Ascent Whey Protein Review: Is It A Good Option For Athletes?

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As someone who’s been involved in CrossFit for over seven years, I’m familiar with Ascent’s protein powders since the company sponsors many elite CrossFitters.

I decided to use it myself as my primary protein powder for the past several weeks and can confidently speak to its benefits and drawbacks.

Ascent whey protein is a clean, easily digestible protein powder that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a high-quality but affordable product.

Top Reasons Why

  • Ascent buys Grade A milk from local dairy farms and filters the proteins in its own facilities. The end result is a pure protein powder without fillers or unnecessary ingredients.
  • It’s third-party verified by Informed Sport and certified gluten-free, meaning it’s not contaminated with banned substances or the common allergen gluten.
  • It has a high protein percentage and leucine content, so you get more protein per calorie and a higher intake of an essential amino acid for muscle growth and recovery.

Overall Rating: 3.9/5

Ascent Protein

Overview

  • Ascent’s whey protein powder (also called Native Whey) is made primarily from a whey isolate blend of traditional whey isolate and the brand’s native whey isolate
  • Native Whey also contains whey protein concentrate. Whey protein concentrate isn’t as filtered and doesn’t have as high of a protein content as whey isolate

Features

  • It’s informed sport verified
  • It tastes clean
  • It’s certified gluten-free
  • It’s reasonably priced
  • It has no added sugars or artificial sweeteners
  • It doesn’t cause negative side effects
  • It digests easily

Best For

  • Athletes who compete in drug-tested sports
  • Anyone who wants a protein powder without refined sugars or artificial sweeteners
  • Anyone who wants a high-quality protein powder for a reasonable price
  • Anyone with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance

What Is Ascent?

Ascent is a supplement company that sells whey, casein, and plant-based protein powders. It also sells other supplements like pre-workout and protein recovery water.

Based in Denver, CO, the company focuses on creating clean, simple products without unnecessary ingredients rather than relying on gimmicky marketing tactics. It’s a family-owned company that has been filtering proteins (a process that I’ll describe below) for more than 30 years.

Ascent sponsors several professional athletes, including CrossFitters Brent Fikowski and Katrin Davidsdottir, NFL player Jonathan Taylor, and Olympic weightlifters CJ Cummings and Jourdan Delacruz.

“It’s really important I know what I’m putting in my body. Knowing this is exactly what I need…just clean ingredients, simple ingredients, proven ingredients – that’s what’s exciting for me.”

Brent Fikowski, 2017 2nd Place CrossFit Games Finisher and 2021 3rd Place CrossFit Games Finisher

Overview of Ascent Whey Protein Powder

Ascent whey protein powder

Ascent’s whey protein powder (also called Native Whey) is made primarily from a whey isolate blend of traditional whey isolate and the brand’s native whey isolate.

Whey isolate is a type of whey that is filtered to remove almost all fat and lactose (a sugar found in milk). This process leaves behind nearly 90% of the protein content.

Ascent’s native whey isolate comes from milk from local dairy farms. Ascent then filters the proteins in its own facilities. This is unlike other supplement companies that buy already-filtered whey protein powder from other sources. 

Because of Ascent’s manufacturing process, Native Whey has more leucine, one of the nine essential amino acids that make up protein. There is a lot of research on leucine due to its role in muscle protein synthesis (a process that affects muscle growth) and its ability to regulate metabolism.

Native Whey also contains whey protein concentrate. Whey protein concentrate isn’t as filtered and doesn’t have as high of a protein content as whey isolate. However, it’s still beneficial for muscle growth and post-workout recovery.

This protein powder is sweetened only with stevia or monk fruit extract, two zero-calorie, natural sweeteners. There are no refined sugars or artificial sweeteners.

It is certified gluten-free and third-party verified by Informed Sport, an organization that tests supplements to ensure they aren’t contaminated with banned substances.

macronutrient breakdown for Ascent Native Whey

The macronutrient breakdown for Ascent Native Whey’s available flavors is as follows:

  • Protein: 25g
  • Carbs: 1-5g
  • Fat: 0.5-1.5g
  • Sugar: 1g (0g added)

With 110-130 calories per serving (one scoop or 30-35g, depending on the flavor), Ascent Native Whey allocates an average of 78% of its calories to protein.

