Best Whey Protein Of 2020 (Top 7 Protein Powders and Buying Guide)

With 100s of different brands selling all different types of whey protein, it’s easy to understand why so many people struggle when it comes to choosing the very best.  For this very reason, I have created a list of the best whey protein of 2020 you can currently buy to help take away all the confusion.  The list is based on my own personal experiences and through research into each product.

Whey protein is one of the most highly used sports supplements and research into improving it further is ongoing.  There are always going to be plenty of questions around this product, like what is it that makes it so great, when is the best time to take it and what is the best type to take?

Before you jump ahead and purchase your next tub, it’s important to make sure you pick the very best brand and form to meet your personal goals.  So sit back, grab a protein bar and read on to get all the facts about whey protein, in order to help you make a sound buying decision.

Best Whey Protein of 2020 Reviews

Optimum Nutrition Gold standard Whey:  Our Overall Champion

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Per 30 gram servingTotal Calories: 120 | Protein: 24 grams | Total Carbohydrates: 3 grams | Sugar: 1 gram | Fat: 1 gram | Lactose-Free: No | Protein Blends: Whey Isolate/Whey Concentrate

Overview – The main protein source included is whey isolate.  By making whey isolate the primary source of protein ON have been able to pack in a huge 24 grams of protein per serving (one scoop)  with much less lactose and fat you will find in other brands who use whey concentrate as their primary source.  Also making whey isolate their primary source of protein means they have been able to keep the calories down to 120 kcal per scoop.   Finally to top all this off ON Gold Standard Whey contains 4 grams of glutamine and 5.5 grams of BCAAs per serving.

Our Verdict – Optimum Nutrition has set the standard for what all other brands have to live up to.  Over 16,000 buyers on amazon awarding 5 stars would agree with this.

Optimum Nutrition has now developed Gold Standard Whey into 20 different flavours including cake batter, chocolate peanut, cookies and cream, toffee caramel fudge, chocolate mint, coffee, rocky road and many more.  Not only that, each one has been made for extremely easy mixing.  You will never have to worry about a lumpy protein shake with Gold Standard.  The only downside is if you use more then 250ml of water or milk your shake will become very watery.  I have tried around 7 of the different flavours and the only one I wasn’t keen on was milk chocolate.  However, the dark rich chocolate flavour more then makes up for this.

Due to the majority of protein coming from whey isolate, anyone with slight lactose problems shouldn’t have any issues with Gold Standard Whey.  However, if you are 100% lactose intolerant then I wouldn’t suggest buying Gold Standard Whey.  You will want a pure whey isolate or hydrolysate.

This is the first protein I recommend to all my clients and once you start using it and feeling its benefits, you won’t want to or need to try any other protein.

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Best Whey Protein Isolate Reviews

#1.  Legion Whey+ Whey Isolate Protein Powder – Lactose-Free

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Per 30 gram servingTotal Calories: 100 | Protein: 22 grams | Total Carbohydrates: 1 grams | Sugar: 0 gram | Fat: 0 gram | Lactose-Free: Yes | Protein Blends: Whey Isolate

Overview – Legion Whey+ is a protein powder made 100% from whey protein isolate.  Its both lactose and sugar-free.  Each serving contains a healthy 22 grams of protein, only 1 gram of carbohydrates and 0 grams of fat.  Leigon Whey+ also contains the fewest calories of all the isolates reviewed coming in at just 100 calories per serving.

Legion really pride themselves on the fact Whey+ is made from milk from small Irish dairy farms who produce some of the cleanest and healthiest dairy in the world.

Our Verdict – This is the number one product I recommend to my clients who are lactose intolerant and not one of them has any problems with this.  It’s a fantastic product and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  One thing I really love is the fact you will not find any artificial junk.  It’s an incredibly clean protein source with no hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, or artificial food dyes.  It’s also been naturally sweetened and flavoured.

It comes in six flavours including chocolate peanut, strawberry and banana, and cookies and cream.  Might I add chocolate peanut tastes amazing.  It mixes really well in a normal shaker bottle, so you won’t have any worry of lump appearing.  It mixes to a really nice consistency as well.

