- Best whey protein powders for weight loss and muscle gain
- 1. SiS Whey Power Chocolate Brownie – 1035g
- 2. Organic Whey Protein Pure Unflavoured – 400g
- 3. Pure Whey Protein – 1kg
- 4. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder – 2.27kg
- 5. Healthspan Elite Complete Vegan Protein – 1kg
- 6. Natural Nutrients Whey Protein Isolate – 1kg
- 7. MyProtein Weight Gainer Blend – 2.5kg
- 8. PhD Nutrition Diet Whey Protein Powder – 1kg
- 9. InnerMost The Strong Protein – 600g
- 10. Naked Whey Protein 80 – 1kg
- The Best Whey Protein Guide You’ll Ever Read (Updated 2019)
- How to Avoid Whey Protein Scams
- Why Most Whey Protein Sucks
- GNC: The Biggest Scam of All
- 3 Best Whey Protein Brands For Men
- Best Whey Protein for Beginners
- Summary: The Best Whey Protein
- What is whey protein, why it’s beneficial, and how should you use it?
- About our expertise
- Here are the best whey protein powders you can buy:
- Is whey protein consumption safe?
- The best overall whey protein powder
- If you’re looking for a powder that mixes easily and tastes great, Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder is one of the best and most affordable options.
- The best sugar-free whey protein powder
- The Platinum Hydrowhey by Optimum Nutrition may be expensive, but it mixes well and boasts 30 grams of protein per serving with zero grams of sugar.
- The best-tasting whey protein powder
- The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder packs 24 grams of protein into each serving and is one of the better-tasting powders according to experts and buyers.
- The best fat-free whey protein powder
- The Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein is a great option if you want as much protein packed into each scoop as possible without extra fat, carbs, or calories.
- The best digestion-friendly powder
- If you’ve found protein powders leave your stomach feeling queasy, consider the lactose-free Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder.
- What else we considered
- Where to buy whey protein?
- TOP 10 PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS
- Testing Summary
- Label Accuracy
- Product Purity
- Nutritional Value
- Ingredient Safety
- Projected Efficacy
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey: User Reviews
- Best Whey Protein Powders to Help Boost Muscle Strength
- How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day, and When Should You Increase Your Intake?
- A Quick Word of Caution Before Picking a Whey Protein
- Additional Factors to Consider When Picking a Whey Protein
- What Is Whey Protein? The Popular Protein Supplement Explained
- The Best Whey Protein Powders
- What is protein powder?
- Does drinking protein shakes help build muscle?
- What type of protein powder is best?
- What are the other benefits?
- How much protein do I really need?
- When should I drink protein shakes?
Best whey protein powders for weight loss and muscle gain
Protein, we all need it in our diets to help our bodies repair cells, produce hormones and strengthen muscles and bones.
When we workout, we lose a lot of the vital nutrients needed to help our bodies quickly recover – whether we’re toning up, losing fat or building muscle; so many of us use protein powders for an extra boost.
With so many protein powders on the market, where does the novice start? Firstly it’s important to understand the types of whey proteins there are, we’ve outlined them for you below.
The three main types of whey protein:
Whey protein hydrolysate – Breaks down peptides to help with fast absorption
Whey protein concentrate – A concentrated protein that retains more nutrients
Whey protein isolate – Similar to concentrate, but has a higher protein percentage
Make sense now? The main thing to remember is the recommended dietary allowance for protein is around a gram for every three pounds of body weight. So, if you’re 120lbs you’ll need around 40 grams of protein per day and so on.
1. SiS Whey Power Chocolate Brownie – 1035g
SiS Whey Power Chocolate Brownie
If you play sports or are looking for a whey powder to help boost and maintain muscle – this is a great option. After all, who could resist the sweet flavour of a chocolate brownie?
Whey Power contains 30g of high quality whey protein isolate and concentrate, giving you a great source of protein that digests quickly.
Price: £29.99, Holland and Barrett – buy here now
2. Organic Whey Protein Pure Unflavoured – 400g
Organic Whey Protein Pure Unflavoured
Part of overhauling your lifestyle is what you put into your body. An organic whey powder is a great way to boost your health kick, whilst still providing you with the vital nutrients you need for workouts.
Each serving contains just shy of 20g of protein and is made in low temperature filtration, using fresh whey from organic grass-fed cow’s milk.
The formula is suitable for vegetarians and is hormone free, gluten free, soya free and GMO free.
Price: £22, The Organic Protein Company – buy here now
3. Pure Whey Protein – 1kg
Pure Whey Protein
This protein powder is a great place to start, if you’re looking for an ethical product that has as many benefits as it is cost effective. It’s also vegetarian friendly and gluten-free.
The whey is sourced from European grass-fed cow’s milk and contains a whopping 80% whey protein, it also has five grams per serving of vital branched chain amino acids (BCAA).
You can choose an unflavoured or flavoured supplement, the advantage of going unflavoured is you’re getting the full 80% protein.
The flavoured ones tend to drop the percentage by between 3-5%. If you don’t mind the slight drop in protein, they have over 20 delicious flavours to choose from including salted caramel, birthday cake and peaches and cream.
Price: £13.99, Bulk Powders – buy here now
4. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder – 2.27kg
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder
If there’s any reason to go with this whey protein option, it’s that it’s widely used and favoured by professional athletes. If you want to be the best – use what the best use, right?
With 24 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of BCAAs in each serving you can be sure each shake is giving you nothing but pure muscle-bulking nutrition.
It doesn’t have as many flavour options as Pure Whey, but 17 options is a fair amount of choice, even for the pickiest of gym-goers.
Price: £43.99, Amazon – buy here now
5. Healthspan Elite Complete Vegan Protein – 1kg
Healthspan Elite Complete Vegan Protein
If you’re looking to start your gym journey and need a vegan appropriate whey protein to help you on your way – this is one for you to try.
Elite complete is formed from a healthy combination of pumpkin, peas and brown rice – providing a culmination of essential amino acids.
With around 20 grams of protein in each serving you also get 100% of your recommended dosage of vitamin B12 (notoriously difficult to obtain on a vegan diet).
The batch comes unflavoured, but there are also four available flavoured drops that you can add to your purchase free of charge to give you a more pleasant taste.
Price: £19.99, Health Span – buy here now
Weight loss: training tips
6. Natural Nutrients Whey Protein Isolate – 1kg
Natural Nutrients Whey Protein Isolate
This strawberry flavoured fitness supplement is perfect if you’re wanting to increase you muscle mass, or if you’re just enthusiastic about maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime.
It’s also gluten and soya free, so perfectly inclusive for anyone intolerant to those ingredients and it’s also a huge source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant bound to give you an added health boost you need when training.
No artificial sweeteners, colours or flavours have been used in the product, so you can rest assured you’re fueling your body with something nutritious.
Price: £33.99, Amazon – buy here now
7. MyProtein Weight Gainer Blend – 2.5kg
MyProtein Weight Gainer Blend
If your goal is to add a few pounds or build up some muscle, the weight gainer blend from MyProtein is well worth a try.
Per serving you can expect around 31 grams of protein (more than any on the list so far) as well as 50 grams of carbohydrates equate to around 388 calories. If you’re eating a balanced diet, along with a couple of these shakes in between – you’ll be on your way to your goals in no time.
This particular protein supplement doesn’t come with all the fancy flavour options, you can have it unflavoured or choose chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.
Price: £26.99, My Protein – buy here now
8. PhD Nutrition Diet Whey Protein Powder – 1kg
PhD Nutrition Diet Whey Protein Powder
If weight control and management are your main focuses – this industry leading diet protein supplement is a top contender.
Each serving contains 17 grams of protein and under 100 calories when shaken up with water. Vital health-boosting ingredients like green tea extract and flaxseed are mixed in the product, making it super healthy and natural.
Choose from an array of delicious flavours like cherry bakewell or chocolate orange.
Price: £17.98, Amazon – buy here now
9. InnerMost The Strong Protein – 600g
InnerMost The Strong Protein
InnerMost have created a super inclusive whey protein to rival some of the top brands in the industry. As well as being suitable for vegetarians, it’s also halal, kosher, soy and gluten free.
