Best Whey Protein Powder Choices For 2017 – A Buyer’s Guide
Protein is everything, at least if the gym is an important part of your life. It helps with muscle recovery, muscle repair, and is the most thermogenic of all macronutrients.
Protein is king if building a better body is your thing.
While whole food protein sources such as beef, chicken, and fish are an important part of a lifter’s diet, whey protein has become a staple as well. It’s convenient and economical, providing a myriad of flavor options that are often irresistible and nutritionally enticing.
This whey protein guide will examine hot brands for 2017, including a look at flavor choices, macronutrients and ingredient profiles, cost per serving, and reviews.
Questions to Ask Whey Buying a Whey Protein Product
Does Cost Matter?
Cost does matter. You should be leery of products that are either priced extremely high or extremely low.
A low-cost product is sold at this price point for a reason. Either ingredient quality is a huge issue, or the price is driven down through some other method such as amino spiking or label claims that aren’t exactly true.
A supplement company exists to turn a profit and help the owner and employees earn a reasonable living. An inexpensive product is still making a similar profit margin to pricier brands. Let’s not pretend they aren’t. This means only one thing… The cost to produce this whey protein powder is much lower.
A very low production cost should be a red flag that the consumer takes seriously. Do your research, and seek out reviews before spending your money on this “budget” product. The cost might be lower, but if this whey powder has sub-par quality, why bother spending any money on it at all?
Five of the most popular and reputable brands in the industry sell 5 pound jugs of whey protein powder around the same price point. This should tell you something important, and help you to establish a baseline for analysis when price shopping.
- MTS Machine Whey 5lbs – $54.99
- Dyamtize Elite 100% Whey 5lbs – $54.99
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey 5lbs – $57.99
- Dymatize Elite Natural Whey 5lbs – $52.95
- BPI Sports Whey HD 5lbs – $53.98
At this mid-range price point buyers should shop based on taste preference, brand reputation, and reviews. Poke around the Tiger Fitness website and explore flavors and customer opinions.
When it comes to higher prices, there are a couple things to note. A slightly greater product cost could be indicative of:
- A slightly higher cost of raw ingredients or flavorings, which does not necessarily mean an improvement in quality.
- A brand’s higher cost of business operations.
- A positioning of the product as being a greater quality when the ingredients may or may not necessarily reflect this marketing approach.
Extremely high priced products should be approached with caution. You are likely paying for a name. The quality is very unlikely to be 20 to 50% greater, even if the taste is spectacular.
Does Brand Matter?
Brand can matter. An experienced and reputable brand has been in the industry longer, and has had the potential to refine their product quality and flavorings. This is not always the case. A brand can grow for a myriad of reasons, while still featuring so-so product taste and even average product quality.
Seek out brands that highlight transparency, and are produced using strict quality control standards. You also want to make sure and read product reviews. They can tell you a lot about a brand.
Does Flavor Matter?
Yes! There are many top quality products with similar prices. All things being equal, flavor does matter.
Do Reviews Matter?
Absolutely. All marketing and positioning aside, the true test of how well a product is loved comes from its buyers. The questions become: How high do they rate the whey protein powder AND how moved are they by quality and taste to even take the initiative to write a review in the first place.
Here are some review statistics for major brands sold at Tiger Fitness. 5 stars is the highest rating, 1 star the lowest.
- MTS Machine Whey – 6,347 reviews, 5.0 perfect rating
- Beverly UMP – 203 reviews, 5.0 perfect rating
- Cellucor Cor Performance Whey – 138 reviews, 4.9 rating
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard – 100 reviews, 4.8 rating
- Dymatize Elite 100% Whey – 94 reviews, 4.9 rating
- MusclePharm Combat Powder – 76 reviews, 4.9 rating
Types of Whey Protein Supplements
Before we analyze available choices for 2017, we must establish that there are different types of whey protein supplements:
- Whey Protein Isolate – The purest, and most expensive form of whey. Whey protein isolates contain about 90 to 95% pure whey, while featuring only trace amounts of lactose (milk sugar) and fats. Whey isolate is the best choice for those with lactose intolerance issues, but it also lacks some of the more healthier compounds found in more fat and sugar-rich whey, including immunoglobulins.
- Whey Protein Concentrate – The typical whey protein concentrate contains about 80% whey, but concentrates can range from 35 to 89% whey protein. Whey concentrates provide the best mix of cost effectiveness, nutritional value, and protein content. Fat and lactose content in concentrates are usually around 4 to 8 percent.
