So, what do we reckon hits the spot when it comes to protein supplements?
Whey’s biological components include lactoferrin, beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide (a casein peptide) and immunoglobulins. They demonstrate immune-enhancing properties, but what whey protein is most known for is muscle-building.
This is because it is an exceptionally pure source of protein. Whey protein isolate products can contain 90 and more grams of protein per 100g of product. Any bodybuilder or athlete, they make an attractive proposition. Protein is the building block of muscle, and anyone who is serious and changing their body shape needs to ensure their diet contains a decent amount of protein. The recommendations, in general, are 1 g of protein per pound of body weight, so a 200lb guy who is following a heavy lifting plan might need upwards of 200g of protein a day.
Get it from your food, then, you say. And that is a valid point. Anyone who is lifting stuff in the gym needs a decent diet that contains plenty of protein – good sources of protein too, such as meat, fish, eggs and good old cottage cheese. But even so, you might still struggle to ram your 200g or so in. Whey protein is stacked with protein, it is easy to digest and bioavailable.
Many bodybuilders like whey protein as a post-workout shake. You can chug down the liquid and get the protein your muscles need for recovery quickly and easily. Protein shakes are also good for breakfast skippers. You might not be able to stomach an omelet and oatmeal first thing, but a whey protein shake isn’t too offensive.
We took a look at some of the most popular and high quality whey proteins. Whey to go, right?
Top 10 Whey Protein Powders Review
1. Myprotein Impact Whey ISOLATE
This is one of the purest whey proteins on the market. Its content is made up of 90 percent protein and a mere 1 percent fat. The product has been ranked Grade A by the independent tester Labdoor for its quality and value. It supplies your body with the nine essential amino acids, vital for performance and then recovery when you are working out.
Per serving of the product, you will ingest 22g of protein. The nutritional supplement will not add that much in the way of additional calories to your diet, thanks to its low-fat content. The carbohydrate count per serving is less than 1g too – perfect for helping you stick to strict macronutrient numbers.
Whey Protein can be chosen from different flavors from Strawberry Cream, Chocolate Smooth, Salted Caramel, or Rocky Road. The product is fast-absorbing, and the manufacturers recommend you take it thirty to sixty minutes before working out. You can add it to water or milk (bear in mind that if you add it to milk, you will push up the carb content), mix it up into a smoothie, or create some recipes with it. Suggestions include protein bars or frozen yogurt lollies.
2. Transparent Labs Protein Series 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate
We’re big fans of grass-fed whey protein. Why? Because we like happy cows! Cows that are fed on grass are eating their natural diet. They also have time and space to roam about – again, this is their natural behavior. Grass-fed meat and dairy are thought to be healthier than food that comes from grain-fed cows because it is higher in Omega-3s.
It also contains more antioxidants, conjugated linoleic acid, trace minerals and vitamins. The added bonus is what it doesn’t include – such as the antibiotics and hormones that are commonly given to animals in a grain-fed environment.
Transparent Labs Protein Series 100% Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate is made from the milk of New Zealand cows, and it also uses a minimum of artificial flavorings and other ingredients. The sweetener used is the sugar replacement de jour – stevia. If you are keen on keeping your diet as natural as possible, then this whey protein powder is a fantastic choice.
It also happens to provide a whopping 28g of protein per serving, and a has a very low fat and carbohydrate content, making it quick and easy to digest. It is more expensive than other whey protein products, but we recommend you prioritize the money you spend on your diet as it’s a terrific investment in your future health.
3. NowFoods Whey Isolate
Whey protein powder has naturally occurring Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), an essential when it comes to seeing improvements in strength and body composition.
Whey protein is also the nutritional supplement of choice for many bodybuilders because of its biological value – the essential amino acid content is better than any other source of protein, including beef, milk, casein and soy. It is micro-filtered and mixes easily. As an additional bonus, the product doesn’t contain aspartame. WholeFoods Magazine named this product as award winner.
This particular whey protein powder is unflavored so you will need to add something to make it more palatable. (Unless you are seriously hardcore.) If you have no problems with milk, mix it with skimmed milk, some cocoa powder and a spoonful of honey.
