Now this one will be controversial, probably unpopular, upset a few people, but I am honest and true to my opinion and knowledge base.
I know there are SO MANY reviews of this product, purely because of how popular and well established OPTIMUM are and how established this product is in general.
I would like to point out that this product is the highest selling whey product that we stock in our store - so its not as though there is any bias against this product on a personal level.
I used a tub purely because we had a bunch of them here in stock and it is something I have always wanted to give a go, despite never being 100% persuaded by what is on the back of the label...
With that said it has puzzled me how so many mediocre products over the years seem to be so popular and desired despite alternatives being there that work out much better in my opinion.
Its like Maximuscle - somehow marketisation and labeling seems to mesmerise the general customer into parting with far more cash than they need to....
I am entirely honest to customers - time and again customers come into the store and say "Gold standard is your best whey isnt it...." - and I say "No not in my opinion" - yet they ignore the experienced person and hold onto their own preconception of what makes a product good or not...
My reasons for this kind of view are as follows:
For reference I am putting up the nutritional information:
Per 100g /Per 31g scoop / %RI* per serve:
Energy: 1546kJ / 373kcal // 485kJ / 116kcal / 6%
Fat: 3.1g / 1g / 1%
Of which Saturates: 2g / 0.6g / 3%
Carbohydrate: 7.6g / 2.4g / 1%
Of which sugars: 4.6g / 1.4g / 2%
Fibre: 0g / 0g / -
Protein: 78.4g / 24.3g / 49%
Salt: 0.928g / 0.288g / 5%
Sodium: 371mg / 115mg / -
a) The concentration of Protein types/sources/ratios.
b) The extraction processes involved in sourcing the protein that has gone into this powder.
c)The relevance/quality of additional extras (eg. Glutamic acid).
- These are criteria that average gym users and customers will completely overlook, assuming that 'protein per serving' is THE most relevant determinant in whether a protein powder is good or not- which unfortunately reflects a lack of understanding of this industry and health/fitness in general. Average/unadvanced users tend to just associate any form of progress with one thing - "Oh it must be the creatine" - "Oh it has to be Gold standard whey that has worked...." and therefore they put all their eggs in one basket and pre decide that they HAVE to use THAT product again and again to see results. Its the same when something goes wrong "Oh it must be the Reflex whey that made me fat...." and never touch Reflex ever again. They dont accommodate for the dozens of other variables in effect whilst using supplements or training programmes - and are unaware that it might not have REALLY mattered WHICH whey protein they used - their body may have grown and developed regardless... (I know I am digressing a little bit - but I am just highlighting the point that sometimes TOO MUCH emphasis is put on a product being the main driver of results - this is exactly what supplement companies WANT the perception to be...)
c) Cost - of course.....
Lets start with some positives on PAPER:
Yes - ON Gold standard has 24g of protein per 31g serving. That means it IS lean and high protein per serving and a good ratio of protein per powder - meaning less wasted powder on PAPER.
It DOES contain whey isolate (an even faster acting source of protein than whey concentrate with an even HIGHER Bioavailability value than whey concentrate).
It DOES contain Hydrolysed whey - which is an even smaller micro nutrient version of whey protein that is even FASTER than whey isolate as it is pre broken down to the smallest and easiest absorbed protein/peptide building blocks for recovery and repair.
It DOES contain 5g + of BCAAs (very specific amino acids relevant for protecting, repairing and building muscle tissue - especially during and after training).
It DOES contain 4g of Glutamine and Glutamic acid per serving (Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissu, is involved in the synthesis of many of the bodie's hormones including Growth Hormone and IGF - and is even recommended for burn victims and muscle wasting patients to help muscle repair and immune system).
It mixes well, has good enzymes for absorption and digestion leaving it unlikely to upset your stomach.
The taste I cannot fault - the cookies and cream I had was possibly in the top 5 shakes I have ever tasted and the product line has a massively extensive, interesting and unique flavour range which makes this a good product for those who want to stick to it but like a change of flavour each month as it would take a year to get through them all...