- Whey Protein Blends – Blends contain a mixture of whey protein along with various other powdered protein sources. These can include, but are not limited to: Casein, egg, and even quinoa. Because blends mixtures can vary, it’s harder to compare products. Whey protein blends are often very cost-effective. They can provide some benefits that whey protein isolates and concentrates can’t, such as offering a mixture of fast and slow digesting proteins.
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate – The least known known form of whey protein, hydrolystates are whey that undergo a hydrolysis treatment to produce a purity nearly on par with whey protein isolate. This process is more expensive because of the additional production steps involved. Because there are very few hydrolysate choices, this guide will analyze them and isolates together.
Whey Protein Isolates – Pure and Blended
This category contains whey protein isolates, and whey protein isolate and hydrolysate blends, and various other blends that strongly feature whey protein isolate as the primary ingredient. Some of this products contain other ingredients that can help with recovery and performance. These unique products, and their ingredients, are noted below.
The majority of isolate-based products sold at Tiger Fitness come in under 4 pound containers. This buyer’s guide will focus on only these products. Whey protein isolates that are 4 to 5 pounds are also available for sale, and are typically larger versions of the two to three pound whey protein isolate products found in this feature.
Four to five pound containers provide a greater value, as the cost per serving is lower.
Top 10 Whey Protein Isolates – Based on Value
The following top 10 list ranks whey isolate powders in terms of grams of protein they provide per each dollar spent.
- MTS Machine Iso – 23.36 grams of protein per $1
- Nature’s Best Isopure – 23.15 grams of protein per $1
- Dymatize Iso-100 – 23.04 grams of protein per $1
- MuscleTech Platinum Iso-Whey – 22.42 grams of protein per $1
- Nutrakey Iso Optima – 21.88 grams of protein per $1
- MusclePharm Combat Iso – 21.65 grams of protein per $1
- Adaptogen Science Iso P9x – 20.83 grams of protein per $1
- Oh Yeah! Isolate Power – 20.66 grams of protein per $1
- CytoMonster Isolate – 19.65 grams of protein per $1
- BPI Iso-HD – 19.16 grams of protein per $1
Top 20 Whey Protein Isolates – Calories Per Gram of Protein
The following top 20 list ranks whey isolate powders in terms of calories per gram of protein they provide. Because protein contains four calories per gram, and because whey protein isolate inherently contains very few calories from fats and lactose, this is an important ranking.
In addition to pure protein quality, those seeking a quality isolate are typically after a lower lactose level, a low calorie count, and a lower sugar content.
Needs vary. You may prefer a few extra calories, or the possibility of an enhanced flavor that might come from added fat or sugar. This information exists merely to help you analyze added calories.
- EFX Training Ground Isolate – 4.0 calories per gram of protein
- MusclePharm Combat Iso – 4.16 calories per gram of protein
- AST VP2 Whey Protein Isolate – 4.16 calories per gram of protein
- MTS Machine Iso – 4.2 calories per gram of protein
- Nature’s Best IsoPure – 4.23 calories per gram of protein
- Met-Rx Ultramyosyn Whey Isolate – 4.33 calories per gram of protein
- Adptogen Science Iso P9X – 4.36 calories per gram of protein
- VMI Protolyte – 4.375 calories per gram of protein
- Nutrakey Iso Optima – 4.4 calories per gram of protein
- Evogen Isoject – 4.4 calories per gram of protein
- Dymatize Iso-100 – 4.42 calories per gram of protein
- ProSupps PS Isolate – 4.5 calories per gram of protein
- Core Iso – 4.57 calories per gram of protein
- Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey – 4.67 calories per gram of protein
- Optimum Nutrition Isolate – 4.8 calories per gram of protein
- BPI Iso-HD – 4.8 calories per gram of protein
- MuscleTech Platinum Iso-Whey – 4.8 calories per gram of protein
- RedCon1 Isotope – 5.2 calories per gram of protein
- CytoMonster Isolate – 5.2 calories per gram of protein
- BSN Syntha-6 Isolate – 6.0 calories per gram of protein
Editor’s Top 3 Whey Protein Isolate Picks
These picks are based upon overall value, purity of the product, overall taste, and popularity.
Pick #1 – MTS Machine Iso
Machine Iso not only ranks as the top pick value-wise, but it’s also a rather pure isolate with only 4.2 calories per grams of protein. Featuring only 1 gram of sugar and 1.5 grams of fat per serving, Machine Iso packs an amazing taste without adding a ton of unwanted calories.
Flavors include chocolate and vanilla. From the Machine Iso product page:
“MTS Nutrition Machine ISO™ uses ultra-high quality, cold-filtered Whey Protein Isolate. Whey protein isolate yields 90%+ protein, does NOT contain lactose and is perfect for those with digestive issues caused by dairy but still want the benefits of Whey Protein. Whey protein is known for having an extremely high biological value and is fast acting for use around the most strenuous workouts and is perfect for those looking for a protein supplement with controlled carbohydrate and fat.”
