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 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.
By the time you're finished reading, you will be fully aware of what whey protein powder is, its health benefits and the best supplement for you.
The 6 Best Whey Protein Powders
First, let's look at the best protein powder for men and women
ON Gold Standard 100% Whey
per 1-scoop serving
per 1-scoop serving
per 1-scoop serving
per 1-scoop serving
Jamie Eason Signature Series
per 1-scoop serving
Top 3 For Men
1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard
100% Whey (Editor's Choice)
This is hands down the most popular brand of protein powder.
Packed with 24 grams of protein and over 5 grams of BCAA (Brand Chain Amino Acids), this is probably the protein powder that your daddy started using in order to build muscle back in the 1980s.
Optimum Nutrition (ON) 100% Whey Gold Standard contains Why Protein Isolates (WPI), some of the purest form of whey protein that exists.
2. BSN SYNTHA-6
If a weightlifter with bodybuilding aspiration isn't taking on 100% Whey Gold Standard, then they're likely taking BSN Syntha-6 protein powder instead.
With each scoop of BSN Syntha-6 containing 22 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of essential amino acids, it promotes muscle growth and recovery.
Most people agree this is one of the most tastiest protein powder brand on the market.
3. Muscletech Nitro-Tech
This is one protein powder that has likely been in your local meathead's gym bag.
The reason for that is Muscletech Nitro-Tech delivers 30 grams of protein in every scoop!
Like on 100% Whey Gold Standard, Nitro-Tech contains WPI to ensure they have the highest quality whey protein.
In addition, this brand has 3 grams of creatine monohydrate per scoop.
Top 3 For Women
1. FitMiss Delight: Women's Premium Healthy Nutrition Shake
This vegetarian-based protein powder is one of few that's designed specifically for women.
In addition to 16 grams of whey isolate per scoop, it provides digestive enzymes, vitamins, and minerals to help a woman feel fuller faster.
Thus, this product is good for women who want to lose weight.
2. Pescience Delight
This protein powder not only has whey, but casein protein too.
Each scoop yields 23 grams of protein.
Due to its combination of whey and casein, this protein powder is ideal for women who are having a hard time putting on muscle.
3. Jamie Eason Signature Series Whey Protein Isolate
If a professional physique competitor has her own protein powder, it's probably legit.
This product provides 25 grams of whey isolate, 3 grams of fiber, and only 3 grams of fat per scoop. In addition, it's gluten-free and lactose-free.
Researchers have stated that creatine combined with whey protein helps boost muscular strength better than whey protein alone.
Also, a great number of athletes use this protein powder to support their athletic performance.
What Is the Purpose of Protein?
You probably know protein is good for you but do you know its purpose? Protein contains amino acids and branch chain amino acids (BCAA's), which are the building blocks for your entire body.
Protein is a macro nutrient that maintains and replaces the tissues that comes form different cells in your body, your muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein.
Without sufficient amino acids, the body can't repair and build muscles, which leads to a slow or non-existent recovery from the muscle damage you acquire from working out.
The body can be in a catabolic state, using more protein (muscle) than it is rebuilding. Different proteins contain different amounts and types of amino acids, as well as different absorption and digestion properties.
This means that you can benefit from using combinations of proteins, depending on your training and dietary requirements.
When looking at the back of nutrition label, you will see how much protein a particular food or beverage contains per serving.
High quality protein is obtained from whole foods like turkey breast, tuna, chicken breast, lean red meat, cottage cheese, milk, and protein supplements.
It is vital you consume and adequate amount of protein every day to maximize bodily functions, especially if you perform strenuous activities or exercises.
5 Common Mistakes
There is a lot of confusion about how to use protein in a healthy way. Here are five common protein mistakes that people make. Are you guilty?
1. Turning Your Protein Shake Into A Milkshake
Many people make this „whey“ mistake. Adding high-sugar ingredients such as dried fruit, sweetened milks, processed sugar or nut butters butter can easily turn a healthy protein shake into something you would see on a Baskin-Robbins menu.
If you want to add flavor to a bland-tasting protein shake, find a healthier way to do it. Opt for low sugar ingredients such as berry fruit and unsweetened coconut milk instead.
2. Not Eating Protein With Every Meal
Ir you're not consuming protein with every meal, then you'll have lots of difficulty getting the lean muscular body of your dreams. Protein is the most vital part of building muscle as well as burning fat.
