Top Rated Whey Protein Reviewed
There’s a guy at your gym that looks like he could bench press a pair of pick up trucks. If you were to go up to him and ask about his diet, whey protein would land pretty high on that list. To gain muscle, volume and weight are important, but what you put into your body is equally important.
While you can get a lot of protein from the food you eat, grilled chicken and black beans can only get you so far. Supplementing whey protein in your diet is one of the best (and tastiest) ways to ensure you are meeting your protein macros for the day!
In this guide, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite whey proteins powders to help you build muscle so that one day you, too, will be able to bench press a pair of pick up trucks!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 5 hrs of research
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard
- Naked Whey
- Six Star Pro Nutrition
- Body Fortress
- MusclePharm Combat
- MuscleTech Premium Gold
- ProMix Nutrition
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard
Contains artificial sweeteners
The reason that we placed Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard whey protein at the top of our list is that is is made from high-quality ingredients that taste great and comes in a lot of unique flavor options. Plus, it comes from one of the top brands on the market when it comes to any type of fitness supplement.Read more
One scoop of this whey protein offers an impressive 24 grams of protein per serving. It also provides users with 5.5 grams of BCAAs, which is something that your body needs to help your body recover after a tough workout, and it helps to reduce soreness. With about 4 grams of glutamic acid, your body will be able to process the proteins better as well.
You have the option to select sizes that start off at one pound (perfect if you want to give it a try), 5 pounds, or 10 pounds. Flavor options include all of the basics such as chocolate, vanilla, mocha cappuccino, and coffee. Plus, this ultra-fine formula doesn’t clump in your shaker bottle or blender as much as some of the other brands out there.
If you are in the market for something that tastes great and blends well, this whey protein from Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard is one of your best choices. Plus, it has all of the ingredients to help you really build muscle and burn fat the next time you head to the gym!
2. Naked Whey
Looking for something that is simple and pure? Skip the artificial sweeteners and check out this whey protein from Naked Whey. What we liked most about this option is that what you see if what you get. The ingredients are pure and free of harmful ingredients, but it still has all of the proteins you need to get the most out of your gym time.Read more
The thing that we liked most about this option is that it is composed of 100 percent grass-fed whey protein. It provides users with an impressive 25 grams of protein per serving, and it only has 120 calories! Don’t worry, also offers a generous serving of important BCAAs per scoop as well.
Flavor options are a little bit limited. Users can select from flavors that include all of the basics- chocolate, vanilla, and unflavored. The downside to this option is that many of the previous users feel that the taste is on the mild side. When mixed together with milk or water, they only get a very weak hint of flavor.
While it may be lacking on the flavor side, you can feel good about the purity of the product that you are putting into your body. This whey protein from Naked Whey is non-GMO, and the ingredients come from a small farm in California.
3. Six Star Pro Nutrition
One serving 2 scoops
Six Star Pro Nutrition is a brand that needs no introduction. If you have ever browsed the supplement aisle in your local drugstore, you have more than likely picked up a Six Star Pro Nutrition product. What we liked most about this whey protein option is that it an impressive serving of protein with all of the additional supplements that aid in recovery and absorption.Read more
One scoop of this whey protein provides users with 32 grams of protein per serving. Each serving also provides over 7 grams of BCAAS as well as a generous dose of glutamine. Unlike some of the other basic blends out there on the market, this formula provides 2.5 grams of creatine.
There are quite a few flavor options to select from, and users are a big fan of how this blends tastes. Flavor options include triple chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, cookies and cream, and unflavored. You also have the option to select from 2 pound, 5 pounds, or 8 pounds.
If you are the market for whey protein supplements to help build muscles, this option from Six Star Pro Nutrition is a great place to start. It has all of the tools your body needs to build and recover muscle, and it tastes great!
4. Body Fortress
High in protein
Sits heavy in stomach
What we like most about this option from Body Fortress is that it really pumps up the protein content. It has more whey protein per scoop than many of the other options out there on the market. Plus, it is packed and a myriad of other ingredients that help process the protein in your body better as well as aid in recovery.Read more
One scoop of this whey protein delivers an impressive 30 grams of protein to your system. It also provides users with creatine and BCAAs that help aid in recovery as well. While the box says that it offers 60 grams of whey protein, that is per 2 scoops. It is important to note that the calorie count in 2 scoops is over 400, so you are better off with just one scoop!
