Protein is an indispensable nutrient for your health and overall well-being at any age and especially if you’re an athlete or actively working on your fitness. A protein-rich diet helps you retain much-needed muscle, boost your performance, and build stronger muscles.
Whether you consider yourself a gym rat, a casual exerciser, or just want to drop a few pounds, protein powder is an inexpensive, effective, and convenient way to incorporate protein into your fitness regimen. However, while the market is flooded with all kinds of protein powders, the majority don’t taste so great. In fact, some are chalky and taste so awful you’d mistake them for fish food or stale bread.
Here at Healthcare Weekly, we understand that protein powders are a worthy investment, so you will want to ensure you buy something that’s good to your muscles and taste buds alike. That’s why we have rounded up our top picks for the best tasting protein powder, so you can entice your palate and enjoy great results.
To help you further in your decision, we have placed protein powders into two categories: one for the best tasting vegan protein powder and the other for non-vegan options. Want to be more knowledgeable on the subject? Keep on reading to learn why it makes sense to use protein powders for fitness, how to use them, and more.
The Best Tasting Non-Vegan (Animal) Protein Powders
1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder
Price on Amazon: $59.99
Our top pick overall, this cult-favorite classic receives rave reviews across the board, from customers and sports nutrition experts alike, for both effectiveness and taste. This isn’t surprising, considering Gold Nutrition is a veteran brand that has been in the sports supplement game for more than three decades. Their superior quality protein powders are sought after and easy to find.
Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned user, this is a great choice with no odd-tasting sugar alcohols – just awesome deliciousness! Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder is formulated from topnotch ultra-filtered whey protein concentrate (WPC) and premium-quality Whey Protein Isolates (WPIs). Everyone loves how the powder blends effortlessly, so much so that you won’t need either a shaker or blender for this one.
Each serving packs 24g of whey protein, and only 1g sugar, 120 calories, 1g fat, and 3g carbs. In addition, it has 5.5g branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to help heal your muscles faster after heavy workouts, plus 4g glutamine to spruce up your gut health. It may be a bit pricey per serving, but the premium quality and taste make it worth the investment. You can choose from over 20 different flavors, from cake batter to rich chocolate.
2. BSN Syntha-6 Whey Protein Powder
Price on Amazon: $41.73
If you’re looking to get the best tasting protein powder without having to spend a small fortune, just snag a bottle of BSN Syntha-6. This is an unbeatable product collaborated on by a top-tier protein powder brand and a well-known ice cream maker.
The powder blends into a creamy milkshake consistency that’s versatile, tastes heavenly, and helps you bulk up as advertised. Each serving delivers 22g of protein for muscle building, 5g of fiber to keep away hunger, and 10g of essential amino acids to speed up the absorption of protein.
Enjoy great flavor options that include mint chocolate chip, berry goodness, mud pie mojo, and more. While some customers have noted that its soy protein content may be a bit high for some people, this powder won’t let you down.
3. Pro JYM Protein Powder
Price on Amazon: $59.99
Pro JYM Protein Powder is definitely a fan favorite, which may help explain the high-end price. Fitness enthusiasts say it is the best tasting protein powder hybrid, providing you with milk protein isolate, egg protein, micellar casein protein, and whey protein isolate in the same container. Unlike most protein powders, however, it has zero fillers and no additional amino acids.
Take a pick from close to ten super delicious flavors – including s’ mores, cookie and cream, chocolate cookie crunch, Tahitian vanilla bean, and chocolate mousse. 24g of protein in every serving includes only 7g of carbs, 3g of fat, and 150 calories.
4. Isopure Zero Carb
Price on Amazon: $44.99
Leave it to great minds at Isopure to make a zero-carb protein powder that tastes out of this world. Isopure Zero Carb is a genuinely potent punch delivering 25g of protein and only 110 calories per serving. That’s why this product is the hero of exercisers looking to shed unwanted pounds.
The real magic of this keto-friendly protein mix lies in its range of flavors, including strawberry and cream, banana cream, and creamy vanilla. While it has immune-boosting minerals and vitamins, the powder is lactose-free, gluten-free, and has no additives. It blends easily and quickly to produce a rich, creamy and tasty post-work shake.
5. Primal Kitchen Primal Fuel
Price on Amazon: $20.34
The Primal Kitchen Primal Fuel is probably the best tasting protein powder out there for folks who hate the taste of soy. Think of this keto- and paleo-friendly option as a cheaper and less powerful alternative to BSN’s SYNTHA-6. Each serving has 10g of whey protein, which makes it an introductory protein powder; it may not be ideal for extreme athletes and heavy lifters.
