Amongst most fitness enthusiasts, the dilemma of choosing between whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate is quintessential. The right answer lies in a deeper understanding of both these protein supplements. Truth be told, there are certain similarities, as well as several differences between them. Before we go for a comparative analysis, let us understand all about whey protein.
How is Whey Protein Derived?
Both casein and whey protein are the two primary proteins that constitute milk. The former constitutes 80% and the latter 20%. Other milk constituents include lactose, dairy fats, vitamins, and minerals. When milk is coagulated to separate the solid and liquid constituents, the casein and whey protein components get separated. Casein is present in the coagulated milk solids (cheese) and whey protein is present in the liquid component. Prior to understanding the synthesis of whey protein isolate and concentrate, here’s a quick look at whey protein’s health benefits.
A Holistic Form of Protein
Both casein and whey protein are rich in amino acids, and are considered as high-grade protein variants. But whey protein is unanimously hailed by health enthusiasts as a holistic protein because:-
- Whey Protein contains all 9 essential amino acids in adequate proportions.
- As compared to casein, whey protein is much easier to digest and assimilate.
- The Leucine content in whey protein is high. Leucine is an anabolic amino acid that promotes muscle-growth.
- It is gut-friendly, promotes good metabolism, and sleep quality.
- It provides high satiety value, thus avoiding calorie overload for weight watchers.
- The holistic combination of 9 amino acids enhances exercise performance.
Deriving Whey Protein Isolate and Whey Protein Concentrate from Liquid Whey
So far we have gained insights on the separation of whey protein from milk. Once the milk has been suitably coagulated, the liquid whey is thereon concentrated to derive whey protein powder. Now based on the concentration/isolation methods used, the two variants of whey protein- isolate and concentrate are obtained.
Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey Protein Concentrate is derived when this concentration process yields a version of whey powder with the 80% protein composition. The remaining 20% is comprised of lactose, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Here are the various pros and cons of whey protein concentrate:-
- The manufacturing process is faster and simpler.
- Thus it is priced cheaper as compared to whey protein isolate, and more easily available.
- For those who prefer an inexpensive whey protein supplement, albeit with lesser protein content, this concentrate is the best option.
- For those who are looking for a high dose of protein, the whey protein concentrate might not be the best option.
- Moreover, the presence of lactose makes it unsuitable for those who are lactose-intolerant.
- Those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome should also avoid taking whey protein concentrate.
- Due to the presence of lactose and fat, this might be a deterrent for weight loss.
Whey Protein Isolate
The manufacturing process of whey protein isolate is a bit more complicated. Once the whey has reached the concentrate stage as described above, it is subjected to additional filtration stages. It is important to note that cold micro-filtration is carried out to keep the nutritional value intact. The micro-filtration loops are continued till the 90-95% of protein content is isolated. Therefore the end product derived is known as Whey Protein Isolate. This form of why protein has maximum protein content and negligible amount of lactose and fat. Here are the pros and cons of whey protein isolate:-
- Owing to the high protein concentration, the nutritional benefits of whey protein isolate are greater.
- Whey protein isolate is easier to digest than whey protein concentrate. It gets more rapidly absorbed and assimilated by the body.
- It is suitable for consumption even for those who are lactose-intolerant.
- For those who are particular about weight loss, this fat-free and sugar-freeversion is more preferable.
- The manufacturing process is longer and more complex, to yield a product that is purer and ultra-refined.
- Whey protein isolate supplements are thus higher priced as compared to whey protein concentrates.
Making the Right Choice
The main difference between Whey Protein Isolate and Whey Protein Concentrate lies in the ratio of protein to other components. If you are all right with consuming 20% lactose and milk fats, you can always opt for the relatively less expensive concentrate. But if you are super-focussed on your diet and exercise regime, you should consider spending a little more. Remember, preparing the same protein shake would require lesser scoops of whey protein isolate, and more scoops of the concentrate. So in a way, you end up spending the same money as your quantitative use of the concentrate is higher. Whatever be your choice, make sure you purchase whey protein of a reputed brand, from a reliable store.