Did you know that when it comes to nutritional supplements, protein powder is one of the most popular? There are lots of people that use it to help them build muscle, recover from injuries, lose weight, and more. While it’s true that a healthy diet provides you with protein through sources such as milk, eggs, poultry, meat, and legumes- many people still don’t get adequate protein for various reasons. This is why they turn to protein supplements.
Protein powder can be found in two primary forms: whey and vegan. Since these supplements are increasing in popularity, there are more options being developed. While it’s great to have more options- it’s also a lot more confusing for consumers to decide which protein powder is best.
Of course, every protein powder brand on the market claims to be the best. However, they don’t all live up to their claims. So, how is it possible to choose? That is what we are here for. We’re going to first explain the different types of protein powders and then we’ll review what we feel are the top 5 best protein powder brands on the market today. We hope that we can help make this decision less complicated for you.
Types of Protein Powders
As we mentioned previously, there are two basic categories of protein powders available: whey and vegan. Below, we’ll take a look at 10 types of protein powders within those categories.
Whey protein is sourced from milk. During the process of making cheese, a liquid is separated from the curds. It’s rich in protein, but also contains lactose, which is a sugar found in milk that a lot of people have difficulty digesting. There are three types of whey protein:
- Whey protein isolate: 90%+ protein, all fat and lactose are removed.
- Whey protein concentrate: 30% to 90% protein, low fat and low carbs.
- Whey protein hydrolysate: considered “predigested”, has been through additional processing that makes it easier for the body to digest.
Whey protein contains BCAAs, which are branched-chain amino acids. The body needs amino acids to promote muscle formation. According to research, whey protein helps athletes gain/retain muscle mass, recover from intense workout sessions, and improve muscle strength as a result of strength training.
Casein is also found in milk. In fact, it is what gives milk its color. This type of protein is digested slowly. When it reacts with your stomach acid, it turns into a gel, which stays in your stomach longer and delays amino acid absorption.
This means that your muscles are exposed to the amino acids in a progressive manner, which decreases the rate of muscular protein degradation. Research shows that casein is more effective for improving muscle protein synthesis and strength than soy or wheat protein, but less effective than whey.
Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein. This is one of the best meals for curbing hunger and keeping you feeling satiated for longer periods of time. That being said, egg protein powders are typically made from egg whites, not the whole egg. While the protein content is still high, without the yolks, the fat is eliminated, so you may not feel as full.
Like other animal-based products, eggs are a complete protein. This means they contain all 9 essential amino acids that your body is unable to produce on it’s own. Additionally, it is the second-highest source of leucine (after whey), which is a BCAA that plays a critical role in muscle health.
Egg-white protein has not gotten as much attention as whey or protein. However, it does show promise as a quality protein. For individuals who have dairy allergies and prefer to use an animal-based protein, egg protein might be a good option.
Pea protein is a popular protein supplement among vegans, vegetarians, and individuals who have dairy or egg allergies/sensitivities. It’s made from yellow split peas, which are a high fiber legume that contains all but one of the necessary amino acids.
This protein source is high in BCAAs. According to studies on rats, this protein absorbs slower than whey but faster than casein. When it comes to satiety, it seems to be equivalent to dairy protein.
While pea protein does seem to be promising, more research is needed to validate these findings.
Hemp protein is another plant-based protein supplement that is quickly increasing in popularity. Though it is sourced from cannabis plants, it only contains trace amounts of THC.
This protein contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, along with some of the essential amino acids. however, since it contains low levels of leucine and lysine, it is not considered a complete protein. Despite the lack of studies, hemp protein seems to be a good plant-based protein source.
Brown Rice Protein
Brown rice protein powders have been on the market for some time, but when it comes to muscle growth are believed to be inferior to whey protein. However, it does include all of the essential amino acids, it lacks lysine, so it is not considered a complete protein.
There has not been a lot of research done on brown rice protein powder. We need more to confirm or dispute it’s validity as a quality protein source.
Collagen Protein Powder
Collagen protein powder is an animal-based protein. When it comes to muscle building and recovery, it’s not as effective as whey, egg, or casein. However, it does help with skin suppleness, joint health, and digestion.
Soy protein is considered a high-quality plant-based protein. However, many bodybuilders do avoid it because it contains phytoestrogens, which decrease testosterone and increase estrogen when consumed in high amounts. Also, it has less leucine than whey protein. Leucine is the primary amino acid that signals the body to build new muscle tissue.
