Protein powders, drinks and bars are some of the most popular dietary supplements.
One of the most common types of protein found in these products is whey, which comes from dairy.
There are different types of whey protein, including whey isolate and whey concentrate.
This article explains the differences between these two common forms of whey protein and whether one is better to use.
What Is Whey Protein?
Much of the protein found in protein bars, drinks and powders is derived from milk. When milk is processed to form cheese or yogurt, the remaining liquid is called whey (1).
This liquid contains the fast-digesting proteins commonly referred to as whey protein.
Before processing, about 20% of the protein in milk is whey and the other 80% is made up of the slower-digesting casein proteins (2).
Whey and casein are both considered high-quality proteins because they contain all the amino acids needed by your body (3).
However, whey is considered particularly beneficial for increasing the production of new protein in your muscles (3).
There are several different types of whey protein used in supplements. Two of the most common forms are whey isolate and whey concentrate.
These forms are produced using different processing techniques and vary slightly in their nutritional content.
Whey protein is the fast-digesting part of dairy protein. Different forms of whey protein supplements are available, with two of the most common being whey isolate and whey concentrate.
What’s the Difference Between Whey Isolate and Whey Concentrate?
There are several nutritional differences between whey isolate and concentrate. These differences are caused by the processing methods.
When the liquid whey is collected as a by-product of cheese or yogurt production, it undergoes several processing steps to increase its protein content (1).
After a sufficient protein concentration is achieved, the liquid can be dried to form whey concentrate powder that consists of up to 80% protein by weight. The remaining 20% of the whey concentrate powder contains carbohydrates and fats.
If different processing steps are used to reduce the fat and carbohydrate content of whey, a whey isolate powder containing 90% or more protein by weight can be produced (1).
Overall, the processing steps used in the production of whey isolate result in higher protein content and lower fat and carbohydrate content per serving.
However, the types of amino acids found in both forms of whey are virtually identical, since they are derived from the same proteins.
The table below shows the key differences between a standard whey isolate and whey concentrate supplement per 100-calorie serving: