Wheat Protein Isolate vs. Whey

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If you're upping your intake of protein to build or strengthen your muscles, you may turn to protein powders for convenience. Wheat protein isolate and whey protein are two options you may consider. Both proteins are rich in the amino acids your muscles need, but if you have an allergy you may need to consider one over the other.

About the Proteins

Wheat protein isolate is created by turning gluten, the main protein in wheat, into free amino acids. While nutrition information may vary depending on manufacturer, a 24-gram scoop of one commercially available wheat protein powder contains 100 calories, 20 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and 3 grams of carbs.

Whey is a protein found in the liquid portion of coagulated milk. A 20-gram scoop of whey protein contains 75 calories, 13 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and 3.5 grams of carbs.

Special Diet Needs

Milk and wheat are two of the most common food allergens. If you have an allergy to milk, you may want to avoid using the whey protein. Also, if you have an allergy to wheat or gluten, you want to avoid using the wheat protein isolate. Wheat protein isolate manufacturers market their product as lactose-free, but whey protein powders are also lactose-free. Additionally, as a nonanimal-based protein powder, the wheat protein isolate may be preferable to people following a vegan diet.

Building Muscle

If building muscle is your goal, whey protein may be more suitable. A study published in Nutrition and Metabolism in 2012 found that protein powders rich in the amino acid leucine, such as whey protein, are better at building muscle, at least in rats. However, you may be able to find wheat protein isolate powders with added leucine. Also, this data is based on animal studies, and human studies may show different results.

Using Protein Supplements

It's OK to use protein supplements, but you may be missing out on all the additional nutrients you get when you eat the whole food. Milk, for example, is not only a good source of protein, but is also rich in calcium and potassium. And whole grains like wheat are rich in B vitamins, iron, magnesium and fiber. Plus, eating the whole food as opposed to taking a supplement may be more satisfying.