While it’s not a great idea to consume it in high amounts, it’s important to note that soy protein does contain the essential amino acids and could be useful in moderate amounts, especially if you are unable to use whey or other high-quality sources.
Due to the phytoestrogen, soy protein may not be the best option for men, studies indicate that postmenopausal women may benefit from it. Finally, it contains phytonutrients, which are potentially useful for older adults or those with low bone density or at an increased risk of heart disease.
Almond Protein Powder
Almond protein powder is becoming popular among individuals who are health-conscious because it is high in nutrients and facilitates muscle development. The best part is, almond protein is gluten-free and cholesterol free. The strong almond flavor makes it a great addition to shakes and smoothies.
Mixed Plant Proteins
Finally, some of the protein powders on the market use a combination of plant-based sources to provide all of the amino acids you need. In most cases, two or more of the following are combined:
- Brown rice
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
Due to the high fiber content, plant-based proteins digest slower than animal-based proteins. While this may not be an issue for most people, it does put some restrictions on the amino acids available for your body to use following a workout.
Top 5 Best Protein Powder Brands Reviews
Now that we’ve looked at the 10 most common types of protein powers on the market, we’re going to review the top 5 best protein powder brands. This should help you decide which one is best for you.
XWERKS Grow is an animal-based protein powder. It is sourced from 100% grass-fed cows from New Zealand. It is a high-quality source of protein at an affordable price.
XWERKS Grow comes in 4 delicious flavors:
- Peanut butter
According to their website, this protein supplement repairs muscles and strengthens your immune system, while also providing you with a wide variety of other benefits.
As we mentioned, XWERKS Grow is affordable. In fact, it’s one of the most affordable options, despite their high manufacturing standards. You get 30 servings for only $59 and include a 30-day money back guarantee.
Ingredients in XWERKS Grow include:
- 25 grams protein
- 6 grams BCAAs
- 2 grams fat
- 2 grams carbs
BiOptimizers Protein Breakthrough
Protein Breakthrough by BiOptimizers is a well-known plant-based meal replacement formula helps users to improve their protein consumption. According to their website, researchers spent more than 17 years developing this protein powder.
This plant-based protein powder has a smooth texture and pleasant taste. It comes in two flavors:
Protein Breakthrough by BiOptimizers is a complete source of amino acids and supports post-workout recovery. While it is one of the more expensive options on our list, it does offer high-quality ingredients. You will pay $75 for 16 servings- but they do have a 365 day money back guarantee. This protein powder contains:
- Pea protein
- Hemp protein
- Pumpkin seed protein
Beast Protein by Beast Sports
Beast Protein by Beast Sports is a unique protein powder. It comes in a four pound tub and is available in 2 flavors:
Beast Protein contains 25 grams of protein in each serving, which means it’s one of the higher dosed options on our list. It also contains the following:
- Vitamin B1 & B2
As mentioned, it comes in a 4-pound tub, which contains 52 servings. It costs $60 and has a 60-day money back guarantee. Beast Protein offers a combination of both fast- and slow-digesting proteins, digestive enzymes, and amino acids that promote healthy digestion and muscle growth.
According to their website, Beast Protein by Beast Sports is proven to boost strength, improve metabolism, help with weight management, support strong bones, and suppress hunger. Plus, you will find no banned substances in this protein powder.
Magnum by MTN OPS
Magnum by MTN OPS is a premium formula that is available in a variety of unique flavors, including:
- Birthday Cake
- Berries & Cream
- Mountain Mocha
- Vanilla Milkshake
This protein powder contains:
- 23 grams protein
- 5 grams glutamine
According to the website, this formula will give users the fuel they need to build muscle and increase strength. Each container offers 30 servings and costs $49.95. You can subscribe and save 20% on each container, which brings it to $39.96. MTN OPS has a 30-day money back guarantee.
Milk & Egg Protein by NSP Nutrition
Milk & Egg Protein by NSP Nutrition stands out because it is a milk protein isolate that uses milk and egg to increase protein content. It is 92% milk and egg protein, which helps users increase muscle without weight gain.
According to the manufacturer, this protein powder will help avoid energy crashes during the day, prevent muscle protein breakdown, stabilize blood sugar levels, and keep you looking and feeling younger.
