Whether you have just started taking protein supplementation to fuel muscle growth or whether you have been using whey protein for years and are considering a switch, knowing which is the best whey protein is not easy. With so many considerations it can be hard to know what to focus on and most people will tend to start with nutritional value, cost and taste. To make life a little easier when comparing top brands we thought we’d give our take on a popular question and run a detailed comparison of two of the big boys in the whey protein world, this is… MyProtein Impact Whey Vs Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard.
Before we start, let’s take a look at the two companies. Optimum Nutrition has more history behind it than MyProtein with the former widely considered the ‘old school’ classic when it comes to protein supplementation. Optimum Nutrition is actually a subsidiary of Glanbia Global Nutrition Group and has been in existence for over 30 years being founded in 1986. MyProtein may not have been around for as long, but with 15 years under its belt and 8 years since being acquired by The Hut Group it has enough history to be classed as a big boy.
Both companies manufacture in the UK and offer whey protein as their staple and market leading product, although both also offer a range of other products. In order to give an accurate comparison of MyProtein Impact Whey Vs. Optimum Nutrition we first need to fully understand the makeup of these products and be clear on which ones we are assessing. MyProtein offer two main types of whey protein (in a wide variety of flavours) that compare well with Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard – that is the MyProtein Impact Whey and the MyProtein Impact Whey Isolate.
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Concentrate or Isolate – The Key Differences
Whey protein is generally a fast release protein and is found in most protein supplements. Generally speaking, Whey Isolate is costlier than concentrate as it has to go through more processing to achieve isolate status. In order to create the dried protein, liquid whey is collected as a by-product of cheese, yoghurt and milk production and is then processed. Once this process has completed it can then be dried and can be mixed with flavourings to create what we would know as a protein powder.
Whey Protein Concentrate, which is what is found in the MyProtein Impact Whey, contains around 80% protein with the other 20% mainly consisting of carbs and fats. Whey Isolate which is made up of 90% protein and just 10% fats and carbs is used in Gold Standard but it it does also contain some whey concentrate.
MyProtein do offer a 100% whey isolate protein powder too which costs more than both of the other two options but contains the highest amount of protein, the lowest fat content and the lowest carb content. Unless you are training on a seriously low fat, low carb programme then whey concentrate will be fine for you and will actually help provide more balance in daily macro-nutrients compared to those taking the isolate version.
Both brands include Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) with the Gold Standard having 5.5.g and MyProtein 4.5g. These quantities will help with muscle repair and will reduce fatigue and soreness. Having them included in your protein powder is highly convenient.
Optimum Nutrition has the highest amount of protein per serving with 24g but it is worth pointing out that they describe a serving as 32g whereas MyProtein Impact Whey (depending on flavour) gives around 21g of protein from a 25g scoop. The MyProtein Isolate gives 23g of protein per 25g scoop and is clearly superior in this regard.
Packaging and Branding
The packaging and branding of the two protein powders are probably not going to be deal breakers for most people but it is still part of the product and worth comparing.
We already know that MyProtein pitches itself very much at the budget end of the market, whereas Optimum Nutrition like to position themselves as more of a premium supplier. This is reflected in the packaging with MyProtein only offering bags for their products. These plastic bags are pretty bland in terms of design (again, hardly something to base your buying decision on) and although the quality of the bag is pretty decent we have had varying degrees of quality when it comes to the seal. You will most likely find yourself using some kind of clip to ensure the bag is fully sealed with MyProtein.
Optimum Nutrition give you the choice of large plastic tubs with good sized screw caps or plastic bags. Firstly, you will notice on both of these that the branding is much more eye catching – perhaps a key reason for this is that Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard can be picked up in retail stores, which is not something that can be said of MyProtein. Whether you opt for a bag or a tub, the Gold Standard packaging will give you no issues in terms of reseal-ability as the screw top… well… it screws on, and the bag features a nifty sliding zip lock which always seems to work well – at least we haven’t come across a dud one yet.
If the packaging is a key feature for you then Gold Standard wins this bout.
