Best protein after workout


The Best Protein Powders: Plus, January Sale Discounts

While few, if any, amateur athletes need protein powder to support their exercise regime, it can be a highly convenient way to ensure you have all the fuel required to repair and build muscle after a workout.

However, picking between the huge range of protein powders available is difficult. We spoke to Dr Daniel Fenton, GP and clinical director at London Doctors Clinic, about what people should look out for when choosing a protein powder. Fenton’s in-depth advice is below, but here are the key things to consider when selecting your powder.

First, check the amount of protein you get per serving – that’s the key number. Then compare the concentration and profile of amino acids (or BCAAs). You want a complete source of protein that contains the nine essential amino acids, ideally with a good-sized portion of leucine. Check the amount of carbohydrates, fats and sugars in the powder. These need to be in line with your general approach to your diet. Finally, scout the ingredient list carefully for additives like thickeners, preservatives, sweeteners and fillers. Generally, the fewer of these the better.

The Best Deals On Protein Powder In The January Sales

Myprotein – 45% Off

The Myprotein Boxing Day sale got a bit confusing with discounts on top of discounts, but only on certain products. The slate’s been wiped clean for 2020 with a straightforward 45% off everything. While Myprotein’s THE Whey+ (was £35.99, now £19.79) is a top option, it’s also well worth checking out the more refreshing Clear Whey and range of protein bars.

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Optimum Nutrition – Up To 50% Off

Come the sales season, Amazon loves to reduce Optimum Nutrition products, but you do have to be a little careful of taking the percentage discounts listed at face value. For example, 899g of the popular Gold Standard Whey is £18.59, a claimed 56% discount on the £41.99 RRP. However, the powder goes for £24.99 on Optimum Nutrition’s website, so the discount is more like 25%. Still, good value for one of the best whey powders out there.

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Bulk Powders – Up To 70% Off

When Bulk Powders puts on a sale the first product we always check out is the Pure Whey Protein, which is one of the best value powders on the market even before any discounts. It, along with everything else on the Bulk Powders website, is reduced by 40%, meaning you can get a vast 5kg sack of the stuff for just £63.74. Do make sure you pick a flavour you really like if you do that, though.

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The Best Protein Powders

We’ve tried a lot of protein powders, and you’ll find our assessment of each one’s nutritional composition and our tasting notes in the protein powder reviews section below. But if you want the short version, here’s what we recommend.

1. Best Whey Protein Powder: Myprotein Pro THE Whey+

Only the finest ingredients have been used to create this powder, which delivers 26g of protein per 32g serving via “beadlets” that gradually release muscle-building BCAAs. It mixes easily without lumps and although the texture’s a touch grainy the chocolate brownie flavour is a winner.

Buy from Myprotein | £35.99 for 960g

2. Best Budget Protein Powder: Bulk Powders Pure Whey Protein

The concentrate whey in this powder might not be the more refined types you’ll find in pricier options (isolate, hydrolysate and native), but it’s incredible value considering the 24.2g of protein per 30g serving, and with a wide range of flavours you should find one that suits.

Buy on Amazon | £19.99 for 1kg (currently reduced to £7.79)

3. Best Casein Protein Powder: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein

Each 32g serving of this powder contains 24g of protein, which is sourced from premium micellar casein to ensure a slow delivery to your muscles over time, making it the ideal option for a pre-bedtime shake.

Buy on Amazon | £14.95 for 450g

4. Best Vegan Protein Powder: Healthspan Elite Complete Vegan Protein

Along with 20g of protein per 27g serving this powder delivers 100% of your recommended daily intake of B12, which is important because it’s a virtually impossible vitamin to get enough of on a vegan diet. The protein is sourced from a combination of pea, pumpkin and brown rice to provide a complete source of essential amino acids.

Buy on Amazon | £24.99 for 1kg

5. Best Recovery Protein: SiS REGO Rapid Recovery+

The 24g of protein in a 70g serving of this powder is just the start of what you get. It also contains 38g of carbs to help your body recover from intense endurance activities. It’s one for fans of citrus too – the lemon flavour is head and shoulders above the rest.

Buy from SiS | £16 for 490g

Protein Powder Buyer’s Guide

Picking between the huge range of protein powders available is difficult, especially when each and every one of them makes grand promises about the effect they will have on you.

You might assume that all of them do the same job, but that’s not the case. Coach spoke to Dr Daniel Fenton, clinical director and GP at London Doctors Clinic, about the differences between protein powders, how much price matters and whether they contain any ingredients you should be wary of. We then assessed the best protein powders out there using Fenton’s criteria and tasted them too so you have a better idea of what you’re buying.

What are the key things people should look out for when choosing protein powder?

“How much protein you obtain from each serving, the amino acid profile, the cost, taste and number of additives are a few key factors. I tend to focus on yield – the actual amount of protein you obtain from each serving – and amino acid profile.

“I suggest you choose a low-fat, low-carbohydrate, high-protein powder. While you require all three to aid muscle development, balance is key.

“The difference in protein content in various powders can be phenomenal. Do not simply pay for a brand name – the proof is in the numbers. Look carefully at the concentration and type of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) included in the protein. Leucine has been shown to be one of the most important BCAAs so it should contain decent quantities.”

What are the differences between the two main types of protein – whey and casein?

“Whey versus casein can be seen as fast versus slow protein.

“Muscle growth is determined by simple science: protein (muscle) breakdown vs protein synthesis. If the synthesis of new muscle protein is greater than the breakdown of muscle protein, you will get a net gain of muscle mass.

“Whey is typically processed very rapidly into amino acids, which will reach peak levels within an hour of consumption and therefore assist muscle synthesis very quickly. However, the peak levels also fall very quickly.

“Whey is considered an anabolic protein because it rapidly accelerates protein synthesis so it’s great for quick muscle regeneration, but has very little effect on naturally occurring muscle breakdown after a workout.

“Casein can take several hours to be metabolised and as a result creates a slower release of proteins to help muscles recover and grow. It is often referred to as an anti-catabolic protein, because it also helps to prevent excess protein breakdown.

“The downside is that casein will remain in the stomach for a substantial period of time, and one can appreciate that it is difficult to complete a high-intensity workout with a full stomach.

“In essence, balance and timing are key for maximum gains. Ignore those who say ‘casein is the key’, or ‘only whey works’ – scientifically, this is simply untrue. Both work very well if used appropriately, complementing your workout and your own natural metabolism.”

What should you get if you pay more money for protein powder?

“There is a natural tendency to think that more expensive products are better – but this is a fallacy. Content is more important than cost. All protein powders will contain some additives including thickeners, preservatives, sweeteners and fillers.

“I would strongly recommend taking a look at the label before you purchase. While your main focus is gaining muscle, you should aim to avoid putting nutritionally-redundant chemicals into your body. Here are a few of the things to look out for.

“Avoid artificial sweeteners, which includes sucralose, aspartame and saccharin. The presumption is that these are better for you than sugar but this is not quite true. There is no good evidence that they reduce weight gain, type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome and some studies actually show an increased risk of adverse health outcomes.

“Milk powders are a cheap bulking agent widely used in protein powders. They are high in lactose sugars which is terrible if you are lactose intolerant. This can contribute to gastrointestinal upset including bloating and loose stools.

“Oils and fats are added to protein supplements to increase richness; they are non-essential ingredients which can contribute to hypercholesterolemia . It is fairly common to see high cholesterol levels in bodybuilders and athletes despite their immense fitness levels and generally healthy eating – taking protein powder with added oils is thought to be a contributing factor.”

Is it worth looking out for extra benefits from protein powder such as vitamins and minerals, or fibre?

“The simple answer is no! While these make for an excellent selling point, if you are eating a balanced diet alongside the protein supplement you should not need additional vitamins.

“Is there a limit to how much protein the body can absorb from a serving?

“The human body is an impressive machine, which likes to maintain a balanced constant internal environment. We can fill ourselves with protein, but we will only absorb as much as we require for muscle synthesis.

“The Department of Health recommends approximately 55g of protein a day for male adults and a little less for females. Obviously, if we exercise at high intensity, muscle turnover is higher and protein demand is therefore greater, so we will often require more than this. But if we consume too much protein, the body will simply metabolise and excrete it. This means you could literally be flushing money and protein down the pan.”

Protein Powder Reviews

Whey Protein

Maximuscle Max Whey

While many of the nutritional stats of this powder are fairly standard – there’s 23.5g of protein in a 30g serving, and sugar is kept to 1g – it does contain an above-average amount of BCAAs at 7g per serving, including over 3g of leucine. The protein is mostly from whey concentrate, though there is some isolate in the mix as well.

Banoffee taste test: Credit to Maxinutrition for nailing the banoffee flavour here, rather than just serving up either banana or toffee. Credit also for having a banoffee option, alongside the usual Neapolitan trio. We found more shaking than usual was needed to rid it of big lumps, however, and the texture wasn’t silky smooth even after a vigorous effort.

Buy from Maxinutrition | £20 for 480g

Mars HiProtein

Mars protein bars made some kind of sense when they launched, but Mars-flavoured protein powder? We’re not so sure… but here it is anyway. It contains 20.6g of protein in each 35g serving, sourced from whey concentrate, and sugar is kept to 3.7g per serving, with sucralose and acesulfame K sweeteners used.

