The Best Whey Isolate Protein Powders For Building Muscle, Digestion, And More

Discover which powder can help you up your protein intake and reach your nutrition goals.

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The main difference between whey protein concentrate (the most common whey protein) and whey protein isolate is the amount of protein per scoop. For folks who are serious about their protein intake — bodybuilders, strongmen, and Tom Brady — whey protein isolate may be a better option than whey concentrate. For one, it packs 90 percent protein per scoop compared to standard whey (which has 80 percent per scoop). It’s also typically void of unwanted extras and filler. However, whey concentrate does tend to be less expensive since it’s not as processed and doesn’t have as high a concentration of protein. 

When sifting through all the different whey isolates on the market, you’ll want to pay attention to additives and sweeteners, as well as allergens like soy that some protein powders contain. The protein isolates on this list are high in protein and low in fat, carbs, sugar, and lactose, so you’ll get as much protein as you can out of each scoop. But with different additives — like digestive enzymes, for example — some of these picks may offer varying benefits for things like weight loss, digestion, and muscle growth. We’ve landed on the best options in a variety of categories to help shorten your search. 

Best Whey Protein Isolate Protein Powders

Best Whey Isolate Protein Powder

If you’re looking for a whey protein isolate, you likely want a product with little to no fat or carbs. This pick is not only low in both fat and carbs, but it contains added minerals and digestive enzymes, as well. 

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

This whey protein isolate from Swolverine is formulated to potentially be more easily digestible. Featuring 110 calories per 30 gram serving, Swolverine’s whey isolate provides 26g of high-quality whey protein isolate along with one gram of carbs and half a gram of fat. Swolverine includes a digestive enzyme blend of 10mg in total — half papain and half protease, which can aid in nutrient breakdown and absorption. 

When you need a whey isolate that’s low in carbs and fat, but also comes in some great flavors, this is an ideal option to reach for. Swolverine makes the classics, like Vanilla and Chocolate, but also some fun flavors (if you’re feeling adventurous), like Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter and Mint Chocolate Chip. This powder is on the more expensive side though, costing $62.99 for 30 servings (or $53.54 with autoship monthly). 

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

This whey protein formula delivers 26 grams of protein with just 0.5 grams of fat, and one gram of carbs. You’ll also find 10mg of digestive enzymes, and a decent number of micronutrients.

Who Should Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

  •  Consumers who are looking for a product that’s low in fat and carbs while still providing high-quality whey isolate will like the macros here. 
  • Anyone who finds they get bloating problems, even with whey isolate. The digestive enzymes in this formula may help relieve some bloating. 
  • Athletes who want to branch out from the typical chocolate and vanilla flavors — Swolverine offers two other unique flavors of Mint Chocolate Chip and Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

  • People who are bulking and want a more calorically dense protein powder may want to opt for a mass gainer.
  • Those who want a slower digesting protein like casein may want to look elsewhere.
  • Anyone on a budget can find more cost-effective options. 

Available in four different flavors with a lean and macro-friendly nutrition profile, this whey protein isolate from Swolverine is a great choice for anyone looking to add more protein to their diet without a ton of extra calories. You’ll only get 110 calories per scoop with 104 of those calories coming from high-quality whey isolate. On top of that, you’ll find 10mg of helpful digestive enzymes that may encourage easier digestion and absorption. 

Best Whey Isolate On a Budget

Quality can be pretty similar across the board when it comes to protein isolates, so many look to the price tag to make their final decision, and this pick allows for more flexibility in dosage than others, which means you can get more out of each container.

Promix Whey Isolate

Whey protein isolates can be quite expensive and oftentimes cost around $30 more than their whey protein concentrate counterparts. Not only is this whey isolate from Promix a lower price than many other isolates on the market, but the way it’s dosed makes the value even better, allowing you to easily vary how much protein you’re intaking — and here’s how. The serving size is two scoops that will give you 30 grams of protein and 6.6 grams of BCAAs in that serving with 34 servings per container. If your protein needs aren’t that high, you can stretch each container to 68 servings of 15 grams of grass-fed whey isolate protein.

