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[Review] The Protein Powder Buyer’s Guide — 150 Popular Protein Powders Shaken Up And Graded

Protein powder, whey protein powder, plant protein powder, vegan protein powder, plant based protein powder, brown rice protein, natural protein powder, all natural protein powder, natural whey protein powder, protein, best protein powder, whey protein weight loss, highest quality protein powder, best protein powder for women, best protein powder for men, protein supplements, best protein to build muscle, best protein to lose weight, top protein powder, protein powder rankings

One-hundred and fifty — the protein powder market is overflowing with colorful options, yet 95% of the jugs aren’t worth your cash.
We sifted through the shelves — 150 powders deep — and held an unadulterated protein powder bonanza to cut through the noise, rank the prospects, and unearth the best bangs for your buck.

Outside of fish oilprobiotics, and maybe a multivitamin, protein powder is one of the few staple supplements that everyone should be taking on a regular basis. It’s the easiest way to ensure that you’re always getting regular infusions of HQ protein — a nutrient that forms the cornerstone of a lean diet, and by translation, helps cultivate a killer physique that’s LEAN, muscular, and stripped of blubbery fat mass.

Protein works hard for yousimultaneously, from two different angles:

  • Builds Lean Muscle — a constant waterfall of protein is critical for the growth and development of lean muscle mass, and helps preserve existing muscle tissue (so that your muscles won’t deflate over-time, aka catabolism).12 It also helps increase strength gains.3456
  • Supports Fat Loss — protein suppresses appetite and keeps hunger from flaring up;7 reduces the body’s propensity to store fat, by controlling blood sugar levels and insulin — a hormone that controls fat storage;8 and it torches major calories after consumption (via thermogenesis), which promotes weight loss and prevents fat gain.91011

Protein incinerates upwards of 35% of its own calories during digestion and metabolism, whereas carbs & fat lie in the inefficient 5-15% range. Translated, a 100 calorie meal from protein burns up to 35 calories; that same meal from carbs or fat would only knock off 5-15.121314151617

Protein powder is the easiest way to perpetually sustain the superpowers above; in particularly if you’re on-the-go or constrained by a budget. But that leads to one MAJOR problem — mass hysteria. The 15,360-search-result variety.

ProteinPowderSearchResults

The protein powder market is ENORMOUS; dominated by mainstream behemoths like Optimum Nutrition & CytoSport’s Muscle Milk, with a flood of ambiguous surplus to fill out the category. Beyond the big boys, there’s a seemingly infinite shelf of kaleidiscopic protein powders; each of which is shrouded by endless marketing gobbledygook, and padded with lexicon that merits its own language (hydrolyzed, multi-phase, ultra-microfiltered, Aminogen…wtf?).

Here’s the reality: natural tiers of quality exist — and, yes, some products are far superior to others — but for the most part protein powder is extremely redundant. A high number of brands are more-or-less the same product, wrapped in different packaging, with the only real differentiator being PRICE.

We dug into the long tail to uncover the gems hidden within a marketplace of juggernauts. The key word — value. Powders that squeezed out the best combo of quality AND price floated to the top; those that were extremely overpriced sank to the bottom.

 

The Criteria & What We Looked For


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We sifted through the 150 most popular protein powders on Amazon and Bodybuilding.com — including whey protein blends, whey isolates, sustained-release blends, and plant-based varieties — crunched the numbers, parsed through the noise, and came up with a comprehensive rating system for the entire protein powder category.

Aggregate ratings were handed out based on a cornucopia of critical dimensions. Here’s what we really care about —

  • Protein Type. Is a given powder made of whey concentrate? Whey isolate or hydrolyzed whey? Milk or casein? Soy? Plant protein? A blend? Type of protein is CRITICAL, as it impacts digestion rate, purity, amount of lactose, propensity to cause stomach issues, usability in the body, function (post-workout, meal replacement), and timing.181920
    Quantity also factors in.

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  • Ingredients. Is the ingredient profile clean and all-natural, or is it loaded with artificial sweeteners, fillers, colors, and other additives?
  • Sweeteners. Is it all natural (e.g. stevia, monk fruit), or is it gushing with artificial sweeteners (e.g. sucralose/Splenda, Ace-K)?
  • Purity. What % of calories come from protein? Is it oozing with sugar, fat, sat. fat, and carbs?
  • Key Differentiators. Does a brand have any beneficial additives? Probiotics, digestive enzymes,21 BCAA’s, creatine, glutamine, fiber, MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), CLA, green blends, flax seed, and chia are all value-adds and a good proxy for quality products.
  • Price. $/serving. The 5 dimensions above are fine-and-dandy, but deciphering relative value all funnels down to price.