Use almond or rice milk if you have problems tolerating dairy milk. Another idea is to turn it into a smoothie using fat-free Greek yogurt, a banana and peanut butter for an all-in-one meal that contains a healthy mix of the macronutrients.
4. Dymatize ISO-100
ISO-100 comes with a massive 5.7g of branched-chain amino acids with every serving, including 2.7g of the all-important leucine. Expect great results from such a robust product which will support the promotion of muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth).
The whey protein powder comes in seven flavors – gourmet vanilla, gourmet chocolate, cookies and cream, strawberry, fudge brownie, smooth banana and birthday cake. We haven’t tasted that one so can’t confirm what actual birthday cake it is – y’know, there are a lot of birthday cake preferences out there. Safe to assume, perhaps, that it doesn’t taste like a fruit cake?
Dymatize claims its product is the world’s best-selling isolate supplement. It is a combination of hydrolyzed whey protein isolate and whey protein isolate. Bodybuilding.com awarded it the isolated protein of the year four years in a row – 2013-2016, and it’s also the best-selling isolate protein in certain online stores.
The product holds an informed choice certificate. This means the supplement has been tested for banned substances by the anti-doping lab, LGC. Informed choice certification also ensures all products have been made to high-quality standards and are safer for athletes and others to use. You can take this product one to two times a day. Before or after workouts might be the most effective time.
5. Bulk Powders Pure Whey Isolate 97
Pure Whey Isolate 97 boasts a HUGE amount of protein per 100g – some 97g to be exact. It is made from fresh dairy whey which is then isolated and spray-dried. Some 99 percent of its calories come from protein, and each serving has no carbohydrates and less than 0.1g of fat. When it comes to protein, you don’t get purer than this, as a serving offers you a staggering 29g of protein.
Pure Whey Isolate 97 is made of both beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin fractions. You what? Beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin are some of the biological components of whey, and they can show a range of immune-enhancing benefits. What’s more, this nutritional supplement offers 23g of BCAAs per 100g. The serving size is 30g, so you’ll be ingesting 6.9g of BCAAs each time, 12 percent of which will be the BCAAs superhero ingredient, leucine. Pure Whey Isolate 97 is lactose-free too.
This is a brilliant choice if you want to add more protein to your diet without upping your carbohydrate or fat intake. Whey protein is digested quickly and easily, and it can help you with growing your muscle mass and your performance in the gym. Reviewers report that it does foam up so you might want to pre-mix it beforehand for consumption after your training session.
6. JYM Pro Jym
Pro JYM comes from the nutritional line run by Jim Stoppani, a famous name in the world of health and fitness. Stoppani promotes various workout programs, which are accompanied by dietary advice and – guess what? Nutritional supplement recommendations. Well, you would do that, wouldn’t you?
Pro JYM is a protein blend – whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate, egg albumen and micellar casein. Each scoop contains 24g of protein, the bulk of which comes from the whey protein isolate. Unlike many of the other manufacturers who argue pure whey protein is best, Stoppani makes the converse argument. To truly maximize growth, he says, you need more than whey, and a precise blend is best. Because whey protein digests so quickly, it can only boost muscle protein synthesis for a short period of time. If you add medium and slow-digesting proteins to whey, then you elevate muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth) over a longer duration.
Pro JYM has a higher calorie, carbohydrate and fat content than many of the other protein shakes mentioned here, and it also contains artificial flavorings and sweeteners. Customer reviews are enthusiastic though, with users reporting good gains after using the product and that it tastes great.
7. Nature’s Best Zero Carb ISOPURE
Isopure specializes in pure protein products, and its Isopure Zero/Low Carb is a 100 percent whey protein isolate powder. There are two choices – zero or low carb and, actually, there is not much in it whether you pick one or the other but, by all means, go for the zero carbs if you are following Dr Atkins to the letter and have only 20-30g of carbohydrates to play with a day.
Both products have 25g of protein a serving, and they don’t have gluten, lactose, or impurities. They are made by micro-filtration into a milk protein product that is entirely clear when dissolved in water. An added bonus is the vitamin content, including those B vitamins that are so useful for promoting energy levels.
