8 Best Protein Powders to Build Muscle (2024 Updated) 

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 8, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guides. By ordering products anonymously and getting a group of independent testers, we are able to get first-hand experience and provide data-driven recommendations. Learn more.

There are more protein supplements than any other kind of dietary product, but the problem with most of them is that they don’t have the right quality.

And in quite a few cases, we’ve found that they are full of sugar and don’t mix easily.

I’m sure you’ve experienced those crappy protein powders that taste awful and end up in a clumpy mess.

To help you avoid those types of products, our team at TotalShape came up with a tried and tested list of products that we recommend to clients to build muscle and lose some body weight.

The Best Protein Powders to Build Muscle

Editor's Choice
Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate
Transparent Labs
Rated 4.8/5
Click For Best Price
2nd Best Choice
Ladder Whey Protein Powder
Ladder Whey
Rated 4.7/5
Click For Best Price
3rd Best Choice
Swolverine Whey Protein Powder
Swolverine Whey
Rated 4.7/5
Click For Best Price

Our Best Protein Powder for Muscle Gain (June 2024)

1 - Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate (Best Overall & Best for Women)

Rated 4.8/5
4.9
Ingredients
4.6
Texture
4.6
Flavor
5.0
User Ratings
5.0
Ingredient Quality
4.6
Product Effectiveness
Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate
  • Price per serving : $2.00
  • Key ingredients : Whey Protein Isolate, Natural Flavors
  • All flavors : Milk Chocolate, French Vanilla, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Strawberry Milkshake
  • Third-party tested : Yes

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Grass-fed protein source for highest quality protein powder
  • 28 grams of protein per serving is ideal for bodybuilders
  • Great flavors, especially chocolate peanut butter
  • Bulk orders make it a very reasonable product

Cons

  • Free shipping only available over $150

Who is it for?

Who is it for?

  • Athletes prioritizing purity and performance
  • Those who prefer naturally flavored products

Who is it not for?

  • Vegans or those with dairy allergies

Final Verdict

Transparent Labs offers a clean, minimal ingredient list ideal for muscle gain and recovery, making it a superior choice for athletes and health-conscious individuals.

Our top choice for the best protein powders is from Transparent Labs. I remember trying it for the first time. Each serving delivered all the essential amino acids my muscles needed. it enhanced muscle function quite noticeably.

With 28 grams in each scoop, you also get a large enough dose to suit performance athletes looking for muscle gain.

And just as importantly, there are no artificial flavors, and many people have commented that it tastes great straight out of a shaker.

Quick Facts

  • Protein Type: Whey Isolate
  • Protein Amount: 28 g per serving

2 - Ladder Whey Protein Powder (Best Isolate & for Recovery)

Rated 4.7/5
4.7
Ingredients
4.6
Texture
4.7
Flavor
4.7
User Ratings
4.8
Ingredient Quality
4.6
Product Effectiveness
Ladder Whey Protein Powder
  • Price per serving : $2.17
  • Key ingredients : Whey Protein Isolate, Vegan BCAAs, Tart Cherry
  • All flavors : Chocolate, Vanilla
  • Third-party tested : Yes

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Whey isolate endorsed by Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Provides 7g of branched-chain amino acids
  • Available in large bags and small ready to use packets

Cons

  • This whey protein isolates product takes some time to fully mix with water

Who is it for?

Who is it for?

  • Fitness enthusiasts needing fast recovery
  • Individuals interested in supplements with additional nutrients

Who is it not for?

  • Those avoiding artificial flavors and sweeteners

Final Verdict

Ladder Whey Protein is scientifically formulated for optimal performance, with added nutrients supporting overall health, though it may not suit all due to flavoring.

The Ladder protein powders and sports supplements were co-created by Arnold Schwarzenegger and LeBron James.

During the testing phase, I noticed an improvement in my recovery time. The mix of BCAAs and probiotics made the difference.

While we did find that the whey protein powder takes a bit longer to mix in a shaker, the flavor and texture are very nice.

Quick Facts

  • Protein Type: Whey protein
  • Protein Amount: 26g per serving

3 - Swolverine Whey Protein Powder (Best Grass-Fed)

Rated 4.7/5
4.7
Ingredients
4.7
Texture
4.6
Flavor
4.6
User Ratings
4.8
Ingredient Quality
4.6
Product Effectiveness
Swolverine Whey Protein Powder
  • Price per serving : $2.10
  • Key ingredients : Whey Protein Isolate, Prohydrolase
  • All flavors : Chocolate, Vanilla, Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry
  • Third-party tested : Yes

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Whey protein isolate is sourced from grass-fed cows for higher quality
  • Seems to be easy to mix with water
  • Great subscription discounts available

Cons

  • Some of the flavors taste a bit too sweet

Who is it for?

