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The 8 Best Protein Powders for Building Muscle

8 Protein Powders Reviewed

94 Hours of Research

48 Reviews Examined

3 Experts Interviewed

David | A Lean Life

Published by David Williams

As an engineer, David loves technical product comparison and analyzing the data to assess top products.

Table of Contents

When working out, protein is an essential nutrient that helps repair and rebuild muscle tissue. But how do you get enough of it without consuming too much meat in your daily diet? The answer is simple – protein powder.

Perhaps you’ve seen or heard of protein powder before, but you’re not quite sure what it is or how to use it. Or you’ve used it before, but it wasn’t what you expected. Either way, this guide will go through some of the best protein powders on the market, highlighting how they work and what benefits they offer.

But first.

What is protein powder?

For starters, protein powder is a dietary supplement made from proteins isolated from their natural sources. These sources include plants (hemp, peas, soybeans, rice, peas, or potatoes), milk, or eggs (whey protein or casein). They are then processed into a powder form, making them easy to consume.

The amount of protein in a protein powder can vary from 10 to 30 grams depending on the purpose of the product. For example, those designed for people wanting to build muscle will often have a higher protein content than those intended for weight loss.

How we chose the best protein powders

Anyone who has used a protein powder and felt like they were drinking chalk knows that not all protein powders are created equal. The market has no shortage of options, and it can be overwhelming to find the right one. Some work better than others.

So, how did we go about choosing a protein powder? To help narrow down the field, here are a few factors we took into consideration:

  • Ingredients: High-quality protein powders list their ingredients on the label. The best protein powders will put up all their ingredients without hiding anything. They will also have low amounts of added artificial additives and sugar or none.
  • Protein Source. Protein powders have either plant-based proteins or animal-based proteins. Examples of plant-based proteins are pea protein, rice protein, hemp protein, and soy protein. Animal-based proteins come from whey, eggs, collagen, or casein. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so depending on your needs and goals, one source may be better for you than another.
  • Testing. The best protein powders will have an independent company going through their product to ensure it meets specific standards. Third-party testing is not a must, but it is a sign the product meets every claim it makes.
  • Price. A common misconception is that the best protein powders are always the most expensive. While quality does come at a price, you don’t need to break the bank to find a quality product.
  • Customer Reviews. Checking out what other customers have to say is always a good idea. It can give you some insight into the quality of the product and how it has worked for others.

Now that we’ve gone over what to look for let’s take a closer look at some of the best protein powders on the market.

100% Tri-protein - Crazy Nutrition

100% Tri-Protein

Ingredient Quality

Price

5.0
5/5
4.4
4.4/5

Overall Score

4.7
4.7/5
Whey Protein Isolate 100% Grass-Fed

100% Grass-Fed

Ingredient Quality

Price

4.9
4.9/5
4.1
4.1/5

Overall Score

4.5
4.5/5
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Best collagen protein

Collagen Peptides

Ingredient Quality

Price

4.8
4.8/5
4.4
4.4/5

Overall Score

4.6
4.6/5

1. 100% Tri-protein – Crazy Nutrition -Editors Choice

100% Tri-protein - Crazy NutritionBrand Overview:

100% Tri-protein is a product of Crazy Nutrition. The brand is a workout or athletic supplements manufacturer based in the U.K. Its formulas help fortify the body before, during, and after workouts.

With over a decade in the business, Crazy Nutrition has a good reputation for quality products. You can trust that the 100% Tri-protein is no exception. This protein powder has a simple but effective formula.

Product Specification:

  • 111.50 mg Energy, kcal per serving
  • 6 mg DigeZyme® Enzyme Complex
  • 23.25 grams of Protein Per Serving
  • 1.92 g Carbohydrate Per serving
  • 1.58 g Sugars Per serving
  • 0.92 G fat per serving
  • Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder
  • Non-GMO

Features:

One of the best protein powders is 100% Tri-protein – Crazy Nutrition. It has a high protein content of 23.25 g per serving. In fact, it can even be your meal replacement shake.

One key ingredient that makes it stand out is the whey protein isolate. It helps shed excess body weight and control blood pressure. The extended-release protein in three phases, also known as staggered absorption rate, ensures that your muscles have a steady supply of essential amino acids. It helps supply your body with more energy and strength.

It also comes in three great flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and salted caramel.

Price:

100% Tri-protein – Crazy Nutrient will cost you £49.99 for a one-time purchase with free shipping for orders above $50. You can also opt for the subscription mode, which will then be £39.99, saving you 20%.

Customer Experience:

It’s essential to go through customer reviews to understand a product clearly. We scrolled through the internet to find some feedback on 100% Tri-protein – Crazy Nutrition.

