Whey Protein Isolate vs Concentrate: What’s The Difference?

If you are someone who is trying to build up your body and acquire some muscles, you would have surely been recommended the use of protein shakes and protein drinks. Have you ever wondered what the main component of these supplements actually is? It is nothing but whey, a component that is derived from dairy products.

There are two main types of whey protein that you should be aware of. These are whey isolate and whey concentrate. Before jumping on the bandwagon of taking protein shakes and drinks, it is important for one to be able to understand the key differences between these two variations.

The purpose of this article is to explain the differences between the two. This will help you pick the variation that will be bested suited to help you with your fitness goals.

What Is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is a dairy derivative. When milk is processed or fermented to turn it into cheese and yogurt, some liquid is left behind. This liquid is nothing but whey. The protein component of this liquid has a handful of digestive benefits and is known as whey protein.

The whey protein comprises around 20% milk and 80% proteins called casein. These proteins are known for their slow digestive nature. This is why they take longer to be digested by the body and the person feels fuller for longer. Whey, however, is a lot more efficient and significant since it facilitates the development of proteins in the body naturally, thus leading to the muscular build and structure.

The whey produced is processed differently and ends up in two distinct forms. But the main source is whey protein therefore, the products are generally referred to by the same name.

Whey Isolate Vs. Whey Concentrate

Due to the difference in the processing techniques, whey ends up in two different forms i.e. whey isolate and whey concentrate. The liquid whey is collected but since it cannot be used as it is, therefore, it has to be processed and prepared.

Whey Isolate Processing:

The manufacturers keep collecting the whey liquid. When a sufficient quantity has been obtained, the process moves further and the companies start dehydrating it to give it a powder form. Speaking in terms of by-weight ratio, the powder obtained contains around 80% of protein while the remaining 20% is nothing but carbohydrates and fats.

The further processing steps are aimed at reducing the amount of fat and carbohydrates and obtain a final product that is rich in protein content. This leads to the production of whey isolate. As already explained by now, it is a component that is richer in the concentration of whey and has almost no fat or carbohydrate. This is why it is considerably more expensive as compared to whey concentrate.

Whey Concentrate Processing:

Now moving onto whey concentrate, the main difference is in the processing and the handling of the whey obtained as a result of the production of milk products. The whey obtained, rather than being heated, is microfiltered. This leaves behind a concentrated and easy to absorb whey product that the body can consume and utilize quite easily.

Since whey concentrate is microfiltered rather than heated, therefore, the amino acid profile of the whey is preserved and ends up stronger. When you will mix whey concentrate with milk or water, it will always lead to a smooth and silky texture, like that of milkshakes and smoothies.

Consumption Of Whey Isolate And Whey Concentrate

Both whey concentrate, as well as whey isolate, are sold in similar packaging. Generally, both variants come in the form of a powder. And the users are advised to mix the powder in some water or milk and consume it. Some powders can be taken both hot as well as cold, while some are supposed to be consumed cold only. This mainly varies from one manufacturer to another and does not really have any impact on the benefits of the whey supplement.

Now manufacturers add flavorings in the whey supplements which makes them easier to consume. However, you might notice a slight bit of difference in the texture of whey isolate and whey concentrate. Whey isolate, since it is heated during processing, loses its creaminess that is associated with milk in general. Therefore, it will always be a bit liquidy and will have a watery texture. Whey concentrate, on the other hand, is microfiltered which preserves its creamy texture and it will be a lot smoother when mixed in even water.


Both whey isolate, as well as whey concentrate, come with their own benefits and advantages. Some of the benefits of whey concentrate and whey isolate are quite similar to one another. The main purpose of the consumption of both is the fact that they facilitate muscle growth and are great for people who want to get a leaner and toned body and increase their muscle mass.

Here is a comparison of the benefits associated with the consumption of whey concentrate vs that of the benefits of consuming whey isolate.

Benefits Of Whey Isolate:

If you are someone who wants to intake proteins but also keeps an eye on the consumption of carbohydrates and fats, whey isolate would be the perfect choice for you. The formula of the whey isolate is rich in protein components but the concentration of fats and carbohydrates is less. Therefore, it will not facilitate weight gain while promoting overall muscle development. Whey isolate also has a lesser dairy and lactose content which makes it a perfect choice for people who have a lower lactose tolerance.

Benefits Of Whey Concentrate:

The biggest perk of whey concentrate is the fact that it is a lot more affordable as compared to whey concentrate. The processing of whey concentrate is a lot more simple as compared to whey isolate. Therefore, you will notice that whey concentrate is priced lower in comparison to the price of whey concentrate.

The benefit of whey concentrate is the fact that it can be digested quite easily. And other than protein for muscle growth, it is also quite beneficial for muscle repair and reduces the recovery time of injuries. This too is quite less in carbohydrates and fat content. Therefore, the consumption of whey concentrate will not affect your body’s macros.

Which One Should You Pick?

Both whey isolate, as well as whey concentrate, have their own benefits. Although they are quite similar and are used for pretty much the same purpose, it is important for you to realize that they do have some key differences as well. Therefore, before you go ahead and determine which one would be the best for you, it is best for you to consult a fitness trainer or a nutritionist. They will get a complete health profile done and determine which option would be the best for you based on the needs of your body and while keeping your fitness goals in mind.

But to give you a slight bit of idea, whey isolate is the one that comprises a larger protein component but a lesser concentration of fats and carbohydrates per serving.

However, it is important to bear in mind that the differences in the performance and the impacts of both types of whey are not that distinctive in nature. Many people and researchers believe that the mere difference between these two types of whey protein is only limited to the different processing techniques. Other than this, both have similar impacts and are almost the same.

To Conclude

Generally speaking, whey isolate is highly recommended for people who want to consume protein but are also conscious about the number of fats and carbohydrates that they are consuming. Since whey isolate has a lesser fat and carbohydrate content, the processing also becomes tedious which ends up adding some more bucks to the price tag and makes it more expensive when comparing the two variations.

But another perk is that you can get the same kick that of taking whey isolate even if you consume whey concentrate. All you will have to do is to increase the amount of protein that you are taking per day. This will cover the difference in the concentration of the protein composition but will also increase the number of fats and carbohydrates that you take. So you have to take this factor into consideration as well.

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