Whether you’re looking to burn fat or build muscle, consuming an adequate amount of protein is going to play a large role in your success. For those people that do not eat enough protein-dense foods throughout the day, the best whey protein powders can be a good solution to bump daily intake and incorporate into your pre-workout routine.
If you’re on the go and you lack the time to sit and eat, ready-made protein drinks can be a great alternative to hold you over until your next meal. In some instances, protein drinks can even be used to replace a meal. But why is protein so important?
Protein is a building block of muscle, and as it turns out, the more muscle you have on your frame the easier it is to burn stubborn body fat. Muscle consumes calories. And what are the building blocks of protein? Amino acids. But some foods you’re eating may not contain all nine essential amino acids. Essential meaning your body cannot make them and so must get them from food. This is where whey protein can help.
A quality whey protein powder will contain not only the essential amino acids, but higher amounts of the three most important for muscle building. These three, valine, leucine, and isoleucine, are called branched-chain amino acids and are more commonly referred to as BCAAs.
Now that you know why protein is so important, how do you know which whey concoction suits your needs best? We searched the top sites on the web to find the consensus five best whey protein powders most recommend by experts. Our list is made up of the products most frequently seen across the pros’ lists. Have your own suggestion? Please let us know in the comments below which brand is your favorite!
The List: Best Whey Protein Powders, According to Nutrition Experts
1. Optimum Nutrition
Optimum Nutrition started in 1986 and is well known for its quality products. “Think of this tried-and-true whey protein isolate as a dependable, cost-conscious option,” writes Men’s Health. This brand aims to be at the top of the industry and shows it by using the phrase “Gold Standard” as part of their branding.
“Gold Standard Whey protein powder is consistently given the highest reviews for a reason. And although the protein is not third-party tested, it is in-house tested for quality and safety,” points out Active. And if that’s not enough, there’s yet another reason why experts choose this protein.
A well-known problem with many protein powders is clumping. They do not mix well and so you end up with chunks of protein within the liquid. “It mixes well, without too many lumps,” adds Live Science. It seems Optimum Nutrition has mostly resolved this issue.
Optimum Nutrition has built its solid reputation by producing quality products for many years now, and for that reason many experts recommend it as your go-to whey protein powder.
According to their website, Dymatize was awarded both Isolate Protein of the Year by Bodybuilding.com (2013-2017) and Women’s Supplement of the Year (2017). Their website also notes that they are banned substance tested, which is important for anyone that competes in drug-tested sports or competitions. “Dymatize makes some of the best Whey in the world. And when you fuel up with this highly effective and Hydrolysate filled protein powder, you’ll understand why. The results don’t lie,” writes Men’s Journal.
The good news is this quality protein has become easier to find. Stores such as Walmart, The Vitamin Shoppe, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kroger, Walgreens, and more now regularly have this brand in stock. You could say it has become more mainstream as far as protein is concerned.
Some protein powders can be harsh on the stomach, but not to worry with this brand. “If you’ve found protein powders leave your stomach feeling queasy, consider the lactose-free Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder,” adds Insider. If you prefer to avoid the risk of a gassy or upset stomach, Dymatize may be a good option for you.
3. Transparent Labs
The supplement industry has been referred to as the Wild West due to lack of regulation. With a name like Transparent Labs, one cannot help but to be drawn in hoping for truth and, well, transparency. A quick glance at their website shows that they have “clinically-dosed formulas” with “no artificial sweeteners or coloring” using “natural and grass-fed ingredients” that are “3rd-party lab tested.”
“Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey is our pick for the best whey isolate protein powder,” writes Sports Illustrated. They also write about it having “a reasonable price point,” and “no artificial ingredients.” Some protein powders that charge top dollar are also packed with chemicals, but it looks as though you can avoid that with Transparent Labs.
