CHOOSING THE BEST WHEY

by Meenal Sharma | May 16, 2017 Views :

You want to be fit and strong. You also know that adding whey protein to your diet will get you there faster. So you walk into a supplement store to buy some and suddenly you’re overwhelmed. The variety, colors and messages absolutely overpower you. Whey protein everywhere you look, colorful jars demanding your attention, all claiming that they are the best whey protein in the world.

You don’t know where to begin, what do you do? Buy the bright green jar that promises 2x results in 1x the time? Or the 20 lbs matt black sack promising you Schwarzenegger’s body in 10 weeks only.

So how do you know which brand of protein powder is the best for you?

Actually, the answer is in front of you, just “Read the Label!” It’s as simple as that.

If you look beyond the fancy packaging and the marketing jargon on the jar, there’s actually useful information tucked away in a table called SUPPLEMENT FACTS. The “Supplement Facts” label will provide you all the information related to the protein powder.

Reading and understanding this label is quite easy. To make it easier for you, we’re here to train you how to read this table to help you understand and decide for yourself which is the best whey protein powder for you.

Will every supplement have this supplement facts label?

Yes. As per law, it is mandatory to have “Supplement Facts” present on all dietary supplements. All reputed brands will conform to these strict guidelines. Now you can see the quality you’re paying for and why it is necessary to pay for quality over quantity since you can be sure that the label information matches the product content.

Like our body, each part of the label has a specific function, as given below:

The numbers in yellow circles show different sections of the “Supplement Facts” label. The table below gives you a detailed description of each section.


If you look beyond the fancy packaging and the marketing jargon on the jar, there’s actually useful information tucked away in a table called SUPPLEMENT FACTS. The “Supplement Facts” label will provide you all the information related to the protein powder. Reading and understanding this label is quite easy.

Understanding these sections will help you understand not only whey protein products but all other food products and dietary supplements. A supplement fact label can help you differentiate between different whey protein products available in the market, and determine which type of whey protein is used in a particular product.

3 Steps to Finding the Right Whey Protein

Now that you know how to make the most from the information on the label, let’s get back to the our original question – How do you find the right whey protein for you?

Whey protein is available in different varieties viz. Whey Concentrates, Whey Isolate and Hydrolyzed Whey protein. Each of which have their own distinct advantages.

Whey protein is available in different varieties viz. Whey Concentrates, Whey Isolate and Hydrolyzed Whey protein. Each of which have their own distinct advantages.

  • Whey protein concentrate (WPC) – This is a rich source of bio-active micro-fractions that are naturally present in whey itself. 
  • Standard Whey protein Isolate (Standard WPI) – This has a higher protein content with minimal or negligible sugar, carb and fat content. 
  • Native Whey protein Isolate (Native WPI) – This is made directly from organic milk and like standard WPI, it is not a by-product of cheese manufacturing. 
  • Whey protein hydrolysates (WPH) - These are absorbed rapidly into your system as they are pre-digested, and thus suitable for faster recovery.

Choosing the right whey protein supplement can be a simple three step process with help of the “Supplement Facts” label. To explain, below are supplement fact labels of four different whey protein powder products from reputed brands.



Let’s get started:

Step -1: Check the serving size

When buying a whey protein powder, always start by checking the serving size. It differs for each product depending on the ingredients used.

From the above images you can see that the serving size of each protein differs not just in size but also in number of scoops. Generally, Protein powders have one scoop as their serving measure. However, the serving measure for protein powder can sometimes be more than a single scoop, as seen in Product 2.

The scoop size for whey protein powder varies across brands and even flavours depending on the amount of additives, flavourings and ingredients used in the product. Therefore, the first thing you should check on your protein supplement is the serving size. As you can clearly see, the quantity of protein per serving is different in all 4 labels thus clarifying exactly how much protein you are getting per serving.

Step-2: Read the Ingredient section

As per the governing body rules, the ingredients in Supplement facts are to be deciphered in descending order of their respective quantities. What this means is that the ingredient with the highest quantity has to be mentioned first in the ingredients section of the Supplement facts label. This ingredient becomes the “primary source” of the product. So in case of whey proteins, the protein source mentioned first becomes the “primary source”.

If you look at the ingredient section of the Supplement fact labels from the above examples, you can clearly see that Product 1 and 2 are whey isolate products and Product 3 and 4 are Whey blends. So then how do you identify which product is better? This is where reading the ingredient section can help you.