Pick #2 – Nature’s Best IsoPure
Nature’s Best IsoPure is another powder that provides a lot value without anything more than trace amounts of fat or sugar. Each scoop yields zero grams of each. The only downside to this powder is that it is unflavored. With that said, it is lactose and gluten free.
From the IsoPure product page:
“Isopure® Unflavored WPI powder contains 26 grams per serving of 100% Whey Protein Isolate, stripped of fat, carbs, fillers, sugars and lactose. Easy to add to any food and beverage (hot or cold), and so pure you won’t even taste it. Isopure® Whey Protein Isolate has 5.67 g of naturally occurring BCAA’s in every serving and is Lactose and Gluten Free. It also has 2.57 grams of naturally occurring L-Glutamine in every serving. Just pure, naked protein. The micro-filtration process used to create Isopure® is so complete that it is the only completely clear milk protein when it is dissolved in water.”
For those of you looking for a little extra flavor, Nature’s Best also offer IsoPure also offers “IsoPure Zero Carb” which features 50 grams of protein per serving and only 210 calories. This is almost exactly four calories per gram of protein, highlighting the purity of this product. Zero Carb flavors include:
- Alpine Punch
- Apple Melon
- Banana Cream
- Cookies and Cream
- Creamy Vanilla
- Mango Peach
- Mint Chocolate Chip
- Pineapple Orange Banana
Pick #3 – MusclePharm Combat Iso
Combat Iso provides nearly 22 grams of whey isolate per dollar spent, while also remaining one of the cleanest products in the niche. MusclePharm Combat Iso is almost all protein, featuring zero carbs and fat per scoop.
Flavors include banana split, chocolate swirl, and vanilla ice cream. From the Combat Iso product page:
“Zero Carb 100% Isolate Protein. Ultra-Fast-Release Protein To Accelerate Muscle Protein Synthesis. Reduce Muscle Breakdown & Support Muscle Recovery. 24 Grams Of Protein-Zero Carbs/Zero Fat/Zero Sugar/ No Fillers. Gluten-Free. A more effective ratio: 100% whey isolate protein with 0 Carbs! MusclePharm’s Combat 100% Isolate is scientifically-engineered to deliver a whopping 24 grams of 100% whey isolate protein per 27 gram serving. That’s high-quality protein with no added fillers—no competitor comes close to delivering an ultra-premium, clean formula that also contains zero fat, carbohydrates, sugar and lactose.”
|Whey Protein Isolates, Hydrolysates, and Isolate Blends|
|MTS Machine ISO – 2lbs (Vanilla)||$29.99||28||105||25g||$0.0428|
|RedCon1 Isotope – 2.38lbs (Vanilla)||$39.99||30||130||25g||$0.0533|
|Optimum Nutrition Isolate – 3lbs||$70.99||43||120||25g||$0.0660|
|NitroTech Ripped – 2lbs (French Vanilla)||$33.99||21||170||30g||$0.0540|
|ProSupps PS Isolate – 2lbs (Vanilla)||$41.49||36||90||20g||$0.0576|
|CytoSport Monster Blend – 2lbs (Vanilla)||$29.99||23||140||25g||$0.0522|
|AST VP2 Whey Protein Isolate – 2lbs (Creamy Vanilla)||$42.99||32||100||24g||$0.0560|
|Evogen Isoject – 1.85lbs (Vanilla Bean)||$44.99||28||110||25g||$0.0642|
|VMI Protolyte – (Vanilla Peanut Butter)||$39.99||30||105||24g||$0.0555|
|Muscletech Platinum 100% Iso-Whey – 2lbs (Vanilla Ice Cream)||$28.99||26||120||25g||$0.0446|
|Adaptogen Science Iso P9X – 1.62lbs (Vanilla)||$29.99||25||109||25g||$0.0480|
|Nature’s Best Isopure – 1lb||$18.00||16||110||26g||$0.0432|
|EFX Training Ground Isolate – 2.4lbs (Vanilla)||$53.99||36||100||25g||$0.0600|
|Nutrakey Iso Optima – 2lbs||$32.00||28||110||25g||$0.0457|
|Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey – 1.75lbs (Turbo Vanilla)||$35.69||20||140||30g||$0.0595|
|Met-Rx Ultramyosyn Whey Isolate – 5lbs||$74.19||65||130||30g||$0.0380|
|BSN Syntha-6 Isolate – 2lbs (Vanilla Ice Cream)||$31.99||24||150||25g||$0.0533|
|Dymatize Iso-100 – 3lbs||$49.99||48||106||24g||$0.0434|
|BPI Iso-HD – 1.6lbs (Vanilla Cookie)||$29.99||23||120||25g||$0.0522|
|Musclepharm Combat Iso – 2lbs||$36.59||33||100||24g||$0.0462|
|Core Iso – 3lbs (Chocolate Decadence)||$59.99||48||105||23g||$0.0543|
|CytoMonster Isolate – 2.2lbs (Vanilla)||$36.89||29||130||25g||$0.0509|
Whey Protein Concentrate & Whey Blends
This section contains whey protein concentrates, and blends that include whey isolate and casein. Concentrates provide the best overall combination of protein quality, taste, and cost. The flavor options are nearly endless, and provide amazing recipe options for shakes, protein pancakes, and so much more.