Taste test: We’ll tell you what it doesn’t taste like – a Mars bar. It’s a bland, vaguely-sweet mess of a shake, with the powder not mixing all that well either. We’d skip this one.

Buy from Protein Pick And Mix | £24.99 for 875g

Snickers HiProtein

Hey, look! They made Snickers protein powder too! The same nutritional info from the Mars powder applies, except there’s slightly more protein in a serving (20.9g) and the flavour is listed as chocolate, caramel and peanut, rather than just chocolate and caramel.

Taste test: Hey, look! This one is pretty grim too! It’s a bland, vaguely-sweet mess of a shake, with added peanut flavour.

Buy from Protein Pick And Mix | £24.99 for 875g

Myprotein Clear Whey Isolate

Once it’s been pointed out to you, it does seem odd that after a sweaty workout you drink a thick, milky protein shake. Myprotein’s far less viscous Clear Whey Isolate offers a positively refreshing alternative, with flavours like mojito and peach tea. There’s 20g of protein in a 25g serving, which is sourced from hydrolysed whey isolate.

Rainbow candy taste test: While the shake produced from the powder isn’t wholly clear, it lives up to its billing as a refreshing post-workout treat. The rainbow candy flavour was fruity and a little sour – an all-round delight in other words. The powder mixed quickly, though a few lumps were left floating on the surface.

Buy from Myprotein | £19.99 for 500g

Supreme Nutrition Diet Whey

The calorie count in this shake is low at 123 per 30g serving, but that’s not the only reason for the “diet” claim in its name – it also includes fat-burning ingredients like green tea extract and acetyl L-carnitine. Indeed it proudly boasts of containing the equivalent of five cups of green tea per serving, which seems like a lot of green tea in one go. Alongside all that green tea there’s 23.4g of protein, which is sourced from whey concentrate.

Strawberries and cream taste test: This ended up a little lumpy despite vigorous attempts to shake it into submission, but the taste was pleasant enough and avoided the cloying sweetness that arises from going full strawberry. Never go full strawberry.

Buy from Supreme Nutrition | £34 for 1kg

One Pro Nutrition Whey Protein + Collagen

We know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Why on Earth is there collagen in this protein powder? Is that a thing?” Well, according to One Pro, collagen helps ensure a speedier recovery after a workout, and strengthens your ligaments as well. There are other unorthodox additions, which include acai and goji berries for extra vitamins and minerals, and lactospore bacteria to boost gut health. There is 24g of protein in a 35g serving, and a mere 3g of sugar in a serving, with stevia also used to sweeten the shake.

Strawberry taste test: There’s nothing especially dramatic to report here, but no news is good news – the shake mixes easily and has a pleasant taste. Lovely.

Buy from One Pro Nutrition | £13.99 for five 35g sachets

Myprotein Pro THE Whey+

You know a protein powder means business when “THE” is in capital letters and there’s a plus sign involved. To be fair, only the best ingredients have been used, with a mix of isolate and hydrolysed whey and micellar casein providing a mighty 26g of protein in each 32g serving. Myprotein also uses “beadlets” for a phased delivery of the BCAAs in the powder for maximum impact on muscle growth.

Chocolate brownie taste test: The good news is that it mixed quickly in water with no lumps, and while the texture was a little grainy once mixed it wasn’t unpleasant. The chocolate brownie flavour was as similar to the real thing as you could feasibly expect and the taste could be made even richer if mixed with milk.

Buy from Myprotein | £35.99 for 960g

Bulk Powders Pure Whey Protein

If you’re on the hunt for a bargain look no further than Bulk Powders’ whey powder, which comes in a massive variety of favours, including novel options like tiramisu, and packs 24.2g of protein into a 30g serving. The 82% whey concentrate isn’t as pure as you’ll find in more expensive options, but there are 5.3g of BCAAs in a serving, and sugar is kept low at 1.5g, with sucralose used to sweeten the mix.

Buy from Bulk Powders | £11.99 for 500g (currently reduced to £7.79)

Precision Engineered Whey

Hydrolysed whey, concentrate and isolate are all used to create this powder, which delivers 19g of protein per 24g serving. The sugar count is kept down to 1g per serving, with a stevia-based sweetener used instead.

Birthday cake taste test: A whole lot of that stevia-based sweetener must have gone into the mix, because this is a very sweet drink. The powder mixes well with only a small amount of water needed per serving (we got by on 125ml) and the texture is smooth. The flavour starts out fairly mild but quickly turns cloyingly sweet, but then that’s probably what you’re after if you’re buying a birthday cake-flavoured powder.

Buy from Holland & Barrett | £29.99 for 908g (currently reduced to £13.99)

Natural Nutrients Whey Protein Isolate

This powder uses whey isolate and delivers 24.7g of protein per 30g serving, which is about as good as it gets in terms of protein per gram. There’s 3.2g of leucine in a serving, and 5.6g of BCAAs in total. There’s really nothing else of note in there – fibre and carbs clock in at 0.5g apiece, with stevia used as the sweetener.

Vanila taste test: The powder mixes very easily but the taste tested our tolerance for sweetness to its limits.

Buy on Amazon | £33.99 for 1kg

PhD Smart Protein

The hook with this powder is that the oat flour it contains makes it an excellent ingredient for whipping up a protein-packed baked treat, and it’s also easy to make into a mousse rather than a shake if you prefer a thicker post-workout pick-me-up. Each 30g serving contains 19g of protein and 116 calories, and sucralose is the sweetener used to keep the sugar count low at 0.9g.

Lemon drizzle cake taste test: We assumed this would just taste of lemon, but there is definitely a cake flavour in there as well. It’s a pleasant, if slightly too sweet, taste, while the texture is satisfyingly thick.

Buy on Amazon | From £17.50 for 900g

Kin Nutrition WHEYLESS Whey Protein

This supplement is made with 90% whey isolate and delivers a solid 23g of protein in a 30g serving. Kin has also aimed to set itself apart by adding fibre (via flaxseed powder) and probiotics to aid digestion. It’s a welcome touch, even if the 1.3g of fibre you get in a serving is still pretty measly.

Vanilla taste test: It’s vanilla, Jim, and exactly as we know it. A standard but nonetheless pleasing flavour, although we were a little underwhelmed by the consistency of the powder – even a vigorous shaking left some clumps at the bottom.

Buy from Kin Nutrition | £34.99 for 1kg

SiS Advanced Isolate+

Each 40g serving of the Chocolate Orange flavour of SiS’s Advanced Isolate packs in a massive 32g of protein, including 9g of BCAAs of which 5g is leucine (the amount of protein varies a little with different flavours). The carb count is low at 2.7g per serving (0.9g sugars), though sucralose is used to add some sweetness and there’s a mere 0.9g of fat per serving.

Buy from SiS | £45 for 1kg

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey

ON’s popular Gold Standard Whey provides 24g of protein per 30g serving, with the whey being a easy-to-mix blend of isolate, concentrate and hydrolysed isolate. Each serving contains 5.5g of naturally occurring BCAAs including our old friend leucine, and 4g of glutamine and glutamic acid, which is another supplement that helps support muscle growth. There’s just 1.1g of fat in each 113-calorie serving and 1.8g of carbs. Two artificial sweeteners – sucralose and acesulfame K – are used to counter the lack of sugar.

Buy on Amazon | £45.95 for 2.27kg

Multipower 100% Pure Whey Protein

The whey complex in this protein powder is primarily whey isolate and the powder has been instantised, which makes it easier to mix with water. The 30g serving contains 24g of protein, including 5.7g of BCAAs. It’s low in fat at 1.3g per serving and carbs at 1.4g per serving, and the sweeteners used are sodium cyclamate, sodium saccharin and acesulfame K.

Buy on Amazon | £25.45 for 900g

Scitec Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Professional

There’s nothing especially novel about this protein powder aside from its impressive range of flavours (kiwi banana, anyone?), but it offers a solid package of 22g of protein per 30g serving. There’s just 2g of fat and 1.4g of carbohydrate in a serving, with the sweetness provided by acesulfame K and sucralose.

Buy on Amazon | £40.99 for 2.35kg

Casein Protein

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein

Micellar casein is used in this premium powder, which is designed to be taken before bed or between workouts to provide a slow release of muscle-building BCAAs. The 30g serving contains 24g of protein including 9.6g of amino acids, and there are seven different flavours available.

Buy from Optimum Nutrition | £17.99 for 450g

Grenade Hydra 6 Protein

This 50:50 blend of whey and casein uses premium forms of both – whey isolate and micellar casein – to provide what could well be the ultimate mix of fast- and slow-absorbing protein. The isolate ensures the drink mixes easily and you absorb the whey rapidly after a workout, while micellar casein is digested more slowly than other forms of casein so you get a sustained hit of protein throughout the day or night. There are 5g of BCAAs and 2.2g of leucine per serving. Sucralose is used to sweeten the mix.

Peanut Nutter taste test: The name might suggest that the flavour is going to be overbearing, but the truth is quite the opposite – the nuttiness is pitched just right. The shake isn’t too thick or stodgy, either.

