8 Best Protein Powders
These are the best protein powders you can buy, whether you're looking for a specific flavor or protein source.
Our Top Protein Powder Picks
- Best Overall: BioSteel 100% Whey Protein
- Best Chocolate: NOW Foods Whey Protein Creamy Chocolate
- Best Vanilla: Garden of Life Sport Plant-Based Vanilla
- Best Budget-Friendly: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey
- Best Flavor (Not Vanilla or Chocolate): Orgain Iced Coffee
- Best Vegan: Vega Sport
- Best Small Brand: Ladder Protein
- Most Versatile: Bob’s Red Mill Almond Protein Powder
This article has been updated since its original publish date.
Protein powders are most definitely not created equal, and trying to find the best one for your needs can be beyond complicated. With so many brands, flavors and protein sources on the market, deciphering the label can feel overwhelming. We did the leg work for you and asked a registered dietitian and certified athletic trainer, and these powders earned top honors.
How to Use Protein Powder
Protein supplements are meant to supplement gaps in the diet – not replace whole foods. If you are pressed for time after a workout or trying to boost the protein at a meal or snack, protein powders can be a convenient way to help, but keep in mind, they are not one size fits all. Formulations vary and many include extensive lists of additional ingredients that you may or may not want in your day. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no need to add protein powder to all meals and snacks. Seek out predominantly protein-rich foods to help you achieve your daily needs first. Then, a reasonable use of a protein powder — no more than one serving a day — can help you reach your protein goals. Most protein powders contain little or no carbs but taste sweet with the addition of low or no calorie sweeteners like stevia and sucralose. Protein powders can be mixed with water or another liquid using a protein shaker or blender.
Is Protein Powder Regulated?
Since the dietary supplement industry is poorly regulated, competitive athletes or those with dietary restrictions should seek out supplements with third-party verification from companies like NSF Certified for Sport and Informed Sport to ensure label accuracy.
NSF certified and used by a wide range of athletes, whey protein is the most easily digestible form for most people. Despite being made from milk, whey protein isolate (the most plentiful type in this product), is virtually lactose free. This form is also lower in carbs and fat than other forms of whey protein making it a great all around choice for athletes and exercise enthusiasts alike.
Chocolate lovers don’t need to look any further than this amazing-tasting whey protein option available in both whey protein concentrate and isolate forms. It contains no added sugars yet makes everything taste like a chocolate milkshake, plus it is Informed Sport certified with 24 grams of protein per serving.
A tasty protein blend made from organic pea and sprouted beans and lentils. Mix with water or almond milk for a scrumptious post workout refresher.
A great value and easy to find at several retailers. This balanced blend of whey protein comes in a wide (like, super wide) variety of flavors, including Banana Creme and Rocky Road. Prices may vary and it often goes on sale, but you can typically find this tried and true brand for around $0.75 per ounce, which is nearly 50% less than some of its competitors.
Complete with a reasonable jolt of caffeine (60 mg per serving), this plant-based protein blend made from pea, chia and brown rice and sweetened with stevia, is flavorful and a fun detour from your typical flavored protein powder.
This plant protein made from pea, pumpkin and sunflower seeds also features tart cherry for muscle recovery, probiotics and antioxidants from bromelain and turmeric. You will find 30 grams of protein per scoop and it comes in 5 flavors.
Loved by athletes, this brand offers a wide range of performance nutrition products. Their NSF certified whey and plant-based protein powders (made from pea protein) also include tart cherry extract to assist with post exercise recovery.
A neutral flavored and simple powder perfect for baking, oatmeal and protein balls. A 1/3 cup (1.5 oz) serving has a respectable 17 grams of protein and it made without sweeteners, colors or flavors.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.