Ranking the best tasting protein powders of 2020

Ranking the best tasting protein powders of 2020
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Protein powder is a great supplement for gaining muscle mass, increasing strength, dropping body fat, and maintaining weight loss.

One of the more mundane challenges with protein powder is that the taste of unflavored protein can be off-putting: it’s bland, mildly bitter, and very chalky.

Want to get the benefits of the best protein powders without having to endure chalky, flavorless protein shakes? Our researchers have compared and ranked the best-tasting protein supplements on the market. 

Rankings

1. Performance Lab SPORT Protein

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Performance Lab® has really hit the spot with their SPORT Protein shake. It’s 100% clean, natural, and organic, with no fillers, soy, or synthetics. No additives, and no animal content.

Instead it’s made from a whole brown rice grain – which is clinically shown to be just as effective as whey for muscle building.

It’s naturally flavored with cocoa, vanilla, and cinnamon – giving it a subtle chocolaty smoothness. All without the sickly aftertaste of some artificially sweetened shakes. Bodynutrition’s #1 choice.

2. Ladder Whey Protein Powder

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Whey protein by Ladder comes in two delicious flavors: chocolate and vanilla. Both are all naturally sweetened with cocoa powder or vanilla extract, and every batch is tested to ensure no artificial colors or sweeteners.

Ladder also developed this protein to be completely free of clumping. For the best tasting and healthiest protein powder on the market, look no further than Ladder Sport whey protein powder.

3. Ladder Plant Protein Powder

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Ladder’s plant protein powder provides another delicious option for those who are sensitive to lactose or want to avoid animal products. This plant protein powder offers complete essential amino acid profile and probiotics to maximize results.

Ladder’s plant protein powder is sweetened using only natural ingredients and contains an optimal blend of various plant protein sources for a smooth delivery.

4. Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Double Rich Chocolate

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Just about every protein powder comes in a chocolate flavor, but none get the flavoring just right like Optimum Nutrition does. Double Rich Chocolate hits the perfect middle ground: their chocolate is not too sweet, not too bitter, and not too rich.

Even if you are downing tremendous amounts of protein every day, you won’t get sick of this flavor. Add to that Optimum Nutrition’s highly successful blend of whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, and whey protein peptides, and you’ve got a great formula.

5. Battle Ready Fuel Whey Protein Powder

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If you want a pure, powerful protein powder that will actually get you results… then Battle Ready Fuel has you covered with their Whey Protein product.

For one, it is a delicious triple chocolate flavor… so no more gross vanilla or cheap chocolate flavors!

Secondly, this product contains 90% whey isolate, which is incredibly pure and high in protein. It is lower in carbs and fats than other types of whey, and packs in 28g of protein per serving. It promotes lean muscle gain, and will be a welcome addition to any gym-lovers kit!

6. Myprotein Impact Whey Salted Caramel

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If you want highly pure protein and are sick of the usual sweet chocolate and vanilla flavors, Myprotein Impact Whey Salted Caramel is a refreshing change of pace.

With 100% whey protein isolate, the purest form of whey protein, this supplement is a perennial favorite among bodybuilders, and the tangy, salty taste of this supplement is a welcome difference from many other flavored protein powders on the market.

7. Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion Advanced Protein Vanilla Ice Cream

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Gaspari Nutrition is king when it comes to taste. Its users rave about the sweet, creamy taste of the vanilla ice cream protein powder, which goes great by itself and blends easily into shakes and smoothies, even when they contain other supplements like BCAAs, creatine, or glutamine.

The protein content is varied, coming from whey protein, milk protein, and casein protein. Thanks to the coconut oil included as part of the creamer, this protein powder mixes up into a smooth solution without chunking or chalky particulates fouling up the taste.

8. Isopure Low Carb Protein Powder Dutch Chocolate

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Isopure makes an excellent protein powder if you want to keep the protein content high and the carb content low without compromising on taste.

Isopure uses only whey protein isolate as a source for its protein content, and unlike many other competitors, Isopure also includes a comprehensive blend of vitamins and minerals, making it a great meal replacement.

