Whey Protein Concentrate vs Isolate vs Hydrolysed – The Beginners Guide

beginners whey 1Let’s face it, protein supplements are the daddy. The Vito Corlone of the sports supplement industry. They are the beginning the middle and the end. But with so many on the market, do you really know what you are buying into?

Can you tell the difference between whey concentrate , whey isolate and hydrolysed whey?

In this following article I will shed light on one of the most popular groups of supplements – protein powders. Looking at the differences between whey protein concentrate, whey isolate and hydrolysed whey protein.

Protein Supplementation

Protein supplements come in all sizes, flavours and twists. Each brand and manufcaturer of protein powders have their unique selling points that make them the “best supplement ever”. With such a large number of cheap protein suppliers in the UK alone, how can you tell which is truly the best?

What are you even looking for in a protein supplement?

Whey protein is the most common form of protein available on the supplement mark, derived from cow milk. Outside of this however there are beef protein powders for the lactose intolerant, pea protein for the vegetarians and paleo protein for the… erm cavemen? This is just to name a few.

There really is a protein supplement out there no matter what your situation is. We have all been there and tried a protein supplement because our favourite fitness model has (supposedly) been using it as their secret to getting huge or getting ripped.

History of Protein Supplements

Whey protein is derived from milk and was originally seen as leftovers and thrown away.

This is until someone realised that they could make some serious cash from selling it to those looking to follow a high protein diet for muscle gain. Flashy marketing, advertising and promises of an easier way to build muscle would woe wannabe muscle men, body builders and athletes to buying tub after tub.

Whey is most commonly purchased in concentrate. However, through additional filteration, isolate and hydrolysed protein powders can be formed.

spiderman whey

Trying to find out exactly when whey protein supplements became popular is difficult.

What we can be sure of though is that in today’s market they are growing in popularity at a serious rate of knots. You just need to have a look around the changing rooms at the gym to see people mixing up their concoctions in their shaker bottles.

Let’s have a look at the most popular Whey protein supplements and see if you can learn a thing or two.

Whey Concentrate

Whey concentrate is the original protein supplement, it’s the foundation that the whole supplement market has been built on.

Generally, whey concentrate comes in at around 80% protein and has minimal amounts of both fat and carbohydrates. Some complain about bloating after consuming Whey concentrate and that can be put down to the carbohydrates and fat from lactose.

Whey protein concentrate is the cheapest of the three protein sources in this review, and suppliers such as Myprotein and The Protein Works are constantly battling for the award of the cheapest Whey Protein Concentrate supplement.

You can check out our impact whey review for a better insight to what it is. We also cover other brands in our supplement reviews section, such as The Protein Works reviews and GoNutrition reviews. Head over to the deals & vouchers pages to have a look at the codes on offer at the moment.

Impact Whey MyProtein

Whey Protein Concentrate generally produces the thickest and “best” tasting of the three protein sources, and is commonly used in protein baking, and other protein treats. A look at instagram will show brownies, proats and other treats to steer you away from a boring old shake. Heck you can even check our recipes section for inspiration!

When looking for a Whey Protein Concentrate supplement, you should aim for a cold filtered Whey, which has not been pumped full of artificial flavourings and colourings. With a great Amino Acid profile and taste.

The best Whey Protein Concentrate I have ever tried is The Protein Works Cherry Bakewell, if you haven’t tried it, add it onto your next order and thank me later.  I accept all protein goodies.

Whey Protein Concentrate supplements are a great starting point for everyone. You will be provided with all of the essential amino acids, and is a convenient way to ensure that you hit your protein macronutrient targets in a tasty and cheap way.

Whey Protein Isolate

Whey Protein Isolate supplements are Whey Concentrates little brother, the little smart arse who is constantly trying to get one up on big bro.

This supplement is considered to be a higher quality source of protein because they contain a higher percentage of protein, coming in at between 90 and 95 per cent protein.

With this you can expect to find a lower percentage of carbohydrate and fat per serving, as a result it is believed that Whey Protein Isolate supplements can be digested by the body faster than Whey Concentrate.

Generally, the consistency of these shakes are thinner and the mix-ability often poorer, again, this is due to the lower percentage of carbohydrate and fats.

For people who have experienced bloating with Whey Concentrate, this problem is almost always eradicated with Whey Isolate supplements, and personally, I feel no ill effects.

From a financial point of view,  I do not feel that Whey Protein Isolate supplement areworth the extra money you will spend,  and I would say that you are better off sourcing a really good quality Whey Concentrate supplement rather than an average Whey Protein Isolate supplement.

That being said, In terms of taste and products, I have tried MyProtein’s version of Whey Protein Isolate and wasn’t taken aback. The taste was poor and when I mixed with any other products the end result wasn’t what I was looking for, nobody likes to finish a tough leg session and be greeted by a weak tasting, watery protein shake.

Hydrolysed Whey Protein

scoops of protein powderHydrolysed Whey protein supplements are the hot new thing on the block. They are the new kid at school, everyone is interested in them but nobody wants to be the first one to make a move.

This protein supplement is partially digested and is considered the easiest to digest. They are super-fast acting after consumption due to their lack of fats and carbohydrate.

Of the three protein sources discussed in this article, Hydrolysed Whey supplements are the stand out winner as the most expensive. Sites such as MyProtein and The Protein Works both offer their own versions, but I would not be tempted without a serious special offer.

From the user reviews of both sites, it has been confirmed that the supplement causes little to no bloating, but the taste and texture leave a lot to be desired. People generally say that they can feel a massive difference from taking this form of protein.

Personally, I have tried a sample of MyProtein’s Hydrolysed Whey and I was seriously unimpressed. I had no idea that the consistency would be watery and the taste weak. This was enough to put me off for good.

With the history and popularity of Whey Concentrate and Whey Protein Isolate, I can’t see Hydrolysed Whey becoming a legend of the supplement world.

End result, I wouldn’t bother. Sure, the popularity of this form of protein could well increase in the coming months and years but as the old saying goes, if it aint broke, don’t fix. Stick with either Whey Concentrate or Whey Protein Isolate products.


No Bake Nutella Protein Brownie

Which One Is Right For You?

Ignore the fads. Protein supplements are protein supplements. Just because you are a women or a man does not mean that you need to fork out more for a gender specific supplement.

Diet proteins with all of their additional ingredients are ironic, you are trying to lose weight but taking a protein supplement with more calories than a stand alone protein supplement!

Sure, all in one protein supplements have their place but why not just make your own, control the dosages and experiment. The same can be said for weight gain shakes, ever seen somebody not end up fat taking those sugar bombs?

Oh, and one more thing, your favourite fitness model or bodybuilder hasn’t been using the product they’re endorsing! Anyone active on social media will know that when a fitness model switches supplement companies, they instantly start preaching about these great new products….that’s their job, that’s why they’re the ambassador!!

Just choose a product you enjoy taking, isn’t costing you the world and one you can have a bit of fun with…down boy.

I hope that this has shed some light on the minefield that can be choosing a protein supplement. Next time you are placing an order, remember and have a look at the site to see if we can help make sure that you are getting the best value for your money.


Matt is a MSc Student studying in Nutritional Science. His hunger for knowledge extends into an appetite for protein supplements, bars and snacks.

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