Shopping for whey protein supplements these days can be very confusing if you don't know what you're looking for, especially due to the countless different brands and types of whey protein you can get that are often heavily marketed to you as a "magic pill" solution.
They all claim to have the best whey product that is somehow better than the next one, and use typically-bogus claims like "ground-breaking new formula" and "transform your body in a week" to catch your attention.
With this article I hope to clear things a little for you so that you know what to look for and which products are worth your money.
The first thing you need to know is that the majority of the different whey products out there aren't all that different. They all basically all do the same thing - but it is true that some are higher quality than others.
So I highly suggest sticking to a large, proven best-selling brand when choosing whey so that you're not taking any risks. From there I would simply whichever you can find for the best price.
If you're not sure which brands are good check out my current supplement stack. I ONLY stick to the very best brands out there.
There are also 2 main types of whey - isolate and concentrate. I buy either isolate, which is a little more expensive and the higher quality of the two, or a combination of isolate and concentrate to save money.
If you wish to know more about these 2 types of whey then read on.
Isolate Vs Concentrate
The BV (Biological Value) of a protein is a measure of how efficient a protein source is. Whey protein isolate has the highest BV rating of all the protein sources out there, at around 150.
This means that whey protein isolate is the fastest absorbing protein source available. Isolate is ideal for use in the morning just after rising, and also immediately following a workout, because at these times your protein levels have been depleted.
So what about whey protein concentrate? Concentrates have a BV rating of approximately 100, as opposed to isolate being at around 150. This means that concentrates aren't quite as efficient as isolates, but the good thing about whey concentrate is the price. Whey concentrate is the best value type of protein.
If money isn't a factor to you, or your need for whey isn't excessive, then go ahead and buy whey protein isolate. On the other hand, if you want to save some money then getting whey protein concentrate is a good choice.
Although, you will find that the majority of experts out there agree that the benefits whey isolate provides over concentrate is not worth the extra price tag. So it doesn't really matter which one you use, both are very high quality protein sources.
So like I said, if money isn't a problem just get isolate. On the other hand, stick to concentrate to save money.
You can also get a whey blend product, which provides the best of both worlds. It contains both whey isolate and whey concentrate in the same product, and it usually is slightly more expensive than pure whey concentrate, but costs less than pure isolate.
Anyway, the main thing to take out of this is not to lose sleep over the type of protein you are taking. Just focus on reaching your daily protein goals from quality sources, no matter whether it be whey isolate, whey concentrate, eggs, chicken, fish, lean beef, or another quality source.
Hopefully this article has helped, but always remember to never get stuck in research land - information is great, but what's infinitely more important and the only thing that actually matters to get results and change your life is to be hitting the gym week in week out, with a properly structured, well-balanced and optmized training and nutrition plan for your specific goals (which if you're reading this is likely building muscle mass as a hardgainer/skinny guy).
To do that there's essentially 3 paths you can take, each with their pros and cons:
Path A: Design Your Own Mass Gain Program (cheapest)
Learn all the crucial basics, principles and over-arching strategies you need to know about planning the best well-balanced, science-based, all-natural mass building program for your specific goal and workout/diet preferences with our pillar 7-step comprehensive guide for beginner lifters and future heros. If you don't want to spend any money at all, this is how you do it, but be sure to thoroughly research all aspects of your DIY muscle gain program as an unbalanced/bro-science/straight-up-bad program can mean little to no gains at best, and bad posture, injuries and a whole lot of having to backtrack later at worst.
Path B: Follow A Proven Mass Gain Program ($)
To save time having to research and plan the best muscle building program for your specific goals as a hardgainer/skinny-guy/skinny-fat-dad-bod/whatever, there are indeed some excellent pre-made online programs out there that have stood the test of time in getting guys great results. It can give you a great head-on your transformation journey, and will make things simpler for you as it's simply a matter of executing a specific eating and workout program and not having to worry about getting all the little important details of your program on-point.
Sean Nal's hardgainer transformation program (you can see my full review and before/after pics using the program here) is the complete all-in-one online program I'd recommend to most people and especially beginners, and is the one I personally got the most out of when I first started.
Ignore any slick marketing, this guy's the real deal and easily one of the smartest hardgainers-turned-fitness-models I've come across online. Vince Delmonte's Mass Gain program comes in at a close second, who's another smart guy with the real-world results to back it up, who has another effective and proven step by step online program that's helped thousands of guys transform over a few months (rather than years).
Path C: Find a (Good) In-Person Trainer ($$$)
The most expensive option to achieve your dream physique, but if you have the money to spend (1 on 1 coaching can quickly add up in costs) then ensure you pick a trainer who understands the science behind muscle gain, fat burning, supplementation, nutrition, etc, and most importantly choose one who practices what they preach and has similar results to what you want. If you're a hardgainer, ideally you'll want a trainer who has been in your shoes before and started out as a skinny hardgainer themselves and managed to build muscle successfully, otherwise they may not understand the best course of action for you and give you unhelpful generic advice.
Whichever path you choose - stick with it for long enough, don't give up, and your success in transforming your body, strength, health, posture, and confidence will simply be a matter of when, not if. I'd say good luck, but you understand that last sentence I said you won't need it ;)
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12+ Years
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor (real-world experience > school)