Whey protein is arguably the best source of protein on the market. It is easily digested, has a complete amino acid profile, and the cost per gram is one of the lowest around. However, not all whey protein powder is created equal.
For example, what’s the difference between whey concentrate and whey isolate protein? What makes grass-fed whey protein better?
In this article, we will answer those questions and look at the best grass-fed whey protein powders available.
Let’s get started!
In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:
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NutraBio is no stranger to these lists. That’s for good reason, NutraBio makes very high-quality whey protein and supplements.
One reason is their extreme open labels. If it’s in the product, the exact amount is listed on the label. That’s a long way from the useless prop blends other companies use.
NutraBio Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate yields 25g of complete protein. The gram total is 29 grams of source protein.
Seem confusing? Let’s make some sense of it.
No protein supplement is 100% protein. Every source is a percentage of protein. For example, whey protein concentrate ranges from 34% to 80% protein. The difference is fillers such as lactose and fat. Grass-fed whey protein isolate is as high as 90% complete protein. That means the remaining 10% consists of fillers. Note that NutraBio lists the percent of protein as “WPI90”. Therefore, they use premium whey protein isolate only.
Finally, this exceptional grass-fed whey lists the exact amounts of flavoring and sweeteners. This whey protein does not contain any artificial flavors or artificial sweeteners. It’s also available in several delicious flavors. These include chocolate, vanilla bean, and matcha latte.
- Lists The Exact Amount Of Complete Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate Per Serving
- Lists The Amount of Everything In The Product
- 25g Of Pure Protein
- Some Users Don’t Like The Recent Addition Of Xanthan Gum
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Often, grass-fed whey protein powders are more expensive than non-grass-fed protein supplements. This is because of the increased cost of raising the cows. Nutricost has kept prices extremely budget-minded yet still makes an ethical and ecologically viable product.
This is a premium whey protein. It is close to NutraBio in quality. Plus, the unflavored version contains only grass-fed whey protein and sunflower lecithin.
Their grass-fed whey protein provides 30g of whey protein isolate per serving. There are 24 servings in the 2lb container, and 61 in the 5lb container. Besides grass-fed whey, this protein contains zero artificial flavors or sweeteners. It’s naturally flavored and sweetened with stevia.
You can choose milk chocolate, vanilla, or, as noted, unflavored. It mixes well with water, milk, almond milk, or your favorite beverage.
These benefits make Nuricost Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate the best budget whey protein.
- Excellent Value
- Highest Quality Protein
- 30g Of Grass-Fed Whey Protein Per Serving
- Some Users Don’t Like The Taste
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Whey Fantastic 100% Pure Grass-Fed Whey Protein combines three forms of undenatured whey protein. Undenatured means the protein supplement is broken down without affecting the quality. This type of protein is cold processed. This preserves the structural integrity of the protein.
So, what are the three forms? They are whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, and whey protein hydrolysate. It provides 22g of protein with 4.6g of BCAAs per 2-scoop serving.
This protein supplement is low in sugar, mixes well, and tastes great. Yet, the choice of flavors is limited. Whey Fantastic is also soy-free, gluten-free, and does not use any fillers.
If you choose unflavored, it’s as natural a protein powder as you can find. Whey Fantastic 100% Pure Grass-Fed Whey Protein is our pick for the best natural grass-fed protein powder.
- Combines Isolate, Concentrate, And Hydrolysate
- 22g Of Protein Is A Little Low
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Take a first look at Raw Grass-Fed Whey, and it may seem a little pricey. But look at the ingredients, and you realize that the 5lb bag contains 90 servings. Also, one serving supplies 21g of protein!
It’s a good value. Plus, the company cares about the cows that make the whey. The milk comes from Jersey cows (famed for their incredible milk) that graze on grass year-round.
All of the milk used comes from sustainable US farms. Plus, the cows eat grass and clover to provide milk rich in omega-3.
Because this powder is unflavored, it is one of the cleanest protein powders on the market. It’s just 100% whey concentrate! Of course, this has its downsides. Whey concentrate does not have the quality of whey isolate. There is no mention of the percentage of protein in this protein source.
Also, the powder will not mix as well as regular protein powder. You may want to combine it with fruit, milk, or sweetener. That’s because the taste is something less than spectacular.
Use a blender, mix it with some fruit and milk, and you have got yourself a fantastic protein smoothie.
