Protein, as you’ll know if you have read our Beginner’s Guide to Protein Powder is an essential nutrient that far too many people fail to get enough of. It doesn’t matter whether you are a hard training athlete, someone who wants to lose weight and shape up or if you are sedentary – protein is essential.
However, protein can be hard to get. It’s present in meat, fish, eggs, poultry and dairy as well as nuts, beans and some grains such as buckwheat but unless you make a point of consuming a reasonable amount of these foods in every meal, you may be protein deficient.
Protein deficiency can prevent you from getting the results you want from your workout, cause weight gain, and even effect the health of your skin, hair, bones and nails so it’s important you get enough.
As it may be impractical to eat enough protein-rich food, dietary protein being expensive and not always available, many people turn to protein supplements such as protein powder to help them get what they need. There are lots of different types of protein supplement available which come in a range of prices, qualities and flavors. With so many choices available, it can be hard to decide which the best protein powder is for you.
The Best Protein Powder for
In this section we’ll reveal which type of protein supplement is right for you…
Bodybuilders love fast-acting whey protein straight after exercise and casein protein, best casein proteins, for its slow releasing properties at night time. This ensures that workout recovery starts as soon as possible and continues through the night. Pea protein is a good alternative for lactose-intolerant bodybuilders.
High fiber, low carbohydrate protein powders are best for weight loss. Fiber helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer and low carbs will ensure your body preferentially burns fat during exercise. Good choices include pea, rice and hemp protein powder.
While all protein powders are generally beneficial for both men and women, soya protein is best for females because it has been shown to increase estrogen levels which can help keep women healthy. Needless to say, men should not consume much of this type of protein.
Men will do well on most types of protein with the exception of soya. Soya protein may increase estrogen levels which will decrease testosterone levels. This can result in slow muscle gain, increased fat storage, loss of libido and even testicular shrinkage. A little soya protein is fine from time to time but should be avoided in the long term.
It’s not just weightlifters and bodybuilders who will benefit from protein supplementation – endurance athletes need protein too. While all protein supplements offer benefits, arguably the best choice for endurance athletes is hemp protein. Hemp protein is high in anti-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids which can help keep joints and muscles in good shape by calming the negative effects of endurance training. Generally, endurance athletes do not need as much protein as bodybuilders and weightlifters.
Teenagers are usually growing fast and have an increased requirement for protein – whether they are training for and playing sports or not. However, they are also prone to digestive upsets and can be especially sensitive to lactose and soya. That leaves hemp, pea and rice protein as being the best choice for growing teenagers.
When it comes to gaining weight, you want more muscle and not fat. Gaining muscle requires a bodybuilding approach to training and nutrition and that means whey and casein will probably provide the best results. To build muscle, you also need carbohydrates to power you through your workouts so consider buying a whey-based protein and carb supplement or, if you prefer, blending your protein powder with a couple of bananas or a handful of oats.
Whey, casein and milk protein all contain lactose. Lactose is a sugar which some people have a hard time digesting. Lactose intolerance can cause anything from a runny nose to a bloated stomach to severe skin rashes and stomach upsets. If you are even mildly lactose intolerant, steer clear of whey, casein and milk protein and go for soya, rice, hemp or pea protein powder instead.
Vegetarians and vegans
Pea, hemp, rice and soya protein are all free from animal and diary derivatives making them especially suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Vegans and vegetarian diets are often lacking in protein so supplementing with protein powder will ensure that there is no protein deficiency.
Those on a budget
Egg and milk protein powders tend to be the cheapest, closely followed by soya. Whey protein blends and hydrolyzed whey protein usually represent good value for money too. In contrast, hemp, pea, rice protein and whey protein isolate tend to be the most expensive. Whichever protein powder supplement you choose, chances are it will work out cheaper per serving than the equivalent piece of steak, chicken or fish per serving or protein and you can get very good deals of you are prepared to buy in bulk.
