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Which Protein Powder Should You Be Using?

So you are either just starting to lift weights, involved in a rigorous training routine that requires extra protein and nutrients to function and repair damaged muscle tissue, or simply wanting a higher protein consumption on a daily basis. The typical thing many people do is resort to a protein powder in order to obtain higher levels of protein in the easiest form of consumption. However, what many people do not know is that whey protein comes in many forms and each one provides a benefit when compared to the other.


So although you may only know protein as whey protein, how do you determine if you should be taking a whey concentrate, isolate or hydrolyzed protein shake? Although the choice is yours depending on your personal goals, it’s important to know the difference between the 3 popular whey supplements. Whey Concentrate is a form of a powder that typically has a low level of fat and cholesterol content when compared to the regular whey protein. They are also higher in carbohydrates that come in the form of lactose, which is a sugar compound derived from glucose, most commonly found in milk. Whey concentrate is also seen as the cheapest and most common form of protein powder on the market today. Simply being a product of cheese/milk curds, it is used by many bodybuilders and athletes to increase protein consumption to allow for greater muscle tissue within the body.

Whey Concentrate


The protein levels in whey concentrate can also vary greatly with companies offering powders or supplements containing anywhere between 40-90% protein content per serving, depending on the source. Concentrate will also have a higher level of lactose within the compound, which will result in an increase in both sugar and carbohydrate levels in the protein.


Whey Isolate

Whey Isolate is usually processed and refined in a process that will remove the fat and the lactose from the compound, making isolate one of the leanest protein powders by trade and comprising of over 90% protein content per serving. However, since most of the fat and lactose is removed from the powder, it results in the removal of compounds that are filled with nutrients that can have an impact on cell life within our body. These are known as bioactive compounds, and it’s important to note that although they have their benefits to the body, they are not essential nutrients so the body can function fine without these compounds. Such examples of bioactive compounds would be caffeine, creatine, taurine and many others. An advantage that whey isolate offers to many over the standard whey concentrate, is that isolate can sometimes be found to be lactose-free, which makes it a suitable product for many people who have an allergen to dairy or are vegan or vegetarian by trade.

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Hydrolyzed Whey


Hydrolyzed Whey is simply a whey protein that has gone through the process of hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is comprised of two terms: Hydro- meaning water, and –lysis which means to remove or unbind. Whey protein that undergoes the hydrolysis process simply is whey protein that has had the addition of water into the substance to allow for the protein to be broken down for the sole purpose to be metabolized much easier.


However, although this protein is superior to concentrate, it typically costs a lot more. It’s also important to note that hydrolyzed whey is also typically less allergenic when compared to other forms of whey protein. The advantage that hydrolyzed whey offers over conventional whey is that it allows for amino acids that are consumed from the protein within the body to be absorbed at a much higher rate when compared to standard and complete proteins. This results in a greater nutrient content being delivered to muscles for the purpose of replenishing spent nutrients to help with growth and cell regeneration.

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Take Home Message


If your purpose is simply to build muscle tissue, typically whey concentrate is the go-to protein supplement by 90% of most people. You can never go wrong with whey concentrate by any means. However, if you are like me and prefer to have the leanest physique year round while still being able to build lean muscle tissue at a reasonable rate, whey isolate will be the better suit for your goals.


If you do not wish to take either of those or simply might have a possible allergy to some of the ingredients found within concentrate or isolate, hydrolyzed whey is going to be your best suit. If you are allergic to dairy or lactose I recommend avoiding all three of these and finding a lactose free powder instead, such as brown rice protein for example. Regardless of what protein you take, they all offer great benefits with regards to protein consumption and muscle growth within the body when accompanied with proper training and diet.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/.

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