9. NutraBio Classic Whey Protein Horchata

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NutraBio Classic Whey Protein’s Horchata flavor is the perfect protein powder if you want something that’s got a slight sweetness to it, but isn’t cloyingly sweet like some other flavored protein supplements.

It’s got a nutty flavor that isn’t overpowering, and a sweet aftertaste. In terms of protein content, it uses whey protein concentrate, and the ingredients list is pretty clean—aside from whey protein and the flavoring agents, there are no other ingredients.

10. BSN Syntha-6 Cookies and Cream

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While purists and low carb crusaders will hate the high carb content, the sweet and creamy taste of BSN Syntha-6 Cookies and Cream is nearly impossible to beat.

Even in just plain water, it tastes great and has a very smooth texture. While there are a lot of sweeteners, BSN also includes quite the variety of protein, from whey to egg to casein, plus some added glutamine for better recovery.

11. Quest Protein Powder Vanilla Milkshake

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Quest Protein makes a pretty simple protein powder that use a blend of dairy-based protein sources alongside both stevia and sucralose for sweetness.

It’s a pretty good protein powder on its own, but does better when blended into smoothies with some yogurt or frozen fruit.

12. SAN Nutrition RawFusion Plant Protein Powder Peanut Chocolate Fudge

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For people looking for a vegan-friendly and dairy-free protein powder that still tastes great, RawFusion has got you covered. This protein powder supplement uses from a robust blend of pea protein, rice protein, and artichoke protein.

It’s flavored with stevia and a small amount of fructose, but the carbohydrate content is still pretty low, and the sugar content is only one gram per serving.

13. BPI Sports Whey HD Strawberry Cake

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BPI Sports uses a blend of milk and whey protein in this protein supplement, and the flavoring is great if you’ve got a sweet tooth and a yearning for something fruity.

It’s creamy and mixes up into a shake very easily on its own, plus it tastes great in a smoothie with frozen fruit or yoghurt if you’re trying to add in more calories.

14. Dymatize ISO 100 Protein Powder Isolate Orange Dreamsicle

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Tired of the ordinary? Dymatize ISO 100 in Orange Dreamsicle is a flavor that’s hard to forget. Sweet, citrusy, and creamy, this protein powder is far from your typical chocolate or vanilla blend.

While Dymatize uses a high-quality blend of whey protein isolate as its protein source, the unique flavor does make it tricky to mix with other ingredients in a smoothie. This protein powder tends to do best mixed only with water or milk.

Who Should Buy Best Tasting Protein Powder?

Best tasting protein powder is great for people looking to consume a high quality and delicious snack that helps with muscle repair and weight loss. It is also great for curbing sugar cravings as many options have little to no actual sugar.

While it doesn’t’ tend to have any serious interactions, people that are taking medication should consult a doctor before taking this supplement. Diabetics should be careful as some blends may contain sugar that can negatively affect blood glucose levels.

Pregnant women and children should also speak to a doctor before taking a protein supplement.

How We Ranked

When ranking the best tasting protein powders on the market, we first looked at how each product was flavored. Specifically, we wanted to avoid things like sugar and dextrose, as these can have negative metabolic impacts. Artificial sweeteners were also frowned upon as the long term research is not clear on whether or not they are safe to use.

Top choices were products that used natural sweeteners and flavoring agents like stevia, monk fruit, natural cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. This is why Ladder ranked so highly on our list.

Next, we looked at protein quality. We preferred animal protein like whey isolate over most other options (with one exception) due to the purity and effectiveness at building muscle and improving weight loss. With whey isolate, we also wanted it to be derived from grass-fed cows, as this helped to eliminate any possible hormones, antibiotics, and toxins. 

For the plant protein powders on our list, we preferred that they were derived from organic and non-GMO plants to ensure purity. Furthermore, we required them to offer a complete essential amino acid profile, so that your muscles get all the building blocks they need to perform at their peak potential – which is why Performance Lab Sport ranked so highly. 

Lastly, we looked at the mixability. One of the last things we wanted, was for the best tasting protein powders to end up as clumpy balls in our shakes. Products that offered a smooth, non-grainy taste were also given extra points – as this further enhanced taste and the overall user experience.

Benefits

The right flavoring approach can keep protein powder low in sugar and high in protein. The easiest way to flavor a protein shake is to just add sugar.

