The Difference Between Whey & Wheat Germ

Protein powder

Saaster/iStock/Getty Images

Boost the nutrition of your favorite baked goods, smoothies, shakes or main dishes by stirring in wheat germ or powdered whey. Wheat germ comes from the inner germ of wheat kernels, while whey is the liquid left over after preparing dairy products such as yogurt or cheese. Both are dense with nutrients, though they differ in the types they offer.

Whey's Lower in Fat

A 2-tablespoon serving of sweet dried whey, the most common whey powder variety, contains 53 calories. Just 1.4 of these calories come from whey's 0.16 gram total of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Wheat germ contains 61 calories in every 2-tablespoon serving, with 1.6 grams of total fat. That's more fat than whey, but most of wheat germ's fat -- approximately 1 gram -- is heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat.

"Whey" Better for Protein

Wheat germ contains about 5.3 grams of protein per 2-tablespoon serving; whey supplies just under 2 grams. The difference is that whey's protein is complete: It contains all the amino acids your body needs to make cellular tissue and protein-based compounds such as enzymes. Wheat germ, like most plant foods, lacks some of these essential amino acids, making it an incomplete protein source.

Choose Wheat Germ for Fiber

Whey supplies 11 grams of carbohydrates in every 2 tablespoons. All of these carbs are lactose, the simple sugar predominant in dairy products. With 8.3 grams per serving, wheat germ has fewer carbohydrates, but nearly 25 percent is dietary fiber. This amount fulfills 7 percent of the recommended daily intake for women 19 to 30 years old and almost 6 percent of the requirement for men the same age.

Boost Your Micronutrients

Wheat germ comes packed with vitamins and minerals. Add 2 tablespoons of wheat germ to your morning smoothie, and you'll get 20 percent of the thiamine, folate, phosphorus and zinc you need for the day, and over 100 percent of your manganese. Whey powder also supplies B vitamins and phosphorus, but in smaller concentrations. It is, however, a better source of calcium, with 119 milligrams per 2 tablespoons, almost 12 percent of an adult's daily requirement.