Best Protein Powders for Weight Loss, Muscle Gain, and More

Discover which of these premium protein powders can help you reach your nutrition goals.

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Whether your goal is to gain muscle, get ridiculously strong, or just to lose a few pounds, consuming enough protein is a must in order to be successful. It’s a lot easier to hit carb and fat goals throughout the day, but protein in the form of beef, chicken and other meat products can be expensive and difficult to eat enough of. Protein powders provide an easy and effective way to boost your daily intake and keep you on track. But with so many protein shakes out there, which ones are worth picking up and which ones aren’t worth shaking a stick at (see what we did there)?

There is a bit more to choosing the right protein powder than just taking the advice of the jacked person in the locker room. You should be looking for the product that has the right macronutrients, isn’t loaded up with useless additives, and also tastes good. Keeping track of all this may seem like a massive job, but we’ve done most of the heavy lifting to make it easy for you. Here’s our list of best protein powders.

Best Protein Powders

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for the diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. 

Best Protein Powders Video

You can also check out this video from BarBend, where former Nutrition Editor Nick English goes over a variety of protein powders and their benefits. 

Best Protein Powder Overall

What makes a great protein powder? Well, the answer to this is subjective, but we think a clean and effective ingredients list should do the trick. This pick combines highly anabolic whey protein isolate with a blend of digestive enzymes, so you can get the most out of every scoop.

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

This protein powder from Swolverine features an ultra-pure whey protein isolate sourced from grass-fed cows. Swolverine states that the cows are free from rBGH, which is a synthetic version of the growth hormone found in cows. Each scoop contains a very solid 26g of protein and only 110 calories — that’s about 87 percent protein per serving, which is higher than most other powders. It only has half a gram of fat and one gram of carbohydrates —meaning only about ten of the calories come from sources other than protein. Swolverine also includes the digestive enzymes papain and protease to potentially help with digestion and to maximize absorption. 

This powder is sweetened with stevia leaf extract and monk fruit extract, leaving it free of artificial sweeteners. A heads up if you’re on a budget, you will pay a bit more for this protein powder than other whey isolates at $2.09 per serving. Swolverine’s Whey Protein Isolate comes in four flavors. The classics like Vanilla and Chocolate, as well as Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter and Mint Chocolate Chip.

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 Protein Isolate

  • Anyone who wants a product with digestive support that may help maximize absorption will appreciate the ProHydrolase in this formula.
  • Customers looking for a high protein product that’s low in calories. This supp only has 110 calories, but still contains 26g of protein per scoop.
  • Athletes looking for natural sweetening. This product is sweetened with stevia and monk fruit extract. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

  • Anyone who may want a 100 percent plant-based protein powder. This product does contain whey protein, which is animal-based. 
  • Athletes looking for a high-calorie formula that can help fuel performance may want to look elsewhere. 
  • This protein is priced higher than other whey isolates on the market at $2.09 per serving, or $62.99 per 30 serving tub.

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate is potentially easier on the stomach thanks to the inclusion of digestive enzymes. The high amount of whey protein isolate (26g per scoop) combined with natural sweetening makes this a solid, clean protein powder that we think is well worth the price.

Best Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

Protein is king when it comes to building muscle. You need to get enough of it to support the repair of muscles that are broken down, and the creation of new muscle tissue. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense formula that may help pack on the gains, this pick is for you.

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

When it comes to gaining muscle, protein is considered the most important macronutrient, but if you’re eating a lot of protein you know it can take a toll on your stomach. Swolverine knows this too, and they included some digestive enzymes in their protein blend that can help you get the most out of their powder. 

Each scoop of this product contains 26g of whey protein isolate (an above average dose) sourced from grass-fed cows that can help aid in muscle recovery and growth. Swolverine’s Whey Protein Isolate clocks only half a gram of fat and just one gram of carbohydrates per scoop, making this protein very lean indeed. Their blend also has 5mg of papain and 5mg of protease per serving, which may help with breaking down the protein to avoid bloating. Swolverine sweetens their protein naturally with stevia and monk fruit extract to help it taste great, too. They finish off the formula with a modest dose of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, which can help with hydration.

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 Protein Isolate

  • Athletes looking for a high protein product without a ton of added calories will enjoy the 110-calorie serving size here — 104 of those calories are from protein.
  • Anyone looking for a protein powder that uses natural sweeteners. This protein is sweetened with stevia leaf extract and monk fruit extract.
  • People who want to add muscle, but stay lean while doing so will appreciate the low-carb nature of this product.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

  • Customers who are more budget-conscious may want to check other products on this list. One tub costs $62.99 or $2.09 per serving ($53.54 per tub and $1.78 per serving if you subscribe to regular deliveries).
  • Anyone looking for a variety of flavors. This product does come in four different flavors, but Vanilla and Chocolate are the only two consistently in stock.
  • Folks interested in meal replacement shakes for muscle gain should look elsewhere. This is strictly a protein powder.

