Wheying the Options

Whey protein has become the superstar of the supplement industry and rightly so. Whey protein isolate is a bioavailable, complete protein with an entire complement of amino acids that serve to improve recovery after exercise and enhance immunity. In this particular case,  you truly get what you pay for ! If you are buying protein at the same place you are getting soup stock, toilet paper and chicken, you may want reconsider your choice. We are constantly inundated with questions about price point – why would I buy 2 lbs of an isolate when I can buy the Mass Bulk Super Whey from Joe’s Nutrition House at a comparable price ? The answer lies in the biochemistry – you are essentially comparing a BMW to a Chevette. Understanding a little about whey protein will allow you to make a better choice as a supplement consumer and actually get a bigger bang for your buck. When any supplement gets traction among athletes, companies race to produce the lower grade product in a rush to profit. It is really a case of buyer beware !

Whey History

Whey protein is one of two proteins derived from milk during the production of cheese. What was essentially a by – product of this process, has become the most sought after protein staple on the planet. Even in this crazy marketplace, supplies of whey protein have dwindled due to worldwide demand. Whey is typified as a fast acting protein that serves as a full spectrum complement of amino acids. It has long been held as a primary complement to the human diet – in an effort to promote higher protein intake, we have evolved to the point where many proteins today offer an outstanding stable source of amino acids for the athlete or health conscious individual.

Biological Value – BV

The real measure of protein quality is the biological value ( BV ), a measure of the body’s ability to digest and retain the bulk of the protein ingested – the higher the number, the higher the efficiency. In reference to the chart above, whey protein has the highest biological value of any available protein. Whey protein isolate has the highest bioavailability of all whey sources, generally about 30-60% more than concentrate. At a 90 % protein rating, whey isolate offers athletes a high quality amino acid profile that improves muscle mass and recovery and an immunoglobulin profile that literally enhances immune system function.

The Role of Protein in the Human Diet

It is no secret that we are big fans of the Paleo Diet – this perspective is based on both experience and also on years of exposure to compelling research that suggests that this is an “ evolutionary “ nutritional strategy that simply makes sense. Loren Cordain and Mark Hyman have presented ground breaking research and clinical trials that clearly show the push towards ever – increasing carbohydrate ingestion, specifically from processed grain based foods, is the singular cause of the burgeoning trend towards diabetes, heart disease and dementia. A diet high in protein drives up metabolic rate improving energy use / efficiency and reduces systemic inflammation.

The real marker for most of our athletes is convenience. With recommendations in excess of 1 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, some athletes are consuming 200 – 300 grams of protein per day. Not an easy fix unless you can transport a fridge to the gym.  Whey protein, specially an isolate, offers the athlete and fitness enthusiast a convenient, easily mixable elite protein source that can be used to flood the system with vital amino acids both pre- and  post- training.

Benefits of whey Protein

Research suggests that whey protein can have significant effects on athletic performance and health :

  1. Increased lean muscle mass – increased protein  synthesis ( 1, 2 )
  2. Improved tissue recovery post exercise
  3. Reduced post – exercise soreness
  4. Suppression of appetite
  5. Enhanced immunity and resistance to disease ( 3 )
  6. Improved insulin sensitivity ( 4 )
  7. Increased metabolic rate
  8. Improve body composition – reduced body fat

Not All Proteins Are Created Equal

There are 2 major types of whey protein, whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate Whey protein concentrate is low in fat, has a high biological value and is typically about 75% pure protein by weight. Whey protein isolate is whey in it’s purest form. Isolates are processed to remove fat and lactose. Typically, a whey protein isolate is about 90%+ pure protein by weight.

Whey protein supplements generally fall into 3 categories. Whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate and whey protein blends. Whey protein concentrate powders are the cheapest, but have the highest levels of fat and lactose. Whey protein isolate powders have the most amount of protein per serving and literally zero carbs, lactose and fat. These are generally priced higher than concentrate. And finally, whey protein blends – as the name suggests, these products combine whey protein isolate and concentrate.

When it comes to choosing a whey protein supplement that’s right for you, there are two main things you need to take into consideration budget and quality. As we have described, there are 3 main types of whey protein available:

  • Whey protein isolate – the most pure form of whey protein
  • Whey protein concentrate – not as pure, slightly higher fat & lactose
  • Whey protein blend – a mixture of isolate and concentrate

Ultimately, as quality of the protein source increases, the bioavailability and efficiency of protein retention improves – for many, an isolate offers the most viable whey source simply because it is filtered to remove lactose from the product while “ zeroing “ fat and carbohydrate. We have taken the guesswork out of finding the best protein available reducing the incidence of lactose – driven gut upset and distress that we often see with cheaper proteins.

The Protein Plan

Obviously, the more pure and high quality the product, the higher the price tag. This is why whey protein isolate is the most expensive form of whey protein. But you get what you pay for – pure whey protein is literally zero fat, zero carbs and zero lactose. It’s the highest quality protein and will give you the most protein per serving with the fewest calories. So if you are going to invest in a protein supplement, find the best source. Of course, any nutritional plan prioritizes whole food first – whey isolate is a valuable complement to the human diet. Keep in mind, if improving health, reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass is your goal, any dietary strategy needs to be complemented with regular, intense exercise. At Myo Armour, we believe that health is a lifestyle choice, not a quick fix !


1) Lemon, P.W.R. (1995) Do athletes need more dietary protein and amino acids? International Journal of Sports Nutrition 5, S39-S61.

2) Lemon, P.W.R., Tarnopolosky, M.A., McDougall, J.D. and Atkinson, S.A. (1992) Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. Journal of Applied Physiology 73, 767-775.

3) Counous, G. (2000) Whey protein concentrate (WPC) and glutathione modulation in cancer treatment.Anticancer Research 20, 4785-4792.

4) Belobrajdic D, McIntosh G, Owens J. ( 2003 ) The effects of dietary protein on rat growth, body composition and insulin sensitivity. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2003;12 Suppl:S42.