Seven active ingredients in this product work together to maximise muscle gains and enable you to repair and recovery a lot quicker.
It’s also rich in BCAAs and essential amino acids, so you can be sure you’re getting the vital nutrients you need after a big workout.
Price: £29.95, Live Inner Most – buy here now
Best bathroom weight scales
10. Naked Whey Protein 80 – 1kg
Naked Whey Protein 80
If natural ingredients are important to you and they should be, Naked Whey protein is an innovative product that will give you just what you’re looking for from a protein powder.
The plant-based protein is packed full of essential amino acids and a mixture of plant derived proteins like: sunflower protein, white hemp protein and faba bean proteins.
For as many vitamins that are packed in, the same cannot be said for the fats; with virtually all the fats stripped out of this supplement (less than a gram per serving). So if you’re trying to gain weight this may not be the best option for you.
Price: £24.99, The Protein Works – buy here now
You’ve just finished an insane workout and you’ve got a serious pump going. If you’re like most guys, you’re gonna reach for a protein shake. Truth is, muscle isn’t built in the weight room, it’s built after you leave the gym, and depends largely on what you’re refueling those muscles with.
Not all protein is created equal, though. Whey protein powder is known as the gold standard for getting bigger and building muscle. It’s derived from cow’s milk, and actually contains two main types of protein, whey (20%) and casein (80%). After being separated during cheese production, whey (the liquid portion) goes through various processing steps to become what people know as whey protein powder.
Now here’s where it can get unhealthy. Whey protein doesn’t taste very good on it’s own, so that’s why most commercial protein powders have added flavors, ingredients, and sugars. Any powder that’s labeled as whey protein isolate or hydrolysate is the purest form of whey powder. There are three main types of whey protein powders:
- Whey Protein Concentrate: About 70–80% protein—contains some lactose and fat but usually has the best flavor.
- Whey Protein Isolate: 90% protein or higher—contains less lactose and fat
- Hydrolysate: Also known as hydrolyzed whey, this type has been pre-digested so it gets absorbed faster.
With so many whey protein powders available in the marketplace, it can be tricky to find the right one. Oftentimes when it comes to supplements, you get what you pay for. Cheap store-brand protein powders are usually of lower quality and contain many additives and lower amounts of actual whey protein. So how do you pick out the right one? Use these rules to help guide your decision:
- Look at the ingredient label: It should be pretty simple with whey protein being the first ingredient
- Look for protein powders that don’t have a lot of added sugar or artificial ingredients. If you’re looking to add carbs, then add them yourself in the form of milk, fruits, or natural honey.
- Look for a powder that contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving
- Look for a company that lists the amino acid profile on the label or on their website, and make sure there’s a high leucine content per serving (at least 2 grams)
- Choose powders that are third party tested for quality and safety assurance like NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice. These companies test the products for banned substances and make sure that what’s on the label is actually in the product.
We’ve done the tough work for you and these are the best whey protein powders you can buy.
Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.
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The Best Whey Protein Guide You’ll Ever Read (Updated 2019)
“What’s the best whey protein?” the gym-going newbie asks.
Well, as I’ve said before, whey protein is by far one of the best muscle building supplements on planet earth.
It’s perfect right after a workout, because it’s fast digesting—it gets your muscles the protein that they need in just 30 minutes (compared to a meal, which takes around 2 hours).
But it’s not that simple—not all whey protein is created equal. This is one of the first things that I learned from working at a supplement store in college.
There’s cold processed whey, grass-fed whey, casein blends, isolate matrixes, and protein concentrate…how in the hell do you know what to choose?
Well, I’ve tried over 100 different whey protein supplements and narrowed it down to a few of the best so that you don’t have to waste your time and money. Here’s the best whey protein supplements, in my opinion.
How to Avoid Whey Protein Scams
“Some bodybuilder said it was good, so it must be good!”
Most people start off by going to some generic bodybuilding website or fitness blog and get their supplement recommendations from there.
They read all about how Muscle Tech has the best pre workouts on the market! Buy their supplements now!
…and then, they go and buy their supplements. This is by far the worst thing that you could ever do, however. Why?
Again—one of the first things that I learned from working as a supplement salesman, going to different gyms, networking at shows, and talking to local bodybuilders, was that the fitness industry is incredibly political.
In other words, these websites recommend whichever product will pay them the most. I wrote about this in my SARMs for sale article, where I exposed three known scammers, promoting pure junk.
You could have an absolutely amazing, 100% pure, cold processed, nutrient-dense whey protein, but if some shitty company that’s loaded with filler pays bodybuilding.com $2,000,000 to recommend their product, then it’s going to recommend their product as the best whey protein in existence.
To be fair, I don’t blame them all that much, because that’s what companies do—they want the most profit. But, you need to realize that they are not always (read: they’re not ever) recommending things that are in your best interest.
Take for example, Mutant Mass. It’s one of the best mass building shakes of all time… but nobody recommends it. Why?
Because some other shitty whey protein brand is willing to pay more, and so everyone recommends that one instead. I hate to break it to you, but this is just how the supplement industry works.
Why Most Whey Protein Sucks
Because the supplement industry isn’t regulated, it’s extremely important to source your whey protein from a quality source. I would say that roughly 65% of whey protein has some sort of filler in it.
Then maybe another 25% is just plain garbage (denatured protein from heat processing, artificial crap, no digestive enzymes, etc.), and only the remaining 10% is what’s actually decent.
That being said, whey protein is one of the best muscle building supplements on planet earth, so you want to get your hands on a good one.
Just how do you know if a whey protein has junk and filler in it, though? It’s actually pretty simple: just check the price.
When it comes to whey protein, what you pay for is what you get. Pretty much any whey protein that’s under $25 is going to be low quality.
This isn’t the case with all supplements, though. Creatine, for example, is only about $35 per year, but with whey protein you want to buy quality.
You know that cheap ass whey you see at Walmart or Costco in the pharmacy section? The stuff that’s like $19.99 for a 3 month supply?
Yeah—that stuff. Don’t buy it. It’s absolute garbage and will probably give you diarrhea for the next 3 days (not even joking).
Bad whey protein will not only upset your digestive tract, though. It will also make you feel sluggish and lethargic for the next 3-4 hours as your body screams out to you: “Why in god’s name would you give us this junk?”
GNC: The Biggest Scam of All
“GNC: where we charge three times what the competitors charge!”
Again, one of the biggest mistakes that newbies make is they go to GNC—and I can’t blame them, because I did this too.
GNC tends to have a good reputation amongst old people and people who know nothing about bodybuilding. “Oh, dude go to GNC! They have the best whey protein!” shouts the 80 year old man with flabby arms.
GNC whey protein is overpriced, overrated, and completely clueless when it comes to supplements. Do not buy from them.
I cannot tell you how many times I was recommended absolute bullshit by some Indian guy with a thick accent who didn’t even lift. I probably wasted close to $500 there when I first started lifting.
It’s not that their supplements don’t work at all, though. They work just enough to keep newbies (and old people) coming back, but there’s tons of other whey protein brands that are higher quality and that cost less.
You’d be much better off spending your money on a clean bulking diet, than spending it at GNC. Their supplements are overpriced and under dosed.
Beyond GNC, there’s a lot of “high end” supplement chains that grossly overcharge for their products. I won’t name any names, but you probably know what I’m talking about.
The only high end supplement chain that I ever actually liked was Max Muscle (where I worked in college). They have some very expensive, high quality supplements, but most people can’t afford them.
3 Best Whey Protein Brands For Men
Now that you know how to determine good whey protein vs. bad whey protein, let’s talk about the top three whey protein brands on the market.
The quality of a whey protein is determined by four main criteria
- How pure is it? Are there any fillers?
- Are there any toxins or artificial ingredients that will hinder my performance?
- Is it cold processed or heat processed?
That’s basically it. The first one is obvious—are there any fillers? You don’t want to be drinking a whey protein that’s 80% corn starch.
The second is more insidious. As I’ve said before, bad whey protein is one of the WORST foods that kill testosterone. You want the good stuff.