Aside from protein, you’ll also get two grams of carbs and a half a gram of fat in the Vanilla and Unflavored options with Chocolate having a gram and a half of fat and nine grams of carbs, seven of which come from sugar. In terms of energy provided, the Unflavored option provides 130 calories per serving, the Vanilla gives 150 calories, and the Chocolate will get you 160 calories per serving. Since this is whey isolate, it’ll blend easily with just water to make a lean drink or with milk for a more rich protein shake.

Promix Whey Isolate
Promix Whey Isolate
Promix Whey Isolate

Promix's whey isolate provides 30g of high quality grass-fed protein per serving along with 6.6g of BCAAs. Pick your favorite of Vanilla, Chocolate, or Unflavored and add water for a lean protein boost or add some milk for a rich and satisfying protein shake.

Who Should Buy Promix Whey Isolate

  • Customers who like to vary the amount of protein they take often. The two scoop serving size allows you to vary protein intake with ease, allowing you to stretch each tub and save some money.
  • Anyone who needs an unflavored protein option. Many proteins aren’t available without flavor. 
  • Athletes who like a low carb option for their protein, as this brand caps at nine grams of carbs per serving depending on the flavor.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Promix Whey Isolate

  • Folks on a much stricter budget — the more common whey concentrate may be a better option for you.
  • Those who like a variety of flavors may get bored with just Vanilla, Chocolate, or Unflavored options.
  • Anyone looking to avoid sugar as much as possible may want to steer clear of the Chocolate flavor that has seven grams of sugar per serving. 

Though this protein from Promix may not be cheap, in terms of whey isolates it’s quite reasonably priced, especially when considering how you can stretch each tub by varying the serving size. Promix makes this formula with all-natural ingredients, and it’s packed with 30g of protein. Plus, each serving gets you 6.6g of BCAAs to potentially help fuel recovery.

Best Whey Isolate for Weight Loss

Since many whey protein isolates can be similar, it’s important to look at the ingredients and macros in detail to see which product can help you meet your personal fitness goals. We think the ingredients in this pick combine to make a great isolate protein powder for those who are looking to lose weight.

Onnit Whey Isolate Protein Powder

This protein has a few bragging points, including being sourced from grass-fed cattle from New Zealand. It also packs in 20 grams of protein per scoop, and mixes seamlessly with water. It boasts no sugar added and a calorie count of 110 per scoop, which should be quite helpful for aiding in weight loss. With 5 grams of carbs in the Mexican Chocolate Flavor, and 3 grams of carbs in the Vanilla flavor, it’s hard to go wrong with either choice.

With the high protein content, low carb count, and low calorie content of 110 calories per serving, Onnit’s delicious flavors don’t require you to add milk in order to enjoy a protein shake that can help you reach your weight loss goal. This product also includes probiotics and digestive enzymes that may help increase bioavailability, and assist in recovery, growth, and digestion. 

Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

A grass-fed whey isolate includes added ingredients for digestion like seven digestive enzymes and a probiotic (lactobacillus acidophilus). It's also gluten-free, sugar-free, and soy-free.

Who Should Buy Onnit Whey Protein Powder

  • Anyone who wants a whey protein isolate that comes in delicious flavors with lower calorie content, which can potentially aid in weight loss while still helping you reach your fitness goals. Anyone looking for a protein powder that has zero grams of sugar, is high in protein, and is low in carbs. 
  • Those who enjoy a product with no artificial sweeteners or flavors, and prefer all natural and low carbohydrate sweeteners. 
  • If you’re looking for a product that includes probiotics and digestive enzymes that may help increase bioavailability, you’ll like this powder. This can also aid in delivering more amino acids for recovery, and more protein to the muscles for growth and recovery.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Onnit Whey Protein Powder

  • Folks who want more than two flavors to choose from — this one only comes in Mexican Chocolate and Vanilla, though they are some of the best tasting we’ve tried.
  • Those who are looking to pay less for their supplements. This product is a little higher in price compared to other proteins on the market.

