O15 Big Hydro Takes Hydrolyzed Whey Protein to the Next Level


If it weren’t for a pair of Hulk Hogan dumbbells, you might not be reading this article. That’s because that’s what was given to bodybuilder and fitness personality Brandon Curry on his sixth birthday,[1] and he’s still getting after it today.

O15 Big Hydro

How do you make hydrolyzed whey protein even better? With Velositol. See how the insulin-driving dots connect in our article on O15 Nutrition’s Big Hydro

With the help of some friends in the business, Curry — 2019’s Mr. Olympia — started a brand O15 Nutrition (pronounced “O-One-Five Nutrition”) with a tagline of “Ethics. Science. Results.”

Big Hydro: “The Whey Protein of Olympians”

His protein powder is named Big Hydro, dubbed “The Whey Protein of Olympians”. It features easy-to-digest hydrolyzed whey protein (hence the word “hydro” in the name), and is amplified by Velositol, an ingredient built to boost muscle protein synthesis in protein powders and amino acids.

We haven’t covered Velositol for a while, so this article will serve as a refresher for the ingredient, and we’ll get to the rest of the label below.

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Big Hydro Macros

Big Hydro provides a touch more carbohydrate than the standard protein powder, but if you’re training anything like Mr. Olympia, that shouldn’t be an issue whatsoever:

O15 Big Hydro Ingredients

The addition of Velositol to a pure whey protein hydrolysate along with a friendly dose of carbs makes for an insulin-spiking drive of protein.

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 21g
  • Total Fat: 1.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Sugars: 2g

With this, we’re expecting a nice little tick of insulin response (especially given how Velositol works) with fast and easy digestion (thanks to how hydrolyzed protein works).

Big Hydro Ingredients

Thanks to its inclusion of Velositol, Big Hydro is not your standard protein powder:

  • Whey Protein Concentrate Hydrolysate

    At this point, we all should know the benefits of whey protein powder. It’s a complete protein with a full spectrum of essential amino acids, especially leucine. It’s been studied, analyzed, re-analyzed, and meta-analyzed, and research continually demonstrates that whey protein supplementation improves body composition, lean muscle mass, strength, and weight in both men and women.[2-5]

    It’s bad to be protein deficient, and is great to replace carbs and/or fats with proteins, especially when protein is too low. This has been known for a long time and we all get that by now.

    The question is, how do we make whey protein even better?

    Hydrolyze the whey protein with enzymes for better uptake!

    There are several ways to enhance it, and the first is to use a more highly-refined whey protein that’s faster and easier to digest! Enter whey protein hydrolysate.

    O15 Big Hydro

    How can you not want Red Velvet Cake?! The ingredients list on this one is a bit longer due to the creamer added, but BIG taste and texture is to be expected.

    The goal of the hydrolysis process is to increase the anabolic response by boosting the whey’s bioavailability and enhancing the release rate of the peptides inside – especially leucine’s.

    Also known as hydrolyzed whey protein, whey protein hydrolysate is treated with enzymes to “pre-digest” the whey. Don’t fret, this just means that the longer chain amino acids have already been broken down into shorter chain components. This yields a powder with an easier and faster rate of digestion,[6] flooding the bloodstream with the essential amino acids faster than regular whey protein concentrate.

    Better insulin response and glycogen reload.

    The end result? Faster insulin response,[7] which goes right in line with what’s happening with the next ingredient, Velositol. You also get a faster glycogen reload,[8] which many hard-charging athletes want so that they can get back in the gym. Research in the gym backs up the science, and whey protein hydrolysate helps with faster recovery[9] – especially important for competitive athletes training twice a day.

    The drawbacks are often the added cost and difficulty to flavor, but brands have made these proteins taste good for over a decade, so we’re less concerned about the challenge of flavoring hydrolyzed whey proteins anymore – especially when we see 6g carbohydrates on the label!

  • Velositol (Amylopectin Chromium Complex) – 2g

    Up above, we discussed a better insulin response and glycogen reload with whey protein hydrolysate. Next, we further that insulin response with this incredible chromium-based ingredient.


    Made by Nutrition 21, the experts in Chromium and Insulin management, Velositol can boost Muscle Protein Synthesis by using chromium and a ‘tickle’ of insulin-spike from amylopectin!

    Velositol is a patented, GRAS (generally recognized as safe) complex of chromium picolinate and amylopectin from Nutrition21.[10] It has a clinically-studied dose of 2g, and that’s what’s on the label here. We like to see Velositol added to protein powders, amino acid drinks, and protein bars because it can significantly boost muscle protein synthesis.

