Guide to Hydrolyzed Whey Protein for Bodybuilding

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Whey protein reigns king on the supplement shelves at just about every grocery or vitamin shop, and that is for good reason. Whey protein is packed full of micronutrients like amino acids, it digests quickly, and helps athletes reach their protein goals even when eating at caloric deficits. 

Hydrolyzed whey protein has been carving out a name for itself as a superior choice to the standard whey isolate. It’s particularly effective because it is the form of whey with the highest protein content per scoop. 90-94% of each scoop is pure protein content. But is it right for you? That will depend on where your priorities lie.

What is Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Powder?

The easiest way to understand hydrolyzed whey is to break down the first word: hydro means water and “-lysis” means to remove or bind. This means whey undergoes a filtering process. The whey is exposed to either heat or enzymes which break it down on a molecular level. 

This results in the removal of all lactose, carbs, and fats. While whey isolate on its own is very low in carbohydrates and fats, the hydrolyzation process removes them in totality. This streamlining of nutrients increases the bioavailability of the protein itself.

The hydrolyzation process breaks the proteins and amino acids down into smaller particles which can be likened to a pre-digestion process. This breakdown process speeds up the ability of the body to digest the whey and put the protein and amino acids to work immediately.

What are the Benefits of Hydrolyzed Whey?

The most notable benefit of choosing hydrolyzed whey over its counterpart is the increase in the speed of digestion. Athletes like bodybuilders who are focused on intense strength training and muscle building rely on fast-digesting proteins around their workouts so that their muscles can recover more efficiently.

Not only does the protein digest more quickly into the system, but the quick digestion also lends to an increased efficiency with which the body absorbs the protein and amino acids, which means less is going to waste and your body can actually use more of the product without losing it to the digestive system.

Is Hydrolyzed Protein Good for Building Muscle?

Hydrolyzed protein can be an incredible tool for any bodybuilder or strength athlete that is looking to grow muscle tissue without completing a standard bulking process that would add more fat to their body composition.

The leanness of hydrolyzed whey means that an athlete can ingest more protein without worrying about going over their daily allotted carbohydrates or dietary fats. The removal of carbohydrates and fats also means it digests more quickly, aiding in muscle growth and recovery.

Whey Protein Isolate vs. Hydrolyzed Whey Protein

Whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed protein are, as to be expected, remarkably similar. The most notable difference for many is the removal of lactose, which can be an inflammatory and irritant for a large percentage of athletes. 

Interestingly, one study has found an increased inflammatory response in some consumers despite the lack of lactose in hydrolyzed whey. [1] This may be due to the extra round of processing, or because some forms of hydrolyzed whey are made with the addition of acids instead of heat treatment.

Whey protein that has been through the hydrolyzation process also has had all carbohydrates and fats removed. This will be most intriguing to athletes that are working toward a bodybuilding competition, as being deep in competition preparatory periods comes with significant caloric deficits over long periods of time. The removal of carbohydrates and fats from the protein supplement leaves room for them on a plate instead.

Is Hydrolyzed Protein Better for You?

Whether or not hydrolyzed protein is better for you than whey isolate mostly depends on what values each individual athlete prioritizes. [2] A whey isolate protein will have undergone much less processing than hydrolyzed whey, and that is important to many people in the health and wellness space.

That said, the removal of lactose has many benefits for athletes. Those that get uncomfortable bloating or other forms of inflammation when ingesting standard whey might find that their body feels better with the switch to a hydrolyzed whey.

Is Hydrolyzed Protein Safe?

Whey protein is one of the most thoroughly researched and safest supplements on the market today, and the hydrolyzation process doesn’t change that fact. The addition of heat or enzymes to further distill the whey is not linked to any adverse effects.

While it is still best to get as many nutrients from whole foods as possible, the addition of a protein powder is a great way to bridge nutritional gaps and help the body to reach its goals.

When Should I Take Hydrolyzed Protein Powder?

One of the reasons that many athletes start researching hydrolyzed protein powder is because of how quickly it digests. For this reason, timing intake either before or immediately after workouts can be beneficial. 

When consuming hydrolyzed whey right before a workout, the body can begin digesting it and putting the protein and amino acids to work within the muscle tissues to aid energy and power during a lifting session.

When consuming it directly after a workout, the body can use those same nutrients to begin repairing the torn tissues immediately. [3] Of note, this quick digestion can be disrupted if taken with other slower-digested ingredients, like if it was added to a shake with fats and carbs. To get the full benefits of hydrolyzed whey protein, only mix it with water.

How Much Hydrolyzed Protein Should I Take Per Day?

Strength athletes like bodybuilders and weightlifters will usually be seeking to ingest one gram of protein per pound of their body weight each day. While a high-quality and fast-digesting hydrolyzed whey protein is a great addition to an athlete’s diet, it should never be the main protein source.

Generally, most athletes aim to get approximately 70% or more of their daily protein needs through whole foods, and the remaining protein can come from protein supplements. If you find you are relying too heavily on protein powders to meet your daily protein allowance, try to add more lean protein-rich foods to each meal or snack. Foods like greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and egg whites can help without causing you to consume extra carbohydrates or fats.

Best Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Powders

Dymatize Iso 100

Dymatize Iso 100 Hydrolized Whey Protein

This company is rigorous in choosing its ingredient suppliers and only uses the highest quality whey when making its products. They also offer many different flavors, everything from strawberry to birthday cake and cappuccino, which can help an athlete curb their sweet tooth when eating at a deficit.

Sascha Fitness Hydrolyzed Whey

Sascha Fitness Hydrolyzed Whey

Sascha Fitness sources its whey from grass-fed and hormone-free cows and their protein has only 110 calories per serving, making it great for those that are cutting. Their use of stevia as a sweetener is highly desirable for those that have issues with other artificial sugar replacements.

Muscle Feast Hydrolyzed Whey

Muscle Feast Hydrolyzed Whey

Muscle Feast Hydrolyzed Whey is excellent for those that may be sensitive to additives. Their formula is soy-free, gluten-free, artificial sweetener free, and certified to be Orthodox Union Kosher compliant. They also offer an unflavored option which has even fewer additives.


Whether it is lactose sensitivity or just a desire to find the fastest digesting protein, hydrolyzed whey can be an important addition to a bodybuilder’s arsenal of supplements. Those that are wary of processed foods may balk at the idea of whey getting further processed down, but many find the extra purification to be worth the price paid to get it.

Like any other supplement, hydrolyzed whey will not be more beneficial than a well-rounded diet made of high-quality foods, but can be an important part of meeting all nutritional goals.

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