7 Best Whey Protein Powders (2024 Upd.) Buyer's Guide

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James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: April 5, 2024
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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.

Teaming up with fellow fitness trainers, we tested 40 whey protein powders over five months to determine the top seven best options.

Are you ready to maximize your protein intake?

Read on and find out the top whey protein powders and their health benefits.

The Best Whey Protein Powders

Editor's Choice
Optimum Nutrition
Optimum Nutrition
Rated 4.9/5
Check Current Price
2nd Best Choice
Syntha-6
BSN
Rated 4.8/5
Check Current Price
3rd Best Choice
Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein
Dymatize ISO100
Rated 4.6/5
Check Current Price

Top 7 Whey Protein Powders (April 2024)

1 - Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey (Best Overall)

Rated 4.9/5
5.0
Ingredients
5.0
Taste
4.7
Price
4.9
User Ratings
4.8
Ingredient Quality
4.9
Product Effectiveness
Optimum Nutrition
  • Protein per Serving : 26g
  • Flavors : 23 different flavors
  • Price per serving : $1.19
  • Third-party tested : Yes

Pros and Cons

Pros

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

Cons

  • Contains artificial flavors

Who is it for?

Who is it for?

  • Athletes
  • Bodybuilders and anyone looking to increase protein intake

Who is it not for?

  • Anyone lactose intolerant or want to avoid dairy

Final Verdict

we recommend this. It's great.

Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder, a staple in my fitness regime and client recommendation list accelerates recovery and muscle growth.

Its ultra-filtered formula, rich in BCAAs, suits various diets with its low-carb, low-calorie profile and gluten-free ingredients.

In my experience and tests, the 5.5 grams of BCAAs per serving significantly boost muscle recovery and resilience, crucial for escalating workout intensity and frequency.

Offering over 20 flavors, this cost-effective and reliable powder outperforms many competitors, making it a preferred choice in whey protein.

2 - BSN Syntha-6 (Best Tasting)

Rated 4.8/5
22g
Protein per Serving
4.8
Taste
4.8
Ingredients
4.7
Price
Syntha-6

Pros and Cons

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

Discovering Syntha-6 from BSN was a breakthrough in my search for a post-workout shake that feels indulgent. As a health and performance coach, I've found its inclusion in our top three well-deserved.

Each serving packs 22 grams of protein and 10 grams of essential amino acids, including BCAAs like valine, leucine, and isoleucine. These are crucial for repairing and building stronger muscle tissue, a fact emphasized by our dietitian.

What truly sets Syntha-6 apart is its flavor. Unlike the typical chalky protein shakes, Syntha-6 offers a genuinely enjoyable taste, making it a standout choice for both me and my clients.

3 - Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed Whey Protein (Best for Quick Absorption)

Rated 4.6/5
25g
Protein per Serving
4.7
Taste
4.5
Ingredients
4.6
Price
Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein

Pros and Cons

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

A colleague at Total Shape, an athlete, consistently uses Dymatize 100% whey protein during his cutting phase. I've witnessed its transformative effects on his physique firsthand.

Dymatize ISO100H, made from pure whey protein isolate, provides 5.5 grams of essential BCAAs per serving, rapidly aiding muscle repair after intense workouts. These BCAAs contribute to building stronger, leaner muscles, fostering steady gym progress.

As a health and performance coach, I've observed similar positive outcomes in my clients, attesting to ISO100's efficacy.

ISO100 Hydrolyzed Whey Protein is notable for being lactose and gluten-free, containing minimal sugar and fat, and maintaining a 2:1:1 BCAA ratio.

It's perfect for enhancing workout drinks, turning them into tasty vanilla milkshakes. Although some find it sweet, it's ideal for those who prefer a sweeter flavor.

Due to these distinctive features, we've listed ISO100 as one of the best lactose-free whey protein powders, a decision supported by its popularity with my clients.

4 - MuscleTech Phase8 Protein Powder (Best Lactose-Free)

Rated 4.5/5
4.6
Taste
4.4
Ingredients
4.4
Price
MuscleTech Phase8 Protein Powder

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Releases the whey proteins you need over 8 hours
  • Helps enable optimal use of BCAAs.
  • 97% Whey protein isolate

Cons

  • Not for the lactose intolerant

Initially skeptical about MuscleTech Phase8's unique protein supplementation approach, my doubts vanished after a week's use. The usual muscle soreness I experienced reduced significantly in duration.

What impressed us was its gradual protein release over 8 hours, rather than overwhelming the system with a large dose at once. This sustained release ensures a more efficient utilization of essential BCAAs, crucial for muscle recovery and rebuilding.