Aside from PEScience’s Select Protein, which allocates 74-87% of its calories to protein, Ascent Native Whey is one of the only other protein powders I’ve seen come close to Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate. Transparent Labs allocates 93% of its calories to protein.

To get a better sense of how Ascent whey protein compares to the protein powders mentioned above, read our Transparent Labs and PEScience reviews.

Ascent Protein

Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder 

Ascent whey protein is a clean, easily digestible protein powder. Recommended to anyone looking for a high-quality but affordable product.

Highlights: What I Liked About Ascent Whey Protein Powder

Pros vs Cons of taking Ascent Whey Protein Powder

It’s Informed Sport Verified

As mentioned, Informed Sport tests supplements for the presence of banned substances. Every bag of Ascent whey protein powder carries the Informed Sport certification seal.

While this is especially important for athletes in drug-tested sports, it’s also reassuring for the general public.

You can be confident that the protein powder doesn’t contain ingredients you don’t want to put in your body.

It Tastes Clean

When I say this protein powder tastes clean, I don’t mean it tastes like dirt, nature, or chocolate mixed with soap. It has a simple, pure chocolate flavor that isn’t overly sweet or artificial. It also doesn’t leave a strange aftertaste.

This is beneficial for anyone who doesn’t like bold flavors or super sweet protein powders (like Dymatize Iso 100 Protein Powder – very sweet).

It’s Certified Gluten-Free

Ascent Native Whey is certified gluten-free, making it an excellent option for those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.

I don’t have either of these conditions, but I like that Ascent has this certification. It indicates that the company cares about its products’ quality and ensures that as many people as possible can enjoy them.

It’s Reasonably Priced

For a protein powder of such high quality, Ascent Native Whey has a competitive price. It’s more expensive than well-known protein powders like Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard, which costs as little as $1.00 per serving. But it’s cheaper than other top-tier protein powders like Transparent Labs and Legion.

On average, Ascent’s whey protein powder costs anywhere from $1.06 and $1.67 per serving, depending on whether you get a 2lb or 4lb bag and where you buy it. Transparent Labs costs about $2 per serving, and Legion costs about $1.38 – $2.00 per serving, depending on where you buy it.

It Has No Added Sugars or Artificial Sweeteners

Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder

While I don’t completely avoid added sugar or artificial sweeteners, I’m not too fond of food or supplements loaded with those ingredients. I especially don’t like protein powders that are cloyingly sweet because I find them overpowering.

Ascent’s whey protein powders are sweetened only with stevia extract or monk fruit extract. There are no refined sugars or artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose. While artificial sweeteners are safe in small quantities, they can cause side effects like headaches in some people.

If you’re trying to cut back on your sugar intake or don’t like very sweet protein powders, Ascent Native Whey is a great choice.

It Doesn’t Cause Negative Side Effects

I have rosacea and sensitive skin and often experience breakouts from cheaper or lower-quality protein powders. However, I haven’t noticed any changes in my skin since incorporating Ascent Native Whey into my diet.

Whey protein concentrate is usually the culprit behind my skin issues resulting from protein powder intake. While whey isolate is the primary form of protein in Ascent’s whey protein powder, whey protein concentrate is also included. But the fact that I haven’t had any skin issues makes me confident that the company only uses the highest-quality whey protein concentrate.

That said, I can’t speak to how well individuals with lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivities would tolerate this protein powder because I don’t have those conditions.

It Digests Easily

Ascent Native Whey doesn’t leave a heavy feeling in my stomach, even when I have it as part of an intra-workout drink. It doesn’t cause nausea or stomach cramps during my training sessions.

When I do have it before my workouts, I don’t have to wait long for it to digest, and it doesn’t leave me feeling bloated or sluggish.

Drawbacks: What I Didn’t Like About Ascent Whey Protein Powder

I don’t have many negative things to say about Ascent Native Whey. However, there are two drawbacks that stick out to me.

It Doesn’t Dissolve Well Unless Mixed in a Shaker Bottle or With a Frother

Native Whey blends easily in a shaker bottle or with a frother. However, it doesn’t dissolve well in water when mixed with a spoon.

I also had trouble getting it to dissolve in coffee. Protein powder is notorious for not mixing well in hot liquids, but I had trouble dissolving it in coffee even when I mixed it with cold milk first.

