Optimum Gold Standard Whey 5lb Tub

Is Optimum Gold Standard Whey Still the Best Protein in 2017?

SUPPZ Diet & Nutrition, General Leave a Comment

Nearly everyone that uses supplements to some capacity has used protein at one point. From whey to vegan to everything in between there are tons of different ones to choose from and it seems there are more and more choices popping up every time you walk into your local store or check out the newest arrivals here on Suppz.com. Despite the huge selection and ever changing protein landscape though, there are certain products that have seemed to stand the test of time and achieve legendary status, and among them is Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey.

Gold Standard Whey is manufactured and distributed by Optimum Nutrition, Inc. which is part of Glanbia, one of the leading international cheese and nutritional ingredients groups and has been the world’s top selling protein for years. Nearly everywhere you go, whether it is your local store, online retailer or even some higher end grocery stores, Gold Standard Whey is everywhere, sitting on upon store shelves with the familiar clean black and red container, staking its place of dominance.

Kudos to Optimum for being the world’s top selling protein for as many years as most of us can remember, but what is it about Optimum Gold Standard Whey that makes it so special? Is there a secret formula that makes it the best protein on the market? Does it have a superior ingredient profile or quality of ingredients that no other company can beat that truly makes it king? Quite frankly, we say NO. There really isn’t anything that special about Optimum Gold Standard Whey that makes it hands down the best protein on the market.

Now, don’t get us wrong, Gold Standard Whey isn’t a bad protein by any means, but it is in no way the ‘top’ choice in a very competitive sports nutrition market. Instead, we would venture to say it remains the technically top selling protein in the world due to name recognition, marketing dollars for ads and shelf space, ease of purchase (it’s everywhere!) and of course the fact that nearly everyone has heard of it. Think of it this way…Muscle Milk is absolutely horrible formula wise, but everyone has heard of it due to the fact that it’s so heavily promoted and advertised by the parent company Hormel Foods (the same company that owns Skippy peanut butter).

So, with that being said, the purpose of this article was to encourage you to branch out and explore the other great protein options on the market today. Now, the next question that is going to arise is, “What makes a good protein?” and “How do I choose a protein that’s right for me?”.

Well, in a huge market, despite the wide variety of protein powders available and the marketing behind each, the differences boil down to a few characteristics:

  • The type(s) of protein used
  • The types of flavors and sweeteners used
  • Cost per serving or per gram of protein
  • Additional ingredients used (if any) to enhance the benefits


Protein Type:

Oh Yeah Whey ConcentrateWhey Concentrate Protein Powder

  • Pros:
    • Fast absorption
    • High Biological Value
    • Immune System Benefits
    • Complete Protein
    • Neutral Taste; Cost Effective
  • Cons:
    • Not Vegan Friendly
    • Contains Higher Fat & Carbs than Isolates
  • Best For:
    • Non-vegans without dairy allergies wanting an economical choice in a protein powder

Whey Isolate Protein Powder

  • Nutra Bio 100% Whey IsolatePros:
    • Fast absorption
    • High Biological Value
    • Immune System Benefits
    • Complete Protein
    • Less fat, carbohydrates, and lactose than whey concentrate
  • Cons:
    • More expensive
    • Can still have miniscule amounts of lactose
    • Not vegan friendly
  • Best For:
    • Non-vegans without dairy allergies looking for a clean protein that is easy for the body to absorb

Casein Protein Powder

  • Kaged Muscle Kasein 100% CaseinPros:
    • High Biological Value
    • Slow absorption for prolonged amino acid release and anabolism
    • Gluten Free
  • Cons:
    • Not suitable for those with dairy allergies
    • Not Vegan Friendly
    • Price
  • Best For:
    • Non-vegans without dairy allergies looking for a slow absorbing protein; Those looking for a protein to combine with whey

Egg Protein Powder

  • EggsPros:
    • Highest biological value (BV) of all protein powders
    • Contains no fat or carbohydrates (egg white protein)
    • Complete Protein
    • No Cholesterol unlike whole eggs
    • Lactose and gluten-free
  • Cons:
    • Availability in common stores / cost
    • Whole egg protein powders can contain oxidized cholesterol
    • Not for those with egg allergies
    • Not vegan friendly
  • Best For:
    • Non-vegans looking for a whey alternative that has extremely high bioavailability

