Protein is one of the key macronutrients our body needs to help promote muscle growth and repair so if you are looking to build or even maintain muscle you should at the very least have a good idea of how much protein you are fuelling your body with on a daily basis. We are going to be highlighting the best whey protein UK consumers can buy but before that let’s take a quick look at why we need protein and why most people consider whey protein powder to be a good option.
Unlike other nutrients, the human body is unable to store protein deposits which means it is vital to provide our bodies with protein consistently throughout the day. There are of course many ways in which we can increase our protein intake and the prime source of protein is likely to be food based, however supplementing your food based protein intake with whey protein is the most convenient way to ensuring you give your body a constant source or a boost when it is most needed – such as immediately after a workout.
Poultry, red meat, fish, shellfish, nuts and seeds are all excellent sources of protein and should be consumed as part of a healthy balanced diet, however if you are looking to build lean muscle then choosing a whey protein powder is commonly accepted as one of the most accessible and cost effective ways to give your body the protein it needs.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The amount of protein your body needs is relative to your goals and you should seek advice from a GP or qualified personal trainer if you are looking to radically alter your diet. However, as a rule of thumb, anyone looking to build muscle should be aiming for between 1.5g and 2g of protein per KG of body weight. Using this calculation, a 75kg male would be aiming for between 112.5g and 150g of protein per day.
For those looking to build muscle, you would expect protein to make up around 30% of your macronutrients with 30% reserved for healthy fats and 40% to be made up of complex carbohydrates – both of which are also key for promoting healthy muscle growth.
Why Use Whey Protein?
There are two main reasons why using whey protein is a good idea. The first is that it is convenient. A single scoop of whey protein can deliver 24g of protein and 5.5g of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) which are also proven supplements that aid muscle growth and prevent muscle fatigue. They have relatively low carbs and fats and can be kept in a protein shaker until needed and then consumed on the go – even at your desk or on the train – which makes whey protein incredibly convenient and certainly more socially acceptable than just pulling out a chicken breast whilst on the Tube. Vegan protein can be just as effective and can also deliver a good dose of BCAAs as well as other key nutrients.
The second key benefit of whey protein is that it is very cost effective and provides excellent value per gram of protein. Take our number one pick – My Protein Impact Whey Protein for example, at just £22 for 1kg that provides 40 servings of 21g of protein – a total of 840g of protein for £22 (at full price). To get 840g from chicken breasts we would need 48 100g chicken breasts – even at £1 per chicken breast it is less than half the price to consume the whey protein.
A side benefit of whey protein powder is that it is quickly digested in to the body – this is a reason that most people tend to take it either directly before or immediately after a workout – basically, when your body needs it most. Some people might choose to take a pre-workout supplement prior to their workout and then protein afterwards.
Types of Whey Protein
Although most whey protein brands have multiple types of protein powder available there are actually just three main types of whey protein – they are:
Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) – Whey protein concentrate is often found in protein bars, confectionary and sometimes in powders. It is the least processed type of whey protein and as such it contains between 1 and 9% fat content. The quality of this type of protein varies widely so always check the label for protein content with anything from 25% to 89% protein content being typical.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) – This is an excellent source of protein and is very low in lactose which usually means less stomach upsets than other forms of whey protein. This is the most common type of whey protein for supplements and protein content is usually between 90-95%. This is generally considered to be the best for reviving those aching muscles straight after a workout.
Hydrolised Whey Protein – Hydrolised whey has been broken down in to peptides which makes it even easier for the body to absorb. The quality of protein here is high and is generally around 80-90%. Fat content can be a little higher than isolate (up to 10%).
Best Whey Proteins UK
Now you are fairly well versed on the types of proteins its time for us to compile our top 10 UK whey protein powders. We have taken in to account a number of factors when deciding on our rank order with value for money, quality of protein, taste, texture and overall effectiveness our main concerns.
Our number one might not necessarily be your number one so be sure to read through the reviews before deciding.
MyProtein Impact Whey Protein
MyProtein has fast become one of the most respected and best value for money fitness supplement companies in the UK. In comparison to other leading companies, their products are generally more towards the budget end of the market but they maintain a strict focus on high quality supplements.
Over the last 12-18 months their product range has become even more extensive and they now boast one of the largest ranges of whey protein flavours in the UK with no less than 50 varieties to choose from and if you like the idea of chocolate flavoured protein there are 12 options just focused on the beloved cocoa.
Each flavour has slightly different nutritional values but generally speaking you will get 21g of protein per serving, 4.5g of BCAAs in each scoop and also 2g of leucine.
We have always found the consistency of the MyProtein range to be pretty smooth and you can mix it either with milk (for added healthy fats and protein) or water for a non-lumpy protein shake. Chocolate Brownie is one of our favourite flavours with 19g of protein per scoop and just 1.7g of fat and 1.2g of carbs (which are sugar). We mix it with water and found our muscles felt good post workout and recovery was as quick as with any other brand.
In terms of value for money, quality of product and nutritional values we consider it to be one of the best whey proteins UK based consumers can purchase.
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Bulk Powders Pure Whey Protein
Bulk Powders is another fairly budget friendly brand of pure whey protein and is available in a range of flavours (not quite as many as our number one choice though – but 23 is plenty). With up to 22g of protein per serving (depending on flavour), 5.3g BCAAs and less than 1.5g of lactose per serving, this award winning protein shake is going to help you see big gains when coupled with a consistent strength building program.
All of the Bulk Powder protein is sourced from the milk of grass fed cows in Europe and it shows in the quality of their powders. Of the four flavours we have tested (chocolate cookies, vanilla, strawberry and unflavoured) we found all were easy to mix with water or milk, had an excellent consistency and did not upset our stomachs. Incidentally, our favourite flavour was the chocolate cookie flavour.back to menu ↑
USN Whey Protein Premium
USN is probably the most household name on this list and has a strong history of producing top quality whey protein powder. The 100% premium version mixes whey protein concentrate and isolate to produce a potent mix that gives results.
