We'd argue that one is better than the rest -- Whey Protein. Whey protein is considered a complete protein -- because it contains all 9 essential amino acids, all of which are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. It’s commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders, but it’s quickly gaining popularity among other audiences such as casual exercisers and the average "Joe", because hitting that high daily protein intake is hard!
Find out how much protein you need with our free protein calculator.
Not everyone has the time to whip up some eggs or meat and whey protein is a great option for those individuals with a busy lifestyle. Along with its amino benefits and convenience, whey has been linked to heart health, weight loss and muscle growth (1,2,3,4). It’s amazing that one supplement can provide so many advantages. And if these still don’t convince you that whey is #1, keep reading to learn more.
What's in This Guide?
You want to know everything there is to know about whey protein? Well you have come to the right place, because we have worked hard to pull together all kinds of resources on Whey Protein to give a complete picture of this celebrity supplement. Our team has written and re-written this guide several times to help provide readers with an ultimate guide to whey protein. It's arguably the most popular nutrient on the planet right now, but what is it really?
The Ultimate Whey Protein Guide Contents:
- What is Whey Protein and How is it Made?
- Why is Whey so Popular?
- Why is Whey protein Important for Nutrition Supplementation?
- Does Whey Cause Weight Gain?
- Should You Be Taking Whey Protein Supplements?
- Concentrate, Isolate, Hydrolyzed. Which One Is Best?
- When should you take it?
- Our Top Picks
- Creative "Wheys" To Use Whey
What is Whey Protein and How is it Made?
We are all familiar with Little Miss Muppet the nursery rhyme where she sits on her tuffet and eats her 'curds and whey,' but very few of us knew that she was actually sticking to her macros on the Keto Diet and that we would be eating the same whey over 200 years later in our Whey Protein Shakes.
Whey is produced when milk is transported from a dairy farm to a cheese producer and separated in curds and whey. The curds go on to produce cheese, whereas the whey is split into proteins and fats.
Often times the whey is pasteurized at this point which has been shown to denature it  which over time lead to many people consuming raw milk, despite the pathogen risks. When companies produce cheese they create a bi-product that we call whey protein. The protein itself is made of globe shaped proteins called 'globular proteins' which are a very common type of protein.
Whey protein is somewhat water soluble which creates problems when mixing it. I am sure many of you have noticed some proteins mix better than others, and we will discuss that further down this guide in our analysis of whey protein brands.
Raw Whey: Is there such a thing?
You may think that you’re drinking pure, raw whey but that’s a myth.
Whey protein is required to undergo processing and pasteurization, which eliminates dangerous components such as disease and bacteria. All Whey protein undergoes a process called “denaturing”.
Whey protein denaturation is one of the main effects of heating milk, which causes modification of the chemical and nutritional properties of milk. Denaturing sounds like a negative term, when in reality it isn’t. It just means that the natural state of the whey is altered.
You may think that cooking the whey ruins its nutritional value, but that’s another myth.
Think about the food you cook.. You wouldn’t be eating chicken, steak or eggs if cooking them made them useless-- they still keep the same amount of protein, the only thing you’re doing is changing their structure.
Why is Whey so popular?
Whey has taken the fitness, body building and now general public by storm. It is arguably the most popular dietary supplement in the world right now and there are literally thousands of different types of bars, drinks, shakes and powders that contain whey today. Further down in this article we have reviewed some of our top picks for both muscle building and for appetite suppression.
Whey is likely so vastly popular because it is low calorie (1g of whey protein is 4 calories) and is an ideal macronutrient for several fitness related purposes, such as building lean muscle mass, increasing strength, losing weight, curbing hunger and/or maintaining muscle.
A supplement that can provide those benefits (and more!) sounds like a dream to individuals with fitness goals, or people who just need that extra protein boost throughout the day.
Why is Whey Protein Important for Nutrition Supplementation?
Building Muscle - Increase your protein intake and BCAA's by taking Whey Protein Supplements.
It's the single main reason a vast majority of people who supplement whey protein take it.
Protein is one of the building blocks of muscle, in particular the parts of the muscle that cause contraction. When you exercise or weight train you are causing your muscles to expand and contract repeatedly under stress.
This causes tiny minute tears in the muscle fibers and connective tissues. Your body then tries to adapt to the added stress and workload by activating chemical pathways that increase the rate of protein synthesis into your muscle fibers. This response is what cause muscle growth, development and the strengthening of ligaments.
Of all factors we have studied when it comes to hypertrophy (increasing your muscle size), taking larger quantities of Whey Protein has been the single most conclusive factor 
You get various types of proteins from many of the whole foods we eat, from chicken breasts to soy, and everything in between. But supplementing your protein intake with whey protein can be an easy way to increase your protein levels and make sure that your body is getting a full spread of BCAA's. To read about our five favorite whey protein companies and their supplements, scroll down to the bottom of this article.
Does Whey Cause Weight Gain?
