How We Choose The Best Protein Powders
Our team of fitness editors, athletes, and nutrition advisors helped select the candidates for the best protein powders for every goal based on nutritional quality, taste, value, and customer feedback.
To choose our top picks, we took it a step further and used the following criteria:
- Customer Ratings and Reviews: Our customers take their protein very seriously, and they let us know through their purchases, ratings, and feedback. Every protein on this list has thousands of enthusiastic reviews and top ratings backing it up.
- Formula: Sure, the amount of protein in a serving of a powder matters. But more important is how it’s produced, the macronutrient profile, and the track record of the manufacturer. It’s important to trust your protein!
- Flavor: If a protein doesn’t taste good, you probably aren’t going to stick with it regardless of how “good for you” it might be. Life’s too short to drink bad-tasting or chalky protein.
- Value: The lowest priced protein isn’t always the best value! All of our best proteins factor in the price per serving.
Navitas Organics Hemp Powder
In addition to offering 13 grams of hemp-based protein, Navitas Organic Hemp Powder is a good source of magnesium, iron, and fiber. It also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and all nine essential amino acids.The powder is suitable for people who require gluten-free options and have digestive sensitivities.
Plus, it has an earthy, nutty taste with no chalky aftertaste and can be used as a flour substitute.
The powder also dissolves well, so it can be a delicious addition to smoothies, yogurt, and baked goods. You can even add it to dips, salads, and soups.
According to the companys website, Navitas Organics products are third-party tested to ensure quality and safety, though the name of the testing organization isnt disclosed.
Just keep in mind that its a bit lower in protein than other products on this list, which may be a drawback for some.
Best Whey Protein Powders
Whey is a milk-based protein thats quickly and easily digested and absorbed, which can help you feel full and energized.
Whey protein can be a good choice to use before or after working out. In fact, studies show that whey protein can help boost muscle growth and improve body composition when paired with resistance training (
Read Also: Is Gold Standard Protein Good
What Are Protein Shakes
High protein shakes are a really popular and convenient way of getting more protein into your everyday diet, supporting your muscles throughout your gym training. Protein shakes come in a variety of formulas, so you can find the perfect protein powder to support your unique workout goals.
Protein shakes are incredibly easy and quick to make. Simply add the recommended number of scoops of protein powder to water or milk, and mix well for a smooth and delicious protein boost.
Protein Powders Are Just One Weight Loss Tool
When it comes to losing weight, creating a calorie deficit is what matters most.
Once you establish a calorie deficit, there are some advantages to increasing your protein intake, which protein powders can help you do.
Increasing your protein intake helps you lose weight by:
- Increasing feelings of fullness: Protein helps you stay fuller longer, which can lead you to eat less and lose weight (
Recommended Reading: Shakeology Vs Premier Protein
Get The Most From Your Protein Powder
Here are a few things to consider:
- To recover after exercise, an athlete or avid exerciser should consume protein within 60 minutes of a workout. Thats when your muscles are most responsive to the use of protein for the repair and growth process.
- To control your weight, its best to consume a steady supply of protein at each meal and snack to help keep you full.
Although theres no magic number for how much protein toconsume at one time, its best to aim for at least 3 ounces or 20 grams ofprotein per meal.
What You Should Do
McManus says that in certain cases, chemical-free protein powders may be helpfulbut only with medical supervision. Such cases could include
- difficulty eating or an impaired appetite
- a surgical incision or a pressure wound that is not healing well
- a serious condition requiring additional calories and protein in order for you to get better .
Otherwise, get protein from whole foods: nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy products , legumes , fish, poultry, eggs, and lean meat. “You’ll find,” McManus says, “that there are many ways to get protein without turning to a powder.”
Factor #: Protein Quality
For many people, the quality of the protein source is the highest priority. When it comes to assessing quality, theres a lot of talk about complete versus incomplete proteins.
Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are sort of like different colored Legos. They can be put together in different ways to serve different purposes in the body.
In all, your body uses 20 different amino acids.
Seven of those amino acids are non-essential amino acids. Thats because your body can create those on its own.
There are also four conditionally essential amino acids, which are ones your body can make, but not always. For example, your body might have a harder time making enough of them when youre sick, or after hard athletic training.
The other nine amino acids are known as essential amino acids . Your body cant make these, so you have to get them from food.
This is important, because EAAs play key roles in building and repairing tissuelike musclebut also in building hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.
Branched-chain amino acids , a subcategory of EAAs, are especially important for their role in muscle protein synthesis.
Muscle protein synthesis is the process your body uses to repair and build muscle after exercise. While muscle protein synthesis is much more complicated than just one amino acid, leucine plays an integral role in triggering the process, which makes it probably the most well-known BCAA.