Flavor options offered are pretty basic and include your basic chocolate and vanilla. Based upon what previous users have had to say about these flavors, they taste pretty good. The flavor doesn’t leave much of an after taste in your mouth. Plus, there were very few complaints of clumps when mixed with milk or water.
If you are in the market for a whey protein that packs a powerful punch but still tastes great, this is worth a look. It has all of the ingredients that you need to perform at your very best as well as aid in recovery.
5. MusclePharm Combat
Clumps when mixed
Looking for something that doesn’t have any many calories? What we liked about this whey protein from MusclePharm Combat is that it doesn’t have as many calories as other options. This means if you want to tone up and slim down, this is one of your best options.Read more
This is a great option if you simply want a protein supplement. Each scoop offers up about 35 grams of protein per serving. It is important to note that it is a simple protein mix without any additional ingredients such as creatine, glutamine, or BCAAs. It is gluten-free and provides both whey protein isolate and concentrate.
You won’t have to worry about a lot of extra calories with this whey protein each scoop provides just 120 calories per serving (if you simply mix it with water). Flavor options include all of the basics: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and cookies and cream. When mixed with water or milk, some users found it to clump a little bit.
This is a great option for those looking to add just a little bit more protein into their diet without the need for a lot of extra and unwanted calories. If you are diligently tracking your macros, this whey protein gives you the biggest bang for your buck!
Cellucor is another heavy hitter in the supplement market. What we liked most about this whey protein option is that it is fast digesting which means that it makes you feel full and satisfied without slowing you down. This lightweight and powerful formula is perfect for those that need to stay light on their feet during a workout.Read more
Two scoops of this formula offer users about 25 grams of protein per serving. This whey protein is fast-acting, which means that it is quickly absorbed into your system. It also means that it won’t give you that heavy and full feeling that can weigh you down in the middle of your circuits set.
Another great thing about this option is that it is lower in calories than most, with about 130 calories for 2 scoops. That means that if you are really watching your macros, this whey protein is a great solution to those that want to bulk up and slim down at the same time. Flavor options include peanut butter marshmallow, cinnamon swirl, molten chocolate, chocolate chip cookie dough, and whipped vanilla.
With so many unique flavor options, you are bound to find a flavor that you love. Plus, since it is low in calories you can satisfy your sweet tooth while still getting the protein you need to get those gains!
7. MuscleTech Premium Gold
BCCAs for recovery
What we liked most about this whey protein from MuscleTech Premium Gold is that it is very light and goes down easy, which means it will not slow you down. It gives users all the tools they need to fuel a great workout at the gym, and it is low in calories. If you want to slim down and build muscle, this is a great option.Read more
One serving (or scoop) provides you with 25 grams of whey protein, which is pretty standard when compared to other brands. It fast-absorbing so that you won’t feel like it is weighing you down or give you that tired sluggish feeling that you get after a big meal. With the inclusion of BCAAs, this is a great option to help aid in muscle recovery after a tough workout.
Every serving has only about 130 calories, which makes it great for slimming down and bulking up. Flavor options include the classics- vanilla and chocolate. It is only offered in a 2.23-pound container, which means that if you like it you won’t be able to buy it in bulk like some of the other brands out there.
If you want to slim down and build muscle at the same time, this whey protein from MuscleTech Premium Gold is one of your best choices. Users love that it has a really great taste even when mixed with water, and it will not weigh you down.
If you diligently count your daily macros, you will want to check out this whey protein from NutraBio. What we liked most about this choice is that it has a very low-calorie count which is very helpful when you want to burn off some fat. It also provides users with all of the nutrients they need to build muscle as well.Read more
One serving offers users just over 28 grams of whey protein isolate, which is just slightly more than similar brands. It also provides just over 5 grams of BCAAs as well as 11 essential amino acids. This blend makes it an ideal drink for muscle recovery after a brutal workout at the gym.
What we liked most about this whey protein from NutraBio is that it is incredibly low in calories. Many of the low-calorie options clock in at around 130 calories, but this whey protein only has 110 calories per scoop! This makes it a great option for those tracking they macros.
Plus, it comes in 9 incredibly unique flavor options. Some of the more interesting flavors include blueberry muffin, pancakes and maple syrup, chocolate peanut butter, and cinnamon sugar donut. If you like your sweet but want to watch your calorie intake (and get your much-needed protein) this is one of your better options.