In addition, protein helps with muscle recovery, especially after being broken down from an intense workout session. That's why athletes chug protein shakes after workouts.
3. Not Eating A Variety Of Protein
As with most things in live, your protein consumption need variety. Protein is composed of nine essential amino acids that your body needs from nutrition.
Even if you eat foods that have all nine (called complete protein foods), they won't have all the other vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbs your body needs.
That is why it is necessary to eat a variety of foods throughout the week to achieve optimal health.
4. Relaying On Protein Bars
Because your favorite athlete eats protein bars doesn't mean that they are their only source of protein.
Actually, due to high sugar content, a lot of protein bars on the market are glorified candy bars, it is best to rely mostly on real food and low-sugar whey for your protein needs.
5. Using Cheap, Low-Quality Whey Protein
It's understandable that protein powder may not be high on your budget. However, if you desire to maximize your health, it is necessary to get a high-quality brand.
Keep in mind that you're wasting a lot of money if you buy a cheap bled powder because you're getting more carbs and fat than protein.
The best protein powder to get is an isolate or hydrolysate protein. Due to its long refinement processing, isolate and hydrolysate will give you a higher quality protein without the unnecessary additives.
6 High Protein Food Sources
Most of us get protein from food sources. The majority of quality protein comes from lean, natural meat-based products (chicken, beef, turkey, etc.) along with other food sources.
The following are some food products that contain high amounts of protein per serving:
1. Whole Eggs
One of the best muscle building foods is eggs. Eggs contain all 8 essential amino acids that are needed for muscle recovery and muscle growth.
They also contain valuable minerals like calcium, zinc and iron that aids in the muscle-building process.
Eggs are a rich source of vitamins A, E and K as well as a host of B vitamins such as B12 (energy), riboflavin and folic acid.
Eggs are packed with 6 grams of protein per serving, and they have helped countless natural bodybuilder and athletes add muscle mass.
Since super athletes are constantly tearing their muscle fiber, eggs are the best food to help replenish them.
Some „health enthusiasts“ will instruct you to only eat the egg white because of the high levels of dietary cholesterol in the egg yolk.
However, there hasn't been any conclusive evidence that egg yolks increases your levels of bad cholesterol.
In fact, according to medical doctors, eggs have a minimal effect on the blood cholesterol in relation to foods high in trans-fat and saturated fat.
This means that it's not the egg yolk that elevates your bad cholesterol levels, but the high-sodium/saturated fat foods you eat with it such as sausage, bacon and ham.
In addition, egg yolk provides adequate amount of healthy and fatty acids (Omega 3s) that serve many bodily functions including muscle growth.
So skip out on the yolk if you want, but you'll be missing out on many healthy benefits.
2. Grass-Fed Beef
This is the question you should be asking if you want to build muscle: Where's the beef? (if you are to young to remember that phrase from the old Wendy's commercial, click here to get a good laugh).
Besides eggs, many bodybuilders have literally built their career off beef.
Beef contains essential amino acids and has a high biological value, which means it is very digestible and usable by the body; thus, an important aid in the muscle-building process.
But that's not all that beef can do. Beef offers two grams of creatine per pound (if you don't like to eat beef, check out our guide on the best creatine out on the market).
Creatine is a compound that delivers energy to your muscles while they contract which helps you lift heavier weight.
But, you say, isn't red meat bad for you? Red meat has received heaps of criticism for being unhealthy.
The main reason for this is because of the growth hormones that are injected into cows to make them grow faster.
If you prefer to avoid these hormones, opt for organic grass-fed beef instead that doesn't contain growth hormones.
3. 95% Or 90% Lean Ground Turkey
Don't assume that turkey is only good for Thanksgiving. Lean ground turkey is a superb protein-rich food that helps build lean muscle mass.
4 ounces of this bird delivers about 34 grams of protein. In fact, turkey delivers more protein per serving than most other meats (and protein powders).
So if the only time you eat turkey is in late November, then it is time to re-adjust your meal plan if you want to build muscle mass.
4. Baker Or Grilled Fish
Fish is a great muscle-building food! Not only does it provide you some creatine (along with quality protein), its fatty oil content supports muscle growth as well. In addition, research shows that fish oil improves your cholesterol and supports bone health.
Unlike other meat products, it has a low amount of saturated fat and contains omega 3 fatty acids that deliver a lot of health benefits to your heart.
Another great thing is that fish is a versatile dish, meaning you can choose from a wide range of fish for your meal. If you hate fish, it's a good idea to take a fish oil supplement.
