The 7 Best Whey Protein Powders of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Supplement your diet with these formulas that pack a punch

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Whey protein powder is a high-quality protein source that contains all essential amino acids, as well as some branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are building blocks for muscle growth. The dairy-derived powder is popular among athletes and those looking to boost their protein intake, and for good reason. Research shows that whey protein supplementation is associated with enhanced protein metabolism and may promote enhanced performance and recovery among resistance-trained people.

Whether you're looking to add a protein source to your smoothie or up your post-workout nutrition, whey protein powder is an excellent addition to your diet. With many options on the market, it can be challenging to find a product that is made from high-quality ingredients and tastes great.

Here, whey protein powders that combine good quality and appealing flavor.

Best Overall: Tera's Whey Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder Bourbon Vanilla

Tera's Whey Grass Fed Simply Pure Whey Protein

If you're looking for a great-tasting, nutrition-packed whey protein powder, Tera's Whey Simply Pure is a smart choice. The certified gluten-free product is sweetened with stevia, a zero calorie natural sweetener, and provides 21 grams of protein per serving. Each serving also provides 5.29 grams of BCAAs along with 3 grams of sugar and 4 grams of carbohydrates.

The USDA Organic, rBGH-free, and rBST-free whey protein is sourced from grass-fed cows raised on small farms in Wisconsin. The bourbon vanilla flavor is sweet and mixes well with water or your favorite beverage. Note that the product mixes best using a shaker bottle or blender.

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

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

Containing only one ingredient (100% grass-fed pure whey protein), Naked Whey is a high-quality whey protein product with a reasonable price tag. The whey is sourced from small dairy farms in California and is cold-processed to ensure no contamination from chemical detergents, synthetic additives, or heavy metals. This pure product is also free of flavors, sweeteners, and colors.

The GMO-free, soy-free, and gluten-free product provides 25 grams of protein, 2 grams of sugar, and 5.9 grams of BCAAs per serving. Naked Whey is also a great choice for athletes, as it has the Informed-Choice Certification, assuring that it does not contain banned substances.

Best Unsweetened: NOW Foods NOW Sports Whey Protein Isolate

NOW Foods NOW Sports Whey Protein Isolate

With 25 grams of protein per serving and no artificial sweeteners, NOW Sports Whey Protein Isolate is an excellent, high-value choice for a protein powder. The whey protein provides essential amino acids for muscle building while also supporting post-workout recovery.

NOW Sports' product is a whey protein isolate, as opposed to a concentrate. Isolate is typically more processed than concentrate, making it lower in carbohydrates and lactose. Due to the extra processing, isolate is typically more expensive; however, NOW Sport offers a bulk option to create more bang for your buck.

The whey protein isolate powder mixes very easily and is unflavored, so it can mix easily into any shake or smoothie with minimal taste.

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

Primal Kitchen Primal Fuel Vanilla Coconut Whey Protein Powder

Primal Kitchen's Primal Fuel comes in two delicious flavors, including vanilla coconut and chocolate. Monk fruit extract is used for sweetening, so the product is low in sugar, with only 1 gram per serving. Each scoop provides 10 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrates, and approximately 2.2 grams of BCAAs.

The soy-free, gluten-free, keto, and paleo-friendly product provides 4 grams of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) from coconut milk fat. Research suggests that consumption of MCTs is associated with weight loss and greater usage of fat as fuel. Note that the product is not technically paleo, as whey protein is made from dairy.

Primal Fuel also contains prebiotics, or the food for gut-healthy probiotics, from inulin, a prebiotic fiber thought to improve digestive health.

Best Sugar-Free: Biochem 100% Whey Isolate Protein

Biochem 100% Whey Isolate Protein

Biochem is known for creating high-quality whey protein from grass-fed cows. The soy-free, non-GMO product contains no artificial ingredients and contains all essential amino acids. Each serving contains 20 grams of protein with no fat or sugar.

Biochem uses a specific cold process without chemicals to create a pure whey protein isolate. Their micro-filtration method removes fat, cholesterol, and lactose to create a highly pure whey protein powder. The low-FODMAP product is also great for those with food allergies and sensitivities as it is Certified Gluten-Free, soy-free, and 99% free of lactose.

Best Organic: Tera's Whey Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder Bourbon Vanilla

Tera's Whey Grass Fed Simply Pure Whey Protein

This Certified USDA Organic (rBST and rBGH-free), Non-GMO Project Verified product provides ample protein in addition to BCAAs and probiotics, for a good value. The budget-friendly powder comes in five flavors, including chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, lightly sweet, strawberry, and vanilla.

