Best Protein Powders for Muscle Gain for Taste, Digestion, and More

Discover which of these protein powders may help you attain max muscle growth.

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Protein is arguably the most widely known and utilized supplement for muscle gains, and for good reason. While it’s much easier to hit daily requirements for carbs and fat, many people struggle to consume enough protein to build muscle. That’s why you’ll find so many protein supplements in the form of barsshakes, and of course, powders. Whether you want to increase muscle gain for strength, aesthetics, or power, protein powder can help you gain strength more quicklybuild more muscle and hypertrophy, and promote adequate recovery (1). Protein is the building block of muscle, so it’s imperative to make sure you’re getting proper protein supplementation day to day to maximize potential gains. 

Getting an adequate amount of protein per day can be really difficult, and that’s why protein powder is such an important supplement when trying to maximize muscle gain. With so many options available, it can be difficult to pick which one is best suited for you. We tested dozens of protein powders to find our favorite formulas for muscle gain. 

Best Protein Powders for Muscle Gain

Best Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

A good protein powder should prioritize high protein content to support your muscle growth goals, contain no fillers, and be easy to digest — Swolverine’s whey isolate protein powder checks all of these boxes.

Swolverine Whey Isolate Protein

Swolverine’s whey isolate protein powder has gains at the forefront of its formulation. Their formula contains 26g of whey isolate protein per serving, which has been shown in studies to potentially improve muscle thickness when compared to a placebo powder (2). While the protein is high, the other macros remain low with half a gram of fat and one gram of carbohydrates.

This formula includes the digestive enzymes protease and papain, which can help with better digestion and absorption (3). One of these functions may be better absorption, which can potentially lead to better synthesis of protein, and aid in your muscle gain goals. It may also lead to better digestion, which may mean less bloating and discomfort while your body digests the protein, allowing you to reach your macro goals without discomfort. 

You can choose between four delicious flavors when making your protein shake — Chocolate, Vanilla, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter. Although this product costs around $2.09 per serving, we believe it’s worth the price for the high quality isolate, and additional digestive enzymes.

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

This whey protein formula delivers 26 grams of protein with just 0.5 grams of fat, and one gram of carbs. You’ll also find 10mg of digestive enzymes, and a decent number of micronutrients.

Who Should Buy Swolverine Whey Isolate Protein

  • Gymgoers who want to prioritize muscle gain will be pleased with the high 26g dose of isolate protein here.
  • People who have problems digesting protein may benefit from the added digestive enzymes protease and papain present in this formula.
  • Bodybuilders and those in a cut will love the low carb and fat content here with only one gram of carbs and half of a gram of fat per serving.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Whey Isolate Protein

  • Although we think the flavors are delicious, some may opt for a brand that has a wider variety of flavor choices.
  • Those on a budget can find a cheaper protein on the market, and may want to consider looking at a whey concentrate or other formula, as isolates tend to be more expensive.

This protein stands out for its high protein content and added enzymes aimed at better digestion and absorption, all of which may lead to more effective muscle gain.

[Related: Could Baking Soda Be The Best Workout Supplement You’ve Never Tried?]

Best Tasting Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

It can be difficult to hit your allotted daily protein goal consistently, but it doesn’t have to be flavorless. When it comes to a delicious protein powder with anywhere between 23 to 25.5 grams of protein per serving, Huge Supplements has you covered.

Huge Supplements Whey Protein

Huge Supplements protein powder comes in four varied and tasty flavor options — Cookies & Cream, Vanilla Milkshake, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Strawberry Cheesecake — to make drinking your protein powder an enjoyable part of your daily routine. Not only is this protein powder delicious, but the formula delivers high quality ingredients, as well. 

With 23 to 25.5 grams of whey concentrate protein per serving (depending on flavor) and five grams of BCAAs which may aid in recovery and muscle growth, this formula is geared toward gains (4). Each flavor varies in macros, but contains two to three grams of fat and two and a half to six grams of carbs per serving. Huge Supplements rings in at $1.66 per serving as well, making it an affordable and delicious option to get your protein needs met.

Huge Supplements Whey Protein
Huge Supplements Whey Protein
Huge Supplements Whey Protein

A blend of whey isolate and whey concentrate, Huge Supplements Whey Protein packs 23 grams of protein into each serving. It also contains 5g of BCAAs with only 2g of fat and 2.5g of carbs per serving.

