With the plethora of brands, labels, and ingredients out there, finding the protein powder best suited for my needs can be challenging.
As a health and performance coach, as I researched the top protein drinks in the market today, one name kept coming up: Ladder Whey Protein.
There has been a lot of buzz around this pre workout, and it’s apparently one of the hottest supplements in the sports nutrition space today.
So, I decided to test it with my team and see if it lives up to the hype.
Here's my Ladder Protein Powder review.
What is Ladder Whey Protein Powder?
Ladder is a whey protein supplement that supplies whey, milk protein, and certain probiotics to enhance muscle gain and shorten recovery times.
What sets this grass-fed whey protein isolate apart from other whey protein supplements is its interesting line-up of ingredients.
According to Ladder, its manufacturer, your body can use much less whey protein powder than what’s on the label.
So, in place of whey concentrate—which can only have anywhere around 30-80% of absorbable whey protein powder—the brand opted to use whey isolates instead.
While it’s the only whey protein source in this drink, the company claims it can give you about 90% pure absorbable and digestible protein powder.
And to ensure you make the most out of this whey protein, Ladder loaded up this supplement with milk protein (filled with casein protein powder), which the brand says will give you an effective mix of fast and slow-digesting proteins.
This protein powder pre workout is also rich in certain probiotics that can help your body absorb essential amino acids, especially branched-chain amino acids, more efficiently.
With its special components, the protein powder brand says this drink can improve recovery, upgrade muscle gain, and enhance your sports performance.
Another main draw of this protein powder product is its strict adherence to supplement safety standards.
Ladder supplements—such as plant protein, superfood greens, and vegan pre-workout—are all NSF Certified for Sport. It’s a third-party certification program recognized by major sports governing bodies such as the NFL, MLB, NHL.
It follows Olympic standards and ensures there are no banned substances in the premium Ladder supplements.
Lastly, it’s important to note that this drink isn’t made from plant protein, so it might not be the best option for people on a plant-based diet.
The Ladder Supplement Brand
Ladder Protein Powder was founded by NBA superstar LeBron James and his trainer, Mike Mancias.
It began when the athlete suffered from muscle cramps during Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals. Wanting to avoid another episode, he worked with Mancias to find a clean and effective supplement that would fit his needs.
However, they couldn’t find anything on the market that fit the bill, so they decided to make their own.
Together with a team of experts, they manufactured a line of safe and high-quality Ladder supplements, like whey protein powders.
LeBron James also consulted with his long-time friend and former professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, who knows the ins and outs of the sports nutrition industry.
After four years of developing their Ladder supplements, they finally launched Ladder Sport in 2018.
What are the Ingredients?
Each packet of Ladder contains the following on a per serving basis:
- 130g calories
- 26g protein
- 6g carbs (2g fiber, 3g sugar)
- 1g fat
Ladder claims they’ve solved a critical quality issue with most whey protein powders by adding these two main ingredients in their formula: whey isolate (5.5g) and milk protein isolate (24.8g).
This makes for a great combination because casein is a slow-digesting protein while whey protein isolate is quickly digestible. The result? A sustained release of essential amino acids into the bloodstream and a drink that is more filling.
Most users liked how it gives them the boost they need for workouts as well as a more efficient recovery the day after.
This Ladder pre workout also contains less than 1% lactose, which makes it even more readily digestible and a good option for people with lactose intolerance.
“Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you have got a kingdom.”
- Jack LaLanne, Fitness & Nutrition Guru
Remarkably, this drink contains generous amounts of vitamins, minerals, and calcium (575 mg), which is rarely found in most Ladder supplements. This is another great plus since calcium helps build strong bones and helps the heart, muscles, and nerves function properly.
Other principal ingredients include EAAs and BCAAs, essential amino acids that can also help you build muscle, improve your exercise performance, and enhance post-workout recovery.
Many of our clients agreed that it helped sustain their energy until the final reps of their workouts.
Finally, this protein powder boasts 2 billion CFU of probiotics from eight different strains, which, I think, is a real game-changer.