Most customers were highly pleased with the product. For example, on the brand’s website, the protein powder has an average 4.7/5 star rating. One customer said, ” Your product rocks. I have used it for about a month, and it helps me hit my targets.

While the comments were few, most were generally positive. The only complaint was that the container design was too small to scope all the powder.

Pros

Con

2. Whey Protein Isolate 100% Grass-Fed

Whey Protein Isolate 100% Grass-FedBrand Overview:

Whey Protein Isolate is a product of Transparent labs. The company is a leading sports supplement brand based in Utah, USA. Founded in 2015, the company has remained true to its name by being fully transparent with its ingredients, doses, and sources.

All products from Transparent Labs undergo a rigorous testing process to ensure they are of the highest quality. You can be sure that the formulas have clinically effective ingredient dosages, zero food dyes, natural sweeteners, and no banned substances. The company also offers supporting scientific and research studies for all their products.

Product Specification:

  • 28 grams of protein per serving
  • 0g fat per serving
  • 2 g carbohydrates
  • 1 g sugars
  • 140 mg sodium
  • 5 mg cholesterol
  • 101 mg Calcium
  • 1 mg Iron
  • 142 mg Potassium
  • Gluten-free
  • Stevia

Features:

Whey Protein Isolate has the highest amount of protein per scoop on this list. A whopping 28 grams of protein per serving is the highest ratio on the market. While it doesn’t have digestive enzymes, being grass-fed means it’s easy to digest and readily absorbed by your body.

Since pure whey protein isolate is a complete source of protein, it has all the essential amino acids needed in the body to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. The powder is also low in fat and carbs, making it ideal for people trying to shed weight.

The product mixes well with semi-solid foods or liquids to make a smooth protein shake. Moreover, it will satisfy your taste buds as it’s available in several delicious flavors.

Price:

Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate goes for $59.99 for a one-time purchase. You can also subscribe, save 15%, and enjoy free shipping with exclusive promos and discounts.

Customer Review:

The product has a 4.5/5-star rating on the official website with over 1900 reviews. Over 80% of customers gave it 5/5 stars, while 2% gave it the lowest.

The customers who liked the product found it very effective in aiding weight loss and muscle-building. They also loved the taste of the powder and appreciated that it was low in calories. A few customers didn’t like the price, saying it was expensive. However, most customers thought the price was fair for the quality of the product.

Pros

Cons

3. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Best Collagen Protein

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Best collagen proteinBrand Overview:

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is a product of Vital Proteins, a US-based wellness brand offering various health and fitness products. The founder Kurt Seidensticker got the inspiration to start the brand when he experienced joint pain and couldn’t run. He felt the best way to support his joints was to supplement his diet with collagen.

Since 2013, the brand has provided quality collagen products to help with joint pain, skin elasticity, gut health, and more. While Nestle Health Science owns a majority stake in the company, Vital Proteins remains true to its core values.

Product Specification:

  • Contains 19 essential amino acids, such as alanine and arginine
  • 20 g Collagen per serving
  • 90 mg 100% daily value Vitamin C
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • 80 mg Hyaluronic Acid per serving
  • It has hyaluronic acid
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Paleo friendly

Features:

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is an excellent choice for a quality collagen supplement.

It contains a blend of amino acids such as lysine, alanine, and glycine. The three heavy-hitters have a significant role in collagen synthesis, helping prevent joint pains and osteoarthritis.

The protein powder also has hydrolyzed collagen, making it easier for the body to absorb. Plus, being grass-fed means it has I, II, and III collagen types in one supplement.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides have no flavor. That means it won’t affect the taste of your smoothie or coffee. You can also add it to savory food like soup or pasta sauce.

Price:

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides are available in several sizes. The 9.33oz goes for $27.00 for a one-time purchase and $20.25 on a subscription model. The 20oz size is $47.00 for a one-time purchase and $35.25 on a subscription model.

You will also get the 5oz travel size for $15.00 on a one-time purchase and $11.25 on a subscription model. The last option is the Stick Pack Box (20 ct) which is $37.00 for a one-time purchase and $27.75 on a subscription model.

Customer Experience:

Vital Proteins Collagen has fantastic reviews with an average 4.6/5 stars rating from over 8300 customers on the brand’s website. It’s only about 400 reviews that gave it a score lower than three stars.

One customer said, “I am so glad I found this product. I have had joint problems for so long, and this has helped me so much.” Another wrote, “This is my first time taking collagen peptides, and I’m impressed. I have only been using it for a few weeks, and I have noticed my skin looks better, and my hair is growing faster.”