Some fish are better for muscle-building and burning fat than others. Below is a list of some of the top performers you should check out:
Beans are also a great source of protein but can have an unpleasant, „gassy“ side effect for some people.
It depends on how your body processes them. If your body is able to digest them well, beans are an incredible source of fiber and protein.
Also, if you're a vegan (or thinking about becoming vegan), beans will be your best friend when it comes to getting an adequate dose of protein.
Below are beans that provide a great source of protein:
6. Brown Rice/Long-Grain Rice
Brown rice has a surprisingly good amount of protein (5 grams per cup) and should be a food you eat on a regular basis, especially if you're trying to gain muscle.
Be sure to choose the long grain rice or the brown rice rather than white rice because they haven't been stripped of their nutrition like the white rice has.
This is another food that vegan-based athletes and users can utilize to get protein. There are also brown rice potein powders that you use.
6 Types Of Protein Powder
1. Whey Concentrate
Whey concentrate 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.
Whey is recommended for beginners that are trying to add some protein to their diet.
The issue with this type of protein is tat it can upset people's stomachs and make them gassy and bloated.
Why is that? Because a great amount of people are lactose intolerant, which means that their bodies have difficulty digesting a sugar present in milk-based products such as whey protein.
2. Whey Isolates
Whey isolates are another type of protein that is quickly digested within the human body. It tends to be slightly more expensive than whey concentrate but is extremely good for people on low-carb diets.
These type of proteins tend to have very low carbohydrates and sugars. Therefore, if you're in your „cutting“ phase or desiring weight loss, this tends to be a good choice.
Isolates are also great aa a 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.
3. Soy Protein
Soy protein is a decent source of protein for people that are vegan.
It tends to have a high quantity of glutamine (which helps your body recover after a strenuous workout), arginin (which helps dilate blood vessels to allow nutrition to enter the muscles quicker), and branch chain amino acids or BCAA (which help the body recover).
Soy protein has also been found to raise your metabolism level, which will help you burn fat. It is also been shown to help with cholesterol levels to do chemicals called isoflavones.
However, there are studies that claim soy protein lowers testosterone while increasing estrogen, but there is not enough evidence to back that up.
Despite that notion, soy protein has been labeled as a „feminizing“ supplement by some people within the bodybuilding circles.
In opposition there are studies that suggest soy is as beneficial (or even better) than why in terms of muscle building.
Then again, there are studies that concluded that milk-based protein is superior to soy when it comes to building muscle for beginning weightlifters.
In our opinion, your best bet is to stay away from soy protein until further research has been done.
4. Casein Protein
As previously mentioned, casein protein is the other protein component in milk. In cow's milk, approximately 82% of milk protein is casein and the remaining 18% is serum, or whey protein.
Casein is a superb protein to take right before heading to bed because it breaks down over course of several hours rather than being absorbed quickly like whey and other proteins.
This type of protein can be used as a meal replacement with some fresh vegetables as well to keep your calorie count down.
Taking casein protein will help your body stay anabolic well through the night. Overall, your muscle building efforts will be maximized if you use casein in conjunction with whey.
5. Milk Protein Isolate
This type of protein tends to be full of amino acids and is a great product to take if you're looking for a general protein that is good on most occasions.
For better results, take whey and casein separately; take a whey concentrate during the day and a casein protein at night.
6. Hydrolysate Protein
This type of protein is the most expensive source of protein that you will find in a supplement store because it is the highest quality protein available.
If the price of supplements isn't a concern for you, this is the type you should invest in (except for some casein protein if you wish to take that at night as well).
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.
What Is Whey Protein?
By far, the most popular protein supplement available today is whey protein. Whey is one of the two major proteins found in milk (casein is the other) and i isolated from milk as a byproduct in the production of cheese and casein
Pure whey contains a large amount of the milk sugar lactose, as well as a variety of proteins, fat and cholesterol.
Traditionally, why used to be considered a waste product and was dumped on fields and pitched into lakes.
Fortunately, whey was discovered to contain high quality proteins and so methods have been developed to remove as much of the undesirable lactose, fat and cholesterol as possible from the protein.
Original methods developed included acid treatment and high temperature drying. Unfortunately, this destroyed much of the protein and ruined the quality of the protein extracted.
Fortunately, New "Whey" Were Found To Extract It
New methods have been developed that can extract the protein from the whey while maintaining its quality.
