Whey-ing The Difference: Whey Concentrate vs Isolate (Part 2)

In Part 1 of the series on whey protein concentrate versus isolate, we looked at the difference between the two protein sources, which one is superior, and the health benefits provided by whey. Here in Part 2 we will take a more in-depth look at how whey protein isolate causes acidity in the body and why this is a problem. 

A pH is a measurement of the body's acidity or alkalinity, a balance with is very important to maintaining good health. In general, a low body pH, or an acidic body, has been shown to be directly linked with a long list of health problems, ranging in severity from the everyday conditions such as headaches and fatigue, to the more serious and deadly problems such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease. In fact, cancer cells can only live in an acidic environment. While we could talk about the general health effects caused by body acidity, we will focus our attention primarily on the effects on performance as many of those that are concerned with supplementing with whey protein do so in an effort to increase in size or other such outcomes related to enhancing performance. 

After a bout of exercise, whether it be endurance or strength (such as weight lifting), foods that have an alkalizing effect on the body are an important part of repairing the tissue damage that was done during the exercise. The body is already likely in an acidic state from the lactic acid created from muscle contractions during exercise, from toxins in the air and water, stress, and other such factors. Couple that with eating foods that are acidic following exercise, such as whey protein isolate, the result can be, and often is, muscle soreness, muscle stiffness, joint stiffness, and fatigue, not to mention an increased likelihood for injury. 

Acidity is a stressor to the body, which means that it can cause cortisol levels to rise, which impairs sleep, which is one reason why the acidity leads to fatigue. Likelihood for injury is also increased because acidity weakens bones. Because the blood can only be a certain pH, with a very narrow range or it will cause death, when highly acid forming foods are eaten, the body must maintain the blood pH, and to do this, it has to use alkalizing minerals from the bones to help buffer all the acid coming in. 

Because diet is one of the primary ways that the body becomes acidic, it is important to know which foods have a particularly strong acidifying effect on the body. Because whey protein isolate is heavily processed with acids and high heat, the end result, while high in protein, is very acidifying to the body, which leads to further stress, fatigue, soreness, etc. Because whey protein concentrate has not undergone this processing, it does not have the same strong acidifying effect on the body, and therefore is a much better option for protein consumption. 

However, even when consuming a whey protein concentrate, there are still some important aspects to look for when considering which brand to buy. In Part 3 of the series, we will take a look at what you should look for in a whey protein concentrate product.