This product offers two delicious flavors, contains 20 grams of protein per scoop, and has little to no carbs, fat, or sugar, making it ideal if you’re trying to lose weight. 

Best Isolate for Building Muscle

When you’re looking to pack on muscle, it makes it easier if the protein powder you’re taking goes down easily. With just five ingredients, this pick has a streamlined formulation that packs a punch with a whopping 26 grams of protein per scoop. 

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

With very few additives and natural flavoring, this protein blend Swolverine has a massive 26 grams of protein per scoop (87 percent protein by weight). At just 110 calories, you’re getting far above the average 20 grams of protein per scoop.This whey isolate is sourced from grass-fed cows that are free from rBGH, and it also includes digestive enzymes (Papain and Protease) to aid in digestion. These enzymes may also help with absorption, allowing you to get the most out of each scoop. It’s available in a variety of flavors too, like vanilla, chocolate, honey cinnamon peanut butter, and mint chocolate chip.

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

This whey protein formula delivers 26 grams of protein with just 0.5 grams of fat, and one gram of carbs. You’ll also find 10mg of digestive enzymes, and a decent number of micronutrients.

Who Should Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

  • Athletes who want a product with minimal ingredients and few additives. 
  • Anyone who wants more healthy nutrients in their protein from grass-fed beef.
  • Customers who want a product that will help them hit high protein intake goals.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

  • Athletes looking for a protein powder that boasts a higher calorie count, like a mass gainer.
  • Anyone on a tight budget. Whey Isolates are more expensive than whey concentrate in general, but this one is on the higher end of Isolates. 

With clean ingredients and a high level of protein and minerals — not to mention digestive enzymes — this whey protein isolate puts no additives between you and your muscle gains. 

Best Tasting Whey Isolate

When it comes to the taste of protein powder, sometimes less is more. The versatility of chocolate and vanilla gives you the ability to cater your protein intake in a variety of ways. Chocolate and vanilla allow you the option to spice up your protein shake, or to keep it simple. Onnit’s protein shake is one of the best we’ve tried.

Onnit Whey Isolate Protein Powder

When it comes to chocolate and vanilla flavors, we say if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Onnit Whey Isolate offers two delicious flavors of Mexican Chocolate and Vanilla, and we can attest that both flavors are objectively delicious. What we love about these flavors is that they are delicious on their own. When we mixed them with water, we could taste that they’re creamier than other options due to the quality of the whey protein from grass-fed cows. Plus, these flavors can easily be mixed with other ingredients, like greens, fruits, and even puddings.

Both flavors boast 20 grams of protein per serving, 110 calories, and two grams of fat. Mexican Chocolate contains five grams of carbs, and Vanilla contains two grams of carbs per serving, which may be a deciding factor between the two delicious flavors. We love that each tub comes with a fun recipe to spice up your protein shake for a new twist on the classics. Mexican Chocolate offers a frozen spiced mocha recipe, while Vanilla provides a mint chocolate chip protein shake recipe. We love the versatility here, and love that these flavors are enjoyable with water, or your milk of choice, just as much as they are enjoyable in a fancier concoction. 

Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

A grass-fed whey isolate includes added ingredients for digestion like seven digestive enzymes and a probiotic (lactobacillus acidophilus). It's also gluten-free, sugar-free, and soy-free.

Who Should Buy Onnit Whey Isolate Protein Powder

  • Athletes who love the classics, and care about great flavor — this product’s Mexican Chocolate, and Vanilla flavors are objectively tasty. 
  • People who mix their protein with water as opposed to milk. These two protein flavors from Onnit hold their own with water quite well.
  • Customers who want a sugar-free protein powder will like this formula.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Onnit Whey Isolate Protein Powder

  • Athletes who want a higher dose of protein can find formulas that offer over 25g per serving. This one only offers 20g.
  • Athletes who are bulking may want a protein powder that’s higher in carbs or fat.
  • Those who like more creative and diverse flavors on their own, so they don’t have to put in the work of mixing up various ingredients. 

