As a personal trainer I'm always surprised how many people end up with poor quality protein powder supplements.
There are just too many protein powders that are laced with sugars and additives, resulting in your protein intake having a bad impact on your diet.
So, our team got together with ten clients and our dietitian to research and test over 40 different milk and plant-based protein powders. After several months of testing, we finally agreed on this list of best protein powder supplements.
Our Best Protein Powder Recommendations
1 - Transparent Labs 100% Grass-fed Whey Protein Isolate (Editor's Choice)
Top of our list of best protein powder supplements is this one from Transparent Labs with a great dose of whey protein isolate. This is a more pure form of whey that ensures that your protein powder has little to no fat or carbs .
That is particularly important for diabetics and athletes on low-carb diets like keto.
I found that it has a great flavor and mixes into a nice texture in a shaker. And every single one of our test team agreed that you get a fast delivery of amino acids after a workout to reduce recovery times.
- Quick Facts: Type: Whey Protein Isolate, Dose: 28 grams protein per serving
- Whey protein powder sourced from grass-fed cows for higher quality
- Delivers a great dose of pure whey isolate for a better macro profile
- It comes in great flavors, and it mixes easily into a nice texture
- Contains no fat and less than 1g of carbs to avoid messing with your diet
- Free shipping is only available for orders over $150
"Whey is processed to reduce its fat and lactose content, leaving mainly protein. Whey protein isolate may be better for people who have trouble digesting lactose (lactose intolerance). But it's not for people with milk allergies." - Jabeen Begum, MD, WebMD.com.
2 - Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein
Optimum Nutrition is another leading sports supplement brand, and this Gold Standard protein powder almost made it to the top of our list based on our post-workout testing results.
It's based on milk protein isolate, which ensures that you get a pure protein supplement without fat and carbs to mess up your diet.
Out of all the protein powders that we tested, it probably has the widest range of flavors available, and six different ones we ordered all tasted natural and not overly sweet.
- Quick Facts: Whey Protein Isolate, Dose: 24 grams protein per serving
- Fast-acting protein powder with a good dose of BCAAs
- Independently tested for banned substances
- Great choice of flavors and available in large bulk order tubs
- It's not sourced from grass-fed cows
3 - Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
Orgain Organic is our best vegan protein powder recommendation, and this one combines organic pea protein powder with chia seed and brown rice protein.
This should give you the full range of amino acids needed to support muscle protein synthesis .
I regularly use this for my green smoothies, but my vegan clients have also reported that it works great for their recovery times.
- Quick Facts: Plant Protein, Dose: 21 grams protein per serving
- Based on organic chia seed, brown rice, and pea protein
- Ideal for adding to a green breakfast smoothie
- Also available in convenient travel pouches for your gym bag
- It seems to require a bit more shaking to avoid a lumpy texture
4 - Dymatize Elite 100% Whey Protein Powder
This is the first whey concentrate product on our list, and even though that means you have to account for some fat and carbs, this does make it a more affordable option. Just keep that in mind if you're on keto or a low-fat diet.
I particularly liked the chocolate peanut butter flavor, and I sometimes add that to my breakfast oatmeal to get a protein intake boost early in the day.
- Quick Facts: Type: Whey Protein Concentrate, Dose: 25 grams protein per serving
- Ideal for mixing with your breakfast cereal or smoothie
- Great flavor options, and the powder mixes easily into a smooth shake
- An affordable option that comes in large tubs
- It contains some carbs and fat that could influence a low-carb and low-fat diet
5 - Source Organic - Premium Pea Protein Isolate
This is the second-best vegan protein supplement, and the reason we recommend this is because it's available as an unflavored option.
That makes it a very clean organic best pea protein with nothing else added for flavor.
The only downside is that you'd need to blend it with other plant protein sources as it won't deliver the full range of amino acids .
- Quick Facts: Type: Organic Pea Protein, Dose: 22 grams protein per serving
- The unflavored option is ideal for mixing with food and smoothies
- Available in large 2 lbs pouches for bulk discounts
- Sourced from organic farms in Canada for higher purity and quality
- It doesn't provide the full amino acid range
6 - Muscle Feast 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein
This is another whey protein supplementation option that delivers high-quality grass-fed sources to ensure a higher purity.
It's also a great option for performance athletes who plan to take multiple whey protein shakes per day, as you can buy it in large tubs.
We also all liked the texture when mixed in a simple shaker, but you need to be aware of the lower protein amount per scoop compared to other products above.
- Quick Facts: Type: Whey Isolate, Dose: 21.5 grams protein per serving
- Pure whey protein delivers the ideal range of amino acids for muscle recovery
- It mixes fast and tastes like a smooth shake without needing a blender
- You can order it in tubs of up to 5 lbs for bulk-order savings
- The standard serving size is a bit low for performance athletes
7 - Garden of Life Sport Whey Protein Powder
Here is another grass-fed whey protein product that we had some great results with during the recovery phases.
Our clients also liked that the flavor wasn't too strong, which helped them drink multiple shakes for certain diet requirements.
The company also has each batch third-party tested for purity, quality, and banned substances, which can be important for professional athletes.
- Quick Facts: Type: Whey Protein Isolate, Dose: 24 grams protein per serving
- Pure whey protein sourced from grass-fed cows
- The flavors taste natural and not too sweet
- Certified non-GMO supplement for higher quality
- Not available in large bulk-order tubs
8 - Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder Isolate by Opportuniteas
If you need a product with a large dose of protein per scoop to support intense workouts and a high-protein diet, then Opportuniteas could be your best choice with 28 grams per shake.