*Flavor was NOT taken into account, given that we haven’t tried every product across-the-board.

Using the criteria above we aimed to rank each protein powder based purely on relative value, and ultimately dig up the brands that represent best-in-class.

Again, that’s QUALITY relative to PRICE. A number of extremely high quality products are exorbitantly priced (e.g. Jay Robb, Optimum Platinum Hydrobuilder, Vega) and not worth the cash; others are dirt cheap, but the poor quality doesn’t merit a purchase (e.g. Bioplex, Muscle Milk).

 

Protein Strategy — Which Type Of Protein Should I Take?


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Looking at the composite protein powder universe, we stratified products into 4 distinct categories; each of which has unique qualities, varying price-points, and different uses for different people depending on individual goals and needs. Each category has its own dedicated ranking.

And just like fish, chicken, and cottage cheese — protein powder is GENDER NEUTRAL.

Protein powder, whey protein powder, plant protein powder, vegan protein powder, plant based protein powder, brown rice protein, natural protein powder, all natural protein powder, natural whey protein powder, protein, best protein powder, whey protein weight loss, highest quality protein powder, best protein powder for women, best protein powder for men, protein supplements, best protein to build muscle, best protein to lose weight, top protein powder, protein powder rankingsWhey Blends

Avg. Price: $.75/serving

A blend of whey concentrate and other protein types across a spectrum of quality and purity; ranging from lower quality whey concentrate and soy to higher quality hydrolyzed whey, egg, and whey isolate.

Whey blends are less expensive; not as pure; higher in fat, carbs, and sugar; digest at a moderate rate; and are typically laced with artificial sweeteners.

They may also cause digestive issues (bloating, gas, and other fun things) depending on stomach sensitivity and level of lactose intolerance.

Digestion Rate: Moderate

Ideal For: All-around value and those looking for a versatile, use-anytime protein. Anyone focused on general health and leanness, or that wants to infuse a little extra protein into their diet, but isn’t reliant on taking protein powder everyday. Those on a budget.

Timing: Post-workout. Meal Replacement. Snacks.

Protein powder, whey protein powder, plant protein powder, vegan protein powder, plant based protein powder, brown rice protein, natural protein powder, all natural protein powder, natural whey protein powder, protein, best protein powder, whey protein weight loss, highest quality protein powder, best protein powder for women, best protein powder for men, protein supplements, best protein to build muscle, best protein to lose weight, top protein powder, protein powder rankingsWhey Isolate

Avg. Price: $1.13/serving

Protein composed of whey isolate and/or hydrolyzed whey. It’s the quickest to digest; extremely pure; generally extremely low in carbs, fat, and sugar; devoid of lactose, which results in minimal stomach discomfort (ahem, gas and bloating); and ideal post-workout to MAXIMIZE growth and recovery.

Isolates are the product of heavy filtration (or ion exchange), which removes almost all of the lactose and carbs, and leaves behind close-to-pure protein (generally isolates are 90-100% protein).

“Hydrolyzed” means that the protein has already been pre-digested and further broken down into its component amino acids, which hyperaccelerates digestion & absorption (i.e. it works really fast and it’s especially effective post-workout).

Given its high quality and functional use, isolates more expensive.

Digestion Rate: Fast

Ideal For: Anyone trying to maximize muscle growth and recovery. Those with digestive issues. Anyone who’s on a low-to-no carb diet.

Timing: Post-workout.

Protein powder, whey protein powder, plant protein powder, vegan protein powder, plant based protein powder, brown rice protein, natural protein powder, all natural protein powder, natural whey protein powder, protein, best protein powder, whey protein weight loss, highest quality protein powder, best protein powder for women, best protein powder for men, protein supplements, best protein to build muscle, best protein to lose weight, top protein powder, protein powder rankingsSustained-Release Blends

Avg. Price: $1.06/serving

A mix of slow (casein, milk) and fast-digesting proteins (whey, egg, soy) that provides a long-term stream of protein/amino acids to muscles. Sustained-release blends smash hunger and are especially effective as a meal-replacement or snack.

They’re generally higher in calories, with added fats (some healthy, some not) to boost fullness and slow digestion.

