whey isolate protein powderQUESTION:

I’m wondering which elemental shake product is better? Because Absorb Plus has whey protein isolate and Optimental by Abbott has whey protein hydrolysate.

Wikipedia says that the hydrolysates are predigested, and more easily absorbed. So I’m thinking they might be better for my mom. Any comments?

Well, here’s what I read from Wikipedia…

“Whey protein typically comes in three major forms: concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate.

Concentrates contain a low level of fat and cholesterol but, in general, have higher levels of bioactive compounds, and carbohydrates in the form of lactose ? they are 29 %-89 % protein by weight.

Isolates are processed to remove the fat, and lactose, but are usually lower in bioactive compounds as well ? they are 90 %+ protein by weight. Both of these types are mild to slightly milky in taste.

Hydrolysates are predigested, partially hydrolyzed whey proteins that, as a consequence, are more easily absorbed, but their cost is generally higher. Highly-hydrolysed whey may be less allergenic than other forms of whey. They are very bitter in taste.”


Here’s a good link that describes how the different forms of whey are processed.

Basically, the issues are as follows:

1. Hydrolyzed protein is very bitter. So if your mom doesn’t like the taste, or they make her dread drinking them, then you’re not going to achieve your objective.
2. What happens when you transition from hydrolysates back to normal food? Studies show that people do better transitioning from whey isolate, then from hydrolysates or free-form amino acids alone – details and study links are here.
3. At the end of the day, nothing beats personal experience. So test both and see which one she likes better, and which one gives her the better results.

You can also see from the ingredient panel that the Optimental product contains MORE sugar than whey hydrolysate. And the sugar is in the form of sucrose – which is a disaccharide, not even a monosaccharide (i.e. the sugar is not in elemental form). It also contains canola oil and soybean oil – which it does not state are cold-pressed, so they are likely hydrogenated. And it contains artificial flavors.


Jini Patel Thompson’s books on natural healing for digestive diseases have sold in over 40 different countries. Her health articles have been published in journals and magazines in the U.S., Australia and U.K. www.ListenToYourGut.com