Understanding the different types of protein supplements is essential in choosing the right one for you. Here I go through the main types of protein supplements used by weight loss surgery patients. Yes, there are others... but this basic outline will get you started with what you need to know.
WHEY ISOLATE PROTEIN -- this is the highest quality form of protein powder. All the fat and lactose (sugar) has been removed from the original milk product and you're left with just the protein. When you look at the label you'll see about 25g of protein per "scoop" (usually about 28g) with 0g carb and 0g fat. Because Whey Isolate is the highest quality, you're also going to pay more for it.
WHEY CONCENTRATE PROTEIN -- although still a high quality form of protein powder, it has not been processed down as far as Isolate and you'll find that some fat and carbohydrates still remain in the product. Not much, but still some. Typically you'll see Whey Concentrate containing about 1g-9g of fat and 1g-9g of carb (lactose) per serving. Check the labels carefully to see how the numbers come out... some forms of Concentrate are higher quality than others. Because it's not as high a quality of blend, it's usually priced much cheaper. However, if you are lactose intolerant, you want to stick with Isolate instead.
PROTEIN QUALITY -- Whey Isolate Protein and Whey Concentrate Protein are EXACTLY the same protein. The protein itself has the exact same quality, digestibility, bioavailability, whatever-ability. The PROTEIN is the same. The only difference is that Whey Concentrate has a few extra "things" mixed in with the protein. So don't be fooled by those who say you can only use Whey Isolate Protein. That's a myth. You can use either form - they are exactly the same protein. However, if you have a lactose or fat intolerance, then stick with Isolate.
COMBINED WHEY ISOLATE & CONCENTRATE -- A common way to achieve a high quality protein supplement while still maintaining an economical price point is to use a combination of both Whey Isolate and Concentrate in the mix. Make sure that Isolate is listed first on the ingredient list to ensure you're getting more of the higher quality protein. This is the type of protein I use and each scoop of protein has 1.8g fat and 2g carb.
OTHER GOOD TYPES OF PROTEIN -- some people find that they are actually "whey intolerant" and have to search for other types of protein supplements. There are definitely other options, but the variety is much more limited. Soy protein, rice protein, egg protein -- all these powders can be purchased in the same way as whey protein. I personally haven't tried any of these, but have heard from others that they do not mix as smoothly with liquid as whey, so you have to deal with grittiness and sometimes lumpiness.
PROTEIN TO AVOID – stay away from the types that are low quality proteins and those designed for body builders or people with normal digestive systems. Specifically… collagen protein and hydrolyzed protein and those that do not contain all eight essential amino acids.