It can make you lose or gain. But don't be so fast to blame just the whey.
Macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat) should be consumed in moderation. A major spike in any of these three areas has the potential to cause weight gain, and vice versa. Lower your macro intake and you will most likely lose weight.
For example, if your goal is to hit 140g of protein a day and you consume 240g of protein, some being from whey shakes, you may gain weight. Although you consumed whey, it’s not clear whether or not it’s the culprit. You consumed several other sources of carbs that need to be examined.
Some whey protein supplements are meant to be used as meal replacements-- because they have a considerate amount of protein and they're low-cal compared to other meal choices. There are also varieties meant to aid in weight gain with their large amount of protein and carbohydrates.
If you’re worried about weight gain, or want to make sure you’re on the right track to losing weight, counting macros is a great solution. Apps like Trifecta provide an easy-to-use platform to do just that. You can search the foods you eat and input them daily, then it provides you with a macro and calorie breakdown throughout the day.
Calories in, calories out. Remember that. If you eat more calories than you’re burning, then you will inevitably gain weight. In reverse, if you eat less calories than you’re burning, you will lose weight.
With most whey protein shakes sitting at around 100-200 calories per serving, it’s not much compared to the 2000-2500 recommended daily calorie intake. It’s also crucial to pay attention to other nutrition info on your supplement of choice. Keep an eye out for carbs and sugar.
It’s easy for most people to fit that small chunk of calories into their nutrition plan, even without working out like a maniac. On the flip side, exercise will maximize the results of the whey protein by aiding in muscle building.
The amount of time and effort you put into working out is completely up to you-- you’ll get more out of the supplement with more and you’ll see less results with less activity. Determine your personal goals and research protein supplements you're interested in. Look them up online. Read nutrition facts. If you need some recommendations, we have awesome choices at the end of this article, for individuals with an array of goals.
Should You Be Taking Whey Protein Supplements?
As I am sure you could all guess, the answer to this question is -- probably.
Whey Protein can be a critical component when it comes to increasing muscle mass and strength, as well as losing weight. It is the cornerstone macronutrient and is an easy way to accomplish a lot of goals at once. If you are looking to lose fat, whey protein is a great way to keep your muscle mass intact while you exercise, or are doing a cut.
Since protein provides 4 calories per 1 gram of protein, it is easier to feel full when you eat low fat protein sources like boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If you are a 140lb female and your basal metabolic rate is approximately 1400 calories per day, you are going to be able to eat a lot of volume of food by sticking to foods like chicken breast and vegetables, while not eating many calories in the process. Although many whole foods contain significant protein levels, one of the advantages whey has over food is that it digests rapidly, starting muscle growth and stopping muscle loss as soon as possible.
Post-workout, you may not feel as hungry to eat a full meal even though your body is starving for protein and whey solves that issue because it's extremely easy to consume, like drinking a glass of flavored milk. You may want to reach for whey instead of eggs, because it scored higher on the protein quality index .
Concentrate, Hydrolyzed, Isolate. Which One Is Best?
There are a few factors to consider when deciding which form of whey to go with, such as price, digestibility, protein per serving, etc. We broke down each one to give you a general sense of how they differ:
This form of whey is one of the cheapest on the market, but don’t let that turn you away. It’s the cheapest because it goes through the least amount of processing, which means it contains the most lactose & fat out of the three variations.
The more lactose, the more potential for digestive issues which may turn some customers away. Although it is a lower grade of whey, it still provides anywhere from 35-42g of pure protein per 50g serving. That is a significant amount of protein per serving, which may be beneficial to incorporate into the average diet.
This is our top choice for protein because of it’s price, digestibility and quality. Whey Isolate goes through meticulous processing that filters out most of the other components, leaving the good stuff behind (the whey, of course!) It’s a more pure form of whey that’s easy to digest because it contains virtually no lactose. Each 50g serving contains about 45-47g of pure protein, which is a little bit more than the concentrate.
Hydrolyzed protein is the purest form of protein because it goes through an extra round of processing, which results in excellent absorption/digestion. It is the most expensive variation of protein on the market and may be worth it to some individuals. A 50g serving of hydrolyzed whey contains 38-40g of pure protein. Some may argue that hydrolyzed truly does digest easier, but with less than 1% of lactose in the isolate, they are comparable.
When Should You Take It?
This is our top choice time-wise, along with millions of other whey lovers. Consuming whey protein post-workout is the most effective, especially when the goal is to build lean muscle. After a difficult workout, muscles are thirsty for instant nutrition and whey delivers just that.
30 minutes pre-workout
Consuming a protein shake pre-workout is another ideal time for people who want to maximize their muscle-building workouts. Taking it before your workout allows your body more time to absorb it intra-workout and directly afterwards instead of solely post-workout. Make sure to drink it at least 30 minutes before, so your body has time to minimally digest it before engaging in intense physical activity.
