Whey protein -- what makes one product better than another?

I take whey protein after workouts. It seems to help reduce recovery time. However, I am a bit confused as to what to look for in the variety of whey protein products that are available.

What exactly are the differences between whey concentrate and whey isolate? Which is more desirable? What sets apart the more expensive whey protein products from the cheaper ones?

Whey products are only valid for hardcore bodybuilders.

I work out tons and got a kick ass body so I know, I used to fall for all that jazz.

Your body need 1 gram of protein for EACH KILOGRAM you weigh. That is ALL you need to build your body

So if you weigh 170 pounds that’s about 77 kilos and thus you’d need 77 grams of protein a day.

Any more protein is gonna be converted in carbs and if not used stored as fat. This is why I am muscular with a six pack and my friends who are muscular got a gut too. Because they think eating protein equals muscle

It doesn’t.

Now if you are a bodybuilder it matters, because they are in great competition. So every single calorie they eat needs to go exactly where they need it. In otherwords if you need 150 grams of protein, 'cause you’re a bodybuilder, you can’t afford to have your body use any of that protein for energy. Remember unused protein will convert to carbs and if not used stored as fat.

Various types of whey convert easier than other. Thus depending on your goals you need different types. You’re not a bodybuilder so you don’t need this.

Just eat a complete protein, (like in Milk, eggs or meat – or a combination of grain proteins like beans and rice) and you’ll do perfect.

Anything else is a waste of your time and money

What an arrogant, condescending post.

How do you know if misterW is a bodybuilder or not? And even if he isn’t and you have some way of knowing this, your post is still dick-ish. :rolleyes:

It didn’t come off that way at all to me. Actually, it was quite helpful.

Easier said than done. I eat all the damn chicken / turkey I can eat, and still only get about 50g a day, so even with a whey protein shake, I sometimes come up short of my 85g target.

You must have a good appetite

As to the OP, I’ve read the labels on many of the most popular brands, and they seem to differ very, very little on the quantities of any of the active ingredients.

So I guess it’s a matter of choosing one that tastes nice, mixes well and is a good price (only the latter of which you can normally evaluate in a shop…).

However, I wouldn’t risk buying a very cheap brand, because, as I understand it, they often have worse quality control and so, just by chance, the particular batch you’re buying could contain a significantly lower quantity of protein than described on the label.
Sorry, no cites, it’s just something I’ve heard from different sources on TV and print, but feel free to debunk this particular myth (you’d save me some money if you did!)

Huh? Protein doesn’t get converted to carbs. What do you mean by that.


Whey protein concentrate is essentially whey concentrate, with all the fat and lactose that implies. Whey protein isolate is as close to only the protein of the whey as the manufacturer can get, with smaller amounts of fat and lactose left in. The proportions vary across brands, so check the fat and protein content on the label.

Whey protein concentrate is often cheaper, and if the fat fits into your eating plan and you don’t have trouble digesting the lactose, it may work out to be more economical per gram of protein delivered.

Flavor, how well it dissolves in liquid, marketing, and other supplements added. They’re pretty much all identical in terms of protein, though. The protein in the shake isn’t even really the most important part, although it helps to get some. What really helps you repair those muscles are branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which basically tell your body to stop eating itself for energy and start to work on building that muscle. Of course, you need protein to do that building, but if you’re already getting enough you don’t really need the extra.

So all those competitive power lifters who use whey protein are doing something only bodybuilders should be doing?

Whey is a food. Isolated whey protein is essentially fat-reduced whey. The portability and versatility of whey make it a valid protein source for some people in a variety of situations.

I am in awe of your credentials.

I’m not personally a fan of calculating nutritional allowances based on bodyweight. Just as the musclebound love to point out how misleading the BMI can be, I find ludicrous the suggestion that an obese and sedentary 115kg woman needs the same protein as a 115kg male bodybuilder who’s hitting the gym four days a week and trying to bulk.

I prefer to look at protein as a percentage of calories consumed, with one’s target being somewhere between 25% and 35% of calories coming from protein. (Sometimes more, though anything over 40% strikes me as questionable.)

Any calories consumed, regardless of macronutrient source, that are not used by the body will generally be stored by the body as fat.

Protein is 4 calories a gram.

If a 54kg woman who is holding steady on 1500 calories a day gets 400 of those calories from protein, and the rest from healthy fats and complex carbs, she will not gain fat despite consuming not-quite-twice as many grams of protein as your 1g-per-bodyweight-kg formula suggests.

