Today, I'm comparing, critiquing, and rating what might just be the most popular two protein powders on the planet.
Although the formulas look similar to the untrained eye, they're very different, which is why I decided to compare Gold Standard Whey vs Syntha-6, to take a closer a look, and see which is better for muscle growth, and which fits best with the taste buds.
The results might be more shocking than you thought.
And you'll soon learn why.
What Are The Key Differences?
Best Tasting & Best For Bulking
#1 BSN Syntha-6
200 calories make Syntha-6 a great choice for bulking up. Includes casein and egg protein unlike Gold Standard. Recommended for bulking diets.
Leanest Formula & fastest Digesting
#2 On Gold Standard Whey
Pure whey derived mainly from isolates. Doesn't taste as good as Syntha-6 in my opinion, but 80 fewer calories make it better for cutting.
#1 BSN Syntha-6
Best Tasting & Best For Bulking Up
Why We Picked It
#2 ON Gold Standard Whey
Leanest Formula & fastest Digesting
Why We Picked It
Which Is Best For Muscle Growth?
There are 3 schools of thought when it comes to deciding whether Gold Standard or Syntha 6 is best for muscle growth.
On the one hand, we have those who believe that, due to the amino acids being transported to the muscles quicker, Gold Standard is the best choice for growing new muscle tissue.
However, we can just as easily argue that, by providing a blend of fast and slow proteins, keeping us in a heightened anabolic state for longer, Syntha-6 is better for muscle growth.
The last school of thought is that as long as you consume enough protein, it doesn't really matter which you take. But that's not very helpful.
So, Which Should I Buy For Muscle Gain?
Let's cut to the chase here.
Before bed and later on in the day, Syntha-6 is undeniably the best choice for stimulating growth. Why?
Syntha 6 does the one thing that Gold Standard Whey can't do, and that is providing the muscles with elevated amino acid levels throughout the night (more on this later).
But when it comes to post-workout recovery, Gold Standard is a much higher level performer. Being sourced from 100% whey proteins means that the nutrients are absorbed into the muscles much quicker, which means you can start growing sooner.
Although I bought both of them, if I could only choose one, I'd go with Syntha-6 purely because it has everything Gold Standard Whey does, but with extra casein and egg protein.
Does Syntha 6 Taste Better Than Gold Standard?
As soon as I unscrewed the lid and ripped the seal off Gold Standard, I was hit with an intense aroma that fondly reminded me of my childhood baking activities. Given that I bought the "Extreme Milk Chocolate" flavor, this wasn't surprising at all.
But what happened next did surprise me.
BSN Syntha-6, which had no real kick to its scent upon opening, turned out to be the perfect fit for my sweet-tooth taste buds.
For such a thick, creamy, and admittedly, a fairly high-calorie shake, it mixes deceptively well, which results in a clump-free milkshake texture that I'm still not bored of months later.
On the other hand, Gold Standard Whey tasted pretty good, but I wasn't raving about the flavor. In all honesty, it's probably still in my top 5 best tasting shakes of all time, but next to Syntha-6, it's comparatively milder flavor didn't set my taste buds alight.
Contrary to popular belief, Optimum Nutrition's signature protein powder mainly consists of whey isolates — not concentrates, though it does utilize both sources for a balanced formula.
Similarly, Syntha-6 also contains two forms of whey. Being listed first on the ingredient label, it is likely that whey is the master protein source in BSN's formula.
There's also a blend of casein, calcium caseinate, egg, and milk protein, providing our muscles with a different amino acid profile, keeping them growing and repairing for more extended periods.
Despite containing 3g fewer protein than Gold Standard, I believe that Syntha-6 is still a narrow winner in the protein quality department.
Although either whey or casein can build appreciable amounts of muscle, as research points out, a combination of the two may be more beneficial than taking just whey, or just casein.
Protein concentration is the percentage of the calories that come from protein. To work it out, we begin by multiplying the protein number on the back of the container by 4, seen as protein has 4 calories per gram by nature.
But like a trusty maths buddy, I'll spare you the tedious calculations, and give you the answers right away.
- Gold Standard Whey: 80% (24g) of calories are derived from protein
- Syntha-6: only 44% (22g) of calories are protein
With 40% more calories than Gold Standard, it is only natural that fewer of the overall calories are derived from protein. While this may not be optimal for losing weight, with 200 mass-building calories, Syntha-6 definitely fits the bill for bulking up.