Who Should Buy Huge Supplements Whey Protein

  • Folks who are looking for a tasty protein will be delighted with the flavor options here: Cookies & Cream, Vanilla Milkshake, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Strawberry Cheesecake.
  • People who are looking for a solid dose of protein for muscle gains — this formula contains between 23 and 25.5 grams per serving, depending on which flavor you choose.
  • Anyone on a budget will like this price point, as it’s affordable without skimping on high quality ingredients.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Huge Supplements Whey Protein

  • Anyone looking for a whey isolate will want to look at other options on the market as this is a whey concentrate.
  • Those who are on a vegan diet will want to look for vegan protein options.
  • If you prefer an unflavored protein powder for stacked mixing, you’ll have to look elsewhere. 

Huge Supplements created a protein powder that is not only objectively delicious (no matter which flavor you go with), but also packs in a solid dose of protein to make sure you’re hitting your protein goals and maximizing potential muscle gains. 

Best Priced Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

There are a lot of high-ticket protein powders available on the market, but that doesn’t mean that making muscle gains has to break the bank. This pick is packed with grass-fed whey protein isolate, but is still reasonably priced.

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein

Each 30-serving container of high-quality protein costs about $59.99, but if you sign up for automatic shipments, the price drops to around $50.99. That equates to about $1.99 per serving at regular price or $1.70 with automatic shipments — a pretty bargain price per serving for a whey isolate. This 100 percent grass-fed whey protein isolate packs a heavy dose of protein without any extra fluff.

At only 120 calories per serving, you’ll receive 28 grams of protein per 34.5-gram scoop — that means over 93 percent of those calories are coming from protein. Most flavors have zero fat, making for a very lean protein powder. The carb content is just as clean. Most flavors have only a single gram of carbs. The exceptions are the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Vanilla Peanut Butter Flavors, which have higher carb and fat counts of three grams and two and a half grams, respectively.

Transparent Labs optimized this protein to potentially help with recovering and packing on muscle. Whey protein isolate may digest faster than whey concentrate, which may help kickstart growth after an intense workout. There is little in the way of carbs and fat to slow down digestion, so the protein can potentially do its work fairly quickly. (5) Other delicious and unique flavors are available like Cinnamon French Toast, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie, Mocha, Milk Chocolate, Strawberry, and French Vanilla. 

10% Off
Transparent Labs Grass Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs Grass Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs Grass Fed Whey Isolate

Transparent Labs has made one of the most straightforward protein supplements we've ever seen. It's just grass-fed whey isolate, natural flavor, salt, and stevia, making this one a great option for people who want a protein supplement with no additives. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein

  • Folks who are on a budget. Even without automatic shipments, the price per serving here is still under $2.00 — a very reasonable price for a high-quality and grass-fed whey isolate.
  • Folks who like to have a lot of flavor options. Eight different flavors, some being quite unique, can satisfy nearly anyone. 
  • Anyone looking for a whey isolate that has high protein content without a lot of carbs or fat to get in the way of digestion.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein

  • Anyone looking for a protein powder stacked in all three macronutrients will want to look at other options on this list — this powder is just high protein with minimal carbs and fat.
  • Those who want a protein powder for more of a meal replacement or snack may want to pick up a whey concentrate or casein.
  • Athletes who are looking to bulk and not just put on muscle but a good bit of size too may want to look for a mass gainer instead. 

With eight different delicious and unique flavors to choose from and a lean formula, this protein is a great choice for recovery and muscle gain. The grass-fed whey isolate can potentially get to your muscles quicker than whey concentrate to help you reach your goals.

[Related: The Lifter’s Guide To Magnesium: What This Nutrient Does For Strength]

Best Vegan Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

The vegan diet is becoming more and more popular as time passes, but that shouldn’t be a reason that you can’t achieve the muscle gains you’re working toward. Vegan supplements are actually quite mainstream, but we think Swolverine has created a plant protein that tastes delicious, keeps your marcos in check, and tops many of its competitors.

Swolverine Plant Protein

Swolverine’s plant protein is different from other plant proteins due to its macronutrient breakdown. While many other vegan proteins will have a higher fat or carb content, Swolverine made their vegan protein with an isolate-like breakdown — 130 calories, 22 grams of protein, three grams of carbs, and two and a half grams of fat per serving. This formulation is great for those looking for a boost of protein to help aid their muscle growth even if they’re currently in a cut. 