Buy on Amazon | £38.66 for 1.8kg

SiS Overnight Protein

This powder is a 50:50 mix of whey protein concentrate and milk protein isolate, with the latter being 80% casein and 20% whey. The whey protein is from milk and high in leucine. It’s a treat to drink hot or cold, but if you are going to drink it before bedtime then obviously warm is the way to go. The carbs and fat content is low – 3.1g and 2.3g respectively – but the powder does contain sucralose sweetener.

Buy from SiS | £48 for 1kg

Vegan Protein Powder

SiS Plant20

The 20 in the name refers to the 20g of protein in a 30g serving, with that protein coming from pea, pumpkin and soy sources. Along with avoiding animal products, SiS has eschewed artificial sweeteners with this powder, using plant extract stevia (old news) and fruit extract lucuma (hello!) to add sweetness, restricting the sugar content to 1g per serving

Chocolate mint taste test: Definitely one of the very smoothest mixes we’ve come across in a plant-based powder, with no lumps at all after a swift shake. The flavour was a little thin but pleasant enough, although it does finish with the earthy aftertaste that is a fixture in vegan powders.

Buy from SiS | £30 for 900g

Form Performance Protein

In each 40g serving of this powder you get a mighty 30g of protein, sourced from organic peas, brown rice, hemp and algae. There’s also 5g of glutamine and 5g of BCAAs in a serving alongside one billion CFU (colony-forming units) of probiotics, for all you gut health fans out there. Each serving also only contains 154 calories and 0.1g of sugar, with stevia and thaumatin sweeteners used.

Tiramisu taste test: We momentarily forgot which flavour we were using when we first tried this one and were left baffled as to what it could be. “Sweet coffee” was our best guess, and funnily enough that’s a pretty decent description of the taste of tiramisu, which includes biscuits dipped in coffee. The powder mixed exceptionally well and despite being a little too sweet for us, was pretty nice.

Buy on Amazon | £26 for 520g

Tailwind Nutrition Rebuild Recovery

This vegan recovery powder provides all the protein, carbohydrate and electrolytes you need to get back on your feet after a tough endurance session. There’s 11g of protein and 43g of carbs in a 61g serving, along with 443mg of sodium to replenish what you may have lost through sweat.

Chocolate taste test: You can really taste the electrolytes here, which means the drink is slightly salty, but not unpleasantly so. The powder mixes easily and the drink isn’t too stodgy, making it easy to chug after a long run or cycle.

Buy on Amazon | £35.95 for 911g

Myvegan Vegan Protein Blend

Peas and fava beans are the protein sources in this vegan powder, with the combo ensuring you get a complete protein source. Each 30g serving contains 22g of protein and a mere 102 calories, with steviol glycosides used to provide sweetness in the absence of sugar.

Turmeric latte taste test: The flavour didn’t delight us, being milky and slightly earthy, but to be fair that is how we imagine a turmeric latte to taste, so it will probably hit the mark for fans of the beverage. The powder mixed well, with no lumps at all.

Buy from Myvegan | £14.99 for 500g

Gorilla Juice

The protein in this shake is sourced from brown rice and peas, and there’s 18g in each 25g serving. That’s not all that’s in a serving, however, not by a long shot. Gorilla Juice’s powders also contain 14 different “superfoods,” including chlorella, alfalfa powder and yucca root. So there’s that.

Strawberry shabang taste test: This was a disappointment. The shake was thick and earthy, and the “shabang” in the name oversold the mild strawberry flavour. It wasn’t unpleasant to drink, though – just a little harder to get down than other, less viscous shakes.

Buy from Gorilla Juice | £34.99 for 750g

Bulk Powders Vegan Protein Powder

To ensure you get a complete protein, Bulk Powders has thrown five different sources of it into the mix for this powder – pea, brown rice, pumpkin seed, flaxseed and quinoa flour. The 35g serving contains 22.9g of protein and just 0.5g of sugar, with stevia used as the sweetener.

Apple strudel taste test: You might assume this would just be apple flavour, but there are definitely some strudel notes in there. It was very pleasant indeed, and we were impressed that Bulk Powders has such a good range of flavours, including unexpected treats like this strudel-y shake as well as white choc coconut, because that’s not always the case with vegan powders. However, some marks were lost when it came to texture, which was a little too thick for our liking.

Buy from Bulk Powders | £14.99 for 500g (currently reduced to £11.24)

Supernova Advanced Vegan Protein

There’s all kinds of stuff going on here. Way too much to get your head around, to be honest. The protein is sourced from peas and brown rice, that much we understand, but there’s also a whole load of adaptogens: medical mushrooms like chaga and cordyceps, along with maca and ashwagandha, all of which offer reportedly impressive benefits. We take all of those claims with a pinch of salt, but you get 20g of protein in a serving and all the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth, which is something you can hang your hat on.

Unflavoured taste test: The taste is reminiscent of plaster, but it doesn’t show through when you mix the powder into smoothies or add a couple of shots of espresso into the mix, as you always should when using unflavoured powder. Frankly, we’re not sure we’d trust anyone who drinks unflavoured shakes.

Buy on Amazon | £35 for 480g

Healthspan Elite Complete Vegan Protein

Pea, pumpkin and brown rice proteins are blended in this powder to provide a complete protein that contains all 20 amino acids. There are also added vitamins in the powder, including 100% of your recommended daily intake of B12, which is hard to obtain from food when eating a vegan diet. The powder comes unflavoured but you can add a flavour shot to your order for free. Each 27g serving contains 20g of protein, 100.7 calories, 1.5g fat and 2.8 of carbohydrates.

Buy from Healthspan | £24.99 for 1kg

Stealth Vegan Recovery Protein

This powder contains everything you need to recover from long exercise sessions which makes it ideal for runners and cyclists. Along with the 20g of protein per 50g serving, there’s 19.5g of carbs as well as electrolytes to replace those lost through sweat. The vegan protein is a blend of pea and rice protein, and the sweetener is stevia.

Mint chocolate taste test: The texture is a little thinner than we’d have liked, but that’s the norm with a recovery drink compared to a traditional protein shake. The mint overpowers the chocolate slightly, but that made the shake surprisingly refreshing after a long run in the sun, and the powder mixes very easily with water.

Buy from Stealth | £25 for 660g

Recovery Protein

SiS REGO Rapid Recovery+

A shake that’s packed with nutritional goodies to help you recover after your toughest training days. The hefty 70g serving contains 38g of carbs and 24g of protein (whey concentrate) including 6g of BCAAs. Leucine clocks in at 3g and l-glutamine at 5g per serving.

Lemon taste test: Perhaps surprisingly, after trying a few different flavours of the REGO powder lemon was the clear winner in the taste stakes. The texture is smooth and slightly creamy, and there’s none of the cloying sweetness that often scuppers fruity shakes. The powder also mixes with water without any difficulties.

Buy from SiS | £16 for 490g

Fullsteam Recovery Stak

This powder is designed to help endurance athletes recover after a long, tough workout, providing both carbohydrate and protein to replenish glycogen reserves and help your aching muscles to recover. Each 70g serving contains 17g of protein and 45g of carbs, along with a few other useful extras like vitamin C and choline, an essential nutrient so important that Dolly Parton wrote a song about it. A serving also contains 5g of sugar and we spotted sucralose in the ingredients list as well.

Cookies and cream taste test: The two flavours Fullsteam has opted for – strawberry, and cookies and cream – are liable to fall into the “aggressively sweet” bracket and that was the case here. That said, the powder mixed well with water and it was no great hardship to slurp down a sweet drink after a hard track workout in humid conditions.

Buy on Amazon | £35 for 2.1kg

Best Protein powder for Lean Muscle: Optimum Nutrition Gold Whey Protein Powder

If you’re familiar with products in the sports nutrition world, you shouldn’t be surprised to see that Optimum nutrition product comes highly recommended as a post workout protein powder. They’ve been around for a very long time, and the company has managed to keep a good reputation all this while; which means, their product really works, and this particular one isn’t an exemption.

In comparison to other products on the list; it has the second highest protein yield per serving of 24g. Cholesterol and calcium are actively present in the powder. When it comes to muscle building and recovery, BCAA (branched chain amino acid) is very important. This product boast of 5.5g of BCAA, making it one of the highest proportion amidst in peers.

It also has about 4g of glutamine embedded in it, which helps in preventing muscle wasting and aiding muscle growth.

Aside from having great nutritional benefit, the taste is something to crave for. This product has a superb taste, which is very rare for protein powders that are usually tasteless. Users have great ideas for incorporating the powder into their recipe. The manufacturer also has a recommended recipe to make with the powder.

Taking the product has been shown to reduce muscle aches after the workout. Getting you fully prepared for another session.

If you want to double or triple up on your protein consumption, without having to gulp awful tasting shakes, then this is the right product to go for.

On the negative end, this product uses lots of artificial ingredients, making it unsuitable for those that prefer organic ingredients.

Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss: BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder

BSN is another popular company in the supplement industry, they produce a wide range of protein products in various flavors, targeted towards the specific need of users. Their products are highly remarkable, and they’ve held their good reputation for years. It’s a company you can’t go wrong with.

The protein component of this powder is derived from various sources such as egg albumen, whey protein (isolate and concentrate), Casein as well as glutamine peptide.

In addition to the regular protein ingredient; it has 5g of dietary fiber in its formula. This is to ensure good bowel movement, reduce craving and toxins removal in the digestive tract. As loading up on protein might raise digestion issues; the addition of fiber is something I consider very smart by the manufacturer.