Still, despite the downsides, Raw Grass-Fed Whey is the best environmentally-friendly grass-fed protein powder on this list.
- Pure Whey Protein Concentrate – No Artificial Flavors Or Sweeteners
- Environmentally Friendly
- Good Protein To Carb And Fat Ratio
- Literally Tasteless
- Does Not Mix Well
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Things get interesting when Amazon gets into the act. Amazon Elements Grass-Fed Whey Isolate Powder is not the best protein supplement on this list. Even so, it’s not bad. There is no doubt the cows are grass-fed. Yet, they are housed indoors during winter and fed “a diet of grass silage plus vitamins and minerals for proper nutrition”.
In theory, this is not as good as the other protein powders on this list. But at least Amazon is honest. Most grass-fed dairy farms probably do the same thing. You can be sure they do not display that fact on their packaging!
The protein powder itself is decent. There is 25g of protein per serving. Amazon Elements Whey contains zero artificial flavors or sweeteners. Instead, it’s sweetened with stevia.
What is great about this protein powder is that Amazon is a reputable company. The product comes with a satisfaction guarantee. If you do not like it, then you can get a full refund. That is why this is our best-trusted grass-fed whey protein.
- Excellent Guarantee
- 25g Whey Protein Per Serving
- Delicious Taste – Naturally Flavored And Sweetened
- Cows Only Roam Free During Spring, Summer, And Autumn
- Does Not Mix Well
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There is a lot to like about Garden of Life Whey Protein Isolate. For starters, it has 24g of protein per serving. Plus, it has a huge 6g of BCAAs. These are part of the 9 Essential Amino Acids. Also, of the 6g, 2.8 grams is leucine, the most anabolic of all amino acids. Plus, there is 4g of glutamine. The cows are hormone-free and grass-fed. To top it off, this whey protein supports your immune system.
The only real downside is the small number of servings per container. For example, this protein comes in a 2lb container with only 20 servings. Compare that to other whey protein supplements that come in a 2lb container. These protein powder supplements have over 20 servings!
Considering the price, having only 20 servings per container is disappointing.
Even so, one serving of Garden Of Life Grass-Fed Whey Protein provides 24g of protein. This breaks down to 85% grass-fed whey isolate and 15% grass-fed milk protein. Plus, this product is an organic whey protein powder. This means the flavoring and stevia are organic. There are also probiotics to improve digestion and gut health.
The flavors are organic chocolate and organic vanilla. Despite the lack of servings, due to its high BCAA, glutamine, and probiotic content, this organic whey is the best grass-fed whey for recovery.
- 6g Of BCAAs – 2.8 Grams Of Leucine
- 4g Glutamine
- The Best Grass-Fed Whey For Recovery
- Only 20 Servings Per Container
- Does Not Mix Well
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Is your goal building lean muscle? Then you need to make sure you ingest enough protein. You also need to ingest enough EAAs. As noted, the EAAs are the 9 amino acids the body can’t make. These 9 include the 3 BCAAs. You may remember that leucine is the most anabolic amino acid. It’s essential for muscle growth.
That’s where BN Labs Grass-Fed Whey comes in. This grassfed whey protein contains 24g of protein concentrate per serving. There’s no total gram listing of amino acids. Yet, the description has a breakdown of each amino. The leucine content is an exceptional 3.87g per serving! That’s a potent amount and will trigger lean muscle growth.
The only downside is that the calories are higher compared to others on this list. 160 calories per serving compared to an average of 110-120 calories. It’s higher in this grassfed whey protein product because there’s 2g of fat and 2g of carbs, and those are from sugar.
From there, BN Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein is certified USDA organic, it’s also non-GMO and rBST whey protein concentrate. Also, BN Labs uses non-GMO sunflower lecithin. Finally, this organic whey protein concentrate contains zero fillers and is humanely sourced.
- Features A Whopping 3.87g Leucine Per Serving
- 24g Organic Whey Protein Concentrate
- Mixes Well – Tastes Great
- Uses Whey Concentrate Instead Of Isolate
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ProMix Nutrition Undenatured Grass-Fed Whey Protein is cold processed and micro-filtered making it a good digesting grass-fed protein. This raw organic whey contains 25g of whey protein concentrate per serving. This whey protein uses raw organic cacao for the chocolate peanut flavor. There’s also non-GMO cane sugar, sunflower lecithin, and peanuts.