That’s what some lower quality protein supplements do. The problem with this is that sugar counteracts some of the key benefits of protein powder.

While protein helps you lose fat mass and retain muscle mass, sugar intake does the opposite. A study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet in 2001 studied the intake of sugar among adolescent children and its effects on body mass gain (1).

The researchers found that increased sugar intake was associated with greater BMI gain, even after adjusting for lifestyle-related factors.

This result was confirmed in a careful meta-analysis of dozens of clinical trials and prospective cohort studies published in 2013 the British Medical Journal (2). The authors of this study found that high sugar intake was directly linked to increased body fat.

Instead of using sugar, better protein shakes will use non-caloric sweeteners.  This makes protein palatable without hampering their ability to keep your body fat low and your lean mass high.

Stevia is one all-natural option that adds no calories, is completely natural, and does not appear to have any side effects.

A scientific article published in 2009 in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition reviewed the benefits of stevia—as the extract of a small shrub native to South America, it’s all-natural, and given its tremendous sweetness, it’s 100 to 300 times sweeter than an equivalent amount of sugar (3).

Natural sweeteners like stevia are better for flavoring than sugar alcohols. Stevia has some additional advantages when compared to some previous-generation non-caloric sweeteners like erythritol and sorbitol, which are classified as “sugar alcohols.”

While sugar alcohols are indeed calorie-free, they do have a tendency to cause gastrointestinal problems like nausea, bloating, and gas when consumed in large amounts.

Some people seem to be more sensitive to this than others. The negative effects of sorbitol have been known since at least 1983 when a report by Jeffrey Hyams at the University of Connecticut Medical Center drew attention to the fact that sorbitol can reliably induce gastrointestinal problems when ingested in excess (4).

Erythritol, another popular sugar alcohol, appears less prone to cause digestive issues, but still compares poorly to stevia.

High protein intake keeps muscle mass on and fat mass off. One of the biggest reasons to seek out a great-tasting protein powder is the utility of high protein intake when it comes to maintaining a lean and healthy physique. Nutrition research has consistently found that high protein intake helps with both weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

A study published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism tested the effects of a protein supplement plus resistance training on body fat losses in overweight police officers (5).

All of the participating subjects averaged 27% body fat at the outset of the study. Those who used dieting alone decreased their body fat percentage by 2 percentage points, down to 25%. However, those who used a casein protein supplement alongside strength training decreased their body fat all the way down to 18%.

Even after weight loss is successful, supplemental protein intake keeps fat off. A study conducted by researchers in the Netherlands tested the effects of a 50 grams of additional protein per day on weight loss maintenance after an intensive dieting program (6).

The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, compared two groups: one who received extra protein as part of their weight maintenance diet, and one which did not.

Those who received the supplemental protein regained only half as much as body fat, on average, compared to those who did not received any protein.

Protein fills you up and increases your energy expenditure. A scientific review article by two researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health examined some of the biological mechanisms behind why protein powder is such a great weight loss and weight loss maintenance tool (7).

The researchers identified two key reasons. First, protein induces a feeling that nutritionists call “satiety”—the feeling of fullness after a large meal that makes you uninterested in eating more.

Second, protein stimulates thermogenesis, a process through which your body produces more heat by burning more calories (think: thermogenics). Compared to meals that are high in carbs or high in fat, a high-protein meal will more than double the increase in energy expenditure of your body.

Side effects

As mentioned above, some lower-quality protein powders are flavored with large amounts of sugar alcohols, which can cause bloating, gas, and other gastrointestinal issues.

A quality protein powder, however, has no tangible side effects: Since protein supplements derive their protein from natural and healthy food sources like whey, eggs, and peas, they pose no health risks.

The only obvious caveat is in the case of food allergies and intolerances.

Recommended dosage

Protein requirements for performance are based on body mass in kilograms. Athletes should aim for 1.2 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass every day, with the low end of that range for endurance athletes and the high end of that range for strength, speed, and power athletes (8).

For weight loss and weight loss maintenance, the optimal dosage appears to be at least 50 grams of supplemental protein per day, regardless of body size.

Based on the biological properties of protein supplements in your body, it’s best to take this supplemental protein in the morning and afternoon, versus late at night.