Factor #: Intolerances And Sensitivities
If you have a known food intolerance or sensitivity, youll want to avoid protein powders containing those ingredients. For example, if youre intolerant to eggs and dairy, youll likely be better off with a plant-based protein powder.
If youre prone to digestive issues, more processed options, such as isolates and hydrolysates, are usually easier on the stomach.
Its also not uncommon to experience digestive upset after using a new protein powder. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Use the below checklist to get to the bottom of it.
You May Like: Premier Protein Sugar
Be Mindful Of Your Goal
Heres what you might want to consider depending on your goals, and what youre hoping to get out of your protein shake.
Weight loss / fat loss: If youre looking to lose fat, pay attention to the protein-to-calorie ratio of your protein powder. The best protein powder for weight loss will be higher in protein and lower in carbs and fat, since the latter two macronutrients will be more satisfying coming from whole foods.
Muscle gain: To put on muscle, look for a protein powder with a high protein-to-calorie ratio, as the main goal is to consume adequate overall protein. If youre struggling to get adequate overall calories, a protein powder thats also rich in carbohydrates can be helpful around workouts.
Weight gain: For those who are looking to gain any type of weightmost often this is due to illness that reduces appetiteconsider powders that are high in protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Particularly if you wont be getting much other nutrition, its important to get all three.
Meal replacement: If you plan to use your protein shake as a meal replacement, its important to get some other nutrients in there, too. While there are protein powders that come with additional nutrients built-in, we recommend making your own Super Shake instead by incorporating fruit, vegetables, a source of healthy fats, and possibly more. That way, you get all the whole-food benefits of these ingredients.
How Much Protein Do I Need
Before you can find the protein powder thats right for you , it helps to understand exactly why protein matters so much in the first place.
The main reason to use protein powder is to help you hit your protein goals.
Not getting enough protein can cause you to:
- lose muscle mass
- have skin, hair, and nail problems
- heal more slowly if you get cuts or bruises
- experience mood swings
- be more likely to break bones
To be clear, though, this isnt a concern for the majority of folks.
Most people eating the average Western diet arent protein deficient.
The bare minimum protein requirement is estimated to be 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. So at the absolute minimum, a 160-pound person needs about 58 grams of protein to prevent protein deficiency.
For reference, a palm of protein has about 20 to 30 grams of protein. So with 2 to 3 palms of proteinlike chicken breast, tofu, Greek yogurt, or legumesper day, youd be set.
But eating the bare minimum of protein is different from eating an optimal amount of protein.
Generally, most active people can meet their optimal protein intake by eating 1 to 2 palms of protein at each meal.
Unless you have a specific medical reason to keep your protein intake low, most people will benefit from eating more protein.
Why? There are plenty of reasons, including:
Don’t Miss: Protein Powder High Cholesterol
Add Protein To Your Diet
Whether you’re trying to bulk up in the gym, or looking for a meat-free protein substitute, you’ll find protein powder from BJ’s Wholesale Club will provide your body with this essential nutrient. Browse an impressive selection that includes whey protein and other popular options. Whey protein powder has been popular with gym rats, bodybuilders, and weight lifters for decades. Of course, there’s no substitute for hard work in the health club, but nutrition is also important. Protein drink powder is ideal for those on the go, for drinking at the gym, or as a meal replacement if you’re looking to shed a few pounds.
Powdered protein from BJ’s Wholesale Club is available at a low, members-only price. Use your Club card today and save on the latest offerings from top brands. If you’re serious about working out, you know you’ll need a lot of protein in your diet. Stock up with large containers from this line.
How Is Pea Protein Powder Made
Pea protein is made in quite a similar fashion as whey and casein proteins made from dairy. Large batches of whole peas are smashed to bits and turn into pea mush, which is then filtered to isolate the core and skins from the actual pea protein isolate fractions. The pea protein extract, which contains a bounty of antioxidants and other micronutrients, is then power-heated and dried into a powder for use in the final product.
Many useful nutrients, like fiber and vitamins, are also retained the core and skins of the peas. Hence, excess pea mush — the stuff that doesn’t go into pea protein powder — may be used in other products that the manufacturer makes. For example, pea mush is commonly used in animal feed.
Recommended Reading: Protein Powder Like Shakeology
Best Casein Protein Powder
Casein is digested and absorbed slowly, which can help you feel full longer. As such, it may help reduce your appetite. The slower digestion and absorption rate may also help support muscle growth and recovery over longer periods (
Its also produced in a facility thats certified by NSF International. According to the companys website, BulkSupplements products also undergo third-party testing, but the name of the third-party lab isnt disclosed.
The powder is particularly a good choice for adding to smoothies or batters because it doesnt clump.
However, its not ideal if you prefer a flavored or sweetened protein powder.
