What Is Whey Protein Isolate and What Are Its Benefits?
Protein is an essential component of our diets. It helps with the growth and repair of the body’s tissues and is found in a variety of plant and animal-based foods. When supplementing protein, it’s good to know where that protein comes from so you can manage your diet and make sure you’re getting the right kind of protein for your needs.
Whey protein is incredibly popular and is present in numerous protein products. But what is whey protein isolate, what are its benefits, and how does it differ from other kinds of proteins?
What Is Whey Protein Isolate?
When cow’s milk is processed to make dairy products like cheese and yogurt, the liquid separated from the milk is called whey. It contains high levels of amino acids and is used to create a vast array of protein powders and sports supplements.
Once the whey has been separated from the rest of the milk’s by-products, it’s then processed to ensure it contains the maximum protein content possible and dried to form a powder. It’s at this stage in the process that the kind of whey protein produced is determined.
Whey Isolate vs Whey Concentrate vs Whey Hydrolysate
Whey is a “complete” protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids the body needs but can’t produce by itself. Different kinds of whey can be produced, using different processes:
Whey concentrate contains around 80% protein, a small amount of fat, and some carbohydrates. It requires less processing and is generally more affordable. It’s found in many protein products and makes an effective source of protein.
Whey isolate contains over 90% protein and even smaller amounts of fats and carbohydrates. This type of protein requires more processing to remove the other nutrients, making it typically more expensive to buy yet easier for the body to digest.
Whey hydrolysate is a unique formulation of whey protein, where whey concentrate or isolate is exposed to heat, acids or enzymes. This breaks amino acid bonds, making hydrolyzed proteins the fastest kind to be absorbed in the gut. It’s typically the most expensive form of protein and isn’t used much in many protein products.
So why opt for whey protein isolate over other forms of whey protein?
What Are the Benefits of Whey Isolate?
Whey isolate has several unique advantages over other forms of protein, particularly whey concentrate. It is:
High in Protein — It’s the ideal choice if you want to promote muscle growth, as the high protein content will help your muscles repair faster. The high protein content can help you feel fuller for longer, reducing food cravings and suppressing your appetite, further supporting your journey towards better health.
Easily Digestible — Whey isolate is absorbed rapidly by the body, making it the perfect option for post-workout nutrition. Only whey hydrolysate is more rapidly absorbed by the body, but it typically comes at a higher price.
Very Low in Fats and Carbohydrates — If you’re trying to lose weight, whey isolate can make your diet and exercise plan a lot easier to manage. It contains only the protein you need to fuel your workouts — without the added fats and carbs that slow you down.
Extremely Low in Lactose — Compared to whey concentrate, whey isolate contains very little lactose — as little as 1% — making it the perfect option for anyone with a sensitive gut or lactose intolerance.
- Very Reasonably Priced — Although you might pay slightly more for whey isolate products, the contents are of a higher quality. They’ll greatly benefit your workouts and give you a lot of bang for your buck.
Are There Any Drawbacks of Whey Isolate?
It’s worth bearing in mind that whey isolates can create a higher insulin response than whey concentrate protein powders, but all whey proteins have an insulinogenic effect, so this might not be too much of a drawback.
It should also be noted that taking too much protein won’t help you gain muscle or lose fat any faster as the body can only process a limited amount of protein at any given time. Excessive protein consumption can cause digestive issues. If you experience abdominal pain, bloating, stomach cramps, flatulence, or diarrhea, it might be worth checking and revising your protein intake.
Should You Take Whey Isolate?
Whey isolate protein powders and supplements are a great optimized solution to help you burn fat, build lean muscle and help you assist with weight loss. They’re more refined than whey concentrates and not as expensive as whey hydrolysates, giving you a lot of benefits for a small investment.
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