biological processes that are essential for exercised induced muscle recovery. Compared to regular whey concentrate supplements, whey protein isolate is more effective at increasing blood amino acids and protein synthesis due to its different absorption kinetics and amino acid profile.
The high availability of amino acids in whey protein isolate, especially branched-chain amino acids, is important for protein synthesis in the hours immediately after ingestion [R]. Whey protein isolate also contains high amounts of L-Glutamine, which is a conditionally essential amino acid, which helps decrease muscle mass breakdown, and exercise-induced muscle soreness.
Whey Protein Isolate Vs Concentrate: Takeaway
If you’re trying to decide which protein to go with between whey protein isolate or concentrate, always go with isolate. Whey protein isolate provides more protein content per serving, while filtering any extra lactose, fat, carbohydrates, and cholesterol. Research shows that whey isolate provides better outcomes when it comes to muscle mass, strength, and recovery as well as body optimization, and fat loss.
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