What are you really buying when you purchase a protein powder labeled “pure whey protein isolate?” This type of protein powder is considered the highest-quality protein source by many weightlifters, bodybuilders and athletes, but many people do not fully understand why it is considered superior to other types of protein powder.
For instance, why would you pay more for a whey isolate powder when you can pay less for a whey concentrate powder? Once you know what whey protein isolate is, you will have the answer to this question. After reading this guide to the advantages and disadvantages to pure whey protein isolate, you will have the information you need to make an educated decision for your health.
Let’s break this term down so that you understand what you are buying when you pick up a whey protein isolate powder:
Pure: The powder does not contain any other types of protein. You are not buying a mix that contains a little whey isolate combined with lower-quality sources of protein.
Whey: Whey is a protein-rich liquid created during the cheese-making process. It is a dairy byproduct rich in lactose and milk fat.
Protein Isolate: Whey is processed to isolate the protein from its other natural components. Some minor processing is completed to make whey protein concentrate, and even more processing is used to create a pure protein isolate that contains very little lactose or milk fat. The isolate is typically made through microfiltration or ion exchange. Many consider micro-filtered powders healthier because that process does not involve chemicals.
You now have a basic understanding of the difference between whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Isolate contains more protein with less fat and lactose, but concentrate contains more natural nutrients. The purity and higher amount of protein is what makes pure whey protein isolate the preferred source of protein for many athletes, bodybuilders and weightlifters.
Pure Whey Protein Isolate Advantages
Whey protein isolate does have some advantages over other types of protein supplements, including the following:
- A pure isolated whey protein powder is at least 90% protein. It is common to see other protein powders that are 70-80% protein, and some contain even less protein than that.
- Isolated whey is extremely low in fat and carbohydrates. The content of fat and carbs is typically less than 2 grams of each per serving, and some servings are virtually fat and carbohydrate free.
- The quality of the protein is not degraded through the extra processing required to create an isolate. You get high-quality protein just as you would with a concentrate, but you get more of it in every serving.
- The market for pure whey protein isolate is massive. There are hundreds of supplements now using pure isolated whey, so you have a lot of options. This gives you more selection when it comes to finding a flavor and texture that you enjoy. You can also use multiple flavors to keep some variety in your diet.
- It is easy to cook with whey protein powder. From whey pancakes for breakfast to whey cookies for your child’s lunchbox, the options are endless.
- Most users enjoy the taste of whey isolates more than they enjoy whey concentrates. Even with less fat, these powders tend to create shakes that taste better.
- Whey protein is absorbed into the body and utilized by your muscles much faster than casein and other types of protein powder. This is why it is favored as a post-workout recovery supplement.
- Studies have shown a clear connection between a healthy immune system and whey protein. That is a perk that many other protein sources cannot claim.
Pure Whey Protein Isolate Disadvantages
There aren’t as many disadvantages to using this type of protein powder as there are advantages, but you always have to weigh the bad with the good in order to make a smart buying decision. This is especially true when you are selecting a supplement that can support or sabotage the health and fitness goals you are working so hard to achieve.
- Some forms of isolation processing involve a lot of heat. The heat can lower the quality of the protein significantly. This is why filtered whey protein isolates are favored over those processed through ion exchange and other high-heat methods.
- Some whey protein isolate powders contain a lot of sugar and artificial ingredients. The manufacturers try to make them taste better with these added ingredients, but they end up lower the quality of the overall product for health-conscious consumers. You can find pure whey protein isolate supplements that do not contain artificial ingredients or a lot of sugar.
- Even though the lactose content of a pure isolate is very low, it can still contain some lactose. That may cause a problem for anyone with extreme sensitivity or allergy to lactose.
Notice that there is a way around two of the three disadvantages. You can find pure isolated whey protein powders that do not contain junk additives and which were not processed at high heat levels. Look for organic products that are labeled as “non-denatured.” You may also want to stay away from hydrolyzed whey powders which go through even more processing to reduce the size of the whey proteins for even faster absorption.
One example of a super pure and incredibly healthy pure whey protein isolate is Raw Organic Whey. The milk used to create this whey comes from cows living on small sustainable farms, and they are not fed any hormones or antibiotics. The whey is processed at low temperatures without any acid, and the final product does not contain any sweeteners, preservatives or filler ingredients. You get pure isolated whey made from the healthiest source of milk available.
Is Whey Isolate the Best Protein for You?
If your fitness goals include weight gain or muscle gain, you can’t go wrong with a pure whey protein isolate as a pre and after-workout supplement. You will get at least 20 grams of protein per serving, and there are some that offer 30 or more grams per serving. Whey protein is easily absorbed by your body, so you get instant support for tired, aching muscles that need to recover.