The most common methods today include:
Ultra-filtration and micro-filtration use low temperature process here the proteins are physically separated by filters.
The ion-exchange (IE) process removes the protein through an ion-exchange column that takes advantage of the specific electronic charges of the protein, fat and lactose contained in the whey and uses opposite charges to extract each individual component.
Cross flow micro-filtration (CFM) uses natural, non chemical ceramic membranes to separate the undenatured why protein from the fat and denatured (damaged) protein.
Because of the extra cost involved in the production of CFM and ultra filtered whey isolate, the majority of supplement companies use ion-exchange whey.
Nonetheless, all of these extraction methods result in a high quality whey protein, low in fat and lactose.
When you look at whey protein, always be sure to check the label for which method or methods have been used, as some of the cheaper proteins may use whey proteins that have been processed by cheaper acid treatment or high temperatures and contain high levels of undenatured proteins.
Undenatured proteins are unusable by the body and result in the whey having a bitter taste when consumed.
A good quality protein powder will always list in the ingredients panel or on the label whether it is micro-filtered, ultra-filtered or ion-exchange.
If it simply lists whey protein concentrate or proprietary blend, you can safely assume that it provides low quality protein.
Denaturing of protein destroys the important protein fractions, lowering the biological activity or effectiveness of the protein. Denaturing can also occur after manufacturing due to high temperatures.
Never Do The Following To Whey Protein
The 2 Types of Whey Protein
There are two major types of whey protein:
High quality WPC's are typically 70-85% protein, and are reasonably low in fat and lactose. WPI's however are typically grater than 85% protein, with some being over 90% protein.
As stated earlier, whey protein is a by-product of cheese and casein production. Pure whey contains a large amount of the milk sugar lactose, as well as a variety of proteins, fat cholesterol. The extraction method determines the potency of protein.
The IE process produces the most pure protein, gram for gram (around 95% protein), when compared to the other methods.
The drawbacks is that is uses chemical reagents to control the electrical charges. This can change the pH level and denature the whey by destroying some of the biologically active protein fractions.
With CFM, while it typically produces around 91% protein, no chemicals are used in this process. This results in very little of the protein being denatured so the protein retains its important protein fractions.
8 Protein Fractions Of Whey Protein
Protein fractions are the active components of whey that contains their on unique effects on health and can help enhance immune function and recovery from training.
This is present in the greatest amounts but unfortunately is considered an allergenic fraction in whey.
Good whey proteins should be less then 50% Beta-Lactoglobulin, however, the ion exchange process isolates this particular fraction easily and so ionized WPI's will be quite high in this.
To avoid any allergies from this, avoid whey proteins with higher than 70-80% of Beta-lactoglobulin.
The higher the percentage of Bega-Lactoglobulin, the lower the percentages of the higher biological value fractions.
This nutritious fraction is found in the second highest levels at around 15-20% and can also be found in mother's milk.
3. Immoglobulins (IgG)
This fraction helps to stimulate the immune system with IgG's which has important antibody activities within the body, helping to support the immune system to prevent diseases.
4. Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA)
This fraction is a precursor to glutathione.
Glutathione is an essential water-soluble antioxidant in the body that protects cells and serves as a primary detoxifier of harmful compounds such as peroxides, heavy metals, carcinogens and many more.
Betalactoglobulin and IgG fractions are also important sources of glutathione.
5. Glycomacropeptides (GMP)
GMP is a powerful simulator of cholecystokinin, which plays any essential roles relating to gastrointestinal function, including the regulation of food intake.
In addition to being a regulator of food intake, cholecystokinin (CCK) stimulates gall bladder contraction and bowel motility, regulates gastric emptying, and stimulates the release of enzymes from the pancreas.
The pancreatic enzymes are critical for the complete digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates and therefore the full nutritional realization of food.
Also, CCK has the effect of slowing the overall digestive process by slowing intestinal contractions, thus giving the digestive enzymes more time to work on their respective substrates resulting in more complete absorption.
In animals, a rise in cholecystoinin is followed by a large reduction in food intake, as by slowing digestion, one perceives the „full“ feeling longer following a meal.
6. Lactoferrin (LF)
This is quite an important fraction for its immune enhancing effects.
7. Lactoferrn (LF)
Lactoferrn (LF) is found in tiny amounts in the body, yet appears to be a first-line immune system defense. LF is a powerful antioxidant and strongly inhibits iron-dependent free radical reaction by directly binding iron.
