5 Best Protein Powders Without Artificial Sweeteners (2024)

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James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 27, 2023
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.

In my fitness career, I've found clients generally prefer sugar-free supplements without artificial flavors. However, finding a protein powder free of strange chemicals is challenging, with many specific preferences to consider.

Over eight months, I researched and tested 35 protein powders, guided by client feedback. I noted each powder's texture, taste, and effects, compiling a list of the best ones without artificial sweeteners.

Based on my experiences and client feedback, this article will delve into the importance of avoiding artificial sweeteners altogether.

The Best Protein Powders Without Artificial Sweeteners

Editor's Choice
Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
Transparent Labs
Effectiveness
5.0
Taste
4.6
Ingredients
5.0
Price
4.6
Overall Score 4.8
4.8
Click For Best Price
2nd Best Choice
Nuzest Clean Lean Protein
Nuzest
Effectiveness
5.0
Taste
4.4
Ingredients
4.8
Price
4.5
Overall Score 4.7
4.7
Check Current Price
3rd Best Choice
Ora Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
Ora Organic
Effectiveness
5.0
Taste
4.4
Ingredients
4.5
Price
4.5
Overall Score 4.6
4.6
Click For Best Price

5 Best Protein Powders Without Artificial Sweeteners Reviewed (February 2024)

1 - Transparent Labs (Best Overall, Grass-Fed & Best Tasting)

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
5.0
Effectiveness
4.6
Taste
5.0
Ingredients
4.6
Price
Overall Score 4.8
Click For Best Price

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great grass-fed whey protein powder that has natural flavors
  • Fantastic selection of different flavors to choose from
  • The whey comes from grass-fed cattle which is more ethical as well as producing higher quality protein

Cons

  • They don’t tell you precisely what goes into their flavoring blend other than it’s “natural”

Having incorporated this grass-fed whey protein powder into my routine, I've come to appreciate its clean profile, notably its absence of artificial sweeteners.

While it's a bit vague about the precise amounts of flavorings used in the proprietary blend, I found the taste natural and refreshing during my testing.

Still, they assure you it’s all-natural and admit to using only stevia and cocoa, at least in the chocolate flavor.

In searching for the ideal whey protein powder, I've found this one to stand out. It's low in natural sugars, free from artificial flavors, and consistently delivers on taste and performance.

With 28 grams of protein per serving, it's not easy to miss this grass-fed whey protein powder brand.

See this related article on protein powders for diabetics, where we featured Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder.

Get 10% off using coupon code:  TOTALSHAPE

2 - Nuzest Clean Lean Protein (Cheapest & Best Vegan)

Nuzest Clean Lean Protein
5.0
Effectiveness
4.4
Taste
4.8
Ingredients
4.5
Price
Overall Score 4.7
Check Current Price

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Complete plant-based protein that contains essential as well as branched-chain amino acids
  • Great selection of natural flavors to choose from
  • Easily digested and a great alternative to whey

Cons

  • Every serving is well flavored, but it is still contains pea protein isolate and has that earthy taste

I've been exploring protein powders without artificial sweeteners and am seriously impressed with their quality. I needed a vegan-friendly powder that tastes good, and this one, with its organic ingredients and stellar reviews, really hit the mark.

These brands focus on high-quality, unprocessed ingredients, and the Nuzest organic pea protein powder is no exception – its ingredients list is drool-worthy.

It's packed with pure nutrition and proteins, perfect for boosting muscles, diet, and health. In my view, it's a top vegan choice. Made from peas, it provides a complete protein profile with all essential amino acids.

There's a variety of flavors, each delicious and easy to mix. My favorite? The Real Coffee flavor. It's got 20 grams of protein, no sugar, and is great for carb-watchers.

I love it in my morning shake, often spiking it with an extra espresso shot. It's naturally flavored with coffee and tastes amazing.