I normally don't like pouches of protein powders because the seal often fails.
But this one worked perfectly fine even after weeks of getting through a large 5 lbs bag.
- Quick Facts: Whey Protein Isolate, Dose: 28 grams protein per serving
- Higher than average protein dose per scoop makes this a good option for athletes
- Available as an unflavored option if you need to mix it with food
- It comes in large 5 lbs resealable pouches
- The powder was a bit more difficult to mix with water in a shaker
9 - MyProtein Impact Whey Protein
This milk protein concentrate is a lower dose one that we recommend to people who might not need a large volume of protein each time.
It's also cheaper than whey isolate, but you need to account for the fat and carbs if you're on a restricted macro diet.
Our clients liked the flavor and texture and found it was a good option for a high-protein weight loss program .
- Quick Facts: Type: Whey Protein Concentrate, Dose: 21 grams protein per serving
- Affordable options for people who don't need a large dose in each shake
- Mixes easily with water, and the flavors are natural
- Positive impact for weight loss diets
- It has some carbs and fat because it's a whey concentrate
10 - Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed Protein Powder
The final one of our best protein powders is this Dymatize product. A few of my clients have sensitive stomachs, and they all reported that this didn't cause bloating or other upsets.
We also liked the choice of flavors, which are natural and not overpowering. But we couldn't get the texture right when mixing it in a shaker, so you might want to consider blending it for a smooth shake.
- Quick Facts:Type: Whey Protein Isolate, Dose: 25 grams protein per serving
- Delivers a pure whey isolate at a reasonable price
- Good choice of flavors to add to breakfast cereals and smoothies
- Fast digesting and easy on the stomach
- The texture can be a bit lumpy, so you might need a blender
Before we decided on our final list of best protein powders, we looked at each one carefully under these topics.
The best protein powders sourced from milk that we tested were all from grass-fed cows. Studies have shown that this type of milk has much higher nutritional benefits .
Also, keep in mind that whey protein powders cover all the essential amino acids to give you an ideal nutritional profile for muscle protein synthesis .
Plant-based protein powders are not just a good option for vegans. I know many non-vegan athletes who like the idea of having a selection of different sources of essential amino acids.
Just keep in mind that you'll need to have a blend of plant-based proteins to ensure you get the full amino acid profile to support protein synthesis. And there's also evidence that you might need to take higher doses of plant-protein .
While you certainly can always take an extra scoop to achieve a higher amount of protein per serving, I generally advise clients to aim for a 25 to 30 grams protein intake after a workout .
The best whey supplements above have 28 grams, which I would recommend for performance athletes.
Scientists also recommend an overall intake of 2-3 grams per kg body weight, and that can sometimes be a struggle with food alone .
Any professional athlete will tell you that there comes a time when you just can't look at another piece of chicken.
Amino Acid Formula
Whey protein is such a popular option because it has the ideal ratio of essential and especially branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These play a key role in muscle recovery after tough workouts .
Even with organic plant-based protein powder, you need to be careful that it's a blend to ensure that it delivers the full profile of amino acids .
Additives And Fillers
All of the above best protein powders don't contain any unnecessary fillers. So many companies try to hide a low-quality product behind some added flavors and sugar to make it more appealing.
There's no need for them, and you should always check for such sugar and chemical sweeteners.
Flavor & Texture
Nothing drives me mad more than taking a sip out of a shaker, and there are lumps of protein powder in it.
There are still so many companies that somehow fail to make it easy to mix their powder with water. And when it comes to flavors, look for ones with natural ingredients that aren't too sweet.
You'll always find plenty of people commenting in reviews about the flavors, so that's a good place to check before you buy.
Organic Vs Non-Organic
Some people say that the best whey and plant protein powders have to be organic. On the plant side of things, that might be the case, but for whey, I generally think it's enough to get a grass-fed protein source.
Hydrolyzed Protein Vs Isolate
Hydrolyzed whey concentrate is 35% to 80% pure protein, while isolate is 90% protein .
Why is that important?
In concentrate products, that means that there are other macros that make up the remainder of the weight, and that means fat and carbs to account for your dieting efforts.
"The protein in cow's milks is 80% casein and 20% whey protein. Whey protein powder is extremely popular due to its high digestibility and well-researched benefits for both muscle gain and fat loss." - Kamal Patel, Editor at Examine.com.
Should You Take Protein Powder Every Day?
There are no known risks to taking protein powder every day if you don't exceed your daily protein needs. Most healthy adults can tolerate up to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily from food and protein supplements without experiencing adverse symptoms.
Does Whey Protein Have the Best Amino Acid Profile?
Whey protein has the best amino acid profile as it delivers all the essential amino acids, including a good amount of BCAAs, that can help improve muscle recovery times.
How Much Protein Powder Should You Take Each Day?
It's recommended to take 25 to 50 grams of protein from protein powder each day, which is equivalent to one to two scoops of protein powder.
When Is the Best Time to Take Protein Powder?
The best time to take protein powder is within 30 minutes of a workout. That's where your muscles will start to go into repair mode and will require a maximum boost to avoid soreness.
Choose The Right Protein Powder For Your Recovery
Out of all the best protein powder supplements we researched and tested, the one we all keep going back to is the Transparent Labs one.
The 28 grams of protein per scoop is ideal for the majority of athletes after a training session. And because it's sourced from grass-fed cows, you'll get a much higher quality of protein as well.
It's my go-to protein powder, and I find it significantly helps with my recovery times to reduce muscle soreness.
Order yours today and find out how much of a difference it will make for your training plans.