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

Discover which protein powder 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. Protein powders provide an easy and effective way to boost your daily intake to keep you on track. With so many options out there, it can be difficult to know which shakes 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? Great results. This pick combines highly anabolic whey protein isolate with a blend of digestive enzymes, so you can get the most out of every scoop.

Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

Each scoop of Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate packs 25 whole grams of protein with only one gram of fat and six grams of carbs per serving. Kaged Muscle’s formula also includes ProHydrolase®, an enzyme blend designed to break down that protein and help your body absorb and utilize every gram more efficiently to reach your goals faster. Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate comes in six delicious flavors to help keep you from ever getting tired of the same old taste.

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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 Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Anyone who wants a product with digestive support to maximize absorption will appreciate the ProHydrolase in this formula.
  • Customers who want added BCAAs in their protein powder to ensure optimal muscle recovery. 
  • Athletes who like trying exciting and innovative flavors. This product comes in six different flavor options.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Anyone who may want a 100% plant-based protein powder. This product does contain whey protein, which is animal-based. 
  • Athletes looking for a high-calorie formula to fuel performance may want to look elsewhere. 

The high density of anabolic whey protein isolate combined with a digestive enzyme blend make this a powerhouse protein powder that is — in our opinion — totally worth the price. 

Best Protein Powder for Muscle Gain

Protein is king when it comes to building muscle. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense formula to help pack on the gains, this pick is for you.

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

Transparent Labs wasn’t messing around with this formula – it’s made with grass-fed whey isolate, natural flavor, salt, and stevia – that’s it. With an 88 percent protein-by-weight ratio, each scoop serves up 28 grams of ultra-high quality grass-fed whey isolate to support muscle recovery and growth. That’s the highest dose of protein you’ll find on this list. Even better, there’s not much else to this protein powder – just a small dose of calcium, iron, and potassium to round out the blend.

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Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

This transparent ingredient list includes a dose of calcium, iron, and potassium with 28 grams of protein, all from a company that goes out of its way to provide clear sourcing.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

  • Athletes looking for a simple whey protein formula that nixes artificial additives.
  • Anyone looking for a grass-fed protein that tastes great, but uses stevia instead of sugar.
  • People who are concerned about only consuming all-natural ingredients will appreciate the ingredient list on this blend.

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

  • Shoppers looking for a less expensive protein source. A single tub of 30 servings is priced at $59.
  • Those looking for flavor variety. This product doesn’t have nearly as many options as some other protein powders on this list.
  • Folks looking for an ultra smooth texture — the trade-off for not including thickeners or gums is the mixability.

Transparent Labs’ Grass-Fed Whey Isolate is the perfect example of “you get what you pay for.” It may be on the pricier side, but when it comes to fueling muscle growth, this formula is all gas and no brakes.

Best Protein Powder for Women

Women often don’t need a protein powder high in calories or carbs. For goal-oriented women looking to balance health and performance, Cira’s women-centric whey is just for you.

Cira Bright Whey

Cira is a brand that designs their products specifically with the needs of women in mind. Bright Whey combines some pretty tasty flavors with a protein blend crafted to support any fitness goal. With a short ingredients list and a transparent label, you can feel confident that you know exactly what is in your protein powder. Each scoop is loaded with 25 grams of protein and only 2 grams of carbs and 1.5 grams of fat with a total of only 120 calories per serving. Bright Whey also skips the sugar and replaces it with the natural sweetener stevia to create its Cinnamon Swirl and Cookies ‘N Cream flavors.

Cira Bright Whey
Cira Bright Whey
Cira Bright Whey

Cira targets female consumers specifically, but this protein powder is great for anyone who wants a tasty blend that’s low in calories and carbs. Bright Whey comes in two great flavors — Cinnamon Swirl and Cookies ‘N Cream.

Who Should Buy Cira Bright Whey

  • Women looking for a low-calorie protein powder that may help support their fitness goals. 
  • 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.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Cira Bright Whey

  • Lifters who prefer a pure whey protein isolate instead of a blend.
  • Shoppers who like buying their supplements in-person. As of now, Bright Whey is only available through the Cira website.

With a short and sweet list of ingredients, Bright Whey is a great option for women who are conscious of their calorie, carb, and sugar intake, and are looking to add more protein to their daily routine.

Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss

When trying to lose weight, it’s important to make sure you aren’t consuming needless calories. This pick has a lean formula complete with all of what you need and none of what you don’t.

Xwerks Grow

Xwerks Grow strips protein powder down to the bare essentials. It contains 25 grams of whey protein isolate with no carbs and no fat. This is one of the best macro splits for those who are trying to maintain a caloric deficit. If your goal is to build lean muscle, you’ll be hard pressed to find a leaner protein powder formula than this. With no lactose, soy, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, or artificial colors, each scoop of Xwerks Grow is about 93 percent grass-fed whey protein isolate by weight. This formula is perfectly designed to provide the nutrients your muscles need to recover while minimizing calories to potentially help with fat loss.

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Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow

One of the very few protein powders with no carbs or fat whatsoever, this product contains 25 grams of whey protein isolate and is great for anyone looking for a leaner protein option. Get 10% off with discount code BARBEND10

Who Should Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Anyone in need of a low-calorie protein powder that can potentially assist in weight loss.
  • Athletes looking for protein powders that utilize sugar-free sweeteners such as stevia.
  • People who are concerned about only consuming all-natural ingredients will like the ingredients list on this formula.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Shoppers looking for a cheap protein powder. Xwerks Grow runs at $49 for 30 servings (shipping is free though).
  • Those looking for exciting flavors. Xwerks Grow only comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, and Peanut Butter. Nothing fancy here, just basic flavors that get the job done.

Xwerks Grow has high quality ingredients in their minimalist formula. If you’re in need of a protein powder that can potentially help support building lean muscle mass while cutting weight, this is a solid protein supplement for you.

Best Vegan Protein Powder

Getting in enough protein can be even more challenging when trying to do so with strictly vegan sources. This pea protein isolate provides all the protein power of the other whey-based options in a delicious 100 percent plant-based vegan formula.

Kaged Plantein

Kaged Muscle’s Plantein is a pea-based protein formula packing 26 grams of protein in every scoop. The major edge that Plantein has might actually be what’s not in the scoop though. Most plant-based powders tend to have more calories coming from carbs and fats compared to whey protein powders. Plantein has cut those extra calories out with their unique blend of pea protein, organic quinoa, and peanut flour to bring you those 26 grams of protein in a more macro-friendly formula with only five grams of carbs and four grams of fat. 

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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. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off your purchase. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Plantein

  • Customers looking for a vegan alternative to whey protein will like this product’s plant-based formula. 
  • Anyone looking for an easily digestible plant-based protein. Plantein’s Ingredient Optimized® Technology improves amino acid bioavailability to maximize benefits. 
  • People interested in trying flavors outside of the basic chocolate and vanilla. Plantein comes in three flavors – Peanut Butter Cookie, Cinnamon Roll, and Banana Bread.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Plantein

  • Anyone whose favorite flavors are classic flavors, like vanilla and chocolate. 
  • Lifters who prefer to consume whey protein products over plant-based protein products.

Plantein isn’t just a solid vegan protein powder option — it’s a really solid option overall. With a highly digestible dose of all nine essential amino acids and a friendly macro split, Plantein is a great choice to support your goals — vegan or not.

Best Tasting Protein Powder

Let’s be real, the first thing you look at when picking out a protein powder is likely not the nutrition label — it’s the flavor. The ingredients are important, but if it doesn’t taste good, the ingredients probably won’t matter as you won’t be able to stand drinking the shake. Here’s our pick for best tasting protein powder.

Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

The only thing better than great flavors is multiple great flavors. Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate does not disappoint with six delicious options — Coffee Latte, Cinnamon French Toast, Chocolate Peanut Butter, S’mores, Chocolate, and Vanilla. This easily mixable whey isolate won’t just please your taste buds — it also packs 25 grams of highly anabolic whey protein isolate and additional essential amino acids to fuel muscle recovery into its powder, along with a digestive enzyme blend designed to help maximize absorption for potentially better results. 

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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 Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Customers looking for a great tasting, easy-to-mix protein powder option will like this formula.
  • Anyone who wants added BCAAs in their protein powder. 
  • Athletes who are tired of the typical chocolate and vanilla flavors and want more unique flavors to choose from.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Lifters looking for a lot of calories to fuel their training — this powder has only 130 calories per serving.
  • Individuals who follow a vegan diet and would prefer a plant-based protein source.