Bad whey protein is filled with testosterone murdering ingredients, that will sap your testosterone levels, and harm your muscle building progress.
The third, and least understood aspect of whey protein, is whether it’s cold processed or heat processed. This is very important.
While heat processing is cost-efficient, it often times denatures the protein, which means it’s hard for your body to digest.
When it comes to whey protein, you want the stuff that’s cold processed. This will cost you more, but it ensures that the whey protein is more bio-available, which basically just means your body will absorb it better.
So, with all of these things in mind, here are the best whey proteins currently on the market right now.
Best Whey Protein for Beginners
I’ve recommended this whey protein before, several times on my blog, because it’s very high quality, very pure, and very cost effective.
It’s the best bang for your buck. It isn’t cheap, but it isn’t too expensive either; and it’s a quality whey protein. It’s pure, there’s no fillers or adulterants, and it’s also easily digested by your body.
It’s also a blend between concentrate and isolate, which is a good thing if you’re trying to bulk up.
Whey protein concentrate is higher in fat than isolate, and they both have their pros and cons. Isolate is easier to digest, but concentrate is better for post workout recovery.
ON Gold Standard mixes the two for, just that: optimum nutrition.
Best Whey Protein Isolate
Remember what I said about whey protein isolate vs. concentrate? Isopure is 100% whey protein isolate, which makes it ideal if you’re trying to slim down but still recover after the gym.
I talk about this more in Body of an Alpha, but the idea is that you want to minimize insulin production if you’re trying to lose weight (AKA have less carbs and more fats/protein).
Whey protein isolate less calories than whey protein concentrate, and it has a higher protein content—both of these are crucial for cutting down while still maintaining muscle mass.
And if you have issues with digestion, whey protein isolate is the best whey (haha, not funny) to go. Digestion issues with whey protein are caused by the fat that comes with it, and since there’s almost zero fat in whey protein isolate, it’s incredibly easy to digest.
In fact, as I’ve stated before, when I was on my dirty bulk, one of the meals I would eat was literally just whey protein and donuts… and while this isn’t pretty, it certainly gets the job done.
You can also buy individual bottles of isopure. There’s a few offers online, but it’s probably best to buy them from your local gym.
Keep in mind it’s not as good a deal as the powder, but it’s more convenient than having to store a giant tub of whey protein, put a scoop in your blender bottle, wash it afterwards, etc.
In my opinion the alpine punch is the best flavor, but they have a pretty wide variety. The blue raspberry and grape are also pretty good—be careful not to accidentally get the “isopure mass,” brand however, unless you’re trying to bulk up.
Cleanest Whey Protein
I’ve been a huge fan of bulk supplements for a while now, due to their low prices and high quality products. In my opinion, their whey protein is the best whey protein on the market. Why?
- It comes from grass fed cows. Studies have shown that whey protein from grass fed cows is higher in micro-nutrients, boosts your immune system, and has a higher omega-3 content.
- Grass fed whey is also way lower in toxins, antibiotics, and hormones.
- It has just one ingredient: 100% whey protein. No artificial sweeteners, toxins, fillers, or ANYTHING.
- The price is extremely competitive, to non-grass-fed whey proteins.
Personally, when I consume grass fed whey vs. “regular” whey, I feel the difference in my mental state and energy almost immediately.
When I switch back to regular whey protein I feel slightly sluggish, and foggy; none of that happens when I consume grass-fed whey protein.
It isn’t enough to make that big of a difference—maybe only 10%. But, when you’re functioning at an extremely high level, you need all of the edge you can get. That 10% might not seem significant, but due to the slight edge principle, it will create significant long-term differences.
The only problem is that it’s unflavored. If you’re willing to put in a little bit of extra work, you can get all of the benefits, and then some, though. Here’s the recipe that I use:
- 5 tbsp of Bulk Supplements Grass Fed Whey
- 2 tbsp of organic cacao powder
- 3 drops of liquid Stevia extract (a safe, natural alternative to sugar)
Blend it all together in a blender bottle, and enjoy. You can even mix it with milk (I recommend raw milk) for some extra calories if you’re trying to bulk up.
Summary: The Best Whey Protein
As I said before, whey protein is perhaps one of the most important supplements when it comes to building muscle. It will sky-rocket your performance and decrease your recovery time, because it gets your body the nutrients that it needs exactly when it needs them.
If you’re trying to get jacked, whey protein is a must—if you’re new to working out, don’t worry about all of the frills and fancy workout routines. Just buy some basic supplements and get started.
Then, as you progress and learn more about nutrition and your body, you can start to experiment with others. Remember, though—supplements are meant to supplement your diet, not replace it. They are not a replacement for real, healthy food.
If you guys have any questions, comments, concerns, or whey protein recommendations, let me know. And, as always, I’ll see you next time.
- High-quality whey protein powders have a taste you can tolerate, pack maximum protein with minimal extras, and work well in beverages and baked goods.
- The Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder is our top pick because it mixes smoothly, tastes great, and only costs three cents per gram of protein.
Protein, a macronutrient that every cell in your body contains, is essential for your health. If you’re an athlete, casual gym-goer, or just looking to lose a few pounds, protein can help you build and retain muscle, too. Taking whey protein is an effective and inexpensive way to add more protein to your diet.
In short, whey is the liquid leftovers that come from the cheese-making process. This liquid is dried into a powder, which is mixed with sweeteners while keeping the calories, carbohydrates, and fats to a minimum.
What is whey protein, why it’s beneficial, and how should you use it?
There are three main types of whey protein:
- Whey protein concentrate (WPC): This is a concentrated protein that keeps more of the nutrients. Most non-isolate proteins are comprised of WPC.
- Whey protein isolate (WPI): This is similar to WPC, but most of the carbohydrates, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins have been removed, so the powder has a higher percentage of protein. Typically, isolate is digested more quickly and, therefore, more agreeable for some. For that reason, most trainers and registered dieticians recommend opting for WPI, though it’s often more expensive.
- Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH): WPH is considered “pre-digested” since it breaks down peptides – the building blocks of proteins – to help with quicker absorption.
In addition to my research and experience in testing whey protein products, we consulted two experts for this guide: Jeb Stuart Johnston, the head strength coach at Brooklyn Strong and a nutrition coach at Stronger U, and Maryann Walsh, a registered dietician and the owner of Walsh Nutrition.
As for how much protein you need to consume, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is about a gram for every 3 pounds of body weight. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, that would equate to 60 grams of protein per day. Experts suggest taking up to twice that can still produce benefits. When it comes to fitness-specific goals, like gaining muscle or losing fat, Johnston recommends ingesting up to one gram per pound of bodyweight. His claim is backed up by a study by the University of Stirling.
“For someone who is trying to gain muscle mass and work out, taking in more protein can help speed up protein synthesis ,” Johnston said. “For a person who is strictly trying to lose weight, taking in more protein can help you to retain the muscle that you already have.”
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Based on Johnston’s recommendations, a 200-pound man would have to consume 200 grams of protein per day. That’s equivalent to 2 pounds of chicken breast. Supplementing with whey protein, he explains, is a convenient way to get more protein without grilling up another piece of bland chicken.
About our expertise
The co-author, Andrew Gutman, is an associate editor at Muscle & Fitness magazine, has competed in a bodybuilding show and two Strongman competitions, and has been lifting weights regularly for over a decade. He’s tried dozens of different whey protein powders. Our guide features powders that have a taste you can stomach, a high protein content, and minimal fat, carbs, and calories. Guides Editor, Les Shu, is a former research chief at Men’s Fitness who oversaw the fact-checking of the magazine’s nutrition and exercise articles.
Here are the best whey protein powders you can buy:
- Best whey protein powder overall: Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder
- Best sugar-free whey protein powder: Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey
- Best-tasting whey protein powder: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder
- Best fat-free whey protein powder: Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein
- Best digestion-friendly whey protein powder: Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder
Updated on 01/10/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated prices, links, and formatting.
Is whey protein consumption safe?
Before you increase your protein intake significantly, you should check with your health-care professional since people with certain maladies, such as calcium deficiencies or low blood pressure, could experience adverse effects from whey protein.