To enhance the taste of the product, various artificial and natural flavors are used. Often, it’s hard to make a good shake (mix) out of most protein powder; they either don’t mix well, or the texture is so coarse, making it difficult to drink sometimes, this product mix well with both water and milk, making it easy to take.

The low calorie is also something worthy of note. A good protein powder is the one with the low amount of carb, you want to get as much protein as possible without having to load up on carb excessively. This product fits the bill.

If you’re not much of an artificial flavor fan, then you would want to explore some other options because the product is heavily flavored; artificially.

Best Vegan Protein Powder: Vega Sport Protein Powder

Vegan-friendly protein powder is not as common as the ones made of inorganic ingredients. This is the first and only vegan certified protein powder on the list. The product is certified as a non-gmo product, and all its ingredients are plant-based.

Like the previously reviewed product, it also has a significant amount of fiber, roughly 3g, to aid digestion and bowel health. Providing 30g of plant-based protein per serving, it compares well with other products in the category, when you factor in the fact that the proteins are plant sourced.

It also contains probiotics, this is a step ahead of other products in the same category as the manufacturer has given more attention to overall health and not just muscle growth.

For improved muscle growth and recovery, it has about 6g of BCAA, which a vital for muscle growth. Other ingredients of note are turmeric extract, black pepper, and Xanthan gum. Although recommended as a post work out drink, many users also use it for meal replacement purpose.

The protein to carb ratio is also close to perfect, as you get only 6g of carb. The cholesterol component is zero! As compared to the optimum nutrition whey protein with the significant amount of cholesterol; this is better.

On the negative end, this product does not mix well as compared to the previously reviewed protein powders.

If you’re a vegan, and you need a good post workout protein powder, this is the best you will find on Amazon as far as protein yield is concerned.

Best Protein Powder for Weight Gain: MusclePharm Combat Powder Advanced Time Release Protein

MusclePharm is a popular company in the supplements market, they have years of experience in producing products that users not only find suitable but equally recommendable. Having years of market research experience goes a long way in designing the appropriate product.

The combat powder has a protein yield of 25g per serving, placing it amidst protein powders with maximum yield. The carb to protein ration is also perfect, at 5g of carb per serving. Although the fiber component is low, at 1g per serving, it is still a better option when compared to other protein powder with no dietary fiber component.

The protein component of the powder is sourced from egg albumin, whey protein (isolate, hydrolysate, and concentrate) and micellar casein.

The powder mixes very well with water or milk, and the taste is good as well. The time release is something unique to the product. It supplies the protein on a need basis rather than digesting it all at once.

This product comes highly recommended for post workout recovery, if you don’t have a huge budget and you want the best, it’s what you would go for on the list.

Best Keto Protein Powder: Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder.

Composed of 100% whey protein isolate, this is slightly different from other forms of product that has been reviewed on the list; in that, other products are made up of protein from varying sources. Although the significance of varying source of protein has not been scientifically proven to have any impact on the effectiveness of the supplements.

The ingredient is made purely of protein, giving 50g of protein per serving. This is the highest on the list; although the claim is highly questionable, as the product is bound to contain some other filler content.

See other low carb protein powders.

It boast of various minerals and vitamins that accumulate to 50% of the daily recommended value of the minerals and vitamins needed by the body.

It also does not contain gluten of any form of lactose. Has a significant amount of BCAA, 5.5g of BCAA in each scoop, and two scoops are recommended per serving; which means you get 11g of BCAA from each serving. It’s the highest amount of BCAA in all products recommended on this list. Although there is no way to verify the authenticity of this claim, aside from the words of the manufacturer. It also contains L-glutamine as well making it a good post workout protein powder for muscle recovery.

Protein powders are beneficial for muscle growth and maintenance. Taking them after the workout will go a long way in improving your recovery rate.

Don’t just buy any powder off the shelf, buy any of the products recommended as the best post workout protein powders because they’ve been tested by thousands of users, most of whom have good things to say about the products.

the best whey protein powdersAmazon

  • High-quality whey protein powders have a taste you can tolerate, pack in maximum protein with minimal extras, and they work well in beverages and baked goods.
  • The Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder is our top pick because it mixes smoothly, tastes great, and only costs three cents per gram of protein.

Whether you are a picky eater, athlete, elderly, or just want to suppress your appetite, boosting your protein intake can help keep your muscles healthy and increase your muscle mass. Whey protein powder is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to add protein to your diet.

Whey protein comes from the liquid left over from the cheese-making process. This liquid is dried into a powder. Since whey is basically the gross, acrid part of milk, the best supplement companies then introduce flavors and sweeteners to the powder while keeping fat, calories, and carbohydrates to a minimum.

There are three main types of whey protein:

  • Whey protein concentrate (WPC): This is a concentrated protein that keeps more of the nutrients.
  • Whey protein isolate (WPI): This is similar to WPC, but most of the carbohydrates, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins have been removed so the powder has a higher percentage of protein.
  • Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH): WPH is considered „pre-digested“ since it breaks down peptides — the building blocks of proteins — to help with quicker absorption.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is about a gram for every three pounds of body weight. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, that would equate to 60 grams of protein per day. Experts suggest taking up to twice that can still produce benefits. However, before you increase your protein intake significantly, you should check with your healthcare professional since people with certain maladies, such as calcium deficiencies or low blood pressure, could experience adverse effects from whey protein.

We recommend buying the whey protein powder you like through Amazon’s „Subscribe & Save“ program if possible since it can save you up to 15%. At any time, you can cancel your subscription. My favorite part about this program is that it automates ordering products that I have to replenish regularly. For instance, if you take a serving of protein powder every day and there are 30 servings in a container, you can have a new tub delivered every month without lifting a finger.

All of the prices quoted in this guide are based on the current nonsubscription price for the most popular flavor and size of the powder. Prices are subject to change, and you can cut the cost of some powders by choosing to subscribe.

To figure out the cost per serving on your own, take the product’s price and divide it by the number of servings in the container. Since the amount of protein per serving varies by brand, it’s also useful to look at the cost per gram of protein. This is easy to calculate by dividing the cost per serving (as calculated above) by the number of grams of protein per serving.

While researching the best whey protein powders, we looked at hundreds of expert and buyer reviews and ratings of dozens of brands. Our guide features powders that have a taste you can stomach, a high protein content, and minimal fat, carbs, and calories.

Here are the best whey protein powders you can buy:

  • Best whey protein powder overall: Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder
  • Best grass-fed whey protein powder: Legion Athletics Whey+ Isolate Protein Powder
  • Best tasting whey protein powder: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder
  • Best fat-free whey protein powder: Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein
  • Best digestion-friendly whey protein powder: Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder

Updated on 5/22/2019 by Les Shu: Updated prices, links, and formatting.

Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.

The best whey protein powders you can buy slides

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The best whey protein powders you can buy slides

  • If you’re looking for a powder that mixes easily and tastes great, Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder is one of the best and most affordable options.

    The Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder not only tastes good and has 24 grams of protein per serving, but it’s also the most affordable option in our guide at 71.4 cents per serving and 3 cents per gram of protein. Each serving also only has 1.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 120 calories.

    There are seven flavors to choose from, including whipped vanilla, molten chocolate, and cinnamon swirl. Cellucor recommends mixing two scoops with five to six ounces of your preferred beverage, but you can adjust the amount of liquid to fit your tastes. The company also suggests mixing the powder with yogurt, oatmeal, and pancakes.

    The Wirecutter test panelists liked the Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey because of taste. The reviewer notes that the texture is smooth, thick, and foamy, although some of its testers found it too sweet. BarBend’s reviewer found it mixed easily, tasted great, and was relatively inexpensive. However, he did note that there is a fair amount of sodium (130 mg) and didn’t like that it has sucralose, an artificial sweetener.

    More than 1,000 Amazon buyers have left positive reviews of the Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey. One reviewer tried several different protein powders, and this is the favorite. He enjoys the taste of cinnamon swirl and found it was excellent in waffles and lattes. He says the smooth consistency is unparalleled by other brands.

    Many other buyers call this the best protein powder they’ve tried. One commenter said the protein was able to help boost her muscle growth and after-workout recovery.

    Pros: Great taste, affordable, mixes smoothly, 24 grams of protein per serving, excellent for baking

    Cons: 130 mg of sodium per serving, contains artificial sweeteners

    Buy the Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder (Whipped Vanilla – 70 Servings) on Amazon for $42.14 (originally $44.36)


  • Legion Athletics Whey+ Isolate Protein Powder is made with milk from grass-fed cows raised on small Irish dairy farms and has minimal added ingredients.

    One 30-gram serving of Legion Whey+ Isolate Protein Powder gives you 22 grams of protein, while only adding 100 calories, one gram of fat, and three grams of carbs to your daily total.

    There is no sugar in this powder. Instead, it’s sweetened with Stevia, a plant-based sugar substitute that is generally considered healthier than artificial sweeteners. The powder is also free of antibiotics, hormones, and GMOs. If you’re not satisfied for any reason, Legion Athletics offers a full refund within 90 days of your purchase date.

    Very Well Fit recommends the Legion Athletics Whey+ Protein Powder because in its tests the consistency of the mix was excellent, and the reviewer didn’t experience any aftertaste. However, she wished the flavor was a bit stronger.