Digestion Rate: Slow

Ideal For: Anyone who regularly drinks protein shakes as an everyday snack/meal replacement. Those who take isolates post-workout and need a supplementary, drink-anytime protein source. A filling breakfast or healthy late-night snack.

Timing: Meal replacement. Snacks. Before bed. Breakfast.

Protein powder, whey protein powder, plant protein powder, vegan protein powder, plant based protein powder, brown rice protein, natural protein powder, all natural protein powder, natural whey protein powder, protein, best protein powder, whey protein weight loss, highest quality protein powder, best protein powder for women, best protein powder for men, protein supplements, best protein to build muscle, best protein to lose weight, top protein powder, protein powder rankingsPlant-Based Blends

Avg. Price: $1.63/serving

Natural blends made up of some combination of brown rice protein, pea protein, soy, and various other plant-based sources.

They’re free of milk products, therefore perfect for vegans; generally all-natural and have no artificial ingredients or sweeteners; and often come pre-loaded with antioxidants, fiber, omega-3’s, and other phytonutrients.

Given the quality and nascent market, plant-based protein costs a premium.

Digestion Rate: Moderate

Ideal For: Vegans. Those with lactose intolerance and digestive issues (gas, bloating, and other fun things). Anyone that wants an all-natural option.

Timing: Post-workout. Meal replacement. Snacks.

Upgrading from a whey blend to an isolate is like tossing your Prius for a Ferrari. Whey blends are cost effective, versatile, and get the job done, but isolates are faster and more powerful (in terms of digestion, absorption, and stimulating growth & recovery).

If you’re an athlete or serious about building muscle mass, isolates can provide a surge of high-octane fuel post-workout; if you’re training more casually — with general health and leanness, as well as budget, in mind — sticking with a whey blend probably makes more sense.

And if you’re going the isolate route, pair it with either a sustained release or plant-based protein blend. Isolates should be used exclusively post-workout — sustained release and plant-based blends can help fill the void for random shakes, snacks, or mini meals.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend .75-1g of protein per LB of bodyweight to optimize a lean lifestyle. If you’re 150lbs, shoot for 112-150g/day.


 

Our Protein Powder Recommendations


Given the INSANE number of choices there’s absolutely zero reason to buy anything other than our 5-star rated protein powders. We recommend any of the following brands for each category —

ALWAYS buy your protein powder online from either Amazon or Bodybuilding.com (check both sites for prices/deals) — it’s marginally cheaper than the markup applied in stores like Vitamin Shoppe or GNC.

 

Lean It UP’s Protein Powder Rankings — Whey Blends


The Lean It UP Protein Powder Rankings is split into 4 dedicated parts, divvied up by type of powder. Access each through the links at the bottom.

You can also download the full rankings file here (there are 4 tabs at the bottom of the download file; each tab holds a different protein type).

*Click on each image to enlarge.

 

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Pages: Intro, Whey Blends | Whey Isolate | Sustained Release | Plant-Based Protein

 
 