3 - Ora Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder (Best Organic)

Ora Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
5.0
Effectiveness
4.4
Taste
4.5
Ingredients
4.5
Price
Overall Score 4.6
Click For Best Price

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A complete plant-based protein blend made from over 20 different superfoods
  • A wealth of other nutritional benefits packed into every serving
  • Perfect for baking with as well as mixing into a smoothie

Cons

  • Doesn’t mix as cleanly as others on the list, can be a bit sludgy

Ora Organic really stands out in the protein powder game. They've packed their vegan protein powder with a variety of ingredients, all organic and natural.

This superfood blend combines 20 different elements to create a complete amino acid profile, delivering 22 grams of protein and just 1 gram of sugar per serving.

What's really impressive is the taste – it's flavorful without being overly sweet, a unique quality among protein powders.

Plus, it's easy on the stomach and doesn't cause the headaches often linked to similar products, making it even more appealing.

4 - Alter Ultra Clean Whey Protein Isolate (Best Isolate)

Alter Ultra Clean Whey Protein Isolate
5.0
Effectiveness
4.4
Taste
4.5
Ingredients
4.2
Price
Overall Score 4.5
Check Current Price

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The purest form of whey protein possible
  • Cleanly sourced and free from the hormone injections and antibiotics rife in the dairy industry
  • Unflavored and versatile with the ability to flavor it for yourself in shake or baking

Cons

  • Unflavored and does require some small effort to find a recipe you enjoy it with

Alter Ultra is as clean as it comes. Looking at the ingredients list, you’ll see grass-fed whey protein isolate and a little sunflower lecithin.

That’s it. This whey protein powder is not winning any prizes for fancy marketing, packaging, or taste, but it does what it’s meant to: help build muscle mass, like the other protein powders on this list.

They claim the grass-fed whey protein isolate is free of artificial flavor, additives, antibiotics, and hormones.

Whey protein cannot come in a purer form than what this protein powder has.

Incorporating this protein powder into my routine made me feel more energized as the day went on. Plus, its smooth mixing was a pleasant surprise.

In contrast to several other powders that tend to clump or impart a chalky taste, this particular product defies those tendencies altogether. I also experienced zero digestion issues.

5 - Performance Lab Sport Protein

Performance Lab Sport Protein
5.0
Effectiveness
4.2
Taste
4.1
Ingredients
4.1
Price
Overall Score 4.4

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Delicious flavor and free from anything artificial whatsoever
  • They claim their patented rice protein absorbs 30% quicker than whey
  • Plant-based, milk-free, and ethically sourced

Cons

  • Not a complete protein by itself

Performance Lab has really made a mark in my research, known for its solid research and effective results.

Their Sport Protein Powder, with its top-grade, all-natural ingredients, is designed for optimal protein performance, muscle building, and weight loss.

They're committed to a clean, artificial-free ingredient list, focusing on raw, organic, plant-based proteins. It offers a deliciously rich chocolate taste and mixes well, making it ideal for on-the-go nutrition. I've found it great as a post-workout recovery drink.

The only downside is it's not a complete protein on its own (20g per serving). But adding peas to your diet can balance out the essential amino acids missing in the brown rice protein.

How We Picked and Tested the Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners

To determine the top protein powders free from artificial sweeteners, we concentrated on five key criteria. This focused approach ensured the selection of high-quality, health-conscious products. Our methodology is summarized as follows:

  • Natural sweeteners and flavor profile: Evaluation of each product for natural sweeteners and a thorough assessment of the flavor profile to ensure a pleasant taste without artificial additives.
  • Protein content and quality: Analysis of the protein amount and source, emphasizing high-quality protein suitable for muscle building and recovery.
  • Ingredient transparency: Examination of ingredient lists for hidden artificial sweeteners or unnecessary additives, with a focus on clean and simple ingredients.
  • Nutritional balance: Analysis of the overall nutritional content, including carbohydrates, fats, and fibers, to cater to diverse dietary needs and preferences.
  • Third-party testing: Preference for products that have undergone rigorous third-party testing, ensuring their purity, accuracy, and safety.

This streamlined and effective approach allowed us to rate and recommend the best protein powders without artificial sweeteners, focusing on health, quality, and user satisfaction.