When it comes to delicious proteins, Onnit Whey Isolate is tough to beat. With two tasty flavors, 20 grams of protein per serving, and endless options for great protein shake concoctions, you can’t go wrong with adding this protein supplement to your lineup.

Best All Natural Whey Isolate

This pick has high protein content, 100 percent natural ingredients, no fake sugars, and is made from grass-fed cows. These facts alone make this protein an outstanding choice for a natural whey isolate. 

Promix Whey Isolate

Promix took care to source all of their ingredients from natural sources so you won’t find anything artificial in their whey isolate. This all-natural whey isolate comes from milk from grass-fed cows and is sweetened with natural flavors like organic coconut sugar. Because of this, there may be more carbs from sugar than some people want though, with their Chocolate flavor having nine total grams of carbs with seven coming from sugar. 

Each two scoop serving provides 30g of protein and anywhere from half a gram of fat to two grams, as well as one and a half grams of carbs up to nine grams depending on flavor (with Chocolate being on the higher end and Unflavored being on the lower). You’ll be ingesting 130 calories for Unflavored, 150 calories for Vanilla, and 160 calories per serving for Chocolate. Whether you’re looking for a quickly digesting protein option for recovery or simply need to increase your protein intake, Promix’s whey isolate is a solid, all-natural choice.

Promix Whey Isolate
Promix Whey Isolate
Promix Whey Isolate

Promix's whey isolate provides 30g of high quality grass-fed protein per serving along with 6.6g of BCAAs. Pick your favorite of Vanilla, Chocolate, or Unflavored and add water for a lean protein boost or add some milk for a rich and satisfying protein shake.

Who Should Buy Promix Whey Isolate

  • Athletes who want an all-natural protein sourced from 100 percent grass-fed cows. 
  • People who want to steer clear of artificial additives and preservatives. 
  • Customers who want a protein that they can take at any time and get on with their day. The macronutrient profile works for both a protein bump in your dietary intake and as post-workout fuel to potentially aid in muscle protein synthesis. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Promix Whey Isolate

  • Athletes who want to bulk up and require more calories and carbs to do so may want to look for a higher calorie option.
  • Anyone who likes to get more adventurous with their protein flavors may be disappointed with the basic Chocolate, Vanilla, and Unflavored options here. 

Providing 30g of pure whey protein isolate per serving sourced from grass-fed cow’s milk and touting no artificial ingredients, this product from Promix is a top tier all-natural whey isolate. Promix made this protein powder with natural ingredients, so you can soak up all the nutritional value without having to worry about any preservatives or artificial sweeteners.

Best Whey Isolate for Recovery

Whey isolate is a great source of leucine — a BCAA that can help with recovery — and this pick contains 28 grams of whey isolate per serving. 

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate has 28 grams of whey isolate protein per serving without any lactose, carbs, or sugars. Many whey isolates are low in these categories, but this product also contains zero fat, which is rare. Leucine, a BCAA, can be key in muscle recovery, and it is ample in whey isolates — with such a high 28g dose of protein per serving, this powder offers a great potential boost in recovery.

In addition, you’ll find about 10 percent of your daily calcium intake per serving, along with a kick of iron and potassium. Transparent Labs contains no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colorings, and you can buy it in eight different flavors, including Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Salted Caramel. 