It’s 100% lactose-free so great for anyone who is lactose intolerant.  Even if you are not lactose intolerant its still common to have gas and stomach issues from certain protein products.  You won’t have any such issue with Legion Whey+.  There are over 1,700 reviews on Amazon with all but a few singing this products praises.

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#2.  Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey – Lactose-Free

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Per 39 gram servingTotal Calories: 140 | Protein: 30 grams | Total Carbohydrates: 2 grams | Sugar: trace | Fat: 1 gram | Lactose-Free: Yes | Protein Blends: Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate

Overview:  I didn’t think it was possible for any brand to match Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey’s quality.  Well, the very same brand has done it with Hydro Whey.  It’s their fastest release and most advanced protein they have made.  I suppose with a brand as established and with such a big reputation as Optimum Nutrition, you wouldn’t expect anything less.

Hydro Whey has a huge 30 grams of protein per serving and although not the lowest in calories, its still only 140 kcals.  The protein has been hydrolyzed.  This is the process of breaking larger proteins into smaller ones so they can be absorbed into your system at a rapid pace.  Optimum Nutrition has also created a formula they claim to be revolutionary, made up of nearly 9 grams per serving of micronized BCAAs and digestive enzymes.  Finally, Hydro Whey is completely lactose-Free.

Our Verdict:  I’m going to start with the basics.  Hydro Whey tastes really nice.  I have tried 4 of the 7 flavours and enjoyed each one.  These were chocolate mint, chocolate peanut, cookies and cream and turbo chocolate.  I would like to say though, I still enjoy the taste of ON Gold Standard Whey even more than this.  On top of this, it mixes really well.  However, this is something you would expect from a hydrolyzed Whey product.

This may be one of the purest whey protein products out there.  I say this because it’s made entirely with hydrolyzed whey protein isolate.  This means there is no excess cholesterol, carbs, fat or lactose slowing down your progress or the quick delivery into your system.  This is brilliant for anyone with lactose problems.  I have also never personally had any problems with my stomach when taking this product and neither have any of my clients who have used it.  Some of which are lactose intolerant.

You will 100% notice a difference in your recovery times when supplementing with this product.  It is great for a post-workout shake due to the super-fast delivery into your system but also can be taken at any time of the day.

Price may be the main stumbling block when buying this product.  A 3.5-pound tub of Hydro Whey will cost nearly the same amount as a 5-pound tub of Gold Standard Whey.  If Hydro Whey was priced at a similar level to Gold Standard Whey then it would be in the overall winner’s spot.

However, if you have read my article on supplements you would see that you generally get what you pay for.  And this falls true for Hydro Whey.  A lot of work has gone into this product, plus extra goodies added.

There are over 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon, with many people detailing their own experience with this product.

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#3.  Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder – 100% Whey Isolate

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Per 30 gram servingTotal Calories: 110 | Protein: 26.2 grams | Total Carbohydrates: 0.75 grams | Sugar: 0.35 gram | Fat: 0.5 gram | Lactose-Free: Yes | Protein Blends: Whey Isolate

Overview – Isopure’s Zero Carb 100% Whey Isolate protein powder can be taken as a pre and post-workout (recovery) shake, in between meals or for breakfast.  One scoop of Isopure Zero Carb Protein contains a massive 26.2 grams of protein, and because it is 100% whey isolate only 110 kcals per serving.  It’s free of both lactose and gluten, which means it’s great for anyone with serious intolerances.  Finally, Isopure has fortified their protein with vitamins and minerals.

Our Verdict – If you are looking for a pure whey isolate powder, then look no further.

Isopure Zero Carb protein comes in over 20 different flavours and although I haven’t tried them all, the ones I have are delicious.  These include creamy vanilla and banana cream.  However, if you go through some of the 9000+ reviews on Amazon you will see a crazy amount of positive comments for other flavours.