Hemp Protein Powder

  • Nutra Bio Plant/Hemp ProteinPros:
    • Complete Protein
    • Contains EFA’s (essential fatty acids)
    • Environmentally friendly & Sustainable Sourcing
    • Vegan friendly
    • Lactose and gluten-free
    • Good for those who have stomach issues with other proteins
  • Cons:
    • Typically higher cost
    • Lower biological value (BV) than most other protein powders
    • Not as ‘Clean’: Contains fat and carbohydrates
  • Best For:
    • Those seeking a vegan, nutrient dense source of plant protein

Rice Protein Powder

  • Cooked White RicePros:
    • Price & availability in stores
    • Contains fiber, vitamin B6, and antioxidants
    • “Clean”, vegan friendly protein
    • Easy to digest for most individuals
  • Cons:
    • Not a complete protein (does not contain all essential amino acids)
    • Stronger tasting than whey
    • Lower Biological Value
  • Best For:
    • Those seeking an economically priced source of plant protein

Soy Protein Powder

  • Optimum 100% Soy ProteinPros:
    • Lactose and gluten-free
    • Cost effective
    • Easy to mix
    • Relatively neutral taste
  • Cons:
    • Difficult to trust source (Over 90% of soy beans grown commercially are GMO)
    • Potentially harmful chemicals (such as hexane) are produced when manufacturing many soy isolate products.
    • Soy may hinder thyroid function
    • Isoflavones have been linked to breast cancer and lower testosterone levels in men
  • Best For:
    • Those who want a cost effective, vegan protein supplement; Generally not considered a good protein source due to hormone and GMO concerns, especially with other plant based alternatives

Pea Protein Powder

  • PeaPros:
    • Lactose and gluten-free
    • Contains glutamic acid
    • Generally considered best texture of plant proteins
  • Cons:
    • Can be one of the most expensive plant proteins
    • Incomplete protein
    • Taste can take adjustment
  • Best For:
    • Those unable to digest whey or casein protein; Those seeking a different plant based protein


Sweeteners Used

There are many possible different ways that manufacturer’s can go in the area of what sweeteners they do/don’t use in their protein proteins. However, despite there being tons of different sweeteners and combinations of such available, it comes down to essentially 3 basic options:

  • Sweetener PacketsNo flavors or sweeteners;
  • Artificial or a combination of artificial/natural flavors and sweeteners
  • Only natural flavors and sweeteners

You really can’t go wrong with any of the above, and this is strictly a personal preference. Some prefer to go as natural as possible and avoid artificial sweeteners and flavors, however don’t worry as all of the artificial flavors and sweeteners in protein powders have been approved for use in food products.

Now while some don’t like the idea of artificial sweeteners and flavors, there is some merit to using them. First and foremost it gives more control and uniformity to the flavor and texture of the product batch to batch. Another is that compared to natural versions, a big advantage are that they tend to stay much more shelf stable and ultimately cost less.


A big area of concern for many is the budget, and this will depend on what category you choose. In general as a rule of thumb, the most expensive proteins will be whey and casein protein hydrolysates as they are the most processed and purest. Additionally, in general isolates will cost more than concentrates.

Different grades and manufacturing techniques of the same protein such as cold processed whey protein isolate vs ion exchanged whey isolate will also effect the price of the protein, as will if the protein is blended and what ratio of each protein is included.

Added Ingredients

Proteins can also have extra goodies added in for increasing the benefits of the product. Common inclusions include digestive enzymes, glutamine, creatine, betaine or other more ‘novel’ ingredients. While these can be beneficial, the benefit vs the extra cost isn’t necessarily worth it and often times you’re best off sticking with the basics. We will say though, one of the best additives that we personally like, if any is the added digestive enzymes for helping the digestion of protein.

A New Standard

So there you have it. If you’ve been blindly following the masses for years, throwing back Optimum Gold Standard Whey, don’t worry, you haven’t been doing anything wrong. However, we do hope that we’ve opened your eyes a bit and make you realize that just because something is the top seller, it doesn’t mean that it’s automatically ‘the best’. Break free of the “Gold Standard” and explore some of the other great proteins out there. You will be pleasantly surprised in what you may find.