Get a stronger understanding of the different types of proteins from milk.
There are several kinds of proteins from milk used as ingredients or supplements. Whey proteins (concentrates, isolates or hydrolyzates), caseins and caseinates, and protein from milk concentrates and isolates. And it’s not just concentrates: milk powders are also a natural source of proteins from milk.
Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)
The amount of protein in whey protein concentrates typically varies from 34 to 80%. The whey protein powder supplements that you find in health and nutrition stores often list whey protein concentrate on the label. This type of whey protein is usually 80% protein. The rest of the product consists of lactose (4-8%), fat, minerals and moisture.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
WPI is the most concentrated form of whey protein available as an ingredient, and it contains over 90% protein. It is a good protein source for individuals with lactose intolerance as it contains little or no lactose. WPIs are also very low in fat.
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein or Hydrolyzates
The long protein chains in the whey protein have been broken down into shorter chains called peptides. This makes this type of whey protein more easily absorbed by the body and may reduce the potential for allergic reactions. Hydrolyzed whey protein is often used in infant formulas and sports and medical nutrition products. Hydrolysis does not reduce the nutritional quality of the whey protein, but it may enhance the functionality of whey proteins in food products.
“Native” Whey (Milk Whey)
Also a source of whey proteins, it is derived directly from milk through filtration techniques, and is a more recent ingredient that is found in sports and medical nutrition products. It is typically very low in lactose and contains no fat.
Casein is the main protein naturally found in milk, and it is often used as an ingredient in caseinate form. In its purest form casein contains nearly 100% protein. Caseinates can be manufactured with sodium, calcium, etc., to improve their solubility and functionality. They are widely used in non-dairy products as they are lactose-free.
Micellar casein is made directly from microfiltered milk. It contains casein in its micellar form, and is often used in sports nutrition products in its concentrated form, or as a substitute for other casein ingredients.
Milk Protein Concentrates
These ingredients are made by simple filtration techniques which selectively remove the lactose from skim milk, thereby concentrating the proteins in the same ratio as found in milk. They are available as an ingredient in various concentrations, typically ranging from 42% to 80-85%.
Milk Protein Isolates
An extra filtration step further removes lactose from milk protein concentrates to yield milk protein isolate, an ingredient with over 90% protein (in the same casein/whey ratio as in milk, or about 80/20). Isolates are virtually lactose free.