Difference between Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate and a Blend?

As people are getting health conscious and hitting the gym more regularly than ever, dietary supplements are getting equally popular be it health drinks, protein powder or bars. Now, the commonest protein present in these supplements is whey protein, a byproduct of dairy.

Whey protein comes in different forms like whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and Whey protein blend. In this article we shall see the difference between them. However, first let’s see what exactly whey protein is.

What’s Whey Protein

The portion of milk that remains while making yogurt or cheese is called whey. This contains fast-digesting proteins known as whey protein. Normally in milk 80% protein content is casein which is a slower digesting protein and remaining 20% is whey protein.

Both the proteins are high-quality proteins as they consist of all essential amino acids required by human body. However, whey protein is certainly more beneficial as it gets digested quickly and, thus, more helpful in production of new protein required by the muscles.

While there are several forms of whey protein, most commonly used are whey protein isolate, whey concentrates and blend.

What’s the difference between Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate and whey protein Blend?

Well, the difference between whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and whey protein blend is the result of different type of processing techniques used during their production. These techniques also cause a difference in their nutritional value. Let’s take a look at each of these protein supplements in details:

Whey protein concentrate

Whey protein concentrate is the commonest as well as the minimally processed form of whey. Minimal processing might seem like a nice thing, however the problem with concentrate is that it comes with a bunch load of lactose and fat. Although, some fats might be good for our body, but the milk fat in combination with lactose is not really something that you want. Nutritionally, whey protein isolate is 80% protein, and 20% is mix of water, lactose, fat, other carbohydrates and minerals, though the actual protein content may vary between 30-80%. Also, whey protein concentrate is the cheapest of the whey protein available in market being the crudest form.

Who can take? It’s cheaper. So, if you’re not worried about a little fat and lactose, you can go for whey protein concentrate.

Beware: It may cause bloating due to higher amount of lactose, especially if you’re lactose intolerant it can cause up some real trouble.

Whey protein blend

As the name suggests, it’s a blend of concentrate and isolate. Thus, its nutritional value lies somewhere between them both. So, if you are opting for a whey protein blend you should definitely check beforehand that how much protein you’re getting out of it. The protein content is definitely lesser than that of isolate.

Who can take? Ideally, blends aren’t not recommended. Though, some experts believe that blends can be used by people doing endurance exercises. The casein content in them is slow digesting, thus will last longer in the blood.

Beware: People with slow metabolism should definitely avoid. Also, the real problem is uncertainty in the nutritional value. It’s important never to go for the cheap ones just to save some money as you cannot be certain exactly what it is blended with. Also, these cheaper ones are sometimes using the technique of nitrogen spiking that cheats the protein measuring machines into believing the protein content is higher (which is not the case).

Whey protein isolate

This is the purest form. The protein concentrate is further refined to remove lactose, fats and other constituents, such that the protein content may reach up to 90%.

Two types of filtration techniques are used, namely ion exchange filtration and micro filtration. The double filtration process and higher protein content makes it the costliest among the three.

Who should take? Being purest form, it’s ideal for people looking to build muscle (and not just bulk). It’s also recommended for people with lactose intolerance, slow metabolism or bloating as the concentration of lactose and casein is minimum in it.

Beware: Whey protein isolate causes insulin levels to increase owing to is rapid absorption. Thus, it’s ideal to mix carbs with your protein. Mixing your whey protein isolate with fruit shake is ideal as the fiber in fruits will slow the things down.

Bottom line

It’s always the best to consume whey protein isolate for best results. However, when budget becomes an issue, you may have to reconsider your choice. The major battle here is between effectiveness against budget and bloating. All in all, isolate is the most recommended whey protein given to its positive properties.