Best Whey Protein Powders in 2019
Protein plays a vital role in maintaining, growing and repairing body tissue. Proteins can be used as an emergency energy source and are also essential for the production of a number of key hormones which promote growth and maturation.
Considering the indispensable role that it plays, we must recognize the importance of consuming an adequate amount of protein every day. Failing to do so can result in the development of chronic diseases and ailments such as muscle wastage, anaemia (low blood iron), decreased immunity and fatigue.
To allow you to select a protein powder that fits your goals, our team have tried and test a vast number of premium protein powders. Furthermore, the article will also break down the science behind muscle building and help you understand why protein supplementation is so effective.
The 8 Best Protein Supplements on the Market
When selecting a protein supplement, it is important to study the ingredients closely as many powders that appear to be of good quality often contain fillers and bulking agents which have no purpose other than increasing the quantity of the powder. A good quality powder will be high in protein and low in filler ingredients, calories, and sugars. Additionally, from a practical viewpoint, you want a shake that performs well in terms of taste, price, digestibility, and mixability.
As stated, there are so many protein powders available that it can become convoluted. To allow you to choose the powder that best matches your goal, we have reviewed 8 of the best supplements on the market.
1) Best All-Round Protein
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey
Established as a premium manufacturer of health and fitness supplements, Optimum Nutrition, with their many years of research and experience, have created an effective protein powder which used worldwide.
This product certainly lives up to its name as it delivers a powerful combination of 24g of protein – part whey concentrate, part isolate – and is therefore ideal for promoting and maintaining muscle growth.
In addition, this product is low in carbohydrates, high in essential muscle building amino acids and easy on the stomach due to the addition of digestive enzymes. Finally, not only has this product been tried and tested over many years, but unlike so many other protein powders, ON’s Gold Standard is very reasonably priced.
2) Best Protein for Strength Building
Cellucor Whey Sport Post-Workout Protein Powder
A number of supplement manufacturers have taken the opportunity to add creatine to a number of their products. Creatine is a substance that is made intramuscularly and is required in the energy generation process.
Supplementation of creatine has been found to reduce fatigue, increase endurance and muscular strength.
Cellucor Whey Sport Protein Powder contains, not only a large dose of protein to repair the muscles but also creatine to allow the individual to perform to a greater extent. By taking this product you will not only be optimizing recovery but may also see a substantial increase in your overall strength capabilities.
3) Best Protein for Mass Building
MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder
MusclePharms Combat is the perfect blend of both fast-digesting whey and slow-digesting casein to maximize muscular development. The whey protein will act quickly, begin the process of repair and is ultimately most responsible for driving significant muscle growth.
The casein, on the other hand, serves two purposes. Firstly, it acts in a much slower fashion and “drip-feeds” to promote steady muscle protein synthesis and assist in the recovery and growth process.
Secondly, casein will increase one’s satiety and leave you feeling fuller for longer thus reducing the risk of snacking and making poor nutritional choices.
4) Best Protein for Promoting Health
RSP True Fit
This powder is unlike any of the other products on the list. Although each shake provides 25 grams of protein, it also nourishes the body with 8 grams of fiber, a range of antioxidants and pre/probiotics.
Research has shown that fiber can reduce one’s risk of developing heart-related diseases and is also an essential component in digestion. Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals which can be found in many fruits and vegetables.
They play a key role in boosting the body’s immunity and fighting disease. Lastly, pre/probiotics are a special form of dietary fiber which will promote digestive health.
5) Best Isolate Protein
BiPro 100% Whey Protein Isolate
Regarded as one of the best whey isolates on the market, BiPro’s 100% Whey Isolate is simple yet effective. Many powders, including some isolates, do have a number of additives within, but not the BiPro product. This means that the resulting powder is whey isolate in its purest form.
As stated previously, taking whey isolate has a number of benefits. As it is an isolate powder, the overall protein content is much higher than many of its competitors; this will help promote muscle growth to an even greater extent.