Protein Powder Types
This guide has been written to help explain the different types of protein powder available so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. There are eight main types of protein powder…
- Whey protein
- Casein protein
- Soya protein
- Egg protein
- Milk protein
- Pea protein
- Rice protein
- Hemp protein
Derived from dairy and is one of the most popular forms of protein. It has a high protein content and is quickly broken down and absorbed by the digestive system. There are three main types of whey protein, listed in order of purity:
- Whey protein isolate
- Whey protein concentrate
- Hydrolysed whey protein
Where whey protein isolate tends to be the most expensive, hydrolysed whey protein is often the cheapest and many protein powder supplements will contain a blend of all three. Because whey protein is derived from diary, people who are lactose intolerant may find it causes stomach upsets and other unwanted side-effects and they should choose a dairy-free protein.
Best Whey Protein
- 24g Protein
- 5.5g BCAAs
- 4g Glutamine & Glutamic Acid
- Available at Amazon.com
There aren’t too terribly many weigh protein supplements available on the market today that can go toe to toe with Optimum Nutrition and their Gold Standard 100% whey protein powder.
Designed specifically for athletes that are looking to maximize their athletic performance in every way imaginable, this amazing dietary supplement is loaded with more than 24 g of whey protein per serving, 5.5 g of naturally occurring BCAAs, and has been designed to instantize in any liquid (water or milk) so that it goes down smooth without any trouble at all.
Even better than that though is the fact that it is available in a number of different tasty flavors. This makes Optimum Nutrition and they are Gold Standard 100% whey protein powder supplement one of the most – if not THE most – popular whey protein supplement you’ll find on the market today.
NAKED WHEY – 100% Grass-Fed by Naked Nutrition
- 25g Protein
- 2g Sugar
- 3g Carbs
- 120 Calories
More at Amazon.com
As close to your whey protein as you are ever going to come across in the dietary supplement world today, Naked Whey contains one single ingredient and one single ingredient only – 100% grass fed whey protein synthesized or right here in the United States of America on farms in California.
Absolutely overflowing with more than 25 g of protein, 2 g of sugar, 3 g of carbs and sitting at just 100 cal per serving, this is everything that you’ve been searching for in a way protein supplement and then some. Combine that with the almost 6 full grams of BC a a is that are included in each serving and the fact that this entire product is 100% soy free, gluten free, GM 03, and growth hormone free, and you are really looking at something special.
To top things off, it’s downright tasty – making it ideal for pre- and post-workout shakes as well as the backbone ingredient in meal replacement options!
Whey Protein Isolate by NOW Foods
- No artificial ingredients
- Microfiltered branched chain Amino Acids
Available at Amazon.com
100% pure micro filtered whey protein isolate, the NOW Foods whey protein supplement is going to give your body absolutely everything it needs to grow some of the largest and strongest muscles unimaginable while at the same time offering you the ability to clean up your diet in a hurry while on a cut so that you look the best you ever have without losing any muscle tone in the process.
There are only two ingredients in this way protein supplement (the actual way protein isolate itself and the inert soy lecithin that’s going to act as an emulsifier), which means you’ll never have to worry about dumping potentially dangerous chemicals into your body with your pre-and post-workout shakes.
Combine that with the fact that it tastes as clean and as smooth as any other whey protein supplement on the market today (and a lot better than most), and you are looking at a real winner here!
Another diary protein, casein digests more slowly than whey which means that it is ideal for night-time consumption. Because it contains lactose, it is another protein that some people may need to avoid.
Best Casein Protein
100% Casein Protein by Optimum Nutrition
- Slow digesting
- Micellar Casein Protein
- 24g Protein
- 9g Essential amino acids
- 1g Sugar
- Creamy Vanilla, 4 Pound
Available at Amazon.com
Optimal Nutrition continues to knock it out of the park is their amazing protein powders, but especially with their casein protein powder supplement. Absolutely jam packed with more than 24 g of some of the slowest digesting casein you’re going to find anywhere (providing 60% of your necessary daily value of calcium in every single scoop), this particular formulation also includes almost 5 g of the CAA’s as well as an extra 5 g of glutamine and glutamic acid – giving you and your body everything you need to build healthy and strong muscles without too terribly much extra effort in the diet department.
