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The Best Protein Powder

Last updated on November 13, 2019

We looked at the top 13 Protein Powders and dug through the reviews from 71 of the most popular review sites including New York Times Wirecutter, Pure Food, Women's Health, No Meat Athlete, Go Dairy Free, Best Reviews Guide and more. The result is a ranking of the best Protein Powders.

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DWYM is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Protein Powders

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Optimum Nutrition

Standard Whey Protein

Overall Take

Top PickWith its ease of use and tasty flavors, Optimum Nutrition Standard Whey Protein is a great pick for gym rats and newbies alike.

Experts Included
DWYM Health & Wellness Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.

Levels

Grass Fed Protein, Undenatured

Overall Take

Grass-Fed ProteinLevels Grass Fed Protein, Undenatured is an environmentally-friendly, natural choice.

Experts Included
DWYM Health & Wellness Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.

Vega

Sport Premium Protein

Overall Take

Sweet and SmoothVega Sport Premium Protein boasts four flavors and a smooth texture.

Experts Included
DWYM Health & Wellness Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, No Meat Athlete, Pure Food, Go Dairy Free. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" This powder has the best taste and texture. It’s sweet and smooth, according to our vegan testers. It comes in four flavors."
Cons
"Mixed with just water, I found it a little hard to drink. My samples are berry-flavored, and it also comes in vanilla-flavor, but the sweetness (which comes from stevia leaf) did little to mask a very raw flavor. ..."
  The Best Value

Optimum Nutrition

Gold Standard Protein Powder

Overall Take

Serious Muscle-Building PowerOptimum Nutrition Gold Standard Protein Powder comes in 20 flavors and is easy to use.

Experts Included
DWYM Health & Wellness Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, BestReviews, Bar Bend, dietspotlight, Cure Disease, Golfoid. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" It’s easy to mix in a shaker bottle or to blend with a spoon; after we shook or stirred it for 30 seconds, the texture was smooth with no chunks or lumps left, unlike several other powders we tried."
Cons
"If you don't want all whey, this may not be ideal for you."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
20

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the protein powders available to purchase.
13

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

71

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: New York Times Wirecutter, Pure Food, Women's Health, No Meat Athlete, Go Dairy Free.

167,584

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Target and 6 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 13 Protein Powders and also dug through the reviews from 71 of the most popular review sites including New York Times Wirecutter, Pure Food, Women's Health, No Meat Athlete, Go Dairy Free, Best Reviews Guide and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Protein Powders.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Optimum Nutrition Standard Whey Protein

Our Expert Score
0.0
0 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.6
10,816 user reviews
Our Take

During our testing, we found that Optimum Nutrition Standard Whey Protein's double rich chocolate flavor tasted and smelled a lot like hot chocolate or chocolate milk — delicious. The package is user-friendly and makes it easy to get the perfect scoop. We also found that it mixed incredibly easily.

What other experts liked
What other experts didn't like

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Protein Powder

Expert Summarized Score
9.6
6 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.9
16,884 user reviews
Our Take

The primary ingredient here is whey protein isolates. When combined with ultra-filtered whey protein concentrate, this protein powder packs serious muscle-building power. There are 20 different flavors to choose from. Plus, it's user-friendly and easy to shake into a smooth, lump-free drink.

What other experts liked
It’s easy to mix in a shaker bottle or to blend with a spoon; after we shook or stirred it for 30 seconds, the texture was smooth with no chunks or lumps left, unlike several other powders we tried.
- New York Times Wirecutter
Gets excellent ratings for taste and effectiveness. The go-to powder for those who want an all-whey supplement.
- BestReviews
It mixes well with both water and milk, likely due to the lecithin, which helps to improve mixability. I typically shake up my protein in a mason jar, but even if you’re just stirring with a spoon, it dissolves nicely into the fluid — just make sure you’re stirring fast!
- Bar Bend
April 24, 2017 | Full review
These are digestive enzymes intended to help someone break down dietary protein and lactose (milk sugar) respectively. Digestive enzymes are have been taken by bodybuilders, weightlifters, and fitness enthusiasts for many years to assist with performance and physique goals.
- dietspotlight
Comes in a wide variety of flavors. There are several users who have tried it and have enjoyed the results.
- Cure Disease
Different flavors and sizes to choose from.
- Golfoid
What other experts didn't like
The main complaints we have about this powder are complaints we have about all powders—the taste is not, shall we say, delightful.
- New York Times Wirecutter
If you don't want all whey, this may not be ideal for you.
- BestReviews
Contains artificial sweeteners
- Bar Bend
April 24, 2017 | Full review
Whey protein powder can cause a number of digestive problems, whether due to the milk content or soy lecithin.
- dietspotlight
The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Isolate is pretty high in lactose
- Cure Disease
The texture is very sandy and thick
- Golfoid