It’s also important to note that protein powders aren’t regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and some companies dilute their protein with useless fillers, which is why certain brands subject themselves to third-party testing as a way to verify the quality of their product. To know if a protein is tested, look for a seal from either NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice. That’s not to say that untested proteins are a subpar product, but it’s good to be aware. You are, after all, putting this stuff into your body. Other than looking for brands that are third-party tested, here are different ways to spot a quality protein:
- Ensure that protein is the first ingredient on the label. “When you look at a label, it’s in descending order so the ingredient in the highest amount will be found at the top of the list,” Walsh said. “Look for labels that have protein at the beginning with fewer ingredients accompanying them.”
- Typically, you want a whey powder that contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving. All of our picks do.
- Try to steer clear of excess sugar. As for artificial sweeteners, research on how they affect our weight and health is mixed.
The best overall whey protein powder
If you’re looking for a powder that mixes easily and tastes great, Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder is one of the best and most affordable options.
The Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder not only tastes good and has 24 grams of protein per serving, but it’s also the most affordable option in our guide at 71.4 cents per serving and 3 cents per gram of protein. Each serving also only has 1.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 120 calories.
There are seven flavors to choose from, including whipped vanilla, molten chocolate, and cinnamon swirl. Cellucor recommends mixing two scoops with five to six ounces of your preferred beverage, but you can adjust the amount of liquid to fit your tastes. The company also suggests mixing the powder with yogurt, oatmeal, and pancakes.
The Wirecutter test panelists liked the Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey because of taste. The reviewer notes that the texture is smooth, thick, and foamy, although some of its testers found it too sweet. BarBend’s reviewer found it mixed easily, tasted great, and was relatively inexpensive. However, he did note that there is a fair amount of sodium (130 mg) and didn’t like that it has sucralose, an artificial sweetener. – James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman
Pros: Great taste, affordable, mixes smoothly, 24 grams of protein per serving, excellent for baking, third-party tested
Cons: 130 mg of sodium per serving, contains artificial sweeteners
The best sugar-free whey protein powder
The Platinum Hydrowhey by Optimum Nutrition may be expensive, but it mixes well and boasts 30 grams of protein per serving with zero grams of sugar.
A single serving of Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey yields 140 calories, 30 grams of protein, one gram of fat, 3 grams of carbs, and no sugar. It’s made of hydrolyzed whey protein, which breaks down the protein into smaller pieces for better absorption and easier digestion.
You can choose from seven flavors: cookies and cream overdrive, chocolate mint, velocity vanilla, chocolate peanut butter, supercharged strawberry, turbo chocolate, and red velvet cake, which was the highest-rated flavor on Bodybuilding.com. I think that turbo chocolate tastes great, too.
There is no sugar in this product, but Optimum Nutrition does use artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and high-fructose corn syrup.
Customers praised Optimum Nutrition for making a protein that mixed smoothly and with virtually anything. The company claims that you can easily mix this protein with just a spoon, and I can confirm that this is true. While this may not sound like a strong selling point, I have forgotten my shaker bottle at home many times and have had to mix my protein with a spoon or knife at work. When I tried this with other brands, I always got clumpy, gross-tasting shakes. – Andrew Gutman
Pros: 30 grams of protein per serving, third-party tested, superb mixability, no sugar
Cons: Contains high-fructose corn syrup
The best-tasting whey protein powder
The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder packs 24 grams of protein into each serving and is one of the better-tasting powders according to experts and buyers.
The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder gets its sweetness from a little bit of sugar (1 gram per serving) and acesulfame potassium, which is an artificial sweetener also known as Ace-K.
Each serving has 120 calories, a gram of fat, three grams of carbs, and most importantly 24 grams of protein. Optimum Nutrition has also curated a number of recipes in which you can use the powder.
The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey is The Wirecutter‘s top pick for whey protein powders. The reviewer found the powder met safety and accuracy criteria, had a pleasant texture, and tasted the best of the 10 powders in her taste test. Her main complaints are that you have to dig the scoop out of the container and the taste is a bit sweet. Several other expert sites also recommend this brand, including BarBend and USA Home Gym.
However, there are numerous complaints on Amazon from users that the formula has changed recently. One person pointed out that the blend of digestive enzymes was replaced by ingredients like salt and sucralose, an artificial sweetener. Another buyer argued that the formula has not changed for double rich chocolate (and the label backs this up). Yet, he does warn against flavors like cake batter, ice cream, and banana. – James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman
Pros: Tastes good, relatively affordable, safe ingredients, third-party tested
Cons: Complaints about the formula changing, contains an artificial sweetener
The best fat-free whey protein powder
The Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein is a great option if you want as much protein packed into each scoop as possible without extra fat, carbs, or calories.
Depending on the flavor you choose, the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein fits up to 22 grams of protein into each 25-gram serving.
It does this with little or no fat or sugar and only 90 calories per serving. The sodium content is also low at 25 mg per serving.
Labdoor independently tests dozens of whey protein powders, and the site recommended the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate because it scored high in Labdoor’s ingredient safety, nutritional value, and product purity tests. The testers found there were 21.9 grams of protein in every 25-gram serving.
Active Territory said this powder provides the best value for his money in his experience. The reviewer notes significant muscle gains after taking 2 or 2.5 scoops per day.
Despite a high approval rating on Amazon from shoppers, there are a few complaints worth mentioning. One reviewer warned buyers to make sure they are getting the whey isolate and not just the whey concentrate. (If you follow our links, you should be fine.) Another buyer complained that the protein she received had different ingredients than what was advertised, so double-check before using. – James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman
Pros: Safe ingredients, excellent product purity, a high concentration of bound protein, fat-free, low in sodium
Cons: Concerns about quality control, contains artificial sweetener, not third-party tested
The best digestion-friendly powder
If you’ve found protein powders leave your stomach feeling queasy, consider the lactose-free Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder.
The Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder is the only lactose-free option on our list but it’s not the only one that uses hydrolyzed isolate protein-the Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey does, too-which is supposed to help with digestion and absorption.
Each serving has 25 grams of protein, less than a gram of fat, 120 calories, and 2 grams of carbs, including less than 1 gram of sugar. There are 13 flavors to choose from, including cinnamon bun, fudge brownie, gourmet chocolate, and chocolate coconut.
Labdoor recommends the Dymatize ISO 100 as one of the best whey protein powders. In its tests, the powder had high scores for nutritional value and product purity, including less than one part per million of six harmful substances. Around 91% of the calories in this powder come from its protein content.
Best Pre-Workout for Women blog found the flavors were sweet, bold, and tasted as advertised. Her favorite is the cookies and cream flavor.
There are a few quality control complaints on Amazon from a few years ago about foreign objects in the powder and broken seals. The complaints are not found in more recent reviews, though. – James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman
Pros: Lactose-free, 91% of calories are from protein, less than a gram of sugar and fat, third-party tested
Cons: Complaints of foreign objects found in the powder, contains an artificial sweetener, 160 mg sodium per serving
What else we considered
Animal Whey: I like Animal because the company doesn’t make gimmicky claims or rely on pseudoscience to sell its products. What you see is what you get, and what you get is 120 calories, one gram of fat, 2 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein per serving. Considering that Animal uses whey protein isolate as its primary protein source, it’s moderately priced and it’s third-party tested. I didn’t include this product, however, because it’s no better than any of the other picks. Compared to Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize or Cellucor, it’s slightly more expensive and isn’t as lauded by fans. It just barely missed the cut.
Pro Jym Protein Powder: A fan favorite – and a favorite of Johnston’s – Pro Jym is comprised of four different proteins: Whey protein isolate, micellar casein, egg albumin, and milk protein isolate. According to the creator, Dr. Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., this extends the rate of digestion for better protein synthesis. It comes in three flavors: chocolate cookie crunch – cookies and cream, and s’mores – and contains 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 24 grams of protein per serving.
Pro Jym missed the mark for two reasons. You pay more for three times the amount of fat and carbs as the Optimun Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey, so it doesn’t fit into our minimum fillers criteria. Also, it’s not a pure whey protein powder, so I didn’t feel comfortable including it.
