What is Isolate Protein Best For?
If you’ve ever shown a passing interest in weight loss and muscle gaining supplements, chances are that you’ve seen protein powder. But the sheer scale of powders available, the meaning of the amino acids packed in, and the hype surrounding protein powder can make it seem like an especially dense and specialized subject. And one place where people tend to get confused is identifying the difference between a protein isolate and a protein concentrate. Fortunately, the distinctions aren’t that hard to understand.
What Exactly is Whey Protein?
Understanding what an isolate is is essential to understanding what situations it’s best for, and understanding how protein powders are made is essential to understanding whey isolate protein. Whey is a natural side effect of cheese production, but it used to be simply thrown away when being produced for consumption.
But the advantage of whey is that it’s incredibly dense with protein. It may be largely tasteless on its own, but whey can provide a charge of protein with little added fats or sugars, and it takes on other flavors well. As a result, it’s gained a lot of traction as a nutritional supplement in both bodybuilding and weight loss communities. The whey protein you find on store shelves has been filtered to extract as much non-protein matter as possible from the powder.
How is Whey Isolate Different From Whey Concentrate?
The difference between isolate and concentrate is how thorough a process it’s been put through. Namely, it determines how effectively it filters out elements of the whey that aren’t protein. For the most part, these additional components are fat and carbohydrates. An isolate provides a higher density of protein in the powder. While a standard concentrate may offer a protein content of around 80%, an isolate can provide as much as 90% protein content.
Functionally, the protein in both a concentrate and an isolate are the same. They contain the exact same combination and frequency of amino acids, but they just have differing levels of additional macronutrients. Both will help you put on bulk, and both will provide you with all the essential building blocks you need for a healthy protein intake.
What Benefits Does Whey Isolate Offer?
Whey is the most popular powder on the market because it’s such an efficient form of protein, but many lactose-intolerant people avoid it because it can cause stomach and digestion problems. While whey isolate is also derived from milk, the filtration process strips out most of the lactose, making it still a tenable choice for people with lactose intolerance.
Whey isolate may also be the most sensible choice if you’re being very careful about your calorie intake. If you’re meticulous about counting your calories or you’re more focused on losing weight than you are about putting on muscle mass, you’ll get the most bang from your buck with an isolate. While the difference may be minimal, a lactose isolate offers a higher percentage of protein content than any other protein powder available today.
As for the downsides of an isolate? The big one is price. The more rigorous filtration process means the ticket price for a whey isolate is going to be higher than a concentrate. But you’re hypothetically making up for any price difference with the added effectiveness of an isolate.
What’s the Right Choice For You?
That really depends on you. There are a lot of factors that can go into choosing between an isolate or concentrate, but your fitness goals should be the major determinant factor in what sort of protein you make a part of your diet. Take the time to understand the difference and compare them against the advantages and disadvantages an isolate offers.