According to the study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, the presence of abundant probiotic bacteria in the gut is known to enhance immunity, improve some mental health conditions, and help you lose weight and belly fat .
According to another study found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, probiotics aid in essential amino acid absorption, which may help provide more energy, build stronger muscles, and lift the overall mood .
Ladder is gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO, and contains no artificial flavors or sweeteners.
Ladder is a protein supplement that contains various essential amino acids, vitamins, and probiotics to improve overall exercise performance.
Specifically, the manufacturers claim that it can:
- Help with faster muscle recovery and repair
- Support lean muscle mass growth
- Enhance muscle strength and endurance
- Promote healthy digestion
Based on online reviews, this protein powder is effective in improving muscle recovery as well as increasing strength and endurance.
Our clients agreed with this, and they found it to help with their digestion too, thanks to the probiotics.
- NSF Certified Sport
- All-natural protein sourced from grass-fed cows
- Great-tasting flavors
- It comes in convenient, pre-measured packets
- It contains generous amounts of essential amino acids, vitamins, and probiotics
- No artificial flavors or sweeteners
- It might be a bit pricier than most protein powders
- Some users say it’s clumpy and needs a shaker/mixer to blend well
- It contains dairy and might not work for individuals on a plant-based diet
How Does It Taste?
Ladder tastes good, which I can say is true for both of its Chocolate and Vanilla variants.
Personally, I like the Chocolate flavor better. It tastes more like dark chocolate and is just the perfect balance between sweet and bitter.
It’s different from the usual chocolate flavor that tastes nothing like chocolate.
Meanwhile, the Vanilla is its polar opposite. It’s bordering on ice cream-sweet, and I’m not sure I’m a fan of that.
Another note is that both variants have a chalky texture that lingers on the tongue after drinking it, but it’s more pronounced in the Vanilla one.
It’s a bit of a deal-breaker for me but not for many users because they liked how the natural flavors mix well with many shakes and snacks.
How to Take Ladder?
You take Ladder by mixing one to two packets with eight to 12 ounces of water, milk, or any of your favorite beverages. According to Ladder, you can take this supplement before or after your workout.
I like mixing two packets with almond milk and banana as a post-workout shake.
But on my off days, I take it first thing in the morning to help me kick start my day.
It can also serve as an alternative to a snack when a healthy option isn’t available.
Possible Side Effects
Whey supplements are generally safe when taken appropriately. However, high doses may lead some people to experience the following side effects:
- Increased bowel movements
- Reduced appetite
To avoid these unpleasant reactions, make sure to take this drink within the recommended dosage.
There were a few online users who experienced bloating and stomach cramps minutes after taking the product.
In my case, I am not particularly sensitive to any ingredients so I didn’t really feel any adverse effects in my body.
Where Can You Buy It?
You can buy Ladder Protein Powder from the official Ladder website.
You can either get the box with on-the-go packets or a bag with a scoop (serving size: 30).
If you subscribe for regular shipments, you get to save 20%.
Ladder also offers free shipping when you buy from the online store.
However, the greatest benefit of buying Ladder from the official website is the 100%-guaranteed legitimacy of their products. It means you need not worry about receiving counterfeit or expired supplements.
They shipped the package 2 days after I placed my order on their website, and I received it, free of charge, within 4 days.
Here’s what people are saying about Ladder.
“Very clean and tastes unreal! The individual packaging is also very convenient and gives me the freedom to take it wherever I want. Because of Ladder, I’m now closer to reaching my fitness goals.” - Dylan K.
“I’ve tried many protein supplements out there and this one is the best. I don’t feel weighed down by it after my workout. It has a nice texture and keeps me full for hours after exercising. It’s my favorite pre workout!” - Elizabeth B.
“This whey protein supplement from Ladder is an excellent product. It tastes so good even when mixed with only water. I am happy with this drink and the service as well.” - Bryan H.
However, some users who left a review aren’t too pleased with this drink.
“I really wanted to love this protein shake from Ladder. However, the texture was too thick and gritty. It also produced a thick foam on the top. The flavor was good, but the texture kept me from enjoying it altogether.”
- Alyssa L.
