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Best Protein Powders – Review Top Protein Powder Supplements

Protein powder is one of the world’s most popular and best-known nutritional supplements.

Many people take protein powder daily to build lean muscle, increase strength, or burn fat. Some take vegan protein powder. Others take whey protein powder.

Today, there are more protein powder options than ever. That’s a good thing. However, it can make it tough to choose the right protein powder.

Looking for the best protein powder for your unique needs? Every protein powder claims to give you a strong dose of high-quality protein. However, many protein powders fail to live up to that promise.

We’re here to help. Here is our ranking of the best protein powders of 2021.

Ranking the Best Protein Powders of 2021

After much deliberation within our editorial board, here’s how we ranked the best protein powders of 2021:

  • BioTrust Low Carb
  • CrazyBulk Tri-Protein
  • XWerks GROW
  • BiOptimizers Protein Breakthrough
  • Transparent Labs Whey Protein
  • Live Conscious Organic Protein
  • Fitera FitFreeze
  • Amy Myers MD Paleo Protein
  • Vital Proteins Collagen Whey Protein
  • Onnit Protein Grass-Fed
  • Green Regimen Elite Protein
  • Cellucor COR-Performance Powder
  • Ladder Whey Protein
  • Ladder Plant Protein
  • NSP Nutrition Muscle Fuel
  • NSP Nutrition Milk & Egg Protein
  • Bauer BRF Whey Protein
  • Orgain Protein Powder
  • IdealFit IdealLean Protein
  • Legion Whey Isolate Protein
  • Beast Sports Beast Protein
  • Huge Supplements Huge Whey
  • ProMix Whey Isolate Protein Powder
  • MTN OPS Magnum

These are the brands and companies with the most respected formulas and trusted products that made the final cut out of hundreds of protein powders analyzed. Now it is time to review the best protein powder supplements on the market in 2021 so consumers can compare and find top-ranking recommendations of the most popular, effective and safe protein powder blends available.

BioTrust Low Carb

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BioTrust Low Carb is a protein powder created by Joel Marion and the team at BioTrust. Whether you’re following the keto diet or not, a low-carb protein powder could help you start the day right.

BioTrust Low Carb is a clean, naturally-flavored protein powder designed to reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, help you manage your appetite to feel fuller and satisfied, allow you to build calorie-burning lean muscles, and boost your metabolism, among other benefits.

Each serving of BioTrust Low Carb contains 24g of pasture-raised, premium protein. You also get four types of protein per serving, including slow-digesting micellar casein for better absorption.

Plus, with 150 calories, 1g of sugar, 4g of net carbs, 11g of essential amino acids, 5g of BCAAs, and a digestive enzyme blend called ProHydrolase, BioTrust Low Carb contains all of the complementary ingredients you expect in a high-quality protein powder. And, at just $34 per bag, BioTrust Low Carb is a steal when it comes to value.

Price: $34

CrazyBulk Tri-Protein

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Tri-Protein from CrazyBulk is an ideal protein powder for those who want maximum muscle gains and minimal post-workout pain. Priced at $56 for a one month supply, Tri-Protein comes with one of the largest scoop sizes on this list (30g per scoop). Mix one scoop with 250 to 300mL of water or milk in a shaker bottle, then shake well and enjoy the chocolate flavor.

Tri-Protein contains six types of protein that release in three phases, making it easier for your body to absorb the protein. Instead of hitting your body with a sudden and strong dose of protein, Tri-Protein spreads the dose out over a longer period.

Inside each serving of Tri-Protein you’ll find whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, micellar casein, milk protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, and whey protein hydrolysate. And, to boost absorption, CrazyBulk has added DigeZyme to boost absorption and reduce protein-related bloating. With 21g of protein per serving, Tri-Protein is one of the top-rated options here for maximum muscle development and strength gains.

Price: $56

XWerks GROW

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GROW from Xwerks is a 100% New Zealand grass-fed whey protein isolate that emphasizes high-quality protein sources without breaking the bank. Available in chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, or strawberry, XWerks Grow can repair muscles, strengthen the immune system, give your body antioxidants, and support healthy digestion, among other benefits.

Each serving of GROW contains 25g of protein and over 6g of BCAAs with no lactose, carbs, or fats (although the peanut butter flavor contains 2g of fat and 2g of carbs). The protein uses only whey protein isolate instead of blending it with cheaper, low-quality types of whey.

Despite having higher manufacturing standards than many other protein powders listed here, XWerks GROW is priced at a reasonable $49 per bag (30 scoops per bag, 30g per scoop). It’s a high-quality protein powder that doesn’t ruin your budget.

Price: $49

BiOptimizers Protein Breakthrough

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BiOptimizers Protein Breakthrough is a popular protein powder that helps you optimize your protein intake with a delicious, plant-based meal replacement powder. The supplement uses a plant-based protein blend developed over 17 years of research, creating a high-quality protein formula with a smooth texture and surprisingly pleasant taste.

Backed by a 365-day moneyback guarantee, BiOptimizers Protein Breakthrough supports lean muscle mass with an ideal blend of pea, hemp, and pumpkin seed protein – three of the most popular vegan protein sources available.

These vegan protein sources lower your food cravings and help reduce hunger throughout the day. They also provide fewer carbs and better essential amino acid intake than we get with other protein powders, offering a complete source of amino acids for maximum recovery. At $75, it’s not the cheapest protein powder here, but it delivers high-quality ingredients for the premium crowd.