As a health and performance coach, seeing such effective results in a short period was noteworthy.

While Muscle Phase8 is 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 (Best Keto-Friendly)

Rated 4.4/5
4.5
Taste
4.2
Ingredients
4.4
Price
Isopure Whey Protein Isolate

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • 100% pure whey protein isolates
  • Contains numerous vitamins and minerals
  • Lactose and gluten-free
  • Keto-friendly

Cons

  • Contains artificial flavors and sucralose

I appreciate that Isopure whey protein isolate is free from artificial flavors and sweeteners, offers 25 grams of protein per serving, and is dairy and gluten-free, aligning with low greenhouse gas emissions and environmental friendliness.

As a high-quality, keto-friendly powder, it mixes smoothly with various liquids and has a pleasant taste.

Its zero carbs and fat, low calories, and inclusion of vitamins A, C, B6, and B12, are impressive, promoting overall health.

This aligns well with the health and wellness goals I set with my clients.

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.

6 - Nuzest Clean Lean Protein (Best Vegan)

Rated 4.2/5
4.4
Taste
4.0
Ingredients
4.2
Price
Nuzest Clean Lean Protein

Pros and Cons

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

Clean Protein stands out with its organic pea origin, making it an ideal 100% vegan and vegetarian whey protein powder.

It's enriched with BCAAs, aiding in quicker recovery and lean muscle development.

Free from allergens and artificial additives, this milk protein isolate is heart-friendly, containing no cholesterol or trans fats.

In my experience as a health and performance coach, trying Nuzest was enlightening. It's not about taste, but effectiveness.

I noticed more defined muscles and faster recovery. My clients reported similar benefits, affirming its efficacy.

7 - BPI Sports ISO HD (Cheapest Value)

Rated 4.1/5
4.2
Taste
4.0
Ingredient Quality
4.2
Price
BPI Sports ISO HD

Pros and Cons

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

BPI Sports ISO HD Whey Protein Powder is notably low in carbs, free of trans fats, and delivers 25 grams of protein per serving.

From my testing, it blends smoothly with various liquids and effectively aids muscle-rebuilding post-gym sessions. Over three weeks, it significantly reduced my recovery time.

This powder actively works post-workout to enhance muscle size, strength, and leanness, minimizing soreness for your next gym session.

However, its inclusion of high fructose corn syrup, linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, is a notable drawback.

How We Picked These Products

In our search for the best whey protein powders, my team and I employed a detailed and specific approach:

  • Protein Content: We prioritized high protein yield per serving, essential for muscle growth and repair.
  • Ingredient Quality and Additives: Our focus was on powders with clean, minimal ingredients. We avoided products with unnecessary fillers or artificial sweeteners, ensuring a pure protein source.
  • Brand Reputation and Reviews: We delved into customer feedback and the brand's history. This helped us assess the reliability and trustworthiness of each product.
  • Price and Value for Money: It was important to include options that offered great value. We sought a balance between cost and effectiveness, catering to various budgets.

This rigorous selection process was guided by the goal of recommending whey protein powders that not only meet nutritional needs but also align with diverse health and fitness goals, ensuring our readers get the best options available.

What to Look for in Whey Protein?

woman drinking whey protein shake in gym

Here are the things you should look for in a whey protein powder:

Flavor: Popular choices like chocolate or vanilla are versatile for shakes, smoothies, and even baking.

For more adventurous flavors, try small samples first. Enhance taste and nutrition by blending with superfoods like chia seeds or kale.

2. Ingredients: Prioritize whey as the primary ingredient and seek natural components, including essential vitamins, minerals, added greens, and probiotics. Essential for muscle support, ensure the presence of BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, valine).

Choose powders with under 150 calories, below 10 grams of carbs, and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, favoring natural sweeteners.

3. Amount of protein per serving - For regular exercisers, aim for 1.1 - 1.4g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, and 1.5 - 2g for heavy-endurance training.

Select powders offering at least 20 grams of protein per serving for muscle building.

4. Third-party tested for quality assurance - Since the FDA doesn't regulate protein powders, verify third-party testing, such as Informed Choice or NSF Certified for Sport, for product safety and purity.

Additionally, consider the ethical sourcing of whey, focusing on animal welfare and fair trade practices.

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

Types of Whey Protein

Organic whey, alongside casein, is a primary protein in milk. Pure whey powders are rich in lactose, proteins, and fats.