References, Notes, Links

  1. Farup J, Rahbek SK, Vendelbo MH, Matzon A, Hindhede J, Bejder A, Ringgard S, Vissing K. Whey protein hydrolysate augments tendon and muscle hypertrophy independent of resistance exercise contraction mode. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 May 7. []
  2. Joy JM, Lowery RP, Wilson JM, Purpura M, De Souza EO, Wilson SM, Kalman DS, Dudeck JE, Jäger R. The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutr J. 2013 Jun 20;12(1):86. []
  3. Matthew B Cooke, Emma Rybalka, Christos G Stathis, Paul J Cribb and Alan Hayes. Whey protein isolate attenuates strength decline after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:30 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-30 []
  4. Douglas Kalman, Samantha Feldman, Michele Martinez, Diane R Krieger and Mark J Tallon. Effect of protein source and resistance training on body composition and sex hormones. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2007, 4:4  doi:10.1186/1550-2783-4-4 []
  5. Wilborn CD, Taylor LW, Outlaw J, Williams L, Campbell B, Foster CA, Smith-Ryan A, Urbina S, Hayward S. The Effects of Pre- and Post-Exercise Whey vs. Casein Protein Consumption on Body Composition and Performance Measures in Collegiate Female Athletes. J Sports Sci Med. 2013 Mar 1;12(1):74-9. []
  6. Walker TB, Smith J, Herrera M, Lebegue B, Pinchak A, Fischer J.The influence of 8 weeks of whey-protein and leucine supplementation on physical and cognitive performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010 Oct;20(5):409-17. []
  7. Bendtsen LQ, Lorenzen JK, Bendsen NT, Rasmussen C, Astrup A. Effect of dairy proteins on appetite, energy expenditure, body weight, and composition: a review of the evidence from controlled clinical trials. Adv Nutr. 2013 Jul 1;4(4):418-38. doi: 10.3945/an.113.003723. []
  8. Zafar TA, Waslien C, AlRaefaei A, Alrashidi N, AlMahmoud E. Whey protein sweetened beverages reduce glycemic and appetite responses and food intake in young females. Nutr Res. 2013 Apr;33(4):303-10. []
  9. Madzima TA, Panton LB, Fretti SK, Kinsey AW, Ormsbee MJ. Night-time consumption of protein or carbohydrate results in increased morning resting energy expenditure in active college-aged men. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jun 17:1-7. []
  10. Halton T. The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review. J Am Coll Nutr October 2004 vol. 23 no. 5 373-385 []
  11. Welle S, Lilavivit U. Thermic effect of feeding in man: Increased plasma norepinephrine levels following glucose but not protein or fat consumption. Metabolism. 1981 Oct;30(10):953-8. []
  12. Johnston CS, Day CS, Swan PD: Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women. J Am Coll Nutr 2002, 21:55-61. []
  13. Bendtsen LQ, Lorenzen JK, Bendsen NT, Rasmussen C, Astrup A. Effect of dairy proteins on appetite, energy expenditure, body weight, and composition: a review of the evidence from controlled clinical trials. Adv Nutr. 2013 Jul 1;4(4):418-38. doi: 10.3945/an.113.003723. []
  14. Skov AR, Toubro S, Rønn B, Holm L, Astrup A. Randomized trial on protein vs carbohydrate in ad libitum fat reduced diet for the treatment of obesity. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders : Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity [1999, 23(5):528-536. []
  15. Layman D, Boileau R. A Reduced Ratio of Dietary Carbohydrate to Protein Improves Body Composition and Blood Lipid Profiles during Weight Loss in Adult Women. J. Nutr. February 1, 2003vol. 133 no. 2 411-417 []
  16. Belko A, Barbieri T. Effect of energy and protein intake and exercise intensity on the thermic effect of food. Am J Clin Nutr June 1986vol. 43 no. 6 863-869 []
  17. Martens E, Lemmens S. Protein leverage affects energy intake of high-protein diets in humans. Am J Clin Nutr January 2013 vol. 97 no. 1 86-93 []
  18. Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson MP, Maubois JL, Beaufrère B. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94:14930–14935. []
  19. Volek JS, Volk BM, Gómez AL, Kunces LJ, Kupchak BR, Freidenreich DJ, Aristizabal JC, Saenz C, Dunn-Lewis C, Ballard KD, Quann EE, Kawiecki DL,Flanagan SD, Comstock BA, Fragala MS, Earp JE, Fernandez ML, Bruno RS, Ptolemy AS, Kellogg MD, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ. Whey protein supplementation during resistance training augments lean body mass. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(2):122-35. []
  20. Burd NA, Yang Y, Moore DR, Tang JE, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Greater stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis with ingestion of whey protein isolate v. micellar casein at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men. Br J Nutr. 2012 Sep 28;108(6):958-62. []
  21. Julius Oben, Shil C Kothari and Mark L Anderson. An open label study to determine the effects of an oral proteolytic enzyme system on whey protein concentrate metabolism in healthy males. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2008, 5:10 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-10 []

 

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto

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  • Saundraslp

    I’d love to see Visalus in your comparison. http://Www.saundraharris.bodybyvi.com

  • Leigh B

    Great article. Enjoying your sight tremendously:)

  • Wes

    Your thoughts on BioTrust Low
    Carb?

  • Jason

    Hello, how does the earth fare brand of ‘show me the whey’ protein weigh in for this comparison?

  • Kelcey

    Hey Bryan! Have you heard yet about About Time products? I hear there stuff is pretty good, and it’s decently new/not too expensive. Was wondering if maybe you had some opinions on that if you tried it! If not, im sure they could send you free stuff to review on here 🙂

    Talk soon!