  • Products 1 and 2: Although belonging to the Whey Isolate category, have different qualities depending upon their method of processing. Product 1’s label tells you that the whey isolates are derived via Cross Flow microfiltration (CFM) process and Product 2 is obtained by Ion exchange process. These two methods give you two different qualities of whey isolates.

The CFM method yields about 90-92% pure whey isolates. Along with such a high yield, it also gives you whey isolates with its native micro fractions in intact form. These micro fractions have immunity boosting properties which obviously make them a very valuable part of whey isolate protein. In addition, the intact micro fractions lower the risk of any allergic reaction to whey protein in sensitive individuals.

Choosing the right whey protein supplement can be a simple three step process with help of the “Supplement Facts” label.
Step -1: Check the serving size
Step-2: Read the Ingredient section
Step- 3: Calculate the Protein Percentage per serving

Ion exchange method is a high yielding method which can provide whey isolates with 98% purity. This method has the lowest percentage of unwanted substances. However, the micro fractions get destroyed in this process. So even though you have a higher protein amount the benefit of immune boosting from micro fractions is sacrificed.

A person looking for a higher protein percentage whey isolate product can opt for Product 2, whereas for an allergy-sensitive person Product 1 will be the ideal choice as it will reduce his/her chances of experiencing an allergic reaction.

  • Products 3 and 4: Both are whey blends but Product 3 has WPI as the primary source, whereas Product 4 has WPCs as the primary source of protein.

WPC is the first form of concentrated whey protein powder procured by an ultrafiltration process. Depending on the extent of ultra-filtration, a high quality WPC can have protein% from 34-80%. Whey Protein Concentrates have a low fat content, but the lactose content in them is still higher than other forms of whey. WPI is considered the purest form of protein and absorbed faster than WPC, WPI have the highest protein %, close to 90%.

So, if you want a whey blend with higher percentage of WPI then you should choose product 3. Product 4, since it is a WPC based whey blend, turns out to be cost effective.

  • Product 5: This product is made from Native Whey Protein Isolate. Till date, all whey proteins are by-products of cheese manufacturing. Standard WPI processing starts from fresh skim milk, then it goes through enzyme treatment and then pasteurization and filtration processes. Native WPI is directly sourced from the pasture-raised cow and only undergoes low-temperature filtration.

It is a 100% organic whey protein isolate, and such a product will be free of antibiotics, rBST hormones, enzymes, fillers, artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. Also, it will have +17% more Leucine, +25% more Arginine and +8% more Glutamine.

This product will be an ideal choice for anyone looking for an organic, all-natural, clean, certified whey protein isolate, made with the latest innovation in whey processing technology.

  • Product 6:This is a 100% Hydrolyzed Whey protein, and is free from concentrates or isolates. This is ultra fast-acting as the superior hydrolyzed whey processing technology gives the highest speed of utilization among all the other protein types.

This product will be an ideal choice for amateur/ professional athletes or those at an advanced level of their strength training/sports, where it is very important to provide the fastest-acting whey protein.

Step- 3: Calculate the Protein Percentage per serving

Calculating the protein percentage will tell you the exact content of protein in the product, which is what you will be paying for. A low quality protein supplement will have higher amounts of fillers and other unwanted ingredients that are cheaper, making it a profitable business for the manufacturers.

To calculate Protein percentage, follow the formula below:

Protein percentage= (Amount of protein per serving / Size of one serving in grams) x 100

Again, if you look at the labels given above:

Product 1 contains 20grams of protein in one serving measuring 25grams. Protein percentage for it can be calculated as follows: 20/25*100=80%

Similarly, Product 2 also contains 80% protein per serving, whereas Product 3 and Product 4 have 74% protein per serving.

Pure whey isolates protein powders such as Product 1 and Product 2 have higher protein percentage per serving because of the filtration process they undergo which removes most lactose and fat. The higher the protein percentage, the lower the fillers and unwanted matter such as lactose. A high protein percentage also means a higher yield of protein, which means you will be getting more protein and more purity in a single serving. Who doesn’t want that?

Okay, enough teaching. Time for you to practice these three simple steps to analyze your whey protein product. The next time you buy protein, whether in a shop or online, check the label first and get the best deal possible which fulfils all your needs.

Most importantly, even if you end up paying slightly more, you will still be satisfied knowing that you have made an educated choice. You have purchased a product based on actual protein content rather than just being influenced by so called ‘’claims’’. Congratulations and use this knowledge to help others. Remember ‘with great knowledge comes great responsibility”.

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