    Best Pre-Workout for Women also complained about how this powder tasted, but the reviewer still recommends it because of the short ingredient list and the high protein content.

    About 85% of the people who reviewed the Legion Athletics Whey+ Protein Powder on Amazon gave it 5 stars. The most common comment from buyers is that they appreciate how few calories are in it and that there’s no sugar. Many buyers of the chocolate peanut butter flavor say that they like the taste. They say it’s similar to chocolate milk with telltale protein notes to it. One reviewer appreciated that it was a healthy way to satisfy chocolate cravings.

    Comments about the price are all over the board suggesting that it regularly fluctuates. So, keep your eye out for good deals.

    Pros: Grass-fed, mixes well, no sugar, low-calorie, 90-day money-back guarantee, lactose-free

    Cons: Expensive, complaints of unsatisfying taste, 180 mg of sodium per serving

    Buy the Legion Athletics Whey+ Isolate Protein Powder (Chocolate Peanut Butter – 30 Servings) on Amazon for $47.47 (originally $49.97)

    Legion Athletics

  • The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder packs 24 grams of protein into each serving and is one of the better-tasting powders according to experts and buyers.

    The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder gets its sweetness from a little bit of sugar (1 gram per serving) and acesulfame potassium, which is an artificial sweetener also known as Ace-K.

    Each serving has 120 calories, a gram of fat, three grams of carbs, and most importantly 24 grams of protein. Optimum Nutrition has also curated a number of recipes in which you can use the powder.

    The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey is The Wirecutter’s top pick for whey protein powders. The reviewer found the powder met safety and accuracy criteria, had a pleasant texture, and tasted the best of the 10 powders in her taste test. Her main complaints are that you have to dig the scoop out of the container and the taste is a bit sweet. Several other expert sites also recommend this brand, including BarBend, NutriProtein Supplement, and USA Home Gym.

    More than 9,000 people have left 4- or 5-star reviews for the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey on Amazon. There are several buyers who say this is the best protein they’ve ever tried.

    However, there are numerous complaints that the formula has changed recently. The most helpful reviewer pointed out that the blend of digestive enzymes was replaced by ingredients like salt and sucralose, an artificial sweetener. Another buyer argued that the formula has not changed for double rich chocolate (and the label backs this up). Yet, he does warn against flavors like cake batter, ice cream, and banana.

    Pros: Tastes good, relatively affordable, safe ingredients

    Cons: Complaints about the formula changing, contains an artificial sweetener

    Buy the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder (Double Rich Chocolate – 5 Pounds) on Amazon for $48.44 (originally $50.99) or for $59.99 on GNC


  • The Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein is a great option if you want as much protein packed into each scoop as possible without extra fat, carbs, or calories.

    Depending on the flavor you choose, the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein fits up to 22 grams of protein into each 25-gram serving.

    It does this with little or no fat or sugar and only 90 calories per serving. The sodium content is also low at 25 mg per serving.

    Labdoor independently tests dozens of whey protein powders, and the site recommends the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate because it scored high in Labdoor’s ingredient safety, nutritional value, and product purity tests. The testers found there were 21.9 grams of protein in every 25-gram serving.

    Fuelboard says this powder provides the best value for his money in his experience. The reviewer notes significant muscle gains after taking 2 or 2.5 scoops per day.

    Approximately 82% of the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate reviews on Amazon are positive. One buyer likes that the powder is easy to mix and tastes great without being too sweet. He also finds the texture to be smooth, and it sat well in his stomach.

    There are a few complaints, though. One reviewer warns buyers to make sure they are getting the whey isolate and not just the whey concentrate. (If you follow our links, you should be fine.) Another buyer complained that the protein she received had different ingredients than what was advertised, so double check before using.

    Pros: Safe ingredients, excellent product purity, a high concentration of bound protein, fat-free, low in sodium

    Cons: Concerns about quality control, contains artificial sweetener

    Buy the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein 2.2 Pounds on Amazon for $27.51-$55 (pricing varies by flavor)


  • If you’ve found protein powders leave your stomach feeling queasy, consider the lactose-free Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder.

    The Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder is not the only lactose-free option on our list — the Legion Athletics powder is also lactose-free — but it’s the only one that uses hydrolyzed isolate protein, which is supposed to help with digestion and absorption.

    Each serving has 25 grams of protein, less than a gram of fat, 120 calories, and 2 grams of carbs, including less than 1 gram of sugar. There are 13 flavors to choose from, including cinnamon bun, fudge brownie, gourmet chocolate, and chocolate coconut.

    Labdoor recommends the Dymatize ISO 100 as one of the best whey protein powders. In its tests, the powder had high scores for nutritional value and product purity, including less than one part per million of six harmful substances. Around 91% of the calories in this powder come from its protein content.

    The reviewer at Best Pre-Workout for Women found the flavors were sweet, bold, and tasted as advertised. Her favorite is the cookies and cream flavor.

    There are more than 3,800 5-star reviews of the Dymatize ISO 100 on Amazon. One reviewer with decades of experience in the pharmacy and biotech fields notes that most supplements are marketing trickery, but for him, this is not the case with Dymatize. He appreciates that it helped with his muscle gains as he lifted and that it didn’t cause him gastrointestinal distress.

    There are a few quality control complaints from a few years ago about foreign objects in the powder and broken seals. The complaints are not found in more recent reviews, though.

    Pros: Lactose-free, 91% of calories are from protein, less than a gram of sugar and fat

    Cons: Complaints of foreign objects found in the powder, contains an artificial sweetener, 160 mg sodium per serving

    Buy the Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder (Cinnamon Bun — 5 Pounds) on Amazon for $60.55 (originally $63.74) or for $29.99 on GNC


1 / 5 Schließen

Maybe you’re a weightlifting fiend. Maybe you’re starting a new workout program that feels like murder. Or maybe you’re just generally a terrible human when it comes to cooking breakfast for yourself. Either way, you’re considering trying a protein shake for breakfast – and whether it’s healthy for you.

Under the right circumstances, protein shakes can be a big boost to your diet – like if you’re a vegan, for example.

Either way, protein powders are not created equal. Here are 7 of our favorite protein powders to add to your morning smoothie and go into the day feeling superpowered (no promises on the cape, though).

1. Vega Sport Performance Protein Vanilla

Vega Sport Performance Protein brings the A-game.

Seriously. It’s 26 grams of protein per serving (for the kids in the back, that’s approaching half your needed protein intake for the day).

Want to know what’s even better?

They use ingredients you can actually see outside of college chemistry. And you can pronounce them.

Like brown rice. And peas. And alfalfa. Looking at you, vegans.

Also, the vanilla flavor doesn’t taste like chalk, which is a major accomplishment for a protein powder.

So, wait, why isn’t this part of your morning protein shake again?

2. Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard

Of course, for those of you who need options, #2 on our list is Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard.

You know, the one with the simple name.

Jokes aside, they’re not kidding about the gold standard part. This is some of the purest whey isolates you’ll find on the market.

You’re looking at three main ingredients:

  1. Whey protein isolate (duh)
  2. Cultured whey protein concentrate (also duh)
  3. Whey peptides (they’re not kidding about the whey)

Plus some other good stuff depending on your flavor of choice. Like cocoa. Because cocoa is obviously the key ingredient to making a successful protein shake for breakfast. Cocoa is a joy.

Oh, and for those of you number-counters, you’re looking at 24 grams of protein and 5 BCAAs per serving.

3. BSN Syntha 6

And now, the one with the actually simple name: BSN Syntha 6.

This is the fancy stuff. Thanks to honesty in marketing, there are actually six types of protein in here.

Count them: whey protein isolate and whey concentrate, calcium caseinate, micellar casein, milk protein isolate, egg albumin and glutamine peptides.

And before you can ask: yes, there is actually a point to having six types of protein in there.

The whole idea is that it’s a time-release powder, because you digest different proteins at different rates.

Whey isolate and glutamine will give your protein shake for breakfast a quick punch, while whey protein concentrate and egg albumin are in the middle of the pack. Milk protein isolate and micellar casein bring up the rear to keep you engaged all day.

4. Gaspari Nutrition MyoFusion Probiotic Series

Any true fitness and nutrition professional will tell you: there’s more to lean muscle than a high protein diet.

Enter: Gaspari Nutrition MyoFusion Probiotic Series.

Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

Besides having a patented protein blend, this powder comes loaded with all the good stuff. Amino acids, for example, and probiotics to help your digestive and immune systems.

It’s a whole picture kind of protein powder.

And it packs the punch to back up your protein shake for breakfast. We’re talking 48 grams of protein, 18 amino acids and 500 million CFU of probiotic bacteria per two scoops.

Oh, and if your head isn’t spinning yet, did we also mention that it tastes great (flavors like chocolate peanut butter and cookies and cream, how bad could it be?)

5. Transparent Labs Protein Series

Actually, the full name is (deep breath) Transparent Labs Protein Series 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein.

Good news for you (not the long name, the grass-fed part).

This powder is sourced entirely from grass-fed cows living their happy cow lives in New Zealand.

Which means the cows that made this protein are healthier than commercial cows, have a better fatty-acid profile and don’t have all the hormones, antibiotics and chemicals that come with commercial cows.

Plus, you get 28 grams of protein without carbohydrates or fat (with a minimum of ingredients that sound like they came out of a mad science lab).