Overall Product Rankings

1. Optimum Nutrition Standard Whey Protein

Overall Score: 9.8
Reviews Included: 1

2. Levels Grass Fed Protein, Undenatured

Overall Score: 9.5
Reviews Included: 1

3. Vega Sport Premium Protein

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 9

4. Naked Whey Protein Powder

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 10

5. TGS Whey Protein Powder

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 7

6. Dymatize ISO Protein Powder

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 10

7. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Protein Powder

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 9

8. Cellucor Whey Protein Powder

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 10

9. BSN Syntha-6 Protein Powder

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 10

10. XPI Myotein Protein Powder

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 10

11. Orgain Organic Protein Powder

Overall Score: 8.0
Reviews Included: 11

12. IsoPure Protein Powder

Overall Score: 8.0
Reviews Included: 11

13. Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein

Overall Score: 7.8
Reviews Included: 8

Our Findings

Optimum Nutrition Standard Whey Protein

What We Liked: During our testing, we found that Optimum Nutrition Standard Whey Protein’s double rich chocolate flavor tasted and smelled a lot like hot chocolate or chocolate milk — delicious. The package is user-friendly and makes it easy to get the perfect scoop. We also found that it mixed incredibly easily.

Simplemost Media

Levels Grass Fed Protein, Undenatured

Best Grass Fed

Levels 100% Grass Fed Whey Protein, No GMOs, Pure Chocolate, 5LB (Health and Beauty)


List Price: $59.95 USD
New From: $59.95 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: Levels Grass Fed Protein, Undenatured is sugar-free, non-GMO, and uses whole ingredients to achieve its flavors. During our testing, we liked the ease of mixing and attainable price point.

Simplemost Media

Vega Sport Premium Protein

What We Liked: This sweet and smooth vegan protein comes in four delicious flavors and mixes easily in a shaker bottle. It contains all plant-based protein sources, including pea, pumpkin seed, organic sunflower seed and alfalfa.

Simplemost Media

Naked Whey Protein Powder

Strong Contender

What We Liked: This formula is pure whey protein sourced from grass-fed cows and nothing else. It’s free of additives like artificial flavors or sweeteners.

Simplemost Media

TGS Whey Protein Powder

Honorable Mention

TGS All Natural 100% Whey Protein Powder - Unflavored 2lb (Health and Beauty)


List Price: $29.99 USD
New From: $29.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: Made and packaged in the U.S., this whey protein powder includes ingredients sourced from American farms. The raw ingredients go through a unique filtering process that preserves the amino acids and the original protein structure. It also boasts a pleasant natural flavor.

Simplemost Media

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Protein Powder

What We Liked: The primary ingredient here is whey protein isolates. When combined with ultra-filtered whey protein concentrate, this protein powder packs serious muscle-building power. There are 20 different flavors to choose from. Plus, it’s user-friendly and easy to shake into a smooth, lump-free drink.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Our Protein Powder Buying Guide

Protein is a key part of any healthy eating plan. It helps you gain muscle and lose fat as well as provide essential nutrients every body needs. Unfortunately, getting enough lean protein throughout the day can be difficult. Oftentimes you’re on the run and there simply isn’t time for grilling up some chicken or fish. A busy schedule isn’t an excuse for skimping on nutrition, though. Protein powders are a convenient solution to keep you satisfied and on track with your goals.

