When it comes to the protein powder isolate vs. concentrate, find out which is the healthiest, and why.
How To Choose Between a Protein Powder Isolate vs. a Protein Powder Concentrate
The Different Types of Protein Powders
If there’s one thing the debate on protein isolate vs. concentrate proves, it’s this: these days, walking down a protein powder aisle can be overwhelming.
There are protein powders made from plant-based sources like peas, soy, and rice. You also have animal-based powders like whey and casein.
You can then break down whey products into the following types of whey protein:
What is whey protein? It is a type of protein that comes from a by-product of cheese manufacturing.
- Whey isolate protein powder - this has more protein per serving and less fat and carbs
- Whey protein hydrolysate - a type of whey protein that’s already pre-digested
- Grass-fed whey protein - comes from grass-fed cows
- Whey blend - can be a combination of whey protein and whey protein isolate
It seems like there’s a new type of protein powder that comes out every single day.
Then, you have a decision to make: should you go for isolate or concentrate?
And what does that even mean? Protein powder isolate and concentrate are produced in different ways, with isolate undergoing further processing, which strips nutrients and enzymes.
With all the choices and information out there, it can get a little confusing which option is the best for you.
So we are going to clear the air and discuss whether you should go for a protein powder isolate or a protein powder concentrate. But first, let’s discuss why you should try to consume more protein.
What Is Protein, and How Much Do You Need?
To compare protein powder isolate vs. concentrate properly, you need to know about its main component first: protein. Why is protein so important?
You probably already know you need protein to build muscle, but it’s an essential component in every cell of your body.
Apart from water, protein is the most abundant molecule in the body. It makes up the majority of your nails and hair.
Your body also utilizes protein to build and repair tissues as well as to make enzymes, hormones, and other chemicals. Protein is also a crucial building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, blood, and skin.
Whether you’re becoming more active or you’re a regular at the gym, using protein powder can help you reach the daily amount of protein you need so you can build and repair muscle.
But did you know eating protein can boost your metabolic rate, increasing the number of calories you burn as well as reduce your appetite? Eating protein can stimulate weight loss.
One study in obese men found that protein intake of 25% of the total calories led to increased feelings of fullness, less late-night snacking, and reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%.
If you’re constantly hungry, your cravings can control you. You are more likely to binge on foods like pizza, potato chips, and cookies.
This isn’t to say you should never have a cookie, but you never want to get to a point where food controls you and you find yourself constantly craving junk foods.
The Need to Meet the Right Grams of Protein
That’s why increasing your protein is an important part of a healthy diet. It keeps you feeling fuller and more satiated longer, and it fuels and repairs your body when you attack your workout.
Another study found that women who increased their protein intake to 30% of calories ended up eating 441 fewer calories and lost 11 pounds over 12 weeks.
High protein intake helps to build and preserve muscle mass, which helps to burn a small number of calories around the clock in itself.
One way of upping your protein intake is with the addition of protein powder to your diet. Have a quick protein shake before or after a workout or maybe during your morning commute.
You can also bake protein powder into your favorite muffins for a healthy and yummy breakfast. Protein powder is an excellent way to meet your protein intake, feel fuller for longer, and build and maintain strong, lean muscles.
Now we’ve discussed how protein can help your body and even help you develop a healthier relationship with food, what type of protein is best?
Protein Powder Concentrate vs. Isolate: What’s the Difference?
The majority of protein powders are available in two different forms:
Protein comes from several food sources, such as cow’s milk or plants. It’s concentrated by removing the non-protein parts of the food.
With protein powder isolate vs. concentrate, what’s the primary difference? With protein concentrate, the powder is produced by extracting protein from the whole food using enzymes or acid and sometimes heat.
The result is a powder that’s roughly 70% to 85% of pure protein with the remaining 15% to 30% consisting mostly of carbs and fats.
Protein isolate takes this process a step further with isolation. It removes much more of the non-protein content.
The additional filtering process removes more carbs and fat, further isolating the protein. This process results in a higher percentage of protein of up to 95%.
That might sound great and it may seem to settle the concentrate vs. isolate protein powder debate, however, this over-processing approach destroys nutrients and enzymes.