    -Kelcey from IG 🙂 [protein bar review post]

  • Taylor Knott

    I’m very interested in overall body health. Going the route mind, body and spirit. I’m a rock climber I climb on average 4+ days a week, while also running and doing ab workouts/body weight workouts 3 days a week. I want to have an overall more lean and more useful body when it comes to climbing and adventuring. This lifestyle is always on the go that’s why I want to supplement protein powder for PWO as well as sure fire on the go snacks to make sure I’m getting what I need. Would you recommend going with a whey blend since I’m not concerned with bulking up just leaning out my body and muscle?

    PS never have taken protein powder before.

    • What’s up Taylor. A whey blend is definitely your best bet, especially PWO or whenever you need a lean snack. That’s exciting! It’s honestly delicious, try making smoothies/shakes with it, too.

      Give it a shot, and depending on how your stomach holds up, a plant-based blend can also be a solid option.

      Best,
      Bryan

  • craig

    what do you think of the Giant Sports protein?

    • It’s fine if you have it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it. It’s way overpriced for an average product.

      • Craig

        Thanks Bryan, What does the creatine do for you? For general weght loss and toning which protein powder do you recomend as the best? Also when working out is it better to do weights first then cardio or cardio then weights?

        • Creatine helps with strength, power, and energy production.

          Stick with a blend for the best value — I personally like MRM all-natural, unless you’re lactose intolerant or anything like that (http://lnitup.co/1A6DvJ2).

          Definitely weights —> cardio. You’ll save your energy and strength for when it’s the most important, plus you’ll more efficiently burn off fat.

  • Ivan

    Hi Bryan. I was aiming for the isolates, but realized none of the first ranked ones have any BCAA’s. And then the ones that do have BCAA’s also have Creatine which I’d prefer not to take. My preference was the NOW Foods all natural. Do you think I’d be missing on some important aminoacids? Why your first options do not contain any BCAA’s? Thank you very much for this amazing job you’ve done.

    • Thanks Ivan, you got it!

      Not at all. All whey and most plant-based protein powders naturally contain BCAA’s (leucine/isoleucine/valine), some brands just add additional BCAA’s to jack up the levels. I view it as a bonus, but by no means necessary. NOW has ~5.5g of total BCAA’s per scoop.

      FYI, I personally use NOW unflavored post-workout and NitroFusion as my all-around powder (plant-based).

      You can always supplement with a BCAA separately.

      • Ivan

        Wow you are awesome. Thanks, I just bought the NOW and got same-day delivery by Amazon. Which means I just tried it. Dutch Chocolate flavor tastes pretty amazing and doesn’t leave that ugly texture that some other ones do. Again thank you so much for such a website. Doing research on some specific things is sometimes complicated, but specifically about protein powder was just a nightmare to compare and decide, they all looked the same. (Y)!!!

        • You’re so welcome — thanks for stopping by!!! I actually use the unflavored and have never had the chocolate, good to know.

          If you ever have any questions or requests, let me know (twitter: @leanitup or instagram: @brydisanto)

  • Alen

    Great overall guide on protein powders. My personal favorite is the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Chocolate Mint Flavor! It’s so unique and refreshing and it’s a really lean protein. If you want a more in depth description of it you can read it here!

    http://keytofit.com/2014/09/optimum-nurtition-whey-gold-standard-chocolate-mint-review/

  • ThiefOfHearts

    thoughts on Vega Sports performance?

    • It’s a HQ powder, but WAY overpriced.

      There are definitely better options — it’s included in the plant-based rankings: http://www.leanitup.com/review-protein-powder-buyers-guide-150-popular-protein-powders-shaken-graded/4/

      • ThiefOfHearts

        Thanks, I used to buy the vega sport packets cos of the additional BCAAs. But you’re right. It’s expensive. for whey isolate, Im looking at the Dymatize 100. will I have to get additional bcaa for that? if so which bcaa product would be best as a supplement. I want the tone look, not to the point of having V shaped abs as I like looking very feminine so Im trying to avoid anything with creatine. anyway thanks for everything

        • Vega (and most plant blends) has added BCAAs to create an amino acid pool that’s similar to dairy-based protein — the Dymatize naturally has more. They’re not necessary, but definitely very helpful and recommended if you’re training regularly.

          We’re actually about to publish a full BCAA buyer’s guide. Stay tuned.

  • Roy

    Would you still recommend Musclepharm Combat Powder as a good post-workout choice? (i.e., would you believe that there is enough faster digested proteins in there?)

