Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Whey is consistently rated the top whey protein supplement by both users and industry insiders.
This review looks at why this product is so well rated, and whether it actually lives up to the hype.
What is Gold Standard 100% Whey?
Optimum Nutrition are known for keeping their products simple. Gold Standard is a blend of whey protein isolates, whey protein concentrates and whey protein peptides.
It also includes some artificial colors, flavours, lecithin and digestive enzymes to help improve absorption.
The are 3 different types of whey in Gold Standard:
- Whey Isolate – This is pure whey protein with lactose (milk sugar) and fat removed.
- Whey Protein Concentrate – This is whey protein that still contains lactose and fat.
- Whey Peptides – These are proteins that have been broken down into smaller chains of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
Within the protein blend are 5 grams of the naturally occurring branch chain amino acids valine, leucine and iso-leucine. There is also 4 grams of glutamine and glutamic acid.
The sweeteners used in Gold Standard are Ace-K and Sucralose. Previous versions contained aspartame, but this has been removed.
Amino Gen is Optimum Nutrition’s own brand of enzymes that helps break down protein. For example, lactase is necessary to digest lactose, so its addition assists those with mild lactose intolerance.
All experts agree that whey protein is the best ingredient for increasing muscle mass.
A comprehensive in the Journal of Food Science concluded that supplemental whey protein:
- Promotes muscle mass growth, especially when paired with resistance training
- Reduces loss of muscle mass during caloric restriction
- Limits the natural loss of muscle mass that accompanies aging (1).
A key component of the protein make-up of Gold Standard are the Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s).
These include valine, leucine and iso-leucine.
The 3 Branch Chain Amino Acids are vital to the preservation of muscle tissue, especially after your workout. Because the synthesis of these amino acids occurs intra muscularly, they are absorbed faster and are more readily available for use by the cell.
Research shows those who supplement with BCAA’s build substantially more muscle than those who don’t (2).
Glutamine is the most common amino acid in the body, making up over 60% of your skeletal muscle. It’s a key transporter of nitrogen into your muscle cells, which is a key driver of muscle growth. Being in a state of positive nitrogen balance will determine whether your body is in an anabolic (muscle building) or a catabolic (muscle depleting) state.
Unfortunately, frequent training with heavy weights actually removes much of the glutamine from your system. It can take up to 6 days for glutamine levels to be restored after a heavy workout, which is why glutamine supplementation is so beneficial.
Is It Effective?
Any post-workout product containing whey protein is effective.
But the key consideration with protein powders is actually digestibility.
Many products can immediately cause digestive stress, including gas and bloating. This because they aren’t digested and absorbed properly, which means they are less effective.
However, Gold Standard’s blend with enzymes ensures maximum protein absorption and little to no digestion trouble.
In fact, in all of my years in the industry I’ve never heard a customer complain about digestive issues with this product. That’s very rare in this industry.
Users will also not experience any of the lethargy or ‘heavy feeling’ that comes with most other protein powders.
You want to get about a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
With Gold Standard offering 24 grams of protein per scoop, it should be used as a supplement to your whole food protein sources. So, if you are 200 pounds and are getting about 150 grams of protein per day through your meals, you will want to have one Gold Standard shake per day with two scoops of powder in it.
Take Gold Standard within 20 minutes of completing your workout. This will infuse amino acids into your muscles cells just when your body needs them to prevent catabolic breakdown of muscle tissue.
Who Takes It?
Gold Standard is suitable for those who train regularly and want to add lean muscle to their physique.
Those with coeliac disease or severe lactose intolerance should choose a pure whey protein isolate over Gold Standard though.
Whey protein powders are generally safe for people who have sensitive digestive systems and Gold Standard is especially easy on the stomach. So long as you don’t overdose, which may cause liver problems, you are perfectly safe with this product.
Gold Standard comes in an impressive 21 flavours, each one more exotic than the last.
Flavours like Rocky Road and Cookies and Crème might even make you feel like you’re cheating on your diet.
In fact, taste alone is one of the reasons Gold Standard is consistently the most popular whey protein on the market.
Gold Standard mixes really well compared to competitor products.
You will get a perfect result every time with your shaker bottle, no clumps.
In fact, you don’t even need that. Simply stir a couple of scoops in a glass with your spoon and you’re good to go.
- 24 grams of protein per scoop
- Contains Whey Protein Isolate
- 4 Grams of Glutamine per serve
- 5 Grams of BCAA’s per serve
- Delicious taste in 21 flavours
- Great mixability
- Does not cause digestive issues
- Cost effective
- Contains lactose
Value for Money
On a cost per serving basis, Gold standard is much more budget-friendly than the competition
This is largely due to its blend of whey, with only about one third being whey isolate. The isolate process is the most expensive, which is why pure isolates tend to cost more.
The only real benefit of this process, however, is to make it appropriate for those who are lactose intolerant.
Gold Standard from Optimum Nutrition is a high-quality protein powder worthy of its strong reputation.
It provides an ideal blend of whey processes to fuel your cells with amino acids as quickly as possible.
- The taste of this product will get you hooked, and there are enough flavours that you can try a different one every month for years.
The mixability is second-to-none.
On a cost per serving basis it’s one of the most affordable protein powders you will come across.