Swolverine’s Whey Protein Isolate is a great example of “getting what you pay for.” This protein is more on the expensive side, but this formula’s clean ingredient list and high protein content can help fuel muscle growth and recovery. 

Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss

If your goal is to lose weight, it’s important to ensure you’re not consuming unnecessary calories. Some protein powders can add a ton of extra calories from carbs and sugars that you don’t want when trying to maintain a caloric deficit. That’s why we like Onnit’s Whey Protein when we’re cutting. 

Onnit Whey Protein

Onnit designed their protein powder to be easily digestible and taste great. They use whey isolate from grass-fed New Zealand cows with non-GMO ingredients. You also won’t find gluten, lactose, or sugar in this protein powder. The macro split is great with each scoop doling out 20g of protein and either 1.5g or 2g of fat (depending on flavor), as well as 3g or 5g of carbs (depending on flavor).

Onnit uses only natural sweeteners and flavors in their protein, and the MCT oil powder included can help to provide a smooth mix. Onnit has included digestive enzymes, as well as some probiotics that can help aid in digestion and absorption, as well as prevent bloating. Each scoop is only 110 calories for Vanilla or 120 calories for Mexican Chocolate, minimizing calories to potentially help with fat loss. They even offer some helpful recipes, so you don’t get bored of the same shake over and over. 

Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

A grass-fed whey isolate includes added ingredients for digestion like seven digestive enzymes and a probiotic (lactobacillus acidophilus). It's also gluten-free, sugar-free, and soy-free.

Who Should Buy Onnit Whey Protein

  • Anyone looking for some help with digestion and absorption will like the addition of digestive enzymes to this protein powder. 
  • Athletes looking for a product they can trust to not have banned ingredients. This is Informed Sport certified, meaning it has been rigorously tested for banned ingredients.
  • Anyone who is looking to lose some weight while maintaining or building lean muscle. This provides protein to help recover without the added calories some other products have. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Onnit Whey Protein

  • People who are looking for a more budget-friendly powder may want to check elsewhere. This is $59.95 per tub, or $1.99 per serving.
  • Anyone looking for different or exciting flavors. While most people seem to enjoy these flavors, it only comes in Vanilla and Mexican Chocolate.

The macro split here is great thanks to this product’s natural sweeteners, like stevia. This product is lactose, gluten, and soy-free to accommodate most allergies, too. If you’re looking for a protein powder to take during your weight loss journey, the low calorie count here is ideal.

Best Vegan Protein Powder (Plant Based)

Getting enough protein in your diet can be challenging in general, but even more so when you’re trying to do so from strictly vegan sources. Oftentimes, people supplement vegan diets with protein from sources other than whole foods. This protein powder combines different plant-based, whole-food ingredients to build a complete amino profile.

Huge Supplements Vegan Protein

Huge Supplements Vegan Protein powder combines pea, brown rice, fave beans, and mung beans to ensure each scoop gives you a complete amino acid profile — similar to whey-based proteins. Many plant-based proteins only use one source for their protein, which can leave out certain important amino acids, especially leucine and lysine. Leucine and lysine can be essential in building muscle, so their inclusion in a protein powder formula is important. 

The macro split on this protein is great with 110 calories per serving coming from 20g of protein, 1.5g of fat, and 3.5g of carbs. Huge’s vegan protein comes in some fun flavors too, like Birthday Cake (with sprinkles), Cookies & Cream, Cinnamon Crunch, Graham Cracker, and Marshmallow Madness. This protein is on the more affordable side at $39.95 per tub, and $1.33 per serving. 

Huge Supplements Vegan Protein
Huge Supplements Vegan Protein
Huge Supplements Vegan Protein

Huge Supplements Vegan Protein features a complete amino acid profile thanks to multiple sources of plant-based protein. The flavors are varied and fun with five options to choose from, like Marshmallow Madness and Graham Cracker, and the macros are just right.

Who Should Buy Huge Supplements Vegan Protein

  • Customers looking for a vegan alternative to whey protein will like this product’s plant-based formula. Thanks to the multiple forms of plant protein, this product offers a full amino acid profile. 
  • Anyone who prefers to have only non-GMO products will appreciate that this product is made from 100 percent non-GMO ingredients. 
  • People interested in trying flavors outside of the basic Chocolate and Vanilla. Huge offers flavors like Cinnamon Crunch, Marshmallow Madness, and Birthday Cake.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Huge Supplements Vegan Protein

  • Anyone whose favorite flavors are classic flavors, like vanilla and chocolate. You won’t find those with this product 
  • Lifters who prefer to have whey protein over plant-based products should look at another option on this list.

