The 6 Best Whey Protein Powders of 2020

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One of the most protein-rich supplements is the whey protein powder, and it has become a go-to for fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders as it leads to improvement of lean mass and strength (1).

Whey protein is the liquid that is left behind after milk is curdled and strained. The protein that was originally seen as a by-product of cheese production, has now been in demand for its high-protein quality (2).

Since whey doesn’t taste particularly good on its own, it is usually available in the market with the addition of different flavors.

Whey protein is available in three different types, namely Concentrate, Isolate, and Hydrolysate. All these types are formed due to the difference in production processes and have different protein, fat, and carbohydrate content, and digestibility (3).

We have shortlisted the best whey protein powders and examined their dosage and side effects in detail below.

Our Best Picks:

1. Best Overall Whey Protein Powder: Transparent Labs Protein Series 100% Grass-fed Whey Protein Isolate

2. Best Budget Whey Protein Powder: Bulk Supplements Whey Protein Isolate 90%

3. Best Organic Whey Protein Powder: Promix Grass-Fed Whey Protein

4. Best Gluten-Free Whey Protein Powder: Naked Nutrition Grass-Fed Whey Protein

5. Best Whey Protein Powder with BCAAs: ON Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein

6. Best Whey Protein Powder for Women: Pro Nutrition Labs Her Natural Whey Powder for Women

1. Best Overall Whey Protein Powder: Transparent Labs ProteinSeries 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

Health and fitness enthusiasts expect the use of premium quality ingredients from health product manufacturers throughout the supply chain. In whey protein, this means the diet fed to the cows needs to be natural and healthy.

About Transparent Labs ProteinSeries Whey Protein Isolate

Transparent Labs is one of the most famous brands for whey protein and other health supplements. The USA-based company delivers products in several countries.

Transparent Labs ProteinSeries 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is one of the best supplements in the market and contains an impressive 88% protein-by-weight ratio.

The product is extracted from cows, which are reared purely on grass-diet, and their feed is free from all kinds of hormonal and steroidal injections or other supplements.

It uses stevia to sweeten the powder, the ingredient being a natural extract from a plant found in Latin America, unlike chemically refined sugar.

The powder contains no artificial sweeteners, coloring, or preservatives. It is made from non-GMO extracts and contains no gluten.

What it Contains:

Each serving (about 32.5 gm) of Transparent Labs ProteinSeries Whey Protein Isolate (Strawberry Flavor) has:

  • 31.1 gm of Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate (of which 28 gm is protein)
  • 1,000 mg of Natural Strawberry flavor
  • 200 mg of Stevia
  • 200 mg of Sodium

One container of ProteinSeries Whey Isolate constitutes 30 servings, which are enough to last a month. Each scoop serving of the product contains 120 calories. There are usually discount offers on ordering bulk quantities.

The ProteinSeries Whey comes in eight different flavors, catering to a variety of palates. These are Cinnamon Pastry, Strawberry, Mocha, Cereal Splash, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Milk Chocolate, Salted Caramel, and French Vanilla.

The Pros:

  • 88% of whey protein per serving
  • Zero artificial sweeteners or additives
  • Extracted 100% from grass-fed bovine
  • Non-GMO and Gluten-free

Summary: Transparent Labs Protein Series 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is one of the leading names because it assures quality. The fact that the whey protein powder is derived from American cows exclusively fed on grass ensures higher purity.

2, Best Budget Whey Protein Powder: Bulk Supplements Whey Protein Isolate

The whey protein market is saturated with a multitude of brands across different price points. If you intend to take whey powder for a long duration, it is imperative to select the one that is easy on the pocket too.

About Bulk Supplements Whey Protein Isolate

Bulk Supplements is a US manufacturer known for its wide range of health products, made from premium ingredients and devoid of harmful additives.

Their Whey Protein Isolate 90%, claims to be a rich source in Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCCAs), that aid the process of muscle growth in our bodies.

The powder has been vetted and certified by several regulatory bodies, including certification for following Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).

Furthermore, it undergoes third-party testing and is lab-verified to ensure consistent quality and purity. The powder is free of added sugars, yeast, and gluten.

What it Contains:

Each serving (30 gm) of Bulk Supplements Whey Protein Isolate has:

  • Whey protein isolate 90% (of which 27 gm is Protein)
  • Soy lecithin (emulsifier)

One serving has around 115 calories, and the powder also contains many essential and non-essential amino acids, which help your body make protein and regulate metabolic activities.

The product comes in sizes of 100 gm, 250 gm, 500 gm, 1 kg, 5 kg, and 20 kg units.

