Hydrolyzed whey protein is a special form of whey protein that’s particularly suited for fast absorption and low allergenic potential.
Normally, your body does the hydrolyzing itself (a chemical process that involves breaking down the bonds of the whey protein molecules) in your stomach and your small intestine.
In the case of hydrolyzed whey protein, enzymes are used during the manufacturing process to initiate this process.
The degree to which the whey protein is hydrolyzed depends on the manufacturing process, but as a general rule, the greater the amount of hydrolyzing, the more rapidly the protein will be absorbed.
If you want rapid recovery and quick delivery of branched chain amino acids to your muscles following your next gym session, check out our rankings. We’ve come up with the ten best sources of hydrolyzed whey protein for serious athletes.
1. Muscle Feast Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
Muscle Feast makes a clean, simple protein with only one ingredient: hydrolyzed whey protein. No binders, emulsifiers, preservatives, or flavoring agents to be found here.
Of course, those who want an easy to blend supplement that doesn’t have the characteristic chalky taste of protein powder might disappointed, but this is one of the best products out there for those who value minimalism and simplicity in their protein powder.
2. Sascha Fitness Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate
Sascha Fitness is what you might call a “high end” protein powder. It has a few extra perks that make it higher quality than a lot of the competition.
For starters, it uses protein derived from grass-fed cows, which is healthier overall. It also includes a selection of enzymes to aid with digestion, and is flavored with stevia.
3. Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey
Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydro Whey protein powder is a top-class hydrolyzed whey protein because all of its whey protein content is 100% hydrolyzed.
In addition to hydrolyzed protein, which has a high branched chain amino acid content to begin with, Optimum Nutrition also includes additional BCAAs for increased muscle recovery abilities.
It’s flavored with a combination of natural and artificial flavors and sweeteners, which will be somewhat of a turn-off for purists, but for everyone else it’s a good choice.
4. NutraBio 100% Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
As the name suggests, NutraBio’s whey protein is 100% pure hydrolyzed whey protein. There are exactly zero other ingredients, meaning no flavoring agents, fillers, sweeteners, etc.
This alone makes it a high-ranking product, but it’s not for everybody. Ease of use and taste are necessarily compromised when you go with protein as the only ingredient.
5. BulkSupplements Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
BulkSupplements shines when it comes to ultra-simple, ultra-pure products, as their supplements are tested by a third party for purity.
It’s a perennial favorite among minimalists and do-it-yourselfers, as BulkSupplements is hard to beat when buying large quantities.
The only drawback is that the zipper-top bag is sometimes difficult to close, but aside from that, it’s a great product.
6. Progenex More Muscle
Progenix offers a fairly straightforward hydrolyzed whey protein powder that’s flavored only with natural flavors and sucralose.
Low carb enthusiasts might balk at its moderately high sugar content (7 grams per serving), but it’s a good balance between simplicity and ease of use.
Since it has a few emulsifiers and flavoring agents, it’ll be easier to mix into a smoothie or a shake, and it will taste better than unflavored powder.
7. BioTrust Platinum1
BioTrust Platinum1 contains only hydrolyzed whey protein isolate and a proprietary sweetener blend, which is mostly made up of sugar alcohols functioning as artificial sweeteners.
It does include some digestive enzymes, which is a nice perk, but it’d be better if this used a natural sweetener like Stevia instead.
8. Dymatize ISO 100
Dymatize ISO 100 is a mixture of hydrolyzed whey protein and regular whey protein isolate, meaning that it won’t be absorbed as rapidly as a 100% pure hydrolyzed whey protein blend.
This could be a good or bad thing depending on your workout needs, but if you are looking for hydrolyzed whey protein to begin with, chances are you want something that’s rapidly absorbed.
Its flavoring profile is pretty standard; it comes in three different flavors, all of which use a mixture of natural and artificial flavors, as well as sucralose to sweeten the supplement.
9. BSN Syntha-6 Edge
BSN’s protein powder is a top seller, but unfortunately it comes up short when comparing it to other hydrolyzed whey protein supplements.
The amount of whey protein that’s actually hydrolyzed in BSN Syntha-6 Edge is quite small, and it’s got a lot of extraneous ingredients that will be counterproductive to your workout, like sugar for flavoring.
While it does taste good, most people will have better success with a cleaner and more pure hydrolyzed whey protein powder.
10. Precision Protein
Precision Protein offers a hydrolyzed whey protein supplement that’s fairly solid, but has a few too many preservatives and flavoring agents.
Other competitors get by with a lot less, and there aren’t really any other major perks to this protein powder, making it hard to endorse over some of the other competition.
Hydrolyzed protein benefits and side effects
Hydrolyzed protein really shines when you need rapid protein absorption for quick recovery after a tough workout.
It’s a great source of branched chain amino acids as well, making it well-suited for pre-workout use as well. Because of its unique properties, hydrolyzed whey protein offers some unique advantages compared to other protein powders.
Hydrolyzed whey protein helps improve muscle gains. This was demonstrated quite clearly by a 2010 scientific article in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism (1).