    Mechanistically, it works like this: the chromium picolinate has been shown to increase insulin action and boost the metabolism of nutrients.[11] With the increased insulin action, you can get more anabolic effects like a better uptake in carbohydrates, lipids, and protein, and enhance the glucose and amino acid uptake rates in muscle cells.

    The amylopectin is a starch that helps spike it a bit further – adding a couple of carbs to “ignite” the chromium-assisted insulin response to help drive our whey protein where we want it to go – into the trained muscles.

    Learn about Velositol in our original podcast:

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    Nutrition21 is constantly putting out new research on their ingredients, so some is covered below:

    Velositol doubles the power of protein – at lower doses…

    The initial research on Velositol was a human pilot study that used a double-blind, crossover design. It showed that after a single round of resistance training, using 2 grams of Velositol with a sub-optimal protein dose (6 grams whey) boosted skeletal muscle protein synthesis (MPS) better than 6 grams of whey protein alone, as measured by the fractional rate of MPS. In the study, Velositol doubled the MPS response (48% vs 24%) compared to whey protein alone.[12]

    In addition, the researchers discovered that the participants receiving Velositol had higher levels of cytokines, proteins involved in cell signaling.[12]

    Velositol's effect on myokines / musclin

    This chart is based upon a rat study, but uses more reasonable amounts of whey protein – and the results are more reasonable as well, but still great!

    This was of course on a sub-optimal protein dose in a pilot study, so it could be great for protein bars or amino acid blends, given that 20-40g protein is required to fully activate MPS. What about larger doses?

    Velositol increases exercise performance

    Encouraged by the above results, researchers then looked at 2g Velositol alongside 15g whey protein to see how it would affect muscle strength, fat-free mass, whole-body protein balance, and exercise performance over time.

    They recruited 35 recreationally-active men for eight weeks, dividing them into three groups: the active group (2g of Velositol, 15g whey protein, “V15W”), the comparator group (15g whey protein, “15W”), and a high-dose comparator group (30g whey protein, “30W”).[13]

    The participants drank their supplement on training days immediately after their workouts, and at the same time on non-training days. At zero, four, and eight weeks, their body composition, protein balance, and lower/upper body strength was assessed.

    All participants gained size and strength and improved their fat-free mass. But more importantly, the active V15W group saw a significantly better increase in reps to failure on squat, vertical jump power, relative squat strength, and vertical jump height than the other two groups! In addition, they had greater levels of net-protein balance at zero and four weeks.[13]

    Learn more about this Velositol study on video:

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    Here in Big Hydro, we get the best of both worlds – a higher dose of protein (21g), faster insulin-spiking hydrolyzed whey protein concentrate, and Velositol to tie it all together.

    If you want to learn more about Velositol, check out this article: Velositol: Enhancing Muscle Protein Synthesis with Science and Velositol Increases Exercise Performance: New University Study Previewed.

  • The other ingredients

    Velositol Chart

    How Velositol expresses its muscle-building effects

    Big Hydro is thickened with inulin (a prebiotic fiber) and emulsified with soy lecithin, has natural and artificial flavors, and is sweetened with both sucralose and acesulfame potassium (“ace-k”).

    The fruity cereal has some fruit and vegetable juice for color, while the red velvet label has more additives due to a sunflower creamer that’s added that brings sunflower oil, maltodextrin, sodium caseinate, and mono & diglycerides.

Overall, this is a smart formula, and we’re surprised nobody thought of it sooner. Hydrolyzed whey protein gets you a stronger and faster insulin response, and Velositol drives it home.

Flavors available

Big Hydro launched in Fruity Cereal Milk and Red Velvet Cake flavors, but we’ll keep the list updated below:

    Big Hydro can bring big gains thanks to Velositol and Hydrolyzed Whey

    Per O15’s Instagram, it’s got flavor, no GI stress, use it pre & post workout, high utrient bioavailability, and 0g added sugar to go along with the 21g protein, amplified with Velositol

    Again, we’re excited to see this formula. We’ve seen hydrolyzed whey protein (although it’s normally just in a blend), and we’ve seen Nutrition21’s Velositol. But combining them brings the best of both worlds, and Curry has some great things happening here.

    The main idea is that someone like Mr. Olympia needs to train twice a day, and if you’re a competitive athlete who’s getting put through the ringer, you’re going to do whatever you can to enhance muscle protein synthesis and make it fast. Yes, we get that glycogen stores generally reload in a day. But not everyone has a full day of rest.

    When you want it fast, you want hydrolyzed whey protein, and whey you want it as effective as possible, you want Velositol.

    So when you want fast and effective as possible, you want to consider O15 Nutrition’s Big Hydro. Only question is, what flavor are you going to get?