Whey protein concentrate is typically sold in bulk. Here, we will compare products that are close to the 4 to 5 pound mark.
Top 20 Whey Protein Concentrates & Blends – Based on Value
The following top 20 list ranks whey concentrate powders in terms of grams of protein they provide per each dollar spent.
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey – 31.87 grams of protein per $1
- Dymatize Elite 100% Whey – 30.91 grams of protein per $1
- MTS Machine Whey Protein – 30.49 grams of protein per $1
- Pump Chasers GAF Whey – 30.46 grams of protein per $1
- Ronnie Coleman King Whey – 30.42 grams of protein per $1
- Dymatize Elite Natural Whey – 30.22 grams of protein per $1
- USN BlueLab 100% Whey – 30.01 grams of protein per $1
- Oh Yeah! Whey Power – 29.75 grams of protein per $1
- Universal Nutrition Animal Whey – 29.26 grams of protein per $1
- Twin Labs 100% Whey Fuel – 29.02 grams of protein per $1
- Adaptogen Science Gold Whey – 28.34 grams of protein per $1
- Cellucor Cor Performance Whey – 28.01 grams of protein per $1
- Core Pro – 28.00 grams of protein per $1
- CytoSport Monster Whey – 27.72 grams of protein per $1
- MusclePharm Combat Powder – 27.07 grams of protein per $1
- BPI Whey HD – 26.86 grams of protein per $1
- Giant Sports Delicious Protein Elite – 25.58 grams of protein per $1
- Purus Labs Myofeed – 25.60 grams of protein per $1
- Jay Cutler Elite Series Total Protein – 25.34 grams of protein per $1
- MuscleTech Phase 8 – 25.05 grams of protein per $1
Editor’s Top 3 Whey Concentrate Picks
These picks are based upon overall value, ratings, overall taste, and popularity.
Pick #1 – MTS Machine Whey
Easy pick here. Machine Whey offers an incredible value, amazing quality and purity, exceptional flavors choices, and a mind-blowing library of reviews – 6,347 to be specific.
Flavor choices include:
- American Apple Pie
- Blueberry Muffin
- Birthday Cake
- Creamy Red Velvet Cake
- Gourmet Mint Cookies & Cream
- Peanut Butter Cookies & Cream
- Peanut Butter Fluff
- Pumpkin Pie
- Salted Caramel
- Banana Cream Pie
- No Bake Cookie
- Gourmet Cookies & Cream
From the MTS Machine Whey product page:
“The goal with MTS Nutrition Machine Whey is to provide a high-quality whey protein blend that while providing the benefits of a full-spectrum Whey Protein Concentrate, also had lower carbohydrate and fat to fit into any diet and training program. To be consistent with any diet and nutrition program, you need to enjoy what you eat. So not only do we have the best quality protein on the market, it also blows every other protein on the market away and tastes even better than most ice creme shakes! Don’t believe me, buy it and try it. We offer a 100% Money Back Guarantee if you aren’t completely Satisfied.”
Pick #2 – Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard
Gold Standard whey is appropriately named. Optimum Nutrition has been delivering an amazing combination of value, quality, and flavor for many years. Gold Standard whey continues to receive rave reviews.
Current flavor choices include:
- Banana Cream
- Cake Batter
- Chocolate Coconut
- Chocolate Malt
- Chocolate Mint
- Cookies & Cream
- Delicious Strawberry
- Double Rich Chocolate
- Extreme Milk Chocolate
- French Vanilla Creme
- Mocha Cappuccino
- Rocky Road
- Strawberry Banana
- Vanilla Ice Cream
- White Chocolate
From the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard product page:
“Whey Protein Isolates (WPI) are the purest form of whey protein that currently exists. WPIs are costly to use, but rate among the best proteins that money can buy. That’s why they’re the first ingredient you read on the Gold Standard 100% Whey™ label. By using WPI as the primary ingredient along with premium ultra-filtered whey protein concentrate (WPC), we’re able to pack 24 grams of protein into every serving to support your muscle building needs after training. ON’s attention to detail also extends to mixability. This superior quality powder has been instantized to mix easily using a shaker cup or just a glass and spoon. There’s no doubt that this is the standard by which all other whey proteins are measured.”