Huge Supplements Vegan Protein isn’t just a solid vegan protein powder — it’s a solid protein powder in general. The complete amino acid profile and friendly macros make this a great choice to help support your goals, regardless of if you’re vegan or not.

Best Tasting Protein Powder

There are a lot of important things to consider when choosing a protein powder to support your goals. You can look at the macro split, the type of protein, the amino acid profile, and more. But none of those things matter if the stuff tastes so bad you can’t stomach it. No matter how good a protein powder is on paper, if you don’t like the taste and don’t drink it — it’s useless. Here’s our pick for best tasting protein powder. 

Onnit Whey Protein

Onnit is a whey protein isolate sourced from grass-fed New Zealand cows with a high leucine content. There are also a few extras included, like MCT oil powder, which can help it mix more smoothly. Onnit includes 20g of whey isolate and only 1.5g of fat and 3g of carbs per serving, along with some digestive enzymes and probiotics that can aid in digestion and absorption. That macro profile will net you either 110 calories for the Vanilla flavor, or 120 calories for the Mexican Chocolate flavor. The one downside is that it does pack less protein per serving than most other options on this list at 20g. If you’ve got allergies or intolerances, it’s worth noting that this product is free of gluten, soy, and lactose. 

Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

A grass-fed whey isolate includes added ingredients for digestion like seven digestive enzymes and a probiotic (lactobacillus acidophilus). It's also gluten-free, sugar-free, and soy-free.

Who Should Buy Onnit Whey Protein

  • Customers looking for a great tasting, easy-to-mix protein powder will like this formula. The MCT oil powder can help it mix smoothly, and we think the Mexican Chocolate flavor, in particular, is a crowd pleaser. 
  • Anyone who wants a protein powder that’s made in the classic flavors. Vanilla and chocolate may seem boring, but these are some of the best we’ve tried. 
  • Athletes who like to be sure a product they’re taking is free of banned substances. This product is Informed Sport Certified.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Onnit Whey Protein

  • Lifters looking for a lot of calories to fuel their training — this powder has only 110 or 120 calories per serving, depending on flavor.
  • Individuals who follow a vegan diet and would prefer a plant-based protein source.

Onnit didn’t make just another protein shake you’ll try to get down as quickly as possible and may need to chase. This protein mixes smoothly and tastes great. That, combined with the effective macro split, makes this a great option for those looking for great flavor and effectiveness.

Best Organic Protein Powder

If you’ve ever found yourself walking down the protein aisle, you may have noticed that finding a protein with an organic designation isn’t the easiest. In case you’ve been struggling to find a high quality organic protein powder, we’ve got you covered.

Kaged Plantein

Kaged Muscle’s Plantein is our selection for best organic protein powder — it’s vegan-friendly and fully loaded with key organic ingredients. Its plant-based protein formula packs 26 grams of plant-based protein in every scoop, and is soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. This organic blend of pea protein, quinoa, and peanut flour also provides a high-protein, low-carb, low-fat macronutrient breakdown, similar to whey isolate.

Also similar to whey, Plantein delivers a potent dose of all nine essential amino acids including 2.1 grams of leucine, which can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis. (3) The Ingredient Optimized® Technology can help improve digestibility to ensure you get the most out of every scoop. It’s available in three unique flavors, Peanut Butter Cookie, Banana Bread, and Cinnamon Roll.

Kaged Muscle Plantein
Kaged Muscle Plantein
Kaged Muscle Plantein

This plant-based formula is made from pea protein and boasts a macronutrient profile similar to whey — 26 grams of protein, four grams of carbs, and five grams of fat.

Who Should Buy Kaged Plantein

  • Anyone looking for an organic protein powder option that’s also vegan friendly.
  • People looking for an easily digestible plant-based protein thanks to Kaged’s Ingredient Optimized® Technology.
  • Customers looking for a transparent nutrition label, so they know exactly what’s in their protein powder will appreciate the straightforward ingredient list on this product. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Plantein

  • Those who prefer whey protein formulas instead of plant-based options. 
  • Shoppers looking for chocolate or vanilla options — this blend doesn’t offer those flavors.

Although protein powders that are designated as organic may be harder to come by, that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality. Kaged Muscle Plantein provides an organic protein formula that still packs a punch. With 26g of plant-based protein, and only four grams of fat and between two and four grams of carbs depending on flavor, this organic protein is a solid choice.

Best Protein Powder for Weight Gain

If you’re looking to gain weight, you’re likely trying to eat a lot more than most. For those who can’t possibly chew another bite, a mass gainer may be a great way to up your calorie intake, and this pick is one of the best. 

