We all know that protein is indispensable when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass while training.

It is a vital macronutrient and plays a key role in muscle recovery, repair, and growth. That is why a lot of bodybuilders and athletes use protein supplements to boost their gains when exercising.

There are a lot of different protein supplements made from various sources, like milk, meat, plants, and grains, but the most prolific and researched one is whey protein powder.

What Is It?

Whey protein is a high-quality protein naturally found in milk products.

Milk is actually comprised of 20% whey and 80% casein, which makes whey the “watery portion” of milk. It is derived from that watery portion and is mainly a by-product of cheese, but sometimes casein and yogurt production as well.

It does what every other protein does – it is used for building and maintaining your muscles along with other tissues in your body, helping it function optimally.

Best whey protein supplements: Compare top 10 products

Choosing which whey protein to use depends on what you are looking for. Using Whey Isolates, Hydrolysed proteins and Whey proteins with added peptides will offer increased recovery when used straight after training due to their quick absorption. However during the course of the day when absorption rates aren’t quite as important, the use of the more basic proteins such as whey concentrate, casein and whole food protein sources may be more economical. Many of the whey proteins available today use a blend of two or more different wheys with some having added amino peptides. These are of benefit as they offer rapid absorption yet are more economical than some of the more pure whey protein isolates.

Which is the Best Whey product for me?

· If you are only using a whey product for around your workouts – go for a WPI(whey protein isolate) or Hydrolysed Whey (budget permitting). This will ensure your nitrogen levels are at their highest levels, providing your body the ideal situation in which to grow muscle!

· If you are looking for a whey powder to replace meals – go for a mainly WPC (whey protein concentrate) product. This will ensure your nitrogen levels are kept high for longer periods of time, meaning that your body stays anabolic.

· If you are looking for a whey protein that covers all bases – why not look for a blend of all three types of whey – WPI , WPC (concentrate) and Hydrolyzed ? This will ensure that you receive fast and medium absorbing protein to power your post-workout recovery, curb hunger, preserve nitrogen levels and build new lean muscle.

On some devices, you may have to click on + sign to read remarks about each product, listed below.

