Shopping for a new protein? Confused by all the variants? Don’t worry; whether you want to know the difference between whey protein isolate (WPI) and whey protein concentrate (WPC) or understand how each option can support your goals, we can provide the full breakdown.
What is Whey Protein Isolate?
Whey protein isolate is a purified form of whey protein that undergoes several filtration processes to eliminate fat, lactose, and other impurities, leaving behind a protein content of 90% and above. Pure whey protein isolate is a complete protein source that contains all the essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for muscle building and recovery. Whey protein isolate powder is quickly absorbed by the body, making it an ideal post-workout recovery option (Tinsley, G. 2017).
What is Whey Protein Concentrate?
Whey protein concentrate is a type of protein powder made from whey, which is the liquid part of milk that separates during cheese production. Whey concentrate contains low levels of fat and carbohydrates, with the protein percentage depending on the concentration levels. These low levels of fats and carbohydrates make this option ideal if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a lean physique (Nordqvist, J. 2017).
WPC protein is derived from milk and is considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce independently. These formulas usually contain up to 80% of protein per weight, with the remaining 20% being carbs and fats (Tinsley, G. 2018).
Should you take Whey Protein Isolate or Whey Protein Concentrate?
When it comes to selecting the right protein powder, two of the most popular options are whey protein isolate (WPI) and whey protein concentrate (WPC). Isolated whey protein is a more refined version of WPC, and both have unique benefits. Isolate whey contains a higher percentage of protein, which makes it ideal for those looking to build muscle and reduce body fat. On the other hand, WPC is a more cost-effective option packed with bioactive compounds that provide immune-boosting and antioxidants (Natural Force. 2022).
Ultimately, the choice between WPI and WPC depends on your goals. If you’re looking for pure protein with minimal fat and carbs, WPI is a great option. However, if you’re looking for a nutrient-rich option that is almost as high in protein and contains the benefits of other minerals, WPC is a great choice.
Let’s take a look at the differences between WPI & WPC:
WPI: Approximated 90%
WPC: 30%-80% depending on concentration
WPI: Lowest carbs content
WPC: Low carbs content
WPI: Lowest fats content
WPC: Low fats content
WPI: Lowest lactose content
WPC: Highest lactose content
Consider your fitness goals
Is whey protein concentrate or Isolate better for your goals? The first thing you should ask yourself is what you are hoping to achieve with a protein powder. Weight loss? Muscle growth? Recovery? Diet? These factors will all play a role in which option will benefit you the most.
If you’re looking to lose weight and cut down on carbs, whey isolate protein is your best bet. Whey protein isolate undergoes an extensive filtration process that removes most of the lactose, fats, and carbs. It is also fast-absorbing, making it the perfect option right after a workout.
WPC is the way to go if you’re trying to gain weight and build muscle mass. This formula contains more of the beneficial nutrients found in whey, including fat and lactose, that can help you pack on mass. WPC is generally slow releasing and is a great option to take post-training or as a meal replacement throughout the day. Both WPI and WPC offer a high-quality source of protein that can help you recover faster, reduce muscle soreness, and improve overall athletic performance.
Our protein recommendations
We have a massive range of Protein Powders that can serve a wide range of performance and dietary needs, from Whey Protein and Plant Protein to Weight Loss Protein and Mass Gainers; we have everything you need to fuel your muscle growth and support your recovery.
Anyway, let’s focus on the WPI & WPC.
Optimum Nutrition Whey protein Isolate delivers a 100% ultra-filtered and grass fed whey protein isolate to support muscle growth and repair.
For an advanced hydrolysed whey protein isolate formula to provide extra support for muscle growth and recovery, International Protein Amino Charged WPI delivers a high concentration of BCAAs alongside glutamine and arginine to support your goals.
Alternatively, R1 Protein by Rule 1 combines hydrolysed whey protein with WPI in a low-calorie blend that contains zero fat, sugar, gluten or creamers. The Rule 1 whey protein isolate is low in carbohydrates and lower in lactose, delivering a high-quality blend of protein that is fast absorbing and perfect for muscle building and recovery.
For the best WPC formulas, Evolve Incredible Whey delivers a combination of WPC & WPI to improve your nutrition, recovery and muscle growth while remaining low in carbs and fats.
Dragon Whey by Red Dragon is a gut-friendly option that combines WPC, WPI and casein protein in a comprehensive and fast-acting blend that supports muscle maintenance, digestion and recovery.
The bottom line
When it comes to deciding between whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate, don’t be overwhelmed because both options are fantastic!
WPI and WPC have different levels of protein concentration and processing methods. WPI undergoes further processing to remove most of the lactose, fat, and carbohydrates, which means a higher protein concentration and a lower likelihood of digestive issues. On the other hand, WPC has a lower protein concentration but a higher level of bioactive compounds, which can aid in overall health and immune function. At the end of the day, the best option to support your goals will come down to your health, physique and fitness goals.
If you need help finding the best whey protein powders to support your muscle growth and repair, head in-store or chat online with our friendly FIT team. Otherwise, you can check out our best whey protein isolate & best whey protein concentrate supplements HERE.
Nordquvist, J. 2017, ‘What are the benefits and risks of whey protein?’ Medical News Today, accessed 19 June 2023, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263371
Tinsley, G. 2018, ‘Whey Protein Isolate vs Concentrate: What’s The Difference?’ Healthline, accessed 19 June 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/whey-protein-isolate-vs-concentrate
Natural Force. 2022, ‘What is Whey Protein Concentrate? + Benefits and Uses’, Natural Force, accessed 20 June 2023, https://naturalforce.com/blogs/nutrition/what-is-whey-protein-concentrate