Why Is Whey Protein So Expensive? [Plus Top 5 Alternatives]

Starting a workout routine can be intimidating for anyone. It’s a big change that doesn’t just involve lifting weights at the gym, it is strongly based on one’s diet.

Recently I was looking into what I can do to build more muscle, and ensure I’m getting enough protein in my daily diet, and the answer that kept coming up was whey protein powder. 

One of the most popular ways to get your daily serving of protein is by introducing whey protein powder to your diet. While doing my research, I noticed that whey protein powder was much more expensive than other protein powders out there so I decided to look into why that could be.

Continue reading to find out why whey protein has a higher cost, the best ways to enjoy it, and whether or not I believe the cost is worth it! 

Whey protein powder is very expensive because it is a complete and high-quality supplement that contains all of the essential amino acids and nutrients the body needs. There are many different health benefits to whey protein powder that attributes to the higher cost. 

The cost of whey protein powder varies depending on the brand, but the average cost is around $25-$70. There are many reasons for this including where whey comes from and how it’s processed, the health benefits, nutrients, and more. We will discuss all of this in the article below. 

How Much Does Whey Protein Cost?

There are many factors that go into the price of whey protein powder. One of the main reasons is that whey is considered a waste product in the cheesemaking process. There are only a few manufacturers who can turn liquid whey into the concentrate known as whey protein powder. 

Once the concentrate is made, the end product isn’t very appetizing. Companies put a lot of time and effort into creating flavors that will appeal to consumers. These additional ingredients take a lot of time and effort to test for safety and nutrition, which will impact the final cost. 

Below are a few options for different brands of whey protein powder that you can find online or at your local GNC:

1. Fantastic Nutrition Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder

$65.95 for a 5lb container

Fantastic Nutrition’s grass-fed whey powder is unique because it contains whey protein isolate, concentrate, and hydrolysate. This is a great option for those who are looking for pure whey protein without a lot of additional sugars, flavors, or colors. 

This product is also cold processed, non-GMO, and soy and gluten free. It is also completely natural and comes from cows who are hormone free and grass-fed, which can make some people feel a little better about using it.

2. GNC AMP Wheybolic

$64.99 for a 3lb container

Unlike Fantastic Nutrition, GMP AMP Wheybolic does contain artificial flavors and added sugar. They still promise to yield great results in 8 weeks time. While the artificial flavors and added sugar won’t impede the results of this brand, it could be something to look out for for individuals who want to avoid these ingredients. GNC AMP Wheybolic - Chocolate Fudge

3. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard

$59.99 for a 5lb container

The main ingredient of this protein powder is whey protein isolates (WPIs). WPIs is the highest form of whey protein concentrate on the market, guaranteed to get you the results you’re looking for. Because of the higher quality, it is a bit more costly than other powders on the market. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder, Double Rich Chocolate, 5 Pound (Packaging May Vary)

4. Women’s Best Fit Pro Whey Protein

$39.99 for a 2lb container

Women’s Best Fit Pro Whey Protein consists of over 60% of whey protein Isolate and 35% of whey protein concentrate, meaning you’re getting mostly pure whey. This protein powder is not soy and gluten free, which is something consumers should take into consideration.

If you are looking for a way to save money on whey protein powder, buying in bulk may be your best option. There are quite a few options out there, like buying from Costco or Amazon. Buying in bulk will save you money in the long run, although you will need to make sure you can properly store the bulk whey once you receive it. 

Top 5 Reasons It’s So Expensive

There are many nutritional benefits to whey protein powder that will affect the cost. Now that we know how expensive whey protein powder can be, let’s talk about why it costs so much more than other protein powders on the market. 

What Is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is one of two major high-quality proteins found naturally in cow’s milk. It consists of many important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that the body needs. While there are many other protein powders on the market, most of them contain only one or two nutrients.

Whey protein is one product able to fulfill all the nutritional requirements consumers need. If you choose whey protein over other protein powders on the market, you don’t need to supplement with the things other powders are missing. Because of this, whey protein will always be a little more expensive than other protein powders on the market.

Faster Absorption Rate

Whey protein is known for quickly being absorbed into the body. Many consumers experience an instant energy boost once they consume whey protein powder, unlike other protein powders which take 1-2 hours to fully be absorbed.

Most consumers choose whey protein as their pre-workout drink because it will allow them to be more active and have more energy throughout their workout.

Better Results

Whey protein doesn’t just get absorbed quickly, it continues to work after it’s been absorbed. It is also known to instantly work in the form of weight loss and muscle growth, unlike other protein options on the market.

Obviously, the better the result, the higher the price. This should be something that you take into consideration when you are choosing the best protein powder for you.

Easy To Digest

Not only is whey protein known for its quick results and health benefits, but it is also very easy for people to digest. Not only is it easy to digest, but it’s also been known to improve digestion and treat issues like constipation and stomach pains.

Unlike other protein powders, whey won’t harm the natural functions of your body. This guarantee is another factor in the higher price.

Health Benefits

Paying the higher price for whey protein is essentially investing in your health because of all of the benefits it offers. These are some of the health benefits to consider when choosing the best protein powder for you:

    • Muscle growth and muscle strength
    • Daily protein intake
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Reduced inflammation
    • Curbs hunger with quicker digestion
    • Weight loss without denying your body of nutrients

Taking all of these benefits into consideration should make the decision to spend more money on whey protein a little easier.

