Understanding the 3 Different Whey Protein Types

Many people are very confused about the different types of whey protein supplements sold in the market today. To clarify this confusion, we thought it would be useful to explain the difference between the three. We will also address something about quality and processing. We will go further into these important issues in another blog post.  


It all starts at the dairy farm where cows are milked. The milk is then transporter to the manufacturing facility to begin the process of cheese making. Special enzymes are added to the milk to create the separation of curds and the liquid whey. The whey is then usually pasteurized, filtered, and dried into a powder to create whey protein. 


There are three forms of whey protein: Whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and hydrolyzed whey protein. Whey protein concentrate is the least processed form of whey protein that usually contains anywhere from 30%-85% whey protein, with varying amounts of fat and carbohydrates in the form of lactose, along with various protein subfractions that have important biological activity which offers great health benefits. 

Whey protein isolate begins as a whey protein concentrate but goes through further processing to concentrate the whey protein to yield a higher percentage of whey protein, approximately 90%. This 90% whey protein isolate has less fat and carbohydrates in the form of lactose, with no protein subtractions that have beneficial health benefits. 

Hydrolyzed whey protein goes through an even further process called a "pre-digestion process" using special enzymes to break peptides down into smaller ones to help your body absorb and assimilate the protein faster which supposedly improves muscle growth. This is also the most expensive form of whey protein you can buy. The issues here are that the micro fractions are destroyed and the absorption does not really matter in terms of growth, and also the process is never really revealed as to the real percentage they actually hydrolyze - which could be 2% or 5% - which won't make much of a difference in absorption, but you will pay a premium price for it. 

So now that you understand where whey protein comes from, how it is made and you know what the three different types of whey proteins are, which one is the best option for you? 

We believe that whey protein concentrate is ideally the most nutrient-rich and less processed out of the three. The down side might be that it may have a slightly higher percentage of lactose, which people extra sensitive to lactose may experience some digestive issues with. 


Aside from understanding the difference between the three whey protein types, you must also understand that the quality and processing are critical issues you must consider before deciding to purchase a whey protein supplement. 

Ideally, the quality of the whey protein should come from cow milk that's grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and soy-free. Most whey protein in the market today come from very unhealthy milk sources from cows living in very unnatural, unhealthy environments. This low quality "dirty" milk source will not result in a high quality end product, no matter what the product label says. Bottom line, if the source is unhealthy, then how can you expect the end product to be healthy for you. It just doesn't make sense. 


The processing should also be a critically important consideration. Ideally, the processing of whey should be done gently, using a low temperature processing or sometimes a flash heat process that doesn't expose the whey to high heats for a prolonged period of time. Whey protein, since it is a dairy product, it legally has to be "pasteurized" in a way to be available for sale. It should also go through a micro filtration, ultra-filtration, or cross flow micro filtration process. DO NOT purchase any whey protein that goes through an Ioan Exchange process, this is a chemical and high heat process that denatures the whey protein completely. 

If the whey protein supplement you are considering using or are currently using does not state anything about the process they use, then assume it is a Ion Exchange process. 

We hope this post helped you gain a better understanding of whey protein. We will go further into the benefits of whey protein concentrate, the quality and processing in later posts. :) 

Try our NewZ Whey Protein Concentrates! They are of the highest quality and the best tasting whey proteins in the market today.