Three main types of whey protein are:

Whey protein concentrate (WPC)
  • Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC): Typically 70-85% protein, WPC is low in fat and lactose. It's an affordable, simple protein source, widely available in supplement and grocery stores. Ideal for beginners adding protein to their diet.
  • Whey Protein Isolate (WPI): Often exceeding 85% protein, some isolates reach over 90%. WPI is rapidly absorbed, making it an excellent choice for pre and post-workout supplementation, aiding in quick muscle recovery.
  • Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH): The most expensive yet highest quality protein in supplement stores. WPH is easily absorbed and highly effective for muscle anabolism. It's also gentle on the digestive system, making it a superior choice for those with digestive sensitivities.

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

Both whey protein concentrate and isolate are already fast-digesting, so a whey protein 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 vs Casein Protein

Whey vs Casein Protein

Whey and casein, both derived from milk, have distinct roles in protein supplementation.

Whey, the 'fast' protein, rapidly assists in muscle building post-workout through protein synthesis without affecting protein breakdown.

Casein, the 'slow' counterpart, helps prevent muscle loss over extended periods. It also reduces protein breakdown but has minimal impact on protein synthesis.

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

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6 Health Benefits of Whey

man drinking whey protein drink

1. Boosts Muscle Size And Strength - Whey protein helps build strength and muscle size and countless studies show that people who take whey protein supplements have increased muscle protein 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).

Research published by Nutrition and Metabolism shows that taking whey protein powder post-workout helps burn fat while preserving lean muscle mass [1].

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. Boosts Immune System - Protein powder revitalizes the immune system. Additionally, studies by the Journal of Applied Physiology show that exercise has a positive effect on your immune system [2]. So as flu season approaches, make sure to exercise and try using whey as your medicine.

5. Alleviates Stress - If you have been heavily stressed lately, I suggest you 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 don'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), studies published in the National Library of Medicine show that whey protein can help prevent it [3].

Related Article:

FAQs

How Much Whey Protein Powder Should You Drink Per Day?

You should drink no more than 1 to 2 scoops of protein powder 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.

Remember, grass-fed whey protein powder is a supplement, not a substitution for real food or even a muscle mass gainer shake.

When Should You Take Whey Protein?

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

But you can also take it with breakfast, especially for those who struggle to have a protein-rich meal first thing in the morning. It can definitely give you an extra energy boost and stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Are There Any Side Effects To Taking Whey?

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

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

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

What Should You NEVER Do To Whey?

You should never do these to whey protein concentrate:

  • Expose the whey protein concentrate to high temperatures and direct sunlight for extended periods
  • Leave in a hot car, next to the oven in the kitchen, or any other source of heat
  • Use in recipes that use high heat (muffins, pancakes, etc.) as this may denature the protein

Any Differences In Whey Protein Powders For Men And Women?

There is no difference in whey protein powders for men and women. Whey protein powders for women and men have the same purpose—providing an adequate amount of protein.

See related posts:

How Often Can I Take Protein Powders?

You can take protein powders as often as twice daily. Even the best protein powders don't contain essential vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants, so it's best to use them only as a protein and amino acids boost during meals or snacks.

It's never a good idea to treat many protein powders as a meal replacement shake because that might just ruin your weight loss or fitness efforts with that level of protein intake.

The good news is that it's quite easy to incorporate complete protein powders into your regular meals and snacks so make sure to choose neutral-flavored ones to prevent taste and texture issues.

What is the Best Whey Protein Powder?

After extensive testing and comparison of 40 whey protein powders, my team and I confidently recommend  Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard as the top choice.

Its impressive blend of 24 grams of protein per serving, low calorie, and carb content, and rich BCAA profile stood out.

In our rigorous trials, it consistently enhanced muscle development and recovery, surpassing other contenders.

Based on our collective experience, research, and client feedback, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard is the most effective and reliable option for those serious about their fitness and muscle-building goals.

Our #1 Whey Protein

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey (Best Overall)

Optimum Nutrition

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

5.0
Ingredients
5.0
Taste
4.7
Price
4.9
User Ratings
4.8
Ingredient Quality
4.9
Product Effectiveness
Pros
  • Contains a full day’s supply of BCAAs
  • Low in calories and cholesterol
  • 24 grams of whey protein per serving
  • Essential lean muscle mass support before and after your workout
Cons
  • Contains artificial flavors
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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4 thoughts on “The Best Whey Protein Powders
Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

  1. I’m looking for the best whey protein for men because the old supplement I was taking gives me an upset stomach. I’m now taking ON Gold Standard as recommended and I feel more energized during workouts. No upset stomach for me anymore. Glad I found you guys!

  2. The most popular whey protein: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey!

  3. What’s the best whey protein for you this 2021? Is it still the same?

  4. I love the taste of vanilla in my powder. Optimum Nutrition is great for digestion.

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