We love that it mixes well with either cold or hot beverages to create a decadently flavorful and nutritious post-workout drink. It comes in two flavors: chocolate or vanilla, both with a hint of coconut. You may take it before your training or workouts.
6. MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder
Price on Amazon: $39.25
Are you on the market for the best tasting protein powder with a timed-release option? Muscle Pharm has your back with this mixture of five indulgent proteins (whey protein powder, isolate whey protein, casein, and egg protein) which are designed to deliver slow, medium and fast proteins to ensure enhanced performance, support muscle strength, as well as provide an ongoing energy boost.
In addition to the award-winning taste, this product stands out in providing BCAAs, glutamine, digestive enzymes, and has 25 grams of protein per serving.
7. MuscleTech NitroTech Whey Gold
Price on Amazon: $22.47
Customers have become fond of MuscleTech because the brand sticks to pure ingredients, and the NitroTech Whey Gold is no different. 100% whey protein isolate, whey peptides, and natural flavoring make it incredibly tasty and provide 24 grams of protein. This is pretty impressive given that the blend has no added sugar or carbs.
MuscleTech uses state of the art filtration technology to keep lactose, fat, and other impurities to a minimum without the use of salt or harsh acids. For accelerated muscle recovery, consume it either before or after your workouts.
8. Less Naked Whey
Price on Amazon: $21.99
Organic coconut + grass-fed whey protein + vanilla = match made in heaven! If you’re an eco-conscious fitness lover who loves all things organic, you will appreciate the subtle genius of this best tasting protein powder. It’s simple and yet impressively versatile, living up to Naked Nutrition’s transparency and 100% organic pledge.
This is a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) protein powder, so you know exactly what you’re putting into your body. You get 25g of protein, 5.9g of BCAA’s, 150 calories, 8g of carbs, and 5g of sugar per serving. Your choice of flavors includes chocolate, vanilla, matcha, strawberry, and unflavored. The price is quite affordable, too.
What about the Best Tasting Vegan Protein Powder?
If you are vegan or vegetarian, animal-based protein powders with egg, whey, casein, and other milk proteins are a no-go. Luckily, there are a plethora of options for the best tasting plant-based protein powder.
These vegan options are exclusively sourced from plants rich in proteins, primarily legumes like soya but other sources as well. Here are the most common types of the best tasting plant-based protein powder:
- a) Soy protein – This is the predominant vegan choice. For a person wanting to get fit or lose weight, soy protein is a double blessing. It helps you build muscle and encourages quicker muscle recovery, as well as reduces bad cholesterol and builds bone mass. For some women, it may help quell some troubling menopause symptoms.
- b) Pea protein – This powder is commonly extracted from yellow peas. It is an incredibly digestible choice that is economical and has few allergic tendencies.
- c) Brown rice protein – Expectedly, this is an all-plant-based protein powder and a great choice for vegetarians. It’s also free from gluten and lactose.
- d) Hemp protein – Often a by-product of industrial hemp production, this vegan-friendly option is 100% plant-based, as well. What sets it apart from the pack is that it’s loaded with the much-needed omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re after the best tasting plant-based protein powder, this should be your top choice. Not an excellent source of leucine, though.
Decisions, decisions: what to look for when choosing the best tasting vegan protein powder?
– Is it a complete protein source?
A complete protein source contains all nine essential amino acids (basically this means the body doesn’t produce them on its own). These are valine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine, isoleucine, and histidine. More often than not, it should contain some soy protein, which is the only complete plant-based option.
– Is it organic?
To help nourish your body and mold a robust physique, the best tasting vegan protein should be organic. Often that means grown without harmful pesticides, artificial fertilizers, and other non-organic additions.
– No suspicious ingredients
Aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-potassium, agave, rice syrup, and other artificial fillers or sweeteners may not be conducive to health and are often not included in vegan protein powders.
– How much protein does it have?
Make sure each serving of the powder will meet your daily recommended intake of protein.
Again, steer clear of artificial flavors that will taste too synthetic. Stick to natural flavors like vanilla, chocolate, mint, and so on. It’s all up to your palate.
Here, our favorites for the best tasting plant-based protein powder to meet all your fitness needs:
1. Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder
Price on Amazon: $26.95
Our top pick for the best tasting vegan protein powder is Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder. This is a nutrient-heavy, non-GMO and organic option that packs 19g of protein per serving, every bit of which has been tested and validated by an independent third-party lab.
The full proteins are extracted from cranberry seed, sacha inchi, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, and yellow pea. Vegans love that it blends well to a rich flavorful and creamy texture with full-bodied deliciousness and no synthetic aftertaste. Take your pick between chocolate maca and vanilla lucuma. Either way, you will indulge in the neutral sweetness that doesn’t override the host drink.
2. Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
Price on Amazon: $26.99
Hailed by most as one of the top vegan protein powders – and the best tasting plant-based protein powder to boot–Orgain Organic is flawless. It’s also one of the most wallet-friendly vegan options in the market. Let that sink in for a moment.
Unsurprisingly, it’s kosher, gluten-free and 100% organic, the Holy Grail for many fitness gurus! This alkaline powder delivers 21g of plant-based protein in each serving, plus 5g of organic fiber, only 150 calories, and 4g of carbs. It’s available in five different flavors, all of which are easily blended into most beverages.
3. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
Price on Amazon: $29.99
True to its name, this plant-based option by market leader Optimum Nutrition is indeed the gold standard, imitated but never duplicated by the rest. It boasts a complete protein profile to facilitate muscle growth and recovery, not to mention it is versatile enough to resonate with both newbies and veterans, as well as old and young users.
Every serving offers 24g of a blend of plant-based proteins (organic sacha inchi, rice, and yellow pea) plus a gluten-free, all-grain complex (millet, amaranth, chia, buckwheat, and quinoa). Easily blended into post-workout shakes and great for baking, it’s one of the best tasting protein powders you can buy.
4. Garden Of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein
Price on Amazon: $39.89
This vegan powder blends proteins from lentils, bean, and yellow peas. With USDA certification and NSF Certified for Sports Seal, you can buy this one with extra confidence. You will love the delicious chocolate or vanilla flavors that don’t overpower your taste buds like most plant-based powders. Delivering 30g of complete protein, glutamine, 5g of BCAAs, and glutamic acid, its nutritional profile isn’t too shabby either.
5. MRM Veggie Elite Protein
Price on Amazon: $25.83
Want something to shake up your routine and remove you from a fitness rut? This best tasting vegan protein powder by MRM will certainly delight. Unlike most plant-based options, it isn’t chalky or too thick when blended.
It packs 24g of soy-free protein with a complete amino acid profile and no artificial sweeteners. Pick your favorite flavor from vanilla, salted caramel, matcha latte, cinnamon, and chocolate mocha.
6. KOS Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
Price on Amazon: $43.88
Even though it’s a little pricier than rivals, KOS Organic may well be one of the best tasting plant-based protein powder offerings in the organic aisle. It has 20g of protein, 2g of dietary fiber, and 6g of heart-friendly fats per serving, a combination that will make any vegan’s heart skip a beat.
A blend of chia seed, pumpkin seed, and quinoa, flax, and pea proteins, it does contain tree nuts. Mix it in cold water to create a chocolatey protein shake. It’s simply delicious!
7. Sunwarrior Organic Vegan Protein Powder
Price on Amazon: $35.89
Anyone who’s used Sunwarrior’s protein powders knows they offer the best bang for the buck in terms of cost per serving. This organic vegan protein powder blend follows this best-value tradition. Most reviews rave about the digestibility, texture, and taste of the blend, making it one of the best tasting protein powders in the vegan aisle.
When blended, ground coconut, natural stevia extract, chocolate flavor, and cocoa produce a chocolatey taste that is nutty and sweet. Keto lovers will be glad to know that it is made with hemp seed protein, goji berry protein, and fermented pea protein. Each serving contains 18g of protein, zero sugar, a gram of fiber, 100 calories, 2g of carbs, and 2g of fat.
How to Use Protein Powder
So, you want to take advantage of muscle-building and repairing benefits of protein powder, but don’t know where to start? The first move is to carefully go through the entire label of the product to ensure there’s nothing allergic or harmful to you. In short, make sure the powder consists of the ingredients you need and nothing else.
The next smart step is to review your core fitness goals – what do you want to achieve by taking protein supplements? Are you looking to ramp up your existing workout regime, lose weight, or kick-start a new fitness program?
The general rule of thumb is to take protein powder if you: i) want to boost muscle recovery post-workout, ii) want to build more muscles, or iii) don’t get enough protein via your daily diet.
Here comes the Big Q: how much protein powder should you consume? The current internationally Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein intake is around 0. 8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Based on this RDA guideline, someone who tips the scale at 170 lbs should take 65g of protein daily.
Of course, recommended amounts vary based on age, activity level, and gender. Athletes and fitness fanatics who work out heavily should take around 1.2 – 1.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of their body weight. So, if you’re extremely active and weigh 70kgs, that’s equal to 84-126 grams of protein every day.