10% Off
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

This transparent ingredient list includes a dose of calcium, iron, and potassium with 28 grams of protein, all from a company that goes out of its way to provide clear sourcing.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

  • Athletes who want a whey isolate that contains little to no carbs, fats or sugars, but is still high in protein (and leucine) will like the numbers on this blend. 
  • Those looking for added minerals in a protein powder — this formula boasts a few additional micronutrients. 
  • Folks who want a lot of flavors to choose from will appreciate that this comes in eight flavor varieties. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

  • Those who are trying to bulk may want to look for a powder that is higher in carbs and fat. 
  • Buyers on a budget will want to look for a less expensive brand. Transparent Labs is a bit pricier for its clean and effective formula. 

Transparent Labs packs 28 grams of protein with minimal carbs, fats, and sugars — with such a high dose of whey isolate (and therefore, leucine), this product is ideal for those who potentially want to enhance their recovery process. 

Best Whey Isolate for Digestion

While digestive enzymes can be helpful to break down protein powder, it may be even more important to have a powder that’s made with more easily digestible whey protein isolate. This protein supplement from Swolverine ticks both boxes, making it potentially more digestible than other whey isolates on the market.

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

Protein powders can sometimes be difficult to digest, whether that’s due to artificial ingredients, trace lactose, or the nature of high protein supplements in general. Swolverine kept that in mind while designing the formula for their whey protein isolate. This product may be easier to digest thanks to the use of natural sweeteners, like stevia and monk fruit. As an added bonus to help with digestion and absorption, this protein powder has 10mg of digestive enzymes split evenly between protease and papain, which can help ease digestion. 

If you’re looking for a lean protein powder, this one’s great in that aspect too with minimal added calories from fat or carbs — it contains just half a gram of fat and a gram of carbs. You’ll also get 26g of isolate protein with each scoop to help fuel your recovery and hit your protein goals for the day. If you like to change up the flavor of your protein powder often you can choose from Vanilla, Chocolate, Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter, and Mint Chocolate Chip. 

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

This whey protein formula delivers 26 grams of protein with just 0.5 grams of fat, and one gram of carbs. You’ll also find 10mg of digestive enzymes, and a decent number of micronutrients.

Who Should Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

  • Anyone who has issues digesting milk protein will like the digestive enzymes in this protein powder.
  • Athletes who like trying unique flavors of protein powder — there are four flavors to choose from here, two of which are pretty unique.
  • Customers who want a low calorie protein powder will like that this pick only has 110 calories per serving. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

  • Anyone looking for protein high in calories, carbs, or fat will want to look elsewhere.
  • Folks who are on a tight budget may want to look for a more cost-effective option on this list.
  • Those who prefer a protein that they can take at night or that can help keep them full for a longer period of time may want to opt for a slower digesting protein type, like whey concentrate or casein.

This pick is lean with minimal extra calories or added ingredients, and is naturally sweetened. The inclusion of digestive enzymes means you’ll have some potential help with digestion, and this protein may be easier to process than others on the market. 

Best Whey Isolate for Women

Though this is actually a great choice for anyone who wants a solid whey isolate protein with lean macros, it’s our top pick for women mainly for being low in fat, carbs and sugar, but still high in protein. 

Kaged Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

Kaged Micropure Whey Protein Isolate packs 25 grams of protein, and only 110 calories into each scoop. It contains no sugar or fat, and only two grams of carbs per serving, making it one of the leaner options on this list. Plus, it has 5.7g of BCAAs, which may be able to help with recovery. However, it is sweetened using both natural and artificial flavors and sweeteners, so if you want to stay away from all things artificial, this may not be the best pick for you. It comes in five flavors though: Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cinnamon French Toast, and S’mores.

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Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

Kaged Muscle's whey protein isolate formula boasts a high 25 grams of protein, one gram of fat, and just four grams of carbs. It also contains an enzyme that breaks down the protein for optimal digestion.

Who Should Buy Kaged Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Women who are looking for a lean whey isolate protein with very few carbs, fats and sugars, and minimal calories will appreciate the macros here. 
  • Customers who don’t want basic vanilla and chocolate flavors will like the Cinnamon French Toast, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and S’mores options from Kaged. 
  • Those who want BCAAs in their protein powder will appreciate the 5.7g here.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Folks who may be trying to gain some weight could benefit from a higher calorie protein with more carbs. 
  • If you want a wide variety of micronutrients included in your protein powder, you’ll want to look elsewhere. 