This is a slower digesting protein supplement plan way protein for sure, but when used properly (using it as a meal replacement option or just drinking a glass of this protein powder before bed) it’s going to dramatically improve the results that you have been working so hard for in the gym.
- from US Farms
- 26g Protein
- 2g Sugar
- 0g Carbs
- 110 Calories
Available at Amazon.com
Manufactured right here in the United States (and completely sourced from US farms throughout the nation), the 100% pure casein in every single tall but of Naked Casein is going to give your body absolutely everything it needs to help you build and support the musculature and overall health that you have been training so hard to develop.
On top of that, every single scoop of this particular protein powder is going to provide your body with 26 g of essential protein, 2 g of sugar, 0 g of carbs (perfect for those that are cutting), and never more than 110 cal per serving. This is exactly what you’ve been searching for to help you put your training efforts over the top, especially if you want to make sure that you aren’t flooding your body with dangerous chemicals or other man-made concoction’s.
It doesn’t get a lot better than Naked Casein!
Is ideal for vegetarians and is made from the humble soya bean. It does not usually contain as much protein per gram as whey but still provides a good source of protein – especially for women. In general, soya is not recommended for men because while soya protein is said to be heart healthy, it may also lower testosterone levels – something very few men would welcome.
Best Soy Protein
100% Soy Protein Complete Vegetarian by Optimum Nutrition
- 25g Protein
- 0g Sugar
- 0mg Cholesterol
- Vanilla bean
More about this product at Amazon.com
Optimum Nutrition continues to lead the charge with some of the best protein powder supplements money can buy, and they are 100% soy protein powder is certainly no exception.
Designed specifically to take advantage of one of the most effortlessly renewable sources of reliable protein on the planet today, this soy-based protein powder packs a tremendous punch and make sure that your body gets everything it needs when you are training as all out as you can
Very much vegetarian friendly and super low in fat (with zero cholesterol across the board), this sugar-free protein powder supplement has been engineered from the ground up to make sure that all athletes (professionals and weekend warriors alike) get all of the protein that their bodies demand when they are pushing themselves beyond their physical limitations.
If you’re looking for a reliable and effective way protein replacement (especially if you’re vegetarian or the get), the 100% soy protein from Optimum Nutrition is the route to take.
RAW Organic Protein by Garden of Life
- 17g Protein
- No Fillers,Artificial Flavors, or Synthetic Nutrients
- Live Probiotics and Enzymes
- Dairy Free
- Gluten Free
Get it on Amazon.com
Taking advantage of synthesized protein and other live probiotic elements produced by some of the most viable plants on the planet today, the Garden of Life RAW organic protein powder is something special for serious athletes that aren’t comfortable eating meat for a variety of different reasons.
Loaded up to the hilt with all kinds of protein elements (17 g per scoop, in fact), this particular Garden of Life natural health supplement is not only going to help you build better, bigger, and stronger muscles, but it’s also going to help support a healthier digestive system and more “regular” functions with the help of the probiotics that were mentioned above.
Available in a number of different flavors (each of which is tastier than the last), the Garden of Life RAW organic protein powder is a perfect solution for those that aren’t wild about consuming a lot of meat – or any meat at all, for that matter.
Along with milk protein, egg protein powder was one of the original protein supplements. While very high in quality protein, unfortunately most egg-based protein powders taste somewhat unpleasant. If taste isn’t an issue then by all means seek out egg protein powders but, for most people, eating eggs is a much more enjoyable option.
