Whey Concentrate vs Whey Isolate:

Whey Concentrate vs. Whey Isolate: what’s the difference?

8 min read


20 Jan 2023

Get straight to the point…

  1. What is whey protein
  2. What is whey protein concentrate?
  3. What is whey protein isolate?
  4. Concentrate vs. isolate: what’s the difference in cost?
  5. Concentrate vs. Isolate: which is better for weight loss and muscle growth?
  6. Concentrate vs. isolate: when should you take them?
  7. Which is right for you?

Whether you’re in the gym or on the go with a protein bar, there’s no denying that protein is a big player in the fitness market.

Unlike many unproven supplements, the science is precise, and protein delivers precisely what it’s supposed to, keeping us active, building muscle mass and helping us cope with our daily routines and workouts.

Many different types of protein are available, such as Whey, Casein, egg, pea, mixed plant, etc. And with so many options, it’s hard to know the difference between protein products and which is best for you. 

One of the most common types of protein supplements is whey protein - however there, even within this, there are multiple different types of whey - that may be suitable for other people.

So which one’s should you take to help build towards your goals? 

In this blog, we’re helping you figure out the difference between whey protein isolate vs. concentrate so you know which is best for you. 

What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein powder is one of the most popular choices for protein supplementation (more on why later).

But what is it?

Whey protein is extracted from cow’s milk which can be split into two proteins: whey and casein. 

Whey protein is the watery portion of cow's milk and is separated from the curds when making cheese (or enzymes can be added to separate it).

It is often called a “complete protein” because it contains all nine essential amino acids, is easy to digest, and is also low in lactose.

The body needs protein to help it repair cells and make new ones. It’s essential for muscle growth, the immune system, and bone growth and can lower blood pressure. 

Our bodies cannot synthesize essential amino acids, so we must consume them via supplements or food. 

There are several types of whey protein powder; the most common forms are

  • Whey protein isolate
  • Whey protein concentrate.

So, let's look at some of the main differences between these two types of whey protein powder to figure out which one is right for you. 

Whey protein concentrate vs. whey protein isolate - What are the key nutritional differences?

The nutritional differences between whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate are due to the processing methods. 

Collecting the liquid whey as a by-product of cheese production undergoes several processing steps to increase the protein content left over. 

This leaves you with two different products in terms of nutritional values (and benefits - more on that later).

Here is a summary of the dietary values taken as average across brands from Carb Manager in a single scoop of protein.

Whey Protein concentrate

Whey Protein Isolate

Protein % by weight






Lactose Content












Whey concentrate vs. whey isolate: what is the protein content?

Whey protein concentrate is the most common form of whey protein supplement. It undergoes little or no processing after the whey separation process, and the actual final protein content can vary massively between brands.

The protein content of whey concentrate is usually anywhere from 30%-80%, i.e., in 100g, there will be between 30g and 80g of protein (with the rest being fat and carbs).

On the other hand, whey protein isolate is more extensively processed, and the final protein content will be a minimum of 90%. This, of course, lowers the other macro-nutrient content in the process.

So, when comparing the protein content, isolate will have a higher percentage than that concentrate. 

Whey concentrate vs. whey isolate: what is the fat content?

As mentioned, the fat content in whey protein concentrate is higher than in whey protein isolate due to the processing procedure. 

Whey protein concentrate is processed very little, containing around 2.5g of fat per 30g scoop. 

In comparison, whey protein isolate is more processed, and as a result, most of the fats are removed. It contains about 1.5g of fats per 30g scoops of whey protein. 

Whey concentrate vs. whey isolate: what is the carb content?

Again, the carb content in whey concentrate is higher than in isolate due to the limited processing. 

There is around 5% of carbohydrates in whey concentrate, which means there is about 1.4g per 30g scoops. In comparison, almost all of the carbs are removed from why isolate during the processing - so you will end up with around 0.3g per 30g scoop. 

Whey concentrate vs. whey isolate: what is the lactose content?

As whey is a by-product of milk, it can be difficult for those with lactose intolerance to consume it. 