1APS Nutrition ISOMORPH 28IsoMorph WPI 28 is whey isolate protein from APS Nutrition. The name is of the product is derived from the 28 grams of protein contained in each serving. All whey proteins aren't created equal, and the protein in this formula small protein molecules to maximize absorption. Fast delivery is essential to weight-lifters looking to expedite the recovery process post-workout. With only 4 grams of carbs and 2 grams of sugar, dieters can take this product while building and maintaining lean muscle mass. And this type of protein gives you a higher amino acid profile than any other type of protein, it's rich in Glutamine Peptides for better recovery and muscle building, so why choose anything but APS Nutrition's Isomorph. This protein is cold processed, micro and ultra filtered and undernatured to be digested quickly to maximize muscle building and repair! Along with being an ultra premium protein supplement, you are going to love the taste of the Isomorph. It mixes very easily and it will have you looking forward to drinking it each and every day. With the amazing array of flavors that are available, no matter what taste you are looking for, APS Nutrition provides that flavor!
2Allmax Nutrition Allwhey GOLDAllWhey Gold is a premium whey isolate and concentrate blend with 100% whey protein source! It comes in many flavors that have been tested and certified so you know they taste good and work! AllMax AllWhey Gold has a higher purity standard than their Classic version, with great macros. It is also 100% whey protein with 24g of protein to 30g of servings. But only 3g of carbs and 1 g sugar. So, if you want more pure, less sugar and carbs, go with Allmax AllWhey Gold.
3Optimum Nutrition 100% whey GOLD standardGold Standard 100% Whey is a protein powder from Optimum Nutrition which has carved out its own niche and can help support better muscle recovery. This product uses the highest quality whey protein and is loaded with BCAAs. This great tasting product may be able to help you get results faster than ever before! Pure, powerful protein powder at your fingertips. In addition to muscle gain and fat loss, whey protein isolate provides a multitude of health benefits. The beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, immunoglobulins, and antioxidants in whey isolate enhance the immune system and have shown benefits in heart health, bone strength, and immunodeficiency. Gold Standard 100% Whey has won “Protein Powder of The Year” 7 years in a row; reward yourself and experience the absolute best in protein supplementation.
4XPI Myotein protein complexMyotein quickly climbed to the top of the list as the best protein powder available, impressing us with both quality and price! With it's fast acting, high quality ingredients and potent effects. Myotein is premium protein powder that will give you the look you want! This is the most complete protein powder on the market – it doesn’t just give your body protein, but also the parts your body needs to put the protein to use! Myotein combines 5 different types of protein to provide a continuous stream of protein to feed your muscles with the premium nutrients they need. With Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Micellar Casein, and Colostrum in the mix, Myotein will supply a steady stream of muscle building goodness.
5Allmax Nutrition ISOFLEXIsoFlex from AllMax Nutrition is a 100% pure whey protein isolate with 27g of protein and is the best protein powder they have to offer! This protein has the highest purity out of all the others and has a lot of flavors to choose from. Time for some fat loss and muscle building with IsoFlex! With almost no lactose and fat, this protein powder will help with faster recovery and give you energy to help you throughout the day! And this is 100% Whey Isolate with no fillers!
6Musclepharm CombatFor a clean, variable protein source, look no further than MusclePharm Combat Powder. Combat Powder is obviously a protein supplement first and foremost, however the other components to this product are not to be overlooked. The effectiveness of this blend begins with the BCAA's. Branched chain aminos begin the protein synthesis process and fill in the nutritional gaps necessary to produce new muscle tissue. Once your workout is complete, the need for the protein is more present then ever. During the time you spend training, your muscles are being broken down. In order to build them up bigger and stronger, your body will require protein. Luckily, Combat Powder contains both fast and slow-release proteins. This is due to the whey isolate, micellar casein, egg albumen, and other high quality protein sources. The fast release proteins begin muscle repair immediately while the slower release proteins help your body build muscle mass while resting. Glutamine is also an essential component to this blend, being an amino acid that aids in muscle recovery. To tie it all together, digestive enzymes help your body process the ingredients in this blend and get the most benefit from each serving.
7Dymatize ISO 100% hydrolyzed wheyHydrolyzed Whey is made through a certain process called Hydrolysis. What happens is that the protein is broken down into smaller sizes. This makes Peptides, which are easier for the body to absorb. This makes Hydrolyzed Whey faster to digest and absorb so it helps with recovery. This works very well for your body because of its unique blend of whey protein and recovery elements like BCAA. Dymatize ISO 100 has 5.5g of BCAA and that includes 2.7g of L-Leucine. L-Leucine is an essential amino acid that is helpful in the biosynthesis of proteins. This helps with breakdown and effects of the proteins. The BCAA are needed to your recovery is faster and easier on your body, and your body doesn't starve itself on nutrients, resulting in bigger muscles.
8Universal Animal WheyUniversal Nutrition Animal Whey is specifically designed for bodybuilders, weightlifters, and athletes who compete in strength competitions as well as those looking to increase their daily protein intake. With 25g of protein per scoop, Animal Whey is the ideal protein source for all of your bodybuilding needs. Added digestive enzymes like Papin, which is naturally found in fruits like pineapple and papaya, functions to help the body break down protein and absorb it more quickly – plus added Bromelain (also found in pineapple) works as a digestive aid. These added enzymes make Animal Whey easier to digest, so you can be confident that with sip it’s going to work right away, giving you a solid foundation for growing bigger, stronger, and better. What’s more, Animal Whey has only 125 calories per scoop, which means that it can fit into your diet whether you are in a cutting cycle, bulking cycle, or just looking to maintain your muscle mass.
9Optimum Nutrition Platinum HydrowheyWith Optimum Nutrition you know its quality you know the taste will be decent, and usually you know the value will be incredible. Hydrolyzed Whey is faster to digest and absorb so it helps with recovery. This works very well for your body because of its unique blend of whey protein and recovery elements like BCAA. HOWEVER, at 35$ for only 20 servings there are other companies out there with a quality product, at the same price offering 28-30 servings....but if you really like the taste of a ON flavor stick with this one.
10BSN syntha 6 isolateSyntha-6 Isolate is a whey protein isolate supplement containing 25 grams of protein and only 2 grams of sugar in each serving. The 100% Isolate Protein Matrix contains both fast and slow-digesting protein, shuttling BCAA's, EFA's, and essential and non-essential amino acids for a sustained release. BSN delivers the same amazing taste you have come to expect with their product line with Chocolate Milk Shake, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Strawberry Milk Shake flavors in 2.01 container. The taste is amazing, but you will also get generous dose of the protein and ingredients you need to increase size, strength, and recovery. You can take Syntha-6 Isolate pre-workout, post-workout, or anytime you want to taste a delicious shake and introduce more quality protein to your diet.