This protein powder can be a great option for anyone looking for a high quality whey isolate, but we think it’s one of the best options for women — especially those who want a formula that’s lower in calories, fat, sugar, and carbs than many other whey isolate proteins.

Benefits of Whey Isolate Protein Powders

Whey isolates usually offer a protein concentration that’s higher than what you’d find in food, but they also lack other key nutrients most people need to get from whole foods, like vitamins and minerals. Some protein powders are supplemented with electrolytes, but they still won’t completely replace whole foods. Whey isolates — more than other types of protein powder — are meant as a supplement to help increase protein intake to hit macronutrient goals or potentially aid in decreased snacking. (1)

Recovery from Exercise and Stimulation of Muscle Protein Synthesis

Whey protein isolate is preferred by many for supporting recovery from exercise — especially over other whey products such as whey concentrate — due to the increased filtration and decreased number of carbs and fats. Whey isolate has been shown to improve muscle protein synthesis (the building up of muscles after being broken down from resistance exercise) better than carbohydrates or placebos. (2

Research has also shown that whey isolate elicits higher levels of muscle protein synthesis than casein or whey concentrate. (3) In short, whey isolate is better at helping to jumpstart muscle recovery after a hard workout than most other types of protein powder. With fewer carbs and fats to get in the way and take up precious digestive effort, the protein isolate can potentially be broken down more quickly, and use more of the digestive tract’s resources to get amino acids that are needed for recovery to the muscles. (3)

Increased Satiety

Another big benefit of whey isolate is the role it plays in feeling full, also known as satiety. High protein meals, specifically with protein powder, have been shown to result in eating fewer calories in the hours following. But due to whey isolate’s quick-digesting nature, the effect is shorter-lived than with other proteins (4) To that end, if you’ve got a few hours until your next meal and you’re feeling peckish and don’t want to snack then a whey protein isolate may be just what you need to hold yourself over until meal time rolls around.

These studies have been replicated for both women and men. (5) However, it’s worth noting that whey isolate likely cannot keep you satiated enough to be a full meal replacement. For that, you’ll need a protein supplement that’s higher in carbs and fats. 

How Much Do Whey Isolate Protein Powders Cost?

Whey protein isolates are generally pricier than their whey concentrate counterparts. That’s likely due to the additional refinement and manufacturing efforts that go into purifying the protein and removing extra carbs and fats. (6) While whey concentrates can range from $20 to $50 per tub (depending on the brand, additional ingredients, and other factors) whey isolates generally range from $40 to $80 per container.

Some ingredients that can increase the cost of a whey isolate are added digestive enzymes, BCAAs, or electrolytes. Formulas can range in price based on the type of milk used to get the whey isolate as well, such as grass-fed (more expensive) versus grain-fed (less expensive) dairy cows. 

How We Chose the Best Whey Isolates

There’s a lot of protein powder on the market these days, which means there’s also a lot of pundits claiming they’ve found the best one out there. We know that the best product will vary from person to person, so we considered factors like ingredients, price, flavor, and more to create a comprehensive list that appeals to a wide range of consumers looking to add more protein to their diet

Macro Splits

There are three commonly accepted macronutrients (macros): protein, fat, and carbs. The balance between these three is the macro split. When it comes to whey isolate, most people are looking to keep the macro split heavily in favor of protein, while keeping the carbs and fat very low. If you don’t know what your daily macro split is and you’d like to figure it out, you can use this handy calculator to dial it in based on your goals.

Macronutrient Calculator

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The picks on this list are aligned with what we think most consumers are looking for in a whey isolate: a low carb, low fat protein powder. If you’re looking for a protein supplement geared more towards bulking, you probably want a whey concentrate protein powder, or maybe even a mass gainer.

