We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
Protein powder is a popular nutritional supplement that is available in many varieties. Protein supplementation may help people meet their nutritional goals, build muscle, and lose weight. However, with such a variety of options available, some people may not know which protein powder is most suitable for them.
Although the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein in the general population is about 0.35 grams (g) of protein per pound of body weight, those who are active may benefit from a higher protein intake.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommend roughly 0.5 to 0.9 g of protein per pound of body weight for those who are physically active.
Although people should ideally get sufficient protein from their diet, this may be difficult due to dietary restrictions or costs. Therefore, protein powder supplementation may be a suitable alternative to help people reach their nutritional goals.
The most suitable protein powder for each individual will vary, as people will need to consider their health goals and any dietary restrictions they have.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented here is purely research-based.
The makers of protein powders isolate the protein in foods to make a nutritional powder. Some of the most popular variants include milk proteins and plant proteins, which are ideal for vegans. Some manufacturers may also use egg protein.
People who choose milk proteins can choose from two primary milk derivatives: whey and casein.
Whey protein is a fast digesting protein that the body can quickly absorb. This means that it is a suitable protein source for a pre- or post-workout snack. Casein takes longer to digest, so people may prefer to use casein before fasting or going to sleep.
Whey protein is also typically available in three formats:
- whey protein concentrate (WPC)
- whey protein isolate (WPI)
- whey protein hydrolysate (WPH)
Each type undergoes a different manufacturing process to determine its protein concentration and attributes:
- WPC: This form is the least processed and also usually the cheapest. It contains roughly 29–89% of protein and other nutrients, such as fats and carbohydrates.
- WPI: This form has a slightly higher protein content, at about 90%, and it contains far fewer carbohydrates and fats. It requires additional processing and tends to be more expensive.
- WPH: This type is the most processed form and is “predigested,” meaning that it has undergone partial hydrolysis. This means that it is easier for the body to digest and use.
Plant proteins such as hemp and pea protein are alternative options for vegans, people with lactose intolerance, and those whose bodies do not digest milk protein well.
However, plant protein powders may not be complete by themselves, meaning that they do not contain all nine essential amino acids. A 2019 review notes that manufacturers can make plant protein higher in quality by either blending or supplementing them with other protein sources to create a complete protein profile.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate dietary supplements, such as protein powders, as strictly as pharmaceuticals. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the manufacturers to evaluate product safety and label them accordingly.
An analysis by The Clean Label Project suggests that some protein powders may contain high concentrations of harmful metals. Therefore, it may be advisable for people to investigate what the manufacturers do to reduce contamination and whether or not the product has undergone third party testing.
Some whey protein powder options include:
MyProtein Impact Whey Protein
MyProtein are a British company who have recently started supplying protein supplements to the United States. This product is a whey protein concentrate. It contains 21 g of protein per serving, and each serving contains 103 calories.
It is available in a wide variety of flavors, such as vanilla, s’mores, and birthday cake. The brand also state that the protein received a grade A ranking by independent tester Labdoor for both quality and value.
BiPro BOLD Whey + Milk Protein Isolate
This offering from BiPro is a whey isolate protein powder. It contains 23 g of protein per serving, and the company suggest that it is easily digestible and helps people feel fuller for longer.
BiPro Bold products are lactose-, gluten-, and hormone-free, and they also include a prebiotic fiber, which the company say may help promote a healthy gut.
This product is currently available in four flavors: Boldly Bare, Creamy Vanilla, Chocolate Milkshake, and Strawberries & Creme.
Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed
This offering from Dymatize is a combination of hydrolyzed whey protein isolate and whey protein isolate. The brand claim that their award-winning product is the world’s best-selling isolate.
This protein powder contains 25 g of whey protein in each serving and is free from sugar and fat. Each serving contains 116 calories when mixed with water. This product is gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians.
Enzymatic hydrolysis partially breaks the protein powder down. The brand state that this means that it is very easy to digest. It is available in a variety of flavors, such as fudge brownie, cookies and cream, and birthday cake.
Casein protein powder options include:
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein
This powder contains casein, which means that it is a slower digesting and absorbing protein. The brand suggest that it is a suitable powder to use after exercise, between meals, or before bed to support fullness and muscle recovery.
It contains 24 g of protein per serving and includes no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. Dairy-based sources of protein, such as whey and casein, also contain branched-chain amino acids, which may further help recovering muscles.
Pea protein powder options include:
Nutrasumma Fermented Pea Protein
This product contains fermented pea protein, which may make the product easier to digest. This may be a good option for people who feel that their bodies do not digest pea protein isolate easily.
Each serving of this vegan-friendly offering delivers 20 g of protein, with only 2 g of carbohydrates and no sugars. The company also state that this product is non-genetically modified organism (GMO), as well as gluten- and dairy-free.
Hemp protein powder options include:
Sunwarrior Warrior Blend
This product offers 19 g of protein per serving. In addition to hemp protein, this powder also contains other plant protein, such as pea and goji berry. The brand suggest that the blend creates a complete and easily digestible protein.
The product also contains coconut oil and acacia fiber to add fats and fibers to the mix. The company state that they use organic and non-GMO ingredients when possible.
Egg protein powder options include:
This egg protein powder offering from Naked Nutrition uses dried egg whites that come from non-GMO chicken eggs laid on U.S. farms. This product is a suitable option for people following a paleo diet.
It contains 25 g of protein per serving, and the company say that they process eggs into a powder in under 1 day to retain the highest nutritional value. Naked Egg products also contain no additives such as sweeteners, flavors, or colors.
Brown rice protein powder options include:
Orgain Organic Protein Powder
Orgain Organic Protein Powder provides an organic plant-based protein blend that is suitable for many diets. In addition to brown rice, this powder also contains protein from pea and chia seed sources.
Each serving delivers 21 g of protein along with 4 g of organic fiber. According to the company, the product includes a complete amino acid profile, is vegan friendly, and is gluten-, soy-, and lactose-free.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps build muscle, repair tissue, and make enzymes and hormones.
One 2017 review indicates that protein powder supplementation is a safe and convenient method of ingesting high quality dietary protein.
A high protein diet can help a person build muscle mass, reduce appetite, lose weight, and aid muscle recovery after exercise.
People should follow the instructions on the packaging. Typically, this will involve taking a scoop of protein powder and mixing it with a liquid to make a protein-rich beverage.
Popular mixer options include water, milk, milk alternatives, and yogurt. Others may also consider blending fruit into the beverage to create a more nutrient dense snack.
Protein is a vital macronutrient to include in the diet. Using protein powder may be a useful way for people to supplement more protein into their diet.
There are a variety of protein powders available to suit people’s dietary restrictions and requirements. People may also wish to consider their health and fitness goals when choosing a protein powder.