That there are 4 different types of whey protein.  Many nutritional companies would have you believe that all whey proteins are the same, but that is very misleading.  All whey protein is NOT created equally.  In fact, there are significant differences between the various forms of whey.  If you’re a food and nutritional label reader like me then you’ve probably noticed some of thWhey-Proteinse differences I’m about to show you. This is how to determine if you are really getting a good quality whey product. But first we must recognize that there are 4 main types of whey protein:

First, there is Whey Protein – this is the closest to the cow source.  It has the least amount of processing or purifying.  It contains acceptable levels of immunoglobulins and proteins in it, but if you are sensitive or allergic to dairy – this type of whey protein is the most likely to stimulate an allergic reaction because it contains the greatest percentage of milk solids.  These milk solids are another name for milk sugars – so if you are watching your sugar and carbohydrate intake – you have to be careful with this form of whey protein.  One reason why many dietary supplement manufacturers use a lot of whey protein in their formulas,  is that it is very sweet – it taste the best of all of the 4 whey protein varieties.

Second, there is Whey Protein Concentrate – and it is exactly what it sounds like – concentrated whey protein.  The Whey is processed to remove some of the milk sugars so that the amount of protein and immunoglobulins are concentrated.  You end up with more protein per gram, but you loose something in the overall taste.  If you are dairy sensitive, you have about a 50/50 chance of reacting to Whey Protein Concentrate.

The third type of whey is Whey Protein Isolate.  It is the purest form of whey we’ve discussed so far.  The overwhelming majority of the milk sugars have been removed from it, so you get far more protein per serving.  Because these milk sugars have been removed from the whey, it ISOLATES the protein and immunoglobulin portions – thus, you end up getting  the most nutritional ‘bang for your buck’.  This is not a sweet whey, so it is almost always sweetened with some sort of sweeter to make it more favorable to your palate.

Lastly, we have Whey Protein Hydrolosate.  It is the most refined version of all.  The proteins are usually broken down or predigested to make it easier to absorb, however,  it tastes really bad and is used in a lot of baby formulas and also used in some really “extreme” body building protein supplements.  It is so purified that it is not even considered to be a dairy formula – even though it started off that way.

So, coming back to reading your nutritional labels.  If a manufacturer is selling a really good tasting whey, the label will usually indicate that they are using Whey Protein or a mix of Whey Protein & Whey Protein Concentrate.  These are the cheapest forms, so many manufacturers use them to cut costs.  This is compounded by the fact that whey protein can taste very different from batch to batch – so a company has to hide this inconsistency by adding strong flavors or sweeteners, or by individually mixing several lots of raw materials to get a consistantly good tasting product.