It Uses “Natural Flavors”

“Natural flavors” is a term used to describe compounds that enhance the flavors of food or supplements. The original source of a natural flavor must be an animal or plant source, but after that, it’s created in a lab by food chemists called flavorists. Many labs that create natural flavors don’t disclose everything that goes into them.

This is to prevent competitors (or even the brands that buy natural flavors from a lab) from stealing exact formulations and taking them elsewhere.

Furthermore, companies aren’t required to disclose everything in natural flavors because the FDA doesn’t regulate them. As such, natural flavors can cause adverse reactions in people who are sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients.

That said, natural flavors are safe for most people, and many protein powders contain them.

I only bring it up as a negative because there’s no way of telling what’s in them, which can be an issue if you want to know exactly what’s in your protein powder.

Ascent Whey Protein Review: My Experience

Ascent Protein user experience

Since everyone uses protein powder differently, I wanted to give Ascent Native Whey a fair trial and test it with various foods and drinks. I tried the chocolate flavor in the following ways:

  • Mixed in water
  • Mixed in oatmeal
  • Mixed with Greek yogurt and frozen to make a chocolate “ice cream”
  • Mixed in coffee

When mixed in a shaker bottle with water, Ascent Native Whey didn’t leave any clumps behind. I didn’t have to keep shaking it because it didn’t settle on the bottom.

But as I mentioned earlier, I had trouble dissolving it in coffee. Since protein powder doesn’t dissolve well in hot liquids, I mixed it with a spoon in about ¼ cup of cold milk first. I then poured coffee that was slightly warmer than room temperature over it. It clumped, and some of the clumps remained after I used a frother to try to break them up.

Ascent Protein mixed in coffee

I got it blended enough to make it drinkable after a couple of minutes, but it took more effort than other protein powders I’ve tried in coffee. The end result was worth it, though, because it produced an excellent mocha flavor.

I had more success mixing Ascent Native Whey with oatmeal. After microwaving my oatmeal according to the package directions, I let it cool for a couple of minutes, then added a scoop of the protein powder. It dissolved well and didn’t leave any clumps. I also like adding a banana and 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter to this oatmeal mixture for a more complete meal.

I also had success dissolving it in Greek yogurt. I didn’t love the combination of the tanginess of plain Greek yogurt with the chocolate flavor of the protein powder, but I enjoyed it with vanilla Greek yogurt. I froze it to make a healthier version of ice cream, which was a delicious dessert late at night!

Ascent Protein ice cream

Despite my struggles with getting Ascent Native Whey to dissolve in coffee, I would make this my go-to protein powder in the future. I like knowing that I can get a high-quality protein powder without spending a fortune and consume it in various ways.

However, when I want to make a protein coffee, I will choose a different protein powder instead.

How Does Ascent Whey Protein Stack Up Against Our Criteria For Whey Protein

Ascent native fuel whey protein powder

Here at FeastGood, we use eight different criteria to rank protein powders. Here is how Ascent Native Whey stacked up against those criteria:

1. Label Transparency

Rating: 4/5

For the most part, Ascent is transparent about the ingredients in its whey protein. And because it’s third-party verified by Informed Sport, you can rest assured that it isn’t contaminated with banned substances.

I knocked off a point only because it’s difficult to know what exactly is in the natural flavors Ascent adds to its whey protein.

2. Fat Content Transparency

Rating: 5/5

Ascent doesn’t hide the fat content of its whey protein powders.

Below is the fat breakdown for each of its available flavors:

  • Chocolate: 1g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter: 1.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat
  • Lemon Sorbet: 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat
  • Unflavored: 0.5g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat
  • Vanilla Bean: 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat

3. Effective Ingredients

Rating: 4.5/5

As discussed, Ascent Native Whey’s primary forms of protein are Ascent’s native whey protein isolate and another whey protein isolate. There are no added sugars, artificial ingredients, or unnecessary fillers.

Because of how this protein powder is processed, it also has a higher concentration of leucine, a well-researched amino acid known for its ability to build and repair muscles.

I gave it a slightly lower score only because it also contains whey protein concentrate, which isn’t as filtered as whey protein isolate and doesn’t have as high of a protein content.

That said, whey protein concentrate is still an excellent form of protein that can help with muscle-building goals and post-workout recovery.

4. Protein Percent of Calories

Rating: 4/5 

At FeastGood, we consider protein powder excellent when it has a protein percentage of 85% or higher. A protein percentage of 75-84% is great, 65-74% is reasonable, and under 64% is poor.