    (It’s what I currently have a use, since it had a good value and I’m on a budget, so I’m not sure if I should switch it up or not)

    • Hey Roy,

      It’s not ideal, but it’s not going to make a monumental difference short-term. I’d finish up your jug of Combat and then restock with an isolate or whey blend — they’re both ideal post-workout (especially over time).

      Combat tends to function better for snacks, breakfast, before bed, etc.

  • Roy

    Hi Bryan, another question about the rankings.

    I understand that the ones in 5 black stars are the highest rated ones, but is there any particular ranking between even proteins of the same star ranking in each category? (i.e. Are the 5 stars proteins in blue ranked best from left to right, top to bottom, or are all the 5 stars just ranked 5 stars with no particular order?) Thanks once again.

    I’m thinking of picking up a tub of ON Gold 100% if the price shoots down during American Thanksgiving, but even though its 5 stars, I wasn’t sure if it was the best 5 star-ed protein considering it is down the list of all 5 star proteins.

    • Hey Roy — Read it from left to right (e.g. I like MRM better than SportPharma, but both are top-tier values).

      ON Gold is 4 stars, mainly because of the price. It’s a quality powder though, so if you can get it on discount, grab a few jubs.

      Go for it. I like the natural line.

      • Roy

        Thanks for clarifying and the advice!

        Have you heard of MyProtein Impact Whey Isolate or MyProtein Impact Whey Protein? It seems like they’re having a nice sale at the moment.and I might pull the trigger on this one. Any verdict on this brand?

        • I’ve used MyProtein in the past. Go for it — I’m a fan of the quality, especially the unflavored version (which is purely for smoothies).

  • Dylan Didiano

    I’d say check out our top best whey protein list! http://supplementbodybuilding.com/the-best-whey-protein-powders/

  • Nicole

    This new one looks promising… pure whey protein isolate – All natural, no fillers and 6g BCAAs! http://www.eidopro.com

  • matt

    this is a really helpful article.. thanks! I wanted to point out that your “key differentiators” row title, and “Lean it Up review” row titles got swapped after your first few reviews by accident in case you want to correct this typo..

  • Janandrin Moodley

    This article really was an eye opener. Thank you. However, please can you explain the rationale behind why a product like BSN Syntha-6 has such a low rating (2 stars) compared to a product like MusclePharm Combat (5 Stars). In fact, Syntha-6 seems to have more than Combat, and is cheaper too. The difference in rating (5 vs 2 stars) seems a bit extreme

    • One word: purity. You’re only getting 22 grams of protein for a 200 calorie scoop of protein, which is only ~44% (MP Combat = 25g for 130 calories). That percentage is one of the lowest of all powders we analyzed.

      It’s filled with sunflower oil, corn syrup, artificial colors, and other fillers that I wouldn’t recommend ingesting on a regular basis.

      It’s also fairly pricey on a per serving basis.

      • Janandrin Moodley

        Thank you very much. It’s got such great reviews on other sites, but i suppose you need to break it down to the base ingredients to get the true value. LeanItUp.com is probably the best site I’ve ever come across.

      • Mitch Deschambault

        Having low calorie protein powders with little to no carbs and fat with it is just irrational. Are you trying to build muscle or not? I’d rather not have to have a separate carbohydrate with my shake. The high calories and lower protein % is exactly what makes that product superior. Evidence based sports medicine suggest the ideal macro nutrients for muscle gains is still 2/3 carb 1/3 protein with at least 20 grams of protein so if anything its still too low calorie. The only scenario where this isn’t true is if you are wanting weight loss or are more of a casual lifter. If that is the case then you have no reason to consume protein powder in the first place. Your criticism of the other ingredients as being bad would require some proof of their harmful effects to be legitimate and such proof does not exist that I have seen. Even the sunflower oil is only a small fraction of our recommended daily fat intake and not at all a “bad” fat source, better than the animal fat sources we consume without criticism of their safety (please do not think I’m saying don’t eat meat, meat is wonderful).

  • I generally like to go for protein powders which are not proprietary blends so you know exactly how much protein is in each product.

    I also go for the “Naturals Range” which is generally sweetened with stevia and natural flavours, rather than protein powders that use artificial sweeteners. That is just my personal choice.

    Very comprehensive write up! Well done

    • Thanks Angeli! I completely agree. What’s the point of a prop blend, other than hiding ingredients? It’s so shady.