Protein Powders For Smoothie Making
Some Soy Flour on rustic wooden background
Looking to bulk up your smoothie? Then chances are youre going to reach for a protein powder. The question is, which one should you choose? As the options get more plentiful, the choice also gets more confusing. Whichever you decide on, be sure to read the nutrition label to see how much you need to use. Twenty to 25 grams of protein is a safe amount to add, but depending on the protein source, that could mean anywhere from half a scoop to two full scoops, says Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Heres the rundown on six popular protein mix-ins.
This is considered the king of plant-based proteins and is a great option for vegans and vegetarians. Made from ground soybeans, its a complete protein and has the highest bioavailability of all the plant-based options. Look for soy isolate, rather than soy concentrate, in order to get the most protein bang for your buck.
While it is derived from cannabis seeds, hemp wont get you high. What it will do is provide all nine essential amino acids plus Omega-3s and fiber. Hemp is not as protein-packed as other sources , but you can pair it with another plant-based option to create a more complete protein.
Recommended Reading: Shakeology Vs Protein Shake
Protein From Whole Foods Is Ideal
Why is protein from whole foods superior? Mainly, its because it comes packaged with other nutrients: vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, zoonutrients, and so on, depending on the source.
No supplement will be able to imitate those combinations exactly, nor their synergistic effects. And when foods are processed to create protein powder, certain nutrients may be stripped, and others may be added back inwhich can sometimes be beneficial, and sometimes not.
Of course, protein powder does digest faster than whole foods. This would be an advantage if you were trying to quickly flood your muscles with protein after a workout.
This is an approach called nutrient timingor eating certain nutrients at strategic timesand it was all the rage in the early 2000s. But as research advanced, the benefits of slamming a protein shake immediately after a workout proved less important than we once thought.
How To Use Protein Powder
Keep in mind that protein powder should not be used to replace healthy sources of protein in your diet, because high protein foods also provide other valuable nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Still, supplements can be an easy and convenient way to increase your protein intake, as there are many ways to use protein powder.
The simplest way is to mix it with a beverage, such as water or milk, or blend it with other ingredients, such as fruits and veggies, to create a smoothie.
You can also mix protein powder into simple foods such as yogurt, oatmeal, or dips.
If you feel like getting creative, experiment with using protein powder as an addition or substitution in your usual recipes. For example, you can use protein powder in soups, veggie burgers, and baked goods.
Don’t Miss: Does Premier Protein Help With Weight Loss
Consider How Much Taste Matters To You
Its important to choose a protein powder that youre likely to consume consistently. Enjoying the way it tastes is one way to help ensure that. Of course, the best-tasting protein powder option varies from person to person.
Factors you might want to be mindful of when deciding on a protein powder:
Mixability and texture
Mesh count refers to how fine a protein powder is, which can impact how easily it will mix by hand in a shaker bottle. You wont be able to see this information on the label, but sometimes you can tell by looking at the powder or touching it.
Plant-based protein powders tend to have a grittier or chalkier texture, which means they often taste better when blended using an electric blender . Blending with a creamier liquid, such as plant milk, or adding higher-fat items like yogurt and nut butters to your shake can also help smooth out a chalky protein powder.
More highly-processed powders, such as isolates and hydrolysates, are more likely to have a smoother texture.
Some people are especially sensitive to the taste of artificial flavors and non-nutritive sweeteners. If that describes you, look for a protein powder made with nutritive sweeteners and/or natural flavors.
Unflavored protein powder may also be a good option if you dont like artificial flavors, or simply prefer the flavor of whole foods. You can use unflavored protein powder in a variety of ways including:
Flavored protein powders also work in many of these non-shake options.
Ladder Whey Protein Powder
Its formulated with several strains of probiotics, which are a form of beneficial bacteria that have been shown to support immunity and digestive health .
Its also NSF Certified for Sport, meaning that each batch has been tested for banned substances to ensure safety.
According to reviewers, it mixes very easily and doesnt have a chalky aftertaste like many other protein powders on the market, so it can be a great addition to your post-workout protein shake.
However, its a bit pricier than other supplements and contains a small amount of cane sugar, which may not be ideal for those who prefer to avoid products with added sugar.
Recommended Reading: Can Lack Of Protein Cause Headaches
High Protein Shakes & Protein Powders
Shop our range of high protein shakes, protein powders, and blends for high-quality protein supplements to support the growth and maintenance of your muscles. Want some more information on protein powder, its benefits, and guidance on which to choose? Check out our Protein Guide below. Want to buy in bulk? Check out our protein powders available in 5kg! You might also be interested in our protein powders available in 1kg quantities.
Our goal is to ensure that we have every protein product to suit your needs. Want a protein shake with higher protein content? Check out our Protein Isolate Powders, a roundup including both dairy and plant-based protein to ensure that you get the most out of your shakes.