The standard supplement you’ll find on every fitness enthusiast’s shelf, whether you’re a runner, lifter, or athlete, is the basic building block of muscle, protein. There are literally hundreds of different brands and flavours available in the market which can make it very difficult to choose one. There are a few guidelines to follow when selecting a good whey protein supplement and some general principles that I follow when I decide to incorporate it in my routine. But before we go into the brands, let’s cover some basics that I have understood about whey protein (both from bodybuilding professionals, youtube interviews, documentaries, and most importantly self-use and guidance from my then personal trainer and friend).
Don’t Overthink. It’s Just Protein
Period. That’s exactly what it is. Don’t take it just because you associate it with the bodybuilders who endorse them. Understand one fundamental rule of corporate strategy and marketing. You will NOT look like the six pack ripped huge muscle dudes who are brand ambassadors of these protein powders. If you’re in the game of competing, becoming a physique competitor, or a professional bodybuilder, the entire goal and aim is different. You’ll be on some fantastic range of substances to achieve that level of muscle size, shape, definition, separation, and striation, and no, they’re not available off the shelf at your local supermarket or supplement store. Don’t get carried away by the marketing. Stick to the basics. You want to burn fat, grow muscle, and become stronger. For that you only need motivation, patience, and grit. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your foundation laying process is time taking. That’s why only 5% of the people do it. Most don’t have the patience or the will power to overcome. Everybody wants a miracle pill, everyone wants to be on new fad diets, everyone wants to get ripped in three weeks but don’t know jack about what it takes to build muscle.
Set your goals first. It’s a very basic requirement to understand how much protein you want to ingest in a day. If you weigh 75 kgs, it’s okay to assume that you’ll want 150 gms of protein a day to do a decent strength training routine (with weights, resistance, and machines), and cardio. I was doing nearly 200 gms of protein a day (69.8 kg to 79 kg bodyweight then) for my four month transformation but then again, it was a bit of an extreme diet. You don’t need to push so much protein if you’re just planning to work out three or four days a week with some decent weight training and cardio. I’ve tried quite a few different protein supplements over the past few years (during the transformation, I would finish 1 tub, i.e. 52 servings in a month)
With a decent 25gm per scoop whey protein supplement you can get 50gms of those with a morning scoop, and an evening scoop. You can do it pre workout (like I did) or post workout like I have always done before my transformation and even now when I hit the gym. The rest of the protein requirement you can make up with eggs (approximately 6gms of protein per whole medium egg), chicken breast (just 200 gms of chicken breast has 62 gms of protein), oats, broccoli, milk, peanut butter, yoghurt, fish, tofu, nutrela (52 gms protein per 100 gms!), lentils, etc. Even if you take only one scoop of protein supplement a day, you can make the rest up with normal food.
Do You Need It?
What I said above. It’s a convenient way to get 25 gms of protein in a single scoop as compared to eating and chewing and swallowing a whole meal which will make you feel fuller for longer. The protein supplement can be taken at any time of the day to meet your protein goals.
Everyone’s body is different, and by that I mean even their metabolism, how one retains fat, at what rate your body will burn fat, or build muscle. I know guys who are naturally lean and athletic and will gladly lift up their tee shirt to show you a neat six pack and no abdomen fat and would not have taken a single protein supplement in their lives. They won’t even go to the gym believe it or not. These guys can get such bodies by just playing regular sports, doing some ab workouts at home, etc. Then there’s people who have a tendency to store fat in stubborn deposits who won’t burn it even if they work out seriously. They’ll have to resort to more extreme means to get rid of it. Some people are naturally skinny, some people aren’t. I know people who just eat and eat and eat and don’t put on fat, and there’s people who’ll eat junk food for a week and put on 3 kgs. The takeaway point here is, there’s no uniform yardstick or thumb rule when it comes to building muscle. Your body may react differently to whey protein. Some proteins were hard to digest for me and caused bloating and gas (Max Muscle) and some were always okay for me. But yes, if you’re looking to build some good muscle at the gym or push yourself in outdoor exercises, it’s good to have a decent whey protein in your arsenal.
Now I’ll take you through the different brands and flavours of whey protein that I’ve tried and my opinion on each one.
