Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Arguably, the most essential supplement that you should use if you desire to build muscle is whey protein powder.

In fact, you probably eat it everyday without even knowing it! Whey is one of two essential protein components in milk (the other is casein protein).

There is a good reason why whey protein is so popular among runners, athletes, and people in general; it quickly aids in muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth) when consumed 20 to 30 minutes after the end of your resistance training workout.

If you are serious about building your muscles naturally, especially if you are an exercising beginner or an athlete, then whey protein is a perfect supplement to add to your training program.

This article will educate you about the health benefits of whey protein and other protein sources.

Top 7 Whey Protein Powders (2020 updated)

1 - Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey (Editor's Choice)

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder

Optimum Nutrition offers a range of supplements designed to help you maximize your time in the gym, and their Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein powder leads the way.

This is made to be high-quality, ultra-filtered whey protein that contains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) your body needs to recover quickly from even the most demanding workout.

ON Gold Standard Whey protein powder is low in carbs and calories, low in sugar, is gluten-free and devoid of banned substances.

Each serving provides 5.5 grams of BCAAs, so you'll not only recover faster, but you'll build bigger, leaner, more resilient muscles as well.

Pros
  • Contains a full day’s supply of BCAAs.
  • Low in calories and cholesterol.
  • 24 grams of whey protein per serving.
  • Essential muscle support before and after your workout.
Cons
  • Contains artificial flavors.

With more than 20 flavors to choose from, no wonder it is considered the Gold Standard of whey protein powders.

2 - BSN Syntha-6

syntha-6 thumb

Syntha-6 from BSN is premium whey protein powder.

Each serving contains 22 grams of protein along with 10 grams of essential amino acids, including valine, leucine, and isoleucine.

Valine, leucine, and isoleucine are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) your body uses to repair damaged muscle tissue and to build bigger, stronger, more durable muscle tissue in its place.

Pros
  • 10 grams of essential amino acids in each serving.
  • Considered a reliable protein shake in the market.
  • Low in trans-fat and calories.
  • No artificial sweeteners.
Cons
  • Contains soy and dairy.

Where BSN really separates itself from most of the competition, however, is in taste. While most people have come to expect their protein shake to be a chalky, bland experience, Syntha-6 comes with a taste that you can enjoy.

3 - Dymatize ISO100

Dymatize product

Dymatize ISO100 is comprised of 100% whey protein isolate with 5.5 grams of essential BCAAs in every serving.

ISO100 is digested quickly by the body and gets to work in no time repairing muscles that have been stressed to the limit.

The branched-chain amino acids ensure that your new muscle tissue is stronger, leaner and more resilient so that you are continuously positioned to progress and not just tread water in the gym.

Pros
  • 5.5 grams of BCAAs per serving.
  • 100% pure whey protein isolate.
  • Safe for those who are lactose intolerant.
  • Lots of flavors to choose from.
Cons
  • Contains Sucralose.

ISO100 is lactose and gluten free, contains less than 1 gram of sugar per serving and exhibits the proper BCAA balance of 2:1:1.

We also featured ISO100 as one of the Best lactose-intolerant friendly whey protein powder.

4 - MuscleTech Phase8

MuscleTech

MuscleTech Phase8 takes a slightly different approach to protein supplementation.

Instead of bombarding your system with a single big dose of protein their whey protein isolate is formulated to release itself gradually throughout 8 hours.

This way you get to make more efficient and effective use of the essential branched chain amino acids that are so vital to muscle recovery and rebuilding.

Pros
  • Releases the proteins you need over 8 hours.
  • Helps enable optimal use of BCAAs.
  • 97% Whey protein isolate.
Cons
  • Not for the lactose intolerant.

While Phase8 is comprised of 97% whey protein isolate, there are other high-value sources on tap as well to provide a well-balanced protein dose that will address a range of physiological needs.

5 - Isopure Whey Protein Isolate

isopure thumb

Isopure Whey Protein Isolate contains no artificial flavor or sweeteners, provides 25 grams of protein per serving and is dairy and gluten free.

This is a product made with optimum quality whey protein powder that mixes well with a variety of liquids and tastes surprisingly good.

Isopure is low in carbs and calories and provides vitamins A, C, B6 and B12 to help ensure a favorable level of overall health.

Pros
  • 100% pure whey protein isolate.
  • Contains numerous vitamins and minerals.
  • Lactose and gluten-free.
Cons
  • Contains artificial flavors and Sucralose.