  • Thank you for this. It has helped me in choosing my next protein tub 🙂 WIll you be updating this in the future? 🙂

    • Hey Allen — We’ll do a revamped version early this year. It’ll mainly cover any new products, and outside of any minor price fluctuations, everything here should still hold the same weight.

      • Thank you very much! I’m looking forward to that and hopefully other lists such as multivitamins and other supplements 🙂

  • Chuck

    Bryan, thanks. Just found your site; really informative write-up! I’ve used DaVinci Right Whey (non-GMO, New Zealand etc) but don’t know if it’s an isolate or sustained release. Any idea and any thoughts in general how you’d rate it?

    • Hey Chuck — it’s a basic whey concentrate. It’s a quality product, and I love that it’s natural & non-GMO, but it’s also extremely expensive for what you’re getting.

      You’re paying close to $2/serving for 21g of protein. That’s outrageous — go with the Jarrow or MRM.

  • Janine

    Hello Bryan

    i am competing this year in a body fitness competition and use a protein shake after my leg day 2 times a week, could you recommend the best one that will assist me but not have massive effects on my weight, the purest one possible. 🙂

    thanks
    Janine

    • Hey Janine — I’d go with NOW Isolate for post-workout. Unflavored if you’re making smoothies, chocolate if you’re shaking it up.

      The link’s above.

      It’s what I use and personally love, can’t beat the purity.

      -Bryan

  • “The cheapest way to get protein without adding any extra calories from carbs or fat” is always my goal. So i usually use cheap protein powder, such as an alternative protein source.

  • Derrick M

    Hi I’m currently using EAS 100% Whey protein. I’m looking for more results far as muscle mass any suggestions on a better product but not so pricey?

  • It doesn’t matter really, as long as it fits your macros.

    But, I like your recommendation Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein, It’s probably my favorite brand/type and the taste is amazing.

    I would also recommend people to check out Cheapest Protein Powder supplements if you’re looking for protein powder supplements on a budget.

  • jim

    How do you feel about gnc’s product line? mainly their amplified whey isolate. i don’t see them on your rating scale so i was just curious.
    Also i have heard that Hydro isolate is not worth the money because it is not as good as regular whey isolate. it is absorbed faster but because whey is already absorbed so fast it doesn’t matter?

  • The protein powder reviews, this is best products which i want to search and find on internet market. Thank for all your reviews! My site is http://theproteinpowderreviews.com/ this is the reviews for The Best Protein Powder in 2015 Market.

    • Alan3008

      And before putting whey isolate in your body, watch this video. You can skip to 4:47 where he discusses the bad things about whey isolate. Know what you are consuming.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvwNrwrhK0Y

      • hwangeruk

        Do you really understand all that pseudo science? He’s selling you something, so I am also distrustful of this guy.
        If there was any danger of Whey Isolates someone would have had a class action suit years ago. Sugary, too expensive maybe – but he hysterically warns of isolates but doesn’t really say what the actual danger is. It was a bit of an odd video actually.

        • Alan3008

          Who isn’t “selling you something?”

        • Alan3008

          There’s a very good article, which seems very unbiased, on Bodybuilding.com. Scroll down to the heading “Different Types of Whey and start reading.

          http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/willbrink3.htm

          There are many benefits to using whey concentrate. In the article, it it says, in part:

          “People should not be under the impression that a well made WPC is inherently inferior to a whey protein isolate (WPI) and may in fact be a superior choice, depending on the goals of the person.”

  • Alan3008

    It would be nice if there was a website where you could sort out all the protein powders you DON’T want, and then be left with a list of the ones you want. For example, sort out all the isolate protein powders or mixes with isolate protein in it. Then sort out ones with artificial sweeteners, etc. This would leave the user looking at only the ones they want to buy.

  • Hoser99

    Hey Bryan, Muscle Pharm now has a 100% Iso version of their combat powder. How would you rate it compared to the rest of the Iso’s on your list?

  • Mikey Bav

    Cellucor carries my favorite protein powder by far, I love the cookie dough flavor. Here is a link to anybody who would like to check it out http://www.gnc.com/Cellucor-COR-Performance-Series-WHEY/product.jsp?productId=41660686

  • xzatech
  • SusieJ Wingo

    Hi, Great article Bryan!
    I’ve been taking ON Gold Standard and I’m a fan!
    But I’m thinking to try a different one just to swap between… I saw this article Cheapest Protein Powder do you recommend the BSN one or a different one?

    Thanks!