Best Whey Protein Powder | Pros, Cons and Quality | Product Reviews
Losing weight requires a balanced diet, constant physical exercise and ambition to meet your goals. However, with today’s market, giving your body all the vitamins and nutrients it needs becomes a real challenge. And choosing the best whey protein for weight loss makes no exception.
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Whenever we lose weight, we lose both fat and muscle. Protein is the key-ingredient that helps you drop those pounds while still preserving (and growing) muscle mass – and whey is a great place to get it.
As for where it comes from, how it actually helps us and what are the best ways to integrate it to your diet, we’re just about to find out!
What is whey protein?
If you don’t feel like this key-ingredient is familiar to you, you’ve actually seen it many times! Have you ever opened a yogurt container and notice some liquid on top of it? That’s whey, and it’s originally found in milk – and, of course, in all things dairy.
Milk contains two main types of protein: casein, which is 80% of the total amount, and whey, which is the remaining 20%. The latter is more easily digested than casein and the most popular option on the market in terms of powder.
However, it hasn’t always been this popular. Cheese-makers used to throw away all the liquid until its countless benefits were studied and promoted! At first, astronauts used this ingredient because it helps with digestion and muscle growth. Today, it’s one of the main elements for anyone who wants to lose weight and build muscle mass.
Studies already proved that this ingredient helps regulate blood pressure, reduce hunger and cravings and improve immunity. Considering it has all the essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own, it’s no wonder!
Those are just some of the main reasons why active people look for the best whey protein for weight loss before anything else… but there’s more to it.
Does whey protein help you lose fat?
This diet aid is renowned for its benefits in physical training and overall health, but does it actually help you lose fat too?
The answer is yes.
Regardless of how it’s consumed, amino acids (which is another term for protein) bring your physical activity to a whole new level. Whey is one of the best sources of leucine, CLA and gluathione; these nutrients help muscle growth, quick recovery and reducing inflammation. Only three ounces contain 8 grams of leucine, which you’d otherwise get from 16 raw eggs!
Consuming the right quantities at the right time encourages fat loss by suppressing your appetite. This prelvents you from attacking the fridge at midnight. Meanwhile, it also gives you a boost in metabolism, which translates to effective calorie burning.
Last, but not least, you want to lose weight in a healthy way and this natural ingredient helps you maintain muscle mass while getting rid of unnecessary fat. If you combine it with a balanced diet and physical activity, you will reach your weight loss goals faster.
Satiety: the secret ingredient for weight loss
You know that feeling of being so full, you wouldn’t want to eat anything at all? That’s what a healthy amount of amino acids can give you.
In an era of consumerism, we all struggle to maintain a healthy balance of nutrients while avoiding chemicals. However, it’s pretty hard to avoid late night snacks, sweets and processed foods, isn’t it?
Choosing the best whey protein powder guarantees a notable impact upon hormones; more specifically, it reduces ghrelin, known as the ‘hunger’ hormone, and increases production of hormones CCK and GLP-1 which keep your appetite at bay. Simply said, consuming the best whey protein for your needs helps you manage your diet much better.
The fact that amino acids boost the digestion process may also help reduce your appetite. Studies found that you can have your energy expanded by 100 calories per day. This means you’ll consume up to 400 fewer calories each day you get a shake simply because it satisfies your body in a healthy way.
Another evidence of effectiveness is that eating 25% of the daily calories as protein can cut cravings by 60% (goodbye, chocolate cakes!). The same study concluded that this healthy ingredient reduces the desire for late-time snacking by 50%. Mix that with any workout you want and your chances of a healthy lifestyle are up to the roof!
How protein powders promote weight loss
Protein consumption promotes satiety, which reduces our chances of giving in to cravings. However, this macro nutrient is also beneficial for weight loss in other ways.
Muscle burns more calories than fat. Considering that amino acids boost your metabolism, they automatically upgrade muscle synthesis, which makes you consume extra calories. If you combine protein shakes with proper workout, for example, your chances of losing pounds through fat increase substantially.
