The Best Whey Protein Powder To Help Men Build Muscle Reviewed
You’re eating right and trying to bulk up, but you just aren’t seeing as much muscle development as you had hoped. Hard to down 100-200 grams of protein every day, right?
That’s where whey protein powder comes in to be the hero.
The market, however, is saturated with different whey protein powders, and manufacturers all want you to believe that their product is the best. And you probably know as well as I do how sketchy some of these fitness companies can be.
So, which whey protein powders are worth trying? Stick around and we’ll do the hard work of sifting through the trash for you.
Top 4 Best Whey Protein Powders Rated
Whey Protein Powder
#1. EDITOR'S CHOICE
What Does Whey Protein Do, And Do You Actually Need It?
Basically, it’s an awesome and efficient way of getting more protein into your body by mixing it with water, milk, or in a smoothie (or oatmeal, or baking…basically anyway you can consume it works).
So when you ask what it does you’re basically asking what protein does. Check it out more in depth here, but basically when you’re beating the crap out of your muscles at the gym, protein is the building block that repairs them and builds them up bigger and stronger than before.
You need to be getting enough protein for this to actually work, and most guys who go to the gym take anywhere from 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
It usually comes in one of three different compositions: whey protein hydrolysate (WPH), whey protein concentrate (WPC), or whey protein isolate (WPI). WPH requires little digestion since it has already undergone some hydrolysis, whereas WPC contains 30-90% protein and WPI contains at least 90% protein.
Note that anyone with lactose intolerance should consider taking whey protein in its isolate form.
Whey protein essentially encourages the growth of lean muscle while enhancing muscle protein synthesis.
So, if you’re having trouble eating enough “real food” protein, it doesn’t hurt to supplement with a protein powder to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts by building the most muscle possible.
What To Look For
Take a gander at the digital protein powder aisle on Amazon or Bodybuilding.com, and you will have your mind blown by how many brands of whey protein powder are available. They all seem to offer slightly different formulas while making the same promises (often trying to one-up each other).
So, what should you actually look for in a good whey protein powder when there are thousands of options to choose from?
First and foremost, you should be looking for something that is high in protein. Duh. We like to look for powders that have 20+ grams of protein per serving, but you can usually find 25-30 gram options which are even better as long as they’re not like three scoops and full of other crap.
You’ll also probably want to keep your protein low in fat and carbs, since you’re taking it to boost your protein macro profile, not the others.
Ideally, you should be aiming for something that contains between 1 and 5 grams of fat and about 1 to 5 grams of carbs.
After looking at the macros, you’ll obviously want to make sure the ingredients themselves are decent. You don’t need a PERFECT protein powder – we’re not proponents of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good – but you don’t want to be consuming a bunch of stuff you can’t pronounce and are not sure what it is.
Here are some common ingredients to look out for, both good and bad:
- You want whey protein, obviously. Sometimes protein powders will be made WITH whey, but not exclusively. Make sure your product doesn’t have rice protein powder and other non-whey proteins that are incomplete proteins.
- Probably don’t bother with hydrolyzed protein. Evidence doesn’t seem to support the marketing that companies are putting out, which basically just makes it a more expensive product without added benefits.
- Sweeteners can go either way, and really depend on what side of the argument you’re on. We’re personally good with most artificial sweeteners in protein, because they’re usually pretty minimal. Stevia is pretty awesome because it’s a natural product. However, sucralose, erythritol, and other approved sweeteners are probably fine, it’s just that we’re still not sure what long-term side effects they may have. But like with everything we talk about, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and just pick something! Just maybe don’t pick one whose ingredient list starts off with sugars such as dextrose, fructose, glucose polymers, sucrose or maltodextrin.
- Hydrogenated or trans fats. No real reason to have much, if any, of these in your protein. They’re usually used to make a richer, creamier texture when mixed.
While it’s not a perfect tool, we like to check to see if the products we choose have been listed on LabDoor. Sometimes they give bad grades because the score is totally based on a formula, without human input. For example, if a product has more protein than advertised, the accuracy score will suffer, even though you may actually be getting better value than you thought. Anyway, it’s still a good thing to check to make sure there’s nothing really wrong with your purchase.
Also, you will need to carefully consider which type of whey protein is right for you. If you want something that you can consume between meals and that is moderately digested, opt for whey protein concentrate. Otherwise, consider whey protein isolate, which is more quickly absorbed by the body and is best taken post-workout.
What To Avoid
While a lot of these companies are kings of deceptive marketing, it’s best to go into the supplement market with a completely bland, almost bored attitude.
Just assume that most claims are bull, remember that the only things that move the needle to any great degree are regular resistance training and a good diet, and try not to buy into the hype behind a product.
Many whey protein manufacturers will make outrageous claims about their “miracle” products. Whey protein powders aren’t magical elixirs that will make muscle manifest overnight. You have to put the work into doing consistent resistance exercises. Look at what manufacturers put on their packaging and on their websites. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
When you’re checking labels on containers, make sure that you look at sugar and carb content. If there is a lot of sugar or carbs, avoid the product altogether. Some products have confusing labeling that attempts to conceal the fact that they contain a lot of carbs, sugars, or even saturated fats. Some manufacturers will even falsify labels to hide the existence of things like trans fats. If you see the word “hydrogenated”, put that container back on the shelf and walk away.
Speaking of making things look better than they really are, have a look at the serving size, and make sure that you’re getting a consistent idea of the nutrients. Sometimes you’ll see a protein advertised as having 30 grams of protein, for example, and then you’ll notice that it only has a little bit of fat.
