What's up Crush It Crew! In today's blog post, we'll embark on a journey into the heart of protein supplementation – a realm where gains are sculpted and muscle growth thrives. We're here to shed light on a topic that has intrigued and perplexed many: the differences between whey protein concentrate and whey isolate. So, buckle up and get ready to dive deep into the world of protein powders!
Protein Primer: Fueling the Gains
Before we delve into the specifics of whey protein concentrate and whey isolate, let's quickly recap why protein is the cornerstone of any bodybuilder's diet. Protein is composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. When we engage in intense weight training, we cause microscopic damage to our muscle fibers. Protein comes to the rescue by repairing and rebuilding these fibers, making them stronger and larger. Simply put, protein is the fuel that powers muscle growth.
Where Does Whey Come From?
According to Theresa Gentile, the National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “whey is the liquid part of milk in the cheese-making process and is composed of the 8 proteins found in milk.” Then, while the cheese is being processed, specific enzymes are introduced into the mixture that causes the milk to curdle, which separates the liquid whey from the solid chunks of curds that will eventually become cheese. To get powdered whey, cheese manufacturers remove the separated whey liquid, pasteurize it (a process which quickly heats the liquid to eliminate any bacteria), then dry it in order to form the whey powder we’re all familiar with today.
Whey Protein Concentrate: The Complete Package
Whey protein has long held its position as a beloved supplement among bodybuilders. As mentioned above, whey protein is a derivative of milk from either the cheese or yogurt making process. The resulting whey is what’s known as a “complete protein”, which means that it contains all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies can’t produce on their own. Without these essential amino acids, our bodies cannot complete the process of hypertrophy, i.e., the process of repairing and adapting muscle fibers from the microtears that occur during physical activity.
The fact that whey protein is a complete protein and contains all nine essential amino acids makes it a rather potent weapon in the arsenal of any competent bodybuilder. But it goes beyond that, as here are a few other benefits you can gain from taking whey protein:
- Protein Concentration: While it’s called whey protein, these blends are rarely pure protein. Although the protein concentration varies from one source or brand to another, whey protein is generally 70-80% protein, with the rest consisting of carbohydrates and fats. This can be either a positive, as many prefer a more balanced nutrient profile with a mixture of protein, fats and carbohydrates, others might find the additional calories unacceptable.
- Fast Absorption: Unlike other protein sources, which need to be further broken down in your stomach and/or large intestine, one of whey protein's most attractive attributes is that it’s rapidly absorbed by the body. This is greatly beneficial for the most important meal of the day for a bodybuilder: your post-workout meal. Sometimes referred to as the “anabolic window,” which is open for the first hour or so after, your muscles are like greedy nutritional sponges, eager to absorb all the available nutrients to kickstart the recovery process. Since whey protein is quickly absorbed, it’s able to rush in to provide a a quick infusion of amino acids and begin the process of hypertrophy by repairing and growing your muscles.
- Immune-Boosting Components: Perhaps surprisingly, whey protein also assists your immune system to fight off infections and bacteria. This immune-enhancing property is due to its rich content of immunoglobulins (antibodies synthesized by B lymphocytes – plasma cells that can recognize a broad spectrum of specific antigenic determinants, constituting the basis of the humoral immune response) and lactoferrin (a cell-secreted mediator that bridges innate and adaptive immune function in mammals). By increasing the quantity of these compounds within your body, whey protein works to support your bodily defenses and helps to keep you healthy, allowing you to consistently hit the gym without off days due to illness or injury.
- Easy To Consume: While we’d all love to completely fulfill our nutritional needs from whole food sources alone, this isn’t always possible due to a number of factors including it being time and/or cost prohibitive. However, just because we can’t get those nutrients from whole foods, doesn’t mean we don’t need them. This makes the convenience of whey protein powder an essential component to meeting your body’s nutritional needs daily.
Core PRO - Our Premier Whey Protein Blend
If you’re looking for an excellent whey protein blend option, look no further than Core PRO. With PRO, you’ll benefit from both whey protein concentrate and isolate, as both are included in this comprehensive protein blend, in addition to DigeSEB (a digestive enzyme blend that we added to enhance digestibility and reduce incidences of stomach discomfort, bloating, gas and other gastrointestinal ailments), and coconut oil creamer (medium chain triglycerides which studies suggest effectively increases the body’s metabolic response to food intake).
What’s more, we have one of the most versatile flavor line-ups on the market with 12 different options to choose from including more traditional vanilla and chocolate options, as well as more niche flavors like pistachio ice cream, peanut butter and jelly, fruit cereal, cookies ‘n cream, and chocolate mocha.
Click the button below to grab your tub of Core PRO today!