The manufacturer suggests consuming the powder in servings of 15-30 gm (2.5 to 5 tablespoons) per day, ideally before and after your exercise.

The Pros:

  • Contains pure and clean whey devoid of flavors or additives
  • Contains BCAAs
  • Best value for money
  • Free from sugar, yeast, and gluten

Summary: Bulk Supplements Whey Protein Isolate, is one of the most cost-effective supplements in the market. Bulk Supplements is a name to reckon with in the health supplement industry, and the USP of their whey powder is that it provides pure whey without flavors or additives.

3. Best Organic Whey Protein Powder: Promix Grass-Fed Whey Protein

Many people today follow all-natural and organic diets and expect their health supplements to source ingredients similarly. This has resulted in a steady rise in the number of all-organic health products in the market, including whey protein products.

About Promix Grass-Fed Whey Protein

Promix Grass-Fed Whey Protein contains high quality and pure organic whey extracted from grass-fed cows grazed and bred in the pastures of Northern California.

The powder is cold processed and undergoes several stages of micro-filtration to ensure premium quality.

Naturally laced with immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, and IGF-1, the powder is free from any gluten, corn, or soy ingredients and is fortified with BCAAs for better absorption of proteins in your body.

The powder contains no hormones, additives, added sugars, or chemical bleaches.

The firm also ensures that all its products are tested with third-party evaluators and certified with the cGMP standard. Each container of Promix Grass-Fed Whey Protein comes with a QR code printed on its inner lid to verify for credentials claimed.

What it Contains:

Each serving (30 gm) of Promix Grass-fed Whey Protein (Unflavored) has:

  • Grass-fed whey protein concentrate (of which 25 gm is protein)
  • 3 gm of carbohydrates
  • 1 gm of sugar
  • 1.5 gm of fat
  • 5.9 gm of BCAAs
  • Non-GMO sunflower lecithin (less than 1%)

Promix Grass-Fed Whey Protein comes in sizes of 1 lb, 5 lb, 10 lb, and 30 lb. Each size can be bought in five different flavors of unflavored, raw chocolate, Indonesian vanilla, peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter.

Each one pound (or 453.6 grams) container of Promix Grass-Fed Whey Protein contains 15 servings of 30 gm (or two scoops). The product is devoid of any gluten or soy and uses less than one percent of non-GMO sunflower lecithin as an emulsifier.

Promix suggests mixing each serving of the powder in water or smoothie and shaking well before drinking. It is recommended to be had within 15 minutes of your workout or between meals.

The Pros:

  • Made using organic ingredients 
  • Contains no corn, soy or gluten
  • Contains BCAAs 
  • Zero hormones, chemical bleaches or other additives

Summary: Promix Grass-fed Whey Protein promises you a protein of “unsurpassed purity” extracted from heritage breed cows reared in its partner farms. The organically produced powder undergoes cold-processing and micro-filtration, along with third-party testing for purity.

4. Best Gluten-Free Whey Protein Powder: Naked Nutrition Grass-Fed Whey Protein

Over the past few years, the multifold increase in the number of people who are allergic to gluten has led to the introduction of several gluten-free products in the market. The same is true of the health and fitness industry, and there are many gluten-free whey powders available as well.

About Naked Nutrition Grass-Fed Whey Protein

Naked Nutrition famously proclaims in its company motto that it has “Nothing to Hide.”

The company offers pure whey concentrate, extracted from the milk of cows reared in Northern California by small dairy farmers. It also claims that the cows used for extraction of whey spend 300 days in a year and 19 hours of their day grazing in the open pastures.

The milk used to make the whey powder is non-GMO, without rBGH or rBST, and non-denatured.

The powder is free of additives, flavors, artificial sweeteners, soy and contains essential amino acids alongside pure protein. The manufacturing process is also devoid of acid and bleach-based processing.

The product is certified by ‘Informed Choice,’ a reliable indicator of quality from top athletes, and certified ‘gluten-free.’ Furthermore, it is also tested for heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury for their presence by independent evaluators.

What it Contains:

Each serving (30 gm) of Naked Nutrition Whey Protein contains pure grass-fed whey protein with:

  • 25 gm of protein
  • 3 gm of carbohydrates
  • 2 gm of fat

One serving contains 120 calories and 5.9 gm of BCAAs. Each 5 lb (or 2.27 kg) container of Naked wheys includes 76 servings of 30 gm (or two scoops).

The powder comes in four different flavors: unflavored, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Naked Nutrition usually offers a discount on subscriptions of recurring orders.