This will let you make the most of the satiety-inducing and thermogenic effects of protein powder.

FAQ

What is the biggest barrier that makes best tasting protein powders so useful? Protein powder is useful both when you’re looking to add muscle mass and improve your strength, or if you are looking to replace unhealthy meals with a protein shake to lose weight or maintain the weight you’ve already lost while on a diet. 

For a lot of people, one of the biggest barriers to using protein powder is the taste—unflavored protein powder tastes chalky and dry, plus it tends to clump up in your protein shaker or smoothies. A protein powder that’s flavored well counteracts this problem, but flavoring agents can come with their own drawbacks if not used properly.

What are the best-tasting protein powder brands? While preferred taste and texture will be subjective, there are some top-rated protein brands, some of which are even award-winning. Some of the top brands for taste include Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey, Isopure Zero Carb, BSN Sytha-6, Ladder Sport, and Performance Lab Sport. 

Some of these brands do have added sugars and artificial flavors to boost the taste, so ensure you’re checking the label to determine whether the powder will work with your goals and any health issues.

What’s the best-tasting protein powder for bodybuilding? Whey protein is highly recommended for muscle growth and maintaining lean muscle mass without added carbs. While whey protein is suitable for many different types of goals, it’s the recommended powder for bodybuilders. Top-rated brands include Ladder Sport and Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey.

Can bariatric patients consume a best-tasting protein powder? Bariatric surgery involves a variety of procedures that help reduce the amount of food an individual is able to eat at once. In patients who have undergone this procedure, a high-quality protein is crucial to continued success. Thankfully, there are both protein powders and ready-to-drink protein drinks that are highly recommended for those who have recently undergone weight-loss surgery.

Ready-to-drink protein brands like Premier Protein, LaBrada Lean Body, GNC Total Lean, Muscle Milk Light, and Met Rx meal replacement are all excellent options. As for powders, Isopure Low Carb Protein Powder, Unjury Powdered Whey Protein Isolate, and Bariatric Advantage Meal Replacement Protein Powder are excellent options.

What’s the best-tasting plant-based protein powder? For Vegans and vegetarians, finding a tasty plant-based protein with a great texture can be a challenge. Some of the highest-rated and best-tasting brands include PEScience Select Vegan, MRM Veggie Protein, S.A.N. Rawfusion, Vega Protein & Greens, and our #1 pick, Performance Lab Sport.

What’s the best-tasting protein powder for picky eaters? If you are a picky eater or you’re looking for a protein that’s more palatable for your child, some of the best options are plant-based proteins, like Performance Lab Sport. Other options include Truvani Plant-Based Organic Protein, Nutiva Organic Plant Protein Superfood Smoothie, and Tejari Protein + Superfoods. All of these brands don’t contain added sugar, and they’re perfect for kids or those who are on the pickier side as they still taste delicious.

What’s the healthiest and best-tasting protein powder for women? Protein powder for women usually requires a few specific ingredients to specifically fuel their bodies, such as a high-quality protein source, low sugar content, and great flavor.

Collagen protein, as well as the addition of fiber, can help further improve results by helping repair skin, hair, and nails while also improving satiety and overall gut health. Some of the most highly recommended brands include Performance Lab Sport, Ladder Sport, Tone It Up Plant-Based Protein Powder, OLLY Plant-Powered Protein Powder, and Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.

What’s the best-tasting protein powder for adding to shakes? Choosing a protein powder that doesn’t overpower your shake or smoothie can be difficult since most protein powders are designed to be tasty on their own. As such, these types of protein powders need to provide a high-quality product with a mild taste. Some of the best options are unflavored protein powders or products that used a subtle vanilla flavor.

Primal Kitchen Vanilla Coconut is known for blending well into either hot or cold beverages, and excellent with almond milk. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is a tasteless formula that can be mixed into anything and go undetected.

What’s the best-tasting protein powder to mix with just water? Many protein powders with added sugar taste great mixed with water, but added sugars and artificial flavors are not healthy for everyone. As such, we prefer products that use natural sweeteners like Legion Athletics and Ladder Sport. These powders are known for their great taste and high-quality ingredients.