Price: $75

Transparent Labs Whey Protein

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Transparent Labs Whey Protein is a protein powder made from 100% grass-fed American cows. The supplement uses whey protein isolate with an 88% protein-by-weight ratio, delivering 28g of protein in each 32g scoop.

Made from naturally-fed, hormone-free cows and free of artificial flavors or sweeteners, Transparent Labs Whey Protein is a popular and reasonably-priced protein powder you can use to achieve a range of health and fitness goals.

With around 120 calories per scoop (depending on your flavor), Transparent Labs Whey Protein contains 28g of protein, 1g of carbs, and less than 1g of total sugars, giving it one of the most impressive macronutrient profiles on our list.

Price: $59

Live Conscious Organic Protein

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Live Conscious Organic Protein is one of the highest-quality protein powders on our list. It’s a USDA Organic certified protein powder that delivers surprisingly good taste with just 80 calories per serving.

Like other top-rated vegan protein powders, Live Conscious Organic Protein contains pea, rice, sacha inchi, and pumpkin seed protein blended together. These ingredients can support metabolism and muscle development while delivering 15g of protein per serving.

Live Conscious manufactures its Organic Protein in the United States. With popular flavors like Vanilla Dream and additional ingredients like prebiotic fiber, Live Conscious Organic Protein is everything you want in a high-quality vegan protein powder – and it doesn’t break the budget at $43 per bag (plus, all purchases are backed by a 365 day moneyback guarantee).

Price: $43

Fitera FitFreeze

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Fitera FitFreeze is a top-rated protein powder that claims to destroy fat cells and satisfy cravings, making it easy to stick to your diet goals and lose weight.

According to Fitera, FitFreeze targets the reward centers of the brain by combining high-quality protein with a chocolate flavor. It tastes like a dessert, but it functions like high-quality protein. Plus, with added ingredients like fiber, Fitera FitFreeze can help you feel fuller for longer while delivering powerful health and wellness benefits.

What makes FitFreeze different from every other protein powder on our list, however, is the way you use it: you mix the protein powder, then freeze it, then enjoy it. The protein powder has 150 calories, 15g of protein, 7g of fiber, and 6g of sugar per serving. At $10 for a sample pack for 3 full servings, Fitera FitFreeze is available through a try-before-you-buy offer.

Price: $10 (3 servings)

Amy Myers MD Paleo Protein

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Amy Myers MD is one of the more reputable names in the supplement industry. Supplements are formulated by Dr. Amy Myers, who is a real medical doctor and not a certified nutritionist, dietitian, naturopath, or marketing guru.

With Amy Myers MD Paleo Protein, you can get the high-quality protein you need in multiple unique flavors. Choose from Cinnamon Roll, Vanilla Bean, Double Chocolate, Strawberries & Cream, Salted Caramel, Cookies and Cream, and Birthday Cake, among other unique options.

Because it’s Paleo Protein, Amy Myers MD Paleo Protein uses grass-fed whey with 21g of protein per serving. It’s an excellent source of essential and collagen-specific amino acids, delivering all of the benefits of bone broth without the hassle. With a custom formulated by Dr. Amy Myers, Amy Myers MD Paleo Protein may be the most medically-backed protein powder on our list.

Price: $70

Vital Proteins Collagen Whey Protein

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Vital Proteins Collagen Whey Protein offers users 25 grams of protein per serving, along with 10g of collagen. The vitamin-dense, collagen peptides-rich whey protein gives a well-balanced amino acid profile that doesn’t clump and mixes easily with water, smoothies or even edibles. With natural hyaluronic acid for joint support, the Vital Proteins Collagen Whey Protein powder comes from one of the most trusted, respected and well-known supplement brands in the industry. For those looking to increase athletic performance, improve recovery, and achieve a lean body, the Collagen Whey Protein blend has added probiotics and two flavor options of vanilla and coconut water.

The Vital Proteins protein powder with collagen is the ideal option for building muscle, repairing tissue, and the support of adding the building blocks of healthy bones too. Priced at only $44, Vital Proteins is the go-to option for those wanting to pick the best protein powder with collagen today.

Onnit Protein Grass-Fed

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Onnit Protein Grass-Fed is one of the highest-quality whey protein supplements available online today. Flavored in vanilla or Mexican chocolate, Onnit Protein Grass-Fed delivers 20g of protein per serving sourced from New Zealand cows – all with no added sugar.

The formula is designed to support muscle gains, promote workout recovery, and deliver other benefits of whey protein. Whey protein isolate is the purest type of whey available. Whey isolate filters the fat and carbs out, leaving you with straight protein for better macronutrient balance. Whey isolate is also rich with leucine, a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) crucial for protein synthesis.

Each 26g scoop of Onnit Protein Grass-Fed contains 110 calories, 0g of sugar, and 20g of protein. If you want high-quality protein backed by a trusted source and name, then Onnit Protein Grass-Fed is one of the best options available.

Price: $70

Green Regimen Elite Protein

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Green Regimen’s Elite Protein is an organic, plant-based protein powder designed as a full meal replacement. With 25g of protein per serving, Green Regime Elite Protein is also one of the most powerful protein powders on our list.

Green Regimen Elite Protein is USDA Organic certified, delivering 25g of organic plant-based protein per serving along with a range of superfoods. Each serving also includes 4g of organic fiber and digestive enzymes. Plus, there are no added sugars, stevia, or artificial flavors.

