Whey concentrate, whey isolate, and native whey... they all have "whey" in them... so what's the difference?
In this article, that's exactly what we're going to take a look at.
All three of these proteins come from milk, have a high protein content, and can help with recovery after exercise.
Whey isolate and concentrate are produced from a byproduct of the cheese making process. At it's most basic... to make cheese, raw milk is heated and has a number of enzymes added to it that react to form curd (solids). This curd is skimmed off and goes on to become cheese. Once it's removed, a watery liquid is left over called that's called whey.
This liquid whey used to be poured down the drain as a waste product... oh the horror!
Once it was realized that this liquid was crazy high in protein, people started extracting the protein into a powder and making whey protein as we know it today.
Native whey, on the other hand, comes directly from milk. It is cold processed, and nothing is ever added to it.
Whey concentrate has the lowest protein content per scoop, ranging anywhere from 30% protein by weight to 80% protein by weight.
Whey isolate is in the middle, with a protein content ranging from 85% to 90% protein by weight.
Native whey has the highest protein content at nearly 96% protein by weight.
Bioavailability is the amount of a substance that can be absorbed by your body and put to use after ingestion. For our purposes, how much of your scoop of protein is actually absorbed and is used for recovery and muscle growth?
Whey concentrate and isolate are pretty similar when you look at bioavailability. They are produced from the same source, extracted in a similar whey, and used by your body in the same way. Isolate is just more pure. Bioavailability of this protein can be decent, but not great. Of course, some production processes are better than others in this regard.
Native whey, on the other hand is more readily absorbed and used by your body than concentrate and isolate. It digests faster, more completely, and has a more favorable amino acid profile.
So... Why is this?
Protein integrity is one of the most important factors to look at when determining if a protein will be put to work by your body or not. If the structure of the protein itself is damaged, your body may not be able to use it at all.
One of the most significant damaging factors of whey protein is heat. Any time this protein is heated during the cheese making or extraction processes, damage can occur. The more it's damaged... the less likely your body is to be able to use it.
Unfortunately, any whey protein that comes form the cheese making process has been heated, and depending on the process used to extract the protein... it may be heated twice!
Native whey, on the other hand is never heated, leaving the protein structure completely preserved.
Due to the way that whey concentrate and isolate are produced, they contain bacteria, peptides, enzymes, lactose, and residues from the cheese making process. These are the "extras" that give whey its recognizable aftertaste. These "extras" can lead to bloating, upset stomach, and gas.
Native whey, on the other hand, has none of these things, as it never goes through the cheese making process. As a result, it tastes much cleaner and will not cause bloating or upset stomach.
Any of these three types of protein should be used immediately after training to flood your body with the protein it needs to begin recovery.
Whey concentrate and isolate digest fairly quickly, but native whey is even faster!
As you get further from your training time, or are going to be without a meal for an extended period of time (overnight), you should use a slower digesting protein instead.
When looking at whey proteins, you can think of each of these proteins as good, better, and best. Whey concentrate is good, isolate is better, and native is best.
If you're truly looking for the best recovery protein, look no further than native whey. It's been clinically proven to support faster recovery, more muscle growth, and better performance when compared to whey isolate or concentrate.
Comments will be approved before showing up.