If you're looking for a protein powder that easily goes down and will enable you to build stronger, leaner muscles, you'll likely find that with Isopure Whey Protein Isolate.

6 - Nuzest Clean Lean Protein

Nuzest Clean Lean Protein

Clean Lean Protein is more than just a catchy name. It's sourced from organically grown peas, so it's vegan and vegetarian-friendly.

It also consists of beneficial branched chain amino acids, so it will help you recover faster and build the lean, intense musculature that you want.

It won't create any allergy issues, doesn't contain any funky artificial fillers or flavors and, with no cholesterol and no trans fats, is heart healthy as well.

Pros
  • 19 grams of protein per serving
  • Sourced from organically grown peas.
  • Naturally full of branched-chain amino acids.
  • Free of gluten, soy, lectin, dairy, and GMOs.
Cons
  • You might need 2 scoops instead of 1.
  • The flavor isn’t going to produce a lot of smiles.

While there isn't any discernible aftertaste, the taste itself isn't going to win any awards. But, you don’t use protein powder for culinary reasons. You use it to build muscle. And Nuzest will help you do just that.

7 - BPI Sports ISO HD

bpi sport thumb

BPI Sports ISO HD Whey Protein Isolate is extremely low in carbs, contains zero trans fats and provides 25 grams of protein in every serving.

It mixes well with most liquids and will generally do well rebuilding your muscles after working out at the gym. The pure whey protein isolate helps lessen your recovery time.

Basically, it gets busy immediately after your workout creating bigger, leaner and stronger muscles and by the time you hit the gym again you'll feel less soreness.

Pros
  • 100% whey protein isolate & hydrolysate (25 grams of protein)
  • Can be absorbed by the body quickly
  • Keto diet friendly - Only 3 g of carbs per serving
  • Great price for the dollar per serving ratio
Cons
  • Contains high fructose corn syrup.

Types of Whey Protein

Whey is one of the two major proteins found in milk, where casein is the other. Pure whey contains a large amount of the milk sugar lactose, as well as a variety of proteins, fat cholesterol.

You'll find that there are three main types of whey protein are:

protein powder scoop
  • Whey protein concentrate (WPC) are typically 70-85% protein, and are reasonably low in fat and lactose. It is one of the cheapest and simplest forms of protein which can be found in any type of supplement store (and some grocery stores) you go to. WPC is recommended for beginners that are trying to add some protein to their diet. [1]
  • Whey protein isolate (WPI) are typically greater than 85% protein, with some being over 90% protein. Whey Isolates are also a great pre and post-workout protein because it is absorbed very quickly in the body and can get right to the muscles where it needs to be to stay anabolic.
  • Hydrolysate Protein is the most expensive source of protein that you will find in a supplement store because it is the highest quality protein available. This type of protein is easily absorbed by the body and has a great anabolic effect when taken. In addition, hydrolysate protein is very gentle on the digestive system when compared to other protein.

For more info, read the post on: Understanding the big difference between Whey protein isolate and concentrate.

Concentrates and isolates are already fast-digesting, so a hydrolysate, which digests minimally faster, may not be worth the taste tradeoff and extra cost for the small benefit.
- Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D., R.D., Nutrition Express

Whey Protein vs Casein Protein

Different protein bottles

Whey and casein are brothers and milk is their mother. Unfortunately, like Cain and Abel, they both hate each other - or do they?

Whey and casein work better together when it comes to protein supplementation.

To see why, let's do a quick comparison of both proteins.

Whey is the "fast“ brother that quickly aids the body with muscle building after a strenuous workout. Studies show that whey increases protein synthesis but does not alter protein breakdown.

Casein is the "slow“ brother that prevents muscle loss over several hours. Studies reveal that casein decreases protein breakdown but hardly effects protein synthesis.

So why are some people in the fitness wold trying to pit casein and whey against each other? It makes little sense because they both cancel out each other's weaknesses. With that said, consider investing in a quality casein protein powder as well.

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What to Look for in Whey Protein

scoops of powder

1. Flavor - There are plenty of flavors to choose from, but you can never go wrong with chocolate or vanilla protein.

You can mix it in shakes or smoothies, and it will still taste good.

Less common flavors might be risky, so we recommend that you buy small samples to determine if you will like it or choose another one.

2. Ingredients - When buying any kinds of supplement, the first thing you need to do is to look at the ingredient label. It should be simple; your protein powder must have whey as the main ingredient. Also, check its carb and fat content, especially if there are added sugars or artificial ingredients.