Best Egg Protein
100% Egg Protein by Optimum Nutrition
- 24g Protein
- <1g Sugar
- 15mg cholesterol
In stock at Amazon.com
Egg-based protein powders are becoming very popular these days for a variety of different reasons, and the folks over at Optimum Nutrition are leading the charge.
One of the most impactful egg-based protein powders you’re going to find available right now, every single scope of this protein powder is loaded with every one of the eight essential amino acids as well as a variety of other important vitamins and minerals – not to mention at least (AT LEAST) the rough equivalent of seven egg whites without ever going over 100 cal per scoop.
It’s difficult imagining there being any better egg-based protein powder available out there, which the folks at Optimum Nutrition hope to really cement by introducing a complete profile of essential amino acids, BCAA, and glutamic acid without introducing any extra sugar, saturated fats, or lactose across the board. If you’ve been searching for a change from traditional protein powders, the Optimum Nutrition 100% Egg protein powder is probably right up your alley!
Egg White Protein Unflavored by Jay Robb
- 25g Protein
- Lactose free
- From chickens not treated with hormones
Find it at Amazon.com
Available on the market ever since 1988, this particular egg-based protein powder has been regarded by millions and millions around the world as the very best tasting protein powder money can buy – a distinction that they own themselves and entirely themselves.
Jay Rob Egg protein powder is not only delicious (mixed in water or milk, it makes little difference), but it’s also flooded with essential building blocks that will help you create the body of your dreams while at the same time giving yourself everything you need to become as big, as strong, and as fast as you like.
Available in three different flavors issues at all. Chocolate, strawberry, and unflavored), these individual size 24 ounce pouches can be effortlessly broken up to be distributed during pre-workout and post workout sessions so that your body always has access to as much protein as it needs without any headache or hassle at all.
Dried milk powder has long been used as a cheap protein powder. It’s readily available and can be mixed with water or more milk to make a high protein shake. Milk protein, however, is very high in lactose which, as previously discussed, can cause digestive upset in some people. Milk and egg protein are often combined in some products although this tends to be quite indigestible, nasty-tasting and can cause stomach upsets. Both egg and milk protein are decidedly “old school!”
Best Milk Protein
Lean Muscle Protein Powder by CytoSport Muscle Milk
- Lactose free
- 32g lean protein per 2 scoops
- 20 Vitamins & Minerals
- Pre and Post Workout
Product Available on Amazon.com
Muscle Milk has always been one of the most popular bodybuilding supplements on the market ever since it first showed up, and it continues to be a very popular protein powder-based supplement (and premixed workout shake) that ought to help you build the body that you’ve always wanted without ever wasting a single moment in the gym because you are not getting enough protein along the way.
Absolutely delicious, this protein powder is available in at least 13 different flavors (with more on the way) as well as in individual containers that are sized anywhere between 1 pound and almost 5 pounds. You’ll definitely appreciate just how smooth and tasty Muscle Milk really is, and you are also likely to be very caught off guard by just how smooth and tasty a protein shake can be when made using the CytoSport Muscle Milk lean muscle mass protein powder supplement package.
Derived from yellow peas, pea protein is a vegetarian protein that contains no lactose which means it’s ideal for those who suffer issues with diary-derived proteins such as whey and casein. The protein content is easily comparable to other protein powders and usually delivers around 25 grams per standard serving – about the same as whey. Pea protein is high in fiber and very filling because it stays in your stomach longer than whey which makes it ideal for those looking to lose weight as it can help curb appetite and lower blood glucose.
Best Pea Protein
Pea Protein by Now Foods
- Non-GMO Vegetable Protein
- 24g Protein
- No Soy, No Dairy
Get this product at Amazon.com
Now Foods has always been responsible for making and distributing some of the best whey protein supplement solutions on the market, and the Now Foods 100% Pea Protein tub is no different.