Think about it-- when you're sleeping for 6-8 hours, your body is going without any food/water for an extremely long time. Although you aren’t doing physical activity when sleeping, drinking whey before bed will boost your metabolism and prevent muscle breakdown, maintaining the muscle mass built during your hours awake.
Directly after waking up
After waking up from that 6-8 hours without any nutrient consumption, a fast-digesting protein like whey will give your body a nice rush of aminos to start off the day on the right note. Some protein supplements induce increased satiety which may prevent binge eating and unnecessary snacking throughout the day.
Our Top Picks For Whey Protein Supplements
To rate protein supplements you have to take several factors including flavor, Labdoor results  , solubility and taste.
For Muscle Building:
1. GRIND Nutrition Diesel
Our number 1 pick in terms of value, flavor, and macronutrient levels is GRIND Nutrition's Diesel product. Diesel includes creatine, whey protein, and an ideal 3:1 ratio of rapid absorption carbs and whey protein isolate. Many whey proteins do not include a good carb to protein ratio, and because of that they are better suited for appetite suppressants than they are for muscle building.
GRINDS addition of Creatine to this product, really makes it the ultimate muscle building cocktail of supplements. If this ratio has been working for GRIND founder Chad Wesley Smith, one of the strongest men in the world, you know it has some efficacy behind it.
2. IMSOALPHA Instantized Natural Whey Protein
It's not secret that our team are big fans of Mike Rashid. He is already a fitness icon and has some incredible totals himself. He swears by this protein powder and after discussing it and researching it further, we understand why. As stated in the name, this protein is instantized, meaning it is absorbed into the bloodstream immediately, which is a huge plus when your muscles are craving protein post-workout. We love the fact that it is natural, with no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or fillers, which is difficult to find in most supplements. If Mike Rashid loves it, you most likely will too!
3. 1st Phorm PHORMULA-1 Whey Protein Isolate
It’s difficult to find a protein powder that mixes well-- and you will not have that issue with PHORMULA-1. 1st Phorm prides themselves in being the best tasting & best mixing isolated protein in the world. This protein can be taken at any time throughout the day but works most effectively post-workout. One great thing about this choice is that it virtually has no carbohydrate content, which means your macros won’t suffer if you’re keeping your carb count down. Customers rave about this protein and give it 5/5 stars on SuppReviewers , which means it’s not just a hype.
For Appetite Suppression:
4. Quest Nutrition Protein Powder
Quest protein bars have blown up in the fitness industry, because of their irresistible flavors and amazing macros. Quest has done it once again, with their protein powder. What if I told you you could incorporate cookies & cream, salted caramel and chocolate milkshake into your diet guilt-free while building muscle? Each Quest shake packs only 110 calories with 23g of protein and less than one gram of sugar. It tastes like you’re eating dessert and the shakes keep you feeling satiated so you won’t binge on an actual chocolate milkshake. Reviewers on their site report superb mixability, rich taste and no chemical after-taste, which is a common issue with other powders.
5. MyProtein Impact Whey Protein
This choice is Europe’s #1 premium protein powder, which holds a lot of weight. This supplement in particular is known for keeping you full and providing a quality source of protein, packed with aminos and nutrients that whole food can’t deliver on its own. Each serving packs 80% protein, 2g of Leucine (aids in activating the muscle building process) and only 1g of carbs and 2g of fat. The price tag on this whey is definitely a plus and although it’s priced low, the product is superior.
Creative "Wheys" To Use Whey
The great thing about whey is that it’s so versatile. The fastest way our bodies absorb it is in liquid form, which would be as a shake. If you’re really feeling creative, there are many baking recipes that incorporate whey protein as well. The possibilities are endless!
A few delicious ideas for inspiration:
Get your caffeine fix while consuming much needed protein. Mix together a cup of coffee, chocolate whey protein and ice for a “mocha” protein iced coffee. Save your coffee shop money and make some #gains instead.
You could just mix your protein powder with water and ice, but if you want to switch it up, add in your favorite fruit! Smoothies are always refreshing, and they can pack some valuable nutrients. Strawberry-banana is a classic combo that pairs well with plain or vanilla whey protein. Remix your classic smoothie by making a strawberry banana protein shake and gain vitamin C, potassium and protein all at the same time!
Everyone loves baked goods--so why not bake them with some nutritional value? The best part about this recipe is that it only takes a minute to bake, hardly any waiting required here. Check out this recipe for a chocolate protein mug cake that packs a whopping 34g of protein per serving.
Satisfy your sugar craving with this healthy protein chocolate chip cookie dough recipe. You can make this at home with only four ingredients that you probably have around the house: whey protein, nut butter, milk (any kind) and chocolate chips (or carob).
1. Top 10 Protein Supplements - Labdoor
2. Protein Quality Ratings-- Nutrition Express
3. The Effects of Protein Timing on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy: A meta-analysis.
4. Our In-Depth Phormula-1 Review
5. Whey Protein Concentrate: A Brief Summary