Calories, Carbs, And Fats
Although both supplements contain roughly equal amounts of sugar, Optimum Nutrition cut the calories by a whopping 40% compared with BSN. Their leaner formula contains 5 fewer grams of fat, and 12 grams fewer carbs, making Gold Standard a top choice for those currently focusing on cutting fat or toning up.
A note for UK Readers: as you can see in the photo, the UK version of Syntha-6 contains only 185 calories and 6g of carbs. It seems like US and Canadian versions include a few more calories, perhaps due to ingredient sourcing, but we are not entirely sure.
Either way, the protein per serving and fats are the same.
Taste And Flavors
So, is the taste really the "gold standard"?
And does is Syntha-6 taste "ridiculously delicious," like BSN claim?
Here's what I thought:
What To Expect From The Flavors
Let me start off by saying, I'm yet to come across two protein powders that mix as effortlessly, and with as little liquid, as Syntha 6 and Gold Standard. However, when it boils down to the flavors, things are not equal.
Compared to Gold Standard, I thought Syntha-6 tasted a lot better, and that's saying a lot considering I still rate Gold Standard Whey as one of the better tasting shakes out there.
BSN does a surprisingly good job in the flavor department. Their protein shake tastes really dense, and almost like you're drinking a milkshake when you mix it with milk instead of water. But the most significant feature of Syntha 6, is its smooth texture, which might be a system shock if you're used to the standard gritty protein shake that you can buy at the grocery store.
On the Optimum Nutrition side of things, expect less milkshake, and a more regular protein shake, as far as the flavor goes. I was definitely impressed with the taste, which was delicious when I added milk, but with water, I felt like it left a bit to be desired.
Sizes, Servings, And Scoop
I picked up Syntha-6 in a 5 lb tub (which has 48 servings), and Gold Standard in the 2 lb serving size, which has 28 servings. However, a 5 lb tub of ON whey has over 70 scoops, which is 22 more than BSN give us.
As you can see in the picture, there's a vast difference in the scoop size. And yes, I did have to reach to the bottom of the tub to find both scoops!
Packaging And Unboxing
Both supplements arrived with a plastic seal around the lid, and a paper seal underneath, which is pretty standard for most types of supplements these days.
Compared with Gold Standard, the paper seal on the tub of Syntha 6 was a little harder to remove, but nothing that gives you a headache.
You can also buy both products in 10 lb resealable bags, though I much prefer a sturdy lid that can easily be screwed on and off.
Related Post: Syntha 6 vs Syntha 6 Edge
Who Should Go With Gold Standard?
Boasting an 80% protein concentration and over 20 more servings than it's rival, Gold Standard Whey is my recommendation for beginners who want the best bang for their buck.
Containing 80 fewer calories than BSN's offering, this rapidly-absorbed protein formula takes the complexity out of post-workout nutrition. With 24g of high-quality protein derived from 100% whey, and primarily whey isolates, it is an excellent option for those seeking to maintain size during a cut or add quality muscle during a bulk.
- Those seeking a leaner protein shake
- Those who will primarily use it post-workout
Who Should Go For Syntha-6 Instead?
With a thoughtfully engineered combination of proteins, Syntha 6 could well be the better choice for maximizing muscle growth. Although it is slightly lower in protein, the blend of whey and casein is thought to provide a stronger anabolic stimulus than if we just drank whey alone.
Boasting a delicious flavor that I'm yet to get bored of, it is especially useful for hardgainers seeking to pack in as many calories as they can. It has 200 calories per serving, which is among the highest I have seen in a supplement like this.
- Skinny guys/hardgainers
- Serious lifters who realize the benefits of protein blends
- Those seeking a bedtime protein shake
So Which is Better Syntha 6 or Gold Standard?
Overall, you can't go wrong with either supplement. To my knowledge, they are two of the most popular protein powders in existence and based on my testing, I am not at all surprised at all!
So who wins in the Syntha 6 vs Gold Standard Whey showdown?
Syntha-6 is a beautifully crafted protein blend, consisting of 6 unique sources, that can be used at any time of the day to enrich your daily diet with amino acids. Considering the emerging data showing that a whey/casein combo is superior to whey alone, my overall recommendation is to go with BSN.
However, I could also make a strong case for siding with team Optimum Nutrition.
The fact that their supplement has around 25 more servings, not to mention extra protein, make it a top choice for beginners on a budget, and even advanced athletes seeking a reliable source of protein.
I hope you enjoyed our Gold Standard Whey vs Syntha 6 comparison. Hopefully, it helps you to decide which brand to go for.