However, due to the processing, whey protein concentrate has more lactose than whey isolate. 

Whey protein isolate usually has less than one percent lactose, meaning it’s easier on your stomach if you have any dairy sensitivities.

Whey protein Concentrate vs. Whey protein isolate: what is the difference in cost?

A quick search on Google will show that whey protein isolate is almost always more expensive than whey concentrate (on a like-for-like basis).

On average, you pay 20-35% more for whey protein isolate than concentrate. 


Well, based on what we know about the processing procedure, it makes sense that something which requires a more extensive manufacturing process will be more expensive.

Plus, as this processing leads to a higher protein percentage, whey isolate offers a higher protein concentration per scoop - giving you more bang for your buck. 

Whey Protein Concentrate vs. Whey Protein Isolate: Which is better for muscle growth?

It’s probably why you are thinking about consuming protein shakes first place. Every single process in your body requires protein, including muscle growth, which is why it’s essential for anyone looking to build muscle or lose weight. 

So, which one is better for building muscle - whey concentrate or whey isolate?

Both whey proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, making them pure proteins. And both whey protein concentrate and isolate include an extra high dose of the amino acid leucine, which has been shown to effectively stimulate muscle protein synthesis and help build lean muscle mass.

From what we’ve learned, you’ll know that whey isolate is a purified protein powder with a higher protein percentage. If you want to maximize your muscle growth, whey isolate is a great choice. 

The higher protein content will give you that added boost and more firepower for repairing those ripped muscles.  Plus, if you want to build muscle without gaining weight, it will allow you to limit your fat, carb and lactose intake. 

But in comparison, the bioavailability of whey protein concentrate is better than of whey protein isolate, which means that protein powder will enter your system more efficiently.

Whey protein concentrate vs. Whey protein Isolate: when should you take them?

Ask anyone in the gym, and you’ll probably get the same answer, “Within 30 minutes of your workout”. 

Whey protein concentrate vs. Whey protein Isolate


There’s some truth in that, as your muscles will be craving protein to help them repair after a tough session. 

However, if you are taking protein supplements regularly, you should already have enough in your system, no matter when you take them. 

To maintain existing muscle, you should consume around 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. If you want to increase muscle mass, you can go as high as 1 to 1.5 grams/pound. 

Regardless of what type of protein powder you take, the emphasis should be on getting enough rather than worrying about when you take it. 

Whey protein concentrate vs. Whey protein isolate: which one is right for you?  

So, which protein powder should you be taking?

Let’s face it, both are brilliant for muscle growth - and there are a few differences that might make one or the other better for you. 

Whey protein isolate is more processed, which means that it has a higher percentage of protein (at least 90%) and lower carbs, fat and lactose - making it the better choice for those with lactose intolerance as the amount is generally considered to be tolerable. 

Due to the high protein content, it’s a brilliant option for those looking to pack on muscle without consuming too many other calories and macros. 

However, this comes at the expense of a higher cost - and might not be sustainable if you use it daily. 

Although whey protein concentrate has a much lower protein content (somewhere between 25-80%) it will have the additional nutritional benefits that come with the lower processing i.e. higher carbs. This can be beneficial for fulling and recovering from workouts. 

Ultimately both whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate are brilliant, fast-digesting and have immense nutritional benefits - containing nine essential amino acids - ideal if you want to build muscle and increase protein intake. 

Working out and getting stronger means tearing muscles so that stronger ones can form, and high protein levels in your system mean that your body will have the ammunition it needs to cope with the demand. 

If you have a decent level of protein in your body, your muscles will repair more quickly, enabling you to advance to the next ‘level’ more quickly.

Can’t decide which protein is best for you?

At Crazy Nutrition, we know that it’s not always one or the other. Both whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate have benefits and upsides that make them perfect for inclusion in fitness routines. 

That’s why we’ve created a protein powder supplement that incorporates both whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate (and casein) into a tri-protein formula. It gives you the benefits of all, the breakdown in 3 phases for energy and strength. 

Buy our Tri-Protein formula here.

Tri-Protein Powder


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