The Truth About “Hardcore or GH” Protein Powders

What this article is all about: we examine whether “hardcore” type protein powders are really are a step-up from “regular” proteins (and whether the “sponsored athletes” in the ads really use them).

These proteins are the ones that are given names like “Anabolic Protein”, “GH Testo Whey”, “Hardcore Protein”. You know what I am talking about. 

Almost every brand has one in its range. They are promoted as a “step-up” from regular proteins.

The price is quite decent too for a protein. They are generally cheaper than regular proteins but not by a large margin. We are looking at 10-15% cheaper at most. 

I have used them for a while, too!

These came to the market in the early 2010s. During my post-grad student days working in supplement shops that was the only type of protein that my budget allowed.

Doing this was better than nothing at all.

Only for the hardcore?

Supplement brands market these products heavily as a “better” protein. They are often touted as being the ones used by the biggest bodybuilders in their lineup of sponsored athletes. Narratives like “18+ only” or “only for the hardcore” lend a helping hand in all this!

However, as we will see in the article, they aren’t an optimal protein supplement and certainly not better than a pure whey protein product.

As usual, the goal of suppsguru.com is to give you the inside scoop. This will allow you to make informed decisions, not get your hopes too high on certain products, save bucks (who better than an Indian teaching you this), and not let any company rip you off.

“Hardcore Wheys” 101

Why are these “Hardcore Proteins” on the market?

These proteins are on the market in order to offer a slightly more affordable protein option and also as a means for companies to rescue some profits.

As a “step-up” with all these extra “anabolic factors” and the marketing narratives, you’d expect this product option to be a lot more expensive. However, they aren’t. They are cheaper. 

Also, one would expect a cheaper protein alternative to look like the “poorer cousin“. The reality, however, is that the cheaper alternative is the more “dressed up” and richer looking!

They receive some really high-quality labels.

protein choices suppsguru
Hardcore Proteins are usually the ones with the flashier labels.

Are they better than regular proteins?

The reason is NO, for the following reasons:

  • Lower protein content: the protein content (Approx. 60%) is lower than regular proteins (65-70%) or the premium whey proteins that we have in our line (78%). This means that you will have to scoop out more powder to get a certain amount of protein. 
  • The protein is very likely spiked: given the use of added amino acids, there is a big chance that the declared protein content is not 100% from complete proteins (e.g. whey). You may be getting less whole protein per serving than advertised. 
  • The protein quality is lower: as lower quality proteins like soy are used instead of 100% dairy protein. Soy isn’t that bad a protein if one knows how to use it and make protein combinations as I did during my student days when money was tight.

But the fact that some brands include soy protein and then call the product a “whey” is very misleading. 

Are the added “Anabolic factors” of any benefit?

Below are ingredients that are commonly added to “supercharge” the protein powder. I deal with them in more detail in the context of “hardcore proteins” in another article (please click here to read).

These ingredients don’t provide any extra benefit and you’ll see why in my article:

  • Creatine: creatine works but consuming creatine together with protein in the same shake can be problematic (please read my article)
  • ZMA
  • Tribulus terrestris
  • Taurine and glycine
  • Added carbs
  • D-Aspartic Acid (DAA)
  • Arginine/ Ornithine
suppsguru article
Please click to read

Are these shakes bad?

No, they aren’t. As I said, they are there as a more affordable option for those who cannot afford the more “premium” option. But this affordability comes at the expense of quality. 

Although the “non-hardcore” whey proteins are some 30-40 bucks (Rands) more expensive they may be a better option. 

For the best result, we recommend a pure whey protein product, which is the undiluted raw material itself. 

And no. The “sponsored athlete” probably doesn’t use them. 

Thanks a lot for reading the article. If you found it helpful, please share it!

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Medical disclaimer
The information presented on this website is intended for adults 18 or over. Its aim is purely educational and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a medical or health professional before you begin any program related to exercise, nutrition, or supplementation especially if you have a medical condition. If you consume any product mentioned on our site, you do so on your own free will, and you knowingly and voluntarily accept the risks.  © 2020. Veeraj Goyaram

About the author

Veeraj Goyaram, MSc Med (Exercise/ Nutr. Science)

My name is Veeraj Goyaram. I am a full time supplements guy and make my living in the world of nutritional supplements.

I am a nutritional product scientist by profession, meaning I create innovative nutritional supplements in the lab (food technology side) based on what I know about the human body and nutrients that affect it.

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