Best Whey Protein Powders

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

178 Models Considered
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231 Consumers Consulted
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best whey protein powders

Last Updated December 2019

Whey protein powder is one of the most popular options for building up muscle and toning your body. This milk-based protein is easy for your system to absorb and digest, making it a great supplement for anyone looking to increase their strength.

On its own, whey tastes pretty terrible. That’s why most whey protein powders are flavored with chocolate or vanilla. The three types of whey protein powders are isolate, concentrate, and hydrolysate, and your body absorbs each one differently. Whey protein can be used as a protein supplement for building up muscle relatively quickly, or it can help you lose weight. Finding the right whey protein for you means considering your fitness goals, health needs, and flavor preferences.

Most whey protein powders are similarly priced, and whey is one of the most affordable types of protein powder available. To learn more about the benefits of whey and the types of whey protein powders you should consider, continue reading our buying guide. When you’re ready to buy, take a look at our favorites, too.

Most people mix whey protein into water or milk, but you can take your whey protein a variety of ways, including stirred into oatmeal or baked into cookies.

Key considerations

Why whey?

Whey protein powder is the most popular protein powder among athletes for a reason. It’s affordable, it’s easy to mix into a variety of drinks and shakes, and it digests easily to help you quickly build muscle and strength.

You find whey protein in milk. When cheese is made, the whey is the clear to cloudy liquid by-product. You can see this same liquid in yogurt. That probably gives you some idea of why it isn’t pleasant to drink on its own. However, it’s very rich in protein and amino acids, both of which promote muscle growth.

Your body is in a perfect state to absorb protein shortly after a workout, but you can take whey protein before working out or throughout the day between meals. Whey has numerous benefits, including lowering blood pressure and fostering weight loss.

Types of whey protein powders

There are three main types of whey protein powders, which vary in protein content and ease of absorption. The type you use will depend on your personal fitness goals and health needs.

  • Concentrate: Whey concentrate protein powder is the most popular variety, preferred by many for its protein content of around 50% to 80% and comparably pleasant taste. It also contains some fat and lactose, both of which improve the flavor. It works well as a post-workout drink or meal supplement to increase your protein intake and provide you with other valuable nutrients. Whey concentrate is the least expensive variety.

  • Isolate: The next most popular type is whey isolate protein powder, which has most of the fat and nutrients removed for a 90% protein mixture. If simply increasing your overall protein intake is your goal, whey isolate is your best choice, and it can be taken at any time of day. It’s also a good choice for limiting your carb intake, and it can help you lose weight.

  • Hydrolysate: This powder is predigested and designed to be absorbed quickly and efficiently. It is generally higher in nutrients than whey isolate. Whey hydrolysate is a great post-workout option, though it has not been studied as extensively as the other two types.

The most popular whey protein available

This fan favorite, known for its delicious flavor, offers 24 grams of protein per serving and contains 100% pure whey protein. While some sweeteners may be included, this is a whey isolate powder that’s easy to digest and can be used as a meal supplement.

Whey protein powder features

When comparing whey protein powders of the same type, flavor and additional ingredients are the main differences to look for.

Flavor

Whey protein powders come in a variety of flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and more unusual flavors like coffee or cookies and cream. With these powders, take note of whether they’re sweetened. While this can improve the taste when the powder is blended into a few ounces of milk, it could mean it contains additional sugar. If you would rather cut back on sugars and sweeteners, opt for unflavored whey protein powder that you can mix into a drink of your choice.

Added ingredients

Like most foods, the fewer ingredients in a whey protein powder, the more healthful it will be. Check the label for added ingredients, and if you have any allergies, be particularly careful about reading the label.

EXPERT TIP

You can mix your protein shake with a blender or with a shaker bottle, which you can easily take to the gym.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Almost all whey protein powders come with a scoop. In some cases, the scoop is designed to rest inside the tub, so you don’t have to go searching for it.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Because whey protein is a milk product, it isn’t a good protein supplement for those who are lactose intolerant.


Staff  | BestReviews

Whey protein powder prices

Remember that what you’re really looking for in a whey protein powder is the price per ounce. Don’t be fooled by clever packaging. A container that seems cheaper may cost more per ounce.

Inexpensive: Whey protein powders that cost $10 to $20 are usually concentrates, but some isolates are available in small packages in this price range. These may be flavored or unflavored.

Mid-range: In the $20 to $40 range are several whey concentrates, isolates, and hydrolysates in a variety of flavors and sizes.

Expensive: Whey protein powders that cost $40 to $80 are usually sold in large quantities that will last you for several months.

Sweet flavor at a low price

If you’re picky about flavor, this Isopure powder is a great option with its 17 flavor choices, including an unflavored powder. Customers find this whey powder easy to mix into water or milk, and the low-carb option keeps the focus on protein intake.

Tips

Whey protein powder is a great way to add a decent amount of protein to your diet, but there are a few tips that can help you hit your fitness and health goals sooner.

  • Take your whey protein within an hour of your workout. It’s the best way to get protein and nutrients straight to your muscles.

  • Pair whey protein with carbs. It can help your body absorb the protein more effectively.

  • Mix your whey protein powder in milk. This can further increase your protein intake.

  • Drink plenty of water. Do this as long as you’re using whey protein as a supplement. This helps your body metabolize the protein more efficiently.

  • Put whey protein powder in a smoothie. To avoid an unevenly mixed drink, add your whey powder second. Add ice for a bit of texture that also keeps your smoothie cool.

  • Shake it up. Whey protein powder can settle unevenly in the container, so give your powder a good shake before you enjoy it for the first time. For good measure, you can shake it up again when the container’s half empty.

  • Adjust the amount. Though all whey protein powders include recommended serving sizes, you can always use more or less powder according to your preferences and needs.

Other products we considered

Though we think our recommendations are the best whey protein powders available, there are a few other products worth discussing briefly. If you’re looking for a healthy, low-ingredient option, we recommend the Levels Nutrition Whey Protein, which is 100% grass-fed and GMO-free and comes in a tasty vanilla bean flavor. Customers rave about the taste and how easily the powder digests, and many say that it’s their favorite protein powder. This product’s few ingredients makes it a great option for anyone with allergies. Another popular option is the Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey Protein Powder, which is an hydrolysate isolate powder for a highly digestible mix with an impressive 30 grams of protein per serving. For a low-carb, low-sugar option, this is a good choice from a trusted brand.

Whey protein powders are available in a variety of flavors, but the drink you mix it with will have the biggest impact on taste and texture.

FAQ

Q. Is whey protein keto-friendly?

A. Yes, it’s a popular choice for those looking to add protein to their ketogenic diet, and whey isolates are a common go-to due to their low carb content.

Q. Can I take in too much protein?

A. Absolutely, and it’s generally something you want to avoid since excess protein will be turned into fat. A good rule of thumb is to take in around one gram of protein for every three pounds of body weight.

Q. Can I mix whey protein into any drink?

A. Pretty much, though your flavor mileage may vary. Most people mix whey protein into water or milk, but other common options include coconut water, almond milk, or juice. If you want to get really creative, you can make your own protein bars or protein cookies.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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