What’s The Difference Between Whey Protein Isolate and Whey Protein Concentrate?

Whey Isolate vs Whey Concentrate
Whey Isolate vs Whey Concentrate
Whey Isolate vs Whey Concentrate

If you are looking to purchase Whey Protein powder you may have noticed that it comes in a couple different types – namely Whey Protein Concentrate and Whey Protein Isolate.

In this article I’m going to discuss the processing and nutritional difference between these two types of whey protein powders to highlight the key differences between the two. 

The Processing Difference

The difference between Whey Protein Concentrate and Whey Portein Isolate in how they are processed is that whey isolate goes through one extra filtering procecss to remove a bit more of the fat and carbohydrate.

Below is a high level overview of how whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate is processed. 

Whey Concentrate & Whey Isolate Processing

  1. Cows are milked
  2. Milk is sent to a cheese processing facility
  3. Milk is pasteurized
  4. An enzyme is added to the milk to separate the milk into curds and whey (remember little miss muffett?)
  5. The curds are used to make Cheese
  6. The whey is sent through very fine filters (called micro-filtration) to remove most of the fat and carbohydrate from the whey. The result is whey concentrate
  7. To make whey “isolate” the whey is then sent through another filtration process (called ultra-filtration) to remove more of the fat and carbohydrate from the whey
  8. Then the whey (concentrate and isolate) is spray dried to turn the liquid whey into powder

The Nutritional Difference 

The bottom line here is that Whey Isolate Powder “typically” contains more protein and less fat and carbohydrate than Whey Concentrate.  

But as you see below, the difference in nutritional profile (per serving) is not significant.

Below are the nutritional profiles comparing ProMix Unflavored Whey Concentrate to ProMix unflavored Whey Isolate so you can see the nutritional difference between an Isolate and a Concentrate  made by the same brand. 

 ConcentrateIsolate
Serving Size30g30g
Total Fat1.5g0.45g
Saturated Fat0.5g0g
Trans Fat0g0g
Cholesterol50mg14mg
Sodium50mg45mg
Carbohydrate3g2g
Sugar1g2g
Protein25g27g

Summary

So that’s the difference between Whey protein concentrate and whey isolate from a processing and nutritional perspective.

Many people will tell you the main difference between these two types of proteins is the cost but as you can see in my All Natural Whey Comparison Chart, this is not always the case. Some brands of Whey Isolates are more cost effective than Whey Concentrates.

Of course you may be wondering which type of whey protein powder is best for you? And of course the answer to that question depends on what is important to you and what are you trying to achieve with Whey Protein?

The 4 most common reasons people use Whey Protein powder are to Lose Weight, to Build Muscle, Strengthen the Immune System/Illness Prevention and as a healthy meal replacement smoothie/shake.

In my next article I’ll take a look at each of the top 4 most common reasons people use Whey Protein powder to determine which type of whey protein is best for each goal. 

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