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Whey protein is a popular nutritional supplement used for a variety of reasons, including promoting muscle gain and providing a quick source of protein on the go.
- Whey protein concentrate: contains 25–89% protein
- Whey protein isolate: contains greater than 90% protein and is lower in carbs, fat, and lactose than whey protein concentrate
- Whey protein hydrolysate: is broken down to accelerate digestion and absorption rates
A multitude of whey protein supplements are available for purchase at grocery and specialty stores, as well as online. However, some whey protein powders are higher in quality than others, making them a better choice.
Plus, some people may choose a supplement based on what type of whey protein it contains.
The whey protein supplements on this list contain minimal ingredients and are tested for quality and purity.
Here are the 11 best whey protein powders for 2021.
Many people prefer to use unsweetened, unflavored protein powders.
Unsweetened powders are not only free of added sugars, which should be limited in any healthy diet, but also suitable for smoothies, shakes, and other foods and beverages, as they don’t alter their taste.
Here are some excellent choices for unsweetened whey protein products.
Naked Whey protein contains just one ingredient — whey protein concentrate.
Naked Nutrition products are third-party tested by Eurofins Scientific, an international group of laboratories that provides testing for the pharmaceutical and food industries.
Naked Nutrition products are manufactured in a
Two scoops (30 grams) of Naked Whey protein provide:
NOW Sports Unflavored Grass-Fed Whey Protein is made with whey protein concentrate from grass-fed cows and non-GMO sunflower lecithin to provide a smooth texture. It’s GMO-free and free of corn, soy, and nuts.
This protein powder carries the LGC Informed Sport seal, which assures that the product has been tested for a number of substances that are banned in sport. NOW also adheres to cGMP regulations.
One scoop (39 grams) of NOW Sports Unflavored Grass-Fed Whey Protein provides:
Raw Organic Whey contains only whey protein concentrate from grass-fed cows. It’s organic, as well as free of soy, added sugars, and gluten.
Raw Organic Whey is independently tested by third-party labs for heavy metals, antibiotics, pesticides, and mycotoxins. Testing results are available on the company’s website.
Five tablespoons (25 grams) of Raw Organic Whey provide:
Although most whey protein products are made with whey derived from cow’s milk, some products are made with whey from goat’s milk.
Z Natural Foods Pasture Raised Goat Whey contains 100% goat whey protein concentrate from grass-fed goats. Z Natural Foods adheres to cGMP guidelines and maintains current laboratory reports and a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) for all of its products.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of Z Natural Foods Pasture Raised Goat Whey provides:
Flavored protein powders are favored by those who either don’t like the taste of unflavored whey or prefer to mix their powder with water or milk.
Here are some of the best-tasting whey protein products.
Garden of Life Sport Grass-Fed Whey Protein is made with whey protein isolate and milk protein and comes in vanilla and chocolate. Both are sweetened with stevia and erythritol and contain zero added sugars.
This product is NSF Certified for Sport, which is an independent third-party testing certificate verifying that products are free of over 270 substances currently banned by major athletic organizations.
One scoop (33 grams) of chocolate-flavored Garden of Life Sport Grass-Fed Whey Protein provides:
Naked Nutrition Less Naked Whey Protein Powder is naturally sweetened with organic coconut sugar. It comes in tasty flavors including vanilla, chocolate, matcha, and strawberry.
Keep in mind that this protein powder contains a small amount of added sugar, which some people prefer to leave out of their diet.
Two scoops (37 grams) of the vanilla flavor provides:
Tera’s Whey Organic Bourbon Vanilla Whey protein contains organic whey protein concentrate and is flavored with organic vanilla and stevia for sweetness.
Tera’s Whey tests its products quarterly using third-party independent laboratories, as well as conducts in-house product testing.
Tera’s Whey Organic Whey Protein comes in chocolate as well.
Two scoops (28.4 grams) of the bourbon vanilla flavor provides:
Some people use whey protein to gain weight and muscle mass. The following whey protein powders are high in calories and a good choice for those trying to pack on muscle mass or body weight in general.