Green Regimen uses organic pea protein and organic hemp protein to create its protein blend. At $35 for 14 servings, it’s not the cheapest protein powder on our list. However, it’s one of the higher-quality and better-tasting vegan protein powders available today.

Price: $35 (14 servings)

Cellucor COR-Performance Powder

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Cellucor COR-Performance Powder is a top-rated protein powder made by one of the most recognizable names in the industry. With 70 servings (!) per bottle, Cellucor COR-Performance Powder is also one of the best-value protein powders on our list – and it’s priced at just $54 per bottle when ordering through Amazon.

Each serving of Cellucor COR-Performance Powder contains 24g of protein, 120 calories, and 5.25g of naturally occurring BCAAs. The whey protein isolate mixes easily and is designed to digest quickly.

As you might expect with budget proteins, however, Cellucor COR-Performance has some drawbacks: it uses natural and artificial flavors for unique options like Whipped Vanilla, for example. It also has filler ingredients and sweeteners we don’t see in other formulas. However, if you don’t mind a budget protein and you want good value, then Cellucor COR-Performance Powder is an excellent option.

Price: $54

Ladder Whey Protein

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Ladder’s whey Protein is the only protein powder on this list created by a company co-founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lebron James. Yes, Ladder co-founders Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lebron James support the use of Ladder Whey Protein for building muscle mass and fuelling your body.

Each serving of Ladder Whey Protein contains 26g of protein, 14g of essential amino acids, 7g of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), and 2 billion CFUs of probiotics. It’s available in two flavors (chocolate or vanilla) and backed by a 30 day moneyback guarantee.

Ladder Whey Protein also has something that most other protein powders on this list don’t bother with: NSF Certified for Sport certification. That means the formula has been tested extensively to verify it’s free from banned substances, making it ideal for athletes at all levels of competition.

Price: $70

Ladder Plant Protein

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Want the high quality formulas of Ladder without using whey protein? Ladder Plant Protein is an excellent option. Priced identically to Ladder Whey Protein, Ladder Plant Protein features chocolate or vanilla flavors while repairing your muscles with the power of plants.

Ladder Plant Protein contains 21g of protein, 9g of essential amino acids, 4.5g of BCAAs, and 2 billion CFUs of probiotics per serving.

Like the Ladder Whey Protein above, Ladder Plant Protein is the only plant-based protein powder created by a company co-founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lebron James. When Arnold and Lebron couldn’t find a protein power they liked on the market, they decided to create their own. Ladder Plant Protein is the end result.

Price: $60

NSP Nutrition Muscle Fuel

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NSP Nutrition’s Muscle Fuel is a high-quality whey isolate protein powder available in vanilla or chocolate flavors. The main ingredient is ultra-filtered whey isolate designed to minimize fat and maximum quality.

Plus, NSP Nutrition Muscle Fuel contains protease and papain, two digestive enzymes to increase protein absorption. That means you get a guilt-free, high-protein drink that is low in fat and carbs while being easy for your body to absorb.

With 25g of complete protein per serving, NSP Nutrition Muscle Fuel delivers a clean macronutrient profile with a high concentration and purity of protein. For all of these reasons and more, it’s one of the most popular protein powders available today.

Price: $41

NSP Nutrition Milk & Egg Protein

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NSP Nutrition’s Milk & Egg Protein is a unique protein powder that uses milk and egg sources to enhance your protein intake. The formula consists of 92% milk and egg protein to help you build muscle without gaining body fat.

According to NSP Nutrition, the Milk & Egg Protein will also stabilize your blood sugar levels, help you avoid daytime energy crashes, halt muscle protein breakdown, and help you look and feel younger, among other benefits.

At $50 per jar, NSP Nutrition is an old school protein powder that replicates the days of yore. Before protein powders were popular, bodybuilders would drink silly amounts of milk and eggs. Science supported it – and science still supports it. Today, NSP Nutrition Milk & Egg Protein retains a popular niche following online.

Price: $50

Bauer BRF Whey Protein

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Bauer BRF (Battle Ready Fuel) Whey Protein is a popular whey protein supplement from a reputable brand. It’s a pure, clean, and high-quality 90% isolate powder that’s gentle on your digestion while delivering all of the amino acids your muscles need – with none of the unwanted fillers seen in other, cheaper-quality protein powders.

Launched in 2020, Bauer’s BRF Whey Protein is particularly popular in the United Kingdom, where it’s backed by thousands of five-star reviews. Many people like the taste of Bauer BRF Whey Protein, while others like the strong macro and micronutrient profiles.

If you want a protein powder that can function as a meal replacement, post-workout recovery aid, intra-workout booster, or anything else, then Bauer’s BRF Whey Protein is an excellent place to start.

Price: $60

Orgain Protein Powder

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Orgain offers a full lineup of protein powders, including organic plant-based and whey protein powders. Whether looking for superfood powders, meal replacement shakes, green superfood protein powders, or other unique options, you can find high-quality protein powder from Orgain’s affordably-priced online store.

Orgain’s flagship protein powder delivers 21g of plant protein per serving with 0g of sugar and 6g of prebiotics and fiber. The formula is USDA Organic certified and features clean ingredients across multiple flavors. You can also buy grass-fed whey-based protein powder, collagen protein powder, and other animal-based options.