This isn’t just another protein shake you’ll want to choke down as quickly as possible. Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate hits you with incredible flavors and follows it up with highly effective ingredients.

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.

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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. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off your purchase. 

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 Keto Protein Powder

A keto-friendly protein powder typically starts with two key characteristics: a solid dose of protein and minimal carb content. Our pick for best keto protein powder checks those boxes and then some.

Xwerks Grow

Xwerks Grow is a high-quality bare essentials formula. The formula packs 25 grams of whey protein isolate in each scoop without any carbs. For those trying to stick to a ketogenic diet, having a formula without any carbs is key. With no lactose, soy, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, or artificial colors, about 93 percent of each scoop is pure grass-fed whey protein isolate. If you are looking for a protein powder that can help feed your muscles without the extra carbs, Xwerks Grow is our pick.

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Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow

One of the very few protein powders with no carbs or fat whatsoever, this product contains 25 grams of whey protein isolate and is great for anyone looking for a leaner protein option. Get 10% off with discount code BARBEND10

Who Should Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Anyone looking for a keto-friendly protein powder without any carbs will find this pick to be a great option.
  • Individuals that prefer sugar-free sweeteners like stevia, which Xwerks uses in their powder.
  • Athletes looking for a whey protein isolate powder that is over 90 percent protein.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Folks who are picky about the texture of their shake — by cutting out ingredients such as lecithin, the mixability of these shakes suffers a bit.
  • Shoppers on a budget — Xwerks Grow costs $49 for 30 servings.
  • People who get bored with flavors quickly. Xwerks Grow only comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, and Peanut Butter.

Xwerks Grow delivers high-quality protein without any carbs or fillers. For those adhering to a ketogenic diet, this is an easy way to increase your protein intake.

Best Organic Protein Powder

The organic designation is not an easy one to come by in the protein aisle. If you’ve been struggling to find an organic protein powder, this pick has 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 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 stimulates muscle protein synthesis. The Ingredient Optimized® Technology can help improve digestibility to ensure you get the most out of every scoop.

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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. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off your purchase. 

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 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.

Best Protein Powder for Building Muscle

You can’t build a strong house with weak bricks. The same goes for building muscle and your choice of protein sources. If you’re looking for a protein powder designed to help build strong, dense muscle, check out this pick.

Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate was designed with the goal of enhancing muscle recovery to help you pack on muscle. It combines 25 grams of anabolic whey protein isolate with an additional blend of BCAAs that may help bolster muscle repair and growth. A digestive enzyme blend supports the absorption and utilization of these muscle-building compounds. With delicious flavors like Coffee Latte, Cinnamon French Toast, Chocolate Peanut Butter, S’mores, Chocolate, and Vanilla that are easy to mix, Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate makes for a strong addition to anyone’s muscle building toolbox. 

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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 Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Customers looking for a protein powder with added BCAAs to support recovery.
  • Anyone who likes having a variety of flavors to choose from — this pick has six.
  • Athletes in need of a protein powder that’s easy to digest will like that his powder contains a digestive enzyme blend.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Individuals in search of a high-calorie protein powder to fuel their training sessions — this powder only has 130 calories per serving.
  • Those that follow a vegan diet or just prefer plant-based protein sources.

In addition to hard training, building muscle requires a solid nutritional foundation of proper fuel. Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate provides a high-quality source of protein to support your gains and keep you growing.

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 a 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-friendly, gluten-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 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.

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 Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate $44.99

$1.15 per serving

Best Vegan Protein Powder Kaged Plantein $29.99

$2.00 per serving

Best Tasting Protein Powder Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate $44.99

$1.15 per serving

Best Protein Powder for Women Cira Bright Whey $39.99

$1.33 per serving

Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss Xwerks Grow $49.00

$1.63 per serving

Best Protein Powder for Muscle Gain Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate $59.00

$1.97 per serving

Best Pea Protein Kaged Plantein $29.99

$2.00 per serving

Best Keto Protein Powder Xwerks Grow $49.00

$1.63 per serving

Best Organic Protein Powder Kaged Plantein $29.99

$2.00 per serving

Best Protein Powder for Building Muscle Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate $44.99

$1.15 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

$2.00 per serving

Best Chocolate Protein Powder Onnit Whey Protein $59.95

$2.00 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.