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How Do I Choose the Best Whey Protein Powder?

S. McCumber
S. McCumber

There are several different considerations that factor into choosing the best whey protein powder. They include dietary goals, types of protein available, price and the nutritional makeup of the powder. There are many different whey protein powder products on the market, so a consumer can choose the one that is best for him.

The three basic types of whey protein powder on the market are concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. Concentrates are the most common and least expensive. They are low in fat and cholesterol, but also contain a high level of lactose. The amount of protein per weight can vary widely by manufacturer and can be anywhere from 30 percent to 90 percent.

Whey protein powder.
Whey protein powder.

Isolates are generally considered superior to concentrates. Isolates are made by removing most of the fat and lactose, leaving a product that is at least 90 percent protein by weight. The body can absorb whey protein isolate more readily, in part because of the absence of lactose, which can interfere with the absorption process.

Hydrolysate whey protein powder is the most expensive of the three types. Hydrolysate is partially digested and hydrolyzed to aid with metabolizing. This type of protein is preferred by those who are sensitive to milk allergens or are lactose intolerant. Hydrolysate is often passed over in favor of isolates because of cost and a somewhat bitter taste.

Calorie-rich whey protein powders should be used if a person wishes to gain muscle mass.
Calorie-rich whey protein powders should be used if a person wishes to gain muscle mass.

Dietary goals are an important factor when choosing a whey protein. Many whey protein mixtures are high in calories and can contain a lot of carbohydrates and sugar, which can inhibit weight loss. Leaner mixtures, such as those found in isolates, may be a better choice for those attempting to lose weight. If the goal is to add muscle mass, however, calorie-rich mixtures that also are high in protein are called for. Endurance athletes normally look for a balance between carbohydrates and protein in their diets.

Another important aspect to consider when choosing a whey protein powder is the amount of amino acids present in the mixture. Amino acids are an essential part of muscle growth and repair and different whey protein products contain differing amounts of these acids. The most important amino acids to look for in great amounts when choosing whey protein are leucine and cysteine, though all of the amino acids are important.

Price is another factor when choosing the right whey protein product. Bodybuilders and those looking to add large amounts of muscle can consume three or more servings of protein supplement a day. Others only seek to supplement their normal diet with a single serving each day. Budgetary constraints also likely need to be weighed choosing the best product.

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Discussion Comments


It's also a good idea to check the protein content in a whey protein supplement. Since the supplement is called a "protein," most people expect it to be all protein, but that's not the case. Different products have different protein content.

Mine is very high in protein. It has 22 grams of protein and only a few grams of carb and fat. Some lower quality products usually have less protein and more carb and fat. I don't think it's a good idea to settle for a product with less than 20 grams of protein. This is roughly what is required after an intense workout to build muscle mass.

Whether people mention this or not, price is an issue too. Unfortunately, high quality whey protein is expensive. So if a whey protein product is very cheap, then there is probably something wrong with it.


@ZipLine-- Flavor is important for many people actually. What good is something one can't drink?

I can't say I give flavor priority because I don't mind the various flavors. I just make sure that the powder contains whey protein isolates and that it has low fat content.


This is probably the last thing people consider when selecting a whey protein powder -- flavor. But I'm strange and care about this the most. I can't consume all flavors of whey protein powder. I don't like the taste of some. My favorite flavor is vanilla, it seems to taste the best. I mix the powder with milk, so it kind of tastes like a shake. I check the protein content and all the other details only after checking the flavor.

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      By: lculig
      Whey protein powder.
    • Calorie-rich whey protein powders should be used if a person wishes to gain muscle mass.
      By: Christopher Howey
      Calorie-rich whey protein powders should be used if a person wishes to gain muscle mass.