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

Amidst the sea of mass gainers loaded with cheap ingredients, this product rises above. Transparent Labs Mass Gainer serves up 740 calories of all-natural muscle fuel with each serving. This includes 53 grams of protein, 109 grams of carbs, eight additional grams of fiber, and 12 grams of fat.

Unlike some similar products, Transparent Labs Mass Gainer utilizes high-quality, all-natural ingredients that are easily digestible, such as grass-fed whey concentrate, coconut milk powder, MCT oils, sweet potatoes, tapioca, oats, along with stevia, and monk fruit sweeteners. It tastes great as well, which is a great perk when you’re struggling to ingest enough calories.

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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 Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

  • Those looking for a high-quality high-calorie protein powder to potentially aid in weight gain.
  • Anyone looking for a mass gainer that includes a solid dose of fiber as this product includes eight grams. 
  • People looking for a transparent nutrition label and all-natural ingredients in their protein powder will appreciate this product’s ingredient list. 

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

  • Folks looking for a true meal replacement shake — you’ll need to get your full daily doses of vitamins and minerals from additional sources. 
  • Lifters looking for some variety in taste. Transparent Labs Mass Gainer only comes in Cookies N Cream and Vanilla.
  • Shoppers that are on a tight budget — this product is more expensive than many protein powders.

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer is simple and effective — nothing fancy, just a lot of high-quality calories that are easy to digest.

Best Cheap Protein Powder

Everybody loves a bargain and protein powder is no exception to the rule. We know that price is a major factor when deciding which protein powder is right for you. Here is our pick for the protein powder that provides the best bang for your buck.

Muscle Feast 100% Whey

At only $32.99 for 36 servings (depending on where and when you buy, of course), Muscle Feast 100% Whey is by far the most wallet-friendly pick on this list. Each scoop still supplies 19 grams of their grass-fed protein blend per 25 gram serving. Muscle Feast’s 100% Whey formula is also vegetarian-friendlygluten-free, OU-D Kosher, and free of artificial hormones or sweeteners. It checks a lot of boxes for a protein powder that’s so easy on the checkbook. However, it only comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, or Unflavored, so there’s not a whole lot of variety in the flavor department. 

Muscle Feast 100% Whey
Muscle Feast 100% Whey
Muscle Feast 100% Whey

This product is easily one of the most affordable whey proteins on the market. Plus, it's all natural, vegetarian-friendly, grass-fed, and contains 19 grams of whey protein per serving.

Who Should Buy Muscle Feast 100% Whey

  • Athletes that are operating on a budget — this product is on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to price per serving.
  • Anyone requiring vegetarian, gluten-free, or OU-D Kosher protein options. 
  • People looking for an all-natural protein powder with a short list of ingredients will appreciate the label on this product.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Muscle Feast 100% Whey

  • Lifters looking for a calorie-dense protein powder — this powder only has 19 grams per serving.
  • Customers who prefer unique flavors. Muscle Feast 100% Whey is only offered in Chocolate, Vanilla, and Unflavored.
  • Individuals with lactose sensitivities — this product is not dairy-free.

If you’re looking for a quality protein powder at a lower price-point, Muscle Feast 100% Whey is a great option. Plus, it’s also vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free. 

Best Vanilla Protein Powder

Many protein powders on the market have a vanilla flavor option — it’s a classic. From the countless vanilla flavored options out there, this pick is a standout. 

Onnit Grass-Fed Whey

When it comes to vanilla protein powders, Onnit Grass-Fed Whey is one of the best. The taste is great, but that’s not the only thing we were impressed by. The quality-focused formula combines 20 grams of anabolic grass-fed whey isolate with seven digestive enzymes and a probiotic (lactobacillus acidophilus) making it one of the most unique products we’ve come across. If you’re on the hunt for a protein that’s gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free, or just easy on the stomach, Onnit Grass-Fed Whey is a solid option to consider. 

Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

A grass-fed whey isolate includes added ingredients for digestion like seven digestive enzymes and a probiotic (lactobacillus acidophilus). It's also gluten-free, sugar-free, and soy-free.

Who Should Buy Onnit Grass-Fed Whey

  • Anyone who prioritizes taste — this vanilla flavor is one of the best on the market. 
  • Folks who prefer natural sweeteners such as stevia and monk fruit extract.
  • Lifters looking for an easy-to-digest protein source. The inclusion of seven digestive enzymes and a probiotic really set this formula apart.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Onnit Grass-Fed Whey

  • Shoppers looking for a cheap protein option. Onnit Grass-Fed Whey has a cost of about $2 per scoop.
  • People looking for a minimalistic protein formula — this one also includes added ingredients like probiotics and digestive enzymes that may help with absorption. 

If you’re a big fan of vanilla, Onnit Grass-Fed Whey delivers with an unbelievable taste and an innovative digestive formula.