9. ProMix Nutrition
Clumps when mixed
Looking to bulk up? This whey protein from ProMix Nutrition is a great tool to help you get there. Each serving has all of the nutrients that your muscles need to fuel your workouts as well as repair afterward. Plus, it comes in a lot of unique flavors to satisfy your much neglected sweet tooth!Read more
One scoop provides users with about 25 grams of whey protein per serving. You can feel good about what you put into your body because 100 percent of this whey protein comes from grass-fed cows from a Northern Californian farm. Plus, it is non-GMO and free of chemical additives and hormones.
One serving of this mix has about 160 calories, which is just slightly higher than average. This blend is designed less for those that want to slim down and more for those looking to bulk up. Flavor options include chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, vanilla, and unflavored.
If gains and muscle are what you want, this whey protein is worth a look. It is derived from ethical sources that do not put any unwanted chemicals of additives into their formula. Plus, it gives you all of the nutrition you need for a great workout and even better recovery.
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to this whey protein from Nutricost. It is a blend that is free of any unwanted chemicals or additives. It doesn’t even use any artificial sweeteners. If you want to get your daily recommended dosage of whey protein without anything else, this is a really great option worth checking out.Read more
One scoop of this whey protein offers up about 25 grams of protein, which is pretty standard when compared to other options. This whey protein concentrate comes from is non-GMO and gluten-free. Plus, it only has 130 calories per serving with only 2 grams of carbohydrates (which is about 2 grams less than average).
Flavor options are a little limited, and only include the basics of chocolate, vanilla, and unflavored. Users feel that the taste of this formula is a little bit on the sweet side, which can cause a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste. It also clumps together when mixed into water or milk.
For those that are in the market for something that is simple and easy, this whey protein from Nutricost is a really great option. While it may not taste exactly like a vanilla milkshake, you know exactly what you are putting into your body. Plus, it is light enough that it will not weigh you down or make you feel overly full.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
One of the biggest things that we took into consideration was whether it is effective.
Building muscle is a science, and it requires a whole lot more inputs than just protein alone. You need to ensure that you are getting enough sleep at night, tending to tired muscles in the right way, working out a few times a week, and getting proper nutrition.
That way we really made sure to comb through all of the ingredients in the label to make sure that each product had everything you need to build muscle and recover. Below, we have broken down some of the essential ingredients that we made sure most brands included in their formula.
BCAAs: You hear this initialism gets thrown around a lot in the gym, but what exactly does it mean? BCAA breaks down to mean ‘branched chain amino acids’. These amino acids are composed of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are considered to be essential amino acids that are incredibly important to building muscle.
They are often referred to as your essential amino acids. Your body is an amazing machine that is capable of doing amazing things, but there are a few things that it cannot do. These amino acids are considered to be essential because your body simply cannot make them on their own. They are derived from the foods that you eat.
That’s why it was so important that each whey protein that we selected included BCAAs. Without these amino acids, your body will not be able to process the proteins that help develop strong muscles.
Creatine: While BCAAs help in the recovery process, creatine is responsible for giving your muscles a shot of energy in the middle of a heavy lift. Creatine is something that is found naturally in the body, and about 95 percent is found in the fibers of your muscles.
This nutrient works by pulling water away from other parts of your body and sending it directly to your muscles. This is incredibly beneficial when you are working out to build muscle.
Not all whey protein powders come with the addition of creatine, because not all lifters want it in their diet. There are some studies that show excessive creatine can have some pretty nasty side effects, particularly in your stomach (such as cramping). Plus, it can be a real problem if you aren’t getting enough water because it can cause dehydration if taken in excess.
Not all whey proteins are created equal.
Some are designed to help build muscle and increase energy levels, while others build muscle while also burning fat as well. Before you take the plunge, take into consideration what you want to get out of your workouts.
Do you want to build muscle so you can deadlift a pickup truck? If that’s the case, the calorie and carbohydrate count isn’t something that should interest you. If you want to bulk up, you need to make sure that you have enough energy! That’s why we made sure to include a few brands that had a higher calorie count than others.
Do you want to tone and slim down at the same time? Then we suggest selecting an option that has a calorie count that is under 120 calories. You also want to make sure that the carbohydrate count isn’t incredibly high as well.
One important thing to note here is that across the board- protein levels remain about the same. If you are selecting an option that is made to make you toned and lean or built like a tank, the protein count is about the same.
Don’t be fooled by packaging that claims their whey protein is of a higher dosage. This does not mean you will gain bigger muscles as a result. The human body is only able to absorb around 30-40 grams of protein at a single time.
