Best Protein Powder Reviewed & Rated for Performance
In the world of physical endurance training, protein powder is a vital piece of the puzzle. In addition to working hard, eating properly, and other aspects, protein shakes are absolutely essential to anyone looking to make progress on their build. Leading health trainers from all around the world agree that in order to improve, you need the right foundation. Training effortlessly for hours a day will prove to have no effect unless you round it with the basis of a good nutrition and sleep. Protein shakes have the important role of laying the groundwork for you to eventually reach your goal. We all agree that wasting time in the gym isn’t fun. Whenever you workout, you should be striving for improvement, no matter the margin. Protein powder ensures that you’re getting every little ounce of result from your physical effort.
- ON Gold Standard
- Protein Isolates
- 20 Natural Flavors
- BSN Syntha-6
- Premium Ingredients
- Source of Fiber
- Vega Sport
The first thing you should know is that protein powder is a supplement to a proper diet, meaning it isn’t only for massive weightlifters or Olympic athletes. Protein power made into shakes ensure anyone that they get the necessary amount of nutrients per day, even if they miss out on a meal. Many busy people love drinking protein shakes in between the day because they know that they’ll be missing a meal due to their heavy work day. Drinking shakes are quick and easy to do, but the first thing you should keep in mind is getting the correct ingredients—the most being whey protein. You can surround whey protein with practically anything you want—fruits, vegetables, anything—but the core remains there that protein powders should go into every shake. Because of the intensive popularity growth in this new generation of “gainers”, there are countless brands to choose from, which ultimately gets too confusing as ingredients, side effects, nutrition requirements—all of these things become overwhelmingly confusing for the average consumer. We’re here to help you along the way by displaying our top picks at reliable sources for the whey protein that everyone—from the starting gym goer to the heavy weightlifter—should consider. Here are our Best Protein Powders for 2018!
10 Best Protein Powders
1. ON Gold Standard
Protein isolates are the most natural source of protein available—they are the actual foundation of whey protein. They are also the very first ingredients you'll find on Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard, so you know for certain that the brand cherishes a reliable and primary formula. Their sticking with something that has worked for decades—and will continue working through their astounding efforts in producing a quality powder.
20 Natural Flavors
Hate the taste of vanilla whey protein? Maybe you're a strawberry type of person, or chocolate, or anything! Optimum Nutrition provides up to 20 flavors to choose from so you can be sure to thoroughly enjoy your protein shake. Their goal is to make protein a joy, and not a chore. Their ingredients are also all natural, ranging from coconut oil to dark chocolate.
Cost and Value
For a brand as extinguished as Optimum Nutrition, it's often that their demand outweighs their supplies, which means they need to raise their prices a bit higher than their competitors in order to continue producing enough of their product. Their whey protein is much better than the rest of the competition, but it will also cost you more. If you aren't a massive gym go-er, and only need a standard nutritional ingredient, we suggest looking at cheaper options, rather than the best one.
All Natural Ingredients
2. BSN Syntha-6
BSN prides themselves in using ultra-premium ingredients in their protein powder to produce the best tasting protein shake on the market. They use all natural and selected ingredients to—with the help of advanced technology—find a formula that will be your new favorite meal. Their powder is one of the only that has a crisp, light, and creamy texture while being loaded with up to 20g of protein and supplements.
Source of Fiber,
As great-tasting this protein powder is, it also has many fantastic ingredients that may not be found in other powders. For example, the use of both amino acids and an emphasis on fiber really allow this powder to take full effect in reducing your recovery time and preventing sore muscles.
Cost and Value
The BSN Syntha-6 will cost you around the average price for a tub of protein powder. You may also be using it up sooner, because of its amazing, delicious taste. This product is definitely a bargain for that range of prices on the market.
High Standard Ingredients
Wide Range of Supplements
Difficult to Mix
3. Vega Sport
No hate on GMO here, but there are many of those out there that want to be ensured that their ingredients are naturally grown instead of artificially. Vega Sport is proud to be Non-GMO verified, meaning that their healthy ingredients in their gluten-free powder are all grown naturally.