The hardest decision you’ll have to make when it comes to your protein choice is whether you’ll pick Chocolate Cake or Salted Caramel. This protein blend is a mix of pea protein and pumpkin seed protein, and contains one gram of chicory root, which is a prebiotic made up of fiber and may be helpful when it comes to digestion.

Pea protein is high in BCAAs, and pumpkin seed protein rounds out the amino profile, including methionine to make this a complete protein (5). With a price tag of $1.76 per serving, this plant protein is packed and kind to your wallet. 

Swolverine Plant Protein
Swolverine Plant Protein
Swolverine Plant Protein

This plant-based protein is made from pea isolate, hemp protein, pumpkin seed protein, sacha inchi, and quinoa. It's also pretty low in fats and carbs, boasting only 0.5 and seven grams, respectively.

Who Should Buy Swolverine Plant Protein

  • Athletes who want a plant based protein that still has a great macronutrient breakdown. This pick has high protein, and low carbs and fat.
  • Vegans who want to maximize muscle gains — this protein contains pea and pumpkin seed protein, which provides all nine amino acids making it a complete protein which may help aid muscle gains.
  • Those who want a protein that has other benefits will be happy that pea protein is high in BCAAs.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Plant Protein

  • Anyone who wants more flavor options — this formula only comes in Chocolate Cake and Salted Caramel flavors.
  • Folks in a bulking phase may opt for a vegan protein that has higher carbs and fats to meet their macronutrient needs.

While some plant proteins don’t provide the nine amino acids necessary to be considered a complete protein — Swolverine made a blend with pea and pumpkin seed protein, optimizing amino profiles from both, in order to formulate a supplement that is 100 percent plant-based, a complete protein, and delivers 22 grams of protein per serving. 

Best All-Natural Protein Powder for Muscle Gains

This pick is a solid option thanks to its high protein content and lack of artificial sweeteners. It also has a ton of great, natural flavors to choose from — eight to be exact. Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey takes the top stop here.

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein

So you want a protein powder to help put on some muscle, but don’t want any of the artificial sweeteners or flavorings that come in many of the leading brands? Well, we’ve found a great solution for you with this pick. Not only is it naturally sweetened with Stevia, but the flavors are all natural as well, using ingredients like cocoa powder and Himalayan rock salt for flavoring. All eight tasty flavors (like Cinnamon French Toast, Mocha, and Vanilla Peanut Butter) are naturally flavored and sweetened. 

What makes this protein great for muscle gains too is the use of 100-percent grass-fed whey protein isolate. Whey isolate may digest more quickly than other types of protein, which can help kickstart recovery and drive much-needed amino acids to your muscles. (6) With 28 grams of protein per serving and most flavors having no fat and only two grams of carbs, there is little to interfere with that protein content. Pick up your favorite of eight flavors with a one-time purchase for about $59.99 or subscribe to regular shipments and pay around $50.99 per 30-serving container. That works out to about $1.99 per serving with regular pricing or $1.70 per serving with a subscription.

10% Off
Transparent Labs Grass Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs Grass Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs Grass Fed Whey Isolate

Transparent Labs has made one of the most straightforward protein supplements we've ever seen. It's just grass-fed whey isolate, natural flavor, salt, and stevia, making this one a great option for people who want a protein supplement with no additives. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein

  • Athletes who are looking for an all-natural protein powder that doesn’t skimp on delicious flavors will like this formula and the eight unique natural flavors to choose from.
  • Folks who want a protein that doesn’t have much in the way of added calories from other macros. It’s hard to find a leaner formulation than this. 
  • Anyone who cares about the type of whey they are consuming — this product comes from 100-percent grass-fed cows. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein

  • Anyone who is bulking may prefer a supplement with higher carbs and fats included — this is an isolate, which is generally low in carbs and fats. 
  • Those who are on a budget and aren’t tied to an isolate will find cheaper options on the market (like whey concentrates).
  • People who are looking for a meal replacement may want to consider a true meal replacement shake with a more balanced macro split that includes micronutrients.

Transparent Labs hit the mark with their natural flavoring and sweeteners. The lean macronutrient content is spot on, as well, for those looking to gain muscle. Plus, the variety of flavors promises to keep things interesting over time.