Every Ascent flavor except for Chocolate Peanut Butter falls into the great category. But even Chocolate Peanut Butter is considered reasonable.

Below is the protein percentage for each available flavor:

  • Chocolate: 76%
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter: 71%
  • Lemon Sorbet: 81%
  • Unflavored: 83%
  • Vanilla Bean: 81%

5. Taste/Flavor

Rating: 5/5

I love the taste of Ascent Native Whey’s chocolate protein powder. It’s not too sweet and doesn’t taste artificial.

It’s just a simple, clean chocolate flavor that tastes good on its own or when mixed in Greek yogurt, coffee, or oatmeal.

6. Mixability

Rating: 3/5

I already discussed my issues with getting Ascent whey protein powder to dissolve unless using a shaker bottle or spoon. Because of those issues, I knocked off a couple of points.

7. Texture (Thick or Thin)

Rating: Thin

Ascent Native Whey has a thin consistency. I prefer it this way because I often sip on protein drinks during my workouts. When they’re too thick, they make me nauseous.

However, if you prefer creamier protein shakes, Ascent Native Whey may not be the right choice.

8. Satiety

Rating: 1/5

I tested Ascent Native Whey’s satiety levels by mixing it in coffee on a rest day at 8 AM and didn’t eat anything else with it. It did not keep me full. My stomach kept growling as I drank it!

I’m not shocked by this because the protein powder doesn’t contain casein, a slower-digesting protein. If it did, it likely would have filled me up more.

Still, I can’t give it a high score because it’s not suitable for anyone wanting a protein powder that can keep them full for several hours when taken on its own.

Who Is Ascent Whey Protein For?

  • Athletes who compete in drug-tested sports
  • Anyone who wants a protein powder without refined sugars or artificial sweeteners
  • Anyone who wants a high-quality protein powder for a reasonable price
  • Anyone with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance

Who Shouldn’t Take Ascent Whey Protein?

  • Anyone who wants a protein powder that will fill them up for a long time
  • Anyone who wants a protein powder with a wide range of flavors

Ascent Whey Protein Customer Reviews

To see what other people think of Ascent Native Whey, I checked reviews on Amazon and Ascent’s website.

On Amazon, it has 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 6,335 global ratings.

Here is a complete breakdown of how consumers rated it:

  • 5 stars: 84%
  • 4 stars: 10%
  • 3 stars: 3%
  • 2 stars: 1%
  • 1 star: 2%

Amazon organizes the reviews into the following categories:

  • Ingredient quality: 4.8
  • Sheerness: 4.7
  • Flavor: 4.5
  • Value for money: 4.5

As you can see, most customers appreciate the high-quality ingredients. They believe they are getting a good product for the price.

Most users who left negative reviews were upset that their package had arrived open. A few mentioned ordering one flavor and receiving another.

Some users also didn’t like the taste of the various flavors. I suspect this is due to the stevia, which is known to taste bitter to some people. However, many customers enjoyed the flavors they bought.

On Ascent’s website, there are 853 reviews with an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Here is the full breakdown:

  • 5 stars: 821
  • 4 stars: 24
  • 3 stars: 6
  • 2 stars: 1
  • 1 star: 1

The customers who left 4 and 5-star reviews like the protein powder’s ingredient quality, how well it mixes in water, and that it doesn’t taste chalky. Most of the negative reviewers expressed disappointment that certain flavors are no longer available.

Ascent Whey Protein Promotions & Discounts

When ordering from Ascent’s website, you can sign up for auto deliveries to save 10% and get free shipping, regardless of your order size. You can choose a delivery frequency of every four weeks or every six weeks.

If you know you will frequently buy the protein powder directly from Ascent’s website, I recommend signing up for Ascent Rewards. You’ll get points for every purchase that you can redeem for discounts on future purchases.

If you have a friend who regularly consumes protein powder, you can send them a referral link with a $10 discount. You will get your own discount once your friend makes a purchase through your link.

You can also sign up for auto deliveries on Amazon. You’ll save 5% if this is the only product in your order or 10% if you add four other eligible products to your order and have them shipped to the same address.

Delivery frequencies on Amazon range from two weeks to six months.

Where To Buy Ascent Whey Protein?