Who is it for?

  • Bodybuilders and serious athletes
  • Those seeking enzyme-fortified protein for better digestion

Who is it not for?

  • People preferring unflavored or unsweetened protein

Final Verdict

Swolverine is a robust choice for those looking to maximize muscle recovery and growth, supported by enzymatic action to enhance digestion.

Next on our list of recommended protein powders for muscle gain is this one from Swolverine, and it’s another good choice for athletes who need large doses of whey protein powders immediately after training.

I tried it after one of my intense training sessions and my muscles felt the difference. I also noted that my recovery time was quick compared to when not use supplements.

Online reviews are very positive on the muscle-building effects.

And because it’s sourced from grass-fed cows, the quality should be much higher than other products.

Quick Facts

  • Protein Type: Whey protein isolate
  • Protein Amount: 26g per serving

4 - Onnit (Best Tasting)

Rated 4.6/5
4.5
Ingredients
4.5
Texture
4.7
Flavor
4.6
User Ratings
4.7
Ingredient Quality
4.5
Product Effectiveness
Onnit
  • Price per serving : $1.50
  • Key ingredients : Whey Protein Isolate, Leucine
  • All flavors : Vanilla, Mexican Chocolate
  • Third-party tested : Yes

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Protein powder is sourced from grass-fed cows for best quality
  • Flavors are tasty and not too sweet
  • Great subscription discounts available

Cons

  • Many types of athletes would require more than one scoop for optimum muscle recovery

Who is it for?

Who is it for?

  • Those engaged in mixed-intensity workouts
  • Health-conscious individuals due to grass-fed sources

Who is it not for?

  • Vegans or lactose intolerant individuals

Final Verdict

Onnit provides a grass-fed whey option that supports both muscle gain and cognitive function, making it ideal for a holistic approach to fitness.

I've used Onnit protein powders for muscle gain for a while now. It's not just a favorite among many athletes I know, Its also a personal preference too.

It’s not the highest dose option I've tried, but the quality is a lot better than what you generally tend to find on the market.

We also like the subscription options available that allow you to save quite a bit of money.

Just keep the dose per scoop in mind, as it might not be enough for high-performance athletes and bodybuilders.

Quick Facts

  • Protein Type: Whey protein
  • Protein Amount: 20g per serving

5 - MyProtein Whey Protein Powder (Cheapest & Best for Bulk Orders)

Rated 4.5/5
4.5
Ingredients
4.6
Texture
4.4
Flavor
4.6
User Ratings
4.5
Ingredient Quality
4.5
Product Effectiveness
MyProtein Whey Protein Powder
  • Price per serving : $0.15
  • Key ingredients : Whey Protein Concentrate
  • All flavors : Chocolate Brownie, Vanilla, Strawberry Cream, Salted Caramel, and more
  • Third-party tested : Yes

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Provides a good dose of BCAAs for faster muscle gains
  • Many positive reviews about the flavors and how easy they mix
  • Available in large bulk-order pouches for great savings

Cons

  • The protein amount per serving may not be enough for performance athletes

Who is it for?

Who is it for?

  • Budget-conscious consumers
  • Beginners in fitness due to ease of use and variety

Who is it not for?

  • Those with lactose intolerance or preferring organic products

Final Verdict

MyProtein offers an affordable, high-quality protein that's perfect for beginners and those looking to experiment with different flavors.

My team and I liked this protein powder for muscle recovery because it has a good amount of BCAAs despite not being the largest dose per serving. It has never been about the quantity for me but the quality of every scoop. And this supplement passed my test.

Those BCAAs play a pivotal role, working hand in hand with the body's natural process to optimize muscle protein synthesis. Understanding the absorption dynamics and cellular activity offers insights into protein utilization and enhanced muscle growth.

We also found that MyProtein mixes easily in a shaker with water, and the flavor isn’t too sweet or fake.

Quick Facts

  • Protein Type: Whey protein
  • Protein Amount: 21g per serving

6 - BiPro Whey Protein Powder

Rated 4.4/5
4.4
Ingredients
4.4
Texture
4.5
Flavor
4.5
User Ratings
4.5
Ingredient Quality
4.3
Product Effectiveness
BiPro Whey Protein Powder
  • Price per serving : $1.47
  • Key ingredients : 100% Protein Isolate (70% Whey Protein Isolate, 30% Milk Protein Isolate), Non-GMO coconut oil powder, Chicory root prebiotic fiber
  • All flavors : Boldly Bare, Creamy Vanilla, Chocolate Milkshake, Strawberries & Creme
  • Third-party tested : No information available

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Suitable for mixing with food and baked goods
  • Positive comments about the great vanilla flavor
  • Available in bulk-order pouches for much better value

Cons

  • Some people find resealable pouches less convenient

Who is it for?