Choose from unique flavors like Creamy Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Coconut, Iced Coffee, or Peanut Butter. Or, choose the naturally unsweetened option. Whatever you’re looking for in your protein powder, you can get it with Orgain’s Protein Powder.

Price: $32

IdealFit IdealLean Protein

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IdealFit’s IdealLean Protein is a protein shake for women. Marketed to those who want to lose weight while quenching cravings, IdealLean Protein features 20g of protein, 100 calories, 2g of sugar, and 0g of fat per serving.

You can find plenty of protein powders available today loaded with fats, sugars, calories, and filler ingredients. IdealLean Protein takes a different approach, delivering a high-quality whey protein isolate formula with minimal fillers or added ingredients.

Whether trying to lose weight or support an active lifestyle, IdealFit’s IdealLean Protein may be the right choice for you.

Price: $30

Legion Whey Isolate Protein

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Legion’s Whey Isolate Protein is a popular protein supplement made from 100% natural grass-fed whey isolate protein powder. That whey comes from small, sustainable dairy farms in Ireland.

The end result is a protein power with 120 calories, 22g of protein, 2g of carbs, 5.6g of BCAAs, and 1.5g of fat per serving – all with zero added sugars.

Priced at $50 per bottle, Legion Whey Isolate Protein aims to differentiate itself from the competition by using some of the healthiest, cleanest milk in the world. Legion works exclusively with farms certified by Ireland’s Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS), which sets strict standards for farmers. For high-quality protein at a clinically effective dose, Legion’s Whey Isolate Protein may be the best choice for you.

Price: $50

Beast Sports Beast Protein

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Beat Sports’ Beast Protein is a protein powder available in a 4lb tub with vanilla or chocolate flavor. Featuring 25g of protein per serving, Beast Protein lives up to its name as one of the beastliest protein powders on our list.

Beast Protein also contains a blend of both fast and slow-digesting proteins, as well as amino acids and digestive enzymes to support muscle growth and digestion. With 52 servings in each 4lb tub, Beast Protein is also one of the best-value protein powders on our list.

Beast Sports has designed its protein powder for more than just muscle growth. According to the company, the formula can support strong bones, reduce hunger, increase strength, help lower blood pressure, boost metabolism, and help with weight management, among other benefits.

Price: $60

Huge Supplements Huge Whey

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Huge Whey from Huge Supplements is a whey protein powder that delivers 23g of protein and 120 calories per serving with surprisingly tasty flavors like cookies and cream and chocolate peanut butter. Priced at $40 for a one-month supply, Huge Whey also contains 5g of BCAAs per scoop, allowing your body to maximize the value of the protein inside.

Huge Whey uses whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate to create its protein matrix. Huge Supplements has also added cocoa powder and natural and artificial flavors. With 2g of fat in each 30.8g scoop, it’s leaner than other high-powered protein powders on our list.

Huge Supplements is one of the newest supplement companies on this list. Launched in 2019, the company aims to differentiate itself from the competition by selling high-quality, well-formulated bodybuilding supplements that undergo extensive testing and research before launch.

Price: $40

ProMix Whey Isolate Protein Powder

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ProMix’s Whey Isolate Protein Powder is a micro-filtered protein powder ideal for building muscle and enhancing recovery.

Each serving of ProMix Whey Isolate Protein Powder contains 30g of protein and 6.6g of BCAAs, making it the highest-powered protein formula on our list based on protein dosage. Plus, with 14.2g of essential amino acids per serving, ProMix Whey Isolate Protein Powder is a high-quality protein powder that can easily fit into your macros.

ProMix Whey Isolate is made from grass-fed, native, Irish cows. You can buy the formula in an unflavored or chocolate flavor. With 2lb ($45 for 28 servings) and 5lb ($90 for 69 servings) tubs available, ProMix allows you to enjoy high-quality protein without compromising on quality – or breaking the bank.

Price: $45

MTN OPS Magnum

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MTN OPS’ Magnum is a high-quality whey protein supplement available in a stunning array of flavors. Choose from unique options like Birthday Cake, Vanilla Milkshake, Mountain Mocha, and Berries and Cream, then get ready to enjoy a high-powered protein blend ideal for bodybuilders seeking to build muscle.

The MTN OPS Magnum protein powder offers 23g of muscle-building protein per serving along with 1.5g of glutamine for muscle recovery. The goal is to give your muscles the fuel they need for increased strength.

MTN OPS is a Utah-based supplement company. All purchases are backed by a 30 day moneyback guarantee.

Price: $45

Ok, now one can finally pick the best protein powder of their choice based on all the individual qualities, attributes and strengths of each. Here is a recap of the best-rated, top-ranking protein powders available:

