Whey powder is often used in protein shakes for building muscle or as a meal replacement. You can see “whey” or “whey isolate” on the label of your whey powder product. But what’s the difference between the two?
Whey is a byproduct of the cheese-making process. Manufacturers use enzymes to curdle cow’s milk, setting apart out its strong curds and leaving liquid whey. The curds, composed of milk fat, are used to make cheese.
The leftover whey protein is skinny and watery. Manufacturers pasteurize this liquid whey to kill micro organism and dry it out to make whey powder. They can then use it to make 3 special whey products:
- Concentrate. Whey protein in this form is used in many products, from protein shakes and bars to infant formula. Each has different amounts of lactose (a sugar found in milk) and fat, depending on its intended use.
- Isolate. Whey is processed to reduce its fat and lactose content, leaving mainly protein. Whey protein isolate may be better for people who have trouble digesting lactose (lactose intolerance). But it’s not for people with milk allergies.
- Hydrolysate. When whey protein is hydrolyzed, its protein chains are broken down, which makes it easier to digest. This type of whey is most often used in infant formulas.
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