Buying Guide: Protein Powder


Written by: ASN



Time to read 7 min

You don't need to be an avid supplement user or gym junkie to have heard about protein powder before. In fact, did you know that most people struggle to get in their daily requirement of protein? Believe it or not, our bodies require a considerable amount of protein to function optimally and to aid us in reaching our fitness goals.

Struggling to understand the importance of protein and all of the different powdered options? Keep reading for our extensive protein powder buying guide!

What is Protein Powder?

As one of the most popular supplements on the market, protein is one of the core building blocks of bone, muscle, and skin and is required to produce hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals. When it comes to improving your health and fitness goals, supplementing with protein powder is a no-brainer as it's an essential macronutrient that:

  • Contributes to the growth of muscle mass
  • Contributes to the maintenance of muscle mass
  • Contributes to the maintenance of normal bones
  • Is necessary for nutrient recovery
  • Is necessary for tissue building and repair
  • Supports weight management and appetite control

How and When Should I Consume Protein Powder?

Protein powder is highly versatile and can be mixed with water, milk, plant-based milk, coconut water, blended with a healthy fruit smoothie, or used as a baking ingredient. As for when you consume your protein powder, the best time is after a workout, as that's when your muscles need it most. As a general rule of thumb, aim to consume your protein shake within 30 minutes of completing your workout, which will support muscle recovery, maintenance, and growth by shuttling amino acids into your muscle cells.

Who Should Use Protein Powder?

Whether you're a gym buff wanting to gain lean muscle, a HIIT warrior wishing to help your muscles recover after an intense workout, or an everyday person wanting to keep up with your daily protein requirements and manage your weight with satiating snacking options, protein serves many purposes and is designed for adults of all fitness levels. Unsure of what your daily protein requirements are? If you're working towards achieving body composition goals like maintaining or increasing muscle mass, the general rule of thumb is to consume 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

What are the Different Types of Protein Powder?

Whey Protein Isolate

Known for its fast absorption rate and leaner and lower fat profile, Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) offers one of the purest and highest protein sources on the market. While both Whey Protein Concentrate and Whey Protein Isolate are derived from the same milk concentration, Whey Protein Isolate has gone through a more refined filtration process to remove a lot of the lactose content to create a high serving of protein, with the least amount of carbohydrates, fats, and additives. WPI generally supplies about 90-95% protein!

Whey Protein Isolate is ideal for all fitness levels and generally a safer alternative for those who struggle with lactose intolerance or gastric stress. While generally less flavoursome than its milky counterparts, Whey Protein Isolate is a suitable solution for those seeking a pure and high protein formula that may contribute to lean muscle maintenance and growth when paired with a healthy diet and solid workout regime. As such, it may be better suited to dieters and those not wanting a heavy, filling protein.

Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC

Known to help boost the effects of weight training, support healthy weight goals, and assist with appetite control, Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) is the most common and popular form of whey protein. WPC generally supplies 60-80% protein, with the remaining 20-40% composed of fats and carbs.

While WPC is the least processed form of whey protein (compared to WPI and Hydrolysate), it is richer in other non-protein ingredients that are beneficial for a range of health and fitness goals, including fats, lactose, vitamins, and minerals. Ideal for topping up your daily protein intake or pre- or post-workout nutrition, a quality Whey Protein Concentrate will offer high protein, generally still low carbs and fats, relatively fast absorption, and a complete protein with a solid source of amino acids. However, if you're lactose intolerant or struggle with digesting dairy products, Whey Protein Isolate is a smarter choice for you as Concentrate contains higher traces of dairy.

Still following? If not, let’s recap the difference between WPI and WPC and which one is more beneficial for who:



  • Great for those looking for a fast digesting protein to nourish their muscles as quickly as possible post-workout.
  • Not the best option if you’re wanting a filling protein, due to the absorption rate.
  • Great for those who can’t handle much lactose.
  • Also a great choice for those on a diet looking to restrict the number of calories they’re consuming as WPI has fewer calories than WPC.
  • Our top picks: Evolve WPI, Rule 1 R1 WPI Protein, and Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Isolate
  • This is a great option for someone new to supplements wanting great value for money.
  • If you’re looking for a slightly slower digesting protein that still contains all 20 amino acids, this is your best choice.
  • Ideal for those who want a tasty protein and can handle lactose.
  • Perfect if you’re looking for a protein that will keep you fuller for longer, to reduce snacking (i.e. can be beneficial to those on a weight goal journey or those that find themselves regularly snacking).