6. Garden of Life Organic Vegan Protein Powder

This one’s for the vegans (and those who want to be a little kinder to those we share this planet with).

Garden of Life Organic Vegan Protein Powder lags behind the others in terms of protein per serving at just 22 grams.

It makes up for it in other areas. It’s packed with vitamins A, D, E, and K and it gives you 3 billion CFU probiotics and enzymes.

The big draw here is for the vegans. It’s organic, gluten-free and vegan-friendly (meaning dairy-free and egg-free), soy-free (an important diversification of the vegan diet) and it uses non-GMO components.

7. ISO 100 Whey Protein Isolate

And, finally, our last contender: ISO 100 Whey Protein Isolate.

Why is it on this list?

Because it’s great muscle fuel, obviously. Also, because it comes with rockstar ratings for quality, taste, and purity.

For your scoop of powder in your breakfast shake, you get 25 grams of protein with 5.5 grams of BCAAs, including 2.7 grams of L-Leucine. It cuts out the extra stuff (carbs, fat, cholesterol, and lactose) to give you a powder that’s gone through a micro-filtration process to make sure you get the best stuff possible.

Also, it comes in 12 flavors like fudge brownie and cinnamon bun, and if that doesn’t make you want to sign up right there, well, you clearly don’t have your priorities in order.

Make Your Best Protein Shake for Breakfast

Ready to start rocking that protein shake for breakfast?

You’ve got a lot of great powders to choose from (and if you need more ideas, try our list of the top protein powders for 2018).

And if you need more ideas to take your fitness to the next level, check out our blog for more posts to get you in the right direction, like our explanation of inulin powder (great for gut health) or when you should be taking creatine (aka the most popular bodybuilding supplement ever).

Often marketed towards athletes and bodybuilders, protein shakes can actually benefit anyone with an active lifestyle or those looking to boost their fitness routine. Humans are fueled by protein, as it makes up almost every part of our bodies and is essential to the muscle recovery process. If you work out regularly, drinking protein shakes in the morning can improve your stamina and speed up the process of rebuilding your muscles.

For those looking to lose weight, it’s important to implement a strict exercise routine, but drinking protein shakes for breakfast can cut down your daily calorie count. Get yourself a reliable shaker bottle and begin implementing these guidelines for adding protein shakes into your morning routine.

20oz Skinny Shaker-Black

Get 15% off your entire order today! Use code: BREAKFAST at checkout.

NOTE* coupon codes are not valid if free gifts are selected.

How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day?

Before replacing your normal morning meal with protein shakes, it’s important to understand how much protein your body needs every day. The general rule of thumb for protein intake is to multiple 0.36 grams of protein by your body weight. For example, if you weigh 185, you should be ingesting 66.6 grams each day. Typically, the average sedentary man should consume 56 grams per day and women should have 46 grams.

However, if you live an active lifestyle, you should be consuming more protein to help with muscle recovery and provide extra energy to power you through your exercise. Depending on your fitness goals, you may want to consume closer to 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, particularly for those looking to build muscle mass.

Determine the purpose of your fitness routine (building muscle, losing weight, etc.) and then calculate your recommended daily protein intake based on your activity level and current body weight. Another way to figure out how much protein you should be consuming is to keep your protein intake to about 20 to 30 percent of your overall calorie intake.

Calorie intake also depends on your body weight and fitness goals. For those trying to lose weight, you’ll want to burn more calories than you consume, which may entail cutting your overall daily calorie intake. However, you still need to meet a minimum number of calories per day to ensure that your body is receiving enough nutrients.

5Pro Natural Whey Protein

Do Use Protein Shakes for Breakfast if You’re Trying to Lose Weight

Replacing your morning meal with a protein shake is a great idea if you’re trying to drop extra pounds. Most protein powders recommend using one scoop of protein per shake, which is usually equal to about 25 grams of protein. If your daily recommended protein intake is 56 grams, this shake could contribute nearly half the necessary protein for the day.

For those trying to lose weight, having a protein shake for breakfast will provide a high level of protein while keeping your breakfast calorie count low. Because you must burn more calories than you consume, this is a good opportunity to cut your calorie intake. Coffee drinkers can also try replacing their morning cup of coffee with a nutritious Protein Coffee shake for an extra boost of energy in their shake.

Don’t Overload on Calories During Other Meals

Protein shakes for breakfast can help you fuel up without packing on calories, but you should still make sure that you’re paying attention to how many calories you consume during other meals. It’s easy to accidentally binge during lunch or dinner and take in more calories than necessary. Don’t ignore your body’s nutritional needs, but also take care not to overconsume.

Do Drink Protein Shakes if You Work Out in the Morning

Many fitness gurus recommend drinking a protein shake before exercising if you’re trying to build muscle. Protein shakes for breakfast can help provide extra strength to push you through a workout and build more muscle. However, it’s also important to consume carbohydrates before a workout as carbs are converted to glycogen, which is essential to powering your body. While many people are tempted to try carb-free diets to lose weight, this can be detrimental to your overall health because of your body’s need for glycogen. Avoid so-called “empty carbs” like white bread and foods with refined sugars, opting instead for nutritious carbs found in wheat bread, quinoa or sweet potatoes.

Don’t Neglect Your Nutritional Needs Post-Morning Workout

If you decide to drink your protein shake for breakfast before a morning workout, it’s important to also fuel your body after exercising. Many fitness experts recommend post-workout protein shakes because it can quicken the process of muscle recovery. You should avoid relying on protein powder as a main source of protein. If you’re using protein shakes as breakfast, you should consume some high-protein food after hitting the gym.

Remember, protein shakes are supposed to be a convenient way to help satisfy your nutritional needs. Don’t get frustrated by making them with a cheap, plastic shaker bottle. Use the best and pick up an Ice Shaker bottle today. They’ll keep your shake cold and frothy, won’t sweat, and won’t absorb odor.

Protein Shake Recipes

  • 20g dark chocolate (85% cocoa)
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 25g scoop whey protein isolate
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 banana
  • 50g porridge oats, soaked in 100ml of water for five to ten minutes

Left to right: Super strawberries, power latte, punchy chocolate peanut, fruit fusion

Super strawberries

One regular strawberry contains 20% of your RDA of recovery-improving vitamin C, which is why this recipe contains five.

  • 1 scoop of strawberry whey protein
  • 5 strawberries, stalks removed
  • 400ml milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • Water, to taste

Power latte

Trade your normal morning coffee for a bonus hit of calcium-heavy almond milk and insulin-regulating cinnamon.

  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein
  • 100ml chilled coffee
  • 300ml almond milk
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • Water, to taste

Punchy chocolate peanut

Like liquid Snickers in a glass (but a lot healthier) with high levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

  • 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein
  • 400ml milk
  • 1tbsp peanut butter
  • 2tsp cocoa powder
  • Water, to taste

Fruit fusion

Winter’s the best time of year to enjoy seasonal citrus fruits, when their levels of health-boosting vitamin A are highest.

  • 1 scoop of plain whey protein
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 400ml pineapple juice
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • Water, to taste

Left to right: Berry blast, energy banana, blue flu fighter

Berry blast

Berries are the ultimate low-fructose fruit – perfect if you’re trying to lose weight.

  • 1 scoop of strawberry whey
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of raspberries
  • 200ml milk
  • Water, to taste

Energy banana

One banana contains 25% of your RDA of brain-boosting vitamin B6.

  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 2tsp honey
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • Water, to taste

Blue flu fighter

A potent antioxidant cocktail that will help stave off illness in the depths of winter.

  • 1 scoop of strawberry whey
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of blackberries
  • 2tsp manuka honey
  • Water, to taste

Left to right: Healthy honey, green and lean, big breakfast

Healthy honey

Keep winter bugs at bay with manuka, a honey with anti-bacterial properties.

  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein
  • 2tsp manuka honey
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 400ml coconut water
  • Water, to taste

Green and lean

Not a fan of greens? Try mixing your kale with delicious vitamin K-rich blueberries.

  • 1 scoop of chocolate whey
  • 2tsp supergreens
  • Handful of kale
  • 1tsp flaxseed oil
  • Water, to taste

Big breakfast

This morning milkshake has four different sources of bulk-building protein.

  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey
  • Handful of porridge oats
  • 1tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 400ml almond milk
  • Water, to taste

Great grape

The grapes are a great source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese and the berries contain plenty of antioxidants, while chia seeds deliver an extra hit of protein.

  • 2 scoops vanilla flavour protein powder
  • Handful of purple grapes
  • Handful of blueberries
  • 1tsp dry chia seeds
  • 1tsp flaxseed oil
  • 120ml of water

Oat-some energy

Anything with bananas and oats is going to be packed with energy making this the perfect pre-workout, energy boosting concoction. As well as energy this shake will help to prevent muscle cramping and sustain your blood sugar too.

  • 2 scoops banana or vanilla-flavoured protein powder
  • 2tbsp of rolled oats
  • 2 bananas
  • 240ml of unsweetened almond milk
  • 120ml of cold water
  • ¼tsp of cinnamon
  • 1tsp of honey
  • 4 ice cubes

Chocolate and peanut butter

Who doesn’t like chocolate and peanut butter together? As well as being a decadent mixture of two milkshake favourites, this recipe is actually good for you. The peanuts are full of good stuff including protein, folate, vitamin E and manganese.

