Bodybuilder’s Supplements 101: The Difference Between Whey Isolate & Whey Concentrate

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If you’re new to bodybuilding, you might probably be caught up in choosing between different supplements. One of them is whey protein powder. In general, whey protein or protein powder is considered an essential supplement for building more muscle and strength.

What Is Whey Protein? 

In actuality, whey protein powder is extracted from dairy. It’s a protein compound found in milk and other dairy products. Milk is processed to extract whey protein from it. Before getting processed, the protein composition of milk comprises 20% whey and 80% casein protein (slower digesting protein). 

Whey and casein proteins are then filtered from milk. The result is two different types of whey protein; whey concentrate and whey isolate. 

Now, this is the confusing part for bodybuilding newbies. They are often confused in choosing between the two and which one is recommended for them. 

Although this question has been answered countless times, it would be proper to rediscuss this topic anew for everyone’s benefit. 

To learn the differences between whey concentrate and whey isolate, keep reading this post. 

Whey Isolate Vs. Whey Concentrate, What’s the Difference? 

With their different processing methods, whey isolate and whey concentrate end up as different whey protein products. They have numerous differences in terms of nutrition. 

In its liquid form, whey is collected from dairy products such as yogurt and cheese aside from milk. It undergoes a series of processing to further increase this dairy product’s protein content.

After achieving the desired protein content level, the liquid is then dried to manufacture whey concentrate powder. The end product is made up of 80% protein, while the remaining contents are fats and carbohydrates.

Whey isolate meanwhile uses the process that reduces the carbohydrate and fat content of whey. It produces a higher amount of protein (up to 90%). 

The only similarities between whey isolate and whey concentrate are the amino acids found in them. This is because both types of whey protein powder are derived or manufactured from the same proteins. 

To give you a broader idea of their difference, here is a detailed look: 

Whey Isolate

  • Undergoes more processing
  • Contains more protein (23 grams per serving)
  • Contains fewer carbohydrates (1 gram per serving)
  • Contains zero fat
  • Contains lesser lactose (1 gram per serving)
  • Expensive than whey concentrate

Whey Concentrate

  • Undergoes less processing
  • Contains lesser protein (18 grams)
  • Contains more carbohydrates (3.5 grams)
  • Contains more fat (1.5 grams)
  • Contains more lactose (3.5 grams)
  • Cheaper than whey isolate

Although whey concentrate has higher lactose content, it is still within the lactose intolerants’ consumption threshold. Whey isolate contains lesser fat and carbohydrates but has a higher protein amount than whey concentrate. With that in mind, whey isolate costs more than whey concentrate. 

However, consuming a larger quantity of whey concentrate can provide the user with the same protein dose. The downside is, the user will likely have to deal with the fat and carbohydrate content of whey concentrate. 

What Are the Benefits You Get from Both? 

Let’s start with the one with the highest amount of protein; whey isolate. This type of whey protein is best for building lean muscles minus the mass. Whey concentrate meanwhile, builds both mass and muscles. It means that you will likely develop fats and gain weight easily. 

Meanwhile, whey isolate is best used for bodybuilders who want to achieve a more ripped and leaner physique. On the other hand, whey concentrate is best used for newbies and bodybuilders who seek to gain more mass on their physique. Newbies, in particular, need to build mass before they proceed with the shredding period wherein, they switch from whey concentrate to whey isolate. 

The Bottom Line

Regardless of your choice, both whey isolate and whey concentrate provide you benefits, but in different ways. It all depends on your fitness goals. Also, it’s noteworthy to learn that many bodybuilding supplements contain a blend of whey isolate or whey concentrate. Thus, it’s very important to do research and ask an expert’s advice before buying one.