Like many whey protein concentrates, this powder is 3rd party tested for quality, purity, and potency. It also uses cow’s milk from cows living on family farms in California. So, there’s an ecological and ethical benefit too.
There is also a good variety of flavors. You can choose from unflavoured, vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter.
Finally, this grassfed whey contains 5.6g BCAAs per serving. There is no gluten, no soy, growth hormones, antibiotics, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, gums, or fillers. Plus, no genetically modified feed has been used. It’s easy to see why this is the cleanest grass-fed whey protein concentrate available.
- Ultra-Clean Formula
- 3rd Party Tested
- Digests Well
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Naked Nutrition Naked Whey gives you an extra 15 servings over protein supplements in this guide. There are also only 120 calories per serving. Plus, Naked Whey supplies 25g of cold processed grassfed whey protein.
The available flavors include chocolate, unflavored, and vanilla. The vanilla and chocolate versions are naturally flavored and contain organic coconut sugar. With the unflavored version, the only ingredient is grass-fed whey. If you get the unflavored whey, you’re getting 100% grass-fed whey protein, nothing else.
This means that the unflavored powder might clump a little more. Also, it’s not going to mix as well as whey protein supplements that use sunflower lecithin.
Despite those concerns, the cows are raised on small family farms in California. Plus, this grassfed whey is non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, and does not use growth hormones.
Not to mention, Naked Whey grassfed whey protein has a good amino acid profile that’s high in the BCAAs, especially leucine. That makes Naked whey protein powder ideal for muscle building and recovery.
Finally, there are several recipes that Naked Nutrition Naked Whey has created to go with their protein powder. Their website is listed on the label so you can try as many as you like.
This makes Naked Whey the best grass-fed whey protein for cooking and baking.
- Great Flavors
- Tastes Delicious
- Use It In Your Favorite Recipes – Or Try Recipes From The Naked Nutrition Website
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein has the highest protein content of any of the whey protein supplements in this guide. What does that mean? Simply put, it’s the ratio of protein grams to scoop size.
Transparent Labs provides 28g of protein from grass-fed cows. The scoop size is 32g. Divide protein grams into scoop size and you get 88% protein. That’s as high or higher than any whey protein, even other conventional whey protein supplements.
100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein supplies 120 calories per serving, and it contains less than 1g of fat and carbs. The only other ingredients are natural flavoring, stevia, and sodium chloride.
Finally, there are quite a few good flavors, including cinnamon french toast, vanilla peanut butter, and salted caramel, to name a few. There is no unflavored version.
- High Protein To Scoop Content
- 28g Protein From Grass-Fed Cows
- Several Unique Flavors
- Some Users Feel It Doesn’t Mix Well
When it comes to nutrition, there are not too many differences between grass-fed and grain-fed. You will still get excellent value for money and a similar amount of protein per gram. The differences are more ecological and moral.
Grass-fed cows are not fed hormones and they lead happier healthier lives. That can be reflected in the finished product. Cows spending their lives eating grass and being able to roam around in fields is a good thing.
Grass-fed whey protein is higher in a fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This fatty acid supports fat loss and muscle mass.
Most likely you have decided to go for grass-fed whey protein powder. Know that your choice has led to happier cows and a smaller ecological footprint.
Take a look at our review of Amazon’s Elements Grass-Fed Protein Powder. You will see that the grass-fed label can mean different things. Amazon makes it clear that the cows they use do spend the majority of the year grazing in fields. Yet, during winter they are housed indoors and fed grass that was harvested during summer.
This is a fairly standard and practical way to care for cows. But does this count as true grass-fed cows? That’s up to you.
Still, let’s be real. No doubt many dairy farmers keep their cattle indoors during cold winter weather. This is true for both large and small dairy farms.
But cows are more than capable of surviving cold weather. Plus, cows raised in California hardly need to be kept away from winter weather. Even so, this practice will be dictated by the weather conditions. Further, if 3 feet of snow is on the ground, it’s going to be a little hard for the cows to eat grass.
Amazon’s solution is practical. But if you are dead set on cows that are allowed to graze year-round then be sure to check the labels.
To be fair, this is good advice for any form of protein powder. That’s true whether it’s the best grass-fed whey protein, regular whey protein, or other conventional protein powders. However, it is not the only proof of quality. Yet finding a grass-fed whey protein powder that has a high protein-to-calorie ratio is definitely beneficial.
