The 8 Best Protein Shakes of 2020

Fuel muscle growth

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: CalNaturale Svelte Organic Protein Shake at Walmart

"Perfect as a healthy snack to control hunger."

Best Budget: Orgain Organic Nutrition Shake at Amazon

"Made with only natural flavors and colors."

Best Vegan: Vega Sports Performance Protein at Amazon

"Vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free."

Best Powder: Quest Nutrition Protein Shake at Amazon

"Contains no added sugar."

Best for Athletes: Pure Protein Shake at Amazon

"Provides athletes with the right amount of protein they need."

Best Dairy-Free: Evolve Real Plant-Powered Protein Shake at Walmart

"Easy to stash in a bag for a portable snack."

Best with Caffeine: OWYN Coffee Protein Shake at Vitamin Shoppe

"Contains 97 milligrams of organic caffeine."

Best Pea Protein: WellWell Protein Shake at Drink WellWell

"Keeps you feeling satiated but light on your feet."

Do you ever get to the end of the day without eating enough protein? While meeting all of your protein needs through food is ideal. Sometimes, life gets in the way. And when that happens, opting for a protein shake can help give your body the nutrients it needs. That said, protein shakes aren’t “needed” for muscle building. In general, a protein-rich meal consumed three to four hours before a workout will suffice. But, on those days when you need a grab-and-go source of protein, drinking a shake is certainly better than not fueling-up at all. To maximize your time, make sure to have a few top protein powders on hand. Our experts reviewed some of the best protein drinks on the market, and here’s what they had to say.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: CalNaturale Svelte Organic Protein Shake

Svelte

 Courtesy of Walmart

Made with pure and simple, certified organic ingredients, CalNaturale Svelte is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and kosher. The convenient, ready-to-drink 15.9-oz Tetra Pak cartons are easy to throw in your bag for post-workout at the gym or on-the-go nourishment.

The creamy, spiced chai flavor has 16 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 35% of the daily value for calcium and 30 percent of the daily value for vitamin D. It's perfect as a healthy snack to control hunger.

Best Budget: Orgain Organic Nutrition Shake

Orgain Organic Nutrition Shake

 Courtesy of Amazon

Made with only natural flavors and colors and no preservatives, Orgain organic shakes are a blend of 16 grams of whey protein, omega-3 fatty acids, plant-based antioxidants, and 24 vitamins and minerals. The ready-to-go shakes are packaged in eco-friendly packs and come in three gluten-free flavors: chocolate fudge, sweet vanilla bean, and iced café mocha. Users love the delicious taste right out of the container, as well as poured in coffee or over cereal.

Best Vegan: Vega Sports Performance Protein

Vega Sport Performance Protein
Vega Sport Performance Protein. Vega Sport

A great option for vegans and vegetarians, or anyone looking for a tasty and effective protein shake, Vega Sports Performance Protein contains 30 grams of plant-based protein from a blend made from pea protein, flaxseed, hemp protein, and sacha inchi protein. Made from real, whole food ingredients, Vega Sports is vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free.

Best Powder: Quest Nutrition Protein Shake

With a combination of effective, essential nutrients and delicious flavor, the Quest Nutrition protein shake can help you maintain, repair, and build muscle. Just combine it with 8 ounces of water for a smooth and delicious shake that’s packed with 23 grams of protein.

This shake is soy- and gluten-free and contains no added sugar. It comes in nine different flavors, including decadent favorites such as chocolate milkshake, strawberries and cream, and cookies and cream.

Best for Athletes: Pure Protein Shake

Pure Protein

 Courtesy of Amazon

Packed with 35 grams of protein, Pure Protein Shakes are an excellent option for a quick and easy post-workout recovery drink, an on-the-go snack, or even as a meal replacement. This low-fat, gluten-free shake also contains only 1 gram of sugar and 4 grams of carbs. But it still provides athletes with the right amount of protein they need for workout recovery and energy maintenance. With 90 percent of your recommended daily amount of calcium, it can also help you fill in some nutritional gaps.

Best Dairy-Free: Evolve Real Plant-Powered Protein Shake

Evolve

 Courtesy of Walmart

Evolve Real Plant-Powered Protein Shakes prove that it’s possible for a healthy vegan protein shake to taste great. Packed with 20 grams of non-GMO pea protein, these ready-to-drink shakes are easy to stash in a bag for a portable snack. They also have a long shelf life and don’t require refrigeration before opening, so you can stock up. They’re free of dairy, soy, gluten, and artificial flavors and contain 10 grams fiber, so they’ll keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Best with Caffeine: OWYN Cold-Brew Coffee Protein Shake

OWYN

 Courtesy of The Vitamin Shoppe

OWYN (Only What You Need) protein shakes come in lots of delicious flavors, but the cold-brew coffee is a standout. It not only tastes delicious, but it contains 97 milligrams of organic caffeine in addition to 20 grams of protein. It'll fill you up and pick you up. An added bonus: it contains kale, spinach, and broccoli so you can grab some greens while you're on the run.

Best Pea Protein: WellWell Protein Shake

WellWell

 Courtesy of WellWell

This rich, chocolatey protein shake from WellWell keeps you feeling satiated but light on your feet. It contains 16 grams of pea protein and is soy- and dairy-free. These shakes only contain 4 grams of sugar and are non-GMO, so you're only getting the good stuff. With a flavor close to that of chocolate milk, this shake is sure to become a favorite.

What to Look for in a Protein Shake

Type: Protein shakes can come with a variety of protein, including whey, soy, casein, egg, hemp, pea, and flaxseed. Depending on your goals, consider choosing a product that contains the best protein to meet your needs. For example, whey is a top pick for athletes,  whereas hemp, pea, and flaxseed is an excellent choice for vegans.   

Macronutrient breakdown: One of the appeals of a protein shake is that it often comes with ingredients other than protein. Look for powders that also have carbohydrates and fat. There are even shakes with added greens, BCAAs, L-glutamine, digestive enzymes, probiotics and, natural anti-inflammatories. ​Bonus if the protein shake you choose has fiber. 

Flavor:  Protein powders come in a wide range of flavors from chocolate and vanilla to cinnamon bun and orange creamsicle. Depending on the ingredients, some may taste more chalky or artificial than others.

What Experts Say

“Protein shakes are a great way to get easily digestible protein to your muscles right after a workout, which can help speed recovery and build muscles more efficiently. They can also be used as a quick on-the-go meal replacement to help with satiety, keeping you full until your next meal or snack.”—Rebekah Blakely, RDN, The Vitamin Shoppe

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