Another feature that we considered when selecting a whey protein was flavors! Needless to say, if you are passionate about sculpting your body, you probably aren’t indulging in a whole lot of desserts. With unique flavor options such as cookies and cream, pancakes with maple syrup, and cinnamon swirl, you can satisfy that sweet tooth!
No one likes a chalky and clumpy beverage, no matter how good it is for you!
When it comes to whey protein, there are problems when it comes to mixing it up in your favorite beverage.
The first thing to note is that all the whey protein that we selected for our list comes in powder form. This is the most popular method for delivering these nutrients directly to your muscles! Plus, it means that there are a ton of different ways to incorporate it into your diet.
However, this powder isn’t without a few shortcomings.
If you plan on using a trusty shaker bottle (and we know of a few shaker bottles that would work perfectly!), some powder is prone to clumping. With almost all brands, this is a real possibility. If you opt for a lighter formula that isn’t as dense, your risk of clumping significantly decreases.
To avoid the dreaded clumps in thicker formulas, you might have to break out the blender. Thicker doesn’t necessarily mean that is bad, it just means it is more filling than their thinner counterparts, which can be a good thing in some cases.
Many users like to simply mix one scoop of powder into a glass of water to hydrate and save on calories. For a richer taste, we suggest mixing it up with a little bit of milk (preferably almond milk for an added nutrition bonus).
You don’t just have to stop at milk, you can toss in a host of other ingredients for a killer post-workout meal. We like to add veggies, fruit, and juice in a blender and toss in a scoop of whey protein for a powerhouse of nutrients that really help aid in recovery after a brutal workout.
Powders can also be used in cooking as well! There are many recipes, such as quinoa protein balls that use chocolate whey protein for a little added power boost!
It doesn’t matter what type of supplement that you add to your diet, there are bound to be a few side effects.
Overall, the side effects of whey protein are generally mild and it is completely safe to take by children and adults in modest doses. The good news is that some of the noted side effects do not apply to a wide audience, but they are worth noting.
If you have a stomach that is a little sensitive to dairy products, whey protein may not be ideal for you. However, much of the lactose that is responsible for upsetting the stomach for those that are lactose intolerant are actually filtered out with the casein that is found in milk.
This means that while whey protein does contain lactose, it is in much smaller dosages than compared to milk, cheese, or cream. However, before you down a shake before hitting the gym, we suggest trying it in a small amount to test how your stomach reacts.
Side effects can also occur when you use whey protein in higher doses than is recommended for daily consumption. If you take more than you need, you may experience stomach discomfort such as cramps, bloating, and nausea. Other side effects include headache, fatigue, and a reduced appetite.
As with any type of supplement that it out there on the market, it is best to consult with your doctor before taking the plunge if you are worried. If you are lactose intolerant, there are other brands of protein out there on the market that do not contain dairy. They may not have the same powerhouse of amino acids as whey, but they often have the same level of protein.
What you put into your body is important, so we checked every label to ensure that the ingredients were safe and pure.
Some brands add unnecessary fillers and sweeteners in their products, and we made sure to select brands that had the purest ingredients as possible. Below, we have broken down some of the important things that we considered.
Grass-fed: Whey is derived from cow’s milk, so we made sure that the cows that were used were also fed clean, healthy food. We also made sure that the cows were not fed any antibiotics or hormones that would affect the milk that they produced.
non-GMO: GMO stands for ‘genetically modified organism’, and it can pertain to the plants we eat as well as animal products as well. Selecting non-GMO products is important because you want to ensure that you consume clean, non-altered foods. What you put into your body is important, and you want to know exactly what you are ingesting.
Artificial sweeteners: Sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame are a hotbed of debate. Some users feel that they are not all that dangerous, while others feel like they are responsible for illness and disease when used consistently over time. For the most part, we tried to avoid products that use artificial sweeteners whenever we could.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Milk can be used to make wonderful things like cheese, butter, and ice cream. These products are made from separating casein from milk. Once you separate casein, you are left with whey. Whey protein is a powerhouse because it contains 9 essential amino acids, a little fat, carbs, and cholesterol.
There are some research studies that show that ingesting whey protein right before bed has some amazing benefits. As you catch some z’s, your body uses those powerful proteins to help repair micro tears that will make you stronger (and less sore) when you wake up!
More isn’t always better. Your body is only capable of absorbing about 30-40 grams of protein in a single serving. This means that pumping your protein shake with anything more than that won’t be absorbed and will be turned into glucose.
Other Factors to Consider
Whey protein is a really incredible tool to have on hand for a myriad of reasons. If you are working out at the gym and want a little boost to help gain muscle, it makes for an excellent recovery drink to help build and repair muscle.