Pick #3 – Dymatize Elite 100% Whey
Another big hitter, Dymatize Elite 100% Whey provides over 30 grams of protein per dollar spent while pulling in a near-perfect rating. Flavor choices are also spectacular, making this whey protein powder a top-seller year in and year out.
Current flavor choices include:
- Cafe Mocha
- Chocolate Cake Batter
- Chocolate Fudge
- Chocolate Mint
- Cookies & Cream
- Gourmet Vanilla
- Rich Chocolate
- Strawberry Blast
From the Dymatize Elite 100% Whey product page:
“Whether you’re preparing for a hard workout, recovering from intense training in the gym or simply looking to increase your protein intake, Elite 100% Whey Protein is the perfect anytime protein. Make the most of your workouts with Elite 100% Whey Protein. Each serving of Elite 100% Whey Protein is packed with 25 grams of high-quality, fast-digesting and absorbing whey protein, including whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and whey peptides to support even the most rigorous athletic and fitness goals.”
|Whey Protein Concentrates|
|MTS Machine Whey Protein – 5lbs (Vanilla)||$54.99||67||150||25g||0.0328|
|MusclePharm Combat Powder (Vanilla)||$49.87||54||140||25g||0.0369|
|Dymatize Elite 100% Whey (Gourmet Vanilla)||$54.99||68||120||25g||0.0323|
|USN BlueLab 100% Whey (Salted Caramel)||$49.99||60||130||25g||0.0333|
|Cellucor Cor Performance Whey – 4lbs (Whipped Vanilla)||$49.99||56||120||25g||0.0357|
|Purus Labs Myofeed – 4.4lbs||$54.99||64||130||22g||0.0391|
|MuscleTech Nitro Tech Performance Series – 4lbs||$64.89||49||140||30g||0.0441|
|Universal Nutrition Animal Whey – 4lbs (Vanilla)||$46.99||55||125||25g||0.0342|
|Adaptogen Science Gold Whey – 5lbs (Vanilla)||$59.99||68||125||25g||0.0353|
|Oh Yeah! Whey Power – 5lbs (Vanilla Creme)||$57.99||69||130||25g||0.0336|
|Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey – 5lbs (Vanilla Ice Cream)||$57.99||77||120||24g||0.0314|
|BSN Syntha 6 – 5lbs (Vanilla Ice Cream)||$49.57||52||200||23g||0.0414|
|MuscleTech Phase 8 – 4.4lbs||$51.89||50||150||26g||0.0399|
|Champion Nutrition Pure Whey Plus – 4.8lbs||$60.19||63||125||22g||0.0434|
|Twin Labs 100% Whey Fuel – 5lbs||$51.69||60||145||25g||0.0345|
|Dymatize Elite Natural Whey – 5lbs (Chocolate)||$52.95||64||140||25g||0.0331|
|BPI Whey HD – 5lbs (Chocolate Cookie)||$53.98||58||130||25g||0.0372|
|CytoSport Muscle Milk – 4.94lbs (Vanilla Creme)||$56.99||64||150||16g||0.0557|
|Ronnie Coleman King Whey – 5lbs||$59.99||73||130||25g||0.0329|
|Core Pro – 5lbs (Peanut Butter Ice Cream)||$59.99||70||130||24g||0.0357|
|Giant Sports Delicious Protein Elite – 5lbs||$60.99||60||138||26g||0.0391|
|CytoSport Monster Whey – 4.4lbs||$45.99||51||150||25g||0.0361|
|Pro Supps PS Whey – 4lbs||$55.49||55||130||24g||0.0420|
|Gaspari Myofusion Advanced – 4lbs (Vanilla)||$54.99||48||140||25g||0.0458|
|MuscleTech ES Platinum 100% Whey – 5lbs (Vanilla Cake)||$64.99||67||130||24g||0.0404|
|Jay Cutler Elite Series Total Protein – 5lbs (Creamy Vanilla)||$57.29||66||135||22g||0.0395|
|Metabolic Nutrition Protizyme – (Vanilla Cake)||$95.99||65||122||25g||0.0591|
|Pump Chasers GAF Whey – 5lbs||$54.99||67||130||25g||0.0328|