So by looking at those positives so far my review probably looks a little bit contradictory no?
Well all of this looks great on PAPER and is probably a large reason why the product can be classed as a GOLD STANDARD product.
However after taking a DEEPER look than just whats on the surface here are my problems:
Problem ONE - ION EXCHANGE FILTRATION PROCESSES:
Now our OLD tubs specified that SOME of the protein was cross flow filtered and that some was Ion Exchange.
The NEW tubs tell us NOTHING of how any of this protein is processed.... which I DO NOT LIKE.
In Ion exchange filtration processes Hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide are used during this process which of course makes the process ACIDIC and if you know much about protein you will know that HEAT or ACIDITY can DENATURE the protein - preventing our enzymes from effectively binding and breaking it down into usable amino acids - therefore in other words leaving it with reduced or in some cases entirely diminished use to the body for repairing or building muscle.
There is no way of knowing how MUCH of the protein in your tub may have been denatured unless the manufacturers can give you a percentage of the protein that has undergone ion exchange and then do tests on their powder to see how much the process has actuality damaged in reality.
Either way you may well not be getting 24g of usable protein per serving afterall....
Therefore whenever I select a product for myself I opt for: COLD FILTERED, ULTRA FILTERED or CROSS FLOW FILTERED protein and a good protein company will always be honest about how their protein is processed.
ON Gold standard give no ratio of their protein sources either....
It claims that WPI (whey protein Isolate) is 'PRIMARY SOURCE' - yet give no percentage. 51% would make it the primary source - but that's just a good Whey isolate/concentrate blend - not a WPI per say....
Since Whey Isolate in theory is faster acting, is leaner with less of the lactose/sugar/fat from milk than whey concentrate and is of course much more EXPENSIVE - you would hope that you really are getting a much higher ratio of Isolate than Concentrate. The biolavialbility value of whey is 104 - wheras Isolate has been measured to go up to as much as 143.... just to give you an idea of the quality of WPI vs Concentrate.
Glutamic acid is NOT L-Glutamine so saying there are 4gs of Glutamine/Glutamic acid per serving isn't so helpful
Our containers only provide a breakdown according to category found within the AMINO ACIDS PROFILE for this powder (Essential; Conditionally essential; Non Essential). Why can they not just provide a fully comprehensive list like many other brands do???
Therefore we cannot even tell how much of that 'Glutamine/Glutamic acid' is in there.
It could be 3.9g glutamic acid and .1g Glutamine for all we know....
5.5g BCAAs - ok so we trust that 5.5g of our 3 super aminos are in there which is good - but then I think ......well:
Most decent protein powders offer between 4-8g BCAAs per serving.... and I could go buy my regular 100% WHEY ISOLATE product (which has at least 5g BCAAS per serving) ALONG WITH 250g of BCAA POWDER and still be under the cost of the GOLD STANDARD...........
In fact my WHEY ISOLATE costs £57 for FIVE KILOS
GOLD STANDARD is £50 for TWO KILOS
Granted whey isolate is very expensive and I am lucky to have found a source so affordable.. so I cannot be TOO critical on OPTIMUM alone for having a costly product if the main source really is WPI.
- If you know where to look and know enough about
nutrition, health and fitness and the industry you CAN find cheaper and actually more effective alternatives to MANY top shelf products that bash the other products out of the way because of the label...
So with all that said I have to rate the effectiveness fairly high because I can tell it works when compared to other products in its bracket - however value is low and overall is low because I just think it is over rated when you look deeper at what is actually in it. To the average trainer perhaps the cost vs effectiveness isnt bad and therefore the overall would probably be more like 7-8, but I am not average, I know exactly what is out there and where I can go for it so I do not have to settle for something that has flaws/imperfections and gives me much less economic value.....
Of course - this is all just my opinion and I cannot claim to have all knowing truth - it is ultimately up to individuals to decide what is best for them...