So you’re currently in the zone, smashing 4 or more solid workouts every week, and you’re on the hunt for the perfect protein shake to complement all the hard work you’re putting in in the gym…
Or perhaps you’ve just used the very last scoop of your current protein powder, you’re looking to mix it up, and are wondering which protein to use next…
So you hop online, or pop in store, and all of a sudden you’re faced with what seems like an infinite number of options… you can’t make heads or tails of what’s what.
You find yourself asking the question that so many of us have faced time and time again.. ‘Which Whey Is Better?’
Luckily, we have an answer for you.
But first, let’s take a look at what whey is.
What Is Whey?
Whey is derived from cow’s milk and is separated out from whole milk during the production of various dairy products such as butter, cheese and yoghurt.
Whole milk protein contains approximately 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein, and although both of these dairy based proteins comprise all the essential amino acids that your body requires, whey protein is digested much more easily & rapidly than casein protein making it the optimal protein for repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue after working out.
Introducing The Different Types Of Whey Protein
The 4 most popular types of whey protein available on the market are Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC), Whey Protein Isolate (WPI), Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH), and Whey Protein Blends. Let’s take a deep dive into each of them.
Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)
WPC is a complete and high-quality protein that is ideal for post workout recovery due to its full amino acid profile. WPC is typically high in protein, moderately low in cholesterol and fat, and moderately low in carbohydrates, although it does contain lactose (milk sugar).
WPC is also incredibly versatile. You can drink it, you can make protein sludge or protein custard with it, bake with it, make protein pancakes with it, brownies, protein balls and whatever else your creative culinary mind can come up with.
WPC is also typically the best value for money of all the types of whey protein.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
WPI undergoes another step in the manufacturing process, either microfiltration or ion exchange, to remove the majority of fats & carbohydrates. As such, WPI contains a higher percentage of protein than WPC, and is lower in carbohydrates, fats and lactose.
WPI and WPC typically contain the same complete amino acid profile and are both rapidly digested.
However, WPI does tend to be easier on your gut than WPC and may benefit any consumer who experiences stomach discomfort when consuming a straight WPC protein powder, such as bloating or cramps.
Due to the additional manufacturing process required to produce WPI, it tends to be about 30 – 40% more expensive than WPC.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH or HWPI)
WPH undergoes yet another step in the manufacturing process called hydrolysis, where the whey is effectively pre-digested to further remove fats & carbohydrates and break down larger protein chains into smaller, more easily digestible, protein peptides.
WPH therefore contains the highest percentage of protein of all the types of whey, while typically being close to fat, carbohydrate and lactose free.
WPH is also absorbed into your bloodstream slightly faster than WPI or WPC, but comes with a heavy price tag, often greater than 20% more expensive than WPI, and over 50% more expensive than WPC.
Whey Protein Blend
As the name suggests, a whey protein blend is a combination of 2 or more proteins blended into one, with the most prominent ingredient being a type of whey protein.
There is a growing amount of science to support the benefits of combining different proteins together to create a sustained or staggered release of amino acids into your bloodstream, and as such, whey protein blends will usually comprise a combination of fast, medium and slow digesting proteins, often including casein protein or whole milk protein.
Some of the more notable studies include:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23343671/ A whey protein blend is able to maintain a positive protein balance over a long duration of time, allowing for a higher rate of protein synthesis for multiple hours.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16937979/ The combination of whey with casein results in the immediate release of amino acids as well as a sustained long term release over the course of several hours which may create a better environment for muscle growth.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16937979/ Whey protein blend containing fast and slow digesting protein not only promotes lean muscle gain but also a decrease in body fat.
Whey protein blends tend to represent quite good value for money, typically sitting in between the price of a WPC and a WPI. They are also quite versatile, tend to cook quite well, and can be used anytime of day.
So Which Whey Is Better?
As we’ve discovered, it’s not the answer to this question that is most important. It’s the question itself
“Which whey is better for me based on my dietary requirements and budget?” is what you actually want to be asking.
If you have no specific macronutrient constraints and lactose doesn’t negatively affect you, you’re best off choosing a pure WPC like Merica Labz Patriots Whey.
However if lactose doesn’t agree with you, or you are conscious of your carb & fat consumption and have some more room in your budget, then a high quality WPI like Core Nutritionals Core ISO or Rule 1 R1 Protein will be more suited to your needs.