Bodybuilders are already sold on whey. It’s simply a no-brainer that you need to eat a mixture of high quality proteins, and that whey provides some of the best protein around. But not all whey supplements are the same – not by a long shot.
Most whey supplements you will find are one of two kinds: whey protein isolate, and whey protein concentrate. What is the different between the two?
Whey isolate contains at least 90% protein with a small amount of fat and lactose.
It is considered by many to be the highest quality source possible. It is the protein that your body can absorb the fastest and most effectively. Many scientists also think that because the whey isolate is less refined, it has more anti-cancer properties.
The downside is that whey isolate is also more expensive than other comparable sources. In other words, it builds your muscles faster but shrinks your wallet.
Whey protein concentrate is another type of commonly available whey source. The protein percentage here really varies – anywhere from 40% to 89% protein, with a correlating increase and fat and lactose. To be honest though, a protein supplement claiming to be whey but only having 40% actual protein is going to be junk. Avoid one that low.
It gets more complicated though.
Many whey protein powders out there are a mixture of the two. They will contain a little bit of the whey protein isolate mixed into a lot of the whey protein concentrate. To make it even more confusing, the product can really be named anything and you have to hunt to find out what’s actually in it.
For many people, a high protein percentage of whey concentrate is okay. You don’t want to be ingesting one specific source exclusively, so the slight knock of purity will be okay. Modern whey concentrates in the high end of protein content are a good deal.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to make your own special blends of protein sources, a whey isolate would be good to start from. It will contain very little base fat and lactose, and can be “cut” down later with the addition of egg, soy, or casein.