BioTrust Low Carb
  • best protein powder on the market in 2021
CrazyBulk Tri-Protein
  • most powerful high-protein shake powder for muscle growth with six sources of protein and DigeZyme® and cocoa powder
XWerks GROW
  • high-quality grass-fed whey protein isolate rich in amino acids with 25g of protein and 6g of BCAA per serving
BiOptimizers Protein Breakthrough
  • most popular plant-based protein powder with chocolate flavor as a complete meal replacement shake too
Transparent Labs Whey Protein
  • made from grass-fed American cows, its the highest protein-by-weight ratio (28 grams of protein per 32 gram scoop) of all
Live Conscious Organic Protein
  • top rated nutrient-dense vanilla dream protein powder for metabolism and muscle support
Fitera FitFreeze
  • formulated by a personal fitness trainer, this nutritional protein powder is known for its creamy, delicious taste
Amy Myers MD Paleo Protein
  • most healthy protein powder with collagen specific amino acids and doctor-formulated ingredients
Vital Proteins Collagen Whey Protein
  • best natural protein powder blend with collagen peptides, probiotics and hyaluronic acid to boost athletic performance
Onnit Protein Grass-Fed
  • trusted brand for grass-fed New Zealand cows whey isolate protein with no added sugars in vanilla and chocolate flavors
Green Regimen Elite Protein
  • USDA-certified organic plant-based protein with enzymes, superfoods and fibers available in chocolate/vanilla flavors
Cellucor COR-Performance Powder
  • best protein powder rankings on Amazon and is rated as Amazon’s Choice in sports nutrition-based whey protein
Ladder Whey Protein
  • reputable protein powder brand led by Lebron James and Arnold Schwarzenegger, its got BCAAs and probiotics too
Ladder Plant Protein
  • best vegan protein powder blend formulated for sports nutrition performance and muscle recovery in athletes
NSP Nutrition Muscle Fuel
  • most dynamic cold-pressed, ultra-filtered, highly absorbable protein powder with premium muscle growth concentrations
NSP Nutrition Milk & Egg Protein
  • most unique protein powder supplement made up of 92% milk and eggs and used by old-school bodybuilders
Bauer BRF Whey Protein
  • semi-hybrid whey protein isolate formula blended as a battle-ready pre-workout fuel mix to support natural energy
Orgain Protein Powder
  • no-sugar premium quality plant-based nutritional protein powders with flavorful options to choose from by respected brand
IdealFit IdealLean Protein
  • best protein powder shake for women looking to lose weight
Legion Whey Isolate Protein
  • 100% natural grass-fed whey isolate protein powder made with milk from small Ireland farm cows that is low in calories
Beast Sports Beast Protein
  • fast and slow-digesting proteins in a continuous release protein powder formula for men looking to build muscle
Huge Supplements Huge Whey
  • tried and true whey protein isolate and concentrate powder in cookies and cream flavor with cocoa blended in
ProMix Whey Isolate Protein Powder
  • easily digestible grass-fed native Irish why isolate protein powder with 30g per serving and 14g of essential amino acids
MTN OPS Magnum
  • BCAA-rich whey protein powder blend for fueling muscle growth and recovery to increase strength and is low glycemic

How We Ranked

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Every protein powder company claims to use high-quality protein to maximize gains. However, some protein powders live up to that promise, while other protein powders do not.

To separate the best and worst protein powders available today, we used the following ranking factors:

Protein Dosage: Most protein powders contain 15g to 25g of protein per serving. That’s considered an average dose. Some people want to consume much more protein per day, while others want to consume less. We preferred protein powders that were within this range.

Scoop and Serving Size: Some protein powders dazzle you with large protein servings and impressive macronutrient profiles – only to use a serving size that’s five times larger than a competing formula. We want protein powders with minimal filler ingredients and optimal scoop sizes. Instead of mixing three to four scoops of protein powder into a shake to get 25g of protein, you should be able to get the same protein from one to two scoops. We considered scoop size and serving size in our rankings.

Protein Source: Whether looking for vegan or animal-based protein powder, you have plenty of options. We considered protein source in our rankings, emphasizing high-quality sources over low-quality sources.

Protein Types: There’s a big difference between whey isolate and micellar casein protein. There’s also a big difference between a pea protein blend and a pasture-raised whey protein blend. We considered protein type in our ranking, emphasizing higher-quality protein types over lower-quality formulations.

Targeted Health and Wellness Goals: Many protein powders are designed with targeted health and wellness goals. Some are keto shakes, for example, designed to minimize carbs and maximize fat. Others are weight loss or meal replacement powders. If a protein powder advertised itself as a specific type of shake, we made sure it had the right ingredients to achieve that goal.

Macronutrient Balance: Protein powders have wildly different macronutrient balances. Some are meal replacement shakes with high numbers of calories and carbs. Others are lightweight protein powders with virtually no carbs or sugars. We considered macronutrient balance in our rankings. If a protein powder advertised itself as a meal replacement powder, then it should have meal replacement-style ingredients. If a protein powder advertised itself as a slim shake, it should have a different macronutrient balance.

Micronutrient Values: Some protein powders contain vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients to enhance the effects. Although not required in all protein shakes, good micronutrient balance was crucial for meal replacement powders and other formulas.

Complementary Ingredients: Some protein powders just contain protein – and that’s okay. Many protein powders, however, contain additional ingredients for absorption, muscle building, and other benefits. BCAAs, vitamins, minerals, fiber, probiotics, and digestive enzymes can enhance the usefulness of your protein powder. We considered complementary ingredients in our rankings.

Taste and Mixability: Nobody likes a chunky or sickly sweet protein powder. We considered taste and mixability in our rankings, personally taste testing protein powders whenever possible to ensure they meet our standards. The tastier the protein powder was – and the easier it was to mix – the higher we ranked it.

Price, Value, and Overall Cost: Some protein powders cost over $100 for a one month supply. Others cost under $20. We weren’t biased towards a specific price point. However, we wanted our readers to get good value from their protein powder. If you’re buying a budget protein powder, you should still get a good protein powder. If you’re buying a premium-quality protein powder, then you should expect premium quality. We considered price, value, and overall cost in our rankings.