Best Chocolate Protein Powder

Since many protein powders come in a chocolate flavor, it’s a big deal to be called “the best” in this category, but this pick deserves it. 

Onnit Grass-Fed Whey

Onnit Grass-Fed Whey did it again with their Mexican Chocolate flavor — warm hints of cinnamon add a twist to the classic chocolate shake. In addition to the excellent taste, the list of ingredients is also hard to top. Onnit Grass-Fed Whey combines 20 grams of whey isolate sourced from free-roaming, grass-fed New Zealand dairy cows with seven digestive enzymes and lactobacillus acidophilus (a probiotic).

Not only does this formula feel light on your stomach before or after a hard training session, but the enhanced digestive benefits can help you maximize every gram of protein for proper recovery. If you’re looking for the perfect combination of taste and performance, we highly recommend the Mexican Chocolate Grass-Fed Whey by Onnit. 

Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Onnit's Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

A grass-fed whey isolate includes added ingredients for digestion like seven digestive enzymes and a probiotic (lactobacillus acidophilus). It's also gluten-free, sugar-free, and soy-free.

Who Should Buy Onnit Grass-Fed Whey

  • Anyone searching for a delicious protein source — the Mexican Chocolate flavor is both unique and delicious.
  • Lifters who want an easy-to-digest protein that won’t feel heavy in their gut before or after workouts.
  • People who want all-natural protein will appreciate that this pick is grass-fed and free of artificial ingredients.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Onnit Grass-Fed Whey

  • Penny pinchers – this is definitely one of the pricier options on our list.
  • Athletes looking to maximize protein intake while on restricted-calorie diets. Although one serving is only 110 calories, 35 of those calories come from carbs or fats.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better combination of flavor and performance. The Mexican Chocolate flavor takes your classic chocolate protein shake to new heights.

Best Keto Protein Powder

Following a ketogenic diet can be difficult, but the rewards can potentially be substantial. A good protein powder might help you stay on track better. Two things generally comprise a high quality keto-friendly protein: a solid dose of protein and minimal carbs. Our pick for best keto protein powder checks both those boxes, and then some.

Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder

Isopure has been making high-quality protein powder for years and their distinct branding makes their products easy to spot. Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder is a high-quality whey isolate with just protein, vitamins, and minerals. Each scoop has 100 calories that packs in 25 grams of whey protein isolate with zero carbs and zero fat. For anyone trying to stick to a ketogenic diet, having a formula without any carbs is key.

The included vitamins and minerals may be helpful to fill any gaps if you’re under certain food restrictions during your keto diet. Isopure mainly makes their protein powder in Vanilla with other flavors being harder to find, although you may find Chocolate on occasion. With no sugar, fat, carbs, lactose, gluten, or artificial ingredients this protein powder is about as pure as it gets.

Isopure Zero Carb
Isopure Zero Carb
Isopure Zero Carb

Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder provides a whopping 25g grams of protein with zero carbs and zero fat per 100 calories scoop. This zero carb protein supplement is also packed with vitamins and minerals that can help support your keto diet, and fill micronutrient gaps.

Who Should Buy Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder

  • Anyone looking for a keto-friendly protein powder without any carbs will find this pick to be a great option.
  • People who prefer a minimalist approach when selecting a protein powder. Isopure keeps their products as straightforward as possible with just protein. No artificial ingredients here.
  • Athletes looking for a whey protein isolate powder in which 100 percent of the calories come from protein.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder

  • Anyone who is picky about the texture and flavor of their shakes. By cutting out so many other ingredients, the powders don’t always mix as nicely.
  • Shoppers who are budget conscious might want to search for another option. Isopure is on the pricier side with 20 servings costing $29.99, or $1.49 per serving.
  • People who get bored with flavors quickly. Isopure is mainly available in Vanilla with other flavors more difficult to come by, but you can find Chocolate on occasion too.

Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder delivers 25 grams of high-quality whey protein isolate without any carbs, fats, or fillers. If you’re adhering to a ketogenic diet, this product is an easy way to increase your protein intake and might even help with some of those hunger pangs and cravings.

Best Pea Protein Powder

Not all protein powders are whey-based. This pea protein isolate provides all the protein power of whey-based options in a highly-digestible plant-based formula.

Kaged Plantein

Kaged Muscle’s Plantein covers all nine essential amino acids with its 26 grams of pea-based protein. Most plant-based powders are derived from sources like hemp or oats and contain substantial amounts of carbs and fats, which tend to inflate the calorie count compared to whey protein powders.

Plantein’s unique blend of pea protein, organic quinoa, and peanut flour, however, is much more macro-friendly with only five grams of carbs and four grams of fat. At 86 percent protein-by-weight, this pea-protein packs a mighty punch. Ingredient Optimized® Technology aids digestion to improve the bioavailability of the amino acids in Plantein where other pea protein blends fall short.

