Difference Between Isolate and Whey Protein (With Table)

Whey is a common source of protein that most people in the fitness regime rely on for their protein intake. There are certainly a lot of products in the market that produces whey. But there always lies a significant difference between isolate and whey protein powder as it possesses a lot of variations including the nutritional needs that vary with people. Isolates and whey protein both serve the need to provide protein.

Isolate vs Whey Protein

The difference between isolate and whey protein is that isolates are whey that is processed further to reduce the lipid (i.e., fat) and lactose content leaving only the protein isolate. Whereas the whey differs from the formula. They possess a different portion of lactose in them, depending on the usage guidelines.

Isolates are most commonly preferred by people with varying nutritional requirements. As a small chunk of the population does have a food sensitivity and tolerance level for lactose sugar, isolates come in handy to serve its need. People who have lactose intolerance can certainly consume isolates.

Whey protein in general is used for making various nutritional supplements such as energy bars and protein shakes. Interestingly people have even started using whey protein powder to incorporate in their daily diet with different dessert recipes such as cookies and pancakes.

Comparison Table Between Isolate and Whey Protein

Parameters of ComparisonIsolateWhey Protein
CompositionIsolates contain 90% protein and about 5.5% water.Commonly, around 25g of protein per one heaping scoop. Possess around 30-80% protein.
Protein percentageRelatively higher than whey protein, around 90% or more percent by weight.80% protein by weight.
UsageIdeal for calorie deficit diet plans.Ideal for muscle building.
Carbohydrate & fat levelsCarbs and fat content are lower than whey protein.It contains a significant amount of carb and fat.
AbsorptionContains minimal lactose, hence easily digested and absorbed by the body.Contains lactose and fats, thus requires more time to absorb.  

What is Isolate?

Whey protein isolates are a more processed or concentrated version of whey. The whey protein is concentrated through further microfiltration and then ultra-filtered to remove the lactose content and carbohydrates present in the whey protein to make it easy to adsorb.

The amino acid profile is also extreme and rich when compared to that of whey protein powder. The lactose content is as least as 0.8g per 100g of isolate, thus making it a perfect source of protein to moderate lactose intolerants.

The taste of isolate is usually flavorless if it is not processed with flavors thus it is usually tasteless in its original state. The isolates are recommended to be consumed within an hour to terminate the dispersion of protein in the beverage. It does not disturb the gut, since it is not a gut-irritant. Moreover, after the filtration process, the sugar is also filtered. It is recommended source of protein for a macro counting diet.

The double filtration takes place in processing the whey protein, here whey is double purified with methods such as ion exchanges or cross-flow microfiltration. It also consists of a very negligible amount of cholesterol, fat, and lactose. Some companies later add lactase which helps in faster digestion and adsorption.

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What is Whey Protein?

Whey proteins or concentrates come under the primary step of purification. It contains a negligible amount of protein when compared to that of isolate. Milk consists of various proteins namely beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide, immunoglobulins, bovine serum albumin, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, and lysozyme.

 The by-product of curdling the milk leads to a thin watery substance to remain whey water. This water undergoes further purification processes to pasteurize the liquid whey to kill the bacteria and other microbes present in it. This liquid after micro-filtration turns into a powder-based form called the whey protein powder.

Whey protein possesses certainly a lot of benefits including protein provision, it also provides various healing properties, nutritional supplements, and weight gain. But there is certainly more contradictory information over the nutritional advantages. They include the possible dangers including side effects like nausea, headache but with only extensive usage or consumption.

There are researches available that claim that whey protein could help in increasing immunity in children suffering from asthma. Whey proteins generally contain a significant amount of fat and are subjected to contain lactose and cholesterol in moderation. It is also an important protein supplement for bodybuilding and muscle building. It is usually consumed pre- or post-workout.

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Main Differences Between Isolate and Whey Protein

  1. Isolates contain 90% more protein by weight while whey protein contains 80% protein by weight.
  2. Whey protein contains lactose and whereas isolate contains a very low amount of carb and fat content.
  3. Isolates are safe for those who have lactose intolerance, whereas whey protein concentrate does contain lactose.
  4. Whey protein serves as an important source or supplement for bodybuilding. But it does exert some allergic reactions in lactose intolerants.
  5. Whey protein may contain some traces of cholesterol and lactose.
  6. Whey and isolates both can be consumed in moderations to lose weight, to quench the protein requirement.


Whey protein and isolate both are considered to be protein sources that contain essential amino acids for the body. Both the protein sources are user-friendly and quick to consume. The amino acids that are present in Whey protein and isolates aid in building muscle as well as protein provision to the body. Both whey protein and isolate are essential parts of most people’s diets in the fitness industry. There are globally many brands available that consistently produce variants in the whey protein and isolates by addition of flavors and preserves.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6142015/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537849/

Last update on 2021-10-22 / Amazon Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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