With the number of ingredients included in these blends, it's often almost impossible to know whether you're consuming something that is or isn't made from animal ingredients. Vega Sport proudly offers their certified Vegan.org stamp to claim that their formula isn't made from any animal ingredients, including dairy and eggs—quite a statement!
Cost and Value
This is a bargain buy of a protein powder, especially when you consider that the ingredients included aren't cheap. The powder incorporates healthy selections such as kale, broccoli, spirulina, and much more. Not only that, but the ingredients are plant-based and from a reliable source. Whether you're a vegan or not, we highly recommend this plant-based blend for its cheap price and excellent quality.
Gluten-Free and Vegan
4. MusclePharm Combat
This concentrate is one of the world's most developed ingredients for protein. The concentrate is natural and is superior to many forms of artificial or chemical concentrates seen on the market, making it very appealing.
All ingredients in MusclePharm's Combat powder have been substance-tested and made certified by the Informed-Choice company. Having this certified logo ensures numerous amounts of athletes that their product is safe and has gone through rigorous testing.
Cost and Value
This formula by MusclePharm is another more affordable blend on the market that is practical for everyone. The basic ingredients are enough to justify the price, although MusclePharm has gone through a lot of effort to ensure that their substances are safe for all to use. This is a company that truly cares about their consumer and their respected price shows it.
5 Protein Sources
Whey Protein Concentrate
Bad Vanilla Taste
5. Dynatize ISO 100
The ISO 100 wears a proud seal that depicts that their protein powder has gone through a cleaning process where contamination from other substances have been eliminated and what's left is a clean and pure form of protein powder.
There are many that wonder what makes the ISO 100 so different from other blends, and it is this: they incorporate pre-hydrolyzed protein sources to ensure a fast and easy digestion. Indigestion is a major concern from bodybuilders as it can severely interrupt your daily diet.
Cost and Value
The price for the ISO 100 is completely affordable. Dynatize are known to make powder that's for all athletes, which is why their ISO 100 is so affordably priced, without sacrificing the qualities that make their protein powder so great.
12 Various Flavors
Flavors Taste Stale
6. EAS 100% Whey
This powder is 100% made from whey with no filters, extras, or sugars added. The 100% Whey is NSF tested and comes with a certificate of quality on each of its 30g bottles.
BCAAs have become a mainstay among protein powders. Each serving includes up to 7g of BCAA that not only stimulate protein synthesis, but effectively boosts performance and recovery to help you reach peak effective training.
Cost and Value
Because this is a heavier blend of products, meant for higher amounts of muscle gain, the price is a bit higher than similar tubs of protein. The EAS 100% Whey is for any athlete wanting the absolute largest results from the natural ingredients that EAS provides.
No Added Sugar
7g of BCAA
Glutamine and AA
NSF Tested and Certified
Has Artificial Flavors
Tough to Mix
7. Six Star Pro Nutrition
The Six Star whey blend promises optimal performance by listing that their product provides up to 70% lean muscle increase, twice the strength, and four times the muscle growth. That's quite a claim but they've backed it up successfully with numerous recommendations from top athletes and bodybuilders.
Trusted by Pros
A long list of performance pros and trainers alike have trusted this blend for its top-tier formula incorporating bio-availability, pure BCAAs, excellent absorption, and superior quality compared to other leading brands.
Cost and Value
The cost of this blend is almost unbelievable. It's definitely one of the most affordable formulas we're showcasing. However, there's no catch—Six Star is just known for providing top-tier products for up to half the price of their competitors. No wonder they're number one in the nation!
Enhanced Muscle Formula
70% More Lean
8. FitMiss Delight
A gluten-free diet is always a healthy one, and sometimes can be the only options for those with severe gluten intolerance. Gluten is found is many fatty foods and has been deemed to be bad for you and a cause of weight gain. Many of those who strive to lose weight stick to a strict gluten-free diet.