    O15 Nutrition Big Hydro – Deals and Price Drop Alerts

    Get Price Alerts

    No spam, no scams.

    Disclosure: PricePlow relies on pricing from stores with which we have a business relationship. We work hard to keep pricing current, but you may find a better offer.

    Posts are sponsored in part by the retailers and/or brands listed on this page.

    About the Author: Mike Roberto

    Mike Roberto

    Mike Roberto is a research scientist and water sports athlete who founded PricePlow. He is an n=1 diet experimenter with extensive experience in supplementation and dietary modification, whose personal expertise stems from several experiments done on himself while sharing lab tests.

    Mike's goal is to bridge the gap between nutritional research scientists and non-academics who seek to better their health in a system that has catastrophically failed the public.

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    1. Organ, Mike; “Nashville Bodybuilder Brandon Curry Stars in Starburst Commercial.” The Tennessean; https://eu.tennessean.com/story/sports/2014/05/14/nashville-bodybuilder-brandon-curry-stars-starburst-commercial/9093283/
    2. Wirunsawanya, Kamonkiat, et al. “Whey Protein Supplementation Improves Body Composition and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 37, no. 1, 31 Oct. 2017, pp. 60–70; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29087242/
    3. Naclerio, Fernando, and Eneko Larumbe-Zabala. “Effects of Whey Protein Alone or as Part of a Multi-Ingredient Formulation on Strength, Fat-Free Mass, or Lean Body Mass in Resistance-Trained Individuals: A Meta-Analysis.” Sports Medicine, vol. 46, no. 1, 24 Sept. 2015, pp. 125–137, 10.1007/s40279-015-0403-y; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26403469/
    4. Bergia, Robert E, et al. “Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation on Body Composition Changes in Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Nutrition Reviews, vol. 76, no. 7, 23 Apr. 2018, pp. 539–551, 10.1093/nutrit/nuy017; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29688559/
    5. Miller, Paige E., et al. “Effects of Whey Protein and Resistance Exercise on Body Composition: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 33, no. 2, 4 Mar. 2014, pp. 163–175, 10.1080/07315724.2013.875365; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24724774/
    6. Sindayikengera, Séverin, and Wen-shui Xia. “Nutritional Evaluation of Caseins and Whey Proteins and Their Hydrolysates from Protamex.” Journal of Zhejiang University. Science. B, vol. 7, no. 2, 1 Feb. 2006, pp. 90–98; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1363751/
    7. Power O, Hallihan A, Jakeman P; “Human insulinotropic response to oral ingestion of native and hydrolysed whey protein”; Amino Acids. 2009;37(2):333-339. doi:10.1007/s00726-008-0156-0; https://www.docdroid.net/OQIRf3w/human-insulinotropic-response-to-oral-ingestion-of-native-pdf
    8. Morifuji, Masashi, et al. “Post-Exercise Carbohydrate plus Whey Protein Hydrolysates Supplementation Increases Skeletal Muscle Glycogen Level in Rats.” Amino Acids, vol. 38, no. 4, 11 July 2009, pp. 1109–1115, 10.1007/s00726-009-0321-0; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19593593/
    9. Buckley, Jonathan D., et al. “Supplementation with a Whey Protein Hydrolysate Enhances Recovery of Muscle Force-Generating Capacity Following Eccentric Exercise.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 13, no. 1, Jan. 2010, pp. 178–181, 10.1016/j.jsams.2008.06.007; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18768358/
    10. Bechtel, D. May, 2017. “Summary Expert Opinion Concerning the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Status of Velositol Amylopectin/Chromium Complex as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in Select Food Categories.” Bechtel Consulting. https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/nutrition-21-velositol-gras-opinion-20170525.pdf
    11. Cefalu WT, Wang ZQ, Zhang XH, Baldor LC, Russell JC. Oral chromium picolinate improves carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and enhances skeletal muscle Glut-4 translocation in obese, hyperinsulinemic (JCR-LA corpulent) rats. J Nutr. 2002;132(6):1107-1114; https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/132/6/1107/4687907
    12. Ziegenfuss TN, et al. Feb. 2017. “Effects of An Amylopectin and Chromium Complex on the Anabolic Response to a Suboptimal Dose of Whey Protein.” Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 14:6. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0163-1
    13. Ziegenfuss TN. et al. Sept.10-12, 2020. “Effects of Velositol on Muscular Strength, Lean Mass, Whole-Body Protein Balance, and Exercise Performance During Eight Weeks of Resistance Training: Part 1.” Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Sep. 10-12, 2020, Daytona Beach, Fl

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