Pros

Cons

4. Gold Standard Whey Protein – Best Chocolate-Flavored

Gold Standard Whey Protein - Best chocolate-flavoredBrand Overview:

Another best whey protein powder is the Gold Standard by Optimum Nutrition. This top-rated brand has been providing quality sports nutrition supplements since 1986. From a humble beginning, the company has grown to have four state-of-the-art NSF-certified facilities, with its global offices situated at Downers Grove, Illinois.

With more than 30 years of experience, it’s no wonder that Optimum Nutrition is one of the most trusted brands in the industry. Its Gold Standard Whey Protein is one of the best-selling protein powders on the market.

Product Specification:

  • It contains 24 grams of protein per serving
  • 5.5 g natural Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) per serving
  • 112 kcal calories per serving
  • 0.5 g saturated fat per serving
  • 2 g carbohydrates per serving
  • Contains 1 g of sugars
  • 1.2 g fibres per serving
  • Has essential vitamins and minerals
  • Gluten-free
  • No artificial growth hormones
  • It has a digestive enzyme complex blend

Features:

Optimum nutrition ensures that their whey protein powder has no burned substances or fillers. It’s a high-quality product that contains a blend of three proteins: whey protein isolates, whey protein concentrates, and whey protein peptides.

Its primary source is the whey protein isolate, 95% pure protein. It contains low fat and carb and is lactose-free. That makes it easier for the body to digest and absorb.

This powder’s Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) help with protein synthesis and reduce muscle breakdown. It also optimizes performance and strength while supporting post-workout recovery.

The Gold Standard Whey Protein is available in over 20 flavors, including chocolate peanut butter, strawberries & cream, vanilla ice cream, strawberry banana, mocha cappuccino, Cookies & Cream, and coffee.

The unflavoured is the best choice for those who want to mix it with other ingredients. But if you’re going to drink it on its own, then any of the flavors would be good.

Price:

The price of the Gold Standard Whey Protein powder depends on the size and flavor you choose. The range starts from 1.8lbs, 1.9lbs, 2lbs, 2.27lbs, 4.6lbs, 4.9lbs, 5lbs, and 10lbs.

The price for the 1.9lbs tub is $37.99 with free delivery for orders above $70, while the 4.9lbs option costs $74.99. You can also enjoy a 15% discount on the first order when you sign up for their email listing.

Customer Experience:

The Gold Standard Whey Protein powder has fantastic reviews with an average rating of 4.8 stars on the brand’s website. There are over 1700 reviews, and most customers say it’s the best protein powder they’ve ever used.

One customer said, “I am so glad I decided to try this protein powder! It mixes great with just water and tastes great. I have tried other protein powders that left me bloated, but this one doesn’t. I will definitely be buying again.”

Another said, “This is the best protein powder I’ve ever had. I’m a long-time protein shake drinker and have tried many different brands, and this is, by far, the best in terms of taste. I highly recommend it.”

Pros

Con

5. Orgain Organic Protein – Best Plant-Based Protein Powder

Orgain Organic Protein - Best Plant-Based Protein PowderBrand Overview:

One of the best organic plant-based protein powders is the Orgain Organic Protein. It is a product of the Orgain company founded in 2008 by Dr. Andrew Abraham, a cancer survivor. His idea came about when he could not find healthy and organic nutrition during his treatment. (1)

Fourteen years later, Orgain is a leading company in healthy foods and drinks with the mission to make healthy living easy and accessible for everyone. Their products are non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and carrageenan free.

The Orgain Organic Protein is a plant-based protein powder that is USDA approved that will help you lose weight, build muscle, and improve your workout recovery.

Product Specification:

  • 21 g vegan protein per serving
  • 15 g carbs per serving
  • 150 kcal calories per serving
  • 290 mg sodium per serving
  • 260 mg potassium per serving
  • 6.4 mg iron per serving
  • no artificial flavors
  • Non-GMO
  • USDA Organic
  • Kosher
  • Gluten-Free
  • Essential amino acids
  • Beneficial vitamins and minerals

Features:

Orgain Organic Protein Powder formula is 100% plant-based, making it ideal for vegans. It contains a blend of pea, chia seed, and brown rice protein. All this works together to provide enough protein intake per serving to help you with weight loss, muscle development, and workout recovery.

The organic pea protein is a naturally occurring hypoallergenic protein extracted from yellow peas. It has low methionine content but comes with all nine essential amino acids. One of them, lysine, helps support the immune system. (2)

On the other hand, pea brown rice protein is a complete protein obtained from the rice grain. It has several functions, including building & maintaining muscle structure and boosting metabolism. Additionally, it’s convenient for any with dietary restrictions.