Bar Bend is another site reporting just how “clean” this protein is, writing, “this pick from Transparent Labs has all of the goodness a protein should offer without the fillers and artificial ingredients you’re looking to avoid. This is 100 percent grass-fed whey, it contains no artificial sweeteners, coloring, or preservatives, and only contains ingredients you can pronounce.”
Another important factor in selecting a protein is flavor variety. If you want choices beyond the standard vanilla and chocolate, Transparent Labs’ website currently lists eight flavors, which should be enough to satisfy even the pickiest of protein connoisseurs.
4. Garden of Life
Prefer your protein to be backed by a dietitian? We have you covered. Dietitians on Very Well Fit write that “Garden of Life Organic Whey protein is a USDA Organic and non-GMO certified protein powder from grass fed and hormone free cows.” They also note that “this protein powder contains whey protein concentrate, which tends to be more affordable than whey isolate.” So, not only is this protein dietitian recommended, it’s also affordable, which is important considering protein powders are generally pricey.
Garden of Life seems to be a favorite amongst nutrition professionals. “We really like Garden of Life because of their standards, ingredient traceability, and high-quality protein products,” adds The Real Food Dietitians.
If you’re someone that is looking for a higher amount of protein per serving, Garden of Life offers both a Sport and Fit option to suite your needs. Though Real Food Dietitians writes, “we think their regular organic grass-fed whey is appropriate for most people, and it tastes great, too.”
5. Naked Nutrition
In 2014, Stephen Zieminski started Naked Nutrition. Being an athlete, he realized that many products contained “numerous ingredients of little nutritional value.” Thus, Naked Nutrition was founded. Of the 50 products offered, most have three ingredients or less.
“Minimalist? Naked whey protein powder strips everything out but the whey itself—no additives or sweeteners here. The supplement is also cold-processed, which the company claims makes sure that no contamination occurs from chemical detergents, synthetic additives, or heavy metals,” adds Men’s Health. If you’re looking for a bare-bones, stripped-down protein powder that really is nothing but the protein, this just may be the answer.
And for more proof on just how uncluttered this protein is, from Healthline, “Naked Whey protein contains just one ingredient — whey protein concentrate from cows raised on farms in Northern California. The cows spend at least 19 hours a day on pasture.”
Naked Whey is third-party tested and is also tested and certified to be free of banned substances. “Informed Choice Trusted by Sport is a program that certifies that a product has been tested at least on a monthly basis for substances banned by LGC, a globally recognized sports doping control and supplement testing lab,” writes Healthline.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Vegan Protein Powder
- Best Foods for Protein
- Best Muscle-Building Supplements
- Best Greens Supplements
- Men’s Health
- Live Science
- Men’s Journal
- Sports Illustrated
- Bar Bend
- Very Well Fit
- The Real Food Dietitians
- Harvard Health Publishing
- Transparent Labs
- Naked Nutrition
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.
Uprotein didn’t get a nention.
JYM Whey protein is the BEST! Hands down.
Optimum Nutrition number 1?? This is much out of date. ON got busted for bsing their potency etc…I used to be a fan, not anymore for years now. My protein out of the UK that ships globally has been indepently tested for purity and the best all around. So far! The cleanest ingredients to boot. Garden of life would be second here. The list is fixed.
Optimum Nutrition’s was my go to recommendation over 15 years ago. Then they decided to go with some nasty artificial sweeteners just over 10 years ago. Still can’t recommend it to this day for that reason.
I found a great one on Amazon that has 1 ingredient: 100% natural grass fed whey
Most protein powders suck… they either don’t mix well, taste chalky, or have low protein content and too many fillers. I’ve found that Syntrax Nutrition’s Nectar whey isolate is the only protein that actually tastes good, mixes well and they prove their quality with actual reports that they willingly show on their website.
I find that a lot of protein powders are loaded with cholesterol. For some people, this is unacceptable. Check the labels before you start consuming the stuff in large quantities. They are some companies out there, which are a bit more difficult to find, which have very low to no cholesterol, that are good protein powders that mix well. Fitness is great, but you don’t want to clog your arteries along the way.