Kaged Muscle Plantein
Kaged Muscle Plantein
Kaged Muscle Plantein

This plant-based formula is made from pea protein and boasts a macronutrient profile similar to whey — 26 grams of protein, four grams of carbs, and five grams of fat.

Who Should Buy Kaged Plantein

  • Anyone looking for a plant-based substitute for whey that doesn’t pack a lot of carbs.
  • Those in search of an easily digestible plant-based protein. Plantein’s Ingredient Optimized® Technology improves amino acid bioavailability. 
  • People looking for a potent dose of BCAAs and EAAs in their protein powder.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Plantein

  • Shoppers who buy in bulk quantities. Plantein only comes in a 15-serving tub.
  • Lifters who prefer the classic chocolate or vanilla flavors. Plantein only comes in Peanut Butter Cookie, Cinnamon Roll, and Banana Bread.

With a highly digestible dose of 26 grams of protein and a macro split that is similar to whey protein powders, Plantein is a solid pea-based protein choice regardless of your goals.

Best Protein Powder for Women

A lot of the protein powders on the market are targeted at men, but this one is specifically made for women. It offers both great macros and fun flavors that can help you stay hooked.

Ideallean Protein Powder

Ideallean brands itself as a protein shake for women, but really anyone can take it. What makes this our pick for best protein powder for women is that it keeps the calories low without adding in any extra carbs or fat. It packs in around 20g of whey protein isolate and only 2g of carb per 100-calorie serving, depending on the flavor. There is zero added sugar and a variety of flavors to choose from. Most of the flavors are made to replicate favorite breakfast cereals and cravings like Fruity Cereal, Birthday Cake, Caramel Mocha, and White Chocolate Peppermint. Ideallean also offers variety packs where you can try a single serving of a bunch of different flavors to find your favorite or keep things fresh.

IdealLean Protein Shake
IdealLean Protein Shake
IdealLean Protein Shake

Ideallean Protein Powder was designed with the needs of women in mind. The fun variety of flavors means you’ll be able to switch up flavors often to avoid boredom. Each scoop contains 20g of protein and around 100 calories.

Who Should Buy Ideallean Protein Powder

  • Women looking for a low-calorie protein powder that may help support their fitness goals will appreciate that this formula is made specifically for women.
  • If you’re extra conscious of your sugar intake and are looking for a sugar-free protein powder, this pick is for you. 
  • Athletes who are tired of the typical chocolate and vanilla flavors and want more interesting flavors to choose from. Cold-Brew Coffee protein powder anyone?

Who Shouldn’t Buy Ideallean Protein Powder

  • Athletes who prefer a pure whey isolate protein powder over a blend for potentially easier digestion.
  • Shoppers who are looking to add some mass, as this product is light on calories and not ideal for those looking to bulk.
  • Anyone looking for protein powder free of artificial sweeteners. This is sweetened with sucralose.

Ideallean’s protein powder is low in calories and has no sugar, making it great for women looking to get more protein without unnecessary calories. The option to get sample-size packs make this a great choice for women on the go, as well. 

The Different Types of Protein Powder

The protein powders on this list are all derived from either whey or pea sources. Whey comes from milk and is a byproduct of cheesemaking whereas pea proteins are plant-based. The protein from the whey or peas can then be dried to make a protein concentrate or it can be filtered down even further to create a protein isolate.

Protein Powder
Image via Shutterstock/BLACKDAY

Less-processed whey concentrates are usually about 80 percent protein by weight and contain more carbohydrates (lactose and sugar) and fats than the isolate options. The extra filtration involved in producing the whey and pea protein isolates means that they are usually around 90 percent protein by weight with fewer carbs and fat. Whey protein isolates will still have about 1 gram of lactose per scoop, however, while pea protein isolates do not contain any lactose.

The Benefits of Protein Powder

Mounting evidence suggests that a high-protein diet can safely have positive effects on body composition (increased lean mass and decreased fat mass). (1) A high-protein diet has also been reported to help improve muscle recovery after a tough training session. (2) Sometimes it can be difficult to eat enough protein throughout the day though, which is where protein powders come in. 

Protein powders provide a large dose of protein in shake-form (when mixed with water, or dairy or non-dairy milk) to help you meet your dietary needs and keep you on track. Whether your goal is to build muscle or burn fat, supplementing your diet with a protein powder can help you maximize results.

How Much is Protein Powder?

Instead of determining the value of a protein powder based on the price per pound, try calculating the price per gram of protein. That’s why you’re buying it after all. A typical price range for whey protein is somewhere between four and six cents per gram of protein.