Who is it for?

  • Those seeking high-quality protein with minimal additives
  • Suitable for lactose-intolerant individuals

Who is it not for?

  • Not for those looking for a vegan protein source

Final Verdict

BiPro offers a pure protein source with added digestive benefits from prebiotic fibers, making it a great choice for athletes and health enthusiasts focusing on muscle recovery and gut health.

BiPro is distinct for its versatility, not just in smoothies but also in a range of creative recipes. I personally used it to enhance my breakfast and snacks for a protein boost. It made every meal an opportunity to grow my muscles.

I also loved the flavor and taste that came with the protein powder, something other users noted as well.

And it has the right amino acids to support building up more muscle mass.

Quick Facts

  • Protein Type: Whey milk protein isolate
  • Protein Amount: 23g per serving

7 - Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder (Best Low-Calorie)

Rated 4.4/5
4.5
Ingredients
4.3
Texture
4.3
Flavor
4.2
User Ratings
4.5
Ingredient Quality
4.3
Product Effectiveness
Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder
  • Price per serving : $1.55
  • Key ingredients : Hydrolyzed 100% Whey Protein Isolate
  • All flavors : Gourmet Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Fudge Brownie, Gourmet Vanilla, Strawberry
  • Third-party tested : Yes, Informed-Choice certified

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Comes in a large airtight tub for easy access and storage
  • Mixes easily in a shaker, so you don’t have to use a blender
  • Low sugar and calorie option to not mess up your diet

Cons

  • Limited flavor options available

Who is it for?

Who is it for?

  • Athletes looking for rapid muscle recovery due to hydrolyzed protein
  • Dieters or keto adherents due to low carb and fat content

Who is it not for?

  • Individuals sensitive to artificial flavors and sweeteners

Final Verdict

Dymatize ISO100 is ideal for serious trainers needing quick absorption post-workout. Its extensive flavor range and purity make it a top choice for building lean muscle.

Dymatize is a great protein powder option if you’re trying to keep your sugar and calorie intake low during a bulking phase for building muscle.

That’s important for anyone who wants to adopt healthy habits and doesn’t want to mess those up with a supplement.

The only thing that was a bit negative to me was that the limited flavor options were pretty compared to other protein powders I tried in the testing phase.

Quick Facts

  • Protein Type: Whey protein hydrolysate
  • Protein Amount: 25g per serving

8 - MFL Muscle Isolate (Best Keto-Friendly)

Rated 4.3/5
4.6
Ingredients
4.1
Texture
4.2
Flavor
4.3
User Ratings
4.4
Ingredient Quality
4.1
Product Effectiveness
MFL Muscle Isolate
  • Price per serving : $1.47
  • Key ingredients : 100% Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolates, Micronized Amino Blend (Free Form Amino Acids, Amino Peptides, Branched Chain Amino Acids, L-Glutamine, Glutamine Peptides), Stevia, Natural Flavors
  • All flavors : Vanilla Bean, Banana, Chocolate Lava, Cookies & Cream, Strawberry Cake
  • Third-party tested : No information available

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Suitable for keto dieters as there’s no sugar
  • Available in a large tub for a great price
  • One of the strongest doses per serving available

Cons

  • Flavors are a bit fake, and the protein powder doesn’t mix very easily

Who is it for?

Who is it for?

  • Bodybuilders or those on a low-carb diet due to high protein and low carb content
  • Individuals interested in a variety of flavors with natural sweetening

Who is it not for?

  • People with allergies to dairy or preferring plant-based proteins

Final Verdict

MFL Muscle Isolate is tailored for intense training demands, offering rapid absorption and muscle recovery. Its natural ingredients cater to health-conscious users without compromising taste.

Last but not least was MFL Muscle Isolate. Being on a keto diet meant that my carb intake needed to be as low as possible. I loved that this supplement understood my dietary boundaries while supporting my muscle gain.

Our clients also liked that it helped them with weight management and post-workout muscle recovery at the same time.

This vegan protein powder also has one of the most significant doses of protein per scoop, making it ideal for professional athletes looking for faster muscle growth.

Quick Facts

  • Protein Type: Whey protein
  • Protein Amount: 30g per serving

How We Picked and Tested the Products

In our quest to find the best protein powders for muscle gain, we embarked on a rigorous testing and selection process.  Our goal was to ensure each product not only meets and exceeds our stringent criteria for efficacy, quality, and value.

Protein Type

In our quest to identify the best protein powders, we first focused on the type of protein - whey, casein, soy, pea, among others. Our team carefully selected a diverse range of protein sources to cater to different dietary needs and preferences.