The Garden of Life Whey is sourced from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows and is American Humane Certified. Each serving provides 21 grams of protein, 2 grams of sugar, 120 calories, and 4.7 grams of BCAAs. The product also contains 2 billion CFU of probiotics.

Best Vanilla: NAKED Nutrition Less Naked Whey

NAKED Nutrition Less Naked Whey

It can be challenging to find a great-tasting—and palatable—protein powder that is free of artificial flavors and sweeteners. NAKED Nutrition's Less Naked Whey Protein Powder combines its high-quality, grass-fed whey protein with natural vanilla and organic coconut sugar to create a simple and delicious supplement.

Each serving contains 25 grams of protein and 5.9 grams of BCAAs. The rBGH and rBST-free protein is also Non-GMO, soy-free, and gluten-free. It's cold-processed to retain the integrity of the protein and uses acid and bleach-free processing.

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a whey protein powder that tastes great and is made from high-quality organic ingredients, try Tera's Whey (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in a Whey Protein Powder Supplement

Goals 

Some powders are low in calories and designed to help you lose weight, while others aim to build muscle mass by providing a higher amount of protein and calories per serving. Make sure the one you choose is in line with your goals, or you could end up sabotaging your efforts.

Flavor

Protein powders come in a wide range of flavors, from basic chocolate and vanilla to mocha and even birthday cake. Depending on the ingredients, some may taste more chalky or artificial than others.

Note that we generally recommend unflavored or naturally flavored products, as we do not recommend dietary supplements with artificial flavors. If you want to boost the flavor of your protein powder, consider mixing it into a smoothie packed with tasty ingredients that also offer other nutrition, like banana, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and almond milk.

Dietary Restrictions

When choosing a protein powder, you want to consider any dietary restrictions or food sensitivities you may have. There are protein powders to accommodate most diets, including dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan options, as well as those that have no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors.

If you have any questions about adding a protein powder to your diet, talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian. They can help you determine if a protein supplement is right for you. 

Quality

Whey is a product derived from dairy, so it is important to consider quality when purchasing a whey protein powder. When possible, choose an organic whey protein powder to ensure you're getting high-quality protein without any antibiotics or growth hormones.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I use whey protein?

    You can add your whey protein powder to almost any liquid. Follow the instructions on your whey protein powder packaging for serving size, mixing instructions, and uses.

    For muscle-building and athletic performance, researchers recommend 20 to 25 grams of whey protein following your workout.

    Most adults can safely take up to 30 grams of whey protein powder a day. Taking more than the recommended dose may cause unpleasant side effects such as an increase in bowel movements, nausea, bloating, headaches, or fatigue.

  • Can I bake with whey protein?

    Yes, you can bake with whey protein. In fact, manufacturers use whey protein as a food additive in baked goods to enhance flavor and color and improve texture.

    Add a scoop or two of whey protein powder to your muffin or quick bread batter. Or use it to boost protein in homemade pancakes and waffles. Check out the website of your favorite whey protein powder for recipes.

  • Is whey protein powder good for you?

    Whey protein is a high-quality protein that provides all the essential amino acids in an easily-digested form and can enhance the quality of your diet. Though popular among athletes, many people use whey protein to support their recreational exercise needs, lose weight, or improve overall health and wellness.

    There’s strong evidence that whey protein powder improves muscle growth and strength after exercise. However, there’s little evidence that whey protein provides any other health benefits.

    When consumed in appropriate amounts, whey protein powder is safe. However, excessive use of whey protein powder over a long period of time isn’t good for you and may negatively affect your health. Consult with your primary care provider before adding nutritional supplements to your diet.

  • What are the effects of whey protein powder?

    For athletes, whey protein powder supports muscle growth and recovery, improving strength and performance. It may also reduce muscle soreness and prevent fatigue during workouts. When part of a balanced diet, whey protein powder may improve muscle mass following resistance-training in regular gym-goers.

  • Does whey protein powder impact weight?

    Whey protein powder is a source of calories and can impact weight. Calories vary from brand to brand, ranging from 90 to 120 calories per scoop. For weight gain and muscle-building, whey protein powder is a quick, easily digested source of extra calories and protein.

    For weight loss, whey protein powder must be part of your diet plan. Adding whey protein powder without making any changes to your diet or exercise routine may not get you the results you want. However, there’s evidence that whey protein powder may support weight-loss efforts by positively influencing hunger hormones so you eat less.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am careful to recommend supplements, including whey protein powders. I spent time reviewing the most current clinical research on whey protein supplementation and looking at multiple products and brands.

I believe the whey protein powder supplements in the round-up are made by trusted brands, and I would feel comfortable recommending these to clients and patients in my clinical practice.— Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

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8 Sources
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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