If you are engaging in cardio or running to lose a few pounds, a protein shake is a great low-calorie tool to ensure that you get all of the nutrients that you need to stay healthy. You can toss it into a blender with veggies, fruits, and juice to make a tasty weight loss milkshake!
Did you give up meat? It can be a real struggle to ensure that you get the right protein intake when you no longer can grill up lean chicken breasts or fish. Eggs are a great source of protein, but you would have to eat about a full dozen a day to meet your protein goals! Adding a single scoop of protein to supplement your meals is an excellent way to meet your protein needs for your vegetarian lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why do I need whey protein?
Any bodybuilder or powerlifter will implore you to make sure that you get enough protein. Experts find that you should consume about .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This means that if you weigh 180 pounds, you should consume around 65 grams of protein per day. This number also goes up depending on your activity level.
So, we know that foods like chicken, fish, eggs, and beans are pretty high in protein. However, one egg has only about 6 grams of protein. This means you would need to eat about 11 eggs per day to meet your quota!
That’s where whey protein comes in pretty handy. Most supplements offer about 25 grams of protein per serving and clock in at about 130 calories. To get 25 grams of protein out of eggs, you would have to consume about 300 calories in eggs. Plus, eggs are also high in cholesterol as well, making them a less than ideal choice.
What makes whey protein stand out from the pack is that it has a lot more essential amino acids over protein you get from other sources. A high level of amino acids helps your body absorb the protein better, which means it is more beneficial to your muscle development as well as recovery.
q: What exactly is whey protein?
Simply put- whey is derived from milk. Milk is composed of two separate types of protein that include casein and whey. Casein makes up about 80 percent of milk, and it is primarily used in the production of cheese and other dairy products. When casein is extracted from milk, the leftover product is whey.
This leftover whey is a powerhouse of nutrition (and the reason why cheese does not have a whole lot of positive health benefits!). Whey in its purest form holds all of the 9 essential amino acids that help aid in protein absorption. This is why whey protein is it one of the most sought after protein supplements by athletes.
This means that if you are vegan, whey protein may not be for you due to the fact that it contains milk. The bad news here is that there is no dairy-free whey protein substitute just yet. There are some really great vegan protein powders out there on the market, but none offer the same powerhouse benefits of traditional whey protein.
q: Can I double up my servings for even bigger muscles?
So, you really want to bulk up and think that doubling up your protein intake before a workout will result in bigger muscles? You are very wrong! The truth is, your body is only able to process so much protein at a time.
If you decide that you want to get your daily protein intake in one shake, you are in for a surprise. Typically, the average body is only able to process around 30-40 grams of protein at a given time. Anything over that max, and it is washed away in your system or stored as glucose.
This means that if you double up your scoops from 30 grams to 60 grams, your body will still only process and harness 30 grams, and the rest is a wash. When mixing up your protein shake after a workout, be sure that you are getting the right amount that your body can process!
q: What is the best way to mix my whey protein?
What we love most about whey protein is the endless possibilities! If you want something quick and easy, we suggest investing in a really handy shaker bottle to take with you on the go. All you need to do is dump in a scoop of whey protein, add milk or water, and give it a good shake!
However, you can also get a little creative with your whey protein. It is a great addition to shakes that you can make yourself at home. If you are making them in the morning, we love to add veggies, fruit, and ice, and toss in your favorite flavor of whey protein. This ensures a really great start to your day!
If you don’t have a shaker bottle (which we highly suggest!), you can always use a Tupperware container to give it a good shake with milk or water, and then pour it into a glass. If you find that it is still a little clumpy, a quick spin in a blender is a great way to smooth it out.
q: When is the best time to drink my whey protein?
One of the biggest questions that get asked regarding whey protein supplements is when is the best time to take them. Should you take them before your workout, or after? The answer to this question depends upon the reason you are taking this supplement in the first place.
If you want to build muscle in the gym, the best time to take whey protein is after your workout. In fact, the best time to take it is exactly 30 minutes after you finish your workout. At this time, your muscles are beaten down, and therefore will be more receptive to nutrients that you inject. Plus, BCAAs and creatine help promote recovery and help reduce soreness.
If you just want to add a little bit more protein in your diet to promote healthy macros, it doesn’t really matter what time of day to take it. However, a good protein shake in the morning for breakfast is a great way to start your day with all of the nutrition that you need for sustained energy without weighing you down.