It’s also worth noting that 1g-per-bodyweight-kg is often suggested as a protein minimum.

If a person consumes extreme amounts of protein, it may put the kidneys to work harder, though not necessarily to the point of harm. It’s probably also worth keeping an eye on one’s calcium and perhaps supplement, though there are more factors involved in calcium excretion then solely protein intake.

Otherways, protein’s likely the safest macronutrient to consume large amounts of, being of low impact gycemically and lacking the unhealthy features (and confusion factor) of some fats.

Muscle growth and fat loss are two very seperate goals, and after the very earliest stages of training, tricky to achieve simultaneously. So your friends may well be gaining muscle while retaining fat. Again, more to do with caloric consumption, or possibly blood sugar issues, than with protein.

If you mean “The nutritional needs of competitive bodybuilders are more precise than those of non-competitors, because the results required are more extreme”, sure. But what that has to do with basic macronutrient consumption is beyond me. Everybody needs protein. Some people find whey products a convenient form.

So according to you, bodybuilders don’t want to use any protein they consume for energy and unused protein becomes fat… the bodybuilders you know are looking to gain fat? Or do you believe muscle building does not involve converting food into energy?

Most bodybuilders try to gain as much mass as possible during their training cycles, and then try to cut down to a very low body fat percentage while retaining as much lean muscle as possible. This involves following very specific diet plans, which are very different depending on if they’re in a gaining or cutting phase. Generally phases involve quite a bit of protein consumption, however.

Whey is whey, unless goat whey is the latest fad I’m not aware of. There are different weight-gaining powders that make various claims about what they convert into, but a quick check of the nutritional info usually reveals them to be nonsense.

Are we even aware of what the OP’s goals are? If he’s lifting to cut fat and is glycemically sensitive, beans and rice a horrible idea.

I disagree.

Shame that all that nutrition went to your body and starved your brain.

IMHO there is not much difference between types of whey other than taste and mixability. Some types have more trace carbs and fat than others. Casein or MPI are different, however, as they are absorbed more slowly than whey.

Sebastienne, I applaud your sensible post; however, I do take issue with your claim that beans are a bad idea if one is glycemically sensitive. Beans are tremendously low-glycemic-load and low-glycemic-index, mostly due to the high fiber and protein content. Also, beans are very high in antioxidants as well. In fact, beans have among the highest concentration of antioxidants of all foods. Cite: http://myhealth.ucsd.edu/healthyliving/nutrition/May05BerriesBeans.htm

That seems to be a bit of a stretch.

In any case, I was not intending to use the whey protein for bodybuilding. I regularly do jiu-jitsu and after a hard practice I will often be quite sore the next day. I have read a number of articles that stated that a protein drink (mixed with some complex carbs) taken immediately after practice reduces recovery time and helps lessen soreness in muscles. So far, my experience seems to back this up.

If anyone has any suggestions as to whether whey concentrate or isolate would be more effective when used for this purpose, I would appreciate it… Thanks much for the replies so far.

Beans good. The dish commonly referred to “beans and rice” as it’s typically thought of (in my East coast of the US experience) bad, since it’s often a 2:1 ratio (or worse) of white rice to (usually red) beans. And white rice is pretty indefensible, imho.

I’m generally pretty suspicious of “eat X after Y workout” type recommendations, since they tend to be more anecdotal than anything else. (Or involve very complex theories that works great in theory and yields results on a level too small to measure.) But, at the same time, if you feel good a post-jiu jitsu meal of protein plus complex carbs, that’s reason enough to do it assuming it fits in with the rest of your eating.

Again, I prefer isolate since it means slightly less lactose consumption; concentrate may well be cheaper per gram of protein. It’s the same protein either way. If it’s a shake mix, check the nutritional info to make sure you’re not getting anything you don’t need along with it, or just buy the plain whey and mix it into whatever tastes good to you. (I find it pretty inoffensive in yogurt, myself.)

Agreed. Sorry to nitpick. Sounds like we’re on the same page, after all.

Sub out the white rice for brown rice, and suddenly you’ve got one of the single healthiest things a person can eat. I make it every couple of weeks.


However, a post like yours is pretty much no use at all. If you have a problem with a post, report it to moderation. If you have a problem with another poster, take it to the Pit. But don’t take it upon yourself to jump on another poster in this way in GQ.

General Questions Moderator