Protein concentrate is the least processed type of protein powder available on the market. If you’re looking to get more from your protein powder and find one with bioactive peptides your body can easily absorb, protein concentrate is the way to go.
RELATED: Plant Protein vs. Whey Protein
Plants as Your Protein Dietary Supplement
You don’t need to limit yourself to the best whey protein powder. In fact, there are plenty of plant-based protein powders out there.
They allow you to follow a vegan lifestyle or reduce the number of animal products you consume. Meanwhile, you get the benefits of upping your protein intake to meet the demands of your physical activity.
Pea protein is one of the most popular plant-based options among vegetarians and vegans. The protein is made from yellow split peas, which are very high in fiber and contain all of the nine essential amino acids.
In one 12-week study, 161 men doing resistance training took 1.8 ounces of pea protein daily. They experienced similar increases in muscle thickness to the group that consumed the same amount of whey protein daily.
Another study found that after taking a high pea protein supplement, participants with high blood pressure experienced a reduction in elevated blood pressure levels.
Why Use Plant-Based Protein Powders Over Whey Protein Supplementation
These days, plant-based protein powder isolate vs. concentrate is not an issue for a lot of people. Vegans and non-vegans alike are choosing to use plant-based proteins instead of whey and other animal-based protein products.
Plant-based protein powders provide a way to live a healthy, holistic lifestyle while still having access to a clean protein source. But why should you use a plant-based protein powder over whey protein if you’re not a vegan or a vegetarian?
Even if you’re just looking to reduce your intake of meat and other animal products, plant-based protein powder is a great way to hit your protein requirement while avoiding the health concerns that come from whey protein powders.
The ingredients in plant-based protein powders include pea, hemp, and brown rice protein. Hemp protein powder is a plant-based dietary supplement that’s gaining popularity.
It’s rich in essential fatty acids, contains all 9 essential amino acids, and is an easily digested plant protein source.
Sprouted brown rice is a complete protein that provides all of the essential amino acids in perfect proportions to nurture and support the body.
In one eight-week study, participants took either 1.7 ounces of brown rice protein or whey protein. At the end of the study, both groups experienced similar changes in body composition, muscle strength, and recovery.
This shows you can achieve the same results without the need for animal-derived protein powders.
The Problem With Whey’s Lactose Content
Although whey protein is readily available on the market and widely used, it can cause some negative side effects.
These include fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, and acne. One of the main side effects of whey protein is its effect on the digestive system.
People who are lactose intolerant don’t produce enough of the enzyme that breaks down and digests lactose. Common signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, stomach pain, and constipation.
Whey protein contains lactose, so anyone who is lactose intolerant benefits from switching from whey protein to a lactose-free protein source like pea or brown rice.
Sunwarrior’s Plant-Based Protein Powder Concentrate
Whether you’re allergic to whey protein, lactose intolerant, or just want to live a cleaner, more health-conscious life, plant-based protein powder is a great place to start. When it comes to protein powder isolate vs. concentrate, we choose the latter.
Sunwarrior’s protein powders are all made using the least processed type of protein: protein powder concentrate. The products are as close to nature as possible with raw and unheated proteins that make them easier to digest than other powders.
Sunwarrior’s plant-based protein powders don’t use any protein isolates. Their low-heat process preserves vital enzymes and nutrients that help the body thrive whether you’re on a vegan diet or not.
The Classic Plus Protein Powder is entirely organic with rice protein as well as peas, chia seeds, quinoa, and amaranth. It’s gentle on digestion.
It also includes plenty of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and fiber. Plus, because it includes so many protein sources, you get more variety in your diet.
What are branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)? These refer to the link of three essential amino acids that help promote muscle growth.
Here’s how to make healthy chocolate protein rice crispy treats from Sunwarrior:
The protein powder market is vast, and can be difficult to find out what product you truly need.
Plant-based protein powder made entirely from protein concentrate helps support a natural and holistic lifestyle while encouraging muscle mass and strength. It is indeed the healthiest option!
What do you think are the other benefits of plant-based protein powder concentrate? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.