Best Protein Powder Overall Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate  $62.99

$2.09 per serving

Best Protein Powder for Muscle Gain Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate  $62.99

$2.09 per serving

Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss Onnit Whey Protein  $59.95

$1.99 per serving

Best Vegan Protein Powder (Plant-Based) Huge Supplements Vegan Protein $39.95

$1.59 per serving

Best Tasting Protein Powder Onnit Whey Protein $59.95

$1.99 per serving

Best Organic Protein Powder KAGED Plantein $29.99

$1.99 per serving

Best Protein Powder for Weight Gain Transparent Labs Mass Gainer $69.00

$4.60 per serving 

Best Cheap Protein Powder Muscle Feast 100% Whey $32.99

$0.92 per serving

Best Vanilla Protein Powder Onnit Whey Protein $59.95

$1.99 per serving

Best Chocolate Protein Powder Onnit Whey Protein $59.95

$1.99 per serving

Best Keto Protein Powder Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder $19.98

$1.33 per serving

Best Pea Protein Powder KAGED Plantein $29.99

$1.99 per serving

Best Protein Powder for Women Ideallean Protein Powder $32.49

$1.08 per serving

Depending on the transparency of the brand and the ingredients included in your protein powder, the price will fluctuate. The more natural, transparent, and extensive the label, the higher the price. The more basic the powder, the lower the price. But overall, when considering cost, you’ll want to look at what you’re paying per gram or per serving, rather than what you’re paying per container. 

When Should I Take Protein Powder?

There really is no “best time” to drink your protein shake. Contrary to the myths you may have heard, you aren’t going to lose all your gains if you don’t drink your shake within 30 minutes of your workout. The main priority, instead, should be to make sure you are consuming enough protein overall throughout the day. Getting some protein in right before or immediately after a training session is certainly not going to hurt, but as long as your daily protein and calorie requirements are met you’ll be on track regardless of when you decide to enjoy your shake (3)(4)(5).

How We Chose the Best

With so many protein supplements available on the market these days, there’s a lot to consider when deciding the best products out there. Plenty of internet “experts” will try to convince you that their brand is unquestionably the best. We know that the best choice will vary from person to person though, so we’ve considered factors like ingredients, price, flavor, and more to compile an extensive list of viable protein powder options for just about anyone that is looking to add more protein to their diet

Plenty of Protein

This seems a bit obvious, but the first item on our checklist for a great protein powder is a potent dose of protein. Afterall, that’s what you’re here for. A greater daily intake of high-quality protein has been associated with such benefits as increased lean mass, lower body fat percentage, and bone mineral health. (6) Most of our selections supply around 25 grams of protein per serving with all of them offering at least 19 grams per scoop in the form of an isolate or an isolate-blend. 

Digestibility

While whey protein isolates are typically low in fat and carbs they may also contain additives like digestive enzymes that help with absorption. Several of our selections include a supportive digestion formula that enables your body to utilize nutrients more effectively. For example, some of the selections on this list include ProHydrolase® or a multi-enzyme blend, which aids in the process of breaking protein powder down into smaller particles.

Protein Powder
Image via Shutterstock/Pixel-Shot

Some selections also contain a probiotic, which is a friendly bacterium that aids in digestive processes within the gastrointestinal tract. For athletes, there is evidence that probiotics can improve recovery, endurance, insulin sensitivity while decreasing oxidative stress, inflammation, and even anxiety. (7)(8)(9)(10)(11)(12)(13)

Macronutrient Breakdown

Protein, fat, and carbs are what we call macronutrients (macros). These are the three primary sources of calories in our food. Each macro plays a set of different roles within the body, and the intake of each can be manipulated to better achieve certain fitness goals (e.g. gain muscle or lose weight). (14)(15)(16)(17) The amount of each macro that we choose to eat can be broken down into a ratio that we call a macro split. The protein powder options provided in this list can be used to help you stay on track. If you’re not sure what your daily macro split should be, you can use this handy calculator to dial it in based on your goals.

Quality Control

Each of the picks have been third-party tested for heavy metals, antibiotics, pesticides, and mycotoxins. Since these ingredients can be toxic for humans, companies ensure there are no impurities in their products before they hit the market. All of the companies in this list perform on-going third-party testing, so you won’t have to worry about quality control when you grab one of these supplements off the shelf. 

Flavors

We understand that if a protein shake is not palatable, the quality of the ingredients become obsolete. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on a product, it is important that you actually enjoy consuming it. Every individual has their subjective flavor preferences, so each person will like or dislike various flavors. Rest assured though, that none of the picks on this list are objectively bad-tasting. We can’t promise you will love every single flavor, but we’re pretty sure you won’t hate any of them.