Musclepharm Combat Powder – Cookies and Cream
I’ll start with my favourite one. This is easily the most delicious whey protein out there and I’m not exaggerating. Comes with 25gms of protein per scoop and can be had with water and or milk (really thick and delicious protein shake). Some trainers will say it’s got more carbs per scoop than other protein powders but it doesn’t matter if you keep your overall carb intake per day in moderation along with your protein. Again, picking fault for 1 g or 2 g of carbohydrates will not make a difference to a recreational or enthusiastic gym goer. Mixability is good, maybe some small lumps when you mix it with milk, but just use a ball stirrer for the best effect. The lumpy bits are chewy and delicious too!
You can pick it up here:
GAT Whey Protein – Cookies and Cream
GAT is one of my favourite supplement brands. It was recommended to me by my trainer who also usually sticks to GAT for all his supplementation needs (he competes too). This product mixes well and caused no digestion issues such as gas or bloating for me. The cookies and cream taste wasn’t really that great, especially if you’ve already tried MP’s Cookies and Cream combat powder. Feels a little watery when mixed with water, even if you use less water. I usually use about 250 ml water for a 30gm scoop of protein. You try and decide what tastes good to you. It has 25 gms of protein per scoop and has more servings for the price as compared to other brands. You should be able to get this between 4,500 to 5,500 /- depending on where you source it from.
Ultimate Nutrition – Prostar 100% Whey Protein – Banana
Made a big mistake buying this one because it tasted horrible. It tasted of some synthetic banana flavouring substance and ruined the entire experience for me. It mixes great, comes in a good size at a cheaper rate than Combat Powder, but just stick to the Chocolate Creme flavour, which is nice.
You can get the Chocolate Creme flavour here:
VX Nutrition – 100 % Real Whey Protein – Chocolate Milkshake
This was a new product that I saw at the supplement store (Classic chemist, MPM Mall, Abids) and decided to give it a try. It had 26 grams of protein per scoop which was automatically a bit more appealing than the other standard 25gm ones. The chocolate milkshake flavour was unique and tastes different from the other chocolate flavours out there. Try it if you can find it. It’s not available on Amazon.
Muscletech Platinum ISO-Whey – Vanilla Ice Cream
The flavour has a bitter after taste and foaming when mixed with water. Unpleasant experience and I wouldn’t buy this flavour again.
Not sure how they say “award winning taste” when it tastes like some kind of bitter medicine. I ensured it was original as well, and I realized that this flavour just does not sell much for a reason. Try out MuscleTech’s Performance Series Ripped, which comes with Carnitine and CLA (an evidence backed power duo for fat loss) and 30 gms of protein per scoop. Crazy!
Musclepharm Combat Powder – Chocolate Milk
Not as tasty as the cookies and cream variant but mixes great, has the same stats, and is from a great supplement manufacturer. Standard whey protein you can go for without much thought.
I only picked this one up because they didn’t have Cookies and Cream in stock but I wasn’t unhappy with the product.
You can get the chocolate milk flavour here:
ISOPURE – Dutch Chocolate
One of the better known products in the market. This is a very low carbohydrate product, which is why it’s preferred by for physique competitors and serious fat burning enthusiasts. I didn’t buy this one before since it was a lot more expensive for a lesser quantity than the rest. I did try it now and it mixes well, and the Dutch Chocolate is very tasty. I don’t personally feel the need to go for a ‘zero carb’ protein, since the difference is only 1 gram of carbs per scoop, but like I said earlier also, it depends on each individual and his/her tastes. I know people who bulk up on other proteins and prefer to get ISOPURE. If you’re very focused on keeping your carbs to a minimum and focus on a protein centric diet for fat loss and muscle gain, then try this one out:
Try picking up any of the proteins above and start off with a scoop pre or post workout along with a well maintained diet of moderate carbs and moderate protein. Remember, it’s not a magic powder but will only make you reach your protein goals a little quicker as compared to eating the same amount through normal food. To see good steady gains you need to stay dedicated to the process for at least 3 to 4 months with a good diet and fitness regime. Put in the effort and you will see changes in the long run.
If you’re looking to go a bit extreme with your fat loss and want to push more in the gym, you can go slightly more protein based and lesser carbs for some time and see the changes. You can also stack your proteins with some CLA and L-Carnitine supplements or a fat burner, both of which I’ll be reviewing shortly. Thanks for reading and good luck!