The iron binding effect results in the inhibition or iron dependent bacteria growth, and can block the growth of many pathogenic bacteria and yeast.
Its antimicrobial action may also improve antibiotic. In the digestive tract, LF may help by stimulating intestinal cell growth and enhancing the growth of „good“ intestinal micro flora.
8. Lactoperoxidase, Lysozyme, Growth Factors
These are very minor protein fractions, yet are reported to be the most biologically active.
Lactoperoxidase (LP) has a high antimicrobial activity, and inactivates or kills a wide spectrum of micro-organisms.
Lysozyme, present in only very small amounts in cow's milk, possesses antibacterial activity against a number of bacteria and works synergistically with lactoferrin against bacteria sucha s the Salmonella species. Lysozyme is found in saliva, tears, and other body fluids, where it acts as a natural antibiotic.
Growth Factors include IGF-1 and IGF-2. IGF-1, or Insulin-like Growth Factor, is the hormone released during growth hormone metabolism, the amount produced which determines the extent of growth in children and the building of muscle and lean body mass in adults.
Studies have shown that IGF-1 rises in direct proportion to the quality and quantity of protein in the diet. Hydrolysing (predigesting) whey to make di-, tri-, and oligo-peptides (short and long chain amino acids), increases the bio-availability (BV) of the whey, further increasing the release of IGF-a.
We hope your head isn't hurting too much after reading that. Next, let's discuss which protein powder is better; why or casein?
Whey Protein Vs Casein Protein
Whey and casein are brothers and milk is their mother. Unfortunately, like Cain and Abel, they both hate each other - or do thy?
Many people in the health and fitness world feel that they should go with one or the other, but it shouldn't be this way. 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.
6 Health Benefits of Whey
1. Boost Muscle Size And Strength
This benefit is the reason you see the meatheads n your gym using whey protein powder (and probably the reason you're reading this article). 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
If you have aspirations to lose weight, protein powder can help. 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.
3. Decreases Appetite
Most people experience an increased appetite after working out. This not an issue in itself, but it can be when people overeat, especially when trying to lose weight.
Whey protein powder can solve this problem. 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 highly beneficial, especially if you're a big snacker.
4. Boost Immune System
Have you been feeling under the weather lately? Forget Aleve, let protein powder handle it!
So as flu season approaches, let exercise and whey be thy medicine.
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.
While whey protein is not a bubble bath or hot oil massage, it still has the ability to ease your stress.
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.
How To Make It Taste Good?
Would you rather have a healthy protein shake that tastes like strawberry or cardboard? What you put in your protein shake determines the difference. So what makes it taste good?
Most berry fruits (e.g. strawberries, raspberries) and bananas performs a splendid job of making a shake taste-friendly.
Also, adding sweet spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg works well too. To me, the biggest factor that makes a protein shake taste great is using milk instead of water.
Now that you're armed with „whey“ more knowledge, let's look at a few whey protein powders that's worthy to be in your pantry.
3 Protein Powder Shake Recipes
Now that you know what protein powder is best for your situation, here are three fantastic protein smoothies for you to make at home.
- Mixed Berry Bonanza Smoothie
- Guarana Blast Smoothie
- Banana Swirl Smoothie
Mixed Berry Bonanza Smoothie
Cook Time: About 30 seconds or blend until smooth
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Guarana Blast Smoothie
Cook Time: About 30 seconds or blend until smooth
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Banana Swirl Smoothie
Cook Time: About 30 seconds or blend until smooth
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
3 Most Commonly FAQ
How many protein shakes should you drink a day?
Remember: Whey protein powder is a supplement, not a substitution for real food.
Therefore, you should be eating a proper amount of protein-rich food in addition to drinking protein shakes.
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?
Your shaker cup will allow you to time your protein intake, but it's debatable whether that really makes a big difference or not.
While whey is beneficial no matter when you take it, the two most critical times to consume whey protein are: 30 minutes before your workout and within 30 minutes after your workout.
The reason for this is ti 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:
- 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 Is the Best Protein Powder?
Whey protein will greatly assist in your muscle building, fat-burning, and athletic endeavors. In addition, it will help you be a healthier person.
As a reminder, whey isolate or whey hydrolysate is what to look for when shopping for a quality whey protein powder.
Which type of whey protein powder will you choose or have you chosen? If you're already using one, is your physique progressing?
Please share your experiences and/or leave a comment below.
Optimum Nutrition: Gold Standard
Whey Protein for Men
Whey Protein for Women