Gain the protein but not the weight! Many people wrongly establish protein with weight gain. This simply isn't true. Protein is necessary for proper muscle development but won't necessary put on weight. The FitMiss uses a great tasting vegetable-based formula to ensure that this protein powder will help you lose weight.
Cost and Value
Although this can be seen as cheaper than other protein powders, the truth is that the FitMiss Delight is designed for weight loss, and although has protein you won't see the necessary amount of muscle growth you might see from other protein powders. Since it has a distinct purpose, the more affordable price is very reasonable.
Gluten-free and Low-carb
Helps Lean Muscle
Great Tasting Formula
Won't Satisfy Appetite
Not for Weight Gain
9. Naked Whey
Talk about right to the point—Naked establishes that they only have one ingredient, which is grass fed whey protein. Nothing extra, and nothing fancy. Massive lists of ingredients is what often scares off consumers, so Naked has created a simple formula that only has one job—to help you give you protein.
Another vital difference compared to the competitor is that Naked is completely cold processed to ensure that there is zero contamination or unwanted detergents, from the farm all the way to your shake.
Cost and Value
Naked Whey can be seen as severely more expensive than other leading brands. This is because their protein has through and through shown the performance their consumers want without adding artificial preservatives or chemicals that can offset the body's balance. Their protein powder is 100% trustworthy, and their premium price shows it.
Grass Fed Cows
No Artificial Flavors
Only 4 Flavors
Tough to Stir
10. MET-Rx Natural
Again, we highly recommend all natural whey protein that don't use artificial or chemical flavors because of how much better natural ingredients are for your body. Your muscles ultimately need support and you'd rather trust the natural grown ingredients than harsh artificial ones for your final efforts of strength.
A specialized filtration service ensures that all natural whey protein in MET-Rx are not only clean but reduced in cholesterol, saturated fat, and lactose while boosting amino acids.
Cost and Value
The MET-Rx Natural whey protein goes for an average price when it comes to performance brands that are driven to show results. Although there are only two flavors, vanilla and chocolate, you'll still find that you won't get tired of the natural taste from MET-Rx after your first few buys.
5g of BCAAs
Cutting Edge Formula
All Essential Concentrates
Only Two Flavors
As you can see, the options given in the protein powder market are almost endless! With so many to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the distinct things you need to worry about. Chemicals, such as BCAAs, isolates, and more can easily keep you up all night. But when it comes to protein supplements, you mustn’t go wrong as they lay the foundation for your results. Your protein powder needs to be effective and, above all, safe for you. We’re glad to help you find the best protein powder for you by showing you how to choose from the numerous brands in the competing market.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Protein Powder
You can look at nutrition info as long as you want but it’s useless unless you know what you’re looking for. With all the various components found in whey protein powder nowadays, it seems like every company is trying to find the next best formula by any means necessary. But what separates the good from the bad? How do you know if specific ingredients are helping you, or have no effect, or—worse—hurting you? Simply, you never know for sure. There are, however, key things to look for in nutritional information that can certainly be of great help to you. Here’s a basic rundown:
- Isolates – You hear this word all the time but what does it really mean? Isolates are pretty much a type of protein powder that has undergone rigid processing to strip it to its foundation. The powder is genuinely filtered through a system of steps and then collected as a pure form. In addition to ensuring the protein isn’t contaminated, protein isolates also separate the protein, which is good, from the fat, gluten, and carbs, which are bad. When you hear something labeled protein isolate, you’ll know that it means the protein in its purest and best form.
- Concentrates – In contrast to isolates, concentrates are the least processed type of powder, compared to the most. Concentrates are generally the powder that often includes all these bad ingredients such as fat and cholesterol, but will also be your cheapest option. Protein concentrates mainly means that the powder hasn’t gone through the steps for isolates and the protein is in its least bare form—cluttered with other ingredients. Protein concentrates are undoubtedly the cheapest form of protein, but they also include less protein and more junk. If you have a bad diet that can’t take fat, gluten, or lactose, it’s best to stay away from concentrates.