Loaded up with essential vitamins, minerals, and other critical body building and muscle stimulating enzymes and compounds, this is a big part of the muscle rebuilding and creation process for sure. There’s no reason at all to sleep on everything that the Now Foods company has to offer when it comes to this particular supplement.
Every scoop is brimming with 24 g of protein to support the kind of muscle growth and repair you’re after. Combine that with the fact that this is an alternative to animal based protein powders (this is very vegan and vegetarian friendly), and you’re looking at something truly special. The fact that it is available in a couple of different very tasty flavors doesn’t hurt, either!
PlantFusion Protein Vanilla Bean by Planet Fusion
- No dairy
- No Soy
- Gluten free
- No Animal
- Easily digestible
In Stock at Amazon.com
Plant Fusion protein powder takes advantage of a unique blend of naturally sourced (and predominantly vegetable based) protein sources to provide athletes with a dietary supplement they know they’ll be able to trust.
Filled with more than 22g of protein, 3.4g of l-glutamine, and just 4g of cabs in every single scoop (coming in at right around 120 calories), you’re never going to have to worry about finding dangerous chemicals or additives ever making their way into this protein powder. Every single ingredient chosen for this formulation has been sourced from the highest quality providers, and synthesized in laboratories based in the US. This gives you the confidence you need to know that you’re enjoying a protein powder that will give you the results you’re after without ever putting your short or long term health in jeopardy.
So if you’ve been searching for a protein powder alternative to the whey and casein heavy options on the market right now, you’ll want to look closely at everything that Plant Fusion brings to the table!
Naked PEA – 100% Pea Protein by Naked Nutrition
- 27g Protein
- 2g Carbs
- 2g Sugar
- 120 Calories
- from North American Farms
More about this product at Amazon.com
A protein powder completely made from proteins cultivated from peas that have been harvested from North American farms throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada, Naked Pea is a dream come true as far as bodybuilding supplements are concerned for those that will not or cannot tolerate other animal-based protein food sources that are available.
Naked Pea gives a vegetarians as well as the weekends everywhere the chance to hit their numbers, so to speak, when it comes to maximizing all of their macronutrient daily values. Every single scoop of this protein powder is filled with 27 g protein, just 2 g of sugar and carbs, and right around 120 cal. You’ll also find 5.7 g of BCAAs are included in every school, on top of some other critically important vegetable-based elements that can improve your digestive tract while at the same time help to support your overall health and wellness.
Another vegetarian/vegan-friendly source of protein, rice protein (or, more specifically, brown rice protein) is also lactose free and provides a solid serving of good quality protein. Rice protein is easily digested and well tolerated by people with even the most sensitive digestive systems but protein quality is not as high as for some of the other proteins listed in this guide.
Best Rice Protein
Organic Rice Protein by Nutribiotic
- USDA Organic
- 80% Protein
Product Available at Amazon.com
Synthesized from some of the highest quality rice found anywhere on the planet, the protein powder that is provided by the folks over at Nutribiotic is some of the cleanest tasting and most readily absorbable protein powder that you’re going to find anywhere – making the Nutribiotic Organic rice protein powder supplement a very popular solution for those that cannot or just are not comfortable with animal-based protein powder options.
Certified organic by VCC OS and USDA organic ranking systems, this protein powder is made without any pesticides, without any herbicides, and it is also completely free of all GMOs and PCBs. This is a protein powder that is made from sustainably harvested rice paddies all over the world, the kind of rice paddies that are run by farmers looking to improve the future of this planet as much as they are looking to produce bumper crops of high quality rice.
NAKED RICE – 100% Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Protein
- 25g Protein
- 0g Sugar
- 4g Carbs
- 120 Calories
in Stock at Amazon.com
Like all of the other “naked” fitness supplements produced by this company, the Naked Rice protein powder is made up of just a single ingredient – 100% all natural and completely organic sprouted brown rice proteins synthesized from only the highest quality brown rice sources all over the world – which eliminates a lot of the hassle and headache that people have to contend with when moving forward with protein powders overloaded with filler compounds and potentially dangerous chemicals.