Natural Ingredients & Flavors: Some protein powders use artificial sweeteners, fake colors, and other unnecessary ingredients. These ingredients are fine in budget protein powders, but they’re unacceptable in higher-quality formulas. We preferred protein powders with natural ingredients and natural flavors.

Moneyback or Satisfaction Guarantee: Virtually every supplement company offers some type of moneyback or satisfaction guarantee. We prefer companies that let you request a refund if you’re unsatisfied with your purchase for any reason. Some companies stand behind their protein powders, while others do not.

Manufacturer Reputation, Transparency, and Track Record: Some protein powder companies have been making high-quality supplements for more than 20 years. Other companies are new and have a limited track record. We weren’t automatically biased towards older and established companies. However, we did emphasize manufacturers with a proven reputation for transparency and honesty while creating high-quality supplements.

Based on all of the factors listed above, we ranked the best protein powders available today.

Who Should Take Protein Powder?

People take protein powder for many different reasons.

Decades ago, people may have assumed that protein powder was just for bodybuilders. People saw protein powder as a way to quickly build muscle.

You can still use protein powder to build lean muscle. However, some protein powders are designed for weight loss, meal replacement, recovery, immunity, and other targeted benefits.

Some of the people who could benefit from a protein powder include:

  • Anyone trying to lose weight without breaking down lean muscle
  • Someone trying to bulk up or build lean muscle mass
  • Bodybuilders aiming to smash through plateaus and maximize strength gains
  • Someone wanting to boost immunity or support overall health and wellness
  • Anyone looking for a healthy meal replacement that leaves them feeling full
  • Vegans or vegetarians who want to increase their daily intake of protein without eating meat or animal by-products
  • On-the-go individuals who don’t have time to make full meals for breakfast or lunch
  • Diabetics trying to manage blood sugar or control cravings
  • Anyone trying to support cardiovascular health and endurance

Many protein powders are specially designed with each of these groups in mind. Although some protein powders specifically target bodybuilders, others target runners, swimmers, or ordinary people trying to lose weight, among other groups.

Types of Protein Powder

Protein powder is more complicated than many people realize. There isn’t just one single type of protein; instead, there are multiple types of protein for different goals, lifestyles, and dietary preferences.

Popular vegan protein options include hemp protein and pea protein. You can also choose whey protein for fast absorption, casein protein for longer absorption, or a blend to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Here are some of the main types of protein found in the top-ranked protein powders above:

Whey Protein: The best-known and most popular type of protein available, whey protein is a fast-absorbing milk by-product that boosts muscle growth and recovery. You can buy three main types of whey protein, including whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate.

Whey Protein Concentrate: Whey protein concentrate is the basic form of whey protein. Manufacturers create whey protein from dairy (cow) sources. It contains low levels of fats and carbs with a protein ratio of 30% to 90%, depending on your protein powder.

Whey Protein Isolate: Whey protein isolate is a whey protein product that has been processed to remove fat and lactose. Companies run their whey protein concentrate through a filter or filtration system to remove fat and lactose, creating an end product that is at least 90% protein. Whey protein isolate is considered a superior form of protein than whey protein concentrate.

Whey Protein Hydrolysate: Hydrolysate is like a type of whey protein that has already been digested – or hydrolyzed – making it easier for your body to absorb. Your body needs to hydrolyze protein to absorb it. When you consume whey protein hydrolysate, your body may be able to use this protein more rapidly because it’s already been partially ‘digested’.

Casein Protein: Casein protein is a type of protein found in milk that’s best-known for its long absorption times. Casein protein builds muscle mass and aids fat loss. Many people take casein protein at night, allowing their body to absorb the protein as they sleep.

Egg Protein: Popular back in the 1970s and 1980s, egg protein has made a comeback in recent years. Egg protein powders take the protein from egg whites and turn it into a powdered, accessible version. This protein provides all nine essential amino acids and high doses of muscle-building protein. Egg protein is also popular with those who are allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant.

Pea Protein: Pea protein is one of the cheapest and most popular types of plant protein available today. It’s high in fiber and made from yellow split peas. Featuring a distinct flavor, pea protein can also promote fullness.

Hemp Protein: Hemp protein is a plant-based protein rich with healthy fats and amino acids. It’s also easy for your body to digest. Although not considered a complete protein, hemp protein contains seven essential amino acids along with omega-3 fatty acids crucial for overall health.

Brown Rice Protein: Brown rice protein is another popular vegan protein source made from brown rice. Also labeled simply as rice protein powder, brown rice protein contains all of the essential amino acids, although it’s low in leucine. That’s why many protein powders combine brown rice protein with pea protein (or a balanced diet).

Soy Protein: Soy protein is a plant-based protein. It’s one of the least popular types of protein found in the protein powder space. Although it’s considered a high-quality protein, soy protein also contains phytoestrogens, which could decrease testosterone and increase estrogen in large doses. Nevertheless, soy protein is rich with muscle-building protein and may also increase bone density, among other benefits.

Mixed Plant Protein: Most vegan protein powders contain a blend of multiple plant-based protein sources. There’s a reason protein powders contain multiple plant-based proteins: while animal-based proteins are complete (which means they contain all essential amino acids), plant-based proteins are not. You need multiple types of plant-based protein to get the equivalent dose of amino acids. Generally, plant-based protein blends perform better.