Whey Protein Blends

Just as the name suggests, a whey protein blend generally combines Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) or Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) together (like Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey or with another type of protein, such as casein. Regardless of what proteins are used in a whey blend, it will usually contain a lower net percentage of protein than whey isolates but is generally more affordable.

Whey protein blends are a popular choice among users who wish to:

  1. Enjoy a full spectrum of benefits from multiple protein sources. For example - You can enjoy a sustained release protein source, while also enjoying the fats, lactose, vitamins, and minerals exclusive to WPC.
  2. Receive a quality protein source without the expensive price tag that comes with refined whey protein sources, such as WPI and Hydrolysate.

Our top picks: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey and Evolve Incredible Whey

Milk and Casein Protein Powder

Casein protein is the ultimate slow-digesting dairy protein that will work hard while you rest. Casein is perfect for people wanting a time-release protein that will keep their muscles nourished while reducing muscle breakdown and helping to build and repair tissue around the clock.

Casein Protein Powder works as a slow-releasing protein by feeding your cells with amino acids at a slower rate and over a longer period. Unlike whey protein that is best taken pre or post-workout due to its fast absorption, Milk and Casein Protein Powders are best-taken just before bed to encourage nutrient recovery and muscle maintenance during a resting or fasting period. As your body is more likely to break down its own muscles for feeding during fasting times, Casein protein is anti-catabolic and helps reduce protein/muscle breakdown. Much like other animal proteins, casein is a complete protein source, which means that it contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs for recovery, maintenance, and growth.

Our top picks: Max's Anabolic Night Protein and Muscle Nation Custard Casein Protein.

Vegan Protein Powder

Are you looking for a protein source to suit your vegan dietary requirements? Or perhaps you're looking for a protein source that's low or free from allergens and sensitive ingredients? Or maybe you're just simply looking for a protein source rich in healthy plant proteins, and that's naturally sweetened? Whatever your reason, vegan protein powders are a popular protein source among athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all fitness levels and preferences!

While the ingredients will vary from product to product, all vegan protein powders comprise of a range of plant-based ingredients, including soy, peanut, rice, pea, and hemp. When looking for a good quality vegan protein, be sure to find one that contains a blend of different plant protein sources to ensure your body is getting the essential amino acids it requires to contribute to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass. For instance, Evolve Vegan Protein combines peanut and rice protein with added L-Lysine to make a complete protein source for maximum results. A vegan protein should be consumed as a pre or post-workout shake, much like whey protein. Additionally, it can also be used as a snack to keep you fuller for longer in between meals. It can be mixed with water, added to your fruit smoothie or greens juice, or used in baking.

Our top picks: Evolve Vegan Protein, Happy Way Vegan Protein, Phyba PLNT Protein Powder and BSc Clean Vegan Protein.

Mass Gainer

Whether you're working towards serious body composition goals, struggle to see muscle growth, or simply don't have a schedule that allows you to commit to a strict high-calorie diet, a mass gainer may be precisely what you need to achieve your goals!

It's no secret that to increase muscle mass, it is fundamental that you first increase your daily calories above maintenance mode in order to provide your body with sufficient protein, carbohydrates, and fat to build new muscle tissue. Yet, while increasing your daily food intake sounds fun in theory, it's often easier said than done, which is where a high-quality mass gainer comes in handy. Combining your two favourite components for solid muscle growth, a mass gainer is the efforts of a high calorie and high protein formula, explicitly designed to assist you with your growth goals without having to rely solely on a calorie-dense diet. And when used alongside a premium quality creatine and protein powder, bulking to your fullest will be easier than ever before.

A mass gainer is best mixed with water, milk, or juice and can be taken in the morning, between meals, or post-workout.

Our top picks: Evolve Incredible Mass, Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass, and Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Gainer.