What is protein isolate whey?

What is protein isolate whey?

5 min read


19 Jun 2023

Grab your Cheatsheet

  • What is whey protein? 
  • What is whey protein isolate?
  • Is whey protein isolate the best type of protein powder?
  • Should I use whey protein isolate?
  • We choose the ingredients in our protein supplements very carefully, and we know you like to do the same. 

    Whey protein powder is one of the most common and popular supplements that you can buy. However, it’s not quite as simple as choosing whey and getting on with it - there are multiple different types of whey protein. 

    One of those is whey protein isolate, and it’s something you might champion when it comes to the additional muscle-building benefits of whey.

    So what exactly is whey protein isolate? 

    And how does it differ from the other whey proteins?

    How do you make whey protein powders? 

    When you turn milk into butter, two proteins are produced: whey protein and casein protein. Both are used as workout supplements, but whey is the most commonly sold worldwide. 

    Whey protein powders are best used as a post-workout protein supplement or as pre-workout fuel. Protein powders can be shaken up with water, used to bake cakes, make protein pancakes or added to overnight oats.

    Casein protein powder can be used similarly, but most people drink it before bed. This is because our body digests casein protein slowly, giving our muscles a continued source of energy while we sleep.

    Whey protein is vegetarian (but not vegan) and is regarded as the best way to increase your protein intake through supplementation. This is because our body finds it easy to digest; it has a high concentration of both essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids, and we can readily use these to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

  • Related content: Whey protein concentrate vs whey protein isolate: what is the difference?

  •  What is whey protein isolate?

    To make a protein powder, the whey protein removed from the cheese-making process is filtered to produce whey protein concentrate. Whey concentrate is a popular and highly effective protein supplement.

    There are three different types of whey protein:

      • Whey protein concentrate (most common and cheapest)
      • Whey protein isolate
  • Whey protein hydrolysate
  • Making protein isolate whey requires further processing than the whey protein concentrate. 

    It undergoes further filtering and processing to remove fats and sugars such as lactose content. This creates a product with a higher protein content. 

    Whey protein isolate has at least 90% protein concentration compared to the 65-75% protein concentration found in a whey protein concentrate shake (yes, the terminology can be confusing!). 

    Are there any other types of whey protein?

    To create whey protein hydrolysate, further processing can be done to create whey protein isolate. Enzymes are added to the protein isolate to break down the peptide bonds which hold the chains of amino acids together i.e. artificially digesting the proteins. This means our body can quickly absorb and use the amino acids from the protein powder.

    (Is whey protein isolate the best type of protein powder?

    You may assume from the protein content that whey protein isolate is the best protein form, but the real answer is a little more complicated than that and will depend on your circumstances. 

    For instance, the sugars and fats removed from whey concentrate are actually pretty good for you; they contain antioxidants and immune-boosting nutrients.

    And, it's no doubt that whey protein, including whey isolate protein, has many benefits that make it excellent for muscle growth.

    But is whey isolate protein the best type of whey?

    And what about hydrolyzed whey protein? 

    It has more protein; does that make it better again than whey protein concentrate?

    Let’s look in more detail at how whey protein isolate compares to the other types of whey protein.

    (Essential amino acids and effectiveness 

    Whey protein is known as a complete protein, meaning that it contains all the nine essential amino acids that our body needs but cannot produce naturally. 

    As the protein concentration of whey protein isolate whey is higher, it therefore naturally contains more essential amino acids than whey concentrate. The concentration of whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolysate is the same; the difference comes in the bioavailability.

    The theory is that you can digest whey protein hydrolysate faster, and therefore, this will increase muscle protein synthesis. However, studies are yet to show any significant difference between the effectiveness of the two products. 

    In fact, there is only a minor difference in effectiveness when comparing whey protein concentrate to whey protein isolate, even with the difference in protein concentration between the two products.

    Whey Isolate Price

    While there is little evidence to suggest that hydrolyzed whey protein is more effective, it is certainly a lot more expensive! It's very unlikely to be worth the hefty price tag for the average gym-goer. 

    Whey isolate is still more expensive than concentrate whey protein, however, and you will get plenty of value for money with a good quality whey concentrate formula.

    Whey Isolate Taste

    There is little difference in the taste between whey protein isolate and whey concentrate - both have a light creamy taste and a smooth texture. However, the processing of breaking peptide bonds to create the hydrolysate formula can make the resulting protein powder slightly bitter.

    Should I use whey protein isolate?

    If cost isn’t a concern, protein isolate is the best way to get a high concentration of muscle-building protein into your body. It is an easy and convenient way to increase your daily protein intake and highly effective at helping your muscles recover quicker after each workout.

    However, you will lose some of the fat and carbohydrate concentration, which might not matter but is something to consider. 

    But is there another option? 

    What if you could use a protein shake that benefited from whey isolate along with five other formulations of whey protein powder? This would give you a protein supplement that your body digests in three different phases, providing lasting energy to your muscle.

    Crazy Nutrition’s TRI-PROTEIN formula is more effective than regular whey, hemp, or soy protein formulas because it is packed full of high quality whey proteins. 

    Turns out you don’t have to choose whey protein isolate over whey protein concentrate - you can have the best of both worlds!