Just a single serving of Naked Rice provides 25 g of protein, absolutely 0 g of sugar, 4 g of carbs, and clocks in at 120 cal. These are solid macronutrient numbers across the board, and will help those that are looking to successfully accomplish their fitness goals reach their “final destination” along their body transformation journey a bit faster, that’s for sure.
Naked Bryce also happens to be completely soy, gluten, and GMO free, and as vegetarian vegan friendly as it gets in the protein powder world!
Organic Rice Protein Chocolate Power by Growing Naturals
- 24g Protein
- 0g Cholesterol
- 5 g BCAA
- 5g carbs
- 2g Sugar
Available on Amazon.com
With close to 24 g of protein in each and every single serving, the Growing Naturals rice protein powder is a perfect solution for those that are vegan or vegetarian but still want to maximize all of the time that they spend training in the gym.
Built on the back of important proteins synthesized from high quality rice harvested sustainably from a variety of different sources all over the world, Growing Naturals has gone to great lengths to make sure that the only proteins that make it into their products are 100% rice protein isolates. Other essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes have been systematically added to this particular protein powder after the rice proteins have been isolated, making it a complete supplements that will help you further all of your body transformation goals.
Very tasty and available in a variety of different flavors, the Growing Naturals brand of rice-based protein powders are becoming more and more popular as time marches on.
Hemp protein is suitable for vegans and vegetarians alike and is free from lactose. High in omega six (healthy) fats and fiber, hemp protein is another filling protein that is especially useful during weight loss diets.
Of course, each of these proteins is only as good as the product it is in so look out for protein powder supplements that are low in added sugar and that contain few or no artificial additives.
Best Hemp Protein
PRO530 Hemp Protein Powder by Nutiva
- Just hemp
- No additives
- 8g Giber
- 15g Protein
Check this product at Amazon.com
Certainly one of the most unique and innovative protein powders you’re going to come across in the fitness world today, the primarily have based Nutiva protein powder is a game changer across the board.
Manufactured using only USDA certified organic hemp seeds and a variety of other organic ingredients, you’re going to be able to give yourself a tremendous boost in the protein and fiber department when you start to supplement regularly with this protein powder, but you are also going to be able to boost your vitamin E and iron levels as well.
Synthesized specifically to blend just as smooth as possible without the actual use of a blender, you’re going to be able to rapidly stir this protein powder into all of your favorite liquids (and some of your semi solids as well, like cereal, yogurt, and even muffin batter mix) without any real extra effort whatsoever. That’s good news, as you’ll be able to use this protein powder however you like!
Hemp Pro 70 by Manitoba Harvest
- Plant Based Protein Supplement
- 20g Protein
- 2.4g Omega 3 & 6
- Easy Mixing
in stock at Amazon.com
With close to 20 g of protein, 2 g of fiber, and 3.4 g of omega fatty acids in every 30 g serving, you’re going to have a hard time finding a more “packs” protein powder on the market today than the one produced by Manitoba Harvest.
Using 100% plant-based elements (predominantly hemp ingredients) to produce this first-class protein powder, this is a very vegetarian and vegan friendly protein powder that also happens to be dairy free and whey protein free for those that have objections to either. Combine all of that with the fact that it is free of GMOs and manufactured using only sustainable energy sources, and you’re looking at a winner here.
Protein is the building block of life (that’s for sure), and you are going to have a real challenging time trying to find a cleaner source of protein than this one. It’s got everything you need (and a couple of things you want) in a protein powder, without any of the drawbacks or downsides to a more traditional supplement.
Now you know a little more about the different types of protein powder supplement available and how to choose the right one based on your goals and personal requirements. If you want to find out more about protein powders in general, how and when to use them and why you may need a protein supplement, make sure you check out our Beginner’s Guide to Protein Powder.