Protein powders are an easy way to keep your body nourished and satisfied. People use them for a variety of reasons, including weight loss, improved athletic performance, muscle mass building, and overall wellness.
However, there are an infinite number of protein powder options available. So how do you know which is best for your personal health objectives?
In this article, we’ll introduce to you the 10 best protein powders recommended by registered dietitians.
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Do You Really Need Protein Powder?
The quick answer is no. Natural protein sources such as eggs, chicken breast, fish, beans, milk, cottage cheese, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are easy to obtain. Athletes use protein powder because they need more protein and it is convenient.
To maximize muscle recovery and growth, athletes should consume 0.54 to 0.91 grams of protein per pound of body weight every day, and do so before and after workouts. For example, if you run 25 to 30 miles per week, you might want to follow up tough workouts with 20 grams of protein and some carbs.
When you’re pressed for time, it’s tempting to reach for a shake or a bar. Remember, though, that it’s never a good idea to take supplements you don’t need, and you don’t want extra protein to turn into extra calories.
Types of Protein Powder
Protein powder comes in a variety of forms. Whey is the most popular protein supplement and has received the most attention from researchers, but it is not the only one. Protein powders that are commonly used include:
- Whey: This water-soluble milk protein is very popular among athletes. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids the human body needs from food. The body absorbs whey protein quickly and easily.
- Casein: This type of protein is rich in glutamine, an amino acid that can speed muscle recovery after exercise. Casein is derived from dairy products and is therefore not suitable for vegans and people with milk allergies. The body digests this protein more slowly, which is why it is best taken at night.
- Soy: Soy protein is an excellent alternative to whey or casein for people who do not consume dairy products. It also contains all the essential amino acids.
- Pea: Many plant-based protein powders contain pea protein, which is a high-quality alternative to soy and dairy proteins. Pea protein is a good source of the amino acid arginine.
- Hemp: Hemp seeds are complete proteins that also contain essential fatty acids. This makes hemp an excellent choice for vegans or people with dairy or soy allergies.
- Protein shakes vary in price and quality. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no regulations for protein powders.
Many of the top-selling protein powders contain heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and arsenic, according to a 2018 study.
As a result, when purchasing protein powders, people should always proceed with caution and select a product from a reputable supplier.
How to Pick a Protein Powder
To begin, ensure that the powder has been certified by a third party, such as NSF Certified for Sport. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States does not regulate supplements, including protein powders.
In one study, four out of fourteen protein products failed the quality-assurance test, owing to certain products containing cholesterol when none was listed, containing 50 percent more sodium than what was listed, and being contaminated with cadmium, a heavy metal that in high amounts can harm the kidneys. A third-party certificate is your only guarantee that the product has been tested and contains exactly what is listed on the package.
Next, take a look at the ingredient list. Some protein powders have more than a dozen ingredients and are sweetened with sugar or sugar alcohols (which may cause tummy problems). Although they aren’t always as easy to come by, your best bet is to look for a protein powder that is made entirely of the protein source—whether it’s whey, egg whites, hemp, peanut butter, or something else.
Finally, keep in mind that serving sizes aren’t always comparable. Protein powder serving sizes can range from about an ounce to nearly double that amount. So, if you want to compare the amount of protein, sugar, and other nutrients in different products, you’ll need to do some math first!
And keep in mind that, while many protein powders boast 20 grams or more of protein per serving, more isn’t always better—all your muscles require is 0.1 gram per pound body weight or 20 to 40 grams at a time.
Furthermore, you can easily obtain the same amount of protein from whole foods and healthy recipes. Isn’t a Chocolate & Peanut Butter Protein Shake with Greek yogurt and peanut butter as protein sources more appealing?
Best Protein Powders
Have trouble interpreting the nutritional information on protein powders in the supermarket? Do not worry: It’s easy (and delicious!) to meet your protein needs with these RD -approved protein powders. It’s always a good idea to discuss your specific protein needs with your doctor about diets.
1. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder
After a year of taking Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, I can confidently say that I believe I have benefited from the product. For one thing, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in the condition of my skin.
