The 8 Best-Tasting Protein Powders of 2021, According to a Dietitian

How to choose a best-tasting protein powder that is right for you

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Best-Tasting Protein Powders

Verywell / Chloe Jeong

Whether you're looking to increase your protein intake or supplement your workouts, protein powder is a convenient way to add protein to your diet. However, some protein powders are chalky, overly sweet, artificial-tasting, or just plain gross. Because taste perception and flavor preference are so individual, you might need to taste a few to find what works best for you.

Registered Dietitian, Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD notes, "When choosing a protein powder that’s right for you, it’s important to find one that your body digests well. Although it may taste great, some ingredients like sugar alcohol or unnecessary additives can aggravate the gastrointestinal system and cause bloat, gas, or abdominal discomfort." She recommends sampling different powders and testing for tolerance before investing in an entire container.

Protein powder may be your secret weapon for optimal recovery after tough workouts. Evidence shows that protein supplementation may improve performance and recovery after resistance and endurance training. Selecting a great-tasting protein powder can make increasing your protein intake more enjoyable, especially if you're making a protein shake regularly.

What to Look for in a Protein Powder

Protein Source

Protein powders can be made using various protein sources, including plant-based and animal-derived sources. Examples of animal-derived proteins include whey and collagen. Plant-based proteins may come from foods such as pea, hemp, soy, pumpkin seed, or brown rice. There are benefits to each type of protein, and you can find a protein powder that will meet your nutritional and health needs while also appealing to your individual taste buds.

Nutritional Content

While everyone wants a protein powder that tastes good, it’s also important to consider the supplement's nutritional content. You may choose a powder with additional dietary fiber, MCT oil, probiotics, or specific nutrients based on your individual needs.

Flavoring and Sweeteners

When choosing a protein powder based on flavor, aim to choose a powder without artificial ingredients, including colorings, flavorings, or sweeteners.

Protein Powder Dosage

Always speak with a health care professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine define the DRI (Daily Recommended Intake) for protein as 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for healthy adults. However, individual protein needs are dependent on many factors including height, weight, age, physical activity level and overall health status. For example, some athletes may need anywhere from 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. Consider speaking with your physician or working with a Registered Dietitian to asses your individual protein needs.

While you can meet your daily protein needs through whole foods, including both animal and plant-based proteins, protein powders can help to meet your goals. Assess how much protein you are getting from food and supplement with protein powders as needed to reach your desired intake. Be sure to take note of how many grams of protein per serving and measure it out accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are protein powders safe?

    Protein powders are considered a dietary supplement, and the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. However, the protein powders on our list only contain listed ingredients that are GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA. Some protein powders contain ingredients that can cause gastrointestinal discomfort such as sugar alcohols and other artificial sweeteners. Try one serving and test for tolerance. Additionally, protein powders can contain common food allergens including lactose, soy, and nuts, so it's important to check the label to ensure it meets your dietary needs.

  • How many types of protein powders are there?

    Protein powders can be made using various protein sources, including plant-based and animal-derived sources. Examples of animal-derived proteins include whey and collagen. Plant-based proteins may come from foods such as pea, hemp, soy, pumpkin seed, or brown rice. There are benefits to each type of protein, and you can find a protein powder that will meet your nutritional and health needs while also appealing to your individual taste buds.

  • Are protein powders good for weight loss?

    Protein powders can be incorporated into a healthy weight loss plan, but they are not necessary. Protein, from whole foods or supplements, can keep you satiated and control your appetite, which can help with weight management. It's important to consider your optimal calorie goals when trying to lose weight and factor in how protein powders will fit into your intake. Calorie deficits for weight loss are highly individualized, based on height, weight, BMI, resting metabolic rate, activity level and overall health status. In general, a balanced diet of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats supports overall health and weight loss.

  • Do protein powders help you build muscle?

    No, not necessarily. Strength training builds muscle, including weight lifting, resistance training, and body weight exercises. Consuming enough protein (in whole food or supplement form) provides your muscles with the nutrients needed to repair tissue and support muscle growth in combination with training. Adequate protein intake when in a calorie deficit is also essential for preserving lean muscle mass. However, just taking a protein supplement alone will not increase the size of your muscles.

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

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science, as well as clinically tested and approved for use in humans. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. These attributes include non-GMO, Organic, and allergy-friendly products that are free of most artificial ingredients including colors, flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners. When possible, we recommend products that are third-party tested and certified.