Additionally, in the process of forming whey isolate, lactose is filtered out which means that powders, such as the BiPro 100% Isolate, are ideal for those who are lactose intolerant.
6) Best Tasting Protein
BSN SYNTHA-6 Cold Stone Creamery Protein
If you’ve tried a number of different protein powders previously, then you’ll know the difficulty of finding a powder that tastes good. It can be a challenge for manufacturers to find the balance between creating a powder that is not too sweet but also not overly bitter.
One specific powder that provides a great amount of protein while simultaneously delivering good taste is BSN’s Syntha-6 Cold Stone Creamery.
This product contains 22 grams of protein per serving and its taste is incomparable to any other protein shake on the market. If you have been searching for a powder that delivers in taste, then search no longer.
7) Best Digesting Protein
Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey Protein
Optimum Nutrition strike again with their version of a whey isolate. Each serving contains a whopping 30 grams of protein which is enough to allow any individual to easily hit their daily protein target.
The word “Hydrowhey” refers to a stage in the processing known as the hydrolyzation process which involves the use of enzymes to break down specific proteins into smaller proteins. It is claimed that this process will allow your body to digest the powder more efficiently and facilitate a faster recovery.
8) Best Grass-Fed Protein
Naked Whey Protein
As the name suggests, Naked Whey creates a protein powder which is whey in its purest form. They do not add any artificial sweeteners or additives to their product. “Grass-fed” refers to the cows that have been used to create the powder. Some manufacturers use milk from cows that have been farmed primarily for their milk and meat.
These cows may be feed with other substances to enhance the rate of milk production or increase their mass. Naked’s product only uses cows that have been farmed in an ethical and more “traditional” manner where their diets consist of eating grass only.
The manufacturing of this powder is slightly different from many other companies. Naked uses a cold process in order to extract the whey in the belief that high temperatures can denature the cellular structure of the protein. This may then have a negative impact on the overall nutritional value of the product. Additionally, their understanding is that high temperatures also runs the risk of chemical detergent, metal, and additive contamination.
What Are The Benefits of Whey Protein Powder
Taking whey protein powder can have a number of powerful effects on the body. Whey protein powder is highly accessible, affordable and is a useful tool for promoting a high-protein diet.
Whey protein has been studied rigorously and has been found to promote muscle growth, facilitate recovery, and may assist in fat loss by increasing satiety.
Benefits: Protein Synthesis
If you are involved in regular training, there should be an even greater emphasis on ingesting ample protein. During physical training, the muscles are exposed to a great deal of mechanical load which causes small muscle fiber tears. To allow the tears to be repaired and for an efficient muscle rebuild, a process known as muscle protein synthesis (MPS) must occur.
To optimize MPS, a high amount of protein is required. Failing to consume enough will hinder MPS thus potentially stunting recovery and leading to restricted movement, prolonged soreness, and muscular weakness. On the other hand, hitting your daily protein target will facilitate efficient recovery and cause these tears to be repaired rapidly. As a result of the recovery process, the muscles fibers will increase in size and strength.
The research is clear, protein supplementation is an effective method of increasing one’s daily protein intake, enhancing MPS and therefore contributes to an increase in muscular strength and size (1). Based on this research, a number of health and fitness businesses have created protein powders. Protein shakes are undoubtedly quick, easy and effective but due to the vast number of products available, it can often be confusing and challenging to choose the right supplement for your needs and goals.
Protein Dosage Recommendations for Optimizing MPS
The amount of protein one should consume daily depends on their physical characteristics and goals. The recommendation for an adult is to consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (2). However, if you are aiming to build significant muscle mass, it may be necessary to consume more – the recommendation is between 1.0 – 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. The purpose of this, as mentioned previously, is to advance the rate of MPS and therefore drive muscle growth.