Best Whey Isolate for Muscle Gain

Whey isolates are 90 percent protein by weight, and usually contain higher protein content per serving than their non-isolate counterparts. This one has a great price and delicious flavors, making it an excellent protein supplement to aid you in building muscle. 

Swolverine Whey Isolate Protein Powder

Whey isolate protein varies from other types of proteins due to its higher protein content. One study found that when paired with proper resistance exercise, whey isolate was significantly superior to casein when it came to strength gains and improving lean mass (8).

In addition to 26 grams of protein per serving, this formula has half of a gram of fat and one gram of carbohydrates. Swolverine’s formula also contains the electrolytes potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, and calcium, which are important for optimal recovery. The inability to properly hydrate and get the necessary electrolytes in can lead to a decrease in performance, and may induce muscle cramping, making it harder for you to gain muscle (9).

This formula comes in Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter flavors to help you consume your necessary protein without having to gulp down an undesirable shake. 

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

This whey protein formula delivers 26 grams of protein with just 0.5 grams of fat, and one gram of carbs. You’ll also find 10mg of digestive enzymes, and a decent number of micronutrients.

Who Should Buy Swolverine Whey Isolate Protein Powder

  • Folks who want a delicious protein powder that delivers 26g of protein per serving to help repair muscle fibers for growth.
  • Customers who appreciate the addition of electrolytes in their supplements will be pleased to see a nice list of electrolytes in this blend. 
  • Those who want a protein powder that comes in a variety of tasty flavors — this isolate comes in Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Whey Isolate Protein Powder

  • Anyone who prefers a protein powder that’s a bit more stacked, and includes creatine or the addition of other muscle building ingredients may want to look elsewhere.
  • Folks who want an unflavored protein option — this formula comes in four great flavors, but unflavored is not one of those options.

Swolverine made a whey isolate that contains a high dose of protein and included electrolytes to help your recovery, and ensure you’re ready for your next workout to optimize your mass goals.

Best Mass Gainer Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

If you’re trying to put on size and expand your muscle gains, a mass gainer may be exactly what you need to get you there. This is one of our favorites. 

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

If you’re looking to put on size, you need to eat. Unlike some of our other picks on here, Transparent Labs mass gainer has macros geared towards overall mass. With 760 calories per serving, this can be used as a meal replacement shake or a regular protein shake if you’re really looking to up your gains. This formula has 53 grams of protein, 109 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of fat per serving, making it a hefty post-workout beverage. 

If you’re serious about your muscle gains, this formula may help synthesize muscle protein synthesis due to its high macronutrient profile. (7) This mass gainer comes in two flavors — Chocolate Glaze Donut and Sweet Vanilla, and costs $5.13 per serving. The price tag seems high, but it’s important to remember that this is often used as a meal replacement shake and that the macro content is extremely high compared to regular protein powders. 

10% Off
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

With nothing artificial, whey from New Zealand, a good amount of fiber, and little sugar, this mass gainer will satisfy most athletes. It's a clean mass gainer that focuses on simplicity over added bells and whistles.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  • Anyone who is very serious about putting on weight or size — this formula has 53g of protein, 109g of carbs, and 12g of fat per serving, making it a good choice for growth. 
  • People who want a meal replacement shake or an extra heavy protein shake that will leave them feeling satisfied.
  • Those who are working towards muscle gain will like the 53g of protein in this.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  • Athletes who prefer a large variety of flavors to choose from —- this is only available in Chocolate Glaze Donut and Sweet Vanilla flavors. 
  • Anyone who is on a budget, and is mostly concerned about protein intake and not what kind of protein it is may find a cheaper option on the market. 
  • Those who like to get their carbs from food sources — this formula has 109g of carbs.

Transparent Labs created a mass gainer with gains in mind. With high macros across the board, this formula is here to support you in your quest for muscle growth.

[Related: The 3 Most Common Types Of Training Periodization (And When To Use Them)]

Best Meal Replacement Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

Sometimes all it takes is a good meal replacement powder to help you meet your goals. This formula contains 24g of protein per serving without any sugars or fillers to make sure nothing comes between you and your muscle growth.

Transparent Labs MRP

Meal replacement powders may be a solid choice for those looking to make muscle gains due to its high macronutrient content — especially protein — that may assist recovery in your muscles to up your gains. This meal replacement powder comes in two flavors — Vanilla and Chocolate.