Buyer's Guide for the Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners

Selecting the right protein powder without artificial sweeteners involves considering various factors to align with your health goals and dietary preferences. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed choice:

Protein source and type

  1. Plant-based vs. animal-based: Plant-based proteins, like pea or rice protein, are ideal for vegetarians and vegans, while animal-based proteins, such as whey or casein, are popular among others.
  2. Concentrate vs. isolate vs. hydrolyzed: Concentrates contain less protein per scoop compared to isolates. Hydrolyzed proteins are pre-digested for easier absorption.
  3. Organic vs. non-organic: Organic powders are free from pesticides and chemicals. Non-organic options are generally more affordable but might contain residues of these substances.

Protein content

Check the protein content per serving. A higher protein content is beneficial for muscle building and satiety.

Calorie and carb content

Consider the calorie content, especially if you're managing weight. Lower-calorie powders can be beneficial for weight loss. Low-carb and low-fat options might be preferable for weight management. However, some may prefer higher carb content for energy.

Taste and flavor

Flavor is crucial, especially if you consume protein powder regularly. Natural flavors are preferable over artificial ones. Unflavored options provide versatility as they can be added to various recipes.

Sweeteners and additives

Look for natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit. Avoid artificial sweeteners and unnecessary additives. Some powders come fortified with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients like fiber. Assess your dietary needs to decide if these are beneficial.

Digestibility and allergens

Consider any food allergies or sensitivities. For instance, lactose-intolerant individuals should avoid whey protein. Some powders include digestive enzymes to aid in absorption and reduce digestive discomfort.

Mixability

A powder that blends well without clumping is more convenient and enjoyable to consume.

Price and value

Compare prices and sizes. Higher-priced options might offer better quality or additional health benefits.

Brand reputation and transparency

Choose brands with a good reputation and transparent labeling. Research the brand's sourcing and manufacturing practices.

Third-party testing and certifications

Look for products tested by third parties for purity and safety. Certifications like NSF or Informed Choice add an extra layer of trust.

By considering these factors, you can find a protein powder that not only meets your nutritional needs but also aligns with your health principles and lifestyle choices. Remember, the best protein powder for you is one that you'll consistently use and enjoy as part of your daily diet.

What Are Artificial Sweeteners?

I've had numerous clients ask me, "What exactly are artificial sweeteners?" So, let's dive into it. Artificial sweeteners are chemically manufactured molecules in the lab that aim to mimic naturally-occurring sugar's functionality.

Saccharin, the first artificial sweetener ever discovered, was created from a food additive study by Constantin Fahlberg in 1879 [1]. The FDA currently recognizes six artificial sweeteners.

These are acesulfame K, sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, neotame, and advantame.

These are much sweeter than regular sugar and calorie-free, making them popular for weight loss. They're common in various foods and drinks, including protein powders. But, it's wise to avoid them due to health risks highlighted in a Plos Medicine journal study [2].

This has led to protein powders with natural or no sweeteners, better for health-conscious consumers. The best protein powder for you matches your diet and health goals, possibly one without artificial sweeteners. Always check the label to ensure it fits your health priorities.

What Are the Benefits of Avoiding Artificial Sweeteners in Protein Powder?

List of ingredients in protein powders

I've seen big changes in clients who skip artificial sweeteners in their protein powders. So, why's it a smart move?

Ditching artificial sweeteners like sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame K), saccharin, aspartame, neotame, and advantame can boost gut health and cut health risks. These additives have been linked to insulin spikes, cancer risk, and nausea.

  • Sucralose. Marketed as Splenda, sucralose, an old and popular artificial sweetener, has faced health risk concerns since its FDA approval 20 years ago. A notable 2005 study revealed sucralose users might gain weight instead of losing it, attributed to insulin spikes caused by the sweetener's taste, leading to hypoglycemia and increased eating [3].
  • Acesulfame K. This sweetener contains methylene chloride, a recognized carcinogen. Despite this, the FDA hasn't mandated comprehensive human studies [4]. Besides cancer, methylene chloride is linked to reduced brain function [5]. Given the lack of extensive research on high dosage and long-term impacts, I advise avoiding it.

