Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard vs Isolate: Which is right for you?

For many people just starting out or getting back into building muscle, protein powders are the number one choice supplement to increase results. A huge range of different protein powder blends is now available including casein and vegan formulations.

During this post, we will be discussing whey protein which is the most popular form of protein powder for consuming after an intense workout. Many well-established brands have multiple whey protein blends available. Today we take a look at Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard vs Isolate to understand which is the one you should purchase.

Whey protein powders are an excellent source of protein and the benefits are widely documented. Increasing muscle growth is the number one reason many of us regularly consume whey protein. During a workout such as weight lifting, muscles are broken down due to the intensity and frequency of resistance training.

After a workout, they are ready to consume protein to begin the process of muscle growth and repair. Protein is the key nutrient for muscles to support increased growth and strength. Whey protein is favoured due to its nature as a fast-digesting protein, allowing it to reach muscles when they need it after exercise.

It also contains the building blocks of muscle as it contains a significant about of Branched-chain amino acids. With so many options available, it’s important to make the right decision on the best supplements for you. We often find that once we try a new brand, we like to test many of their supplements at the same time.

I have regularly used both of these protein powders previously love the quality of both of them. The choice of when I use each depends on my current goals. Find out below which one we recommend for you.

About Optimum Nutrition

For those who have been using supplements for a long time, we are sure you will have come across Optimum Nutrition before. The brand was founded back in 1986, making it one of the very first sports supplement nutrition brands for those looking for supplements to support muscle gain. Fast forward to today and with over 30 years experience, Optimum Nutrition is one of the few sports nutrition companies to manufacture in every product category.

The stand-out feature of all Optimum Nutrition products is their uncompromising quality. This starts by using carefully selected premium raw materials. The state of the art manufacturing plant is also Informed Sport registered to ensure quality and performance. All of this is the reason Gold Standard Whey Protein is the worlds best-selling whey protein powder.

Like most, we were first introduced to Optimum Nutrition through Gold Standard whey, and now regularly use many of the supplements in the range. The large collection includes casein protein, BCAAS, pre-workout and multi-vitamins. One of the big benefits of Optimum Nutrition is the wide availability of the product range.

While many similar popular whey protein products are only available from the manufacturer’s website, Optimum Nutrition products are distributed to a large number of sports nutrition retailers. This ensures you can always find the supplement you are looking for, even when it is not available from your favourite retailer. 

Understanding the Protein

Before we take a deep dive into both of these products, let’s take a look at the different types of whey protein. Not all whey is the same, and different types of whey are the reason for both of these supplements being different.

The most widely available option is whey protein concentrate. This is the type of whey found in the majority of nearly all whey protein supplements. When you see a good value protein powder it is usually always whey concentrate. For most users, this is a great choice, especially when just starting out or looking to build muscle.

Whey concentrate contains a roughly 80% protein content, far higher than any high protein foods. The remaining 20% is made up of carbohydrates and fat. The key benefits include a low cost and wide availability.

A more niche option, but still largely available is whey protein isolate. Where this differs from concentrate is increased protein content. To achieve this, the protein goes through additional processes to produce a higher protein concentration with fewer carbohydrates and fat.

These increased processes and purity result in a higher cost and many users are not willing to pay a premium. For many, the slight increase in protein is not worth the often substantial price increase with a full whey isolate supplement.

Gold Standard

This protein powder contains a blend of mostly whey isolate with some whey concentrate. This allows it to achieve many of the benefits of both. Each serving contains a huge 24g of protein which is superior compared to most other protein shakes available today. There is also a relatively low 1.2g of sugars and 1.6g of carbs.

These stats are one of the main reasons for the popularity of Gold Standard as it can often be hard to beat without spending significantly more.  In comparison, MyProtein Impact Whey contains 21g of protein with each serving. The nutrient profile also contains 5.5g of BCAAs in each serving and 4g of glutamine and glutamine acid.

In our opinion, this is perfectly fine for the majority of gym-goers and already higher than the nutritional value which can be found in many whey protein supplements.

100% Isolate

Now, let’s take Gold standard and turn it up to the next level. Whereas Gold Standard is made up of a blend of both concentrate and isolate whey, 100% isolate uses solely isolate whey protein. This results in an ultra-pure whey protein supplement with little room for carbohydrates or fat.