“The flavor was good, but the texture was off-putting and the powder never fully dissolved.” - Brittany C.
Whey Protein Alternatives
We compared Ladder Whey Protein to three other popular protein powders to give you the whole picture. Here is what we learned.
Transparent Labs Whey Protein
Transparent Labs provides 28 grams of whey protein to support muscle growth and repair, which is a bit more than Ladder Whey Protein. Being a fitness coach, I appreciated that Transparent Labs contains no artificial flavors, coloring, or sweeteners.
For a level playing field, I ordered the chocolate and vanilla flavors for testing, but Transparent Labs offers fun flavors like cinnamon french toast and oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Our test group reported this protein powder mixes well with no clumps and tastes delicious.
Additionally, Transparent Labs enriches its protein products with essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and potassium. With no hidden fillers or additives, Transparent Labs protein powder is a trustworthy and quality supplement with a price point on par with Ladder Whey Protein.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard
Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder consists of high-quality, ultra-filtered whey protein packed with essential amino acids and BCAAs.
Optimum Nutrition is gluten-free, low in carbs and calories, and free of banned substances, and the protein content is two grams less per serving than Ladder Whey Protein.
Our test group users reported less post-workout soreness while testing Optimum Nutrition.
You have a wide variety of flavor choices with Optimum Nutrition compared to just vanilla and chocolate from Ladder Whey Protein. Optimum Nutrition offers flavors like coffee, Rocky Road, and strawberries and cream.
The pricing of Optimum Nutrition is significantly cheaper than Ladder Whey Proein and has many positive reviews about taste and mixing ease.
Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
Dymatize designed its protein to be quickly digested and to work repairing your muscles so you can keep pushing your limits. I like the addition of 5.5 grams of BCAAs in each scoop which will promote stronger and leaner new muscle.
Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed Whey Protein is entirely lactose and gluten-free, with less than one gram of sugar compared to the 3 grams in Ladder Whey Protein. The protein content is close between the two, with Dymatize offering 25 grams and Ladder offering 26 grams.
Some users in our test group reported the taste was too sweet for their liking, while others thought it was delicious. We ordered traditional vanilla and chocolate flavors for our testing, but Dymatize offers other fun flavors like birthday cake, cookies and cream, and chocolate peanut butter.
Where is Ladder Made?
Ladder is made in the United States. However, we can't find the exact location.
What is Ladder's Return Policy?
Ladder has a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you want a refund, contact the OpenFit customer service team to start the process.
What's the Science Behind the Specific Probiotic Strains in Ladder Whey Protein?
Ladder Whey Protein includes specific probiotic strains that are chosen for their proven benefits in improving gut health and aiding digestion. These strains can enhance the absorption of nutrients, support a healthy gut microbiome, and may even contribute to better immune function.
What Sweeteners and Flavoring Agents Are Used in Ladder Whey Protein?
Ladder Whey Protein uses natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit extract, which are considered healthier alternatives to artificial sweeteners and sugar. These natural sweeteners provide a pleasant taste without significantly adding to the calorie content or impacting blood sugar levels.
How Sustainable Is the Packaging of Ladder Whey Protein?
Ladder focuses on sustainability in its packaging, using materials that are recyclable or made from recycled content. The brand is also committed to reducing its carbon footprint and continuously explores ways to minimize environmental impact in its production and distribution processes.
Our Verdict on Ladder Whey Protein
After 4 weeks of taking it, I can say this protein from Ladder Whey Protein helped keep my energy up during workouts. Both natural flavors also really taste good, in my opinion.
However, this drink is too thick for my liking. Plus, it always leaves an unpleasant film on my tongue, which can be quite annoying.
As for the physical effects, I can’t say that Ladder Whey Protein Powder significantly impacted weight loss and muscle building.
Ladder Whey Protein Powder is pricier compared to other dietary supplements of its kind, and I believe I’ve seen and tried ones that are cheaper yet better.
I would recommend the 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate from Transparent Labs. It mixes well without any clumps, and many of my clients tell me that this drink helped them tremendously with digestion, muscle growth, and fat loss.
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