The 6 Best Protein Powders, According to a Dietitian

The right formulas for your goals and needs

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What to Look for in Protein Powder

Taste: 

Some protein powders can have a somewhat chalky consistency and an unappetizing aftertaste, while others taste almost like a milkshake you look forward to drinking. Many formulas come in a wide variety of flavors though, so if one isn’t your thing, another might be—you may just have to try a few before you find your favorite.

Purpose: 

While some protein powders are designed to help you lose weight, others are meant to bulk you up. Make sure you choose one that’s in line with your goals instead of one that thwarts them. Consider not only the amount of protein in any given powder but also the type of protein it contains. Protein powders are derived from a variety of sources, including whey, pumpkin seed, hemp, and more; each has varying nutritional benefits.

Ingredients: 

Beyond the type of protein in a certain powder, you’ll also want to consider its additional ingredients. Some formulas are fairly simple, while others include more nutrients, sugar, or fillers. If you like to keep things clean, there are a variety of protein powders that are free of artificial ingredients and sweeteners.

Best Overall: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder

We’ve all been there before. You add beautiful fruits and vegetables to a smoothie, blend in protein powder, and all you taste is chalk—that's not the case with Vital Proteins. This protein powder has almost no taste, whether you're adding it to cold liquids, like smoothies or iced coffee, or to hot items, such as coffee, oatmeal, or soup. It also dissolves instantly, so you don't have to worry about getting an unappetizing clump of powder in your latte.

Versatility aside, Vital Proteins puts extra care into the sourcing of their protein. Each serving of Vital Proteins contains 18 grams of protein, as well as 20 grams of collagen peptides for joint, skin, and hair health. The cows they use for their collagen peptides were raised in alignment with the Global Animal Partnership 5-step animal welfare rating standards.

Best Vegan: teraswhey Organic Pumpkin Protein Powder

teraswhey Organic Pumpkin Protein Powder

This single-ingredient, vegan protein powder packs 23 grams of protein as well as 12 percent of the suggested daily value for potassium and 44 percent of the suggested daily value for iron into just one serving.

Tera’s pumpkin seed powder is organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It is an excellent option for those who have allergies to soy or legumes or are following a grain-free diet.

Best with Fiber: Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Seed Protein Powder

Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Seed Protein Powder

Most American adults are consuming about 50 percent of the fiber they need each day. Consuming a diet rich in fiber (around 30 grams per day for most adults) has been shown to protect against heart disease, weight gain, and more. Nutiva’s hemp protein powder isn't just high in protein; it also contains about 8 grams of fiber per serving.

In addition to being high in protein and fiber, this vegan powder is low in calories and certified organic. It's also packed with magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc, in case you're concerned about other nutrient gaps in your diet.

Best Single Ingredient: NAKED nutrition Naked Whey 100% Grass Fed Unflavored Whey Protein Powder

NAKED nutrition Naked Whey 100% Grass Fed Unflavored Whey Protein Powder

The supplement industry is like the Wild West at times. Supplement manufacturers do not have to obtain FDA approval before selling their products, which is why it's always a bonus when brands participate in third-party testing for quality assurance. Naked Whey goes through Informed Choice testing, a quality assurance program for sports nutrition products, suppliers to the sports nutrition industry, and supplement manufacturing facilities.

The unflavored variety of Naked Whey's powder is made from whey proteins that are produced with an acid-free and bleach-free process. The cows producing the whey are grass-fed throughout the year, and they are not given growth hormones.

Best Soy-Free: Garden of Life Raw Organic Fit Powder, Vanilla

Garden of Life Organic Meal Replacement

Garden of Life’s Raw Fit Powder offers a soy-free, plant-based protein with broad-spectrum nutrient density. Featuring high amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as antioxidant-rich Vitamin E and mood-boosting Vitamin D, there are also 8 grams of fiber per serving and multiple probiotics and digestive enzymes to help curb hunger and optimize digestion.

This powder contains Ashwagandha, an herb used for stress management, and green coffee extract, which has been reported to improve weight loss. If you're taking any prescriptions, check in with your health care provider to prevent supplement-medication interactions. 

Best Low-Carb: Realist Lifestyle Real Whey Protein Isolate

Realist Lifestyle Real Whey Protein Isolate

Realist Whey Protein Isolate powder is low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat, but high in protein–just one serving packs in 20 grams! Realist prides itself on using purposeful ingredients, without highlighting any truth-stretching benefits, and their powder lives up to this with only two ingredients: whey protein isolate and non-GMO sunflower lecithin.

While this powder isn't an option for anyone with wheat, dairy, soy, or tree nut allergies, it is a great option for people looking for a straight-forward powder to add to smoothies or shakes. The sunflower lecithin makes the powder easier to dissolve, so you'll barely even notice that it's there.

Final Verdict

For a highly versatile protein powder with a small ingredient list, try Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (view at Amazon).

FAQs

What is the best protein powder for weight loss?

Weight loss is highly individual, so what works for one person may not work for another. In general, this holds true for protein powders; however, selecting a protein powder with minimal ingredients that's high in protein and low in calories and carbohydrates may promote weight loss. For weight loss, consider how you will use the protein powder—as a protein boost or in a shake as a meal replacement—when you select the optimal product. Collagen powder is a great way to boost protein intake without tons of extra calories. It mixes well into a fruit and vegetable smoothie to make a meal, but may not be enough on its own. If you prefer to mix a powder with water or almond milk, you may need a more complex whey or plant-based protein powder.

What is the best protein powder for weight gain?

You may want to choose a protein powder with a significant amount of calories, protein, and healthy fat for weight gain. Like weight loss, weight gain strategies are highly individual and depend on the reason for weight gain; however, in general, more calories equals weight gain. If you're looking to gain weight, also consider what you are mixing your protein powder with. For weight gain, you may want to blend your protein powder into a smoothie with high-calorie and nutritious add-ins like almond butter.

What Experts Say

"Protein powder is an excellent tool to boost satiety throughout the day. Whether you add it to your favorite smoothie recipe, or simply mix it into your go-to beverage, a protein powder can help you meet your daily protein goals and make your meals and snacks have tons of staying power."—Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

The products listed in this roundup are items that Sydney Greene, as a registered dietitian and avid home smoothie maker, has in her own kitchen as well as items that she would recommend to her clients, friends, and family. Each protein powder has been vetted for quality. She has also read through reviews and product comparisons to choose items that stood out for price and likeability. 

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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