Their macros are similar with seven grams of fat and 24 grams of protein per serving. The calories and carbs vary with Chocolate containing 220 calories and 19g of carbs, while Vanilla has 210 calories and 16g of carbs. This formula has no added sugars and contains no fillers.

The meal replacement powder is made with casein protein, which one study found to have significantly positive results for muscle recovery, which may lead to better strength and mass adaptations when taken right before bedtime (10). Coming in at $2.00 per serving, this meal replacement powder has a fairly decent price and could have positive effects for your gains. 

Transparent Labs MRP
Transparent Labs MRP
Transparent Labs MRP

Transparent Labs MRP provides 19g of slow-digesting carbs, 24g of protein, and only 7g of both sugar and fat. It also contains MCT oil and bone broth, which can help with gut health, and boasts a moderate 220 calories per serving. 

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs MRP

  • Those who like to drink protein before sleep may like this formula for its potential recovery and muscle growth benefits when taken before bed. 
  • Folks who want a protein with middle ground macros — this protein has 24g of protein, 7g of fat, and 16 or 19g of carbs depending on which flavor you choose. 
  • Anyone who is avoiding artificial sweeteners, fillers, or ingredients will be happy to see that none of those are included in this formula. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs MRP

  • Those who like a robust list of flavor options —- this product only offers basic Chocolate and Vanilla options. 
  • If you are on a budget and not tied to a meal replacement powder you may want to consider other options on the market — this protein has a higher price tag of $2.00 per serving.

This meal replacement powder is a great pre-bedtime drink due to its casein content, which may lead to better adaptations during your night of sleep. But even if you don’t take it at bedtime, this casein meal replacement can help you reach your macro goals throughout the day, offering an ideal protein and carb content to complement your work in the gym. 

Best Digesting Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

This powder hits a home run with its high protein content and the addition of a digestive enzyme protease blend — ProHydrolase — which may help with better digestion. Let’s get in the ring with Kaged Whey Protein Isolate.

Kaged Whey Protein Isolate

Oftentimes protein powders can leave peoples’ stomachs feeling bloated and uncomfortable due to their lactose content. Kaged ultrafilters their whey isolate, so only a trace amount of less than 0.1 grams of lactose is left per serving, which can make for easier digestion. They take an extra step for people who have trouble breaking down protein and include a digestive enzyme blend called ProHydrolase, which can potentially help to break down protein — further easing digestion. Kaged does sweeten this product with sucralose though, so if you’re sensitive to that ingredient, keep that in mind.

Aside from being easier to digest, this protein powder comes stacked with 25 grams of protein per serving, and only four grams of carbs with half a gram of fat. Combine that with five awesome flavors, and you’ve got yourself a literal recipe for gains. S’mores, Chocolate, Cinnamon French Toast, Vanilla, and Chocolate Peanut Butter are all available in three-pound containers with 41 servings per container. One-time purchases of the container cost about $59.99 ($1.46 per serving), but if you subscribe, Kaged drops the price by 10 percent to around $53.99. That’s $1.32 per serving with the subscription price — cheaper than many whey concentrate options, despite this product being a (typically more expensive) whey isolate.

Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

Kaged Muscle's whey protein isolate formula boasts a high 25 grams of protein, one gram of fat, and just four grams of carbs. It also contains an enzyme that breaks down the protein for optimal digestion.

Who Should Buy Kaged Whey Protein Isolate

  • Athletes and those who are looking for value. The price per serving here is exceptionally cheap for a whey isolate.
  • If protein powder leaves you feeling bloated, gassy, or with digestive discomfort, this formula may be better for you due to the addition of a digestive enzyme blend called ProHydrolase. 
  • Folks who are lactose intolerant will appreciate the ultrafiltration this whey goes through to remove all but trace amounts of lactose. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Whey Protein Isolate

  • Customers who want higher macros across the board will have to look outside of a whey isolate and opt for a meal replacement or mass gainer.
  • If you’re looking for an overnight or between meals protein you may want to look for whey concentrates or casein, but be cautious as they are known to be harsher on the stomach than isolates.
  • People who like to buy in bulk may be disappointed that this protein is only available in one size — three pounds and 41 servings.