Like Gold Standard Whey, this also mixes really nicely.  Once again you won’t have any problems with lumps.  Why would someone opt for Isopure Zero Carb over Gold Standard?  For two reasons really, if you have intolerances to lactose or if you are on a really strict calorie and carbohydrate-controlled diet.

I have used Isopure Zero Carb consistently after my training for at least 4 months and I can honestly say my recovery was far improved over using a really cheap budget branded whey concentrate.

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#4.  BPI Sports ISO HD Whey Protein Isolate and Hydrolysate

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Per 32 gram servingTotal Calories: 130 | Protein: 25 grams | Total Carbohydrates: 3 grams | Sugar: 1 gram | Fat: 1 gram | Lactose-Free: No | Protein Blends: Whey Isolate/Hydrolysate

Overview – ISO HD is made from a natural, cold temperature, micro-filtration process meaning the product retains all the micro and macronutrients whilst being incredibly high in protein.  BPI says to take this protein straight after a workout due to the extremely fast nature whey isolate and hydrolysate are absorbed, however, this will be an excellent source of protein to take for a snack or to be added to your morning smoothie.

Each serving 32-gram serving contains a generous 25 grams of protein.  The calories are not quite as low as Gold Standard Whey by ON (120 kcal per serving) or Zero Carb Whey Isolate by Isopure (110 kcal) however, at only 130 kcals, they still are on the low side compared to many protein powders out there.

Our Verdict – Like Isopure Zero Carb Isolate, ISO HD also contains 1 gram of fat per serving, however, it also contains 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving.  So for anyone controlling their carbohydrate levels on a really strict diet may prefer Isopure Zero Carb Whey Isolate.  Also, it is worth adding that ISO HD isn’t completely lactose-free.

Now on to the good stuff.  The first thing to note is you will notice a huge difference in your muscle recovery after prolonged use of ISO HD.  The other thing is, considering the protein is pure isolate and hydrolysate you get a really creamy texture when mixing.  However, I recommend not using the suggested water level it shows on the tub unless you are mixing two scoops and not just one.  I personally put in a few ozs less than suggested.

In terms of flavours, there are not as many options as the other protein powders reviewed.  There are just 7 to choose from including chocolate brownie and cookies and cream.  You will be pleased to know that if you get the consistency right and don’t make the shake to watery then the flavour comes across really nicely.

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Best Whey Protein With Creatine Review

Muscle Tech Nitro Tech Protein Powder

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Per 44 gram servingTotal Calories: 160 | Protein: 30 grams | Total Carbohydrates: 4 grams | Sugar: 1 gram | Fat: 2.5 gram | Lactose-Free: No | Protein Blends: Whey Isolate/Whey concentrate

Overview -Muscletech has been around since the dawn of time and know-how to produce scientifically tested top-rated products.  Nitro-tech protein is one of their flagship products.  Once serving of Nitro-tech is 150 calories and contains a whopping 30 grams of protein per serving.

Nitro-Tech contains glutamine, BCAAs and is enhanced with creatine for even better improvements in both strength and muscle growth.  MuscleTech also claims it’s blend of ingredients have been scientifically proven to support more strength improvements and muscle growth than just whey protein alone.  Finally, MuscleTech puts Nitro-Tech through a potent multi-phase filtration technology, which helps reduce down the lactose and fat content.

Our Verdict – There are many protein products with added creatine but this is by far my favourite.  The fact it also contains a massive 6.8 grams of muscle-building BCAAs is a huge plus.  MuscleTech does not produce basic products.  They all contain many scientifically tested ingredients to help enhance them and Nitro-Tech is no different.

If you are looking at adding creatine into your diet, then Nitro-Tech is perfect for you.  Not only is it high in quality ingredients but it also means you won’t have to buy a separate creatine based product.