- Hydrolysates – Another common on you’ll hear: hydrolysates are hydrolyzed protein which means that the protein particles have been further processed past their concentrates or isolates stage and have gone through exposure to amino acids, enzymes, and things that break down the protein, creating a product that can be absorbed and digested a lot faster and easier. If something is titled with hydrolysates, it means that the protein can be digested fairly quickly—but will also cost you more. Depending on your dietary restrictions, you may find hydrolysate protein your best option, but for everyone else, the extra price just sometimes isn’t worth it.
Now that you know the fundamentals that make up the protein, let’s get into some more basic terms that you’ll find on the nutrient tab.
- Whey – Simply, the best protein there is. In the whole wide world. Whey is the best because it has been proven to promote healthy muscle growth in addition to fat loss and has been a trusted source for generations. Of course, there are other forms of protein nowadays, but if something works why change it? Whey is still the number one ideal choice for consumers.
- Casein – In addition to whey, casein is another form of protein from milk that contests the traditional form of protein. Casein protein is often favored for its high buildup of amino acids, Although casein is great, it doesn’t do anything that whey can’t do, meaning that it is less superior in every ‘whey’. Many times people blend their casein protein with whey to get better results, but that’s optional.
- Soy – Another popular protein pick is soy protein, a plant-based ingredient that is lactose-friendly, which is its only plus side. It’s one of the only plant-based formulas that provide essential amino acids which is why it can be compared to whey and casein. Soy is, however, heavily genetically modified, which is a huge turn-off for some people who want natural ingredients.
- Plant-based – Perhaps this covers all the lesser-known types of protein, like pea protein and rice protein. Plant-based protein is a new type that has been surging in popularity as vegans now find a way to get their nutrients without breaking their morals. Plant-based often excludes all animal ingredients and is composed of grain and legume protein to try and compete with whey. Looking for a good formula is essential in plant-based because many blends just don’t get it right, and you’ll find that it’ll be hard to see results.
- BCAAs – You hear this acronym all the time, but what does it mean? BCAA stands for branch-chained amino acids, meaning essential AA components such as leucine and valine which comprise around 40% of muscle protein. BCAAs are the building blocks for protein—they help to preserve your muscle glycogen and help your muscles recover so you can get more results out of your gym sessions. There are a total of 9 amino acids that your system needs, but there are only three are the important ones. We believe that BCAAs are absolutely mandatory in any protein powder choice.
Natural vs. Artificial
In all debate, we always hear whether natural foods is all that better than artificial. What’s the difference? Aren’t artificial foods meant to be better? Well in protein powder, natural is always the way the to. Natural whey protein from cows that haven’t been treated with GMO or hormones will ensure that the milk isn’t contaminated and is overall safe for protein.
- Natural protein powder also contains no added preservatives, meaning that it’s 100% Whey and there isn’t any sugar, fat, or other acids that come with it. Natural protein powder also takes longer to prepare, which means that the price will surely be higher.
- Artificial protein powder that has added preservatives and chemicals have their pros, too. They can often be digested faster and may even show you more results, but with side effects. It’s no surprise that they aren’t very good for your metabolism or the rest of your body, and can really cause problems with indigestion. It’s best to stay away from artificial or chemical blends.
- GMO – Genetically Modified Organisms are a huge controversy in foods around the world. But this isn’t food—it’s protein powder. Are GMOs really that bad? Well, yes and no. Traditional GMOs are meant to improve a certain aspect of the food, whether it’s to help easier production or safer consumption. Protein powder is all natural and has no such flaws, meaning that it doesn’t need to be genetically modified. GMOs also produce many problems of mutations in the selective breeding, which can be dangerous in consumer goods. We fully support the development in GMOs as it can lead to a more innovative world where hunger isn’t an issue, but for protein powder, it’s best to stick with the basics.
- Gluten-free – You’ve heard of it, and you hate it. Gluten can be found practically anywhere these days. This pesky ingredient not only disrupt people with gluten allergies but can also be unhealthy. People strive to stick with a gluten-free diet in hopes of a healthier lifestyle, so gluten-free protein powder is a lifesaver for all of us.