Great, you think. However, upon closer inspection you realize that 30 grams of protein comes from a THREE SCOOP serving size, whereas the low fat content was being used from a ONE SCOOP serving size. Sometimes this sort of thing actually still happens, so just be aware of serving size marketing, too.
Make sure you check to see that there are no artificial sweeteners or dyes if that’s something that is important to you.
I tend to believe that most of these artificial sweeteners and whatnot are mostly safe – not a lot of actual science is behind most of the fear tactics their opponents use – but use of artificial sweeteners have reportedly caused people to steer away from eating naturally sweet foods and consume increasing amounts of unhealthy, highly-processed foods, because they think they’re “healthy”.
Now, I am going to trust you are not the type to overeat just because something isn’t made with actual sugar, but we had to put that there just in case…
Whey Protein Powder
Top 4 Whey Protein Powders
So, which product is the best whey protein? Let’s dive into our top four picks.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard truly is the gold standard. It’s basically the least offensive offering on the market.
It’s got a decent amount of protein with about 24 grams per serving, and is a mainstay in the industry, typically delivering a really high quality product.
You’ve got a load of selection with 20+ flavors. As with anything, try a smaller bottle before committing to a huge tub of it. I speak from experience with this product specifically!
I typically get the Double Chocolate. However, I went to order from Amazon one time and they didn’t have any in stock. I figured the Extreme Milk Chocolate couldn’t be that much different and ordered it. Bad move! I had to suffer through an entire jug of the stuff that was nowhere near the same as the Double Chocolate.
It mixes really well, and goes in just about anything fine…milk, water, shakes, and even coffee.
We’ve been a fan of Legion for awhile now. They create products with the least amount of ingredients necessary to achieve their goal, and back up all the ingredients with actual studies.
Kind of like how we like to do things here at Man Revived.
This is really surprising for a supplement company, actually, and while that’s a sad realization of the industry as a whole (shouldn’t all companies strive to provide science-based reasons for their decisions?), it’s a really positive thing for Legion.
Whey+ is very basic, and that’s what we love about it.
It’s a bit more expensive than most other proteins, with one of the highest cost/weight ratios of the ones on this list, but if you’re looking for a natural product that doesn’t skimp on quality, look no further.
They use whey isolate, which is 90% protein by weight (very little carbs/fats), which is also from the milk of cows that have not been given hormones or antibiotics.
You might be noticing a trend here, and I hope it’s giving you a chance to realize that gimmicks are usually BS and are not worth paying for.
With Naked Whey coming right after Legion’s filler-free offering, you should be seeing that we’re recommending only the basic, main-ingredient packed items that will actually do something to build your muscles.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of believing the crap marketing behind some of these products, but when you look at ingredients and realize they’re full of “protein blends” that include a tiny bit of whey isolate, and a whole bunch of lower quality whey and even egg protein (not bad, but not when you’re paying for whey), you realize you’re being served a steaming pile of you know what.
Naked Whey is the exact opposite of those jargon-filled, BS marketing companies.
The whole goal of the company is transparency, and it literally shows with both their naming (Naked), and their jugs, which are clear.
There is literally only one ingredient in this powder, and that is whey protein concentrate from grass-fed cows.
The Naked Whey version of this may be OK if you’re mixing it with smoothies and whatnot, but if you’re using it plain, it may be better to go with one of their “Less Naked” versions, which include organic coconut sugar and natural chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry flavoring.
We looked and looked for another protein powder to add to this list, and were having a hard time.
Originally we were looking at including 5 on this list. But as we did our research, we noticed that we either had to pick a filler-filled crappy protein to recommend (no way), or we’d be rehashing the same stuff over and over, just with a smaller company that made a fairly good, no filler protein.
If you’ve got a problem with one of these companies, that’s cool, there’s probably another similar one offering a decent option, but for us, that wasn’t a big enough reason to take up your time reading this article.
Instead, we finally settled on this option, even though it’s way more expensive than anything else on here (and that includes fairly pricey options with Naked and Legion).
For those protein connoisseurs among us who are also die-hard organic food eaters, we figured we’d give you an option to keep within the organic family.
As is our preference, this protein has only a few ingredients, all organic: whey protein concentrate, cocoa powder, and stevia leaf powder.
Obviously with so few ingredients, if they don’t get the mix quite right, you may find yourself one of the few people out there who find that it doesn’t taste great. However, you should be alright, as the taste is pretty “normal”, all things considered.
It has a fair amount of protein, and it’s organic, and it’s got only 3 ingredients, so it hits the mark there.
But this is really a protein for those of us who absolutely must have organic, and who have the budget to dedicate to it, because you don’t get a lot for the price you pay.
The Final Word
We’ve very consciously selected only quality, no-BS options here.
You won’t find Muscle Milk, Syntha6, or any other shiny, marketing-driven companies.
These are specifically chosen for men who want to get the most out of their fitness journey, without becoming a slave to it. That includes actually getting good results from your protein, which typically only happens when you’re ingesting mostly natural ingredients, and not crappy filler products.
At the end of the day, most people will be served perfectly well with Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey Protein.
However, the reason we added the others is because not every product is perfect for everyone, obviously. So if taste, or specific ingredients, or organic is important to you, choose one of the others.
Whatever you choose from this page, they’re all no-BS options and they’ll all do you well.
Just make sure you’re relying on whole foods as well as getting a boost from your protein powder, and aim for 0.7-1 gram of protein per bodyweight if you’re lifting and active regularly.