Each serving contains an industry-leading 25g of whey protein. At the same time, there is just 0.4g of fat and 0.3g of sugar. This nutritional value makes 100% isolate ideal for those on a very strict cutting diet that need to meet tight macro goals for both fat and carbohydrates. Alternatively, it is a great option for those looking to maximise their protein consumed in every serving.

Where this product goes a step further is by the whey isolate also being hydrolyzed. With hydrolyzed whey, the protein has been pre-digested so that it can be absorbed faster and also causes a greater spike in insulin levels. Ideal for those looking to get protein digested and reaching muscles as fast as possible. 

The overall nutritional values of both supplements are great and far superior to most products on the market. Gold Standard is great for most of us and provides little to be disappointed with. However, 100% isolate takes nutrition to the absolute limits by providing superior protein content. The hydrolyzed isolates ensure that protein is digested quickly to get to muscles when they need it. 

Taste & flavours

When it comes to great taste and flavour, this is one area which Optimum Nutrition do really well across all of their products. We generally find that whey protein supplements often taste good, but some go beyond and really stand out. A great tasting protein shake should not leave a bad taste behind and should also be easy to mix in a protein shaker.

Gold Standard comes in a market-leading amount of flavours, with over 14 to choose from. This is far more than most whey protein supplements provide. The choice of flavours includes common flavours such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

There are also some more unusual flavours to choose from including white chocolate and toffee fudge. Our favourite flavour is mint chocolate, which we find tastes great and Optimum Nutrition do this flavour better than any other supplement manufacturer. Gold Standard mixes easily in a shaker bottle without any issues. 

Optimum Nutrition 100% Isolate comes in a limited amount of flavours. This is common for full whey isolate products as they tend to not be as popular compared with a lower cost whey protein supplement. The flavours include strawberry, vanilla and chocolate.

Our favourite is the chocolate flavour which tastes great and leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth. As you would expect, this supplement mixes perfectly find in a shaker and is easy to consume. As both of these come in a tub, instead of a pouch, they are easy to get out with the included scoop and closing the lid keeps them fresh. 


The full Optimum Nutrition brand of products is a premium range that can often be higher than some supplement manufacturers. The high-quality and great nutritional profile is the reason many of us are prepared to spend more to get Optimum Nutrition products. Luckily, Optimum Nutrition supplements are available from a wide variety of retailers online, which gives the ability to shop around and find the lowest cost.

Gold Standard whey protein retails for £27.99 for a 908g tub on the Optimum Nutrition website. However, it can more commonly be found for around £23 on Amazon and other supplement retailers. In comparison, a 1kg pouch of MyProtein Impact Whey costs £21.

Considering that this does contain a blend which includes whey isolates, we find it to be reasonably good value. For those fussy about flavours, or looking to get a high-quality blend which includes whey isolates, this is definitely a great choice.

100% Isolate is slightly more expensive and retails for £28.99 on the Optimum Nutrition website. Unfortunately, it is not available for less elsewhere and sometimes costs more. Retailers including Amazon also sell this for £28.99.

As whey protein is consumed regularly, the cost can soon become noticeable, even with just a slight increase. When compared with whey isolate products from competitors, the price is similar and so it is definitely not overpriced. Bulk Powders whey isolate is also priced at £28.99 for 1kg.


Winner: Gold Standard

Overall it can be difficult to distinguish Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard vs Isolate to decide which is best for you. Whey protein is the ideal supplement to consume after an intense workout to support muscle growth and provide the building blocks of muscle. While most whey protein supplements only use whey concentrate, both of these Optimum Nutrition products contain whey Isolates which contain a higher protein content, with fewer carbohydrates and fat. 

For most users, Gold Standard Whey is the best option. Gold Standard provides the perfect balance between high-quality protein, price and availability. 24g of protein per serving is higher than many protein powders and the unique blend results in the benefits of both whey concentrate and isolate in a single supplement.

The large choice of flavours is also geat benefit for those who are fussy with the taste or regularly like to try different flavours.
For those looking for the most superior quality whey protein supplement, with less regard for price or flavours, 100% Isolate is the standout option. For those on a very strict macro diet or looking for a hydrolyzed whey, this also makes a good choice.

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