It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

Here, the best tasting protein powders for all of your dietary needs:

Best Overall: Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder Original Flavor

Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder Original Flavor
Pros
  • No additives

  • Includes prebiotic fiber

Cons
  • Higher calories per serving

If you’re looking for a slightly sweet protein powder that tastes great mixed with almond milk or in your favorite smoothie, Sprout Living’s Epic Protein Vanilla Lucuma is the top choice. The neutral vanilla flavor provides a hint of sweetness but doesn’t overpower the beverage it’s mixed into. Plus, the paleo-friendly (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free) plant-based protein powder checks all the nutrition boxes. Epic Protein’s proprietary protein blend is made from yellow pea and a mix of sunflower, pumpkin, sacha inchi, and cranberry seeds. Each 2-scoop serving provides 19 grams of plant-based protein and 4 grams of dietary fiber.

Lucuma, a fruit native to Peru, is used to sweeten the protein. While there is limited research on the health benefits of the fruit, some research published in 2011 suggests that lucuma may have some health benefits.

Key protein sources: yellow pea, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed | Serving size: 2 scoops (35 grams) | Amount of protein per serving: 26 grams | Calories per serving: 186 | Vegan: Yes | Gluten-free: Yes | Certified Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes | Additives: No

Best Vanilla Plant-Based: Garden of Life Raw Organic Vanilla Protein Powder

Garden of Life Raw Organic Vanilla Protein Powder
Pros
  • Taste

  • Includes probiotic blend

Cons
  • Includes additives

There are many great tasting vanilla, plant-based proteins on the market, but Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Protein takes the top pick in this category because of its delicious vanilla taste and strong nutritional profile. Many vanilla powders taste overly sweet, artificial, or chalky; however, this powder blends well and has a subtle vanilla flavor.

Made up of a unique blend of 15 plant-based legumes, grains, and seeds, Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Protein is a high-protein, soy-free powder. A key protein source is pea protein, which is known as a high-quality, easily digested, plant-based protein. Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Protein is also gluten-free and kosher. The powder is also easy on digestion, as it contains three billion CFU probiotics from lactobacillus and digestive enzymes such as bromelain, papain, and protease.

Key protein sources: Pea, sprouted brown rice, amaranth sprout | Serving size: 1 scoop (31 grams) | Amount of protein per serving: 22 grams | Calories per serving: 110 | Vegan: Yes | Gluten-free: Yes | Certified Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes | Additives: Yes - Stevia, guar gum, carob bean gum

Best Vanilla Whey: Primal Kitchen Primal Fuel Vanilla Coconut Whey Protein Powder

Primal Kitchen Primal Fuel Vanilla Coconut Whey Protein Powder
Pros
  • Contains prebiotic

  • Complete amino acid profile

Cons
  • Contains additives

  • Lower in protein

Primal Kitchen’s Primal Fuel Vanilla Coconut flavor contains 10 grams of whey protein isolate per scoop and blends well in hot or cold beverages to create an indulgent vanilla drink with a hint of coconut. Note that the product does contain coconut, but it is free of soy and gluten. It is also free of fillers, artificial ingredients, and preservatives.

Primal Fuel also contains beneficial ingredients including medium-chain triglycerides. The 4 grams of coconut milk fat per serving provides satiating medium-chain triglycerides that are converted into quick energy for the body or used as an alternate source of energy for the brain. Each scoop also contains 1 gram of dietary fiber, prebiotics from inulin, and 2,238 milligrams of essential amino acids including leucine, isoleucine and valine.

Key protein sources: Whey protein isolate | Serving size: 1 scoop (20 grams) | Amount of protein per serving: 10 grams | Calories per serving: 90 | Vegan: No | Gluten-free: Yes | Certified Non-GMO: No | USDA Organic: No | Additives: Yes - Guar gum, Konjac root gum, steviol glycosides (stevia extract)

Best Chocolate Plant-Based: Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate
Pros
  • Taste

  • Includes 6 milligrams of iron

Cons
  • Contains additives

The USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate takes the top pick for plant-based chocolate protein with 17 grams of protein per scoop and a creamy chocolate taste. Sunwarrior uses organic flavorings, including cocoa, chocolate flavor, stevia extract, and ground coconut to create a sweet, nutty, and chocolatey flavor.

The proprietary protein blend is made up of pea protein, hemp protein, and goji berry. While peas and hemp are good sources of plant-based protein, goji berries are a rich source of iron. Each scoop provides 6 milligrams of iron, which helps those following a vegan diet which is commonly low in this important nutrient.

Each serving also provides branched-chain amino acids and brain-boosting MCTs. The high protein blend is allergy-friendly, as it is free of soy, gluten, and dairy.

Key protein sources: pea, hemp, goji berry | Serving size: 1 scoop (25 grams) | Amount of protein per serving: 17 grams | Calories per serving: 100 | Vegan: Yes | Gluten-free: Yes | Certified Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes | Additives: Yes - Guar gum, steviol glycosides (stevia extract)

Best Chocolate Whey: teraswhey Organic Protein, Dark Chocolate

tera's Whey Organic Protein, Dark Chocolate
Pros
  • Contains complete amino acid profile

  • Fair Trade Certified

  • Grass-fed source

Cons
  • Contains additives

Made using Fair Trade Certified cacao beans, the rich, dark chocolate flavor of Tera's Whey is hard to beat. The antioxidant-rich cacao provides great flavor and boosts the overall nutrition of the protein powder. Research shows that cacao contains beneficial antioxidants, including epicatechin and catechin, that fight inflammation.