Performix ioWhey: I personally like this protein powder because it tastes great (my favorite flavor is fruity cereal), it’s easy on my stomach, and there are minimal extras. One serving of Performix ioWhey is 100 calories, zero grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 22 grams of protein.
My major issue is that Performix claims ioWhey is absorbed 36% more efficiently than other brands, which is why their protein per serving is on the low end. That sounds great but since the product isn’t third-party tested, there’s no way to know if this is true or if the company’s selling you less protein per serving. For the price per serving, you’re better off buying the Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize ISO 100 if you’re willing to shell out for a premium protein. – Andrew Gutman
Where to buy whey protein?
When it comes to buying your protein, one convenient ordering option is to purchase it through Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program, since it can save you up to 15%. You’re able to cancel your subscription at any time, too. What’s great about this program is that it automates ordering products that you replenish regularly.
For instance, if you take a serving of protein powder every day and there are 30 servings in a container, you can have a new tub delivered every month without lifting a finger.
Personally, I like to buy my protein from Bodybuilding.com. I usually try a different brand of protein each time I order more, so Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program doesn’t make sense for me, although it’s a smart option for many people. Bodybuilding.com has reliable customer reviews and it routinely offers deals on popular brands. As a bonus, it offers free shipping on orders over $75.
To figure out the cost per serving on your own, take the product’s price and divide it by the number of servings in the container. Since the amount of protein per serving varies by brand, it’s also useful to look at the cost per gram of protein. This is easy to calculate by dividing the cost per serving (as calculated above) by the number of grams of protein per serving. – Andrew Gutman
10 PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS
Labdoor analyzed 81 best-selling protein supplements in the United States. Our analysis quantified protein, fat, sugar, cholesterol, calcium, sodium, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury content and recorded presence/absence data for 63 inactive ingredients.
Our scientists recorded 17 variations of protein sources, featuring the fast-digesting whey varieties (indicated for exercise recovery), protein blends (indicated for meal replacement), soy and casein sources (indicated for sustained protein supplementation), and several forms of plant-based proteins, including hemp seed, pea, and brown rice (typically appropriate for those sensitive to dairy/soy or for those observing a vegan/vegetarian diet).
In a surprising find, over 52% of products recorded measurable amounts of free-form amino acids, which spike protein content in standard laboratory tests but add little nutritional benefit (beyond physiologically appropriate proportions). Asparagine was the most commonly spiked amino acid (15/81 products), followed by alanine (11/81), glycine (8/81), taurine (8/81), and leucine (7/81). Histidine, glutamine, alanine, cysteine, and taurine were the highest-risk amino acids, recording the most severe spikes in our batch analysis, respectively.
All protein powders tested in this batch passed our heavy metals screens for arsenic, lead, and cadmium (below 1 part per million). However, controversial artificial sweeteners, including Aspartame and Acesulfame Potassium, preservatives (Benzoic Acid), and artificial colors (FD&C Yellow 5, FD&C Blue 1, and FD&C Red 40) were commonly found in tested protein supplements.
38 of 81 products recorded measurable amounts of free amino acids, with 10 products recording more than 3% of their claimed protein content by way of spiked amino acids.
These products’ protein content ranged from -83.3% to +55.5% vs. their stated Supplement Facts claims, with the average product deviating off its claim by 12.7%. 16 products missed their protein content claims by at least 15%, while the 5 worst offenders recorded an absolute variance of at least 40%.
From a formulation standpoint, protein powders and mass gainers recorded relatively minor deviations in protein content, averaging label claim variances of -7.8% and +0.7%, respectively. Ready-To-Drink (RTD) products averaged 10.6% less protein than claimed.
38/81 (46.9%) products recorded measurable amounts of free amino acids, with 10 products recording more than 3% of their protein content from unbound protein. 3 products recorded more than 10% of their claimed protein content from free amino acids. Worst offender: 4 Dimension Nutrition Whey Phase (nearly 64% of its measured protein content came from unbound protein).
Fat and sugar content generally corresponded closely to label claims, with the average product recording an additional 0.2g of fat and 0.1g of sugar. Calcium content varied widely, from -1103.8mg to + 1205.3 vs. the products’ stated label claims. Actual cholesterol content generally fell below label claims, with the average product recording 49.6% less cholesterol than claimed.
Actual sodium content was found to be 70.4% higher on average vs. the products’ Supplement Facts label claims. RTD (ready-to-drink) formulations (11 tested) were the most likely to record severe spikes, averaging 149.2% more sodium than claimed. Mass gainers (6 tested) exceeded their label claims for sodium by an average of 111.2%. Protein powders also recorded more sodium than claimed (although the spike was significantly less severe than mass gainers and RTD’s), with the average product exceeding its claim for sodium by 50.6%. Worst offender: Cytosport’s Muscle Milk RTD (358.7% over its claims). Sodium’s bloating effects could be the cause for consistent manufacturer deviations here – protein brands sell quick muscle/size gains, and rapid water retention can fake that look quickly.
All eighty one protein products tested in this batch passed heavy metals screens for arsenic, and lead, cadmium (below 1 part per million).
Labdoor performed audits on the heavy metals content of each product in this category, requiring analysis by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Bulk samples of each product passed the six mineral assays, indicating presence of under 1PPM (part per million) of arsenic, lead, and cadmium compounds.
RTD (Ready-To-Drink) products ranked significantly worse than their powdered forms due to increased fat, sodium, and preservative content.
Overall, products received between 15 – 100% of their calories from protein content (Mean = 67%, Standard Deviation = 20%). Sodium content was a major concern, with the average product containing 342.6mg of the mineral. 18 of the 81 products were major sources of vitamin and mineral content in addition to their protein content.
Products in the “Gainer” category (indicated for mass gain) varied widely in the source of their calorie content, ranging from 2.5g – 20.2g of total fat in the six products.
63 inactive ingredients and 147 active ingredients were identified in at least one protein supplement analyzed.
While all 81 products passed Labdoor’s manufacturing purity assays for heavy metals content, we did identify other major ingredients of concern.
FD&C Yellow 5, found in Cytosport Whey Isolate Protein Drink, is a legal but highly controversial ingredient linked to hyperactivity in children and some forms of cancer in all humans.
Acesulfame Potassium, found in 61.2% of products in this category, is another potentially harmful ingredient. Current scientific research, largely limited to rodent testing, has identified negative (but inconclusive) results such as prenatal development effects and reduced cognitive function.
Other ingredients of concern include artificial colors like FD&C Blue 1 and FD&C Red 40, preservatives such as Sodium Benzoate, and the vague “Natural Flavors” and “Artificial Flavors”, which were recorded in nearly 84% of products in this category.
17 forms of protein were utilized in these 81 products, lead by whey protein isolate (54/81) and whey protein concentrate (42/81).
There is good scientific evidence to suggest that whey protein, the major active ingredient in 63 of the 81 products tested, is effective when used to support muscle mass gains and overall weight loss (as an appetite suppressant). Research studies also suggest that the digestion rate of protein sources affects the uptake of amino acids.
In a surprising finding, MuscleTech NITRO-TECH contained over 1000mg of taurine, or more than 2x the taurine content in a Red Bull. In known clinical trials, Taurine content of 1000-9000mg has been analyzed for energy; early data is positive but inconclusive.
Note: This protein report features a fully updated protein content assessment. Protein content is typically quantified by measuring levels of total nitrogen, which is supplied by bound protein, individual amino acids, and other nitrogenous substances typically found in protein supplements, including creatine.
Labdoor’s first protein analysis quantified protein by total nitrogen content via an analytical technique called the Kjeldahl method. The primary shortcoming of this method, which has remained an industry standard, is its failure to account for sources of non-protein nitrogen (NPN), an umbrella term referring to free amino acids, creatine, choline, and other nitrogenous substances. A second drawback of determining protein content on the basis of total nitrogen is the need of a conversion factor representative of an amino acid’s contribution of nitrogen by mass percentage. Early findings determined that the average amino acid contains approximately 16% nitrogen by weight, leading to the use of 6.25 (1/0.16) as the conversion factor. While this estimation is close, it is not entirely accurate; individual amino acids differ in their nitrogen content.