3. Grams of protein per serving - According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, adults who regularly workout must take 1.1 - 1.4g of protein/kilogram of body weight on a daily basis while those who are involved in heavy-endurance training must take 1.5 - 2g.

So if you weigh 80 kilos or 176 pounds and want to build muscles, you’ll need 160g protein per day. Look for the supplement with the highest protein content if you want to bulk up.

4. Third party tested for quality assurance - Some companies like Informed Choice and NSF Certified for Sports test their products for banned substances.

You might want to read our post on BCAA vs. Whey protein

This is to ensure that what you see on the label is what’s actually on the product and there are no hidden ingredients that can jeopardize your health.

See our other recommended protein powder's buyer's guide:

6 Health Benefits of Whey

muscle buffed guy drinking protein shake

1. Boost Muscle Size And Strength - Protein powder helps build strength and muscle size. Countless studies show that people who take whey protein powder have increased muscle synthesis.

This means that if you hit a strength plateau in your workout, whey protein powder will likely get you over the hump.

2. Helps Burn Fat While Maintaining Muscle Mass - When you exercise, you are putting your body in a catabolic state (i.e. breaking down muscle tissue).

Studies have shown that taking whey protein powder post workout helps burn fat while preserving muscle tissue [4].

3. Decreases Appetite - One study showed that people who drank 50 grams of whey protein had drastically reduced their levels of ghrelin (a hormone that stimulates your body to eat) up to 4 hours after drinking it. This can be relatively beneficial, especially if you're a big snacker.

4. Boost Immune System - Research revealed that protein powder revitalizes the immune system. In addition, studies show that exercise has a positive effect on your immune system. So as flu season approaches, exercise and try using whey as your medicine. [2]

5. Alleviate Stress - Been heavily stressed lately? Turn to whey protein powder for relief. Research suggests that individuals who consume whey protein express fewer symptoms of depression and a better mood than those who didn't consume it.

6. Aids In Cancer Prevention - Does cancer run in your family? If so, then investing in whey protein powder may be a lifesaver. Several studies show that whey and other dietary milk products may aid in fighting cancer.

While you should get regular screenings for cancer (especially if it runs in your family), whey protein can help prevent it. [3]

FAQs When buying

How Many Should You Drink A Day?

Remember, whey protein powder is a supplement, not a substitution for real food or even a mass gainer shake (more info). I recommend that a beginner takes no more than 1 to 2 scoops of protein per day (1 to 2 protein shakes). As you get a better sense of how whey interacts with your system, you can up your dosage to 3 to 4 scoops.

When Should You Take Whey Protein?

The best time to drink whey protein is 30 minutes before your workout and within 30 minutes after your workout. The reason for this is to maximize protein synthesis, also called the muscle building phase.

Are There Any Side Effects To Taking Whey?

Most people show little or no side effects when they take a moderate dosage (1 to 2 scoops) of whey. However, if a person is allergic to milk, they shouldn't take whey protein powder. Also, taking too many doses of protein powder can cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Headache
  • Stomach pains
  • Severely reduced appetite

To avoid these issues, limit your intake to 1 to 2 scoops per day, preferably around the time you workout.

What Should You NEVER Do To Whey?

  • Never expose whey protein to high temperatures and direct sunlight for extended periods
  • Avoid leaving protein in a hot car, next to the oven in the kitchen or any other source of heat
  • Avoid using whey protein in recipes that use high heat (muffins, pancakes, etc.) as this may denature the protein as well

Any difference in whey for men and women?

Whey protein for women is no different to men taking it. They both work the same way - providing an adequate amount of protein.

 

See related posts:

What is the Best Whey Protein Powder?

The best whey protein powder greatly assists in your muscle building, fat-burning, and athletic endeavors so finding the top product is truly essential in reaching your body goals.

With that, we recommend Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard as your whey protein supplement of choice. 

It is packed with 24g of protein per serving to help enhance muscle development and recovery.

Also, it will help keep you super energized especially during intense workouts.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey

Our #1 Whey Protein

  • Contains a full day’s supply of BCAAs.
  • Low in calories and cholesterol.
  • 24 grams of whey protein per serving.
  • Essential muscle support before and after your workout.
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About the author

  • Been reading a lot of articles from you guys and thanks for convincing me to go organic. Currently enjoying the best hemp protein powder out there. Plant-based all the way!