  • 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 banana
  • 2tbsp of good-quality peanut butter (the less sugar the better)
  • 240ml of unsweetened almond milk, skimmed milk or soy milk
  • Ice cubes to taste

Peachy green

A nutrient-rich breakfast smoothie. It’ll come out green and may look fairly unappetising but it will start your day off the right way with a hearty serving of fruit, veg and protein.

  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • Handful of frozen pineapple
  • ½ a banana
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • ½ a frozen peach
  • 240ml of unsweetened almond milk

Great Protein Shake Ingredients

Blueberries Fresh berries sweeten the shake and provide you with antioxidants, which reduce your risk of cancer by mopping up free radicals. Their high fibre content also staves off hunger – and therefore unnecessary snacking – for longer.

Strawberries These are a great source of manganese, a mineral that controls blood sugar levels and reduces the urge to snack. This helps to ensure you don’t undermine all your hard work in the gym with poor food choices as soon as you get out of it.

Nuts Chucking some nuts into the blender won’t just give you an extra protein kick. Brazil nuts, for example, are packed with cancer-fighting selenium and zinc, while cashews are rich in iron, which is vital for energy.

Peppermint Oil The concentrated essence of the sweet herb contains omega 3 fatty acids, thought to improve blood circulation and reduce your risk of a stroke. It can also relieve stomach ache and indigestion.

Oats Not just for your porridge bowl. Oats are a low-GI source of carbohydrates that will help replenish your muscles with glycogen so they recover and grow bigger faster. They also provide a generous dose of zinc for healthy immune function, magnesium to help your muscles relax after training and dietary fibre to aid with digestion and help remove cholesterol.

4 key ingredients for a post-workout shake

1. Skimmed milk If fat loss is your primary fitness focus, blending your protein powder with water instead of milk will keep the calorie count lower and reduce your intake of both sugar and fats. But if you want to increase both muscular size and strength, then add some milk to the mixer. Research shows that taking protein with carbs during the post-workout window hastens muscle recovery thanks to a faster replenishment of glycogen stores.

2. A medium banana Adding a banana to your blender when making a post-workout shake can do wonders for your physique because they’re an excellent source of vitamin B6, which plays a central role in the metabolism of the fats, carbs and protein you eat. A medium banana contains more than one-third of your daily recommended intake of this vital B vitamin, which is also involved in neurotransmitter synthesis and gene expression.

3. Ground cinnamon Adding this spice will keep your blood sugar levels stable, a key consideration when trying to add muscle and lose body fat. Indeed, a study published in the Journal Of Nutritional Science And Vitaminology found cinnamaldehyde, a compound in cinnamon, is involved in the metabolism of fatty visceral tissue (ie your beer belly). So more cinnamon could help reduce the size of your waist.

4. Peanut butter Adding a dollop of organic peanut butter (or other nut butter) – as long as it’s low in added salt or sugar – will (a) transform the taste of your post-workout shake and (b) increase your intake of quality fats, which your body needs for better hormone production, including muscle-building testosterone. Most nut butters are also high in the antioxidant vitamin E, which combats cellular damage caused by training.

Extra supplements

Whey protein is a given for growth – but adding these additional supplements to your shakes will have you operating at full capacity, says nutritionist Ben Coomber

Dextrose Want to build impressive muscle and earn boast-worthy PBs in the gym or on the road? Then buck the low-carb trend. These easily digestible starch powders – maltodextrin is another alternative – are the primary fuel for any exercise. If you’re performing twice in quick succession, such as at a five-a-side football tournament or CrossFit competition, or even simply bulking and in need of extra calories, they’ll be your secret weapon. On long cardio sessions, take 50g per hour after the first hour of action to top up your glycogen stores and avoid hitting the wall.

Shake up a mix of carb powder, electrolytes, creatine and fruit juice with a little honey.

Greens Top up your five-a-day with this veg, fruit and herb dose in powder form. Greens should be a travel staple alongside your sun cream and passport: their potent antioxidant qualities protect your immunity from the added stress of missing home comforts and the toxins produced by the stress of travel (and besides, most of us aren’t great at getting lots of vegetables and fruit in on holiday). Basically they’re packed with nutritional benefits, helping you towards a high-functioning, healthy body and maximising your fat loss potential.

Sprinkle a 10g dose in with chocolate whey protein, coconut water and desiccated coconut.

So you wanna start drinking protein shakes, but don’t know where to begin?

You’re in luck, because I’ve been drinking protein shakes for years and today I’m sharing with you all my secrets (ah…most of them).

With Part 2 of our Ultimate Guide to Protein, I’ll teach you:

  • Are protein shakes good for you?
  • How much protein do I need every day?
  • What’s the best protein supplement to buy?
  • How to use protein powder
  • How to make protein shakes taste better
  • Should I drink my protein before or after my workout?

Make sure you also check out Part 1: “How Much Protein Do I Need to Eat Every Day?“

With this knowledge and an awesome blender (which we talk about right here), you can make protein shakes part of your everyday routine.

Let’s get ready to shake things up!

Protein 101: Are Protein Shakes Good For You?

Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps our body rebuild muscle and is an important part of daily nutrition (“duh, Steve,” you say).

You can get protein from any number of real food sources, and you should prioritize real food in your diet (also, “duh Steve”):

  • Chicken, duck, other fowl
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Legumes (beans)
  • Eggs
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts
  • Milk

However, there are PLENTY of instances where you might want to also supplement your food with a protein shake or protein powder (here we go):

  • You struggle to consume the recommended amount of protein every day (I cover this below!).
  • You are a skinny person that needs to bulk up and need more calories in your daily intake!
  • You are trying to lose weight and want to replace one unhealthy meal with a meal-replacement protein shake.
  • You crave the convenience of a protein shake in place of preparing yet another meal.

In these instances, protein supplements or protein shakes can be awesome!

But don’t just take my word for it. A systematic review of studies revealed:

“Protein supplementation may enhance muscle mass and performance when the training stimulus is adequate.”

Another study showed that among endurance athletes:

“The addition of protein may help to offset muscle damage and promote recovery.”

What this means in regular people terms: If you are strength training correctly and eating the right way, consuming enough protein will help you build muscle and perform better!

And “enough protein” can include protein supplements and protein powders.

Just remember that protein shakes are not a panacea for all of your ailments:

They are NOT required for being healthy, they MIGHT help you lose weight, and they should only SUPPLEMENT (zing!) a healthy diet, not be expected to do all the “heavy lifting.”

You still need to be eating well, following a strength training routine, and getting enough sleep.

If you’re not sure HOW to strength train, don’t worry – I got you covered. You can download our Strength Training 101 guide when you join the Rebellion (it’s free) and sign up in the box below:

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!

  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

How Much Protein Do I Need Every Day?

This section is taken from our guide “How Much Protein Do I Need to Eat Every Day?“

Despite what advertisements for protein supplements will tell you, you do not need to be eating 500 grams of protein every day.

They like to tell you this so that you use their supplement faster and need to buy more.

Here’s the real deal: claims for the amount of protein needed vary wildly from source to source (and athlete to athlete, and nerd to nerd). You are a unique snowflake and your protein goals should be aligned with your goals.

You want specific numbers, right?

Although the current international Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.4g per pound of bodyweight (0.8 g per kg of body weight), this study shows that this number is too low and should be higher regardless of your body composition.

You just want me to tell you how much to eat, right? I figured.

As points out in their heavily researched summary on protein:

  • If you’re overweight or obese, aim for 1.2–1.5 g/kg (0.54–0.68 g/lb). You do not need to try to figure out your ideal body weight or your lean mass (a.k.a. fat-free mass). Most studies on people with obesity report their findings based on total body weight.
  • If you’re of healthy weight, active, and wish to lose fat, aim for 1.8–2.7 g/kg (0.82–1.23 g/lb), skewing toward the higher end of this range as you become leaner or if you increase your caloric deficit (by eating less or exercising more).
  • If you’re of healthy weight, active, and wish to build muscle, aim for 1.4–2.4 g/kg (0.64–1.09 g/lb).
  • If you’re an experienced lifter on a bulk, intakes up to 3.3 g/kg (1.50 g/lb) may help you minimize fat gain.

“Steve, just tell me what to do:”

Fine. Not knowing ANYTHING about you, here are some daily numbers you can start with:

  • If you are an athlete or actively working on building your physique, consume 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight (2.2g per kg).
  • If you are sedentary, aim for 0.8g of protein per pound of bodyweight (1.6g of protein per kg).

These are starter numbers that you can start to experiment around as you see your body transforms. As Examine points out in its research on protein, “higher protein intakes seem to have no negative effects in healthy people,” so aim for the higher end of the spectrum depending on your goals and adjust from there.

Long story short: Consuming protein is an important part of life for everybody, both the sedentary and the athlete:

  • By consuming enough protein while bulking up, you can ensure muscle growth during a bulk with minimal fat gain.
  • By consuming enough protein while eating a caloric deficit and strength training, you can maintain the muscle mass you have while losing body fat (you might even be able to build muscle while losing fat simultaneously).

I personally consumed a significant amount of protein (240g of protein at a bodyweight of 190 pounds) during a recent “lean out” phase, and it allowed me to cut bodyfat while getting stronger and without feeling hungry.

