So we get a lot of questions about whether WHEY AHEAD® is a protein concentrate or isolate. Simple answer - it's a concentrate but there is a bit more to it than that as we'll explain. The people who ask the question often respond, "great, I was looking for an undenatured protein". If this is jargon to you, (it does sound like a confusing double negative doesn't it!) we'll explain what it means in a moment. Today, we are going to try and clear up some misconceptions about protein concentrates so let's start with the commonly discussed pros & cons.
The commonly portrayed pros of protein concentrate are that:
a) it tastes better and,
b) it mixes better than isolates.
However, it's also mentioned that it's the cheapest (as a pro). When you hear the word 'cheap', you often think of poor quality. For us though, it's quite the opposite. Concentrates comes straight from whey which is a bi-product grass-fed cow's milk. There is very little messing around with it other than the removal of the water content and dehydration into a powder. For that reason, it's pure. In comparison, isolates undergo additional manufacturing processes to bolster their protein content. This extra effort increases the labour involved and therefore the cost of isolates. In this case though, more expensive does not necessarily means better quality.
So what exactly is the point of extra manufacturing? Well, it relates to what some describe as the 'negative' of protein concentrates: that they are only 80% protein plus they contain 'at least 5g carb and 3g fat per serving plus the lactose'. The protein content of Isolates ends up at 90% post extra filtration when removing the carbs & fats and obviously they have less carbs & fat as a result which is a pro for a lot of people. With isolates, 99% of the lactose is also removed which is a benefit to many.
In terms of the carbs, fat and lactose point though, our bodies actually need fat to process the protein in our diets and 5g carb is not very much. It's important to gain a balanced diet across all 3 macro-nutrients as we've discussed previously and not eradicate food groups or polarise them for that matter. We need carbs to replenish glycogen stores after working out so a little bit of carb may actually help your body recover better.
It's fair to say that's it's not a one size fits all though. These commonly discussed pros & cons most likely relate to mainstream brands and therefore do not necessarily represent the more natural or organic alternatives of protein. If you look at the nutritional profile of WHEY AHEAD® organic protein, you'll find that per serving, there is only 3.5g carbs (0.4g of which sugars) and a tiny 0.6g fat per serving. As for lactose, there is just 1.2g per 100g which is 0.42g per serving.
In terms of the 'undenatured' point, this means that the protein is not 'denatured' i.e. the process used to make the whey has not stripped the protein of some of it's naturally occurring nutrients. In particular, the branched chain animo acids (which are the key building blocks of protein) have not been damaged. This is what our customers are usually curious about because they are looking for products which fortify their training and diets so search for high quality, high biological value supplements. Overall, in order to thrive, balance and variety across macros and micro nutrients is key and we always encourage you to ask questions and look at back labels before selecting the right product for you.
At the end of the day, it's a personal choice which protein type you go for and there are many more alternatives out there such hydrolysates, casein and plant-based options too! Our overall feeling though, is that when it comes down to it rather than focus on the numbers, it's more important to focus on the process in which the products are made and the resulting quality of the ingredients. More from our nutrition blog here.