Maybe your health goal for the year is to lose weight, build muscle or recover faster after a workout. All of these can be accomplished with the assistance of a protein drink, but you’ll need to pay close attention to the ingredients and intended use. If you’re familiar with protein powders, you might have other factors in mind, such as the type of protein and even the available flavors.
If you’re new to protein powders or could use some more guidance as you shop, consider the following tips to help narrow down the options.
Goals: Your goals will strongly influence your buying decision. Many protein powders are manufactured with a specific goal in mind. For example, those with a higher protein content are best for building muscle and recovering quickly after a workout, while powders with a higher amount of fiber will keep you feeling full for longer and can be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight.
Ingredients: Whey protein is one of the most common ingredients in many of today’s protein powders, and comes in concentrate and isolate forms. Compared to whey protein, whey isolate offers a higher protein content with less lactose, making it a better choice for those with lactose intolerance.
Another common ingredient is branched-chain amino acid (BCAA). Many whey protein powders also include BCAAs, which may be especially helpful for gaining and maintaining muscle mass. However, they can also promote weight gain and may not be the best choice if you’re trying to lose weight.
Flavor and consistency: If you’re like most people, you prefer to drink something that actually tastes good. Popular protein drink flavors include chocolate, vanilla, and fruits such as strawberry and banana. You can also find some unflavored powders.
Some powders are thinner, which makes them easier to mix with water and other liquids. However, some find that the flavor is a bit diluted compared with thicker powders. In some cases, the powder is quite thick and is best when mixed with a shaker bottle or in a blender.
If you want even more options, check out more protein powders on Amazon. For more information, check out 7 Tips for Choosing the Best Protein Powder for You or Choosing The Best Protein Powder For You: Some Questions To Ask Yourself!
1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder
The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder, made with 100 percent whey protein, has 24 grams of protein per serving to help build muscle and strength in conjunction with regular exercise. Mix it into water or another beverage first thing in the morning, or right before or after a workout for faster muscle recovery. The gluten-free powder comes in multiple flavors and sizes.
- Dissolves quickly and easily
- Available in several flavors and sizes
- Helps build muscle and strength
- A bit pricey
- Some find it tastes too bland when mixed with water
- May clump when mixed with hot liquid
2. BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder
If you’re looking for a protein powder with a rich milkshake taste, consider the BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder. You’ll find this protein powder in several different flavors and sizes. Each serving delivers 22 grams of protein, five grams of fiber and 10 grams of essential amino acids. The result is a filling drink that supports muscle growth and assists in post-workout recovery. You don’t need to consume this protein powder at a specific time to enjoy its benefits.
- Delicious milkshake taste
- 22 grams of protein per serving
- Doesn’t need to be consumed at a specific time
- A few find the sugar content a bit too high
- Several note the cookie flavor has small granules that don’t dissolve
- Some mention it’s relatively high in cholesterol
3. Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder
If flavored protein powders aren’t really your thing, consider the unflavored Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder. However, you can also find it in several different flavors if you prefer more of a taste. Each serving delivers 25 grams of protein from 100 percent whey protein isolate. The formula is glucose and lactose free and is available in zero and low carb options. Vitamins, minerals and glutamine are added to the formula. This powder is ideal for building and repairing muscles after a workout. You can also use it to add protein to your diet, and to maintain weight. For best results, consume after a workout, first thing in the morning or in between meals.
- 25 grams of protein per scoop
- Formula is glucose and lactose free
- Some mention it clumps a bit when mixing with liquid
- A few note the unflavored version has an unpleasant after-taste
4. Vega One All-In-One Plant Based Protein Powder
Vega One All-In-One Protein Powder is a plant-based formula that delivers 20 grams of protein per serving. Unlike some supplements and protein drinks on the market, this one is made entirely with plant-based food ingredients. It also contains half the recommended daily value of minerals and vitamins. The vegan certified formula is made without soy or dairy ingredients. It’s also gluten free.