The Pros:

  • Certified Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO and made in the USA
  • Contains no artificial sweeteners, color, or soy
  • Tested for heavy metals by third-party

Summary: Naked Nutrition Grass-Fed Whey Protein is a reliable product with ‘nothing to hide’ as it says. It sources all its ingredients from within the USA, and its milk comes from cows grazing in the open pastures.

The final product is certified gluten-free and comes with the reputed imprimatur of Informed Choice, certifying to be usable by premier athletes in the country.

5. Best Whey Protein Powder with BCAAs: ON Gold Standard 100 % Whey Protein

Branched-Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs are three of the nine essential amino acids which our body needs, putatively, to recover from muscle fatigue, muscle growth, and stave off muscle degradation (4, 5).

Hence, whey protein powders with BCAAs are preferred by many for enhanced benefits.

About ON Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein

One of the better-known names in the health supplement world, ON (or Optimum Nutrition), has been holding fast in the teeming industry for over 30 years and makes its products available in over 90 countries.

ON Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein contains whey isolates fortified with BCAAs to help bodybuilders achieve lean muscle mass and recover from fatigue well.

The product comes certified by Informed Choice and is certified gluten-free as well. The powder is devoid of any artificial hormones and tested for banned substances and certified for the same.

The ON Gold Standard Whey comes in too many flavors to enumerate, but some of these are chocolate, chocolate malt, birthday cake, cake batter, chocolate mint, cake donut, double rich chocolate, cinnamon graham cracker, coffee, key lime pie, strawberry, vanilla ice cream and many more.

What it Contains:

Each serving (around 30.4 gm) of ON Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein (Double Rich Chocolate Flavour) has:

  • Protein blend (consisting of whey protein isolate, whey peptides, and whey protein concentrate)
  • Cocoa powder (processed with alkali)
  • Lecithin
  • Natural and artificial flavor
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Lactase

Each serving has 120 calories, along with 24 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 1.5 grams of sugar. One serving is fortified with 5.5 grams of BCAAs.

Every 2-pound (around 907 grams) container of ON Gold Standard Whey contains 29 servings.

The recommended dosage is mixing one scoop (or 30 gm) of powder in water or any other beverage and consuming it 30-60 minutes after your workout.

The Pros:

  • Contains BCAAs
  • No artificial hormone and gluten-free
  • Tested against banned substance
  • Available in multiple flavors

Summary: The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey comes in pure whey isolate form and is strengthened by fortified BCAAs, which are crucial for muscle building and recovery purposes. The many flavors and the cost-effective price is an added benefit.

6. Best Whey Protein Powder for Women: Pro Nutrition Labs Her Natural Whey Powder for Women

Women may not find all whey protein powders suitable for their needs. They usually look for whey, which is low in calories and contains lower carb and fat to prevent unintended weight gain. Thankfully, there is a perfect product that meets these requirements.

Pro Nutrition Labs Her Natural Whey Powder for Women

Pro Nutrition Labs Her Natural Whey Powder for Women is a whey mix that is designed to keep the needs of women in mind.

The powder is lower in carb and imparts subsequently lower calories per serving than most other whey proteins available in the market.

The powder is extracted from grass-fed bovine and comes free of any growth hormone injected in cows for unnatural yield.

It contains no artificial sweeteners, is gluten-free, and uses natural flavors. Instead of refined sugar, the sweetener used is stevia, a natural herb.

What it Contains:

Each serving (28.5 gm) of Pro Nutrition Labs Her Natural Whey Powder for Women includes:

  • 23.4 gm of Proprietary Protein Matrix (containing microfiltered whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, why peptides, and skim milk)
  • Natural flavors
  • Fructose
  • Xanthan gum
  • Stevia

Unlike most other whey powders which impart between 115-125 calories per serving, her Natural Whey gives out only 110 calories, along with 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fat, and 5 grams of BCAAs.

Each one pound container (about 453.6 grams) of this product contains 16 servings.

The product guide recommends mixing one serving of 28.5 gm into juice, skimmed milk, water, or any other liquid of your choice and shaking it well in a blender before consuming.

The powder is available in two universally-liked flavors, chocolate delight, and creamy vanilla. Further, discounts are usually available on ordering two units together online.

The best part probably is that Her Natural Whey Powder for Women comes with a 60-days money-back guarantee.

The Pros:

  • 60-days money-back guarantee
  • Lower calories than most products
  • Zero artificial sweeteners
  • Gluten-free

Summary: Pro Nutrition Labs Her Natural Whey Powder for Women is made to suit women’s requirements. The product is one of the best in the category, and the 60-day money-back guarantee means that your money is safe if you do not find the quality up to mark.