When should you take your protein powder – before, during, or after my workouts? Most people use protein powders right after (preferably within 60 minutes of) their training and workouts, which is when muscles respond well to protein use for the growth and recovery process.
But a growing body of research seems to show that it does NOT matter if you consume protein powder pre-workout or after. Your personal preference (or that of your fitness coach or doctor) will do the most talking here.
One other thing to note is the serving suggestion. In an ideal situation, experts advise that you take about 30 grams of protein per serving. Some bodybuilders may prefer to push past this threshold, and there’s a good reason for that. First, research seems to suggest 30g to be the perfect amount of protein needed for optimal muscle repair and to trigger the process of making new muscle cells and tissue.
What’s more, research suggests that a diet high on protein, when combined with exercising, may help burn fat more effectively, as well as minimize its uptake and storage. So, by sticking to this high protein serving suggestion, you will not only get stronger and hunkier but also stay leaner.
What’s the best way to take protein powder? There are endless effective ways to consume these protein supplements. The quickest and most convenient way is to mix the best tasting protein powder with water.
If the taste doesn’t appeal to your palate, you can blend the powder with your favorite milk drink to create a creamy consistency. Other avid fitness lovers mix it with coconut water, coffee or blend it with fruits for a robust smoothie.
You can also put it in your oatmeal, morning cereal, soups, hummus, and other delicious snacks. In fact, you can whip up scrumptious dishes with your protein powder. Get as creative as you want. Your options are truly unlimited.
Why People Use Protein Powder for Fitness
To gain more muscle mass and strength
Having strong and flexible muscles is important for executing an array of rigorous exercises and workout routines that make up a solid fitness regime. That’s why gym enthusiasts and athletes turn to protein powders to build their muscle mass.
Protein powders are particularly beneficial to those who prefer high-intensity resistance training. In fact, several studies have demonstrated that a combination of strength training and protein supplements may help enhance muscle growth and improve aerobic power, plus boost muscle recovery.
For example, in a 2015 study published in the journal Sports Medicine, investigators saw that protein supplementation led to an uptick in muscle mass and strength as the volume, frequency, and duration of resistance training increases.
To prevent muscle loss
Muscle mass loss is the biggest problem for people as they age, which in turn leads to fat gain and makes it hard to maintain a healthy weight. This is where protein powders can come to your rescue.
As mentioned earlier, protein supplementation stimulates the process of muscle protein synthesis. That’s because it floods your bloodstream with amino acids that are required to repair muscle damage and build new muscle tissue. Even in obese and overweight individuals, taking protein powder can help retain muscle mass and promote muscle protein synthesis, as noted by this 2014 study.
The adverse loss in muscle mass in the elderly can be partly reversed, prevented or otherwise slowed with a combo of lifestyle changes, strength training, and protein supplementation. Accordingly, a growing body of research, including this 2009 study, has shown that consumption of protein supplements coupled with workouts may be an effective way of preventing the loss of skeletal muscle mass in aging adults.
To boost performance
Want to improve your fitness or sports performance? Protein powders have shown potential in enhancing muscle performance in and out of the gym. This can be extremely critical for athletes, bodybuilders, and lifters. Recent research, including this 2018 study, has shown that protein supplementation may have a positive effect on endurance training and performance.
Again, the RDA for protein consumption is around 0.8g per kilogram of bodyweight for most adults older than 18. However, some people find it hard to meet these dietary requirements, notably some vegetarians and vegans, in which case protein powders provide a convenient solution.
Heavy weightlifters, athletes, people with chronic diseases, older adults, and bodybuilders may need to go beyond the RDA. This is where protein supplementation comes in handy.
To boost recovery after workouts
Aside from promoting muscle growth and retention, protein is required to repair damaged muscle tissues and muscles. As such, fitness enthusiasts may have to add protein powder to their diets to accelerate muscle recovery and heal soreness after workouts and training.
Many studies have noted that consuming protein shakes and other supplements post-workout may help recovery by improving muscle performance, minimizing muscle damage, and initiating muscle protein synthesis.
To promote weight loss
Protein powders may help you lose weight and keep it off in several ways:
Protein inhibits appetite-stimulating hormones like ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), and peptide tyrosine-tyrosine (PYY). At the same time, it increases the levels of hunger-suppressing hormones such as PYY and GLP-1. As a result, you will feel full for longer and keep hunger pangs at the bay.
It enhances your metabolism. How? Firstly, protein metabolism burns more calories than when metabolizing carbohydrates or fats. More importantly, protein has been found to induce gluconeogenesis, a process in which fats and proteins produce glucose in the absence of carbs.
By encouraging muscle growth, protein powders also help you use more calories effectively and therefore lose weight more effectively.
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