This post was provided by our friends at MTS Nutrition and written by CEO Marc Lobliner.
Whey protein isolate has been touted by some in the sports nutrition industry as superior to whey protein concentrate since it yields more protein per serving, has less carbs and fat, and is “more pure.”
But is it more pure? The reasoning offered is that more filtration will leave you with a superior end product. However, this isn’t accurate.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate, how they’re processed and which one makes the most sense for you.
How Is Whey Protein Made?
The definition of “pure” is one that is “unmodified by an admixture; simple or homogeneous.” In other words, the less you filter the protein, the better.
For example, take MTS Nutrition Machine Whey Protein, which is a cold-filtered whey protein concentrate and isolate blend. The cold-filtration process leaves us with more than 80 percent whey protein, whereas isolate will be more than 90 percent. MTS blends concentrate with isolate simply to keep the fat and carb content lower.
Processing whey protein, especially when using the ion-exchange process, strips the whey of its immune properties. Ion exchange is a method of isolating whey from milk using ion exchange resins, charge affinity and mild pH adjustments.
Ion exchange resins are polymers. These can exchange specific ions within the polymer with ions in a solution that passes through the resin. They alter the pH to separate the carbohydrate from the protein content.
Ion exchange almost completely eliminates kappa-casein glycomacropeptide (GMP), whereas cold processing doesn’t. This is important because GMP enhances the immune system and protects against toxins, bacteria and viruses.
Cold processing whey protein is a method of isolating whey from dairy based on molecular weight, size and permeation properties in a cold processing environment. It is cold to avoid altering the whey molecule at all. This is about as pure as you can get—even temperature is accounted for to keep the whey molecule as in-tact as possible.
The single discrepancy between whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate is a small amount of carbohydrate and fat. Seeing that this process keeps the immune properties inherent to the whole whey protein, we feel it is worth the miniscule amount of carbs and fat left over.
To be fair, we will compare the nutritional profiles of two products, both from MTS Nutrition: All Natural Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate (pure isolate) and Machine Whey (concentrate and isolate blend):
Machine All Natural Grass Fed Isolate
Protein: 25 grams
Carbs: 2 grams
Fat: 1 gram
Protein: 25 grams
Carbs: 3 grams
Fat: 2 grams
When Is When Protein Isolate a Better Choice?
Whey protein isolate is a better option if you suffer from lactose intolerance. But unless severe, taking something like MTS Nutrition Machine Uptake with the shake can eliminate most, if not all, issues.
Whey protein isolate might also be a better choice if you are preparing for a sporting event or contest prep where every macronutrient counts, and there aren’t very many. The difference is only 2 to 3 grams, so even in this case, it’s not a big deal.
Isn’t Whey Protein Isolate Absorbed Faster?
Some people will tout the speed of whey protein isolate over whey protein concentrate, but this is illogical. They are both whey protein, so absorption will be similar. And unless taken in a completely fasted state (no food in over 24 hours) with no other food sources (like peanut butter for fat or oatmeal for carbs), it will make no noticeable difference.
What About Cholesterol in Whey Protein?
The cholesterol in whey protein is naturally occurring, and the new scientific consensus is that dietary cholesterol will not lead to cholesterol increases in healthy individuals. Cholesterol is also critical for healthy hormone production.
What Are the Benefits of Whey Blends?
There are a number of benefits of consuming a whey protein blend compared to other protein sources:
It’s time to stop falling for inaccurate claims and sales tactics. Whey protein is the highest quality protein source, period. Whey protein concentrate is not only less expensive than isolate, but also has tremendous benefits beyond lean mass and fat loss.
If you want the best for health and gains, incorporate a high-quality whey protein concentrate like MTS Nutrition Machine Whey into your program and reap the results!