Summary: Ranking of protein powders based on how much whey protein you get for your money. No concerns about taste or mixability here, just good quality, value-for-money whey protein.
How do you find the best value for money whey protein?
By working out which protein powder gives you the most protein for your money.
To figure that out, I'm looking at 3 main things:
- How much the protein powder costs.
- How much powder is in the tub (the weight in grams).
- How many grams of protein there are in 100g of powder.
With those 3 facts you can work out useful information like how much protein you get for £1 or how much 1 serving costs (based on 1 serving = 40g protein). Those are the important numbers when trying to work out value in the world of protein shakes.
The protein/100g powder in different makes of whey protein can vary by a few grams, which is why it's much better to think of serving sizes in terms of grams of protein rather than grams of powder.
What not to look for.
It's not always easy to compare protein powders in terms of value. Here are a couple of misleading stats:
- The number of servings advertised on the tub. Serving sizes vary from one powder to the next, so you can't easily compare them. One tub may have "40 servings" of 10g of protein, but another may have 20 servings of 40g. The 20 servings tub is obviously the better option.
- The weight and price only. A big heavy sack of low-price powder sounds good, but keep an eye on the quality (e.g. protein per 100g of powder). A good benchmark to aim for is 75g+ of protein per 100g of powder. Cheap and heavy isn't much good if you'd get more protein in a sack of sawdust.
A quick note about "cost per serving".
In the table above, 1 serving = 40g of protein.
I've classed one serving as 40g of protein for each powder so that I can put them all on a level playing field and work out which one has the lowest cost per serving (which is another way of saying the tub with the most servings for your money).
I can do this because all whey protein powders are as good as each other these days (the better ones listed on this page are any way). They're all as effective as each other, so 40g of whey protein is 40g of whey protein, regardless of the brand name behind it.
Nonetheless, take as much protein in your shakes as you need. A popular, manly serving size is 40g (that's 40g of protein, not 40g of powder), which is why I've used that as my standard serving size for working out cost per serving.
What are some good average numbers to look for?
I aim to pay around £1 for a 40g serving of whey protein. Much more than that and it's getting too expensive. Anything less than that is impressive.
Who is value for money protein best for?
Anyone looking to buy whey protein on a budget, or anyone looking for as much protein as they can get for their money – which in fairness is most people.
Is it cheaper to get protein from whole foods rather than whey supplements?
Surprisingly not. For the most part, the cheapest way to get extra protein in to your diet is through protein supplements. Supplements are cost-effective, so if you're on a budget you shouldn't think of whey protein supplements as an "expense". In fact, if you're on a budget you should look to buy supplements to save money overall.
Here's a table that highlights how much popular sources of protein are costing you for every 100g of protein you get, along with how much protein they deliver for every £1 you pay.
|Food||Weight||Price||Protein/100g||Cost per 100g of Protein||Protein/£1|
|Tesco Value Tinned Tuna
|Protein (ON Gold Standard Whey)
|Lean Steak Mince (21% Fat)
|Chicken Breast (Raw)
|Princes Tinned Tuna
This table doesn't highlight the absolute cheapest prices or the most cost-effective quantities. However, the general trend is still going to be the same. If you want to add more protein in to your diet, buying whey protein supplements is one of the cheapest ways of doing it.
Tinned tuna and milk aren't far behind as far as cheap sources of protein go (tinned tuna can be the best value for money if you can get it cheap enough).
In addition to being one of the cheapest sources of protein, whey protein supplements are also easy to consume and taste delicious (usually). Furthermore, they do not have the extra fat that milk has, which may be something you want to avoid getting too much of in your diet.
Doesn't more expensive whey mean better quality?
Not these days, no.
There are no "low quality" whey protein shakes listed on this page, so don't think that you're sacrificing quality here. All of the top-tier protein powders are the same in terms of effectiveness, so there's nothing wrong with a low price. Two things you may be losing out on are taste and mixability, but that's not always the case. Even if that is the case, sacrificing some taste and mixability is a fair trade-off for more cost-effective servings.
Choosing value for money protein is like choosing value for money 4% lager – they'll all get the job done in the same way, but the price varies based on taste and brand.
How to get even more protein for your money.
Want to get as much protein powder for as cheaply as humanly possible?
- Buy a bigger tub or sack. You get more for your money if you buy more protein at once. Buying a 5kg sack for instance would be cheaper than buying two 2kg tubs.
- Buy in bulk. Same idea as above. At some online retailers, the more you buy the cheaper it gets. You may get a bigger discount for buying 2, 3, 4, or 5+ tubs at once.
- Choose a different flavour. Unflavoured protein is the cheapest, but that's not always an option. Check out the different flavours on offer though anyway, because on the odd occasion one flavour will be £1 cheaper or something.
- MySupermarket.com – Compare food prices at different supermarkets online. A really useful site if you're on a budget and want to convert your pounds in to as much protein as shrewdly possible. Your Mum will love it as well.