As you know, protein is an indispensable element for building muscle; but what is whey protein? Have you ever heard of it before? Whey protein is extracted from milk. Administered in powder form, it possesses countless properties.

Whey protein is considered a complete protein because it contains the nine essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce on its own. Protein is necessary for muscle growth and is vital for athletes; it also possesses other nutritional advantages that you should be aware of, as you will see below.

Key Facts

  • Whey protein is considered the highest quality protein because it contains the most essential amino acids.
  • The positive properties of whey protein are especially attractive to athletes, as they facilitate muscle growth.
  • The main component of this protein is whey, a byproduct of cheese production made from curdled milk.
  • There are essentially three types of whey protein: protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate. Each offers different advantages and disadvantages, as we will discover below.

Ranking: The best whey protein supplements in the market

We will now show you the best whey protein dietary supplements you can find on the market. In this section, you will discover which product is the most suitable for you, whether you are an athlete, an amateur or intolerant to certain ingredients. We also show you products for vegetarians or other conditions.

No. 1: Optimum Nutrition, Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein

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Optimum Nutrition is a world leader in whey protein and fitness supplements, and their Gold Standard whey powder is just what you need to achieve the gains you’re aiming for. Coming in various flavours, ranging from banana to double rich chocolate or strawberry, different sizes are also available to fit your needs: 909 grams, 2.27 kg or 4.55 kg.

The reviews speak for themselves: this product is considered a top quality all-rounder. According to consumers, the results are the best testimony to the quality of this protein powder. Along with reported great tastes of the different flavours comes a difficult-to-find value for money, especially for the bigger package sizes, with up to 150 servings.

No. 2: Hello Protein, Natural Chocolate Whey Protein

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This natural chocolate whey protein powder from Australian fitness lovers Hello Protein is free from any preservatives and ideal for vegetarians. Just add a scoop to your shaker and get a 21-gram boost of whey protein. Before or after a workout, or just as a snack on the go, this product 100% made in Australia brings you the best of our local fitness supplement knowledge.

According to users, Hello Protein’s whey protein powder has helped achieve great muscle gain and is easy to mix, with milk and water alike. The natural chocolate taste has become a favourite for many consumers, who are all too happy to have found a top-quality product made and tested right here in the Great Southern Land.

No. 3: Pure Product Australia, Chocolate Whey Protein

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Pure Product Australia delivers another 100% Australian-made whey protein supplement, combining whey protein isolate and concentrate in a single powder. One serving packs 24 grams of protein to help you optimise muscle growth; recommended use is 3 to 4 servings a day. Note that the product comes in 5 bags of 1 kg each.

Hello Protein claims their whey protein powder is instantised for easy mixing: this is backed up by consumers, who have said that mixing is achieved in seconds. They also found that the 5 bags of 1 kg were an easy-to-store method, while the chocolate flavour is reportedly amazing. This product is gluten free.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about whey protein

Before purchasing whey protein supplements, it is advisable to ask yourself a series of questions, such as for example for whom these food supplements are intended or why they are recommended in certain situations. In this section we address the most frequently asked questions from consumers.

What is whey protein exactly?

Whey is the liquid that remains when milk becomes cheese. Milk is previously separated from fat and casein. 94% of whey is water and 6% is protein. Whey contains a small proportion of protein, which, however, contains the following amino acids: isoleucine, lysine, threonine, valine, leucine, methionine, cysteine and tryptophan.

Grant TinsleyNutrition Expert, PhD

“Whey protein is the fastest absorbing part of milk protein. Casein and whey proteins are considered high quality proteins because they give our body the amino acids it needs.”

Whey protein contains tryptophan: what does it mean?

A single substance in the body can stimulate the production of the serotonin hormone: the amino acid tryptophan. It stimulates the metabolism in a completely natural way, without psychotropics, to produce the hormone of happiness. As a result, you will have better balance, greater resistance to stress and better sleep.

Why is whey protein so healthy?

Whey protein is considered the highest quality protein because it contains the most essential amino acids. They are important because 35% of muscles are made up of so-called branched-chain amino acids. Whey protein has a biological value of 104 and is above the biological value of the chicken egg.

Its benefits are related to a powerful antioxidant called glutathione. People with HIV, liver disease, diabetes, and various cancers can develop low levels of glutathione in the body. The body can make its own glutathione from the amino acid cysteine, and whey has a high cysteine content.

Proteína Whey con scoop y shaker.

Whey protein is very practical, as it can be easily transported. (Source: Lecic: 38729282 / 123rf.com)

Why is whey protein so important for athletes?

Whey protein is processed by the body at a very fast rate, making it especially suitable for muscle building. Many athletes use it because it is quickly absorbed by the muscles, as they are very small molecules and can be metabolised by the intestine very quickly.

Whey protein will make muscle recovery after exercise faster and more effective.

