Whey protein vs whey isolate: which is better and what’s the difference?

Deciding between whey protein vs whey isolate? From the protein content to the calories – we’re comparing the two supplements

Woman scooping whey protein
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’re putting whey protein vs whey isolate head-to-head to find out any similarities and differences between these two supplements. If you already supplement your nutritional needs with protein powder, you’ll know there’s a seemingly never-ending variety to choose from.  

From the best protein powder for weight loss, to the top options to help you build muscle and recover faster. There are a number of different nutritional benefits to consider from one brand to the next. And whey protein vs whey isolate is another example of this.

So, what exactly are the similarities and differences between whey protein vs whey isolate? Both forms of supplements come from dairy as they are a by-product of cheese production. Whey protein is the most common form of protein and the most readily available. While only a select number stores stock whey isolate. The latter is technically whey protein without lactose. And, as a result, whey isolate has a lower fat and calorie content and a higher protein intake per serving. While whey protein has a higher calorie and fat content because of the lack of additional processing.

To help you decide between whey protein vs whey isolate, we’ve compared their price, calories, and protein content. 

Whey protein vs whey isolate: Price

Generally, both products tend to cost roughly the same. Whey Isolate, because of the additional processes that the product has to undergo, often costs slightly more than normal whey protein. For example, the Optimum Gold Standard Whey Isolate (opens in new tab) costs around $35.99 for a 2lbs tub, around 24 servings. The same brand’s Gold Standard Whey Protein (opens in new tab) costs $34.99.

However, because whey protein is more common than whey isolate, which is a little more of a specialist product, you’ll often see more discounts on standard whey protein concentrate flagship products as opposed to whey isolate. In terms of price, whey protein is usually the winner by a hair. 

Winner: Whey protein 

 Whey protein vs whey isolate: Protein content 

Whey isolate tends to have a slightly higher protein content than simple whey protein powder, as the process which removes the lactose from the powder also concentrates the protein somewhat. However, it’s a difference of usually just a few grams, and this will be very brand-dependent, as some brands are able to pack more protein per serving than others. 

Winner: Whey isolate

Woman mixing supplement drink

(Image credit: Lyfe (Unsplash))

Whey protein vs whey isolate: Calories 

Whey isolate tends to have a lower calorie, carbohydrate and fat count, which makes isolate ideal for mixing with water for a low-calorie, high-protein drink. Great for building lean muscle. Whey protein is still a very efficient way to cram more protein into your diet, whether you’re making shakes or pouring scoops of the stuff into pancake mix, oats or your morning yoghurt. However, it does come loaded with a few extra calories.  

Winner: Whey isolate

Whey protein vs whey isolate: verdict  

If you’re just after a drink to add more protein to your diet without additional calories, fat or triggering any digestive issues with lactose you may have, whey isolate is what you’re after. However, whey protein, as a more common supplement, is often seen on offer and at far greater varieties of flavour. If you’re just after a high-protein supplement solution to add to your diet, feel free to pick up either supplement without any further concerns.  

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.

With contributions from