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April 25, 2021
Whey protein isolate (WPI) is a muscle builder, a mood booster, and protein powerhouse. It contains all nine essential amino acids, which according to the protein lords (and science of course), makes it a complete protein.
Most people supplement with whey protein isolate because it's a concentrated form of protein, meaning you don’t need to consume a bulky steak 5x/week to get a decent amount of protein in your body.
That’s why fitness fanatics love it.
That’s why so many body-builders dig it.
That’s why my Crossfit-junkie boyfriend adds it to his post-gym morning power-up shake.
That’s why us aging folks (that’s all of us) should take it. High-quality protein can help replace age-related lost muscle mass and prevent fat gain, helping us to avoid a whole spectrum of unpleasant health conditions (1).
Have you ever seen the halfway point between milk and cheese? It’s an unpalatable concoction of curdled chunks swimming in liquid. The chunky curdled bit becomes cheese, and the liquid part is whey––the source of whey protein isolate powder.
I’ve made it sound gross, and perhaps it would be if you ate it like Little Miss Muffet did, but we don’t tend to do that (we also don’t tend to sit on tuffets). Instead, makers of whey protein extract the most useful part of whey to make a protein powder that can be added to coffee, smoothies, mashed potatoes, yogurt, pancakes, and more (I don’t recommend eating it solo by the spoonful!).
Our bodies make proteins, but not enough so we need exogenous sources too. Whey protein powder is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids, which are responsible for building proteins and synthesizing hormones and neurotransmitters.
Its amino acid profile is what makes whey protein for muscle gain and better athletic performance, and why you feel so good after a good hit of protein––it boosts the mood.
Got a cranky spouse? Give them one of my brownie balls made with pure whey protein isolate.
(In case you’re wondering what the nine essential amino acids are, here are their jawbreaker names: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine).
Whey protein isolate is popular among weight trainers, body builders, fighters, professional athletes, fitness models, and even weekend warriors. It helps to cut or lower body fat but maintain muscle mass––that’s a winning combination for everyone.
Those concerned with maintaining low body fat levels but who also need adequate protein to repair and build muscle should consider taking whey protein isolate as a supplement––especially isolate versions.
What’s the difference between whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate? It comes down to two processes: microfiltration and ultrafiltration.
Whey must be purified before it can be manufactured into a powder. Using microfilters, the purification process removes most fats, carbs, and water. It also removes most of the lactose too, making it suitable for those who are sensitive to lactose or have lactose intolerance. The resulting product is whey protein concentrate.
The problem with whey protein concentrate is partly one of language––it sounds better than it is. The word “concentrated” trips up a lot of people because they think they’re getting a higher protein content. It doesn’t help that any manufacturer can label their product “concentrate” if it contains between 35% and 80% protein (by weight).
In contrast, to be labeled “whey protein isolate” it must contain a minimum of 90% protein, which is far more concentrated than the concentrate versions (2). Indeed the extra step of ultrafiltration required to produce whey protein isolate essentially isolates the protein content so we get more of what we came for with far less fat and lactose tagging along.
Simply put, whey protein isolate isn’t just a denser source of protein but a leaner, cleaner, meaner one too.
Want an easy and delicious way to get more protein into your diet or pre- or post-workout power hit?
Try my Brownie or Super Seed Balls, both made with high-quality pure whey protein isolate, available here.
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