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There are whole aisles devoted to protein powders, including whey, casein, soy and pea to name a few. But not all protein powders are created equal. The nutritional quality, as well as the source of the protein and additional ingredients, varies widely between different manufacturers.

Whey has long been considered the gold standard of protein powders. It comes from cow’s milk and is the watery liquid extracted during cheesemaking. Its claim to fame is that it contains all of the amino acids (or building blocks of protein) that you need for muscle repair after workouts. Similarly,  casein protein is also derived from cow’s milk. However, it takes longer to absorb and digest. It provides excellent overnight fuel for muscles.

There are also several plant-based and vegan protein sources. While many do not contain the full array of amino acids your muscles need, soy is a complete protein. Soy protein isolate tends to be a better option than concentrate because it contains higher levels of protein.

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Rice, pea and hemp proteins are good options for anyone with a soy allergy. Unlike soy, these do not contain the full array of amino acids your muscles need on their own. That means manufacturers mix and match a few different plant-based proteins to form a complete protein and include all the amino acids. Additionally, plant-based proteins tend to have an earthy flavor to them.

In addition to unique protein sources, each brand offers a wide variety of flavor options, from minimally unflavored to outrageous combinations like birthday cake or peppermint mocha.

Simplemost Media

Then, there is texture and price to compare and factor into your protein powder decisions. You should also be prepared for sticker shock when you first venture into the protein powder aisle. The prices for single tubs of protein powder may seem exorbitant, but it’s helpful to look at the high number of servings each one contains. In fact, one tub can last for months and supplement or replace many meals.

With so many options on the market, picking the right protein powder for you can be difficult and overwhelming. The best way to decipher which protein powder is right for you is to look at your goals and how you want to incorporate the supplement into your diet. Certain types of protein are better for muscle gain while others excel at curbing appetite. Once you know what your goals are, then you can stroll confidently into the protein aisle.

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In recent years, there has been an overall shift toward cleaner protein. Now, manufacturers are paying more attention to and promoting what’s not in their product as much as what is in the recipe. For example, Naked Whey Protein Powder’s unflavored version contains only one ingredient. When it comes to supplements, less is more. The added ingredients can counteract the good work of the protein. In fact, adding sugar and processed ingredients can skew otherwise healthy foods into the junk food category quickly.

DWYM Fun Fact

Long ago, ancient civilizations realized the importance of protein, generally in the form of meat, for athletes and strength. However, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that bodybuilders buoyed the first protein supplements. As bodybuilding became more popular in the 1970s and 1980s, so too did the protein powder and supplement market.

More recently, relaxed regulations helped fuel a surge in new supplements and expanded the market beyond serious bodybuilders. After the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, products and supplements no longer required approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Incredibly, manufacturers of protein powders and similar supplements do not have to provide efficacy or safety evidence to the FDA. Those who do are going above and beyond for customers.

The Protein Powder Tips and Advice

  • Do your own research and read the ingredient labels and nutrition facts to see exactly what is and isn’t in each product.
  • Whey protein is the most common protein source in protein powders, and it comes from cow’s milk. Anyone with a dairy allergy or sensitivity will want to steer clear of whey.
  • Protein powder should contain all the essential amino acids muscles need to repair and grow. That makes it a “complete protein.” Manufacturers generally include this information prominently on the label.
  • There are many plant-based protein options, including pea, rice, hemp and soy. These are great options for vegetarians, vegans and anyone with allergies.
  • Don’t just focus on the protein source. Additives and other ingredients make a big difference in taste, nutrition quality and texture.
  • Some protein powders mix evenly when stirred, but most work better in a shaker bottle or a blender.
  • Protein powders containing casein, whey isolate or soy are better for weight loss and curbing appetite than other sources. They are satiating and low in calories, as long as the formula includes no added sugars.

About The Author

Avatar
Jennifer Nied 

Jennifer Nied is a professional writer based in New York City. She studied journalism at Northwestern University. Jennifer has more than 10 years of experience writing, researching and editing stories for national publications about health and wellness topics. Health and wellness is also a lifelong passion, and Jennifer loves learning about the latest trends as well as putting them into practice in her own life. She is a marathoner and fitness fanatic who’s tested out a wide variety of workouts around the country.