When I first started taking Vital Proteins, my skin was dull and dry, I had hormonal acne on my chin, and I had intermittent eczema around my nose. Today, I believe my skin is clear and bright, my eczema is completely under control, and I no longer suffer from cyclical acne (though an errant pimple here and there certainly occurs).
While I can’t say that the collagen peptides caused these changes, these are the physical differences I noticed after a year of use.
2. Welleco Nourishing Protein
Welleco Nourishing Protein contains all 9 essential amino acids required for muscle recovery, as well as a carefully curated blend of nutrients such as fiber, glutamine, minerals, acai, pre and probiotics, and B vitamins.
You can add a heaping scoop or two tablespoons daily to plant-based milk or filtered water and shake for a satisfying snack.
3. Sano Plant-Based Organic Vanilla Protein
This complete plant-based product contains 20 grams of clean protein derived from hemp seeds, peas, and flax. It has all nine essential amino acids. Goji Berries, Cinnamon, and a hint of Stevia are used to sweeten and flavor this drink.
4. Vega Protein Made Simple
Vega® Protein Made Simple™ is made with just 4-8 natural ingredients and packed with plant-based protein – a delicious way to spice up your favorite smoothie (without gum, stevia, or unpronounceable ingredients).
5. Four Sigmatic Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
For incredible immune system supporting smoothies, shakes, and pancakes (15 servings). This kitchen-ready plant protein combines some of the world’s most wonderful ingredients in a delicious, day-changing blend. It’s our favorite recipe. It may become your new favorite ingredient, too.
6. Be Well by Kelly Vanilla Bean Protein Powder
BWBK’s protein powder is made from 100% natural, grass-fed beef protein and is packed with all 8 essential amino acids, including all 3 BCAAs and naturally occurring collagen amino acids like glycine and proline. With a whopping 23g of protein per serving, you can build muscle and curb your sugar cravings.
With only 2g of carbohydrates per serving and no added sugar, BWBK Beef Protein Powder is a perfect meal replacement to help you control your blood sugar curve and stay fuller longer.
7. Needed. Collagen Protein Powder
This product contains 15 g of protein with a tailored amino acid profile to meet increased protein needs during pregnancy and support the growing baby and the mother’s changing body when other protein sources are insufficient.
Ethically sourced from the hides of grass-fed, pasture-raised, hormone-free cattle from New Zealand, contains no pro-inflammatory ingredients unlike most other protein powders derived from milk, soy, grains, or legumes, and is free of heavy metals and other toxins found in most plant-based protein powders.
8. Naked Protein Powder Blend
100% grass-fed, pure whey from Northern California, micellar casein from U.S. and Canadian farms, protein from U.S. farm eggs, and sunflower lecithin to support the blend. Naked Protein Shake powder contains no additives, artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors and is GMO free.
Its unflavored protein powder combination of whey, casein and egg white has been shown to help maintain muscle protein synthesis for longer periods of time, allowing for better muscle recovery.
9. Truvani Plant Based Protein Powder
Nourish your body with Truvani Organic Protein Powder; Premium ingredient selection is handpicked to support a clean, healthy & full lifestyle; Enjoy a variety of decadent flavors with vegan ingredients.
This dairy-free protein fuels your muscles with protein so you can build and maintain healthy, lean muscle; Satisfy your sweet tooth while increasing protein intake and supporting muscle maintenance
10. Ka’chava Protein Powder
Ka’Chava provides 60% of the daily requirement of magnesium, which can help with constipation, and 52% of the requirement of zinc, which supports a healthy intestinal mucosa and can help heal a “leaky gut”.
In addition, Ka’Chava contains probiotics, vitamin D and magnesium, all of which play an important role in regulating metabolism.
Ka’Chava also contains a variety of micronutrients that play a role in regulating feelings of hunger. For example, one serving contains 60% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium, a mineral that can help control blood sugar levels and thus cravings.
Protein powders can be a useful supplement for many people, particularly athletes, seniors, vegetarians, and vegans. They are a quick and easy source of complete protein. They may also contain other nutrients.
However, not everyone requires more protein. People who eat a diet high in meat, fish, dairy, and eggs and do not engage in strenuous weight training are unlikely to require protein supplements.
Before using protein powder to supplement their diet, people should choose a high-quality product and consult with their doctor or a dietitian.