Furthermore, there’s the thermic effect of food (TEF). Protein needs an extra amount of calories to be digested and metabolized (more than other types of macronutrients or micronutrients). Simply said, your body burns some calories simply digesting the protein you eat and drink daily!
Studies proved that consuming a single protein shake daily makes muscle maintenance three and a half times more efficient. Regardless if your goal is to build muscle or not, you definitely want to lose unnecessary fat so you can lose weight in a beautiful way.
The right dosage and timing
Generally, the recommended dose is calculated based on your weight as following:
0.8g x X kg bodyweight = Xg protein per day
However, you shouldn’t take these numbers for granted. If you can talk to a nutritionist about your diet and weight loss goals, he or she is the best person to go to for certified advice.
Specialists strongly recommend checking the label on every package because the ingredients often vary. Even so, your daily dose of amino acids depends how much you workout, as well as your diet.
One thing is certain: this product is more beneficial for muscle growth when consumed right before or after workout. That’s because muscle synthesis is maximized by physical activity.
Although it offers a wide range of benefits, ingesting too much also has its downsides. Consumed in large quantities, this ingredient can cause digestive issues including bloating, flatulence and cramping. Note that this also depends on the type you choose.
Obviously, the next question to answer is…
What is the best whey protein type?
As the consumption of whey gained more and more popularity, specialists found various ways to process it. Right now, there are three types available on the market: concentrate, isolate and hydrolyzed.
Each has a different impact on your body, as well as its pros and cons. Let’s have a look:
Whey protein concentrate
This is the most popular option on the market, as well as the most affordable one. Once it has been separated from curds, the resulting substance is filtered until the protein concentration reaches 30-85%. The solution is then spray dried to become what we actually consume. Most options of this type have about 70%-80% concentration, but it depends on the brand.
- Aside from the concentration itself, the powder also contains healthy fat and carbs in the form of lactose (4%-8%), in addition to minerals;
- It’s affordable compared to the quantity and quality it offers (if you choose the right product).
- The notable amount of lactose may cause digestive discomfort to some consumers; lactose-intolerant or allergic people can’t enjoy it.
Whey protein isolate
You can think of isolate as an upgrade of concentrate. Aside from the usual filtration, this time the solution is also filtered to remove fat and carbs; therefore, the final product is almost 99% free from lactose. The concentration of amino acids is also higher, to about 90%. For example, a scoop of isolate that weighs 20 grams will have at least 18 grams of amino acids. This is often considered the best whey protein powder for weight loss and you’ll find it in most products.
- Contains more amino acids per serving than the concentrated version;
- It may be easier to digest for those experiencing unpleasant symptoms from lactose;
- As lactose is removed, it results in less carbs, which makes it fit low-carb diets too.
- Might not mix as well as other options although that strongly depends on how the powder is prepared to reach the final version.
Hydrolyzed whey protein
When the concentrate is filtered once more, the resulting mix has 95% protein. The process this option goes through is known as ‘pre-digestion’ – and it’s exactly what it sounds like. During this stage, amino acid peptide bonds into shorter chains, thus accelerating substance absorption in the body. Also, hydrolyzed products naturally contain digestive enzymes.
- The pre-digestion process means your stomach will process the substance faster and easier;
- The resulting product is ‘hypoallergenic,’ which makes it recommended more than other dairy source.
- It might not mix as well as the other options;
- Although more expensive, its effects on the body may not be as noticeable in terms of how fast the content is absorbed into the system.
Looking for more information on whey protein and how to choose the right product for your needs? Check out our in-depth article which covers every aspect.
What to combine it with?
Now you know the main types of products available on the market so you can choose the best whey protein for your needs and lifestyle. However, you must mix your powder with something – and those ingredients can add to its quality too.
Thankfully, the product is versatile enough to be mixed with a wide range of beverages, fruits or veggies and even added to food. Although some options are more highly recommended than others due to their nutrient content, it all comes down to your diet.