Additionally, it is extremely important to consume a high level of daily protein in order to increase or preserve muscle mass. For athletes, muscle mass is essential for an energetic workout and for burning calories in passive state.

Layne NortonMetabolism Expert, PhD

“Protein is needed to repair liver tissue and for the conversion of fats to lipoproteins. This is the only way that lipoproteins can be effectively removed from the liver.”

What is the biological value of whey protein?

There are many different types of protein, and each type has its corresponding biological value. This value corresponds to the amount of cellular structures that the body can synthesise from a specific dose of protein.

The higher the biological value of your protein source, the less you will need in order to build muscle mass.

In the following table, you can find the biological value of whey protein compared to other protein foods:

Protein source Biological value
Whey protein 104-120
Whole egg 100
Egg white 88
Casein 77
Soy 74-90

Does whey protein influence asthma symptoms?

Studies confirm that taking whey protein increases glutathione levels in the body. Other reports show that whey protein moderately influences asthma symptoms, inflammation after stroke, and some liver conditions by indirectly increasing glutathione levels.

Are whey protein supplements beneficial?

They provide high quality protein in the diet, although health organisations will always recommend getting protein from food. Studies show that taking whey protein supplements before or after exercise can improve muscle strength, muscle growth, and immunity.

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Did you know that numerous studies show that whey supplements and protein in general can help you lose fat and keep you feeling full longer than any other macronutrient?

This supplement is much more than just protein: whey contains many nutrients that provide us with amazing biological effects. It is not without reason that this supplement is one of the most researched in the world.

Hombre jóven se arregla para ir al gimnasio

Whey protein is particularly important for athletes looking to increase their muscle mass. (Source: Elnur Amikishiyev: 107214240 / 123rf.com)

When should I take whey protein?

According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, taking whey protein immediately after exercise may be especially helpful because it contains a high level of leucine, an easily absorbed amino acid.

Let’s see in the table below when you should take whey protein:

After training Before training Before sleeping
As already mentioned, it is positive because it also promotes muscle repair. After consuming the protein, it is better to eat at least every 2 hours for the next 6 hours. Taking it immediately before a workout will have no effect. In other words, take your protein shake at least one hour before training, rather than waiting until the last moment. When you sleep, your muscles are still recovering, so it is a good idea to maintain protein levels for as long as your body goes into mild starvation mode.

Is an excess of whey protein recommended?

Experts recommend consuming 1 g of protein per pound of body weight, which equals to 2.2 g per kilogram of weight. This amount is specifically important for athletes and people looking to maintain muscle mass. However, it all depends on your goals: a higher level of protein (2.6 – 3.3 g per kg) is recommended for people who are on a fat loss diet. This process is very popular amongst bodybuilders.

The safety of whey protein supplements depends largely on the dose. Excess protein will be stored as fat in the body and may increase the risk of dehydration. Additionally, there are a number of adverse effects if you consume too much whey protein, as we have listed below:

  • Kidney problems. Excessive intake of whey protein can cause kidney problems, especially if you already suffer from this. Experts recommend controlling your whey protein intake and consulting your doctor before you start taking it.
  • Liver problems. Too much whey protein can worsen liver problems. This is why it is important to consume protein in moderation. It is also advisable to consult your doctor before taking whey protein, as it can interfere with the effects of the medications you take for your liver condition.
  • Increased blood acidity. Another side effect of whey protein intake is a rise in blood pH. When there is too much protein in the blood, the kidney has trouble metabolising it. This results in increased blood acidity.

Is whey protein advisable for people with milk allergies?

Whey is a dairy product and people allergic to milk should avoid this protein. Lactose intolerant people should also remain cautious. The protein isolate is 90% protein and has little or no fat, cholesterol, or lactose, but the concentrate increases them. In addition, protein supplements can cause kidney tension.

Comida alta en proteína y proteína whey

Whey protein is a perfect choice to reach the amount of protein needed per day. (Source: Dolgachov: 54776184 / 123rf.com)

Is whey protein suitable for vegans and lactose intolerant individuals?

No. Whey protein has a predetermined value of animal origin, so it is not suitable for vegans. On the other hand, there are special whey protein preparations without lactose. As part of the product preparation, the lactose is eliminated, in order to be tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant.

Does whey protein interact with other medications?

Yes, whey protein can lead to poor combinations if used in conjunction with some medications. You should always consult a doctor if in doubt.

Next, you will see which are the cases in which you should not use whey protein if you must take medication:

  • It may decrease the effectiveness of levodopa, the medication for Parkinson’s disease. Do not take whey protein and levodopa at the same time.
  • It may reduce the amount of alendronate absorbed by the body. Alendronate is a medication for osteoporosis. Do not take whey protein until two hours after taking the medicine.
  • It may reduce the absorption of some antibiotics. It is recommended that you take the antibiotics one hour after taking the whey protein.

What are the symptoms of a whey protein overdose?