"It would be highly imprudent for the NTP to delist saccharin. Doing so would give the public a false sense of security, remove any incentive for further testing, and result in greater exposure to this probable carcinogen in tens of millions of people."
- CSPI, Center For The Science In The Public Interest

  • Aspartame. Linked to mood issues, brain problems, and learning troubles, it's better to err on the side of caution [6].
  • Neotame. Structurally similar to aspartame, neotame's safety studies aren't public. So, forming a solid opinion is tough.
  • Advantame. New since 2014, there's not much info on its long-term effects, especially at high doses found in sodas and sweet treats [7].

In a nutshell, avoiding these sweeteners seems wise until more research clears the air.

What Are the Healthier Natural Sweeteners That Are Used in Protein Powders?

The healthier natural sweeteners that are used in protein powders are stevia, monk fruit extract, and raw honey. Typically, if a whey protein powder is labeled as sugar-free and free from artificial flavors, it will likely be flavored protein powders with stevia or monk fruit extract, or it will just be flavorless protein powder.

There are also natural sweetness enhancers, such as sugar alcohols, which can add natural flavors and sweetness to a product without upping the calories or sugar levels.

By relying on natural flavors, we can be more sure we’re getting a product with a known effect, as the studies and research on these foods are more conclusive and less widely controversial than the science behind artificial sweeteners.

Read More: Best Sugar-Free Protein Powders

Is Stevia an Artificial Sweetener?

No, stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is a sugar substitute that is naturally sourced from the stevia leaf.

However, it isn’t as simple as grinding up the leaf. Instead, the sweetener is quite highly processed with the glycoside compounds in the leaf being dehydrated, purified, and extracted.

The result is a sweetener that can be labeled as natural, is much sweeter than sugar, and is also much lower in calories.

Like monk fruit extract, it is recognized by the FDA with a GRAS status meaning "generally regarded as safe." It’s an excellent substitute for sugar in moderation and certainly safer than artificial sweeteners.

Stevia is a great sweetener for people suffering from diabetes. After all, the antioxidants contained within can help undo some of the damage done by this disease.

FAQ

Why Should You Use Sugar-Free Protein Powder?

You should use sugar-free protein powders to reduce extra calories, mitigate potential weight gain, and avoid abrupt blood sugar fluctuations, which is particularly important for those with a familial predisposition to diabetes.

Is Stevia as Bad as Artificial Sweeteners?

No, Stevia isn't as bad as artificial sweeteners. While both have zero calories, artificial sweeteners are associated with potential diabetes and cancer risks. In contrast, Stevia enhances the body's insulin response and boasts antioxidants that combat obesity and diabetes-related damage.

Our Verdict on the Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners

If you’re looking for a protein powder that’s both low in sugar and free from artificial sweeteners, Transparent Labs stands out. Its claims are rooted in solid scientific research, making it a top recommendation.

It is one of the best protein powders that I’ve recommended to colleagues and clients alike to achieve both excellent muscle gain and weight loss goals.

It comes naturally flavored with chocolate, and the brown rice protein is easily absorbed and released to your body when you need it.

It mixes well into a shake, and I’ve even tested it out in the kitchen, baking some seriously tasty chocolate protein cookies.

Our #1 Favorite Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners

Transparent Labs (Best Overall, Grass-Fed & Best Tasting)

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
Effectiveness
5.0
Taste
4.6
Ingredients
5.0
Price
4.6
Overall Score 4.8
4.8
Pros
  • Great grass-fed whey protein powder that has natural flavors
  • Fantastic selection of different flavors to choose from
  • The whey comes from grass-fed cattle which is more ethical as well as producing higher quality protein
  • Get 10% off using code: TOTALSHAPE
Cons
  • They don’t tell you precisely what goes into their flavoring blend other than it’s “natural”

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2 thoughts on “The Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners

  1. I’ve been trying to find a protein powder without stevia or artificial sweeteners since I’m diabetic. I can’t believe I have a lot of choices here.

  2. Whey protein without sweeteners is so helpful for people like me who want to lose weight.

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