What are the best-tasting keto-friendly protein powders? Keto-friendly protein powders require high-quality ingredients without the use of sugar. Some keto advocates will also claim that artificial sweetness can raise insulin, and thus you need to avoid those as well. Some of the best low-carb, keto-friendly protein powders include IsoPure Zero Carb, Ladder Sport, and Performance Lab Sport. 

In terms of the type of protein, whey protein isolate, casein protein, egg white protein, collagen protein, and bone broth protein are the preferred choices. Many of these also come in unflavored options, so you can mix in your own natural added flavors like cocoa powder, almond milk, or cinnamon.

What’s the best-tasting protein powder for weight lossFor helping aid in weight loss, controlling appetite, and aiding with your gym efforts, there are some types of protein powder that are more ideal than others. Thankfully, most of them taste great too. Coffee flavored protein powder, whey, casein, and protein with fiber are all excellent options.

Coffee flavored protein powder not only tastes delicious, but it has the extra caffeine boost that may help increase your weight loss. Whey protein is great for lowering your appetite and helping you feel fuller, longer. Casein protein has high levels of calcium and can help you feel satisfied longer as well. Fiber is so important for our overall health, especially when it comes to weight loss, so finding a powder that has extra fiber is a great option.

What’s the best-tasting protein powder without whey? While whey is one of the most popular types of protein, there are plenty of other options for those who may have adverse reactions to whey. Plant proteins are the preferred option, but many are low quality and can’t replicate the same effects as whey unless they contain all the essential amino acids. As such, we can only recommend one protein powder without whey: Performance Lab Sport.

What’s the best-tasting protein powder for gaining weight? Those who are looking to gain weight and build mass can find a variety of great-tasting supplement options on the market. These products are protein powders that contain a large number of calories to help increase your daily intake to where you can put on weight and muscle. Some of the more popular products include Universal Real Gains Weight Gainer, Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer, MuscleTech Mass Tech, and Legion Athletics Atlas.

What’s the best-tasting meal replacement protein powder? Many brands that produce protein powders will also produce ready-to-drink protein meal replacement drinks. These beverages are full of protein, vitamins, and minerals to replace what you would otherwise consume in a meal. This is very different from a standard protein powder, which would just contain the amino acids and trace carbs.

Some of the most popular brands include Premier Protein Meal Replacement Shakes, SlimFast Advanced Energy Meal Replacement Shakes, Orgain Organic Meal Replacement Shakes, Vega Protein Ready-to-Drink Meal Replacement Shakes, and Labrada Whey Protein Meal Replacement Shakes.

Please consult your doctor before using a meal replacement shake in your diet. Protein powders are meant to supplement your diet, not replace portions of it unless supervised by your physician.

What’s the best-tasting kosher protein powder? These certified kosher protein powders are among the top-rated for flavor: NutraBio 100% Whey Protein Isolate, Nutiva Organic, Designer Whey Protein Powder, and Summit Nutritions Non-GMO Pure Whey Protein Isolate.

What’s the best-tasting affordable protein powder? Protein powder can be expensive – especially the best-tasting ones with the highest quality ingredients. Cellucor’s WPI and Concentrate Blend is known to mix easily, and tastes great, while also being one of the more affordable options per serving. Bulk Powders’ pure whey protein isolate 90 is another great option that has an incredible bang for your buck, containing 90% protein per serving. 

Should best-tasting protein powders include artificial ingredients? In general, we preferred that the best tasting protein powders be free of artificial ingredients, sweetness, and colors. This is because there isn’t enough long term research available to ensure the safety of these ingredients long term.

As such, products that only used natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit were proffered. Products that used sugar were put in the same category as artificial sweeteners, due to the negative metabolic consequence that can arise from excess sugar consumption.

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Recap

Getting a protein powder that tastes great is an excellent way to solve the problem of chalky, dry, flavorless protein as a barrier to strength gain or fat loss.

The best tasting protein powders are flavored at least in part with natural sweeteners like stevia instead of sugar or sorbitol.

Taking a protein powder supplement can help you gain muscle, lose fat, and maintain your physique, and if it tastes great while doing so, all the better.

For Bodynutrition’s #1 best-tasting protein powder, click here.





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