Our new protein calculations account for these issues. Labdoor’s True Protein calculation uses the Kjeldahl analysis as the starting point for possible protein content. Furthermore, levels of all free amino acids were quantified; their expected contribution to total protein was corrected by using factors representative of the individual amino acids’ nitrogen content. Protein content contributed by creatine was also calculated (correcting for its nitrogen content) in all products claiming creatine. These values–representing sources of non-protein nitrogen–were subtracted from the Kjeldahl score to determine the total, bound protein content in every tested product, assuming it did not claim hydrolyzed sources of protein. Our updated rankings reflect this methodology. We believe that this is the most accurate representation of a supplement’s true, usable protein content.
*Significant is defined as “total free amino acids exceeds 2.5% of total sample mass.” Moderate is defined as “total free amino acids exceeds 0.25% of total sample mass.” There are no set standards for what constitutes “amino acid spiking.” Labdoor set the following standards to allow for small manufacturing variances (e.g. different protein sources) while highlighting products where the free amino acid content is unlikely to be the result of such variances.
Note #2: For the sake of comparison, Labdoor tried utilizing a separate methodology to calculate bound protein content. Total protein was calculated by quantifying levels of all 20 amino acids. Separately, levels of free amino acids were quantified. Final (bound) protein content was calculated by subtracting free amino acid content from total amino acid content. This analysis yielded very small quantities. We suspect that this method is an inadequate representation of true protein content for the following reason: The acid needed to completely digest protein (break a bound protein to its constituent amino acids), may also sufficiently denature individual amino acids to the point of dysfunction. That is, true levels of individual amino acids are not calculated accurately and levels of bound protein cannot be calculated realistically.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey: User Reviews
When it comes to whey proteins, preference can be highly personal. There is no “best” protein powder—it depends on your goals, how you like to mix it, and what flavors you like.
That said, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey has long been one of our biggest sellers. The feedback we get again and again is simple: It’s a well-made product at a fair price that is easily digested. Check out the reviews to decide if Gold Standard is the whey protein for you.
Dave: Double Rich Chocolate
I tried the double rich chocolate flavor. I enjoy the taste of chocolate, especially in the form of chocolate milk. This whey protein was not as good as chocolate milk, but for a chocolate whey protein it did taste pretty good and was quite satisfying.
This whey protein is so good I looked forward to drinking it as a form of dessert. Therefore, flavor wise, I award Gold Standard by Optimum Nutrition a score of 7.5/10.
Although I blended this whey protein, rather than using a shaker, I only did so for a few short seconds and it was good to go. Most other protein powders I’ve tried have taken longer. Therefore, mixability/texture-wise, I award Gold Standard whey a score of 8/10.
As with any protein supplement review, it is difficult to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the product. The reason is, unlike creatine and pre-workout amplifiers there is no immediately noticeable effect.
From my point of view, the purpose of protein is to either get extra calories in your diet or to raise your protein intake. Also, protein supplementation may be used in place of an unhealthy meal, which would be detrimental to an individual seeking an improved physique.
Since I began working out, protein shakes have been a part of my daily diet. The convenience of a protein shake is too good not to take advantage of.
I have failed to find an Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein that didn’t taste good; I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every flavor. Also, the flavors I have tried are; vanilla, chocolate, and cookies and cream.
Furthermore, this whey protein has a high protein content per scoop. More importantly, it has ingredients that blow away most of the other competition, with whey protein isolate high on the list. Most notably, this whey protein has low fat, low sugar, and high protein per scoop. And, like most whey protein powders, it’s also low in lactose. (It’s not completely lactose-free though, so if you’re allergic it could still cause problems.)
In light of all of this, I award Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein an overall score of 9/10.
Gold Standard 100% Whey, 5 Lbs. 24g of Whey Protein with Amino Acids for Muscle Recovery and Growth* GO NOW
Steven: Caramel Toffee Fudge and Mocha Cappuccino
The flavors of Gold Standard protein powder I was given to review are called caramel toffee fudge and mocha cappuccino.
For those who are addicted to gourmet coffees from places such as Seattle Coffeehouse or Starbucks, these flavors will give you the caffeine and flavor without all the sugary ingredients. The following nutritional information has been based on a 32-gram scoop serving: 24 grams of protein, 5.5 grams of BCAAs, 4 grams of glutamine. Each pound provides 14 servings.
I would say the taste of these was quite good as they were not too rich but also not too bitter. It was a nice change from all the supplements that only come in chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. I like mixing the Mocha Cappuccino flavor with chocolate casein protein powder to neutralize the taste of the casein supplement.
Furthermore, my lifting experience was also positive. (If you do not exercise, there is not much point in consuming protein.) I feel like it helped me do more repetitions in the gym.
Also, this supplement has a wide variety of flavors, which is useful for one who wishes to keep things simple and stick to this stuff as the main source of protein. The ones I like the best are banana cream, chocolate malt, double rich chocolate, extreme milk chocolate, mocha cappuccino, rocky road, and strawberry banana. If you consume this product often, buy other flavors so that you do not get sick of the same flavor over and over again.
Based on the nutrition facts as well, I would recommend that this product be rated a 9 out of 10.
Joel: Cookies and Cream
Gold Standard is one of the most popular whey protein powders on the market. This protein is a staple for most people. Unlike other supplements, there are no side effects, unless you are allergic to lactose.
Compared to other top protein powders, the 100% Whey Protein line is solid except for the cookies and cream flavor which is absolutely horrid. A comparable product would be Dymatize Elite Whey Protein.
Overall, this is a low price for a decent protein product, just don’t get cookies and cream.
Clayton: Double Rich Chocolate
Yield refers to the percentage of protein per serving. With Gold Standard, 75 percent of total mass is protein. This is an excellent yield. This of course means that 25 percent of the total mass is not protein.
As with any protein powder, some filler must be present. Good quality products are filtered and manufactured to minimize filler. Fillers are non-protein ingredients like cocoa, fats, or carbs. The only fillers in Optimum Nutrition protein powder are: cocoa, artificial flavor, lecithin, and acesulfame potassium (along with the small amounts of fat and carbs naturally present in the whey). Given the high yield of the product, filler constitutes a negligible percentage of the product’s overall mass.
Amino Acid Profile
The amino acid profile of a protein powder is also important to consider. Amino acids will determine how “complete” or “incomplete” a protein is, because proteins are made of combinations of amino acids.
Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey has all 20 amino acids needed for complete protein formation, including the eight essential amino acids your body can’t make on its own. The BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) to EAA (essential amino acids) ratio is excellent.
Types of Whey in the Formula
Whey protein can come in several forms. These forms can include:
- Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)
- Ion Exchange Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
- Cross Flow Micro-filtered Whey Protein Isolate (CFM)
- Hydrolyzed Whey Peptide (HWP)
These types of protein are distinguished by their differing molecule size, and subsequent digestibility in the gut. The smaller the molecule size, the easier the protein is digested. Also, whey protein isolate has a higher BV (biological value) rating than whey protein concentrate. This would lead some to conclude that whey protein concentrate is “filler” or “inferior” because its biological value is lower than isolate. But, a diet high in protein, regardless of whether it’s from concentrate or isolate, will yield similar results.
Having said that, when we examine the ingredients of Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Whey Protein we find a combination of all the proteins listed above. This means that Optimum has “covered all the bases” when it comes to whey protein!
It is good to have variations, even among like proteins, since each type has slightly different benefits.
Gold Standard is the best-tasting chocolate protein I have ever used. It is not chalky, and it is very appetizing when mixed with a beverage like milk or water. A simple recipe idea that’s low in carbs is mixing skim milk, ice cubes, and two servings of whey in your blender. If you like, you could also add some fruit like peaches or strawberries. Low calories do not necessarily mean low taste!
Ease of Use
Ease of use for me means blendability and digestibility. As mentioned, Gold Standard goes well with a blender, but a blender is not required. The whey mixes easily in a shaker bottle or in a cup with a spoon.
Gold Standard is very easy to mix, does not stick to the side of your blender, and you do not end up with clumps.