Remember, protein contains 4 calories per gram. As an example, look at ProMix Nutrition. This grass-fed whey protein has 25g of protein per 160-calorie serving. That means that out of 160 calories, 100 calories come from protein. 60 calories come from fats and carbohydrates.
Compare that to Nutricost Grass-Fed Whey Protein. This product has 30g of protein (120 calories) per serving. One serving = 140 calories. This means there are 120 calories from protein and 20 calories from fat and carbohydrates.
Now, not everyone needs to worry about the protein ratio. Still, if you are losing weight or training for muscle growth, then this can make a huge difference. This guide features the best grass-fed whey protein supplements. Therefore, all of the products on this list have a particularly good protein-to-calorie ratio.
As mentioned in the review of Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey, this refers to the ratio of protein to scoop size. Dividing one by the other gives you the actual protein content by percentage. This is a fast and easy way to see if the whey products you’re considering are a good choice or not.
For example, we know that Transparent Labs is 88% protein. The rest is small amounts of fat and carbs, plus flavoring and sweetener. Let’s compare that to other whey proteins. We will go with a product I rejected for this guide. This unnamed grassfed whey protein provides 24g of cold-processed whey protein from cow’s milk. The scoop size is 32g. That means it’s 75% protein, quite a bit lower.
Whey protein powders are often sold in different-sized containers. Plus, they use different serving sizes. It can sometimes be confusing. Is it a good price or not? The best way to work it out is to figure out the cost per serving. You do this by dividing the cost by the servings.
Then, you can take it a step further, and work out the cost per gram of protein.
This can help you determine which protein powder uses filler ingredients and one that doesn’t. Or, one high in fats or sugars, and one that’s not.
Remember, grass-fed whey protein is going to cost more than dirt cheap whey protein concentrate. That’s because it is higher quality and more expensive to produce. However, that does not mean that you cannot find a good deal using the price per serving method. Buying in bulk usually helps lower this price.
One downside to grass-fed whey protein is that there are not often many choices when it comes to flavors. You often only have unflavoured, chocolate, or vanilla. There are several reasons for this.
Most people who purchase grass-fed whey protein are doing so because they want them to be as free from artificial ingredients as possible. This makes it difficult to add flavor.
Another reason is to keep costs down. Since the quality of grass-fed whey protein is so high, it can be expensive. Adding several flavor options increases the cost of production.
The thing is though, you need to consume as many as 90 servings of this product. That is not going to happen if you do not like the taste! Pay attention to reviews, purchase smaller batches, and experiment with different flavors.
What’s the worst-case scenario? You still do not like the taste. In that case, you had better get creative with your blender and some interesting fruits and sweeteners.
CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, are regulated by the USDA. It’s defined and classified as follows:
- “Large” feeding operations use a liquid waste disposal system and have over 1000 head of cattle, 2500 swine, or 125000 broiler chickens.
- “Small” feeding operations have less livestock and use solid waste disposal.
In both cases, animals are confined for a minimum of 45 days a year in an area that has no vegetation. This is required to fit the “factory farm” category.
CAFOs are inherently unsustainable. The land that houses these animals literally cannot sustain them. Their food must be sourced and shipped from other farms. And, their excrement must be collected, processed, and distributed to collection facilities.
While there’s a lot more information available on this topic, it can be said that any cows adhering to this “feeding system” are not really grass-fed cows. It is estimated that as much as 96% of whey proteins sold in the US support CAFOs. (1)
Protein is not an optional compound meant only for those that exercise or eat a healthy diet. It’s critical for everyone, whether or not you eat right or exercise. Not everyone may fully understand that.
Let’s find out more.
Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are called macronutrients. These are the food sources we need to promote and maintain daily body functions. Every food you eat is a combination of these macronutrients. Protein is the most important macronutrient because the dry weight of your body is largely protein.
Amino acids are one of the components of protein, often called protein’s building blocks. That’s honestly an overused term, but it makes the role of amino acids very clear.
There are 20 (some sources will say there are 22) amino acids used every day by the body. These aminos are grouped into thousands (some sources claim 10,000+) of different sequences. These, in turn, control thousands of daily functions required by your body. You see, protein exists in all living cells in the body. It includes substances that these cells need to function normally.
Of these amino acids, all but 9 are made in the body. These remaining 9 are called EAAs (essential amino acids) and must come from your diet and protein supplements.