For example, certain diets recommended for weight loss advise you to eat as few carbs as possible. This gives you less options to mix your powder with. Your choice of ingredients also depends on whether you drink your shake as a meal replacement or as a post-workout beverage.
How to create the perfect mix
The first step towards creating a healthy beverage is to choose the proper base. If you’re on a weight loss diet, it’s recommended that you choose something with little fat and dairy like nonfat milk or almond milk. Coconut milk is also a low-carb option, with just 1 gram of carbs per ½ cup (compared to 6 grams that dairy milk contains).
Of course, you can also go for plain water if you’re looking for simplicity. Either way, it’s best to stay clear from artificial sweeteners and additives that only make you hungrier.
If you’re into certain flavors, you can mix them up with the base to add a plus of nutrients. Berries, for example, are a great source of vitamin C and fiber that’s also low in carbs. For extra fatty acids and fiber, you can throw a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseeds to your recipe.
Other healthy options low in carbs are: cherries, guava, plums, watermelon, spinach and avocado (which is rich in healthy fats).
Let’s say you’ve looked around and found what you think is the best whey protein powder. While it may be a high-quality product, the fact that it comes with lactose and/or casein may not be such a good thing for you. But how can you tell?
When should you avoid lactose or casein?
Amino acids can rarely cause allergies or digestive problems. With lactose and casein, though, things are a bit different.
The thing is, some people have less lactase enzyme activity than the usual levels. Whenever you eat lactose, it must be fermented by the intestines. If the enzymes responsible for fermentation are working slower, you may experience stomach cramps, bloating or flatulence.
Meanwhile, casein has some chances of causing an excessive inflammatory immune response. This makes your body produce extra mucus, which translates to blocked airways, a stuffy nose or a thick throat. Of course, these symptoms are only experienced by some consumers – but it’s good to test a small quantity before that large smoothie you’re dreaming of.
As we found out earlier, hydrolyzed and isolate amino acids have low amounts of lactose. If you’re not feeling that good after consuming milk, cheese or yogurt, it means your body doesn’t get along with lactose.
If you’re still unsure about your potential lactose intolerance, this video will help you spot all the signs:
How do you choose lactose-free products?
Depending on how milk is processed, the final substance can have almost all of the lactose removed. Of the three types available, isolate and hydrolyzed both contain very little lactose.
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, isolate is mostly safe for lactose-intolerant people.
Isolate is generally recommended to anyone. However, the Whey Protein Institute advises everyone to check the label. If the exact quantities aren’t mentioned on the product label, specialists strongly suggest that you contact the manufacturer to get all the information needed.
Other Healthy Sources of Amino Acids
Although whey is the most popular choice in powders, many other sources offer their own range of benefits. If, for some reason, you think this isn’t for you, it’s good to be aware of the other options available on the market.
In case you’re looking for non-vegan powders, here are the main options:
- Casein. We already mentioned casein a few times in this post. Unless you are lactose-intolerant, this choice offers all the amino acids essential for your body.
- Egg. The amino acids sourced from eggs are the most compatible with the human structure, which makes it easy to be absorbed by the organism.
If you’re vegan or simply want something plant-based, there are plenty of options to choose from too:
- Pea. As one of the most popular vegan choices out there, pea is hypoallergenic and quickly digested by the body. Some people consider it the best whey protein powder alternative.
- Rice. This option is recommended to people with an active lifestyle because of its high content of healthy carbs; it’s also gluten-free.
- Soy. Aside from containing all the essential amino acids required, soy is also close in terms of stimulating muscle development.
- Hemp. While easily digestible, help has a higher calorie count and is a great meal replacement choice.
Want to know more about whey protein alternatives? Our post explains the best protein sources and how you can maximize their positive impact to reach any physical goal easier.