Allergies, skin problems, and liver and kidney damage due to excessive protein intake are particularly common. Allergies and skin problems, such as the increased incidence of acne, may disappear if the dose is adjusted. In addition to consulting your doctor, you should drink plenty of fluids if you want to avoid liver and kidney damage.

What is the appropriate dose of whey protein?

A quantity of 30 g of powder is considered ideal. Muscle accumulation is maximised with an intake of approximately 20 to 30 g of protein powder per meal. More does not promote faster muscle building. Furthermore, with regard to weight loss, the body cannot process a higher dose of protein.

  • To determine the necessary or correct dosage of whey protein per day and meal, the overall amount of protein should also be taken into account. Considering between 0.8 and 2 grams of protein per body weight are ideal, the amount of powder should be adjusted.
  • On average and depending on sex and weight, the total amount of protein per day is about 100 grams, making it difficult to meet the necessary protein requirements with a standard diet without adding the powder. Since the body simultaneously excretes proteins that are not needed, overdose with the powder is avoided.

What types of whey protein exist, and which is the right one for me?

There are essentially three types of whey protein: whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate. The whey protein concentration and its benefits are different in each, as we will see below.

Whey protein concentrate

It contains low levels of fat and low levels of carbohydrates. It is the most natural whey protein, and therefore the cheapest. It contains between 70 and 80% protein, the rest being fat and carbohydrates. It is also the tastiest. It improves the immune system and its effect is antioxidant.

Advantages
  • Affordable
  • Tasty
  • Improves the immune system
  • Antioxidant effect
Disadvantages
  • Digestion problems (gases, swelling)
  • Not recommended for lactose intolerant individuals
  • High levels of fat and carbohydrates

Whey protein isolate

It contains more than 90% protein and is processed to eliminate most of the lactose, carbohydrates/sugars, cholesterol, calories and fat. It is very useful for those who want to lose weight and for people intolerant to lactose.

Advantages
  • Higher level of protein
  • Recommended for weight loss due to its low fat content
  • Suitable for lactose intolerant individuals
  • Does not generate stomach problems
Disadvantages
  • More expensive than whey protein concentrate
  • More processed than the concentrate

Whey protein hydrolysate

It allows for a faster absorption. It also increases insulin significantly more than concentrate or isolate, but reduces the potential for allergic reactions. It is the most expensive of the three and generally has the worst taste. It is principally designed for after training.

Advantages
  • Good absorption and very digestible
  • Avoids allergic reactions
Disadvantages
  • Not adequate for people with diabetes
  • More expensive than concentrate and isolate
  • Bitter taste

Shopping Criteria

Next, we will explore the different whey protein products to find out what criteria you should take into account when purchasing a supplement. With these specific characteristics, you can easily decide which product is best for you and make a good purchase decision.

You should primarily consider the following:

  • Price
  • BCAA (branched-chain amino acids)
  • Allergens
  • Protein quantity
  • Taste

Price

A good formula is to calculate the price of a gram of powder and compare it to the daily dose recommended by the manufacturer.

BCAA (branched-chain amino acids)

BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are three essential amino acids with one very interesting characteristic: they can be used directly by muscle tissue. As a result, muscle growth is generated and muscle regeneration is accelerated.

Please note that whey protein contains at least 7 of the 8 essential amino acids that our body needs and cannot create on its own.

Here are the levels at which amino acids should be found:

  • Isoleucine: 6.2 g – 9.5 g
  • Leucine: 4.3 g – 9.9 g
  • Lysine: 4.3 g – 9.9 g
  • Valine: 6.1 g – 9.3 g
  • Phenylalanine: 1.0 g – 3.6 g
  • Threonine: 3.3 g – 6.9 g
  • Methionine: 0.8 g – 2.4 g
  • Tryptophan: 0.4 g – 2.1 g

Allergens

Typical allergens are mainly eggs, milk, soybeans, gluten, fish, crustaceans and various types of nuts (such as peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.). If you are allergic, a good option is Xcore Xtreme 100% Whey Protein.

Protein quantity

Pure hydrolysate reaches 95% protein. When buying a powdered mixture, remember that the amount of amino acids can be lower, so you should make sure that at least 75% be protein.

If this is not the case, you may conclude that the hydrolysate is not pure or that its amount is low. The price is sometimes high because we pay for the brand and not the macronutrients.

Taste

Taste is important, but it is not a buying criterion for trying a new brand because you must buy it to try it. Taste comes into play when you decide to buy the same brand over and over again.

Summary

As you have seen throughout the article, there are several types of whey protein and you must purchase the most suitable for your physical conditions. Whey protein has many benefits, especially for athletes, but you must moderate your intake.

On the other hand, you must not allow elegant labels to persuade you. Read the package instructions carefully before deciding to purchase a whey protein supplement. Marketing sells, but doesn’t create a great product.

If you liked our guide on whey protein, please leave a comment and share this article!

(Source of featured image: Wstockstudio: 65226004 / 123rf.com)

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