What Is Clear Whey (and Why Should You Try It)?

What Is Clear Whey (and Why Should You Try It)?
Photo: soul_studio, Shutterstock

Even though there are tons of different types of protein powders out there, I’ve always preferred plain ol’ unflavored whey. Its creamy flavour and texture make it great not just for shakes but for other dairy-themed meals like yogurt parfaits. But another great protein powder has finally won me over, and it’s a weird one: clear whey.

It’s just what it sounds like: whey protein powder that is clear when it dissolves in water. The result is something that tastes more like a lemonade or juice than a creamy shake. It comes almost exclusively in fruity flavours that might remind you of an energy drink, rather than a milkshake. That’s because the chemistry that allows the whey to be clear requires it to be in an acidic solution — and gthat acid pairs well with fruity flavours.

I’ve tried a peach-mango and a lemonade flavour from MyProtein; I’ve heard the mojito flavour is also good. (There are plenty of brands to choose from. Nearly all the big supplement companies are on board with the trend.)

How does the nutrition compare?

Left: MyProtein clear whey. Right: BN Labs whey concentrate. (Photo: Beth Skwarecki) Left: MyProtein clear whey. Right: BN Labs whey concentrate. (Photo: Beth Skwarecki)

Clear whey is still whey, so you’re still getting a good quality protein (with all nine essential amino acids) whether you choose the clear or regular variety.

One difference, though, is that clear whey is made from whey isolate rather than concentrate. Whey isolate contains the proteins and almost nothing else, while whey concentrate is about 80% protein. The other 20% includes small amounts of fats and carbs.

Nutritionally, both are good choices if you’re looking to add a little protein to your diet. The “extra” fats and carbs in a whey concentrate only add about 20 calories per scoop, so they’re not going to make or break your diet. That said, if you’re lactose intolerant or find that whey powder sometimes upsets your stomach, an isolate may agree with you a little better. (That said, clear whey isn’t the only kind of whey isolate.)

How does it taste?

Mixing up my first cup of clear whey was a weird experience. The powder clumped up a bit on the shaker ball (I used a shaker bottle) and the resulting liquid was clear but very foamy. The instructions tell you to let the drink sit for 15 seconds to allow the foam to dissipate.

I realised afterward that the shaker ball didn’t seem to be necessary. Shaking it without the ball worked just fine, and the foam does die down quickly, leaving you with a clear liquid that’s not thick or gooey at all. If you’re expecting lemonade, what you get is truly not too far off from the flavour and texture of actual lemonade. Clear whey is definitely more appetizing than regular if you’re mixing it with plain water.

It is very acidic, though. There were sweeteners in the brand I tried (sucralose and acesulfame K), and they take the edge off so it’s not too sour. But you’ll feel the acidity, just like with a strongly flavored lemonade.

The flavour might not be for everyone, but it’s a great option for variety. If I want a creamy shake or yogurt, I’ve got my regular whey; and if I want a protein-only drink that doesn’t taste too gross, I reach for the clear whey.

    

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