Adding this supplement to your stack may be the answer to your digestive discomfort when it comes to taking protein. It has a high protein content with the addition of a digestive enzyme blend to make sure your muscle gains are the main event, not your digestive problems.

[Related: I’m A Professional Powerlifter. Here’s What I Think About Bodybuilding]

Best Hydrolyzed Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

Hydrolyzed whey is a great option for those who want quickly digestible, high-protein content protein powder for muscle gain. The way that it is formulated breaks the peptides down into smaller chains which make them easier and quicker to digest and may lead to less discomfort. 

Dymatize ISO 100

There are several types of whey protein on the market and choosing the right one for your muscle needs can be difficult. Dymatize ISO 100 is a hydrolyzed protein powder, meaning that it is broken down from an isolate into a form that is even more rapidly digestible by the body.

This form of protein is 95 percent protein by weight which leaves a low carb, fat, and lactose content making it a potentially better protein option for those in a cutbodybuilders a few weeks out, and anyone who suffers from lactose intolerance. This formula contains 25g of protein per serving, with the fat content maxing out at half a gram and carbs maxing out at three grams per serving, depending on flavor.

With nine flavors to choose from, including Fruity Pebbles, Gourmet Vanilla, Cookies & Cream, and Chocolate Peanut Butter, it’s hard to make a wrong choice. With the addition of 5.5g of BCAAs, this protein formula may be the ticket to your best recovery and muscle-building progress. 

Dymatize ISO 100
Dymatize ISO 100
Dymatize ISO 100

Dymatize ISO 100's hydrolyzed whey absorbs faster than other forms of whey as enzymes partly break it down. Plus, this product is sweet and tastes great mixed with water. 

Who Should Buy Dymatize ISO 100

  • Athletes who are hoping to get high protein and low carbs and fat will love the marco profile no matter which flavor you choose.
  • People who enjoy a variety of flavor options — this product offers nine diverse flavor choices. 
  • Those who want a protein with added BCAAs — Dymatize has 5.5g of BCAAs per serving.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Dymatize ISO 100

  • Anyone who prefers an unflavored protein will have to look elsewhere.
  • Those who want a protein with higher marcos across the board may look outside of a hydrolyzed formula.

When it comes to delivering protein and BCAAs while leaving carbs and fat behind, a hydrolyzed form of protein may be your best bet. We think Dymatize has a ton of delicious options to choose from, and offers 5.5g of BCAAs to boot.

Types of Protein

There’s a wide variety of protein variations on the market, and each is unique for its formulation, macro and micronutrient content, flavor options, and origin source. You’ll find whey isolates, whey concentrates, pea and pumpkin seed protein, casein, and whey hydrolysate, to name some of the big hitters. Below, we dig into each type a little deeper.

Whey Protein

Whey protein refers to a group of proteins that are synthesized from cow’s milk. They contain the eight various proteins that are found in milk which are beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide, immunoglobulins, bovine serum albumin, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, and lysozyme (11).

These proteins are then treated to become various types of whey (concentrate, isolate, or hydrolyzed). Whey is a very common type of protein and is most often utilized because it is considered a complete protein — this means it contains all nine essential amino acids. An essential amino acid is an amino that is necessary for bodily functions, but isn’t readily produced in the body, and therefore, must be consumed through food or supplement sources. 

Whey Isolate

Whey protein goes through a pretty extensive refining process to become an isolate, and therefore usually sports a higher price per serving. First, they separate the milk from the whey, then they pasteurize the liquid whey, and finally the liquid whey is isolated. When it goes through this process, a lot of the carbs, fats, and lactose are taken out, leaving the formula at 90 percent protein content by weight.

Whey isolate is a form of whey protein that is low in lactose, and therefore, may be a better option for those with lactose intolerance (12). It is always best to check with your health care professional before adding this to your supplement stack.

Whey Concentrate

A whey concentrate is usually between 70 and 80 percent protein by weight, and because it has to go through a less extensive process, can be less expensive per serving. This also means it generally has a bit higher carb and fat content than an isolate, although it may be relatively low still. Concentrate is also higher in lactose than an isolate, so it may be best to avoid it if you get digestive issues, or have an intolerance to lactose. 

Whey Hydrolysate

Hydrolyzed whey is a form of whey protein that is 95 percent protein by weight, and is usually low in carbs and fats. Whey hydrolysate has been shown in studies to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and may be beneficial for muscle gains due to better recovery time and high-protein content (13).