How To Enjoy Whey Protein

There are many ways to enjoy whey protein powder, but the most common is in a fruit smoothie first thing in the morning. You can also mix it into water or milk if you’d prefer to have a quick drink on the way to your morning workout. Another popular option is to mix it into your food, like with breakfast pancakes or a bowl of oatmeal!

Is Whey Protein Safe?

It’s no secret that many products make a lot of promises on what they can do for you, but with a product like whey protein quality is almost always a guarantee. Because whey is derived from the cheesemaking process, the milk itself always has to pass quality tests before the curds can be separated from the liquid whey. The liquid whey is then pasteurized and the protein is concentrated and isolated, ultimately becoming the whey powder we are familiar with. 

Because it goes through so much testing along the way, whey protein is completely safe to consume. Although, it is considered to be a dairy product, so if you have a dairy allergy or are lactose intolerant, you may want to search for an alternative. 

Whey Protein Alternatives

If you’re looking at some alternatives to whey protein powder, there are many options available. Though, the unique benefits and nutrients found in whey protein is difficult to replicate in most alternatives.

Most consumers find that while they can use other alternatives to whey, they still need to supplement with other alternatives in order to get the results they’re searching for. Below you will find some of the most common alternatives to whey protein along with some of their benefits.


$54.53 for a 4lb container

Casein is the closest alternative to whey protein, both in the results and the price. Casein contains 80% milk, unlike whey protein which contains over 90%. Because it contains high amounts of calcium, it is excellent in promoting bone health. It also contains all nine essential amino acids. 

Casein is a good alternative to whey, even though they are very similar in price. Casein has a slower digestion rate, which may help those who aren’t looking to rapidly increase muscle mass. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Micellar Casein Protein Powder, Slow Digesting, Helps Keep You Full, Overnight Muscle Recovery, Chocolate Supreme, 4 Pound (Packaging May Vary)

Brown Rice Protein Powder

$19.90 for a 1lb bag

Brown rice protein powder is a complete protein which also contains iron, only two grams of carbs per tablespoon, and zero fat. It is also perfect for those following a plant-based diet and has been known to lower blood pressure, promote a healthy liver, and maintain healthy cholesterol.

There are many great reasons to choose brown rice protein powder, although you may need to add different protein powders into your routine in order to get the effect you’re going for. One of the reasons it’s a cheaper alternative is because it’s not genetically modified, nor does it contain an animal byproduct, it is also considered to be hypoallergenic. Organic Brown Rice Protein 3 LB. USDA Certified Organic. Unflavored. 25 G. Protein Per Serving. Non-GMO. No Soy, Gluten or Dairy. Natural. Vegan. Ultra-fine Powder Mixes Easily in Drinks.

Egg White Protein Powder

$14.99 for an 1/2lb bag

Egg white protein powder is absorbed easily into the body, and it contains no fat or cholesterol. It also contains large amounts of high-quality protein with low-carbs, which may help if you’re looking for a supplement to assist in weight loss. 

Egg white protein powder goes through less processing than whey. The yolk is removed and the egg white is dehydrated before being transformed into a powder. It also has less additives, which is why it’s a cheaper option. It's Just - Egg White Protein Powder, Dried Egg Whites Protein, Meringue Ingredient, Non-GMO, USA Farms, Unflavored (8oz)

Hemp Protein

$13.19 for a 1lb bag

Hemp seems to be everywhere on the market in one form or another these days. Hemp protein powder is unique because it is a complete protein, contains all nine essential amino acids, and is an excellent source of Omega-3 and Omega-6. 

While it contains many nutrients, and unlike whey protein, hemp is much more natural. It has less additives and processing, which lends to the cheaper price tag. . It also has low amounts of protein, which means you may need to supplement with other protein powders. Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Raw Hemp Seed Protein Powder, Peak Protein, 3 Pound, USDA Organic, Non-GMO, Whole 30 Approved, Vegan, Gluten-Free & Keto, Plant Protein with Essential Amino Acids

Soy Protein Powder

$11.73 for a 1lb bag

If you are looking for a great alternative to animal-based protein supplements, soy protein may be your answer. Soy protein is low in fat and high in protein, it is very healthy for most people to consume on a regular basis.

Soy protein powder yields great results without containing any animal byproduct. It is a great alternative for those looking to cut out dairy or animal products, and because it has an easier processing method, it is cheaper than whey.

Protein PowderPriceAmount
Whey Protein Powder$65.955 pound container
Casein Protein Powder$54.534 pound container
Brown Rice Protein Powder$19.901 pound bag
Egg White Protein Powder$14.99½ pound bag
Hemp Protein Powder$13.191 pound bag
Soy Protein Powder$11.731 pound bag

Is It Worth The Money?

There’s no doubt that whey protein offers many benefits, but is it worth the price? While you will have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself, it does seem like the benefits outweigh the cost. 

With any supplement you plan to introduce to your diet, it’s always important to check the ingredients list to ensure you’re getting the healthiest option for you. Whey protein may be a little more expensive than other protein powders on the market, but it seems like it is the best option for those looking to include a healthy supplement into their diet. 

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