Confused about what protein to buy?
Browsing online supplement brands' websites for a suitable protein supplement can be a bewildering experience – and not just for beginners! But if you're looking for cheap protein powder you've come to the right place.
There's thousands of products out there, all claiming to be tweaked and optimised for specific goals (such as muscle-gain, weight-loss, body-recomposition), with all manner of ingredients included and intended to get the results you've been working so hard to achieve.
A lot of what you see in magazine and online articles is, frankly, paid-for marketing by bigger brands aiming to add maximum value to easily-obtainable ingredients – and convince you that you 'need' them – or your efforts in the gym will be wasted.
Here at Olympus Health, we like to keep things simple, affordable and effective – especially our protein powders. You don't 'need' any one particular product to boost your daily dietary protein intake, and taking whey isolate over, say, our budget PRO-XL isn't going to get you a massive, obvious and visible difference in results.
However, there's still a few key differences between the various types – not least of which are cost, speed of absorption and the potential presence of allergens – so we've created the following cheat-sheets to give you an at-a-glance chance of making the most informed protein powder purchase from us here at Olympus Health.
BEDROCK PRO-XL is 78.33% protein, giving 23.5grams per 30g serving, costing 20p per-serving if you buy 5kgs. It's low in sugar (1.25g per-serving) and fat (1.66g per-serving). It's a multi-source blend of soy isolate and whey concentrate (at almost equal amounts), with micellar casein added and a small amount of whey isolate – which we've found to aid digestion/absorption, as it quickly signals the body to release pepsin, chymotrypsin and trypsin (protease digestive enzymes). It doesn't mix as easily as entirely whey-based supplements, and will leave residue in a shaker. It's best for those on a tight budget with busy schedule, and needing to supplement their dietary protein intake quite heavily. Basically, it's a real-world, working people's protein powder.
OLYMPUS ASCENT WHEY PROTEIN is a budget-priced pure whey protein powder, 70% protein – giving 21grams per 30g serving – with slightly higher fat and sugar content at 2.2g per-serving and 3.3g per-serving respectively. It costs less per-serving than our 80% whey concentrate. It's sourced from the same grass-fed Irish cattle as all of our whey products, and shares all of the health benefits that our whey concentrate provides. It's very creamy, rich-tasting and more filling than 80% whey concentrate, and makes a nice-tasting addition to a smoothy or protein pancake mix. It's a very good product, especially for those looking to substitute a meal throughout the day or use a protein powder in recipes.
OLYMPUS HERCULES MASS GAINER is a shake powder carefully designed to be a reasonably palatable 'meal for between meals' – and aimed squarely at those guys and girls looking to gain mass, strength and size. It not only contains 65g of protein (if you take the 4-scoop serving suggestion – many take 2 instead, and spread them out more through the day) and it contains 1178kcals – more than a roast dinner! Additionally, there's 5g of creatine in each serving, and most of the fats included come from medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) – these act more like carbohydrates in that they provide fast, high-calorie, tissue-sparing energy, but without the insulin spikes and crashes involved with carbohydrate sources. IT WILL PUT WEIGHT ON YOU... so dieters please avoid!
OLYMPUS WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE is upwards of 90% protein, giving 27grams per 30g serving and costs 76p per-serving at the current 1kg pouch price. There's just 1g of sugar and 2g of fat per-serving. It's single-source and made with extremely high-quality whey isolate from grass-fed Irish cattle (we don't import from China and relabel) and certified to ISO9001 by SGS, a UKAS accredited company. It mixes like a dream – although it will create froth, especially in a blender – and mixed with water will create a very light, smooth, easy to drink and digest shake that absorbs extremely quickly. Ideal for post-workouts and between meals to seriously boost protein intake without killing your appetite too much. By our standards, this is comparatively expensive (to our other products) but still great value given the quality. Simply put, it's the best of the best.
Olympus 80% Protein Whey Concentrate is (as the name suggests) upwards of 80% protein, giving 22 to 24grams per 30g serving, and costs 51p per-serving at the current 1kg pouch price. There's less than 1g of sugar and 1.8g of fat per-serving. It's single-source with all of the protein coming from high-quality whey sourced from grass-fed Irish cattle (we don't import from China and relabel). Being a concentrate, it retains much of the (desirable) biologically-active compounds present in milk – these include immunoglobulins, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and IGF-1. As such, it can contribute to good health and gut function – and possibly (although studies aren't conclusive) lean body-mass. It mixes well and tastes fantastic. It's more filling (and has slightly more lactose) than whey isloate, but combine the price and positives outlined above, and it's many lifters' protein powder of choice (including my own). This is a mid-level, mid-budget protein for those who want whey at a great price.
Olympus Health PANTHEON All-in-One Protein contains the same protein sources and ingredients as PRO-XL, but with added creatine, glutamine and beta-Hydroxy beta-methylbutyric acid (HMB, for short, thankfully!). A serving size is 70g, but contains 32grams of protein, as well as tons of muscle-building BCAAs and the aforementioned supplements, and 3grams of fat. There's 17g of sugar – mainly in the form of dextrose – but it's there to help transport the creatine into the muscles by creating an insulin spike after consumption. It works out at 56p per-serving at current 5kg pouch prices. Make no mistake, this is serious value size-gaining fuel, best used on a budget bulking protocol as a morning and post-workout shake. It's proven to be quite popular with bodybuilders and strength athletes (including World Champion Powerlifter Steve Thomasson) who take it to extremes in the gym. The taste is good (perhaps not as good as our whey products), but expect a slight texture from the creatine powder.
Olympus Health Micellar Casein is the same old-school milk-derived protein that Pumping Iron era Arnold and co. would have had access to. It's still one of the very best sources of protein around, too. It's around 80% protein with 24-25grams per 30g serving, NO sugar and just 0.6g of fat. At 39p per-serving it is an extremely cost-effective way to add extra protein on top of your daily food intake. Casein absorbs slowly from the gut, providing a long-acting protein hit that is great for retaining muscle whilst dieting. Lots of people take it before bed for the same reason. It's very high in calcium, and can have a positive effect on colon health compared to protein sources such as meat and soy. It mixes quite well (best with a blender) and is fairly filling, but tastes very good.
Olympus Health Beef Protein is 64-65% protein, and provides 24grams per 37g serving, at 81p per-serving at current 1kg pouch prices. This doesn't look too great on paper, but it's not the whole story. The amino acids in our beef protein powder are much more bioavailable than dairy-based products, and are taken up much more readily than even those found in whey. There's NO sugar and just 0.3g of fat per-serving, and for those with dairy intolerances, this may offer the perfect solution to adding a protein supplement whilst undergoing an intense training regime. The amino acids are sourced from plasma, gelatin and meat (don't believe any manufacturer that claims that their beef protein is made of prime steaks) and contain plenty of BCAAs to aid recovery and muscle growth. Here's where we have to be honest... taste-wise, any manufacturers beef protein is going to be bearable at very best. Ours is just that: it's bearable, but don't expect a delicious, desert-like flavour. It works though, and we use it almost daily ourselves.
Olympus Health Diet Whey is 70% protein, giving around 17grams per 25g serving. As the name suggests, it's a low-calorie, low-sugar (0.4g) and low-fat (1g or less) protein powder designed to allow you to hit your protein macros (and sustain muscle tissue) whilst on a diet. As an added bonus, it contains thermogenic and metabolic optimisers such as green tea extract, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and Acetyl L-Carnitine. It mixes very easily with water and won't leave you feeling bloated, and we've had nothing but positive reports from customers on the taste.