Plenty of Protein

The average amount of protein per serving is 20 grams, but all of the picks on this list contain upwards of that number. In addition, they have around 90 percent protein by weight to make sure you’re getting the most protein possible with each scoop.

Digestibility

While whey protein isolates are lower in fat and carbs than whey concentrates, they may also contain additives like digestive enzymes that help with absorption. For example, some options include ProHydrolase®, which breaks down protein powder into smaller particles. It also allows your body to absorb nutrients better since it’s sometimes more challenging for our bodies to digest certain ingredients, like lactose, that are found in whey protein.

Quality Control

Each of the picks have been third-party tested for heavy metals, antibiotics, pesticides, and mycotoxins. Since these ingredients can be toxic for humans, companies ensure there are no impurities in their products before they hit the market. All of the companies in this list perform on-going third-party testing, so you won’t have to worry about quality control when you grab one of these supplements off the shelf. 

Flavors

All of the picks on this list have a variety of flavors. As companies grow, they can add more flavors to their repertoire, so in addition to chocolate and vanilla, there are now flavors like cinnamon roll or coffee latte.

When it comes to the flavors themselves, rest assured that none of these are objectively bad. Subjectively, everyone has flavor preferences, so each person will like or dislike different flavors. However, when it comes to a baseline for flavors, all of these picks exceed it — after all, we wouldn’t want you to be drinking a flavor comparable to those in Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. 

What to Consider Before Buying

Whey protein comes in a variety of forms. The most popular kinds of whey you’ll find on the market are concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. While the type is a consideration, you’ll also want to think about price, along with flavor availability. Something else to keep on your radar when considering a whey isolate are the macro splits and digestibility of the protein supplement you’re purchasing.

Whey Isolate, Whey Concentrate, and Whey Hydrolysate

When it comes to whey protein, there are three options: Whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate. 

Whey hydrolysate is the most processed — to the point where it may be called “pre-digested” — as the enzymes that break it down have already done part of the digestion for you. Like whey isolate, it contains around 90 percent protein by weight and very few fats or carbs. 

Similarly, whey isolate is processed — though a little less so than hydrolysate — and contains the same 90 percent protein by weight and little to no carbs or fat. 

Whey concentrate is the more basic, less concentrated form. It’s only up to 80 percent protein by weight, with the rest of the product being fat and carbs. Since whey concentrate is less concentrated and not filtered, it’s also cheaper than whey isolate and whey hydrolysate (which is the most expensive). 

Whey concentrate is typically higher in calories and better for those who want to gain weight, while isolate and hydrolysate are trimmed down in fat and carbs (as well as lactose and sugar) for those who are more conscious of those macros. And if digestion is of particular concern, whey hydrolysate allows for optimal processing and absorption — more so than either concentrate or isolate. 

Even though hydrolysate and isolate are leaner versions of whey, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good for muscle building. Since whey isolate and hydrolysate both have a higher concentration of protein, they do contain more grams of protein per scoop, and can also be used for leaner muscle gains. 

Price

Whey isolate is (typically) considerably more expensive than whey concentrate. Isolate is more refined and goes through additional processing to give it a higher percentage of protein per serving with fewer carbs and fats. The higher protein concentration and added manufacturing steps are likely what increases the price. Generally, whey isolates range from $40 to $80 per tub depending on other factors such as added digestive enzymes, probiotics, specialty diet formulas, and other variables. If you’re not looking to drop that much on protein powder, you’re better off opting for a cheaper formula, like a whey concentrate. 

Flavor Availability

Most protein powders on the market will come in some form of chocolate and vanilla flavor though some companies may make it sound more exciting with names like ‘Dutch Chocolate” or “French Vanilla Ice Cream”. Things have come a long way in the past decade with many proteins now available in fruit flavors now rather than just rich flavors — but if you can dream it, there’s likely a protein flavor of it somewhere out there.