What to Consider Before Buying Protein Powder

Since there are so many options on the market, before you decide which one is best for you, you have a lot of factors to take into consideration. For example, different athletes are going to want different kinds of protein powder depending on what their goals are in the gym. That’s just one aspect you need to consider — keep on reading for a few more tips. 

Your Training Goals

Ultimately, your fitness goals should influence which protein powder you choose. Are you interested in getting lean or do you want to put on some size?

Protein Powder
Image via Shutterstock/Room 76

If you have aspirations of getting shredded, you’ll want to prioritize selecting a protein that delivers maximal protein content with as few calories as possible. If getting big is your goal, you won’t need to be as conservative with your calories and may even want to add some with a mass gainer.

Lactose Sensitivity

If you do happen to be sensitive to lactose, you’ll want to be cognizant of the type of protein powder you purchase. While it may only be two or three grams, whey concentrate does contain more lactose than whey isolate protein and may not sit well with some. Those sensitive to lactose may prefer to stick with whey isolates or lactose-free plant-based options, such as pea protein.

Final Word

Protein powders are an effective and tasty way to increase your daily protein intake. Regardless of your goals, you’ll find something on this list that will help support your training and recovery. We’ve taken ingredients, effectiveness, taste and plenty of other factors into consideration to help you find the best option to suit your training and lifestyle. 

Before you decide which one to buy, you’ll also want to consider how each product may fit into your daily routine. No product on this list is a perfect fit for every single person, so make sure you’re choosing the one that is best for you personally, rather than the least expensive product or the one that’s listed as the “Best Overall.” Once you know what you want, all that’s left for you to do is to choose a flavor, add to cart, and get to mixing. 

FAQs

Is whey protein worth the money?

The short answer is, yes. Protein powders, particularly the ones on this list, provide a high-quality source of protein at a lower price-per-gram than whole food options. They also do so with fewer calories from fats or carbohydrates. If you’re looking to consume more protein in your diet, protein powders are absolutely a great way to accomplish that.

Does whey protein contain lactose?

Whey protein does contain some lactose, but only trace amounts. Typically, whey concentrate contains around three grams and a scoop of whey isolate will only contain about one gram of lactose. This is usually not enough to bother even those with a lactose intolerance.

Should I worry about consuming too much protein?

How much protein you should consume will depend on factors such as your body mass, training regimen, and current goals. If you go over those recommended numbers though, there is nothing to worry about. In the absence of any underlying condition, there is no evidence that there are any harmful health effects from consuming “too much protein.” However, it is always recommended to consult your physician if you have concerns regarding excessive protein intake.

References

  1. Antonio, J., Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Ormsbee, M. J., Saracino, P. G., & Roberts, J. (2020). Effects of dietary protein on body composition in exercising individuals. Nutrients, 12(6), 1890.
  2. Davies, R. W., Carson, B. P., & Jakeman, P. M. (2018). The effect of whey protein supplementation on the temporal recovery of muscle function following resistance training: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrients, 10(2), 221.
  3. Hoffman JR, et al. Effect of protein-supplement timing on strength, power, and body-composition changes in resistance-trained men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2009 Apr;19(2):172-85.
  4. Aragon AA, et al. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Jan 29;10(1):5.
  5. Schoenfeld BJ, et al. The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Dec 3;10(1):53.
  6. Loenneke, J. P., Balapur, A., Thrower, A. D., Syler, G., Timlin, M., & Pujol, T. J. (2010). Relationship between quality protein, lean mass and bone health. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 57(3-4), 219-220.
  7. Pyne, D.B. et al. Probiotics supplementation for athletes – clinical and physiological effects. Eur J Sport Sci. 2015;15(1):63-72.
  8. Nichols, A.W. Probiotics and athletic performance: a systematic review. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2007 Jul;6(4):269-73.
  9. Hsu, Y.J. et al. Effect of intestinal microbiota on exercise performance in mice. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Feb;29(2):552-8.
  10. Jäger, R. et al. Probiotic Streptococcus thermophilus FP4 and Bifidobacterium breve BR03 Supplementation Attenuates Performance and Range-of-Motion Decrements Following Muscle Damaging Exercise. Nutrients. 2016 Oct 14;8(10).
  11. Jäger, R. et al. Probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and increases recovery. PeerJ. 2016 Jul 21;4:e2276.
  12. Messaoudi, M. et al. Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2011 Mar;105(5):755-64.
  13. Schmidt, K. et al. Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 May;232(10):1793-801.
  14. Rodriguez NR, et al. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Mar;109(3):509-27.
  15. Burke LM, et al. International Association of Athletics Federations Consensus Statement 2019: Nutrition for Athletics. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019 Mar 1;29(2):73-84.
  16. Helms ER, et al. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 May 12;11:20.
  17. Longland TM, et al. Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):738-46.