Whey Isolate Vs. Whey Concentrate: Which Is Better For Bodybuilding?

Whey protein is one of the most powerful supplements out there, and with multiple forms to choose from, which is better for maximum growth to see that desired shredded physique?

For building muscle and increasing performance, whey protein powder has risen above the rest as a source of fuel and recovery for athletes everywhere. It is one of the most highly researched and tested protein supplements on the market and continues to provide growth for all its users. As a highly consumed supplement, it is quite lucrative for supplement and other nutrition companies out there, so it is fair to say the market is heavily saturated with different blends and formulas to enhance your overall health and performance. Choosing a brand can be hard enough, but when faced with the decision of whey concentrate or whey isolate, your choice becomes just that much more difficult.

Whey concentrate and whey isolate are the two major types of whey protein supplements to take. While they are largely the same in terms of benefits, some differences do exist and may sway your decision. Both have been shown to increase growth, promote fat loss (1), and keep you feeling full so those cravings and unwanted calories do not sneak in. For these reasons, whey concentrate and whey isolate have been a much sought after supplement for hard-core fitness fans, bodybuilders, competitive athletes, and everyday gym-goers to improve their health and fitness goals, as well as their overall physique.

whey protein

You will find that the overall benefits are very similar, but the differences are what makes these two types of whey protein vary in terms of popularity. From price point, to protein’s rate of ingestion, the differences of whey concentrate versus whey isolate are important to understand in order to make the decision at least manageable. From there, its all about choosing your desired brand. While both whey isolate and whey concentrate offer various benefits to your overall growth, knowing exactly what your goals are is important when it comes to protein content from a complete protein for those looking to build muscle.

For many, getting lean is their main objective and a whey isolate protein powder is a great start. This means keeping on that desired lean muscle while losing fat for that optimal aesthetic. For this purpose, something like a whey isolate is the best bet because you don’t have the fat and carbs of a whey concentrate. The reason a protein powder supplement is crucial during a time like cutting is because you want to preserve as much of that lean muscle as you can for optimal protein content. Without enough protein, your body will start to use that muscle for fuel and you will lose the desired shredded look you worked so hard for so don’t skip out on a whey isolate and lose valuable protein content.

Others may gravitate towards a whey concentrate protein powder if they are looking to bulk up. This would offer some carbs and fats as well as a healthy dose of protein and may be common in bodybuilders or other sport specific athletes who need the size in order to perform. Similarly, a whey concentrate would be important here because those carbs can be used as fuel and that protein can go straight to your muscles, giving you the best chance at recovery and growth with optimal protein content from a high quality form of whey for your body.

Let’s dive into whey protein, both whey isolate and whey concentrate, and check out the real differences between a whey isolate and a whey concentrate. Knowing these differences and the benefits that go along with each can be very beneficial when it comes to your overall growth and development when looking to optimize training and performance from a high quality form of whey for proper protein intake and great nutrition.

strong man

What Is Whey Protein & How Protein Works For You?

Whey is a by-product of cow’s milk that is isolated during the cheese-making process. Although flavorless after being isolated, natural flavoring agents will be added to plain whey to give it those delightful flavors including vanilla, chocolate, and fruit. Whey provides substantial amounts of essential amino acids (EAAs) and helps the body carry out functions that proteins perform. The most common form of whey isolate and concentrate protein is in protein powder form and can be added to a liquid, smoothie, or soft foods to enhance athletic performance and strength (2), or nutritional deficiencies from a high quality form of whey for proper protein intake from a complete, higher protein supplement.

Protein is the building block of all muscle, but deeper within this are amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. This is where a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement or an essential amino acid (EAA) supplement can come to your assistance. These offer the benefits of building muscle while also maintaining muscle so none is lost in your grueling workout. Whey protein powder, both whey concentrate and isolate, contain the building blocks for muscle and with nine amino acids included, whey protein is perfect for maintaining and building muscle, along with a host of other benefits. This is will surely pump you with that much needed protein to fuel those muscles for whatever challenge comes next. On top of aiding in recovery, whey isolate and concentrate will give you a huge boost in confidence as you will look and feel great as you are looking to build muscle from pure protein for post workout muscle building and the best for your nutrition.

whey protein

Whey Concentrate For More Bulking & Increased Size

One type of whey protein powder for consumers to consider when faced with the choice of which whey supplements to buy is whey concentrate. It is high in protein and does contain some fats and carbs, as well as other vitamins and minerals to aid in performance and overall health. Whey concentrate contains a variety of bioactive compounds that give whey immune-boosting benefits (3) along with antioxidants. A downside to whey concentrate is that due to the amount of lactose and included, it can cause bloating. If you aren’t worried about calorie consumption, whey concentrate is a solid choice for your whey supplement when it comes to nutrition and a concentrate protein process.

