Whey Protein Variations ~ Which one is Best?
In our previous article about whey, we talked about why whey is more than just the body builder’s muscle shake and why I recommend it for so many clients who are looking to lose fat and become healthy.
Today we’re going to touch on the whey protein variations in powders, what to look for, and which brands I recommend.
Variations in whey
Whey is most often processed as either whey protein isolate or whey protein concentrate. So what’s the difference?
Whey protein isolate:
- has a higher protein content at 90-94% vs. 70-85% for concentrate 
- goes through more processing and filtering than concentrate. This processing makes it absorb better and build muscle faster, but it also damages (denatures) the proteins.
As a result of whey protein becoming denatured several things can happen:
Denatured whey protein can be coupled with dry mouth, which increases the risk for tooth decay and other problems in the mouth. [2, 3] It can also remove the majority of beneficial immune factors. Not to mention the fact that it’s entirely lacking alkalizing minerals, vitamins, and lipids which are all destroyed in the processing and can make it overly acidic. 
Other things to consider:
- The denaturing process also results in the majority of beneficial immune factors being removed along with breaking down cysteines which are necessary for forming glutathione which is known as the “Mother of all Antioxidants”.
- the denaturing process stops β-Lactoglobulin from stimulating cell proliferation (cell proliferation enhances immunity). β-Lactoglobulin makes up more than 50% of total whey protein in cow milk. 
All things considered, undenatured whey protein concentrate will build muscle, just not as fast as isolate would. However, it still contains its immunity factors and much of whey’s health benefits.
What to look for in whey protein
While I’m an advocate for less processing and choosing more natural foods, I’m also a realist. We do what we can, but it’s not always convenient or affordable to get grass-fed, organic, hormone-free (etc.) protein sources. Therefore I’m okay with using the occasional protein shake – as long as it’s not just a container of junk off the nearest shelf.
In addition, if you want to build muscle and aren’t concerned with the health aspects of highly processed food, whey protein isolate is probably what you’re looking for. But if you want to keep the health and immunity benefits while building muscle (albeit slower), then you’ll want whey protein concentrate. I personally prefer undenatured whey protein concentrate.
Either way, I would suggest finding a whey protein that:
- free from growth hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides
- from grass-fed cows
- contains no additives like artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, emulsifiers, dyes, etc.
Which whey protein is best?
In conclusion, as I’ve researched whey, I’ve come across several companies that make an undenatured whey protein concentrate I recommend to clients:
(I personally use this one myself)
($1.12 per serving )
Non-denatured (cold-processed, acid and bleach-free processing), rBGH and rBST growth hormone free, non-GMO, soy-free. From dairy cows that have a 100% grass-fed diet.
25g protein per serving.
Ingredients: grass-fed whey protein
($1.14 per serving)
Non-denatured, growth hormone free, pesticide and chemical-free, non-GMO, soy-free. From cows that are grass-fed year-round on natural pastures.
16g protein per serving.
Ingredients: Proserum native whey protein concentrate.
($1.92 per serving)
Non-denatured, growth hormone free, certified organic, non-GMO, soy-free. From grass-fed Wisconsin cows.
21g protein per serving
Ingredients: organic dairy whey protein concentrate, sunflower lecithin.
Professional Whey (Australia-based supplier)
($0.88 per serving)
Non-denatured, rBGH growth hormone free, non-GMO, soy-free. From New Zealand cows grass-fed all year long.
25g protein per serving.
Ingredients: whey protein concentrate, sunflower lecithin.
($1.81 per serving)
Non-denatured (cold-processed, acid and bleach-free processing), rBGH and rBST growth hormone free, organic, non-GMO, soy-free. From dairy cows that have a year-round grass-fed diet.
21g protein per serving.
Ingredients: organic whey protein concentrate, less than 1% organic sunflower lecithin.
(1 lb. bag = $1.33 per serving, 5 lb. bag = $1.05 per serving, 10 lb. bag = $0.86 per serving)
Non-denatured (cold-processed, acid and bleach-free processing), rBGH and rBST growth hormone free, non-GMO, soy-free. From dairy cows grass-fed year-round.
25g protein per serving.
Ingredients: grass-fed whey protein concentrate, less than 1% non-GMO sunflower lecithin.
Watch for the last article in this series: What’s the Recommended Protein Needed per Day?
Share your experiences. Do you use a whey protein powder? Have you noticed any changes?
 Venuto, T. “Whey Protein Isolate or Whey Protein Concentrate; which is better?” Lee Hayward’s Total Fitness Body Building. Retrieved June 22, 2017 from http://www.leehayward.com/whey_protein_isolate.htm
 Bull, S. P., Hong, Y., Khutoryanskiy, V. V., Parker, J. K., Faka, M., & Methven, L. (2017). Whey protein mouth drying influenced by thermal denaturation. Food Quality and Preference, 56(Pt B), 233–240. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.03.008
 “Older Adults and Oral Health.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Retrieved June 21, 2017 from https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/OralHealthInformation/OlderAdults/#dryMouth
 “Whey Protein for Health and Strength.” Dr. Axe Food is Medicine. Retrieved June 21, 2017 from https://draxe.com/whey-protein-for-health-and-strength/
 Tai, C. S., Chen, Y. Y., & Chen, W. L. (2016). β-Lactoglobulin Influences Human Immunity and Promotes Cell Proliferation. BioMed Research International, 2016, 7123587. http://doi.org/10.1155/2016/7123587