- Plant-based formula
- Made without soy or dairy ingredients
- Contains 20 grams of protein per serving
- Slightly grainy texture
- Some find certain flavors too sweet
- A few consumers are upset that it contains Stevia
5. EAS Pure Whey Protein Powder
If you’re looking for more protein per serving, consider the EAS Pure Whey Protein Powder. This powder delivers 30 grams of protein per serving, which helps build muscle and promotes faster recovery after a workout. The 100 percent pure whey protein powder doesn’t include any fillers or added sugars. For best results, drink within 30 minutes following a workout.
Price: $16.09 (33 percent off MSRP)
- 30 grams of protein per serving
- Doesn’t contain any fillers or added sugar
- Available in three flavors
- Some mention there’s a bit of an aftertaste
- Contains some artificial flavors, including sucralose and xanthan gum
- A few mention it clumps a bit when mixed with water
6. MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder
MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder caters to fitness enthusiasts of all levels, even up to elite athletes. The gluten-free blend includes five different sources of protein, including whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate, micellar casein and egg albumin. The proteins digest at various levels to provide longer-lasting fuel. Each serving delivers 25 grams of protein. This powder contains just five grams of carbs per serving and is ideal for building lean muscle mass, boosting performance and speeding up recovery after a workout. For best results, consume in the morning, before or after a workout, or at night.
- Has five protein sources
- Only has five grams of carbs per serving
- Ideal for building lean muscle mass
- Contains common food allergens, including soy, eggs and milk
- Doesn’t mix as readily with liquid as some other protein powders
- A handful of consumers mention certain flavors are quite sweet
7. FitMiss Delight Protein Powder
FitMiss Delight Protein Powder is specifically formulated for women. With 16 grams of protein per serving, it’s designed to satisfy hunger while helping to build and maintain lean muscle mass. The formula is gluten-free and is low in carbohydrates and calories. Additionally, each serving delivers the right amount of vitamins, protein and minerals for most women. Choose between the three available flavors and two sizes.
- Specially formulated for women
- Low in calories and carbohydrates
- 16 grams of protein per serving
- Relatively limited selection of flavors
- A bit thin when mixed with water
- Some find certain flavors a bit too sweet
8. Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder
In addition to whey protein isolate, Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder also features native whey. The benefit of native whey is that it’s the least-processed protein currently available, as it’s filtered directly from high-quality milk. This protein powder contains 25 grams of fast-absorbing protein per serving, which is why it’s particularly useful for post-workout recovery and muscle building. The formula is gluten-free and doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients.
- Fast-absorbing protein
- Zero artificial ingredients
- Optimal for post-workout recovery
- A bit pricey
- Some find it a bit too thin/bland when mixed with water
- A few wish there was a wider selection of flavors
9. Less Naked Whey Chocolate Protein
Less Naked Whey Chocolate Protein contains just three ingredients: whey protein concentrate, organic coconut sugar and organic cacao powder. As an added bonus, the powder is cold pressed to protect against contamination from heavy metals and chemical detergents. If you’re in the market for a more natural protein powder that doesn’t have a dizzying list of ingredients on its label, consider this protein power. Each serving yields 25 grams of protein, five grams of sugar and eight grams of carbs. This protein powder is ideal for assisting in muscle growth and recovery. Flavor options include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and unflavored.
- Only contains three ingredients
- 25 grams of protein per serving
- Best for muscle growth and recovery
- Requires a shaker bottle or blender for best results
- Some complain that the mixture remains quite foamy after blending
- Not very low in calories
10. PaleoPro Paleo Protein Powder
The PaleoPro Paleo Protein Powder is a paleo-friendly mix that includes real protein sources, such as egg whites and grass-fed beef. This blend features a minimal amount of processing and doesn’t contain lactose, added antibiotics or hormones, artificial ingredients or whey. The result is 25 grams of natural protein powder per serving.
- Paleo-friendly ingredients
- Minimal processing
- 25 grams of protein per serving
- Ingredients such as egg protein and beef protein isolate can be off-putting to some
- Several note it doesn’t blend well, especially in water
- Relatively high price tag