The Difference Between Whey Isolate and Concentrate
Furthermore, you may come across terms such as whey “isolate” and “concentrate”. These terms simply refer to a specific stage in the processing of protein. In order to create protein powders, milk is heated to separate curds and whey. The whey concentrate is simply whey in its truest form. To create whey isolate, the whey must then be heavily filtered. This is done for two sole purposes – to increase the protein percentage of the powder and also lower the carbohydrate and fat content.
Whether you go for whey concentrate or isolate, it appears to makes very little difference – both are effective. However, if you are looking to maintain muscle size while dropping body fat, whey isolate is a superb option as it has a higher protein content than and is lower in carbs and calories than concentrate. Additionally, if you are lactose intolerant, isolate may be digested more efficiently than concentrate (3).
Whey and Casein’s Impact on Muscle Growth
There are different types of protein that can be purchased and the two most common types are whey and casein, both of which are animal proteins. In simple terms, whey is a fast digesting protein which causes rapid protein synthesis whereas casein is a slow digesting protein which maintains steady protein synthesis (4). The general understanding is that whey is most effective for building muscle whereas casein is most useful for maintaining muscle size.
Plant and Animal Proteins Impact Muscle Building
There are a number of plant-based protein powders available which are excellent choices for vegans and vegetarians however, be aware that they may not have as profound an impact on muscle building as animal proteins. This is because plant products have a smaller range of amino acids (the “building blocks” of protein) and will, therefore, fail to maximize muscle growth and recovery in the same way animal proteins do (5).
Moreover, there has been a great deal of research completed on a specific amino acid known as Leucine which has been found to have a major impact on muscular growth. Whey protein naturally has a high amount of leucine with each serving whereas vegan protein tends to be much lower in leucine.
How we Decide the Best
Differentiating the differences between protein powders is an arduous task. While certain characteristics of certain powders have been highlighted, it’s important to recognize that these are not necessarily positives or negatives. Rather, it’s a case of simply highlighting methods, ingredients and processes involved in case they cause a degree of difficulty for you.
To decide which protein powders made the list, we considered a number of areas. Firstly, we considered how the powder itself was manufactured to ensure it has been tested, is safe and is a product of premium quality. Secondly, we assessed the ingredients to ensure that each shake contained a high dosage of protein – whether that be whey, casein or a blend of both. Lastly, we considered the palatability and digestibility of each product.
While these products are of supreme quality, they will ultimately fail to cause changes if two other factors are not taken into account – consistent resistance training and a calorie surplus. You should not expect to see an increase in muscle mass by simply taking a protein powder. Muscle growth will only occur when this is combined with regular strength training.
In addition to this, a calorie surplus is also required. This is simply where you consume more calories per day than your body requires. The additional energy is necessary to promote recovery from the stresses of strength training and consequently drive an increase in muscle mass. Only with a combination of proper training, a calorie surplus and a high-protein diet, will you begin to see substantial change take place.
1- Pasiakos, Stefan M.; McLellan, Tom M.; Lieberman, Harris R. (2015-1). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.). 45 (1): 111–131. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0242-2. ISSN 1179-2035. PMID 25169440.
2- Pendick, Daniel (June 18, 2015). “How much protein do you need every day?”. Harvard Health Blog.
3- Wilborn, Colin D.; Taylor, Lem W.; Outlaw, Jordan; Williams, Laura; Campbell, Bill; Foster, Cliffa A.; Smith-Ryan, Abbie; Urbina, Stacie; Hayward, Sara (March 1, 2013). “The Effects of Pre- and Post-Exercise Whey vs. Casein Protein Consumption on Body Composition and Performance Measures in Collegiate Female Athletes”. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 12 (1): 74–79. ISSN 1303-2968. PMC PMCPMC3761774. PMID 24149728.
4- Hoffman, Jay R.; Falvo, Michael J. (September 1, 2004). “Protein – Which is Best?”. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 3 (3): 118–130. ISSN 1303-2968. PMC PMCPMC3905294 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 24482589.
5- Australia, Healthdirect (February 19, 2019). “Vegetarian and vegan diets”. www.healthdirect.gov.au.
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