Orgain Organic Protein Powder comes in multiple flavors: chocolate peanut butter, vanilla flavor, peanut butter, iced café mocha, and cookies & cream. It also has a natural unsweetened flavor, just in case you don’t enjoy the sweet taste.

Price:

Orgain Organic Protein powder comes in four sizes: 1.12oz, 2.03lbs, and 10lbs single-serve packets. The prices are as follows:

  • 1.12oz – $22.99 (one-time purchase) and $14.94 (subscription)
  • 2.03lbs – $33.99 (one-time purchase) and $22.09 (subscription)
  • 10 single-serve packets – $30.99 (one-time purchase) and $20.14 (subscription)

Customer Review:

Overall, Orgain Organic Protein powder has a 4.6-star rating on the brand’s website with over 3300 customer comments. Most customers say it’s the best protein powder they’ve ever had in terms of taste. Many are also happy with how quickly it mixes and that there are no clumps.

A few reviewers mentioned they didn’t like some flavors. While the chocolate peanut flavor has record sales, others didn’t perform as well.

Pros

Cons

6. Pea Protein Powder – Best Plant-Based Protein

Pea Protein Powder - Best Plant-Based ProteinBrand Overview:

Now Sports Pea Protein Powder is a product of Now Sports, a nutrition company that has been around since 1968. It all started with Elwood Richard, who had a passion for sports and nutrition and created a line of products to help athletes perform their best. He started a small chain of health food stores called Health House in Chicago, equipped with his physical chemist degree. (3)

Due to high competition, he soon converted these stores into manufacturing and distribution warehouses for his line of products, which he could now sell at a fraction of the price. It was the birth of NOW Foods.

The company has grown a lot since then and is now one of the leading sports nutrition companies in the world. Its pea protein powder is one of the best-selling products.

Product Specification:

  • 15 g of protein per serving
  • 2,700 mg (BCAAs)
  • 1,300 mg arginine
  • 80 calories per serving
  • 1 g carbohydrates per serving
  • 1 g dietary fiber per serving
  • 58 mg calcium per serving
  • 5 mg Iron per serving
  • 21 mg Potassium per serving
  • Non-G.M.O
  • Soy and dairy free
  • No artificial flavors
  • Keto-friendly
  • Kosher
  • Gluten-free

Features:

Now Sport’s pea protein powder is an excellent choice for those looking to build muscle or lose weight. It’s a complete protein with a blend of several (BCAAs) and essential amino acids, being a yellow peas extract.

This plant-based protein powder is not just another fad. It has been around for a while and has helped many people reach their fitness goals. The company is a well-recognized name in the sports nutrition industry and has been around for over 40 years.

Now Sport’s pea protein powder comes in two great tastes: vanilla flavor and chocolate. You may also opt for the natural unsweetened flavor.

Price:

Now Sport’s pea protein powder will fetch $29.99 for a one-time purchase and $23.99 for a subscription. You also get free shipping for orders over $50.

Customer Review:

Unfortunately, the brand does not offer reviews on its website. However, a quick search on Amazon reveals that the product has a 4.3/5-star rating from over 5600 reviewers. Only 8% of the reviews gave it 1 star.

Most people who’ve tried it seem to love the product. One customer said, “This is easily the best vegan protein powder I’ve had.”

The few that didn’t like it pointed out poor customer service. Overall, it seems like a great product with delighted customers.

Pros

Con

7. Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass-Fed Whey Protein IsolateBrand Overview:

Garden of Life is a health and wellness company founded in 2000. The company is a leading manufacturer of Non-GMO and USDA Organic certified nutritional products. Its whole foods are popular among health-conscious people for their high-quality ingredients.

The company manufactures all its products in the U.S.A. and commits to sustainability. It offers over 250 branded supplements, including proteins, performance products, and vitamins. One of their most popular products is the Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate.

Product Specification:

  • 25 g grass-fed whey protein per serving
  • 4 g glutamine & glutamic acid per serving
  • 6 g BCAAs per serving
  • No added hormones, no antibiotics
  • No added sugars
  • 2 Billion CFU B. lactis Bl04
  • 120 calories per serving
  • 6 g carbohydrate per serving
  • 2 g dietary fiber per serving
  • 10 mg naturally occurring caffeine per serving
  • 130 mg sodium per serving
  • 5 mg cholesterol per serving

Features:

Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is a great product. The high amount of protein per serving, 25 grams, ensures that you have enough protein intake to support muscle growth. (4)

The protein powder has a blend of two proteins: whey protein isolate 85% and milk protein 15%. The ratio ensures that you get a good quality protein intake easily absorbed by the body.