The paper reviewed a large number of studies on the use of various forms of whey protein, including hydrolyzed whey protein, demonstrated conclusively that whey protein supplementation can increase the amount of muscle synthesis in your body following resistance training (i.e. weight lifting).
These benefits seem to hold up even when comparing whey protein against other supplements with equivalent amounts of protein that are not derived from whey; something in the amino acid makeup of whey protein seems to grant particularly strong muscle recovery abilities.
Taking hydrolyzed whey protein after a workout can heal muscle damage. These recovery abilities have been directly demonstrated in scientific experiments that intentionally create a great deal of damage to muscle cells during an resistance training session.
One such study was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern Australia and published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport in 2010 (2).
In it, researchers had 28 men complete an eccentric knee extension exercise, which induced a great degree of muscle soreness. The men were given either a hydrolyzed whey protein supplement or a placebo.
The scientists found that, during the 24 hours following the exercise, biological markers of muscle protein synthesis were significantly elevated among the men given the hydrolyzed whey protein supplement.
Hydrolyzed whey protein is rapidly absorbed by your body. One reason why hydrolyzed whey protein seems so effective at boosting post-workout muscle protein synthesis may be its ability to be rapidly absorbed into the body.
According to a review by Keri Marshall in the Alternative Medicine Review, the hydrolyzation process, combined with the fact that whey protein does not curdle in the acidic environment of the stomach, is what makes it a “fast” protein, in contrast to something like casein protein, which is also derived from dairy (3).
Marshall also cites research that demonstrates that the rapid absorption of whey protein is useful for more than just athletic recovery, too.
Elderly people, who can benefit from the post-meal feeling of fullness that a protein supplement can create, tend to have better nitrogen balance (meaning they aren’t losing more protein than they are consuming) when supplemented with a hydrolyzed whey protein supplement versus a non-whey protein supplement.
Consuming hydrolyzed whey protein can help you lose weight. Whey protein has also been studied for its potential for treating obesity and reducing caloric intake.
It may seem strange that a fairly dense source of calories (a protein shake) would be effective at reducing weight, but this effect has been demonstrated numerous times in scientific experiments.
According to a research article in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, whey protein consumed before a meal tends to reduce caloric intake at that meal, even when comparing to a non-caloric placebo (4).
Scientists hypothesize that this is caused by whey protein’s tendency to create satiety, the technical term for a feeling of fullness after consuming food.
As such, after consuming whey protein, people feel more full, and do not desire to eat as much as they otherwise would.
This appears to more than compensate for the additional calories consumed in the form of whey protein. Since hydrolyzed whey protein is absorbed more quickly than unprocessed whey protein, it appears to be somewhat less effective at creating this appetite suppressing effect, but the effect is still present.
Hydrolyzed whey protein can decrease blood pressure. Emerging research is examining the effects of the whey peptide bonds (which are cleaved apart in the hydrolyzation process) on hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
Research published in 2015 by a team of researchers from Germany found that whey protein peptides contained in hydrolyzed whey protein had a anti-hypertensive effect when administered to rats with high blood pressure (5).
While this research is still in its early stages, this is good reason to believe that whey protein may be beneficial for your heart as well as your muscles.
As a natural product found in some quantity in all dairy foods, hydrolyzed protein is quite safe for anyone who can tolerate dairy.
The fact that it is hydrolyzed makes it less likely to cause allergic reactions, though it is still possible that hydrolyzed whey protein could cause an adverse allergic reaction, as is described in one case study in the Journal of Pediatrics (6).
As with all whey-derived protein powders, it should be very low in lactose, though those with severe lactose intolerance might want to get a lactose-free protein powder or a vegan protein powder instead.
Milk allergies are a little dicier; in this case, it’s probably better to just opt for a vegan protein powder. Given the number of high quality proteins on the market that are not derived from milk, it’s better not to take that chance.
Protein needs vary depending on your body size. According to Peter Lemon, a professor at the University of Western Ontario’s Exercise Nutrition Research Laboratory, generic protein recommendations are approximately 1.6 to 1.8 grams of protein per day per kilogram of body mass.
So, a 220 pound male (100 kgs) should aim for 160 to 180 grams of protein per day, though Lemon notes that these should be elevated for older athletes, people on a diet, and vegetarians and vegans.
Further, Lemon points out that these baseline requirements tend to be lower than what elite athletes report consuming, which suggests that optimal protein requirements may be even higher—upwards of 2 grams per kg per day, perhaps.
Hydrolyzed whey protein should be your go-to protein supplement when your goal is to replenish your body’s protein stores as rapidly as possible.
It’s the fastest and best way to kick-start muscle protein synthesis after a tough workout. The benefits of hydrolyzed whey protein extend to improving your muscular strength, decreasing post-workout soreness, and maintaining lean body mass while dieting to lose fat mass.
Hydrolyzed whey protein can even directly assist you when you are dieting by decreasing your appetite. Though it is a specialized tool, hydrolyzed whey protein is exceptionally good at rapid muscle recovery when you need it most.