Ascent Native Whey is available on Ascent’s website. It’s also available online or in-store at the following grocery stores and retailers:

  • Albertsons
  • Amazon
  • Costco
  • Exchange Army and Air Force Exchange Service
  • Fresh Thyme Market
  • Harris Teeter
  • HEB
  • Kroger
  • Natural Grocers
  • Publix
  • Sprouts
  • Vitamin Shoppe
  • Walmart
  • Wegman’s
  • Whole Foods

Ascent Whey Protein Alternatives

1. Transparent Labs

Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate

Transparent Labs is one of the best whey protein powders we’ve tested at FeastGood. It comes at a premium price, but as the name implies, it offers full transparency into its third-party test results. You can get a Certificate of Analysis from every batch of product to verify its ingredient and nutrition labels.

Transparent Labs also tastes great, doesn’t have additives or artificial flavors, and dissolves easily.

2. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard

Optimum Nutrition is one of the most popular protein powder brands on the market. Like Ascent Native Whey, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard whey protein powder is third-party verified by Informed Sport. However, it’s available in many more flavors than Ascent.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard contains artificial flavors and sweeteners and has a lower protein percentage. Still, it’s a good option if you want a decent protein powder for a reasonable price.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Ascent Whey Protein Made?

Ascent whey protein is made in Denver, CO. Ascent buys its milk from local dairy farms and manufactures the whey protein in its own facilities.

What Is Ascent’s Shipping Policy?

Ascent offers free shipping on all orders over $50. It offers a flat shipping rate of $5 for orders under $50. It does not ship internationally or to Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico. Orders will arrive within 2-5 days after the purchase date.

What Is Ascent’s Return Policy?

For refunds, replacements, or store credits, you must contact Ascent within 30 days of order delivery. The company will discuss all the possible return options available to you based on your reason for the return and the product’s condition.

Is Ascent Whey Protein Third-Party Tested?

Ascent whey protein is third-party tested by Informed Sport. This means it doesn’t contain any banned substances and is a good option for athletes in drug-tested sports.

Is Ascent Whey Protein Good for Weight Loss?

Ascent whey protein can be good for those looking to lose weight. It has a high protein content, so it can help you maintain muscle mass when calories are restricted. However, you have to be in an overall caloric deficit to lose weight and still eat enough protein each day to prevent muscle loss.

Is Ascent Whey Protein Keto-Friendly?

Ascent doesn’t market its whey protein as keto-friendly. The protein powder has 1-5g of carbs, depending on the flavor. However, it can fit into a keto diet if the rest of your daily carbohydrate intake is very low.

Is Ascent Whey Protein Gluten-Free?

Ascent Native Whey is certified gluten-free, making it suitable for anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.

What Are the Best Ways to Mix Ascent Whey Protein?

The best way to mix Ascent whey protein is with a shaker bottle or frother. When mixed in water with a spoon, it doesn’t dissolve well. However, it tastes great when mixed with other foods like oatmeal or flavored Greek yogurt.

What Flavors Are Available for Ascent Whey Protein?

As of the time of this writing, Ascent’s whey protein is available in Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Lemon Sorbet, and Vanilla Bean. There’s also an unflavored version.

Does Ascent Whey Protein Make You Gain Weight?

Ascent whey protein on its own will not cause weight gain. You have to eat more calories than you burn each day to gain weight. However, Ascent Native Whey can help with weight gain if you also consume a high enough number of calories every day to support muscle growth.

Can You Use Ascent Whey Protein as a Meal Replacement?

You should not use Ascent Native Whey as a meal replacement on its own. It doesn’t have sufficient calories, fat, or carbs to be a full meal. However, you can take it alongside a carb and fat source, as well as a fruit and/or vegetable, to make it a more balanced meal.

When Is the Best Time to Take Ascent Whey?

The best time to take Ascent Native Whey is before, during, or after a workout. It digests quickly and likely won’t leave a heavy feeling in your stomach. It won’t make you feel nauseous if you take it before or during a training session. If you take it post-workout, it will work quickly to promote recovery.

How To Contact Ascent

You can contact Ascent at customerservice@ascentprotein.com or 1-844-NTV-FUEL (1-844-688-3835).

Ascent Protein

Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder 

Ascent whey protein is a clean, easily digestible protein powder. Recommended to anyone looking for a high-quality but affordable product.


About The Author

Amanda Dvorak

Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.