Whey Protein Isolate vs Concentrate: What’s the difference?

I get this question all the time…and it’s a good question. Whey Protein is possibly the most famous supplement for its properties and benefits. But not many people know the differences between the many types of protein. In this article, we will analyze the most important characteristics of protein isolate and regular protein concentrate and their main differences.

What is whey?

Whey is the liquid part of milk that contains the highest percentage of proteins of high biological value and bioavailability.  Both the isolated Whey Protein and the concentrated Whey Protein come from the same source, but it differs in the method of obtaining it, being able to significantly change the ratio of nutrients.

Whey Protein Characteristics

Whey Protein contains complete proteins of high biological value with a high content of amino acids (essential and non-essential) that can be easily digested and absorbed by our body. [1] There are 9 amino acids that are very important for building muscles, these are:
• Lysine
• Leucine
• Isoleucine
• Threonine
• Tryptophan
• Histidine
• Phenylalanine
• Valine
• Methionine

Whey Protein: High Biological Value

Both isolate and concentrate proteins have a high percentage of biological value. The biological value is important because it measures the amount of nitrogen that the body can obtain from proteins and which are then used for muscle building and regeneration. [2] Proteins with a poor amino acid profile have a low biological value.

Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey Protein concentrate is considered the first result of the process of separating whey from milk. This version is known as the best-selling supplement due to its effectiveness, nutritional power, and low cost of sale.

Most important features of concentrated whey protein:
• Protein content between 60-89% per serving
• High-quality proteins and biological value
• A moderate percentage of fats and carbohydrates
• Contains lactose
• Pleasant flavor

Whey Protein Isolate

Whey Protein Isolate offers high protein purity per gram and can contain up to 92% protein per serving. Isolation of proteins involves whey processing to minimize the percentage of fat and carbohydrates to a minimum, speeding up the rate of protein absorption and reducing the risk of digestive problems. Whey Protein isolate is made for a demanding audience with specific needs.

Most important features of isolated Whey Protein:
• High purity (up to 92% protein)
• Proteins of high quality and biological value. Easy to digest
• A low percentage of fats and carbohydrates (almost imperceptible)
• Extremely low lactose levels (virtually lactose-free)
• Pleasant flavor

• The bottom line is that both proteins are excellent and meets the needs of people who desire protein for various goals. Both versions can be used in volume or maintenance diets due to their high protein and amino acid content.
• However, isolate protein contains a reduced levels of lactose and fat…much better for people who are lactose intolerant.

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905294/
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8216810/