This is the type of protein that is often used for nutrient deficiencies, and it is often in baby formula due to its shorter peptide chains, which make it more easily digested (10). This form of protein tends to be easier on the wallet, but some important aminos are lost through the hydrolysis process which cuts protein chains into smaller and more digestible parts. 

Vegan Protein

There are a multitude of vegan protein powders on the market including pea, soy, pumpkin, sunflower, and chia, to name a few. Many people opt for vegan protein powders as a lifestyle choice, due to the ingredient list, or to avoid certain allergens. Pea protein (one of the most common) is a type of protein that is high in BCAAs, and can have similar effects to whey protein (14).

The only piece that is missing when trying to make a complete protein is the amino acid methionine, which is found in other forms of plant-based proteins, like pumpkin seed protein. Pumpkin seeds are naturally rich in protein and fat and are high in the micronutrients zinc, magnesium, and iron. That’s why you will often find that vegan proteins are a blend of different types of plant proteins, rather than just one.

Casein

Casein is a type of protein that is derived from cow’s milk, but may absorb more slowly than a whey protein. Its slow digestion can help keep you fuller for longer, and may also be more beneficial when taken before bed, as it can process throughout the night.

Casein is full of peptides, which may result in better immune functions and have some benefits for digestion as well (15)(16). Casein has also been shown to improve adaptations in muscle resistance training by an increase in muscle protein synthesis, mass, and strength. (11).

How We Decided the Best Supplements for Muscle Gains

We considered a plethora of variables when putting this list together. We dove into supplement type, price, research, and dosage to make sure there is a pick that fits everyone’s needs when it comes to fueling muscle gains.

Protein Type

The type of protein in each supplement was an important factor for muscle goals. We looked at various forms, such as vegan proteins, whey isolates, whey concentrates, caseins, and hydrolyzed wheys. We also took into consideration the addition of other ingredients which may benefit recovery, micronutrients, and digestion. Our goal in including such a wide variety of protein types was to ensure there was a product that could suit every type of consumer. 

Price

Protein powders vary in price depending on what type of protein is used, what the list of ingredients includes, and buying options, such as bulk buys. We wanted to pick a list that had options for a multitude of budgets, making protein powders accessible to anyone. The range of prices are between $1.20 and $5.13, with the latter being a meal replacement powder, which is why it’s much higher than the rest. 

Macronutrient Content

Macronutrient content is another big thing to consider when purchasing a protein powder supplement. Whether you’re cutting or bulking while trying to encourage muscle gains, your end goals will be the main driver behind this decision. We chose protein powders that varied in macronutrient content.

Image from Shutterstock /NatalyaBond
Image from Shutterstock /NatalyaBond

Our main focus was keeping protein content high and getting a mix of products with low fats and carbs, as well as some with higher fat and carb content. Since many of these picks are whey isolates, the fats and carbs tend to be a bit lower across the board. 

Micronutrient Content

Although macronutrients are the main drivers behind muscle gains, it is important to think about your micronutrients, as well. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that your body needs in order to function properly. All of these picks have some micronutrients included, but it is always a good idea to know your own needs and supplement accordingly.

If you’re eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, you probably won’t need extra micronutrients from your protein sources. We’ve included powders both with and without an extensive list of micros included, so you can decide for yourself if you only want a few, or if you’d rather knock all your nutritional needs out with one shake. 

[Related: How To Do The Romanian Deadlift For Lower-Body Size And Strength]

Dosage

Protein powders will deliver different amounts of protein per serving based on what they’re made of, and how they are processed. Hydrolyzed and isolate formulas contain a higher percentage of protein than other types, and are 95 and 90 percent protein by weight, respectively.

The picks on our list average between 20 and 30 grams of protein per serving, but if you look at the mass gainer, you’ll find over 50g of protein per serving. Rest assured that any product we have recommended contains a solid dose of protein, and doesn’t fall short compared to the rest of the market. 

What to Consider Before Buying

When you’re target muscle gains, there can be many factors to consider. Being realistic with your goals, and considering dosage, type of protein, additional ingredients, and price are all things to think about when you’re purchasing any supplement.