Prior to protein powders becoming popular, bodybuilding experts recommended consuming large amounts of milk and eggs. There are three flavors offered:
- Cherry almond
It’s a bit more expensive than some of the other options, at $53.97 for 28 servings. NSP offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
How We Chose
As we mentioned, every brand on the market makes big promises- but very few of them actually deliver on those promises. There’s only a small percentage that can actually be trusted. However, you can be sure that the ones on this list are trustworthy. Below, we’ll explain the metrics we used to choose protein powders for our list:
Ideally, a quality protein powder should contain between 15 and 25 grams of protein per serving.
Some of the brands on the market will overwhelm users with amazing macronutrient profiles. The problem is you may have to consume a serving that is much larger than a competitor. For example, instead of having to use 3 to 4 scoops to get 25 grams of protein, you really should only need 1 or 2.
You can find high-quality proteins in both vegan-friendly and animal-based formulas. We focused on quality more than source.
The composition of protein powders varies. For example, whey isolate is different than micellar casein. A pea protein is going to be different than a whey protein blend. Again, we focused more on quality than protein type.
Most protein powders are formulated with specific health/wellness goals. For example, some target weight loss and others are meal replacements. Some of them are keto-friendly, offering low carbs and high fat. We chose products that had the appropriate ingredients to meet their claimed goals.
Protein powders have a wide variety of macronutrient balances. Some are effective as meal replacements, high in calories and carbs. Others are lightweight and have zero sugars or carbs. We chose brands that have the appropriate macronutrient balance to meet their claims.
The main ingredient in a protein powder should always be protein. That being said, many times, additional ingredients are added to make the formula better. These include digestive enzymes, vitamins & minerals, fiber, BCAAs, and probiotics. We chose protein powders that had good complementary ingredients.
Taste and Mixability
In general, consumers prefer products that have a pleasant taste and mix well. You can be sure the ones on our list have a pleasant taste without being too sweet and they blend well with no problems with clumping.
Some people are willing to spend $100+ on a quality protein supplement, while others are only able to spend $20. We did not focus so much on a particular price- but more on those that offer good value to customers. Therefore, we have a variety of price points on our list.
Some brands add artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, and other unnecessary ingredients. While this might be fine in a lower quality supplement, they have no place in the high-quality options.
Almost all of the brands on the market offer some kind of money-back or satisfaction guarantee. We chose protein powders that offered at least a 30-day money back guarantee because if a company won’t stand behind their product, they must not be trustworthy.
There are some brands that have been around for decades and are known for their high-quality products. Others are newer and don’t have much of a reputation built up. We chose brands that have proven to be transparent and honest- time in the industry didn’t play much of a factor.
FAQs about Best Protein Powders
When you start to look at starting on a dietary supplement, such as a protein powder, you will probably have some questions. Below, we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about protein powders.
Why should you add protein powder to my diet?
While it’s true that you could theoretically get adequate protein from your diet, many people don’t. However, protein powder can help ensure that you get the recommended daily allowance of protein. It keeps you satiated and gives you the energy you need to power through your day. Protein powder encourages you to have a natural, healthy appetite and to practice appropriate eating behaviors.
When should you use protein powder?
According to fitness experts, you should be consuming your protein powder supplement approximately 15 minutes to 1 hour after your workout. This is known as the “anabolic window.”
How often should you use protein powder?
According to research, protein powder can be consumed daily. Most people find that 1 to 3 shakes per day is enough to meet their nutritional needs. That being said, consuming too much in one day is not likely to have a long-term impact on your health.
Can you mix protein powder into other recipes?
Some people find that it’s too much effort to have to mix a protein shake. If this is the case, you should know that there are plenty of ways you can add protein powder into your diet. You can add the powder to recipes such as homemade pizza crusts, cookies, and so much more. You may find recommended recipes on the packaging or website of your chosen protein powder. You can also do a quick online search and come up with a plethora of recipes.
Protein powder is one of the most popular health and fitness supplements on the market today. This is why there are so many different brands- everyone wants a piece of the market share. They all claim to be the best, but only a few deliver. That is why we came up with what we think are the top 5 best protein powder brands on the market today.
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Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely substitutes for sound medical or financial advice from a licensed healthcare provider or certified financial advisor. Make sure to consult with a professional physician or financial consultant before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA, or Health Canada approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or provide any kind of get-rich money scheme.