Anyone looking to pack on some lean muscle mass can benefit from consuming whey protein powder before or after their workout. It is also popular as a meal replacement for people looking to shed a few pounds.
Whey protein powders are easy for most people to digest and come in a wide variety of flavored and flavorless options. Though whey is milk-based protein, there are many lactose-free isolates available, such as Dymatize Nutrition ISO100 Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate. This one is also low in calories and has just a single gram of carbohydrates per serving.
There are many types of protein powders, but whey is one of the most popular for several reasons. It is affordable, easily digested by the body and mixes well into a variety of beverages. It is also rich in amino acids, including the important branch-chain amino acids.
The downside to whey protein powders is that they can cause gastrointestinal issues for some, including bloating, gas and stomach cramps. This happens more so in lactose-intolerant individuals who may be better off with a beef protein powder.
Whey protein powders are made with one of three types of protein: concentrate, isolate or hydrolysate.
Whey protein concentrate is one of the most common, because it is the most affordable and retains the most of its natural nutritional benefits. It also has some fat and lactose, which helps with the flavor. However, it has the lowest protein content, usually between 70% and 85%.
If you are watching your calorie, fat and carb intake, you will be better off with a whey protein isolate. These have less lactose and fat, and a higher protein content of around 90%.
Hydrolysate, sometimes referred to as hydrolyzed whey, is pre-digested. This allows it to be absorbed more quickly by the body, making it ideal for post workout use. Also, it has more of the natural benefits of whey than isolate, but slightly less so than concentrate.
When choosing between various whey protein powders, consider the amount of calories, fat, carbs and protein per serving. The ingredients vary between them, which means they don’t all have the same nutritional content. For example, some powders may have as many as 200 calories per serving, while others have 100 or less. Similarly, some have as many as 15 grams of carbohydrates, while others have zero.
Whey protein powders come in flavored and unflavored options. The most common flavors are vanilla, chocolate and cookies and cream. You can also find them in some more interesting varieties, such as birthday cake, apple pie, cookie dough and mint chocolate chip, just to name a few.
Unflavored protein powders are better for mixing into beverages that already have a strong flavor, such as juice or a smoothie. That said, you can also find options that complement the flavor of other beverages well, such as mixing a vanilla protein powder into a berry smoothie or iced coffee.
Some manufacturers add ingredients to their whey protein powders for additional benefits.
For example, you can find options with added medium-chain triglycerides, which is said to play a role in weight management, boost energy and improve endurance. There are also options with added glutamine peptides and essential fatty acids, which can help with muscle growth and absorbing nutrients, respectively.
Just as important for some as what ingredients are added, are what ingredients a protein powder doesn’t contain. You can find whey protein powders to fit most dietary restrictions, including gluten-, GMO-, sugar-, artificial flavor- and carb-free options.
Most whey protein powders cost between $5-$30 per pound. They are sold in packets as little as one ounce and jars as big as 5 pounds.
A. While you can mix whey protein into any kind of beverage, you may not want to. You’ll need to consider how well the flavor will mix with whatever drink you are adding it to. For example, you can mix pretty much any flavor with water or milk, but you’ll need to be more selective if adding it to a berry shake or juice.
A. Most whey proteins are keto friendly because they are naturally low in carbs. That said, if you are being strict about counting your carbs, make sure to read the ingredient label of any whey protein powder you choose, as some do have added sugar and other ingredients that can increase their carb count.
What you need to know: This low-sugar option is easy to digest and comes in more than a dozen flavors.
What you’ll love: It dissolves quickly and doesn’t leave behind a gritty texture, even when mixed with thin liquids like water.
What you should consider: Some find the artificial flavoring to be overly sweet.
What you need to know: Those following a strict keto diet will appreciate this zero-carb option that contains no added flavors or sweeteners.
What you’ll love: It is high in protein and low in calories, making it ideal for those trying to shed pounds. It is also gluten- and GMO-free.
What you should consider: It has a high per-pound cost.
What you need to know: With a rich chocolatey flavor and a high 24 grams of protein per serving, this protein powder will appeal to many people.
What you’ll love: It is made with whey protein concentrate and isolate to keep the calorie and carb count down, and it mixes well into liquids without leaving behind a lot of clumps.
What you should consider: It contains artificial flavors.
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.