What Are the Different Types of Whey Protein?


A lot of people opt to supplement with whey protein for varying reasons. Whey protein is one of the proteins contained in milk. The other protein in milk is casein, and whey is a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids and a low amount of lactose. Whey protein contains alpha-lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, and immunoglobulins.

Whey protein is a widely studied nutritional supplement, and it has a lot of benefits, including the following:

  • Whey is a simple way to get high-quality dietary protein, especially if your intake is low or you have absorption issues that prevent you from getting enough. For people with digestive disorders, whey protein can be great because it’s extremely digestible compared to other forms of protein and absorbs in the gut quickly.
  • Taking a whey supplement may help people lower their cholesterol. There have been a few research studies showing that when whey supplements were given to overweight men, there was a significant lowering of the total cholesterol and LDL at week 12 in the whey group compared to the casein group.
  • Most people who want to gain muscle mass will supplement with whey protein because it can help with muscle growth and more so than other types of protein
  • For people who struggle with high blood pressure, whey protein may help lower it.
  • Inflammation is one of the contributors to many chronic and acute health conditions, and whey protein might reduce inflammation in the body. For example, there was a large review-based study showing that the use of whey protein helped reduce C-reactive protein, which is one of the main markers of inflammation in the human body.

What people don’t realize is that even within the subcategory of whey proteins, there are different types. Understanding these types can help you choose the option that will be best for you.

Most people who want to gain muscle mass will supplement with whey protein because it can help with muscle growth and more so than other types of protein

The following are the main types of whey protein supplements.

Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey protein concentrate is often in products including not only powders but also bars and drinks. Whey protein concentrate comes from milk that’s then turned into cheese, and as the cheese is made, the whey is removed from it and turned into a dried powder.

Once the whey is derived from the milk product, it’s turned into a concentrate because the non-protein components are taken out. That means the end result of a whey protein concentrate is around 75 to 85% pure protein, and the rest of the supplement is comprised of fats and carbohydrates.

Some forms of whey protein concentrate may only have around 30% protein, however, so it’s important to read labels and do your research when you’re choosing one of these. One of the advantages of whey concentrate is that it’s a cheaper form of whey protein, and this is one of the most popular types of protein supplements in terms of sales.

One of the advantages of whey concentrate is that it’s a cheaper form of whey protein, and this is one of the most popular types of protein supplements

If you choose a lower-quality whey protein concentrate, it may cause digestive side effects that are sometimes associated with the use of a protein supplement.

Whey Protein Isolate

Whey protein isolate has had the water removed, and they are typically almost entirely free of lactose and cholesterol. Most isolates are also at least 90% protein. Whey isolate is good in terms of absorption, and the fact that it’s lactose-friendly is one of the main benefits this type of whey protein has over concentrate.

Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate

Hydrolyzed whey protein isolate offers the most protein absorption because of the hydrolyzation, which is a process that means it’s pre-digested. When you use a hydrolyzed supplement, since it’s been partially broken down with chemicals, it makes it much easier for your body to then digest it and absorb it.

For some people, hydrolyzed protein is the best option because it helps provide a quick boost rather than a slow, gradual boost, which can be good if you do intensive physical training. It can also make up for the lack of carbohydrates you might have in your diet, and if you have an issue with your intestines such as malabsorption, whey protein that’s hydrolyzed may offer the most benefits.

When you typically digest proteins, your liver removes the amino acids and then distributes them throughout your organs. With a high-quality hydrolyzed supplement, all the amino acids go directly to the muscles, and it’s much easier for your body to break it all down since it’s partially digested.

Much of why this occurs is likely because hydrolyzed protein powders have more leucine and casein, which can help send amino acids to the muscles.

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