Further, your body needs protein daily, therefore protein must be consistently ingested during the day. Your protein intake should consist of whole foods first, then quality protein supplements. Of course, your best choice is grass-fed whey protein. (2,3)
Well, truth be told, I’m old school. Therefore, if you’re a bodybuilder or athlete, think in terms of 1g per lb of bodyweight. Divide this number up over 5-6 feedings per day.
What if you’re not quite at the level of a bodybuilder or athlete?
First, understand that many of the recommended amounts are minimal amounts. That means they are just enough to prevent deficiency.
For example, The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 0.36 grams of protein per lb of body weight. For those readers using kilograms, that’s 0.8 grams per kilogram.
This works out to 54 grams of protein per day for a 150lb sedentary person. If you are a 180lb sedentary person, that’s 65 grams of protein per day. This is enough to prevent deficiency.
Still, the amount of protein you need depends on several factors. These include how active you are, your age, current amount of muscle mass, physique goals, and overall health.
So, if you are not sedentary, yet not quite an elite athlete, and weigh 150lbs, think middle-of-the-road protein intake.
For example, instead of 1 gram per lb of bodyweight, think .80 per lb. This works out to be 120 grams of protein per day. In kilograms, that’s about 1.8g per kg.
For moderately active individuals, this amount is plenty. Remember, if you’re a serious bodybuilder or other athlete pushing heavy weights, up it to 1g per lb of bodyweight. (4)
In general, protein supplements provide several benefits.
- Stimulates Muscle Protein Synthesis – This triggers muscle growth.
- Keeps The Body In An Anabolic Environment – This means protein intake exceeds protein breakdown. This is essential for muscle building.
- Prevents A Catabolic Environment – This is the result of insufficient protein intake. In this state, the body breaks down muscle tissue.
- Improves Recovery – The period immediately following a workout is critical. On average, it takes a couple of days for a muscle just trained to fully recover. Muscle growth does not take place until recovery is complete. It goes without saying that recovery is not complete without enough protein.
- Preserves Muscle During Periods Of Fat Loss – Are you following a weight loss program? We already know it supports muscle building. Protein also preserves muscle during times of calorie restriction.
- Supports Healthy Hair, Skin & Nails – Your hair, nails, and skin are largely made up of protein. Lack of adequate protein in your diet will negatively affect skin, hair, and nail health and appearance.
- Promotes A Healthy Immune System – There is a lot involved in optimal immune function. It begins with sufficient protein intake.
Grass-Fed Whey Protein has an additional benefit over other protein supplements. As noted, it contains higher amounts of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). Also as noted, this healthy fat is believed to stimulate weight loss, support testosterone production, and support lean muscle mass.
We’ve talked about more than one method of rating protein content in this guide. These include the protein content of the source of protein and the protein content to scoop ratio.
We have also mentioned quality with the term WPI90, or WPC60. These terms refer to whey protein isolate or whey protein concentrate, and the percentage of protein in each.
Other terms include:
Biological Value – This is a score that rates the absorption ability of the protein supplement. For example, our best overall, NutraBio Grass-Fed Whey Protein, has a rating of 100.
Net Protein Utilization – This rates the amount of nitrogen absorption. Nitrogen is a component of protein. Our NutraBio example has a rating of 92.
Protein Digestibility Rating – This is a measure of the amount of protein actually used by the body. Our NutraBio example has a rating of 95.
Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score – This is a method of evaluating the quality of a protein based on both amino acid requirements and the ability to digest it. Our NutraBio example has a perfect rating of 1.0
No doubt using grass-fed whey protein is ethically sound and helps the environment.
Yet, the health benefits of grass-fed whey proteins over whey proteins are debatable. Still, whey protein in general has several health benefits. Using the best grass-fed whey adds a level of purity and quality you might not find in conventional whey protein.
With that in mind, are you looking for the best grassfed whey protein? NutraBio Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate provides 25g of complete protein. Also, this product is so transparent, that you can see the exact mg of everything that’s in the formula.
Are you looking for the best grass-fed whey for baking? Naked Whey is ideal for use in all of your recipes. Need some ideas? You can find the Naked website right on the label. They have plenty of great recipe ideas.
Finally, are you looking for the best value in grass-fed whey protein powders? Nuricost Grass-Fed Whey Isolate is close to our best overall in quality at a value-minded price. Plus, it provides 30g of protein per serving.
Whey protein is key to your success. Yet there are seemingly endless choices out there. Using grass-fed whey is the best choice you can make!