Flavours and Taste
The flavours and taste of your protein shake are rightly important factors in choosing your long term protein supplement. Now of course, you don’t have to stick to just one flavour but in our experience if you find one that you love and you can digest it pretty well then it is well worth sticking to what you know.
If you were judging MyProtein Impact Whey against Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard purely on the number of flavours then MyProtein would be delivering a knockout blow. With over 55 different flavours (of which we have tasted all of them) MyProtein blows all competition out of the water. However, not all of them are what we would exactly describe as palatable and there are over 10 versions of chocolate alone. In contrast, Gold Standard has 14 different flavours and of the ones we have tasted all were pretty good. If you want a higher quality protein then you would of course be looking at the MyProtein Whey Isolate of which there are just 21 flavours plus unflavoured – so a fairer contest.
Flavour is such a personal choice so it is hard to judge a protein shake in a written review purely on this, but taste to us is more than just flavour, it is also about consistency and texture. It is also about how easily digestable something is. We took the MyProtein Impact Whey Chocolate Brownie flavour and compared it to the Gold Standard Chocolate Hazelnut flavour. We tested both with milk and without.
When mixed with milk, the MyProtein shake was smooth and creamy. We found it very tasty and not as sweet as some of the other flavours. It didn’t sit too heavy on our stomachs even after a double serving. When we tested the same flavour with water it lost the creaminess and the taste suffered a fair bit as a result. It was less heavy on our stomachs and was perfectly drinkable but it did take away the enjoyment factor. In comparison, the Gold Standard was also very tasty with milk but didn’t lose too much when mixed just with water. Out of the two, we’d have a slight preference for the Gold Standard but it was a pretty close run thing.
It is worth pointing out that some of the other MyProtein flavours have more of a synthetic taste to them and we have also had reports that the tastes can vary from one order to the next – although we haven’t personally experienced that. Gold Standard has more of a natural taste across all flavours and the sweetness levels seem more balanced.
This was a close run thing and Gold Standard just pipped it in the end.
Value For Money
For the purposes of comparing cost, we opted for the sizes between 2.2kg and 2.5kg as these seem to be the most popular. So we could use a fair comparison we compared costs on Amazon.co.uk although you can buy direct from the manufacturer or from other third party suppliers. Both products had discounts applied and both can achieve a further 5-15% off if you subscribe and save with Amazon. Although discounts were active, we have noticed that these discounts seem to run all year long.
MyProtein Impact Whey Cost – 2.5kg of the Impact Whey (in almost all flavours) came in at £31.19 without subscribe and save discounts applied. That works out to £12.48 per kg.
MyProtein Whey Isolate Cost – 2.5kg of the whey isolate came to £45.66 which works out to £18.26 per kg.
Gold Standard Whey Cost – 2.27kg of the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard was the most expensive per kg at £43.99 in total and £19.40 per kg.
It’s worth reminding ourselves that the MyProtein Whey Isolate had the highest protein content and was actually in between the two when it comes to costs. The Impact Whey however was by far the best value at £12.48 per kg which is around a third of the price compared to the other two.
A clear victory for MyProtein this time.
Our Conclusion – And The Winner Is…
It’s fair to say that this was a very close call and which one is the winner really depends on what is most important for you. If you are looking for a range of flavours or the lowest cost for a decent quality protein shake then the MyProtein Impact Whey range is going to be a clear winner. It came close in the taste test, is nutritionally sound and is only really let down by the packaging. It leads the way in terms of value for money.
However, if you are looking for the best out and out protein then it will be a close run thing between Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard and the Whey Isolate by MyProtein. Gold Standard has the name and gives an assuredness in terms of overall quality although the Whey Isolate has the lower carb and fat levels of all three and crucially the most protein.
It will most likely come down to your own personal preference and our advice would be to consider what is most important to you. If money is no object then Gold Standard probably just takes the crown, but if by saving 30% or thereabouts each month on your protein shake means you can spend extra on pre-workout supplements or even pay a good chunk of your gym membership then MyProtein Impact Whey is probably the best choice.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on which one you prefer – after all, we are all different.