The Dosage Instructions for Whey Protein Powders

Most supplement manufacturers and trainers recommend a dosage of a single or double scoop of whey protein in one serving, which can vary between 25-50 grams.

The recommended dosage of protein otherwise is around 0.8 grams/kg of your body weight, which is the minimum daily requirement to prevent deficiency (6).

Since whey protein powders help muscle growth and reduce training-related fatigue, most experts and manufacturers recommend taking it right after a workout for best results or within a 15-60 minutes window.

This is known as the anabolic window, a time wherein your muscles store protein much more effectively (7).

However, some studies show that there is no significant difference in muscle strength, whether the protein shake is taken before or after the workout (8).

It is important to remember that the total protein intake during the entire day is more helpful in improving muscle strength and size. Consuming higher quantities of it around your workout schedule might not have many benefits.

Furthermore, if you’re already taking a balanced combination of high levels of animal and plant-based proteins in your diet, additional whey protein might not be entirely necessary.

The fact that whey protein powders can be consumed in a variety of ways adds to their popularity. They can be easily mixed with water, milk, smoothies, cereals, or even used in baked items like brownies, cookies, and bread.

Summary: There is no specific amount that can be consumed to obtain the desired benefits; thus, it is advised to consume the whey protein powder as per the instructions given on the product packaging.

The Side Effects of Using Whey Protein Powder

In general, whey protein powders are safe for most people as protein is consumed and required by the body in significant quantities every day (9).

However, there are concerns about the side effects of taking too much protein, especially on digestion and metabolism. 

  • May cause issues with digestion: People who are lactose intolerant may experience symptoms like cramps, flatulence, bloating, or diarrhea (10). However, research suggests that such people can safely take whey protein isolate (11).
  • May lead to constipation: Constipation upon consuming whey protein is primarily caused due to the low intake of whole fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables (12).
  • May cause allergic reactions: In the rare case that you are allergic to whey protein, consuming whey protein might result in a high temperature, swelling of the face, throat, tongue, rashes, and a runny nose (13).
  • Effect on the kidneys: Whenever you take a diet that is high in protein, your kidneys have to do more blood filtration. But this doesn’t negatively impact the kidneys (14) unless you already have some kidney-related condition (15).
  • Effect on the liver: Whey proteins do not cause liver damage or lead to osteoporosis (16, 17, 18). However, patients with ailments like cirrhosis should avoid consuming whey as it could increase ammonia levels in the blood and cause brain damage.

Summary: There are no severe side effects of consuming whey protein. However, if you have any existing health conditions, allergies, or are intolerant to lactose, you must seek expert advice before opting for whey protein supplements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Will Consuming Whey Protein Help me Shed Weight?

A study shows that consuming a high protein diet could lead to a feeling of fullness among obese men (19).

This can help promote better appetite control and reduce the intake of total calories by reducing cravings (20).

Thus, a high-protein diet can help you regulate your food habits, but whey protein powders should not be considered meal substitutes in diets as they do not contain other essential nutrients required by the body.

How Can I Consume Protein if I am Lactose Intolerant?

People who are lactose intolerant can usually take whey protein isolate, which has 90% protein and lower levels of fat and lactose. However, if you still experience some side effects, you can try protein powders made from other sources, like soy, rice, pea, or egg protein.

What Is the Usual Shelf Life of Whey Protein Powders, and How Would I Know If It Has Gone Bad?

According to studies, the shelf life of a protein powder ranges between 9-19 months under different temperatures and humidity (21, 22). Some additives may enhance the shelf life for up to two years.

But remember, if your whey powder has changed color, has a smell or tastes bitter, it may have gone bad, and might not be fit for consumption.

How Can I Choose the Right Whey Protein Powder for Me?

Choose a whey powder that has pure whey protein with minimal additives, artificial chemicals, or sugar. Check the label to check for ingredients that you might be allergic to, and look for certifications that assure the quality of the product.

Finally, be sure to compare various brands and powders to select the best one according to your budget.

The Final Note

Whey protein has numerous health benefits and is generally safe to consume, but certain medical conditions need to be mindful while taking it. It is best to take whey protein powders as per the manufacturer’s dosage recommendations and not substitute it for meals.

There are several quality whey protein powder supplements available in the market, and the fact that you can consume them in a variety of ways is an added advantage. Choosing the right whey protein powder that suits your requirements is vital if you are planning to take it for the long-term.

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