Whether you’re a weight lifter, a weight loser or just plain health conscious, a journey down the protein powder aisle can be overwhelming. To choose the right one for you, first decide on your ultimate health goal. Then check out our top picks in five key categories to find the protein powder that can get you there.
What to look for: If your drink is standing in for a meal, make sure it has several grams of fiber, which fills you up and keeps you satisfied longer. If you don’t feel full after finishing your meal-replacement drink, you don’t have the right product.
Our pick: Garden of Life Raw Fit
Why we like it: It works! Our testers felt satisfied, with no cravings for hours. This nutritious meal-on-the-go features plant proteins—13 sprouted grains, seeds and legumes—plus live probiotics and enzymes for digestive and immune system health.
What’s inside: Protein: 28g; Carbs: 12g; Calories: 170; Fiber: 4g; Sweetener: organic stevia leaf
What to look for: To rev your metabolism, opt for protein with essential amino acids (protein building blocks the body can’t produce itself). Whey concentrate and soy fit the bill. They release into your
system more slowly than isolates, energizing you for your whole workout.
Our pick: Nature’s Plus Spiru-Tein
Why we like it: This non-GMO protein blend of rice, pea and soy packs in 14,000 mg of amino acids (including the nine essentials). It mixes instantly (no blender required) for a flavor-rich treat with only 99 calories and 100 percent daily value of all vitamins.
What’s inside: Protein: 14g; Carbs: 11g; Calories: 99; Fiber: 1g; Sweetener: fructose
What to look for: Plant-based proteins have a lower biological value (BV measures how well the body can absorb and use a protein) than animal-based ones, so look for powders that combine different plant types to create a more complex protein.
Our pick: Vega Protein & Greens Vanilla
Why we like it: Keep the kale in the crisper and still get your daily dose of greens—two full servings—along with your protein. This blend includes pea, hemp and sprouted whole-grain brown rice proteins. Plus, it mixes up smooth, even with water.
What’s inside: Protein: 20g; Carbs: 6g; Calories: 110; Fiber: 1g; Sweetener: organic stevia leaf extrac
What to look for: For muscle tissue repair and growth you need protein, and lots of it. Whey protein in an isolate form (microfi ltered to create a 90–97 percent pure protein) has the highest BV of any protein, promoting greater lean-muscle gains.
Our pick: Jay Robb Whey Protein Vanilla
Why we like it: It’s clean and green. Cold-processed, cross-flow microfiltered whey isolate derived from grass-fed cows not treated with rBGH absorbs quickly for a rapid boost. This ultra-pure protein
blends easily and tastes great.
What’s inside: Protein: 25g; Carbs: 1g; Calories: 110; Fiber: 0g; Sweetener: Reb-A stevia
What to look for: There is a critical 30-minute “window of opportunity” after a workout in which the body best responds to nutritional supplements. Whey is the “whey” to go: A protein with a high BV paired with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) repairs and builds muscle faster.
Our pick: Pure Protein Natural Whey French Vanilla
Why we like it: Fast-absorbing whey isolate protein and 5 grams of BCAAs for immediate delivery to muscles, plus slower-acting whey protein concentrate to repair muscle damage. The nutrient-dense powder easily dissolves for a great-tasting, low-fat treat.
What’s inside: Protein: 23g Carbs: 6g; Calories: 130; Fiber: 0g; Sweetener: stevia leaf extract