Be Realistic

It’s important to be realistic when it comes to supplements for muscle gain and what their main purpose is. Taking protein powder alone most likely won’t yield you the muscular results you’re looking for. The main way muscle is built is through resistance training, but proper nutrition and supplementation are also extremely important factors.

If you’re working out and not getting the proper amount of macronutrients it can mean a loss of muscle mass. For example, carbs are the main source of energy in the body. If you don’t have proper glycogen stores, your body will use muscle in order to attain energy to utilize, and it will take a toll on muscle gains overall (11).

Dosage

Depending on what your goals are, you want to consider dosages of protein in your powder, as well as other macros. You may want a protein powder that delivers a high protein content while keeping carbs and fats low if you’re cutting, just looking for a solid protein snack, or you prefer eating your carbs and fats rather than drinking them. If you’re bulking, you may want a higher macronutrient profile all around.

Type of Protein 

This list contains a wide variety of proteins, like whey concentrate, whey isolate, hydrolyzed whey, pumpkin seed protein, and pea protein. Depending on your lifestyle choices, dietary preferences, and needs, there may be one that is better suited for your goals than the others.

Image from Shutterstock/Pixel-Shot
Image from Shutterstock/Pixel-Shot

Some people find that plant-based proteins are better on their stomach if they have issues digesting lactose, or if they choose a plant-based lifestyle. Hydrolyzed whey is another good option for those who have stomach issues, as the process to hydrolyze whey cuts the proteins into a more easily digestible form. Each type of protein will have pros and cons to them, so take some time to figure out what makes the most sense for you. 

Additional Ingredients

Your diet needs may be different during different phases of fitness or your life, and it’s important to factor in the additional ingredients listed in each formula. For example, if you’re looking to avoid artificial sweeteners, flavors, or ingredients there will be some powders on this list that won’t fit your needs.

If you want a protein that also contains BCAAs for recovery, you will want to opt for a formula that includes a solid dosage of them in their ingredient list. All the formulas in these proteins vary, so we suggest reading each label and ingredient list thoroughly before making a purchase. 

Price

Price can be an important factor when it comes to buying supplements. The formulas will vary by ingredients, quality, serving size, and formulation. This means that the price of each product will vary equally.

If you’re opting for straight protein, and you don’t care much about the extra bells and whistles, you’ll potentially pay less per serving than you would for a formula that contains some extras, like BCAAs, or even one that has an all-natural formula.

Some types of protein tend to be more expensive than others due to the process they go through in manufacturing. For example, whey isolate tends to be more expensive than other forms, because its processing is a bit more extensive than other types of protein, making it leaner and potentially easier to digest. 

Final Word

As you work towards your gains, it’s important to properly supplement in addition to your resistance work for maximum results. Protein is the building block of muscle, and without proper nutrition/supplementation, you’ll have a much harder time reaching your goals.

This list is a guide to help you figure out which protein best suits your needs. We’ve taken into consideration the types of protein, macro and micronutrient content, price, servings, and customer goals when building this list. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional athlete, we’ve tried and recommended a protein for you here to help with muscle growth. Set your budget, figure out what type of protein powder you want and what macros/micros you need, then let this list guide you to hit your maximum gains. 

FAQs

Do I need to take protein powder to see muscle gain?

The brief answer here is no. Protein powder isn’t necessary for muscle gain, but adequate daily protein intake is a necessity. Many people struggle to hit the necessary protein requirements that will help optimize muscle gains, and that’s where protein powder can come in handy. If you’re in need of a high protein, and low carb and fat meal, a protein shake can be a great option. For those who don’t like to eat a lot of animal products, protein powder can be a great way to get in those extra grams of protein without having to eat another chicken breast. Or, for some, it’s an easy way to get some protein in on the go.

Which is the most important factor to consider when buying protein for muscle gain?

There is no generic main factor to consider other than what makes the most sense for your goals. Whether it’s protein content, carbs and fats, micronutrients, price, or the type of protein that fits your lifestyle — it’s important to remember what makes the most sense for you. There will be a lot of variables, so stick with what will work best with your current goals and lifestyle.

Are these protein powders for muscle growth safe to take?

All the supplements that we have on our lists have been researched by our staff for integrity and quality. It is always most important to speak with your healthcare provider when you are adding new supplements to your regimen though — especially if you have any allergies or sensitivities to ingredients or supplements.

References

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