Unlike some proteins with false claims of being grass-fed, this powder is genuinely grass-fed. The cows roam freely in their natural outdoor habitat, feeding on lush, nutritious pastures. Since they are small family herds, they don’t need growth hormones or antibiotics like what commercial farms use.

The powder comes from milk that is cold-pressed and undenatured. The process helps to preserve the fragile whey protein molecules and all the vital nutrients. As a result, you get a highly bioavailable powder that’s easy to digest.

This whey protein powder comes in two delicious testes: chocolate and creamy vanilla. You can easily mix it with milk, water, or your favorite beverage.

Price:

Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate will cost you $45.59 for a 23.28 (660g) canister. Unfortunately, the company does not offer a subscription model.

Customer Review:

Unfortunately, the product has very few reviews on the Garden of Life website. However, a quick search on Amazon reveals that it has a 4.6/5-star rating from over 3200 reviewers.

Most of the customers who’ve tried it love the product. They term it as the best protein powder they’ve ever tried. They like the taste, mixability, and the fact that it’s grass-fed. They also appreciate that it’s gluten-free and has no artificial sweeteners.

A few reviewers didn’t like the price tag. They said it was too expensive for such a few scoops. However, most customers thought the price was fair given the quality of the product.

Pros

Con

8. Bulk Natural Pure Whey Isolate

Bulk Natural Pure Whey IsolateBrand Overview:

Bulk is a UK-based sports nutrition company that manufactures high-quality supplements founded in 2005. The company has been journeying to become the most innovative, forward-thinking, and customer-centric sports nutrition company. It aims to be the only destination for active people and athletes who want to improve their health, performance, and physique.

Bulk offers a wide range of products, including proteins, amino acids, pre-workouts, and vitamins. One of their most popular products is Bulk Natural Pure Whey Isolate.

Product Specification:

  • 24 grams of protein per serving
  • 1 g fat per serving
  • O.4 g sugars
  • 1.5 g carbohydrates
  • 1 g fibre
  • 0,19 salt
  • 453/108 Energy kJ/kcal
  • Gluten-Free

Features:

Each Bulk Natural Pure Whey Isolate serving contains 24 grams of protein derived from milk. It gives you enough protein intake to support the growth of your muscles.

The whey protein gets isolated through a microfiltration process that helps to remove the fat and lactose. As a result, you remain with pure protein that is very easy to digest and absorb. (5)

While Bulk Natural Whey Isolate is not an organic plant-based protein, it’s still vegan-friendly and halal. It has several delicious flavors, including chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.

One of the standout features of this protein powder is its meager calories. A single scoop has just 108 calories, making it ideal for people seeking to maintain weight.

Price:

Bulk Natural Pure Whey Isolate comes in several package sizes with different price tags. You can get a 1.1lb, 2.2lb, 5.5lb, or 11.02lb package. The price ranges from $33.39 to $248.45.

Customer Review:

The product has a 4.4/5-star rating on the TrustPilot with over 36000 reviews. 80% of customers gave it 5/5 stars, while 6% gave it the lowest. It’s the most reviewed product on this list.

Most of the customers who’ve tried it love the product. They appreciate the fact that it’s low in calories and sugar. One customer said it was the best whey protein powder he’d ever tried. He preferred the chocolate flavor.

A few reviewers didn’t like the mixability of the powder. They said mixing was a bit challenging and often resulted in a clumpy shake. Overall, the majority of the customers were delighted with the protein.

Pros

Con

Conclusion:

First-time users can find it challenging to choose a protein powder that meets all their needs. However, the seven products we’ve reviewed are some of the best on the market.

Remember, any type of protein powder is not a replacement for a healthy diet and exercise. It’s just a supplement to whole foods that can help you reach your health and fitness goals. Additionally, the information here is not medical advice. Please always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.

Click to read the comparison between creatine and protein powder.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

References

  1. Dr. Andrew Abraham named entrepreneur of the year, OC Health & Education. Orgain. (n.d.).
    https://orgain.com/blogs/news/andrew-abraham-named-entrepreneur-of-the-year-health-education-in-orange-county
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Amino acids: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus.  https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm
  3. Nowfoods.com. (n.d.).
    https://www.nowfoods.com/about-now/leadership/more-about-elwood-richard
  4. Schoenfeld, B. J., & Aragon, A. A. (2018, February 27). How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? implications for daily protein distribution – journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. BioMed Central.  https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1
  5. Microfiltration. Microfiltration – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemical-engineering/microfiltration#:~:text=Microfiltration%20(MF)%20is%20a%20pressure,order%20of%200.1%E2%80%931.0%20%CE%BCm.