There are 17 different flavours to choose from including mocha cappuccino, lucky marshmallow and chocolate mint.  Now comes a slight negative.  Although Nitro-Tech actually tastes quite nice, it definitely has a chemically feel to it.  Maybe this is due to the artificial sweetener used.  Now I’m not saying it’s full of harmful chemicals, because it isn’t, but if you are looking for a product with a natural flavour then this isn’t the one for you.  However, like I said each flavour I have tried have all been really nice.  The product also mixes really well in a normal shaker bottle.

There are thousands of positive product reviews on Amazon and many claiming they had increased lean muscle, endurance and reduced recovery time.

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Best Organic Whey Protein Review

Natural Force Organic Whey Protein

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Per 26.78 gram servingTotal Calories: 110 | Protein: 20 grams | Total Carbohydrates: 3 grams | Sugar: 1 gram | Fat: 1.5 gram | Lactose-Free: No | Protein Blends: Organic Whey concentrate

Overview:  Natural Force has created a whey protein powder made of entirely organic ingredients.  In fact, you will see the vanilla flavour only uses 3 ingredients in total.  Vanilla flavour, organic stevia leaf powder and of course organic whey protein concentrate which has been sourced from grass-fed cows brought up in family-owned farms situated in California.

Each scoop of Natural Force Organic Whey contains only 110 calories 20 grams of protein and only 3 grams of carbohydrates.  This product comes in 3 flavours, vanilla, coffee bean and cocoa bean.

Our Verdict:  You won’t find a whey protein powder as pure as this.  What I mean by this is, it’s chemical-free, it contains minimal ingredients and each one is purely organic.  This is truly an outstanding product

This protein powder is gluten-free, however, it is not lactose-free, so anyone with lactose issues needs to bear that in mind.

So many organic whey protein powders only come unflavoured, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see Natural Force have managed to produce 3 flavour variations and still keep the product ultra-pure and chemical-free.

Mixing was the biggest issue.  If you are someone who uses a blender bottle to mix your protein powder then you may find there still to be a small amount of powder that doesn’t dissolve.  However, it should not be enough to put you off using this product and can be rectified by adding a shaker ball before mixing.  If you are using a blender then it mixes perfectly

In general, organic whey protein powders are more pricey than your non-organic powders.  Natural Forces Organic Whey is no different.  However, you are getting the purest ingredients and protein made from grass-fed cows.  The extra cost is 100% worth it for such a great product.  If you are someone who is not entirely fussed about consuming organic products then in terms of results you will be much better off choosing a different product from our list which will be much friendlier to your budget.

With over 600 reviews and an overall rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon, you can quickly see what a great product this is.

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What Is Whey Protein

Whey is produced from milk which is made up of two different types of protein.  Whey and casein.  Casein actually makes up 80% of milk whilst whey makes up the other 20%.  Whey can be found in the liquid left behind after milk has gone through the process when making cheese.

In order to get the powder, we all know as whey protein, the liquid has to go through many more processing steps.  Once complete the powder is ready to have the flavour added and any other ingredients the company wishes to add.

best whey protein of 2018

Why Is Whey Protein So important For Muscle Growth And Repair

Whey protein contains all nine essential amino acids needed for protein synthesis, making a complete protein source.  These amino acids have the label “essential” due to the fact the body can not produce them.  This means they have to come from our food.

BCAAs (leucine, valine and isoleucine) help us build and maintain muscle.  Whey protein contains high amounts of these three essential amino acids which is why many athletes and people trying to change their physique regularly include this powdered form of protein in their diets.

Out of the three essential amino acids, leucine, in particular, has shown to have a great effect on our muscle protein synthesis.  This is the process that makes your muscles stronger and bigger.  An average 25g scoop of whey protein will contain at least 3 grams of leucine.

It’s been shown that the threshold is around 2.5 g of leucine for activating protein synthesis.  For this reason, whey protein is an excellent source for anyone trying to improve muscle recovery and growth.

What Are The Different Types Of Whey Protein

Whey Protein Isolate

Whey protein isolate has a protein concentration of 90-95%.  This is due to all the fat and lactose being removed.  If you are someone who has trouble digesting milk, then whey protein isolate may be a better option for you.  Also, anyone trying to get that extra bit of protein in their diets without adding additional calories from fat may also benefit from whey isolate.

Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey protein concentrate contains low levels of fat and lactose, just not as low as whey isolate.  Whey protein concentrate is made up of 70-80% protein.  Don’t be fulled by the slightly lower levels of protein found in whey concentrate to whey isolate though, as it is by no means an inferior product to isolate and depending on your goals, may actually benefit you more.

It may not be able to compete with whey isolate on a gram for gram protein basis, however, it contains many more of the other beneficial compounds that can be found in milk.

Without going into much detail in this article about the different components, a high-quality whey concentrate will contain much higher levels of lipids like CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid) and growth factors, phospholipids.  On top of this, a good whey concentrate will also contain high levels of lactoferrin and immunoglobulins.

Whey Protein Hydrolysate

Whey protein hydrolysate has already gone through a partial breakdown.  For this reason, many people refer to it as “pre-digested” whey.  There isn’t really a set protein content as both isolate and concentrate can be turned into hydrolysate.  Due to the protein already being partially broken down, whey hydrolysate is digested much quicker.

Best Whey Protein Of 2020 Buyers Guide

Do you go for whey isolate for it’s higher levels of protein, whey concentrate for the added beneficial compounds or whey hydrolysate for its superior speed when being digested?  It’s a decision only you can make and will vary depending on your situation and budget.  There has still never been any long-term studies to show which form of whey protein is the best when it comes to muscle repair and growth.

Here are a few simple guidelines to follow when picking the best whey protein for you

  • Pick whey protein concentrate if you are on a budget and also want the best tasting protein.  Whey concentrate is still far from being a high carbohydrate protein, however, the extra carbohydrates and fat give the protein a nice creamy milk flavour.
  • Pick whey protein Isolate or Hydrolysate if you are on a strict diet, counting calories and carbohydrates.  I would also recommend picking an isolate or hydrolysate if you have a slight intolerance to lactose.

Are There Any Benefits To Having Whey Protein

There have been several studies on the effect whey protein has on the body when resistance training.  One study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition showed results of almost a 5% increase in lean muscle growth in people who supplemented with whey protein to those who didn’t.

In terms of improved lean muscle repair, growth and strength, whey protein (all types) are far superior to both soy and casein based protein.  Resistance trained men followed an intense whey training program and those who took whey over casein had a significant gain in lean body mass and a decrease in fat over those who took casein.

When Is The Right Time To Consume Whey Protein

Pre And Post Workout

There are still many mixed opinions on how long before a workout and how quickly after a workout you should knock back your whey protein shake.  These are my personal recommendations from years of experience in training myself and clients.

  1. Pre-workout – A typical dose depending on your size and how much muscle you hold will be around 30 grams of whey protein.  I generally take this around 1 hour before I train.  This works best for me, however, I have clients who take their’s 2 hours before they train.
  2. Post-workout – Just to be clear.  There has still not been any scientific proof that you need to knock back your shake immediately after your training session to get all the health and muscle benefits.  From my experience, anywhere up to an hour is absolutely fine.  That vital anabolic window doesn’t instantly shut after 10 minutes of finishing your training.  However, if you delay taking your whey protein for too long then it may hinder muscle repair and growth.

Whey protein doesn’t just have to be taken before and after a training session.  Adding it to your morning breakfast smoothie will give your body that big protein hit after being in a fasted state all night.

It’s also great as a snack and for curbing your appetite until your next meal.

The Take-Away

These are the very best tried and trusted whey protein powders on the market.  There are 100s of different brands out there all offering their own versions and variations of whey protein and hopefully, I have helped to take away some of the confusion in knowing which one to purchase.

Every single product on the list can be used for both pre and post-workout, breakfast and snacks.  They can also be used to supplement your protein levels with any meal of the day.  My personal favourite is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey and has been for years now.  It’s great-tasting, mixes brilliantly, is value for money, contains high-quality ingredients and you will quickly notice the difference in performance, increased strength, and improved recovery.

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