Protein Content per Serving

We meticulously measured the protein content per serving of each product. Our goal was to find powders that offered a substantial protein punch to effectively support muscle growth and recovery.

Amino Acid Profile

The amino acid profile, particularly the presence of Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), was a critical factor in our evaluation. We understood the importance of BCAAs in muscle building and recovery, hence prioritized products with a rich BCAA profile.

Purity and Quality

Our team was stringent about purity and quality, ensuring the products had minimal fillers and additives. We aimed for the cleanest protein powders, offering the highest quality to our clients.

Taste and Mixability

Lastly, taste and mixability were key considerations. My team and I personally tested each product, ensuring they not only tasted great but also mixed easily, avoiding any unpleasant, clumpy textures.

Throughout this process, we combined personal trials with expert analysis, ensuring our selections met our high standards for efficacy, quality, and value. Our diverse test group, comprising clients and colleagues, helped us gauge real-world effectiveness, ensuring our recommendations were well-rounded and reliable.

Buyer’s Guide

Powder ingredients in a bowl and man drinking in a gym

Here are the main things you need to consider while researching ideal protein powders for your protein needs.

Type Of Protein Source

We've zeroed in on whey protein concentrate and isolate. Why? They pack the perfect punch of amino acids, just like milk.

Milk-based proteins load you up with all the essential amino acids and a hefty dose of BCAAs, key for muscle building.

We generally prefer whey protein isolates to products like egg white or casein protein powders because of that BCAA boost as shown by WebMD [1].

And plant-based protein products generally need to be blended in order to achieve the same result.

For example, you would need to blend soy and pea protein to get a similar BCAA combination.

“Most amino acids are metabolized or broken down in the liver. BCAAs are mostly metabolized in muscle tissue. That makes BCAA supplements attractive to athletes and bodybuilders.”

- WebMD.com

Protein Per Scoop

Container and spoon filled with powder

Here's the scoop: your protein needs depend on your body, workout intensity, and health goals.

A good rule of thumb? Start with 20 grams per scoop, as recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics [2].

Training hard every day? Aim for about 30 grams to max out muscle growth and keep your weight in check.

If you're targeting specific weight loss or muscle gain goals, a chat with a dietitian can tailor your protein intake just right.

Flavors And Texture

Dive into online reviews for the lowdown on flavor and texture. Steer clear of overly sweet or fake-tasting powders.

And remember, the best powders mix well without a blender – no one likes a clumpy shake!

Allergens And Artificial Ingredients

Good news for the lactose intolerant: whey protein isolates are generally safe. They're typically free from gluten and soy, too.

Watch out for artificial sweeteners and flavors – they can taste off, and sometimes, going flavorless is better.

Additional Ingredients

The best powders aren't just about protein. Look for extras like probiotics for faster digestion and vitamins for overall health.

These additions turn a simple protein powder into a powerhouse of nutrition.

Related Articles:

FAQs

Which Protein Powder Is Best for Muscle Gain?

The best protein powders for muscle gain are those that are readily digestible and include all nine essential amino acids (EAAs) and enough concentrations of leucine — a BCAA that is crucial for muscle development.

Does Protein Powder Help Build Muscle?

Yes, protein powder helps build muscle. According to some studies, an overall rise in protein and calorie intake is crucial for muscle building. As a result, protein powders can be effective at any time.

Which Protein Powder For Muscle Growth Should You Buy?

After extensive testing and analysis, my team and I unanimously agree that Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate stands out as the best muscle-building protein powder.

Our rigorous trials, coupled with in-depth research, highlighted its superior amino acid profile and impressive 28 grams of protein per serving.

Its ability to mix smoothly and taste great further cemented its top spot.

From personal experience and collective feedback, we confidently recommend Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate for anyone serious about muscle gain.

Our #1 Recommendation

Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate (Best Overall & Best for Women)

Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.9
Ingredients
4.6
Texture
4.6
Flavor
5.0
User Ratings
5.0
Ingredient Quality
4.6
Product Effectiveness
Pros
  • Grass-fed protein source for highest quality protein powder
  • 28 grams of protein per serving is ideal for bodybuilders
  • Great flavors, especially chocolate peanut butter
  • Bulk orders make it a very reasonable product
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of June
Cons
  • Free shipping only available over $150
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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One thought on “The Best Protein Powder for Muscle Gain
Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

  1. As a fitness enthusiast, I prefer protein powders with high-quality proteins and minimal carbohydrates to maximize muscle growth while minimizing sugar intake. The options in this list all fit the bill.

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Our ingredients score is based on 3 factors including: transparency, blend disclosure, and dosage accuracy. We conduct third-party lab verification of ingredients. The score is an objective measure of the lab test results compared to the product label. For more information see our ingredients score explanation here.
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