Note that if you’re using weight gainer supplements for weight loss related to a medical condition like cancer, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before adding a new supplement to your routine to ensure safety.
Naked Nutrition Naked Mass is a high calorie weight gainer supplement that can promote healthy weight gain.
It contains organic tapioca maltodextrin, a type of carbohydrate, as well as whey protein concentrate and casein, another milk protein. Naked Mass comes in chocolate and vanilla. There’s an unflavored option, too.
Note that this product is extremely high in calories and carbs and inappropriate for those who don’t need to gain weight. Also, the very high carb content of this supplement makes it inappropriate for those with blood sugar regulation issues.
Smaller servings can be used so that the calorie and carb load isn’t so extreme. Just one scoop provides 313 calories and 13 grams of protein.
Four scoops (321 grams) of the unflavored supplement provide:
Muscle Feast Ultimate Weight Gainer is made with whey protein isolate, casein, and maltodextrin. It’s sweetened with stevia and comes in chocolate and vanilla. Muscle Feast products undergo quality testing by third-party laboratories.
Ultimate Weight Gainer is Labdoor Tested for Sport, which assures that supplements are free of substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Five scoops (159 grams) of the chocolate flavor provide:
Whey protein isolate is lower in fat and carbs and higher in protein than whey protein concentrate.
Keep in mind that whey protein isolate supplements tend to be more expensive than whey protein concentrates.
Below is a great choice for whey protein isolate powder.
AGN Roots Grass-Fed Whey is made with whey from cows raised in the pastures of sustainable family farms.
It’s the only grass-fed whey product that earned a spot on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Shop with Your Heart list, which links consumers to animal-welfare-certified products.
AGN Roots products are third-party tested by LGC and carry the Informed Choice and Informed Sport certifications.
Two scoops (29 grams) provide:
Whey protein hydrolysate is a form of whey that has undergone processing that breaks down proteins into their smaller parts, which are called amino acids.
This type of whey is more rapidly absorbed than isolate or concentrate and used in supplements to support the digestibility of whey protein. However, keep in mind that all types of whey protein are rapidly digested, so the difference is likely minimal (
Below is an excellent option for hydrolyzed whey protein powder.
Muscle Feast Hydrolyzed Whey Protein comes in vanilla and chocolate, as well as an unflavored option. Because hydrolyzed whey is typically less palatable than other forms of whey, going for a flavored type may be a wise choice.
Muscle Feast Chocolate Hydrolyzed Whey Protein contains just three ingredients — hydrolyzed whey protein, cocoa, and stevia.
One scoop (28 grams) provides:
When shopping for a whey protein supplement, be sure to purchase products from reputable companies and websites. Wherever possible, opt for products with minimal added sugars and simple ingredients. That way you know exactly what you’re consuming.
As mentioned above, there are some differences between the types of whey offered in supplements. Whey protein concentrate is highest in fat and lactose, while whey protein isolate contains very little fat or lactose and is higher in protein.
Whey protein hydrolysate may be easier to digest for some people, as well as more rapidly absorbed. However, it’s unclear whether this offers any significant benefit, as the difference in absorption between hydrolyzed and intact whey is minimal (
Additionally, whey hydrolysates and isolates are usually more expensive than whey protein concentrates, and hydrolysates may be less palatable than the other types of whey.
Because there’s currently no convincing evidence that a particular kind of whey protein is significantly better than others, finding a high quality whey protein powder that you think tastes good and is fairly priced is your best bet.
However, competitive athletes and those closely monitoring their macronutrient intake may want to pay more attention to the amount of fat, protein, and carbs in whey products.
Lastly, keep in mind that most people following well-rounded diets get plenty of protein through foods. Yet, if you struggle to get enough protein through your diet or are trying to gain weight and build muscle, using whey protein powder can help.
There are many whey protein powder products on the market, and choosing the right one can be challenging.
Opting for a whey protein powder from this list can help ensure that you’re buying a high quality, safe product that can help you meet your protein needs and health goals.