Collagen Protein Powder: Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, and many people take collagen protein powders daily to support joint health, muscle growth, and anti-aging effects. Today, collagen protein is prized for its effects on skin elasticity and joint health, although it’s less effective for bodybuilding and muscle growth.

Protein Powder Benefits: Scientific Studies

Protein powder is one of the most-studied nutritional supplements.

There’s ample evidence validating the use of protein powder for bodybuilding, weight loss, lean muscle development, endurance, recovery, and other benefits. We’ll summarize some of that research below.

Numerous studies have validated the use of protein powder for building lean muscle. In this 2010 study, researchers gave protein powder or a placebo to participants, then asked them to complete a heavy resistance training program.

Participants in the protein group experienced greater lean muscle development from the whey protein supplement than participants in the placebo group. Similarly, this 2011 study showed that whey protein stimulated muscle growth development in older men due to its fast digestion and high leucine content, which made it more effective than casein protein powders.

In a separate study published in 2006, researchers studied the effects of whey isolate on a group of participants. Researchers found that whey isolate led to significant improvements in strength and lean muscle mass compared to a placebo group. A separate study from 2010 found similar results, showing sedentary males increased force-generating capacity after exercise when taking a whey protein hydrolysate formula.

Whether you’re taking casein protein or standard whey protein, you can enjoy the benefits of protein supplementation. In this 2004 study, researchers assigned participants to three groups. One group received whey protein, another group received casein protein, and a third group received a placebo. Researchers found that both the whey and casein protein groups experienced a similar increase in muscle protein net balance. A similar study analyzed the differences between whey, casein, and other types of protein. Researchers found that the proteins were digested at different speeds and had slightly different leucine content, although all increased muscle mass and lean muscle development in men.

Nevertheless, there are significant differences in types of protein. In this study, researchers found that whey protein increased muscle protein synthesis 31% more than soy protein and 132% more than casein protein after a strength training session.

Protein powder could also be valuable for weight loss. In this study, researchers showed that participants with a normal weight could decrease fat mass and increase lean muscle mass by taking a protein powder. Similarly, this study showed the same results on overweight people, while a separate study showed powerful results on obese people.

Some people take protein powders for inflammation. Yes, a good protein powder could help with inflammation. In this study, researchers found that whey protein could reduce inflammation and improve certain biomarkers of cardiovascular health in overweight and obese people. Heart disease is the number one killer of adults worldwide, and a good protein powder could help mitigate this risk.

Some protein powders are designed especially to control appetite. You might take a protein powder as a meal replacement shake, for example, helping naturally encourage you to eat less. Multiple studies have validated the appetite suppressing power of whey protein. In this 2014 study, for example, researchers found that hydrolyzed casein and whey protein both regulated appetite and boosted energy expenditure.

A few years ago, there was a perception that plant-based protein was somehow weaker than whey protein. Today, that perception has changed. Studies have increasingly reinforced the fact that pea protein, hemp protein, and other plant-based proteins are as effective for muscle building as whey protein.

In this study, for example, researchers found that pea protein triggered the release of several fullness hormones, making it comparable to whey protein for appetite suppression.

Similarly, this 12-week study involving 161 men completing a resistance training program observed similar increases in muscle thickness between a pea protein and whey protein group, suggesting that both pea protein and whey protein have similar effects on muscle development.

Hemp protein is another popular type of plant-based protein. It’s prized for its digestibility. Some studies show that hemp protein is easier for your body to digest. Although more research is needed on hemp protein to verify its unique benefits, it remains a popular type of plant-based protein because it’s rich with omega-3 fatty acids and several essential amino acids (even though it’s not considered a complete protein).

Brown rice protein is one of the most popular types of protein available today. In this 8 week study, researchers gave rice protein or whey protein to participants daily, then observed changes in body composition. Researchers found that that the whey and brown rice protein groups had similar improvements in body composition, muscle strength, and recovery.

Other science-backed benefits of protein powders include:

Weight Loss: In this study involving 158 people, researchers found participants lost “significantly more body fat” while preserving more lean muscle compared to a placebo group. Many people also take protein powder as a meal replacement. Because protein fills you up and triggers the release of satiety hormones, protein powders can make it easier to stick to a low-calorie diet.

Anti-Cancer: Protein powders could have anti-cancer effects. In this study published in Anticancer Research, researchers found that whey protein concentrate could be useful for cancer treatment. However, more research is needed to verify these benefits.

Cholesterol: Protein powders could lower cholesterol. In this study, researchers gave protein powders to a group of men and women, then assessed the effects over 12 weeks. Researchers found a significant drop in total cholesterol and ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol after 12 weeks.

Asthma: Surprisingly, protein powders may be able to help children with asthma. In this study, researchers gave 10g of protein twice per day to a group of 11 children. Researchers observed an improved immune response in the protein group compared to a control group.

Blood Pressure and Heart Disease: Protein powders could help you control your blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, according to some small studies. In this study, researchers found that whey protein supplements were associated with a significant drop in blood pressure in patients with hypertension. Researchers also saw a significant decrease in the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

You might think of protein powders as bodybuilding supplements – and they are. However, science tells us that there are many other benefits linked to protein powders.

Side Effects of Protein Powder

Protein powders are well-tolerated by most healthy adults when used in normal dosages.

However, people who are allergic to milk may have trouble with whey protein powders.

Consuming high doses of whey protein could also lead to the following effects in people:

  • Stomach pains and digestive issues
  • Cramping
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

Some people develop acne issues when taking high doses of whey protein for a long period of time.