This is one of the most “user friendly” products I have used. Regarding digestibility, 100% Optimum Whey is very agreeable. Some protein powders make you feel bloated and full as a side effect. Often the powders are so crudely manufactured and the products so raw, that the gut has difficulty with absorption. Not so with 100% Whey. When mixed with a beverage, it is light, flavorful, and doesn’t have these side effects.
It is, therefore, very easy to use. Simply take one serving, put into liquid, shake, and enjoy!
While doing heavy lifting and following a disciplined diet during a gaining period, I supplemented with Optimum Nutrition whey protein. I felt it helped me to gain lean mass, while my body-fat percentage remained the same.
During the leaning-up period, this protein powder is also very useful. Its high concentration of amino acids seemed to prevent symptoms associated with overtraining. For every serving there are 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, 22 grams of protein, and only 2 grams of carbohydrate. Thus, its low caloric content is ideal for a calorie-reduced diet.
Accordingly, I use Gold Standard as my protein source year round. If your dietary requirements dictate 40-45 grams of protein per meal, two scoops of 100% Whey will deliver.
So all of this sounds great, you say. But, what’s the catch? This product can’t possibly work as well as you say, cost this little, and be free of side effects. Well, folks, it is! Optimum makes an excellent product.
Optimum Nutrition has an awesome yield, a good BCAA to EAA ratio, it tastes great, mixes well, and delivers on its ability to help add mass. What more could someone want in a protein supplement? And it’s not overpriced to pay for a huge advertising budget.
In my view, 100% Whey is not just a good deal for a good product, but a great deal for a great product!
For anyone wanting to up their protein intake and add size, while not putting their wallet on a diet, get some Gold Standard today! You will be glad you did!
- “Your Expert Guide To Whey Protein” explains everything you need to know about taking whey.
- “4 Whey Wonders” gives tips on how to make awesome whey protein muffins and pancakes.
Best Whey Protein Powders to Help Boost Muscle Strength
These are as follows:
- Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) The percentage of protein available in WPC can vary from 30 to 90 percent; it depends on how concentrated it is. WPC also typically contains low levels of carbohydrates and fat.
- Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) WPIs contain a higher percentage of protein than WPCs. Indeed, they are almost always at least 90 percent protein. This is because they’ve been further processed and thus have no fat or lactose.
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH) WPH is a form of whey protein that has already experienced partial hydrolysis, a process needed for the body to absorb protein. Therefore, it’s considered “pre-digested” and is absorbed the fastest.
Generally speaking, whey protein concentrate is the most popular (and the least expensive) option. It also retains the largest percentage of beneficial nutrients found in the protein. But some people have an easier time tolerating whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolysate. Those formulas are also ideal if you’re trying to cut down on carbs and/or fat.
How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day, and When Should You Increase Your Intake?
According to both the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the American College of Sports Medicine, the average adult requires .8 grams (g) of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight on a daily basis. Adults who workout moderately or participate in recreational sports should increase their protein intake to 1.1 and 1.4 g per kg of body weight per day. Competitive athletes should have between 1.2 and 1.4 g per kg of body weight per day. And individuals involved in ultra-endurance sports or athletes aiming to build muscle mass should have between 1.5 and 2 g per kg of body weight per day. In other words, if you weigh 75 kg, or 165 pounds, and you’re looking to bulk up, you would want to aim for 150 g of protein per day.
A Quick Word of Caution Before Picking a Whey Protein
Before diving into any supplement, it’s critical to recognize that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not required to review the effectiveness or safety of supplements before they hit the market. Rather, it’s up to the distributor and manufacturer of the supplement to ensure that there are no impurities and that their packaging is accurately labeled (per Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines). But the FDA can take a product off the market if it’s discovered to be unsafe or if its claims are misleading.
To be a savvy and informed shopper, the FDA recommends consulting government and/or non-commercial sites such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Institute of Health (NIH) prior to making your purchase. Even better, address any questions and concerns with your healthcare provider. Be wary if a product makes seemingly too-good-to-be-true claims, like having zero side effects. Moreover, all supplement labels are required to include both the name and location of either the distributor or manufacturer. You can reach out directly if you want more information about their product. And if you do experience a potential problem, you can certainly report it to the FDA.
Additional Factors to Consider When Picking a Whey Protein
- Flavor Flavor is a important for the simple reason that you don’t want to feel like you’re choking down a protein shake daily. Fortunately, basic options like chocolate and vanilla are usually a safe bet. Less traditional flavors are a little more risky. If you’re experimenting, we recommend buying a small container to start.
- Mixability Sadly, not all supplements mix well. You want to choose a brand that dissolves quickly and isn’t prone to clumping. This will make for a far more enjoyable drinking experience.
- Container Size Most protein supplements are available in 1 pound (lb), 2 lb, 5 lb or 10 lb containers. Although the larger sizes require additional storage or counter space, it’s generally more cost effective if you buy in bulk. Indeed, a 5 lb package is often cheaper than purchasing five separate 1 lb containers.
Here are our top picks for whey protein supplements.
What Is Whey Protein? The Popular Protein Supplement Explained
If you go to gym to lift weights, do cardio or both, or you regularly pound or pedal the pavement for your fitness fix, eating lots of protein will help rebuild and repair the damage done to your muscles for a stronger, leaner body. A quick and easy way to increase your intake is a protein shake made with whey powder. So if you want to build a bigger, stronger and leaner physique, consider investing in a tub of high-quality whey protein powder, like the ones we recommend below, to give your muscles all they need to grow.
What is whey protein?
Whey is a by-product of the cheese-making process – the liquid left over once the milk has been curdled and strained. In its powder form, it’s one of the most popular sports nutrition products in the world because of its availability, cost and effectiveness. Once consumed whey is rapidly digested and absorbed by your digestive system so it gets into your bloodstream and then your muscles very quickly, which is beneficial after training when you need to initiate the recovery process. Whey comes in four forms, all of which are abundant in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), the crucial elements in rebuilding and repairing the muscular damage caused by working out.
Why do I need whey protein?
If you are following any sort of exercise programme, whether it’s based around weights, cardio or endurance training, then you may benefit from more protein than the UK government’s current recommendation of 55g per day. Whey offers a quick and easy way to increase your daily intake, especially after your training session when you might not be inclined to cook and eat a full meal. But it’s important to remember the clue is in the name of supplements – they are designed to fill in the nutritional gaps of a complete and varied diet. Getting the majority of your daily dietary protein from red and white meat and fish is the way to go, because you’ll also consume the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients vital to optimal health.
What are the different forms?
Whey protein powder comes in four forms: concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate and native.
Concentrate whey protein is typically lower in fat than other forms and has higher levels of carbohydrates from lactose, the type of sugar found in milk products, and bioactive compounds. The protein content by weight can be anywhere between 30% to 90%.
Isolate whey protein is processed to remove fat and lactose, but is also lower in health-boosting bioactive compounds. The protein content by weight is at least 90% .
Hydrolysate whey protein is pre-digested and partially hydrolysed, which means water is added during the production process to break down the constituent compounds to make them easier for the body to digest, but this increases the cost.
Native whey protein is the purest form because it is extracted directly from skimmed milk, rather than being a by-product of the cheese production process like concentrate and isolate. It is very low in fat, lactose and bioactive compounds and the protein content by weight is typically 95% or higher.
How much do I need?
Most serving suggestions are around 30g, and with good reason. Research suggests this is the ideal amount to repair the damage done through training and initiate muscle protein synthesis – the process by which new muscle tissue is laid down. Studies also show that a diet high in protein can help reduce body fat levels, so you’ll not only get bigger and stronger, but leaner too.
When do I take it?
After a workout is the most obvious time to consume whey protein powder because that’s when your muscles need it most. Drinking a shake of whey mixed with cold water or milk within 30 minutes of finishing your training session will initiate the recovery process by flooding your bloodstream with amino acids, which are quickly shuttled into your muscle cells where they can be laid down as new muscle tissue.
You can also take whey protein at other times: blend a scoop of your favourite flavour with an egg and a banana for some high-protein breakfast or dessert pancakes, for example. It’s especially useful to have to hand to mix with water when you’re out and about and don’t have time to eat a proper protein-rich meal.