Benefits of Protein Powder
There are a number of positive effects from protein powder other than just gaining or losing weight. Protein powders have become an active part of many people’s lives for reasons such as these:
Metabolism – Protein powders require more energy and effort to process, which means it can greatly increase your rate of metabolism and help you process foods better. Your digestive system will thank you for protein powder.
- Growth Hormone Regulation – Growth hormones actually contain a wide amount of amino acids. Consuming enough protein mean that the body will have enough amino acids to properly lay the groundwork for growth hormones to develop.
- Anabolism – An anabolic state means that your body is constantly developing and recovering. Consistent use of protein ensures that your body will always be growing. In contrast, protein deficiency problems that may include muscle tissues to be catabolized and may also cause lower bone density in the near future.
- Insulin – This may not be known but protein powder regulates insulin levels in the body to ensure proper energy storage and regulation.
- Weight Loss – Of course, you won’t lose weight just by drinking protein shakes, but many powders that are designed for weight loss will allow you skip meals and use protein shakes to stay full during the day. These powders are high in protein but low on calories and fatty acids, so you won’t be gaining any unnecessary weight but may still be building lean muscle mass.
- Recovery – Recovery blends are often a use of protein powder to help post-workout recovery. Using supplements such as glutamine and amino acids speed up the recovery process to ensure that your bones won’t ache the following day. Protein is a huge part of recovery and can help you ensure that your muscles properly grow for peak results.
- Easy-to-Consume – Protein supplements are also much easier to consume than regular meals, which can take longer to eat and are harder to digest. Protein, since it is liquidized in the form of shakes, can easily be consumed by drinking and make a great snack filled with nutrients even when you feel full.
Your body needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight at minimum per day. This means for a 150 lb individual, they would need up to 50 grams of protein to meet the minimum requirement per day. Those who exercise intensively will need even more, which is why a scoop of protein powder already provides up to 30 grams.
As you can see, there’s always plenty to think about when buying protein powder. Not only do you need to think of the nutrition ingredients included in the powder, but you also must find products that are of high quality and are guaranteed to help you succeed. There are several requirements that we believe should be considered, such as BCAAs, Natural-grown, and digestibility. Other aspects, such as taste, blendability, yield, and filler percentage are completely up to you. What we love about protein powder is that there’s always so much variety to choose from. Sometimes, you’ll find you lifelong brand, but other times you may be tempted to switch things up with a new product. Thankfully, there’s a wide array of protein blends out there for you to try, and there’s bound to be one that you both enjoy and find effective. Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be able to find the most ideal protein powder for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does protein powder do?
A: Protein powder not only helps your amino supplement—which means quicker muscle repair after workouts—but also helps you stay full and digest more fiber and nutrients so your muscles can grow.
Q: Can protein powders be used for weight loss?
A: Yes, some protein powders are made specifically for weight loss. These types of powder are often plant-based or have high nutrients and less protein. We wouldn’t recommend using these if you’re looking for tons of muscle growth, but they’re fantastic for anyone trying to find a guiltless meal-filler.
Q: Is protein powder healthy?
A: Yes, completely. Many people are scared off because they see the harsh chemicals and artificial flavors put into muscle-brands, but general whey protein powder is actually good for you, whether you workout or not. Protein is a bodily necessity and protein powder just helps you reach that 80g per day minimum.
Q: How many scoops should I use with each shake?
A: Since protein powder has around 20-30g of protein per scoop, we think it’s ideal for every person to have at least 2 scoops per day, and even more if they have intensive training. An active male would need up to 180g of protein, which means protein powder would need to fill in what’s left after basic daily meals, which often isn’t enough.
Q: Will protein powder cause acne?
A: Since whey protein concentrates are high in lactose, they often cause acne or other bodily disruptions for those who don’t have a high tolerant of lactose. The solution? Protein isolates, which are stripped of their bad nutrients and only protein is left. Isolates contain no milk hormones if that’s your trigger.