Protein Powder Dosages

There’s considerable debate about protein dosages. Some claim you need to equal your bodyweight in grams of protein per day, taking 150g of protein as a 150lb individual. Others recommend a more balanced approach. So how much protein should you take? What’s the optimal protein powder dosage?

Studies show that you need about 0.7g to 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight (1.6g of protein per kg of body weight) to gain lean muscle and recover effectively from workouts.

According to a 2018 review by researchers at McMaster University in Canada, supplementing with protein beyond this range does not impact muscle growth or development.

More protein isn’t always better: if you consistently exceed your daily recommended protein requirements, then it could put extra stress on your kidneys, digestive system, and body.

After reaching your desired muscle mass and bulking up, you may want to reduce your protein intake to around 0.5g of protein per pound (1.2g per kg). At this intake, you’ll maintain lean muscle mass and recover from workouts effectively.

If you are no longer strength training, then you should take around 0.3 to 0.4g of protein per pound of bodyweight. This amount can help you stay healthy and functional regardless of your strength training routine.

However, some experts disagree with these dosage recommendations, claiming they’re too low. The International Association of Athletics Federations, for example, recommends taking 2.4g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight just to maintain muscle mass.

When experimenting with protein dosages, it’s important to remember that your body can only absorb 20 to 25 grams of protein at once. Spread your protein intake out throughout the day.

FAQs About Protein Powders

We get plenty of questions about protein powders and how they work. Here are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions:

Q: What is protein?

A: Protein is one of three primary macronutrients (along with fat and carbs). You need protein in large amounts to stay alive.

Q: What does protein do?

A: Protein helps you feel full and helps to rebuild all of your cells. It also helps your body recover after exercise, fostering muscle growth and development.

Q: How much protein should I take?

A: Studies show that you should take around 0.7g to 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight per day when building lean muscle, 0.5g of protein when maintaining lean muscle and working out, and 0.3 to 0.4g of protein to stay healthy when you stop working out. However, other health guides recommend taking nearly twice as much protein per day to maintain lean muscle mass.

Q: Which type of protein is best?

A: Doctors generally recommend getting protein from whole food sources (like chicken, turkey, beef, or pork). However, you can also get protein from high-quality protein powders, including whey or plant-based protein powders.

Q: What is protein powder made of?

A: Protein powder is typically made from whey, a dairy product. However, you can also find soy protein, pea protein, hemp protein, and other unique types of protein powder.

Q: What is casein protein?

A: Casein protein is a type of dairy protein found in cow’s milk. It has a similar amino acid buildup to whey protein, although your body absorbs casein protein over a longer period, which could be better for muscle growth.

Q: How do I take protein powder?

A: Most people take a protein powder by mixing the powder with water, milk, almond milk, or any other beverage of your choice. Alternatively, you could bake with protein powder or use protein powder in other unique ways.

Q: What’s complete versus incomplete protein?

A: There are two main groups of protein, including complete proteins and incomplete proteins. Complete proteins are great for exercise, repairing your body, and growing muscle because they contain essential amino acids (amino acids your body cannot make). Incomplete proteins contain some amino acids but not others. They can satisfy the body’s needs when combined, but they’re not considered complete on their own.

Q: When should I eat protein?

A: You can eat protein at any time of the day. Some recommend taking it before, during, or after a workout. Others take protein during the morning to stay full throughout the day. Others take protein at night to fuel their body’s muscle repair overnight. It depends on you and your unique health and fitness goals.

Q: Is a high protein diet harmful?

A: Most high protein diets are not harmful. However, if you’re taking too much protein regularly, then you could experience digestive issues or nutrient imbalances.

Q: How much protein can you absorb at once?

A: Experts tell you that your body can only absorb 25 to 30 grams of protein at once. This isn’t really true: your body will always process whatever you feed it, although it may not process it in an optimal way. However, you should still spread out your protein across multiple meals for optimal digestion (and minimal digestive issues).

Q: What are the best food sources of protein?

A: The best food sources of protein include milk products, poultry, eggs, fish, lean beef, soy protein, and certain types of plant protein.

Q: Does protein help me build muscle faster?

A: Protein can help you build muscle more quickly, and studies have repeatedly emphasized the value of pairing resistance training with protein supplementation.

Q: Will protein powders hurt my kidneys?

A: Some studies suggest that protein powders hurt your kidneys when taken in excessive doses for a long period. However, most studies show that the benefits of protein powders (in normal dosages) outweigh any potential kidney damage. Talk to your doctor if concerned about kidney health.

Final Word

Protein powders are some of the most popular supplements available today.

Not just for bodybuilders, protein powders can help you lose weight, build lean muscle, support cardiovascular health, and boost your endurance, among other benefits. Again, after reviewing the top 25 best protein powder supplements for sale on the market in 2021, there is no other place to buy protein powders if they are not on this list. After the hundreds were taken into consideration for this list compilation, these are the best protein-rich powders for men and women:

To pick the best protein powder for your unique needs, consider any of the top-ranked protein powder supplements listed above.

Affiliate Disclosure:

The links contained in this product review may result in a small commission if you opt to purchase the product recommended at no additional cost to you. This goes towards supporting our research and editorial team and please know we only recommend high quality products.

Disclaimer:

Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely a substitute for sound medical advice from a licensed healthcare provider. Make sure to consult with a professional physician before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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