This is best for those looking to bulk or for those who need some help with weight gain. Often times those who struggle with gaining weight to reach their optimal weight level can use a whey protein supplement to enhance this and see that growth. A whey protein concentrate should not be seen as something bad for you because it contains carbs and fat. First, those are good for you. Second, whey concentrate is great if you are someone who needs a good supplement to bulk and it should be treated as such for it contains pure ingredients for your supplements.

Whey Isolate For Lean Muscle Growth & Desired Physique

The other type of whey protein powder is whey isolate, a more filtered form of whey. Whey isolate undergoes more of a manufacturing process that is more intense than whey concentrate. As a result, the protein content of whey isolate is higher and many of the excess carbs and fats are filtered out, making this a solid choice for those more calorie conscious about their supplement. As a pure source of protein, whey isolate offers a leaner source of protein for those looking to see muscle growth while also seeking weight management. It can also significantly aid in recovery from exercise-induced muscle pain and injury (4).

Whey isolate is a good supplement for those looking to get lean and put on that lean muscle for a solid physique. For those looking to lose weight, a whey isolate is a great option for it will pump you with clean protein while allowing you the ability to keep off unwanted weight. As a good, clean choice for protein, whey isolate is great for fat loss and management, as well as lean muscle growth from higher protein as opposed to a concentrate.

whey protein

Which Whey Protein Form Is Better For Your Goals?

The main difference between whey concentrate and whey isolate is the amount of protein as a result of the filtering process. Many people choose whey isolate because it offers lower calories per serving due to the lower fat and carb content. Also, those who are lactose intolerant will gravitate towards whey isolate as well. For those looking towards a bodybuilding competition, or simply looking to lose weight, whey isolate is a solid supplement to keep you on track and looking great.

To build muscle, your body relies on quality protein to fuel, restore, and build those sought after gains. It is important to give your body the proper protein, like a whey concentrate or isolate, right after a workout to ensure that minimal loss is felt, and while eating a piece of meat is a great source of protein, it can take a while to digest and break down, leaving you with nothing for your muscles to absorb. Whey isolate is absorbed much faster (5) than whey concentrate, meaning it can hit your muscles much faster and the regeneration process can start quicker.

For a more effective workout and recovery, whey isolate is a more suitable choice than concentrate. But in the end, it is all personal preference on your individual goals and what you want to see in your training and in your daily life. For those seeking to slim down and lean muscle mass, a whey isolate is the way to go. People looking for weight gain and serious bulk, a whey concentrate would be the route you want to take. This is why knowing your goals and just what you want out of a whey protein supplement is important. With so many brands and so many ingredients, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle of everything and pick a wrong supplement. There is no need to fear, however, because either whey protein will do the trick, which is ultimately pumping you with that much needed protein for optimal nutrition.

Wrap It All Up

Whey protein is a popular and well-researched protein supplement designed to increase muscle growth and aid in fat loss that athletes of all kinds gravitate towards. It can be a challenge to find the right type and brand of whey protein, either whey concentrate or isolate, given the immense amount of options that line the shelves of stores. But do not let that overwhelm you. The two types of whey protein are whey isolate and whey concentrate and while they provide very similar benefits, the differences are what sets whey isolate apart for your nutrition goals.

Although whey isolate tends to be slightly more expensive, for those looking for a lean, fast-absorbing source of protein to aid in their fat loss, whey isolate is the choice for you. While whey isolate appears to the better option, it is personal preference on what you desire for your fitness and weight management goals. Regardless of your decision surrounding whey isolate or whey concentrate, whey protein should be in your dietary regimen to see those big gains come to life and ensure a healthy lifestyle long after working out.

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*Images courtesy of Envato

References

  1. Smith, Gordon, I.; Commean, Paul K.; Reeds, Dominic N.; Klein, Samuel; Mittendorfer, Bettina (2018). “Effect of Protein Supplementation During Diet-Induced Weight Loss on Muscle Mass and Strength: A Randomized Controlled Study”. (source)
  2. Sugihara Jr., Paulo; Ribeiro, Alex S.; Nabuco, Hellen C. G.; Fernandes, Rodrigo R.; Tomeleri, Crisieli M.; Cunha, Paolo M.; Venturini, Danielle; Barbosa, Decio S.; Schoenfeld, Brad J.; Cyrino, Edilson S. (2018). “Effects of Whey Protein Supplementation Associated With Resistance Training on Muscular Strength, Hypertrophy, and Muscle Quality in Preconditioned Older Women”. (source)
  3. Cribb, Paul (2004). “Whey Proteins And Immunity”. (source)
  4. Cooke, Matthew B.; Rybalka, Emma; Stathis, Christos G.; Cribb, Paul J.; Hayes, Alan (2010). “Whey protein isolate attenuates strength decline after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals”. (source)
  5. Tang, Jason E.; Moore, Daniel R.; Kujbida, Gregory W.; Tarnopolsky, Mark A.; Philips, Stuart M. (2009). “Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men”. (source)