The Best Whey Protein Powders
Myprotein Pro THE Whey+
The whey in this powder is a high-quality mix of concentrate, isolate and hydrolysed whey, and each 32g serving contains 26g of protein. Myprotein’s beadlet tech also promises phased absorption of the BCAAs in the powder to best promote muscle growth. The chocolate brownie flavour is a winner, especially if you mix it with milk for an especially rich post-workout treat.
Buy from Myprotein | £35.99 for 960g
SiS Advanced Isolate+
This powder is made purely from whey isolate and packs 31g of protein into a 40g serving. There are 9g of BCAAs, including 5g of leucine, and the carb count is low at 1.7g per serving, 0.6g of which are sugars.
Buy from SiS | £45 for 1kg
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey
This is a popular option with gym-goers, with an easy-mix blend of hydrolysed whey, whey isolate and whey concentrate providing the 24g of protein in each serving. There’s a wide range of flavours although we reckon it’s hard to look past double rich chocolate, and ON’s Gold Standard Whey is often reduced in annual sales like Black Friday, so keep your eyes peeled and you might be able to stock up for up to 60% less.
Buy on Amazon | £43.98 for 2.27kg
Maximuscle Max Whey
Each 30g serving of this powder contains 23.5g of protein, which is sourced from a mix of whey concentrate and isolate, although heavily skewed towards the former – only 10% is from isolate. So far, so standard, but Maxinutrition has mixed things up a little by packing 7g of BCAAs into the powder as opposed to the usual 5g, with more than 3g of leucine.
Flavour-wise there’s the usual chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, but also a more exciting banoffee option, which is naturally the one we opted to test. We were impressed by the flavour but less so by the texture – the drink remained a little lumpy even after a vigorous shaking.
Buy from Maxinutrition | £20 for 480g
Myprotein Clear Whey Isolate
Although whey protein now comes in more flavours than ever before, thick vanilla, chocolate and strawberry shakes still dominate – hardly ideal for refuelling after all-out workouts on hot days. On those days you’ll be better off with the refreshing shake this protein powder makes. The flavours available are joyfully offbeat with mojito, peach tea, and our favourite, rainbow candy, and the quality isn’t compromised with 20g of hydrolysed whey isolate protein in a 25g serving.
Buy from Myprotein | £19.99 for 500g
Supreme Nutrition Diet Whey
Alongside 23.4g of protein, each 30g serving of this powder packs in a host of extra ingredients, including green tea extract and acetyl L-carnitine, all designed to help you burn that little bit more fat. Sucralose is used to provide sweetness, with sugars kept to 1.5g per serving, and there are only 123 calories. It comes in three flavours: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberries and cream. Not the most imaginative trio, but we found the strawberries and cream flavour pleasant enough, though the shake was a little lumpy even after rigorous attempts to mix it.
Buy from Supreme Nutrition | £34 for 1kg
Whether you’re an avid gym junkie or not, you’re probably familiar with protein shakes. No longer reserved for the likes of professional bodybuilders or athletes, protein powder has recently gained mainstream popularity – and for good reason. No matter your gender or fitness goals, everyone should aim to consume enough protein for optimal health and wellbeing.
Although the benefits of getting sufficient protein are plenty, there are also some common misconceptions which, unfortunately, may deter women in particular from supplementing with protein. Some women may wonder, “Does drinking protein shakes help build muscle for women? And to what extent?” Read ahead for the answer to this question, as we detail the benefits of protein and bust some popular myths below.
What is protein powder?
Whey and milk-based protein powder is a result of the cheese-making process – which essentially takes the most nutritious part of milk, and removes the carbohydrates and fats. This powdered form of protein sourced from soy, pea, hemp or dairy is an essential supplement for women looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle and boost your protein intake to help with fitness goals, dietary requirements or managing a healthy immune system.
Does drinking protein shakes help build muscle?
Whey protein contains stacks of amino acids, which assists in the process of building muscles. During athletic activity, muscle fibres break down, and a quality protein powder such as Happy Way’s whey protein range can help repair that damage, whilst simultaneously helping you to recover faster, allowing for easier workout sessions (and post-workout life!). Sounds like a win-win to us.
If you’re looking to lean down, there’s more good news – multiple studies have found that when supplementing with whey protein and exercising, those trying to lose weight have better results, with more lean muscle and less body fat. Furthermore, their metabolism is improved too – meaning more calories burned per day when compared to those who didn’t exercise or supplement.
It’s important to note that consuming protein shakes alone will not reap results such as weight loss or a more toned appearance – this will only happen in conjunction with exercise and a balanced diet.
What type of protein powder is best?
There is a huge variety of protein powder available, and many are targeted specifically for women. At Happy Way, we are proud to offer the highest quality whey protein, which is arguably the best and most popular all-rounder. The beauty of whey is that once consumed, it’s quickly digested and absorbed, allowing it to reach into the bloodstream and muscles incredibly efficiently. This is beneficial post-training to initiate the recovery process.
Happy Way also has delicious hemp and vegan protein powders. With low calories, high vitamins and plenty of options to choose from, you can find your ideal protein supplement, depending on your personal preferences, health needs and, of course, taste. Happy Way protein is made with tons of additional health-boosting goodies, including premium raw, ancient and organic superfood supplements, mixed with whey and vegan protein powders. Find out more about how to choose the best protein powder for you.
What are the other benefits?
Apart from a resounding ‘yes’ in response to the question, “Does drinking protein shakes help build muscle?” specifically lean muscles, there are plenty of additional benefits of protein powder. In general, protein helps refuel and regenerate muscles after a workout, improve athletic performance, and maintain overall health. For women specifically, getting the necessary protein is also essential for growing and maintaining healthy and strong nails and hair, since these are largely made up of the same compound.
The benefits don’t stop there. Although many women shy away from supplementing with protein for fear of looking ‘manly’ or bulky, it’s actually a great way to get into shape and offers a rather holistic approach to health and wellness. Happy Way protein powder is superb for weight management, as it aids in weight loss via natural hunger control (making you feel fuller for longer), and stabilises blood sugar levels, which helps with reducing sweet cravings.
How much protein do I really need?
The truth is, those bodybuilding physiques that spring to mind for many women when they are considering whether to take protein powder, are shaped not by protein powder itself, but through hours of specific and intense training in the gym daily, a super restrictive diet, and often other supplements. Unlike men, most women do not have the same level of hormones – specifically testosterone levels – that are needed for this kind of bulky, hyper-muscly look, so there’s no need to worry that you’ll resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger.
When it comes to protein powder serving sizes, it really varies depending on the individual and their activity level, so it’s best to experiment with portions until you find the size that suits you best. As a general guide, if you’re trying to lose a few kilos, take a 20-30g serving. If your priority is on building lean muscles, use 35g or more per serving.
If you don’t have the time or energy to get your protein from meal-prepping a week’s worth of chicken breast, eggs and peas, protein powder offers a convenient means of getting the necessary protein into your diet. Women are more at risk of developing protein deficiencies, so keep in mind the recommended amount is roughly 1g/kg body weight per day of protein in your diet. Find out how much protein should I have for losing weight, gaining muscle or maintaining your current physique.
When should I drink protein shakes?
Protein powder has benefits both pre and post-workout and works terrifically as a filling, convenient and healthy snack, ideal for women with busy lifestyles. Although its good to have a naturally protein-rich diet, protein shakes are great in that they increase the protein you consume, without adding the extra carbohydrates and fat that are often present with food including meat, fish, soy, eggs, beans, and legumes.
Protein shakes are great in the morning as a quick liquid meal that’s easy to digest. As a pre-workout snack, if consumed around 45 minutes prior to exercise, it can boost energy levels, helping you go harder in the gym for longer. After a workout within 30 minutes, drinking a shake will provide needed amino acids to muscles, ensuring for quicker muscle recovery.
Hopefully, this answers the question, “Does drinking protein shakes help build muscle for women?”. Now you can see that in one full scoop of quality protein powder from Happy Way, you too can grow lean muscles, assist in functioning and help with your overall wellbeing.