Some examples are Fruity Pebbles®, Thin Mint Cookies®, and Nutter Butter® flavors. There are even corporate partnerships that offer certain breakfast cereal flavors of protein powder. If you’re looking to spice things up, be sure to look at the list of flavor options just as seriously as you look at the macros before you buy. 

Macro Splits and Digestibility

The macro split of a protein isolate and its digestibility go hand in hand. (7) Generally, thanks to the further refinement and removal of most lactose in whey isolate, it can potentially be more easily digested. Whey isolates typically have fewer carbs and fats in the way to slow down the digestive process, which may contribute to the quicker absorption and digestion that whey isolates are known for. (8) Macro splits on whey isolates are usually very lean and diet-friendly with low fat and low carbs (generally less than two grams of fat and less than five grams of carbs in many whey protein isolates). 

Some whey isolate formulas even come with digestive enzymes to help further the digestibility. If macros and better digestion are two factors you’re concerned with, a whey isolate is likely for you. But for optimal digestion, be sure you’re leaning toward those formulas with digestive enzymes, even though the isolate should be fairly easy for the body to digest on its own. (9

Final Word

Whey protein isolate is a leaner alternative to whey concentrate and could help with muscle gain, digestion, weight loss, and much more. Many options on this list contain additives like digestive enzymes and amino acids that can aid in the processing of lactose that’s found in whey protein isolates. But, these products are cleaner and more concentrated than other proteins on the market, which make them an excellent option for anyone who wants to boost their nutritional intake.

When you’re considering which protein to pick, know all of these picks will hit the mark with quality ingredients. All you have to do is pick your flavor and price point, and add to cart. 

FAQs

Is whey isolate better than whey concentrate?

It depends on what your fitness goals are. If you’re looking to bulk, whey concentrate may be a better option as it contains more fat and carbs along with a solid amount of protein. However, if you’re looking to stay lean and build muscle, whey protein isolate is a better option since it’s more concentrated with protein and has little to no fat and carbs.

Is whey isolate worth the money?

If you’re looking to cut back on fat and carbs, yes. You’re not going to find a whey concentrate option with as little fat and carbs as whey isolate does. However, if that isn’t a priority to you, spending more money on whey isolate will not be worth your while.

Does whey isolate contain lactose?

Yes, it does, but only about one gram. Whey concentrate contains around three grams, but neither of these numbers are typically enough to affect someone with lactose intolerance.

References

  1. Morr, C. V., & Ha, E. Y. (1993). Whey protein concentrates and isolates: processing and functional properties. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 33(6), 431–476. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408399309527643
  2. Hulmi, J. J., Lockwood, C. M., & Stout, J. R. (2010). Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein. Nutrition & metabolism, 7(1), 1-11.
  3. Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., Kujbida, G. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 107(3), 987–992. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00076.2009
  4. Luhovyy, B. L., Akhavan, T., & Anderson, G. H. (2007). Whey proteins in the regulation of food intake and satiety. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26(6), 704S–12S. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2007.10719651
  5. Chungchunlam, S., Henare, S. J., Ganesh, S., & Moughan, P. J. (2017). Effects of whey protein and its two major protein components on satiety and food intake in normal-weight women. Physiology & behavior, 175, 113–118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.03.044 
  6. Morr, C. V., & Ha, E. Y. W. (1993). Whey protein concentrates and isolates: processing and functional properties. Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition, 33(6), 431-476.
  7. Capuano, E., & Janssen, A. (2021). Food Matrix and Macronutrient Digestion. Annual review of food science and technology, 12, 193–212. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-food-032519-051646
  8. Dangin, M., Boirie, Y., Garcia-Rodenas, C., Gachon, P., Fauquant, J., Callier, P., Ballèvre, O., & Beaufrère, B. (2001). The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 280(2), E340–E348. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.2001.280.2.E340
  9. Lönnerdal B. (1985). Biochemistry and physiological function of human milk proteins. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 42(6), 1299–1317. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/42.6.1299