Tera's Whey sources the highest quality whey from small family farms in Wisconsin. This USDA Organic whey protein is free of hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs. The grass-fed whey is also Certified Gluten-Free. Each 2-scoop serving provides 20 grams of whey protein with only 5 grams of carbohydrates. It is sweetened with organic stevia and contains only 2 grams of sugar, likely due to lactose (natural milk sugar) in the whey protein concentrate.

Key protein sources: whey protein concentrate | Serving size: 2 scoop (28 grams) | Amount of protein per serving: 20 grams | Calories per serving: 110 | Vegan: No | Gluten-free: Yes | Certified Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes | Additives: Yes - stevia leaf, sunflower lecithin

Best Natural Flavor: Sunwarrior Brown Rice Protein Powder

Sunwarrior Brown Rice Protein Powder
Pros
  • 1 ingredient only

  • Sprouted and fermented grain

  • No additives

Cons
  • Taste

Sunwarrior’s Classic Protein is a clean and simple brown rice protein powder with no added flavor. It’s made up of only one ingredient: organic brown rice protein. This plant-based powder assimilates well into the beverages it's mixed with and boosts protein without adding flavor. One scoop provides 20 grams of protein with 100 calories and zero added sugar. The vegan powder is also free of gluten, soy, and dairy.

The brown rice powder is sprouted and fermented, meaning that the brown rice is soaked for a period of time and then allowed to germinate. This process leads to increased bioavailability of nutrients such as vitamins and fatty acids and decreased amounts of anti-nutrients such as phytates and tannins.

Key protein sources: brown rice | Serving size: 1 scoop (25 grams) | Amount of protein per serving: 20 grams | Calories per serving: 100 | Vegan: No | Gluten-free: Yes | Certified Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes | Additives: No

Best Tasteless: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder
Pros
  • Grass-fed, pasture-raised source

  • Versatile

  • May promote skin health

Cons
  • Not USDA organic

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is a great option for those looking to boost their protein intake without a specific flavor. Each 2-scoop serving provides 18 grams of grass-fed, pasture-raised, bovine collagen protein that is almost 100 percent tasteless.

The dynamic product can be mixed into both hot and cold liquids, including coffee. It dissolves quickly and doesn't clump when mixed properly. The versatile protein supplement is free of gluten, dairy, and sugar.

Collagen peptides provide a great bioavailable protein boost, and research suggests that collagen peptide supplementation may improve skin health. The supplement contains complementary ingredients, including vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is known for the ability to preserve skin moisture, while research shows that vitamin C boosts the body's ability to synthesize collagen and plays a key role in skin health.

Key protein sources: collagen peptides | Serving size: 2 scoops (20 grams) | Amount of protein per serving: 18 grams | Calories per serving: 70 | Vegan: No | Gluten-free: Yes | Certified Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: No | Additives: No

Best Peanut Butter: Garden of Life Organic Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder

Garden of Life Organic Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder
Pros
  • Complete amino acid profile

  • Grass-fed, pasture raised source

  • Contains probiotic blend

Cons
  • Higher in calories

  • Contains additives

Garden of Life's Certified Organic Whey Protein is known for its high-quality, pasture-raised, grass-fed protein. With 21 grams of easy-to-digest protein in each serving, the creamy chocolate peanut butter flavor adds a delicious taste and a protein boost to your favorite beverage. If you're a peanut butter fan, you will love mixing this powder into water or your go-to smoothie.

The USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified protein is sweetened with stevia and is free of added sugars. Each serving contains 4.7 grams of branched-chain amino acids to help you refuel and repair muscles post-workout. The Certified Gluten-Free product contains 130 calories per serving with only 7 grams of carbohydrates. It's also good for the digestive system, as each serving contributes 2 billion CFU probiotics from bifidobacterium lactis.

Key protein sources: Whey | Serving size: 2 scoops (32.5 grams) | Amount of protein per serving: 21 grams | Calories per serving: 130 | Vegan: No | Gluten-free: Yes | Certified Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes | Additives: Yes - gum acacia, erythritol, stevia extract

Final Verdict

Taste is very individual, so it can be hard to select the best overall option; however, vanilla is a fairly neutral protein powder flavor, so Sprout Living's Epic Protein Powder (view at Amazon) may be a good universal option. If you are looking for a protein powder with the added benefit of probiotics, try Garden of Life's Certified Organic Whey Protein (view at Amazon).

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