“What’s the best whey protein?” the gym-going newbie asks.
Well, as I’ve said before, whey protein is basically the cornerstone supplement for building muscle. It’s perfect right after a workout, because it’s fast digesting—it gets your muscles the protein that they need in just 30 minutes (compared to a meal, which takes around 2 hours).
But it’s not that simple—not all whey protein is created equal. This is one of the first things that I learned from working at a supplement store in college. There’s cold processed whey, grass-fed whey, casein blends, isolate matrixes, and protein concentrate…how in the hell do you know what to choose?
Well, I’ve tried probably 50 different whey protein supplements and narrowed it down to a few of the best so that you don’t have to waste your time and money. Here’s the best whey protein supplements, in my opinion.
Most people start off by going to some generic bodybuilding website or fitness blog and get their supplement recommendations from there. They read all about how “MUSCLE TECH IS THE BEST WHEY PROTEIN OF 2016!” or some nonsense, and then waste “only $49.99” on a 5 pound bag of the stuff.
This is by far the worst thing that you could ever do. Why? Again—one of the first things that I learned from working as a supplement salesman, going to different gyms, networking at shows, and talking to local bodybuilders, was that the fitness industry is incredibly political.
In other words, these websites recommend whichever product will pay them the most.
You could have an absolutely amazing, 100% pure, cold processed, nutrient-dense whey protein, but if some shitty company that’s loaded with filler pays bodybuilding.com $2,000,000 to recommend their product, then it’s going to recommend their product as the best whey protein in existence.
To be fair, I don’t blame them all that much, because that’s what companies do—they want the most profit. But, you need to realize that they are not always (read: they’re not ever) recommending things that are in your best interest.
Because the supplement industry isn’t regulated, it’s extremely important to source your whey protein from a quality source. I would say that roughly 65% of whey protein has some sort of filler in it. Then maybe 25% is just plain garbage (denatured protein from heat processing, artificial crap, no digestive enzymes, etc.). The remaining 10% is what’s actually decent.
So how do you know if a whey protein has filler in it? It’s actually pretty simple: it’s dirt cheap. When it comes to whey protein, what you pay for is what you get. This isn’t the case with all supplements, for example creatine is only about $35 per year, but with whey protein you want to buy quality.
You know that cheap ass whey you see at Walmart or Costco in the pharmacy section? The stuff that’s like $19.99 for a 3 month supply?
Yeah—that stuff. Don’t buy it. It’s absolute garbage and will probably give you diarrhea for the next 3 days (not even joking). Bad whey protein will not only upset your digestive tract, though. It will also make you feel sluggish and lethargic for the next 3-4 hours as your body screams out to you: “Why in god’s name would you give us this junk?”
Again, one of the biggest mistakes that newbies make is they go to GNC—and I can’t blame them, because I did this too. GNC tends to have a good reputation amongst old people and people who know nothing about bodybuilding. “Oh, dude go to GNC! They have the best whey protein!” shouts the 80 year old man with flabby arms.
GNC is overpriced, overrated, and completely clueless when it comes to supplements. I cannot tell you how many times I was recommended absolute bullshit by some Indian guy with a thick accent who didn’t even lift. I probably wasted close to $500 there when I first started lifting.
It’s not that their supplements don’t work at all, though. They work just enough to keep newbies (and old people) coming back, but there’s tons of other whey protein brands that are higher quality and that cost less.
Beyond GNC, there’s a lot of “high end” supplement chains that grossly overcharge for their products. I won’t name any names, but you probably know what I’m talking about. The only high end supplement chain that I ever actually liked was Max Muscle (where I worked in college). They have some very expensive, high quality supplements, but most people can’t afford them.
The quality of a whey protein is determined by several criteria:
That’s basically it. So, with all of these things in mind, here are some recommendations:
I recommended this whey protein in my article on the fundamental supplements for building muscle, because it’s just that: the most fundamental whey protein that there is. It’s all killer, no filler, high quality, and packs a mean punch.
It’s the best bang for your buck. It isn’t cheap, but it isn’t too expensive either; and it’s a quality whey protein. It’s pure, there’s no fillers or adulterants, and it’s also easily digested by your body.
It’s also a blend between concentrate and isolate, which is a good thing if you’re trying to bulk up. Whey protein concentrate is higher in fat than isolate, and they both have their pros and cons. Isolate is easier to digest, but concentrate is better for post workout recovery. ON Gold Standard mixes the two for, just that: optimum nutrition.
Remember what I said about whey protein isolate vs. concentrate? Isopure is 100% whey protein isolate, which makes it ideal if you’re trying to slim down but still recover after the gym.
I talk about this more in Body of an Alpha, but the idea is that you want to minimize insulin production if you’re trying to lose weight (AKA have less carbs and more fats/protein).
Whey protein isolate less calories than whey protein concentrate, and it has a higher protein content—both of these are crucial for cutting down while still maintaining muscle mass.
And if you have issues with digestion, whey protein isolate is the best whey (haha, not funny) to go. Digestion issues with whey protein are caused by the fat that comes with it, and since there’s almost zero fat in whey protein isolate, it’s incredibly easy to digest.
You can also buy individual bottles of isopure. There’s a few offers online, but it’s probably best to buy them from your local gym. Keep in mind it’s not as good a deal as the powder, but it’s more convenient than having to store a giant tub of whey protein, put a scoop in your blender bottle, wash it afterwards, etc.
In my opinion the alpine punch is the best flavor, but they have a pretty wide variety. The blue raspberry and grape are also pretty good—be careful not to accidentally get the “isopure mass,” brand however, unless you’re trying to bulk up.
I’ve been a huge fan of bulk supplements for a while now, due to their low prices and high quality products. In my opinion, their whey protein is the best whey protein on the market. Why?
Personally, when I consume grass fed whey vs. “regular” whey, I feel the difference almost immediately. When I switch back to regular whey protein I feel slightly sluggish, and foggy; none of that happens when I consume grass-fed whey protein.
It isn’t enough to make that big of a difference—maybe only 10%. But, when you’re functioning at an extremely high level, you need all of the edge you can get. That 10% might not seem significant, but due to the slight edge principle, it will create significant long-term differences.
The only problem is that it’s unflavored. If you’re willing to put in a little bit of extra work, you can get all of the benefits, and then some, though. Here’s the recipe that I use:
Blend it all together in a blender bottle, and enjoy. You can even mix it with milk (I recommend raw milk) for some extra calories if you’re trying to bulk up.
As I said before, whey protein is perhaps one of the most important supplements when it comes to building muscle. It will sky-rocket your performance and decrease your recovery time, because it gets your body the nutrients that it needs exactly when it needs them.
If you’re trying to get jacked, whey protein is a must—if you’re new to working out, don’t worry about all of the frills and fancy workout routines. Just buy some basic supplements and get started.
Then, as you progress and learn more about nutrition and your body, you can start to experiment with others. Remember, though—supplements are meant to supplement your diet, not replace it. They are not a replacement for real, healthy food.
If you guys have any questions, comments, concerns, or whey protein recommendations, let me know. And, as always, I’ll see you next time.
After learning to successfully trade the market, build a six pack, start a social circle from scratch, and increase his IQ by 15 points, Jon Anthony has decided to teach others how they can, too. He plans to move to Las Vegas next year to invest in real estate and live it up.