It comes in various flavors, and the website offers up helpful ideas for recipes. We’re always keen on variations of what to do with your protein powder other than drinking it. Make your own protein bars. You can vary these too, adding nuts, dried fruit and other goodies. The powder has 210 calories a serving, which is almost double the amount of the other products we have reviewed here, but you might feel that you work hard enough to justify such supplementation.
8. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey
Optimum Nutrition…you can’t argue with a name like that, right? It kind of sets you up for high hopes in the first place because who wouldn’t want something that promises optimization for the way you eat?
Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard, 100% Whey, is a whey protein powder and it is one of the old kids on the block. It is a best-seller in the nutritional supplements world, so the company must have been doing something right all these years.
Gold Standard, 100% Whey is comprised of more than 90 percent pure protein. Each serving comes with 24g of protein, 5.5g of branched-chain amino acids, 1g of fat and there is l-glutamine in there too. You can choose from sixteen different flavors. Customers report impressive results in the gym while using the product, with muscle gains occurring and strength increases reported, and it is also reasonably priced.
9. MuscleTech NITRO TECH
MuscleTech’s Nitro-Tech is a scientifically-engineered, enhanced whey protein formula for those looking to improve their athletic performance or what they can do in the gym.
The protein in it comes mainly from whey protein isolate and whey peptides – both highly bioavailable and easily digested proteins that can fuel workouts fast.
Nitro-Tech also has the most studied form of creatine (creatine monohydrate in a 3g dose per serving) for enhanced muscle gains and strength. You also get a full 6.9g of branched-chain amino acids per dose.
MuscleTech’s website quotes a study where subjects took Nitro-Tech. In a six-week, double-blind (where neither the subjects of an experiment and the people running the study know its critical aspects – i.e. what they are giving the testers) study involving 36 people who had at least three years of weight training experience, the ones who took Nitro-Tech and combined it with weight training gained 70 percent more lean muscle than those who took regular whey protein. The people taking Nitro-Tech saw strength gains too, increasing their bench presses more than the subjects taking whey protein. They increased their one-rep max bench press by 34lbs (15.5kgs) versus 14lbs (7kg), a strength gain of 143 percent.
10. Cellucor COR-Performance Whey
Each scoop of COR-Performance Whey has a 25g blend of whey protein concentrate and isolate, and a digestive enzyme. Protein is the main building block for muscles, which is why protein supplementation is crucial for anyone wanting to build strength and change their body composition.
COR-Performance Whey comes in the usual suspects for flavors – whipped vanilla, strawberry milkshake, cookies n’ cream, molten chocolate and peanut butter marshmallow, with users giving the highest ratings to the cinnamon swirl kind. Per serving, the product offers 25g of protein and 2g of sugar.
You can take it either pre or post-workout or at any time during the day if you need to push up the protein content of your diet. You can also use it as the basis for recipes. Mix with milk and eggs to create pancakes for breakfast, for example. Topping them with some lightly stewed fruit gets you a good hit of protein and carbohydrates, and sets you up nicely for the day ahead.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) How to choose the best whey protein powder? What to look for?
Okay so you have made up your mind, and you want to add whey protein powder to your diet. What should you look for? Take these factors into account – the quality of ingredients, the brand (is a reputable one), what customers say and the price per serving, as this will help you work out if you can afford it. We also think you should consider taste and mix ability. A yucky-tasting product that doesn’t mix easily will end up unused – what a waste of money.
2) What are the best whey protein powder blends?
Well, we’ve given you some ideas above. At the end of the day, the best whey protein powder mix is the one that works for YOU. It helps you perform in the gym, you get to achieve the goals you want (fat loss, muscle gain, increased strength, etc.), and it doesn’t cost you the earth.
3) What are the best whey protein powder companies/brands?
All the powders we have reviewed are made by reliable businesses that have excellent reputations in the sports nutrition world. If we were pushed, we’d say we like the grass-fed whey protein by Transparent Labs because grass-fed cows are happier animals and it’s better for the environment.