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Shopping guide for best whey isolate protein powders

Whey isolate protein powder can help enhance your workouts and increase your feeling of satiety without raising your intake of fats and carbohydrates too much. It’s also a great alternative to whey concentrate powders for those who suffer from lactose intolerance because nearly all of the lactose is removed during processing. But while these powders are all processed in a similar way, that doesn’t mean they’re all the same.

Each whey isolate protein powder contains differing amounts of proteins, fats, sugars, and other ingredients. Then, there are other factors to consider that affect the palatability of the powder, like taste and texture.

Here’s a short guide to walk you through all of these factors so you can choose the whey isolate protein powder that’s right for you.

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Whey protein is a smart choice if you’re trying to lose weight because it can boost feelings of satiety, making you less likely to reach for a snack.

Key considerations

The most important factors to pay attention to when choosing a whey isolate protein powder are the amount of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and sugars in the powder.

Amount of protein

Whey isolate protein powders are approximately 90% to 95% protein, so it’s not uncommon to find some that contain 25 or more grams of protein per serving. This should be plenty for most people, especially when added to the protein you’re most likely consuming through your diet.

You should aim to consume about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, according to the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes, but if you’re highly active, you may want to increase this amount to give your body the fuel it needs to get you through your toughest workouts.

Amount of fat

Fat shouldn’t be a huge concern when choosing a whey isolate protein powder because most of the fat is removed during processing. But if you’re trying to keep your fat intake low, it’s a smart idea to read over the label to check how much fat is actually in the whey isolate protein powder you’re considering. In most cases, it will be less than one gram per serving.

Amount of carbohydrates

We need carbohydrates to fuel our bodies, but too many carbs can lead to weight gain. If part of your aim in using a protein powder is to facilitate weight loss, it’s crucial that you pay attention to the number of carbohydrates in each serving. Whey isolate protein powders tend to have two grams of carbohydrates or less per serving, which is fairly low compared to many whey concentrate protein powders.

Amount of sugar

Sugar can improve the taste of whey isolate protein powder, but it can also work against your health and fitness goals, causing weight gain and other health issues. For this reason, it’s best to choose a whey isolate protein powder that’s palatable but contains as little sugar as possible.

Expert Tip

Other ingredients

Consider any “other ingredients” when selecting a whey isolate protein powder by scanning the nutrition label.

  • Artificial sweeteners: Some whey isolate protein powders use artificial sweeteners in lieu of sugar, but some health experts claim that these may actually be more harmful to your body. Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid these ingredients. Common artificial sweeteners include acesulfame potassium (ace K), aspartame, and sucralose.

  • Artificial colors: Artificial colors serve no purpose other than to color the protein powder. Some consumers are concerned about the health consequences of these artificial colors, and if you are one of them, it’s best to avoid any whey isolate protein powder that contains artificial colors. You may see these listed as “FD&C” followed by a color and number.

  • Artificial flavors: Artificial flavors are popular in whey isolate protein powders, but as with other artificial ingredients, some question the safety of these flavorings. If this concerns you, you’re better off going with an unflavored whey isolate protein powder or one that uses natural flavors.

  • Amino acids: Amino acids are building blocks of proteins that help keep your body functioning at an optimal level. Some whey isolate protein powders contain an assortment of amino acids, but these are not essential, as your body can also get amino acids by breaking down the proteins that you consume from food.

  • Gluten: If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, you should read the label carefully to be sure that the whey isolate protein powder you’re considering doesn’t contain any gluten.


Ideally, your whey isolate protein powder will dissolve completely into liquid and will go down smoothly without leaving a chalky or gritty residue behind. But this isn’t always the case. Some whey isolate protein powders don’t mix in well and may sink to the bottom of the glass or leave an unpleasant texture behind in your mouth. This can make you less inclined to use the protein powder.

It’s smart to read through customer reviews for the protein powder you’re considering before purchasing it to determine if the texture of the powder is an issue for the majority of consumers. If you find a number of complaints, you may be better off choosing a different protein powder.


If you plan to mix your protein powder in with food or some sort of flavored drink, an unflavored whey isolate protein powder may suit you the best. But if you plan to drink the protein powder in water, it may not hurt to choose one that’s flavored. Many protein powders are available in several flavors, so you can choose the one that’s most appealing to you and swap them out if you grow sick of a certain flavor.

Whey isolate protein powder prices

Whey isolate protein powders usually range in price from around $0.75 to $2 per serving. However, it’s not fair to say that a more expensive protein powder indicates a higher-quality product. It’s more important to evaluate them based on the quality of their ingredients and the texture and palatability of the powders themselves.


  • If you’re concerned about sugars in your protein powder, consider mixing an unflavored powder with food or a fruit smoothie instead.

  • Use your whey isolate protein powder as part of a meal replacement shake if you’re trying to lose weight.

  • Consider transferring bagged protein powder to a sturdier container so you don’t need to worry about the bag tearing.

  • Consume your whey isolate protein powder within a half hour of your workout for best results.

Other products we considered

If you don’t have a problem with lactose, you may enjoy Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder. It contains a mix of whey isolate and whey concentrate for a total of 24 grams of protein per serving, but it still manages to keep its fat and carbohydrate content low. It’s available in 17 flavors, so you’re certain to find something that suits your taste buds. Users are pleased with the flavors and the texture of the powder, saying that it mixes in well and goes down smoothly.

On the other hand, if you want a pure whey isolate protein powder, NOW Sports Unflavored Whey Isolate Protein Powder may be a better fit. It has 25 grams of protein per serving and just two ingredients: whey protein isolate and sunflower lecithin to help the powder to mix in better with liquids. It contains no sugars and less than one gram each of carbohydrates and fats, so it’s a nice choice if you’re trying to be mindful of how much of these you’re consuming.

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Whey protein contains a number of useful amino acids, including leucine and cysteine.


Q. What is whey protein?

A. Whey protein is a natural protein found in milk, and it helps to build lean muscle mass and boost feelings of satiety. It is the most popular source of protein for protein powders.

Q. What’s the difference between whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate?

A. Whey protein isolate undergoes additional processing that removes the majority of fats and lactose from it. This means that it contains about 90% to 95% protein, compared to just 70% to 80% in whey concentrate.

Q. What is hydrolyzed whey isolate?

A. Hydrolyzed whey isolate means that the protein is essentially “pre-digested” so it’s easy for your body to use and can be absorbed more quickly.

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