The Best Whey Protein for Weight Loss
By this point, we already know the origins of this product, as well as its impact on our health and how it helps us reach our weight loss goals. Even so, powder manufacturers offer so many options that simply reading the labels takes up a lot of your free time. Well, that’s exactly what we did!
We created a list of five high-quality products and we’re ready to offer you essential info, as well as honest reviews on each one of them. Let’s check out the details and see what we think is the best whey protein powder for weight loss!
This option is made of isolate which, as we know now, offers a higher percentage of amino acids than the concentrate version. It is completely free from gluten and has only 1-2 grams of sugar per serving (depending on the flavor you pick), thus making it fit any diet. It can be consumed as a breakfast replacement, as well as a post-workout boost for your muscles.
- 24 grams of pure isolate
- Contains protease, a digestive enzyme that helps your stomach process better
- issolves completely so it’s a good choice for both beverages and foods
- Although it contains small amounts of lactose, manufacturers still don’t recommend it to lactose-intolerant people
This option definitely proves that simplicity is all you may need for a healthy, active lifestyle. How come? Well, the only two ingredients it contains are isolate and a tiny amount of soy lecithin. This means no additives, no sugars, no gluten – in a sentence, nothing that might make it complex or unhealthy.
- 25 grams of amino acids per serving
- Free from fillers, fats and additives
- Zero grams of sugar, meaning it gives you exactly what you need
- A few customers claimed that the taste is a bit chalky
The best part about this package is that it gives you nothing more than what you came for: high-quality powder. The product is processed from milk coming from grass-fed cows grown right here, in small farms across the United States. This quality is even better preserved as there are no colors, sweeteners or additives included.
- 25 grams of isolate per serving
- 5.9 extra grams of BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids which stimulate muscle amino acid synthesis)
- Free from hormones, gluten and sugar
- Some consumers reported an unpleasant taste when consuming the product with water
If you’re looking for a powder made of concentrate, this option contains 18 grams per serving. The fact that it has no flavors or artificial sweeteners makes it perfect to mix with any beverage, fruits – and even use it as your secret pancake ingredient! As a plus, it has a higher amount of lactose for those who want to get it daily.
- Gluten-free, so it can be consumed with any diet
- 30 grams of protein in a 140-calorie serving
- Only 1 gram of sugar per serving
- Contains significant amounts of lactose, so it’s not recommended to those who are lactose intolerant or have a sensitive GI tract
Last, but not least, this product is created as a mix between micro-filtered isolate and ultra-filtered concentrate. This means you get the same amount of amino acids per serving you would from a 100% isolate with the additional healthy ingredients from lactose. The package is sweetened using stevia, which is a natural, healthy option.
- 23 grams of amino acids per serving
- 5 grams of BCAA’s that promote a healthy GI tract
- The special filtration reduces cholesterol and carbohydrate levels
- Some customers claim it’s too sweet for their taste
- The product contains more concentrate than isolate
Considering the popularity of whey among all the protein sources available, your choices in powder are almost unlimited. Every option we presented is a good help if you want to lose weight, gain muscle and simply be healthier every day. However, the best whey protein powder for weight loss in our opinion is Naked Whey!
First of all, the milk is processed to extract lactose and carbs, so all you’re left with is pure isolate. Due to this fact, you can also try out the product if you’re lactose intolerant or if you’re more sensitive to dairy products. As a plus, it is originated from cows grown without any artificial ingredients, which makes every serving even healthier.
At 25 grams of amino acids per serving, the package offers a healthy choice for muscle repair after a workout or to replace your meals in a nutritious way. The product has zero sugar or gluten – and isn’t that what we all want to reduce so we can lose weight?
Furthermore, there are 5.9 extra grams of BCAA’s per serving. The more of these amino acids you get, the easier it is for your muscles to grow. In other words, this is yet another way to boost your workouts and physical recovery in an effective, long-lasting way.
Created in the USA, this product meets the criteria required to help people feel good, lose weight and gain more energy to support their active lifestyle. It is free from artificial ingredients and provides exactly what you need.