Whey Isolate: Striving for Purity
Now that we’ve looked at whey protein concentrate, we can examine it’s leaner and purer whey protein counterpart: whey isolate. As mentioned above, most whey proteins are around 70-80% protein, with the remaining 20-30% consisting of various carbohydrates and fats. However, through a variety of processing methods, whey protein concentrate is stripped of most of its carbohydrates, fats, and lactose, leaving behind a product that's nearly 90% pure protein. The resulting product is what we refer to as whey isolate and, with its enhanced purity, it has its own set of benefits and considerations.
- Protein Purity: This is the reason why whey isolate is known as the Cadillac, U.S. Dollar, Michael Jordan and/or Wayne Gretzky of proteins: it ultra-high and pure protein content cannot be matched by any other readily available protein source. Compared to concentrate, whey isolate is 10-30% purer with significant reductions to the amount of accompanying carbohydrates and fats found within the powder. For anyone looking to maintain a caloric deficit without sacrificing their protein intake, there’s no other choice than whey isolate.
- Lactose Sensitivity: As mentioned above, non-vegan whey proteins are all derived from milk. For those who struggle with lactose sensitivity or full lactose intolerance, whey isolate is one of the few protein supplement options available to you that won’t cause stomach discomfort, gas and/or bloating. This is possible as the meticulous process of refining whey isolate from whey protein concentrate leaves behind minimal lactose content, making it a far gentler option for lactose sensitive stomachs.
- Amino Acid Abundance: Although whey isolate undergoes a significant amount of processing, it retains the complete amino acid profile of its parent whey protein concentrate. This ensures that your muscles still receive all the essential building blocks they require to complete the process of hypertrophy. As such, whey isolate is an exceptional choice for those who prioritize muscle growth and recovery.
- Slower Absorption: Despite its myriad benefits, there are some drawbacks to whey protein isolate, such as its slower absorption rate relative to whey concentrate due to the removal of certain components that aid in its digestion and absorption within the body. For most people, this will not be a significant factor when choosing between whey protein concentrate or isolate, however, it is something to keep in mind when planning your post-workout nutrition.
Core ISO - Our Premier Whey Protein Isolate
If you’re looking for the best whey protein isolate on the market, you won’t find a better option than Core ISO. With ISO, we developed the purest, highest-quality, least-adulterated whey protein isolate product on the market. We have taken the highest purity, non-instantiated, non-soy, non-GMO whey protein isolate available, and essentially added nothing to it, with no added sugars or artificial colors.
And, as with Core PRO, Core ISO is available in a broad range of delicious gourmet flavors including more traditional vanilla and chocolate options, as well as more niche flavors like cappuccino, lemon pound cake, chocolate mint cookie and others!
Click the button below to grab your tub of Core ISO today!
Choosing Your Champion: Whey Protein or Whey Isolate?
So, the million-dollar question: which one of these protein options should you choose? And, the answer, like most things in life and bodybuilding, will depend on your goals, preferences, and dietary requirements. Here is a list of things you should consider while making your choice:
- If You're Chasing Gains: Neither option is necessarily wrong here as both whey protein concentrate and whey isolate are effective protein sources for muscle growth. However, if you'd prefer a faster absorption rate to optimize growth and recovery after an intense workout, we’d have to give whey protein concentrate the slight edge. On the other hand, if your goal is lean building lean muscle mass or if you’re looking to maintain a caloric deficit without sacrificing on your protein intake, whey isolate is your best choice.
- Lactose Concerns: If you struggle with lactose intolerance or simply want a gentler-on-the-stomach option, whey isolate's reduced lactose content might be a game-changer for you. However, at Core Nutritionals, we have another option for people with lactose sensitivities. In Core VEGAN, you’ll find a 100% plant-based protein that is lactose, soy and gluten free, contains an added digestive blend to maximize digestibility and has added fermented BCAAs to ensure you receive a sufficient amount of the nine essential amino acids mentioned earlier.
- Nutrient Tolerance: Keep in mind that some individuals might tolerate one form of whey better than the other due to differences in processing and nutrient composition. Experimentation might be necessary to determine which form aligns best with your body.
Click below to grab your own tub of Core VEGAN today:
In Conclusion: Forging Your Protein Path
In the grand tapestry of bodybuilding, protein supplementation stands as a cornerstone. Whey protein concentrate and whey isolate, though similar in their origins, offer distinct advantages tailored to individual needs and goals.
The choice between whey protein and whey isolate boils down to factors such as protein concentration, carbohydrate and fat content, lactose sensitivity, and absorption rate. As you traverse the path to your ultimate physique, remember that both options can play pivotal roles in sculpting the gains you desire.
Whichever path you choose, Core Nutritionals stands ready to empower your journey with premium, meticulously crafted supplements. Remember, fellow iron warriors, your gains are forged in sweat, determination, and the right fuel for your body. Here's to unlocking your true potential and reaching new heights in your bodybuilding odyssey!