25g of protein mixed with 150ml of water is classed as one serving and a double scoop with just 300ml of water gives a muscle boosting 50g of protein – easy to drink post workout or even once you arrive at work.
There are 8 flavours in total to choose from with vanilla and chocolate being our top picks for taste. You also get 5.6g of BCAAs per serving and we have to say it is perhaps the best tasting shake on the list. It is a little pricier than some of the other options and the fat content is slightly higher but overall this is a great option if you are looking to build muscle and need the extra protein.back to menu ↑
The Protein Works 80
As one of the newer kids on the block, The Protein Works had its work cut out to take on the leading brands in a packed market place – but it has done so with aplomb and as a result has a pretty sizeable cult following.
It’s not just all about snazzy branding either with 14 flavours of whey protein that packs 20g per serving and less than 100 calories and just 1.5g of carbs per scoop. There are other versions of their whey protein depending on what your goals are but as pure whey protein goes we prefer the 80 concentrate version.
This whey concentrate has 80% protein overall which is not quite as much as we’d like in terms of pure protein content but still ticks all the right boxes.back to menu ↑
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard
Optimum Nutrition is one of the most respected whey protein producers on the planet and has been making and selling this supplement for over 30 years. That doesn’t mean you are getting a product based on old science though as they constantly refine their recipe to continue to deliver the genuine ‘gold standard’ of whey protein.
Considered by most as the best in the business, this whey protein isolate comes packed with 24g of blended protein, 5.5g of BCAAs and is certified against any kind of banned substances which makes it the top choice for professionals
You can choose from 12 flavours in total and all of the flavours we tested (chocolate hazelnut, French Vanilla Crème and Cookies & Cream) tasted great and mixed really well.
The only downside of the this supplement is the price – but if you want the best overall then this is it.back to menu ↑
MusclePharm Combat Powder
MusclePharm Combat whey protein powder is a little different to most on this list in that it has a combination of whey proteins in its blend. It is marketed as ‘for athletes’ but the reality is that MusclePharm is suitable for all types of people who are looking to maintain a high protein diet. As it contains 5 different types of protein it is digested at different rates – this means that some of the protein is absorbed almost immediately whereas some of it takes hours to break down – theoretically drip feeding the benefits in to your body for longer. There are pros and cons to this but if you struggle to keep your protein intake up through the day it may be beneficial to try this supplement.
The mixture that contains whey protein concentrates, hydrolysates and isolates, egg albumin and micellar casein is available in a small range of flavours – again we tested the chocolate flavour which was perfectly palatable. With 25g of protein per scoop there is plenty to keep your muscles in tip top shape but 5g of carbs per scoop might put some people off.back to menu ↑
PHD Nutrition Diet Whey Isolate
PHD Nutrition is in the upper echelons of the whey protein market when it comes to quality which is also reflected in the price. That being said, some will consider that PHD is worth the investment thanks to its high quality whey isolate protein and can be used post workout like any other whey protein powder or as part of a breakfast smoothie with a fairly popular recipe available for this purpose. PHD say their diet whey can be used for weight loss or lean muscle growth but as we say – the reality is that it will be similar to the other products reviewed on this page.
There are over 10 flavours to choose from and we found the vanilla cream to be the pick of the bunch. When combined with water or milk these shakes were smooth and tasty.back to menu ↑
BSN Syntha-6 Edge
BSN Syntha 6 Edge is another whey protein that blends different types of whey protein together – with 6 different proteins in total. Whey protein concentrate, whey isolate, hydrolysed whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate, micellar casein and calcium caseinate all make up the impressive blend and like the MusclePharm Combat Powder this mix of proteins will give you an immediate hit and a longer lasting digestion of the proteins.
It’s not the cheapest whey protein on the market and we’d say it is not the tastiest either – not that it is terrible but the taste and texture was nothing to shout about. In terms of the what it’s packing, you’ll find a massive 11g of BCAAs and just 1.6g of sugar per serving alongside the 24g of protein.
All in all, BSN Syntha 6 Edge is a good whey protein option and if you can buy it at a similar price to its competitors is worth the investment.back to menu ↑
Maximuscle Cyclone Whey Protein With Creatine
The Maximuscle Cyclone Whey has something that none of the other protein mixes on this page has – and that is 5g of creatine. There aren’t many supplements that we recommend taking alongside whey protein but if muscle mass is what you are looking for then creatine is one that is well worth the investment. Whilst we are generally fans of being able to manage creatine intake separately to our protein, if you are taking 5g of creatine a day anyway with your protein and you don’t use your whey protein more than once during a day then this Maximuscle mix is well worth considering.
In addition to the creatine you get 25g of protein, 7g of BCAAs and 10g of glutamine. Maximuscle also screen their whey protein so it is 100% safe for athletes who might be subject to substance screening and you have five flavours to choose from. It’s a little heavy on the carbs for those looking for weight loss but it’s not designed for that – for those looking to really bulk up on muscle this is a top choice.back to menu ↑
Reflex Nutrition 100%
If you want a more natural whey protein then Reflex Nutrition 100% is for you. Made with no artificial sweeteners and including a range of muscle popping additions such as BCAAs, 9 amino acids and a unique mix of digestive enzymes, it has 20g of protein for a good post-workout boost.
Amazingly, all of this comes in at less than 100 calories per serving and has less than 1g of sugar per scoop. This is a high quality blend of concentrate and isolate whey protein and although it is not the greatest tasting powder we have tried, it certainly isn’t horrific and we are pretty sure that this is the most natural whey protein in the UK – it is even made here!