Classification of Whey protein: Four Major Types

Whey protein usually comes in four major forms called Concentrate, Isolate, Hydrolysate and Native Whey.

Concentrates have low levels of fat and cholesterol but relatively high levels of carbs in the form of lactose. They are generally 29%–89% of protein by weight and are not recommended for people who are lactose-intolerant.

It is the cheapest option and retains most of the nutrients naturally found in whey.

Isolates are fat and lactose-free and are generally 90%+ protein by weight. This is the recommended alternative for lactose-intolerant people and those who want a fast-acting protein.

Hydrolysates are whey proteins that are predigested and partially hydrolyzed for the purpose of easier absorption and metabolizing. They are less allergenic and thus recommended for those with digestion problems and allergies.

However, it causes a 28-43% greater spike in insulin levels than Whey Isolate and is the most expensive type of protein, because of the added manufacturing costs.

Native whey protein is the purest form of whey protein powder that is extracted from skim milk and is not a byproduct of cheese production. It is free from ingredients that tend to disrupt digestive health and interfere with protein absorption and comes in Concentrate and Isolate forms.

It is also much more expensive than regular whey products.

Finally, all of the whey protein comes from bovines and the biggest difference between them is whether they are grain or grass fed.

Protein sources coming from grass-fed cows tend to be far healthier than their grain-fed counterparts, and their meat and milk products are becoming increasingly popular due to people realizing the extremely harmful effects of consuming foods raised on antibiotics, steroids, and various grains.

Benefits of Whey Protein

There are several benefits to choosing whey protein over other protein sources. Whey protein has an extremely high biological value (BV) afforded to it (Whey Protein BV = 104 with Whey Peptides having a BV between 110-159). The BV of a protein is essentially a measure of how well it is utilized by the body, and takes into account the amino acid profile, solubility and digestibility of the protein. Whey protein is an ideal source of protein post workout as it is absorbed extremely quickly to help rebuild damaged muscle.

Whey proteins offer the highest biological value.

Biological value (BV) measures protein power and efficiency with which your body uses protein

Powerlifting Heads-Up Amino Acids Whey Protein

Whey Proteins Measure Up As Ideal Proteins

A PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score) measures protein quality based on the amino acid requirement of humans. Criteria needed for PCDAAS are approximate nitrogen composition, essential amino acid profile and true digestibility. According to this method, the PDCAAS of an ideal protein that meets all essential amino acid requirements of the human body has a value of 1.100. Whey proteins have a PDCAAS of 1.14, exceeding the 1.00 for soy protein.

Amino Acids Whey Protein

Essential Amino Acid Profile Of Key Proteins (mg/g protein)*

profile of key proteins

*Source: Renner E., Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition, Munich, Germany, 1983

Whey protein contains the highest percentage of BCAA’s of any protein source as well as high levels of essential amino acids. BCAA’s protect muscle from protein breakdown and help to stimulate protein synthesis or muscle growth. Whey protein also contains protein fractions. These are the active components that high quality whey proteins should contain. These include Alpha-Lactalbumin, Immunoglobulins, Glycomacro-peptides and Lactoferrin. These components possess properties that support the immune system, act as antioxidants and can help with cell growth and repair in the body.

Essential amino acids are important as the body cannot manufacture these itself and relies on getting them from the diet.

Whey protein may also suitable for some lactose intolerant individuals as it is extremely low in lactose with some whey protein isolates being virtually lactose free.

High quality whey proteins tend to be relatively expensive, with whey protein isolates being the most expensive source of protein available. Many companies produce several different sizes with the larger containers being more economical. Whey protein is also low in the essential amino acid phenylalanine as well as glutamine when compared to other protein powders. Many brands add these two components to help increase the BV of the protein and improve its effectiveness.

With so many protein powders on the market you could be excused for not worrying too much about what sort of protein you use. Many people probably don’t care about whether the protein they are using is instantised, partially hydrolysed, ultrafiltered, ion exchange whey protein isolate with low molecular weight whey peptides, featuring full spectrum whey protein fractions, including Glycomacropeptides, Beta Lactoglobulin and Lactoperoxidase. If you understood all of that then you probably don’t need any help.

But if you’re like the majority of people who base their decision on whatever they find tastes best or which one your favorite bodybuilder used to pack on twenty kilo’s of solid muscle, then you may find some of the information in this article useful.

While it may not be necessary to know exactly what all these terms mean, if you want to be able to make an informed choice and get the most from your training, it can be of benefit to know a few of the basics.