Choosing the Right Whey (Protein)

by | Apr 16, 2022 | Nutrition

Forgive the pun in the headline, but it’s hard to avoid! Choosing the right whey protein seems simple, but if you’re new to the world of sports supplements, there are a few things you should know about whey protein before purchasing.

Why do you need whey?

Whey can be a great way to add a dose of protein to your day without committing to sitting down for a full extra meal or adding calories other than simple protein. It can be a great post-workout recovery option if you’re on the go. And if you’re trying to preserve muscle, it might be hugely beneficial, especially if you’re recovering from something like dental work or a concussion and aren’t feeling very hungry.

But do you need it? Maybe not. In the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a study that compared a bowl of whole-grain cereal to a sports drink for recovery after exercise found that the cereal was just as effective as the powdered supplement when tested on a group of trained cyclists… and probably much tastier!

So, before you decide to hit BUY, it might be worth a quick read of our ‘do you need a supplement?‘ post. This isn’t to say whey is bad—just that we like to think carefully before adding more supplements to any routine.

Quality matters

One study reported that 40% of the 133 protein powder products they tested had elevated levels of heavy metals. That’s why we only use whey proteins that are third-party certified (like NSF certified), which means they’ve been tested and approved by an outside company.

Why do we like NSF?  From them: “To meet the growing demands of athletes, coaches, and all those concerned about banned substances in sports supplements, NSF International created the Certified for Sport® program. The program certifies that what is on the label is in the bottle and that the product does not contain unsafe levels of contaminants, prohibited substances, or masking agents. Certification also means that supplement manufacturers and their suppliers meet stringent certification guidelines developed through a consensus process involving regulatory, sports industry, and consumer groups.”

But it’s not just about banned substances. You should check the full ingredient list regardless. Often, there are tons of additives in order to make it taste better. This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but a lot of whey mixes, especially those meant for ‘recovery,’ will also contain a high amount of sugar since recovery also prioritizes carbs. Generally, we try to avoid whey-based recovery drinks and look for whey isolates, which tend to be tolerated better and may have higher absorption rates (see an article from Precision Nutrition for more on types of Whey). Recovery mixes also tend to have less protein per serving: Aim for a product that will provide between 20 and 30 grams of protein in a serving. Minimal ingredient lists are usually a plus as well!

You don’t need a fancy blender bottle either, by the way: We found that just tossing a couple of ice cubes in a regular water bottle along with the whey protein and at least a splash of almond milk makes a huge difference in taste without having an annoying blender bottle taking up space.

We, and the clients we work with, have used the following and found good taste, mixing qualities, and most importantly, high quality. Admittedly, these are pricier than what you’ll find in the bargain section at grocery stores, pharmacies, and Walmart, but it’s well worth the extra spend if you do want to add whey to your routine. Better safe than sorry!

Best Overall/Peter’s Favorites: Kaizen Whey and Isagenix

These are widely available at many grocery stores in addition to mixing well and being tasty.
NSF/3rd party certified

Get it here

Best Overall/Molly’s Favorite: Klean Athlete

Mixes well, chocolate actually tastes like chocolate milk, and I actually love that the packaging isn’t a big plastic container since it makes for easier storage.
Made for athletes getting tested regularly, 3rd party certified

Get it here

Highest Quality: NAKED Whey

We like this for minimal ingredients and no taste . Must be blended or shaken in a shaker bottle as it does not mix well, due to not having any additives.
*Certified Gluten-Free by GFCO 2021 / *3rd Party Tested by Informed Choice 2021

Get it here


Before you go, check out our book, Becoming A Consummate Athlete, right here:



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