What is the Best Whey Protein Shake?
Whether you're an elite athlete or a fitness novice, an adequate protein supply is vital in achieving your fitness goals. Yes, even those losing can benefit from the right protein supplement.
But the world of nutritional supplements is a tangled mess and protein supplements are no exception. Many protein powders are jam packed with overhyped fats that you don’t need and artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors that could be harmful to your health.
It seems there are more opinions on protein shakes than there are products. Isn’t there a simple way to find the best protein shakes? You may have read reviews before, but what did they really base the reviews on? What about issues such as bovine growth hormones in whey protein supplements? What about phytoestrogens found in soy protein?
My goal is to try to simplify the process of choosing the best whey protein shakes and supplements, so you know exactly what to look for yourself.
At the same time I’ll give you my opinion on the best protein powders on the market, and I’ll even tell you where you can get the best overall prices (including shipping) and have the most user-friendly customer experience.
If you want to skip all of the reasoning and just get to the best whey protein supplements, here are my two top choices:
These are criteria by which I measure a protein supplement:
- Type & Quality of Protein
- Presence of Artificial Sweeteners, Colors, Flavors, or other Chemicals
- Overall Nutrition (i.e. does it contain unnecessary fats)
There are many types of protein, but I suggest you go with whey protein. It’s made from milk and has the highest availability of useable amino acids for building muscles. Learn more about whey protein here.
I suggest either whey protein isolate or a blend of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Learn more about the difference between whey protein isolate and concentrate here.
When you choose to supplement your nutrition with added protein, you are in control of what you put into your body. There is no reason to put detrimental or potentially hazardous substances into your body when drinking a protein shake. I strongly advise you to stick with natural protein drinks that do not contain aspartame, sucralose, acefulame potassium, or saccharine. Those flavored with all-natural stevia are what I recommend.
Research has shown that you do not need to worry about hormones in whey protein supplements, even if they are not made from certified organic milk. This is just another tactic to get you to pay twice as much for the same supplement. Learn more about hormones in whey protein supplements.
While there is some scientific basis for supplementing various types of fats in specific situations, such as medium chain triglycerides and congegated linoleic acid, there is no need to include them in a protein shake. If you choose to supplement these other things you should do so separately so you can control your dosage.
Also, you want a protein supplement that is quickly absorbed. Whey protein is excellent for getting the necessary protein into the muscle cells rapidly, during the narrow window directly after exercise. If you include fats in the product it slows absorbtion and may miss this 30 minute window.
Clearly you want to get the highest quality product for the lowest price. I don’t think I need to explain this further.
Flavor is certainly subjective, so I can only use my own experience in this area. Any product flavored with stevia will have a very mild aftertaste. These products typically use a small amount of sugar to counterbalance the stevia taste. I typically rate the products based on their flavor mixed with organic skim milk and mixed with plain water. If you are one who doesn’t care much about flavor, then I suggest you go with unflavored whey protein.
The final characteristic of a high-quality protein supplement is how well it mixes with liquid. Many lower quality protein powders end up in clumps that are not easy to smooth out without a blender. The best products can be dumped into a shaker bottle and shaken just a few times to get a smoooth, lump-free consistency.
So based on that rating system, here are my top choices out of the dozens and dozens of products I’ve tried over the years:
- Whey Protein Isolate (first ingredient) + Whey Protein Concentrate – 9/10
- All Natural – 10/10
- Overall Nutrition – 9/10
- Price – 9/10
- Flavor – 9/10
- Mixability - 10/10
- Whey Protein Isolate – 10/10
- All Natural – 10/10
- Overall Nutrition – 10/10
- Price – 10/10
- Flavor – 8/10
- Mixability - 6/10
NOW Whey Protein Isolate has the advantage of being 100% isolate, which means it’s the highest quality protein you can get your hands on. In that respect it outranks Optimum slightly. It also gets an extra point in the price category because while it is more expensive overall, it’s not an apples to apples comparison. For what you’re getting (pure isolate) this is a better deal. You should note that Optimum is not that far behind. Whey protein isolate is still the very first ingredient in their product.
However, the NOW whey falls short when it comes to it’s ability to mix well. Even with vigorous shaking it does create lumps. I’ve seen much worse, and a good ice cube or two can make it better, but it's still little lumpy. I also think the flavor could be better. Mixed with water it’s fine (not outstanding, but ok). But I wasn’t thrilled with it’s flavor with milk. I personally find Optimum’s flavor far superiour and Optimum mixes instantly without any clumps. It is, however, a blend of the high quality isolate and the slightly lower quality concentrate. Most people don’t really need to take all isolate, so this isn’t really a problem.
My favorite online store right now is Bodybuilding.com. When you account for overall price, shopping experience, shipping, and selection they are the best. That being said I still really like AllStarHealth, and SupplementsToGo. I’ve also heard good things about Vitamin Shoppe and FitRX, but I can’t speak from personal experience.
Optimum Whey is Also Available Online at:
Now Whey is Also Available Online at:
All About Natural Whey Protein Supplements
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