In summary, a major portion of your plate each day should be a source of protein.

If you are struggling to hit your target protein goal for the day through real food sources, then consider adding a protein supplement.

You still need to have the right systems, the right nutritional strategy, and the right workout in place, and THEN a protein shake might help you reach your goals a bit faster.

To help busy people like you not waste their time in the gym, and help them actually get results, we created our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

Your NF Coach will build you a custom workout program and provide nutritional guidance for your specific situation.

Find out if we’re a good fit for each other by clicking on the image below:

What’s the Best Protein Supplement to Buy?

When it comes to buying a protein powder or picking a protein shake, you’re going to encounter a few options:

1) Whey protein is the most popular, readily available, and cheapest protein supplementation out there. Whey contains all the essential amino acids, and is one of the byproducts of milk that has been curdled and strained. It comes in both “concentrate” and “isolate” forms. Whey is more quickly absorbed by the body compared to its counterpart casein(next), which makes it a great solution for right before/after a strength training workout.

2) Casein protein is the other byproduct of milk and also contains all essential amino acids. Because it’s more slowly absorbed by the body than whey, many people consume casein before bed assuming it’ll result in improved muscle growth during sleep! However this study shows that total consumption of protein during a day is more important than protein timing!

3) Egg protein powders are made from, you guessed it, the protein in eggs – which means they may be a great alternative if you can’t use whey or casein for whatever reason.

Quick recap: whey and casein proteins both come from milk, and both can help rebuild muscle. Whey is more readily absorbed by your body and is usually less expensive than casein, which makes it our preferred form of protein for cost and ease of consumption. I personally find casein protein less palatable, mixes worse, and is less enjoyable compared to whey.

So don’t worry about timing whey for post workout and casein for sleep. Pick the one you enjoy and focus on getting enough protein in a day – that will get you 99.% of the way there to building muscle in the right places!

IF YOU ARE PLANT BASED: these are our recommendations for plant protein powders (from our guide to eating a Plant-Based Diet):

  • Pea protein. A solid choice for vegan protein powder comes from peas, specifically the high protein yellow split pea. A quarter cup (28 grams) will get you about 21 grams of protein, and run you about 100 calories. There’s some evidence it might be comparable to whey in building muscle. NAKED Nutrition offers a great 100% pea protein powder you can check out.
  • Rice protein. A quarter cup of rice protein will contain 22 grams of protein and run 107 calories. Not too shabby. Plus, when you combine it with pea protein, you’ll end up with a complete amino acid profile needed for human growth. A good brand to look into would be Growing Naturals.
  • Hemp protein. While it doesn’t have as much protein as pea or rice (one cup will have 12 grams of protein and 108 calories), what it lacks in this department it makes up for in its nutrient profile. Hemp protein is derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant, but it’s bred in such a way that it won’t have any THC. What it will provide you with though is a decent source of iron, zinc, and omega-3s, which are all things vegans tend to be deficient in. Nutivia sells a good hemp protein if you are interested.

What about Soy Protein? Soy is a complicated beast, though in our opinion the fears around soy are overblown.

As Examine points out in its review of soy protein supplementation:

“Whey protein was absorbed more quickly than soy protein, and stimulated muscle protein synthesis by roughly two times the amount that soy supplementation did. However, no differences in overall body composition was observed between the groups.”

In other words, you do you, boo. If you consume soy and are struggling to hit your protein goals, consuming a soy supplement can help. If you are unsure on soy, consider getting your protein supplementation from any of the other sources above!

Now, regardless of what protein you pick what you need to know about protein shakes based on the collective wisdom of the 15 full-time coaches on Team Nerd Fitness:

  1. When buying protein powders, buy a product with minimal other ‘stuff.’ Aim for one that starts with “whey protein concentrate” or “whey protein isolate” on the ingredients label, followed by a small number of ingredients – one of which will probably be “artificial or natural flavorings.”
  2. Pick a flavor that you like! Protein powders generally come in multiple a few flavors: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, etc. I’m as plain as they come, so vanilla protein is my jam.
  3. Make sure to look at the ingredients and find one from a reputable brand. Always do your research even if it is one of the most popular brands (such as Muscle Milk). Some of these have had metals such as arsenic found in them.
  4. Many popular protein powders are just not great in terms of meeting their promises. Check out this lab rating’s review of “high quality” protein powders that meet this Reddit protein powder measurement results thread. There’s lot of fraudulent stuff out there, so make sure you keep your Sherlock Holmes hat on when shopping!

Specific protein brand recommendations: Over the past 15 years of training, I’ve tried dozens of protein powders, and I keep coming back to 2 brands that fit my style and budget:

  1. Jay Robb’s Grassfed Whey Protein: my current favorite and absolutely delicious (I go with Vanilla)…but VERY expensive. This comes from grass-fed cows, and thus is much more difficult to come by. I find it to be the best mixing protein powder I’ve ever tried, and also the best tasting.
  2. Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein: The whey I used for years (my former favorite). Optimum Nutrition is well known in the fitness space, and I used their product for close to a decade without issue. If you are on a tighter budget and can’t afford grassfed whey protein, go with Optimum Nutrition.

How to use Protein Powder (How Do You Make Protein Shakes Taste Better?)

The back of every protein powder jug will tell you “mixes great with 8 oz of water!”

For some protein powders, this is true.

For others, it’ll taste like you’re choking down recently mixed concrete.

Note: do not consume readily mixed concrete. You’re welcome.

So Step #1 with your newly purchased protein powder is to mix it with water and see how it tastes.

By mixing just the protein and water, you’re adding minimal calories to your daily intake while also increasing your protein intake for the day.


NOW, depending on your caloric goals or if you’re looking to make a meal replacement shake, you can start to experiment and make your own protein shakes by doing the following:

  • Add fruit: bananas, strawberries, blueberries – look for the frozen berry medleys in your grocery store.
  • Add a serving of veggies: blend in frozen spinach – you can’t even taste it!
  • Try a different liquid: almond milk, reduced calorie orange juice, skim milk or whole milk.
  • Healthy calories: peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter.
  • Seeds like chia seeds or sunflower seeds.

Just pretend like you’re a scientist and you’re creating a different concoction each time. Write down your ingredients and amounts until you find the perfect blend (heyo) of macros and taste that fits your goal!

HUGE CAVEAT: your body still obeys the laws of thermodynamics. Just because you call it a “healthy smoothie” doesn’t mean the 1,000 calories in it don’t count!

If you can’t lose weight, you’re eating too many calories, which means you should be aware of how many calories are going into your quickly-consumed protein shake.

Now, if your goal is bulking up or building muscle – then creating your own high calorie protein shake is a great way to get extra calories into your day.

I am currently bulking up, so here is my patented post-workout shake that I consume daily (okay it’s not really patented).


Here’s the macronutrient and caloric breakdown of that shake: 795 calories, 68g of protein, 106g of carbs, 13g of fat:


For over a decade, I simply used a cheap blender like this on Amazon!

Depending on your budget, you can also go to your local Walmart, Target, Kroger, Publix, Sam’s Club, Stop & Shop, etc. and buy a blender for 20 bucks.

I will say that as I’ve gotten older and had more disposable income I have become a Vitamix fanboy. They are expensive, but you get what you pay for.

I’ve probably burned the motors out of 10+ cheap blenders, and since switching to a Vitamix it’s been crushing my powerbomb shake ingredients twice a day in seconds.

If you have the money, it’s worth the investment.

Your other option is to buy a cheap shaker bottle (here’s the kind I use). Personally, I’ve found that these things don’t mix nearly as well as a blender, but if you’re traveling with no blender option available, a shaker bottle can be really helpful.

Note: if you are using a shaker bottle, pour the water in first, THEN add the protein shake! Here’s my “stay healthy while traveling” strategy for protein:

  • Measure out 2 servings of protein powder and put in sealed plastic bag.
  • Put sealed plastic bag in empty shaker bottle.
  • When ready to consume, remove plastic bag of protein and add water to bottle.
  • THEN, add protein.

If you put the protein in first, I can guarantee no amount of shaking will get all of that protein mixed into the liquid!

Should I Drink My Protein Shake before or after my workout?

Conventional wisdom tells us that we need to be consuming our protein shake IMMEDIATELY after our workout for maximum gains.

It also tells us that we need to be consuming protein every few hours for maximum protein synthesis by our muscles too.

But what does the science actually say?

According to this abstract:

“In general, protein supplementation pre-AND post-workout increases physical performance, training session recovery, lean body mass, muscle hypertrophy, and strength. Specific gains, differ however based on protein type and amounts.”

And in this extract:

“These results refute the commonly held belief that the timing of protein intake in and around a training session is critical to muscular adaptations and indicate that consuming adequate protein in combination with resistance exercise is the key factor for maximizing muscle protein accretion.”

WHAT THIS MEANS: The amount of protein you consume in a day is more important than the timing of your protein with regards to muscle building. Consuming a protein shake before OR after a workout will result in increased physical performance and muscle hypertrophy – provided you’re training the right way!

If you need to train and then head to work and you can’t eat your protein until later in the day, do what works best for you!

Some people might hate training on an empty stomach, so consuming the protein shake before the workout is beneficial.

I personally train in a fasted state (which we cover in our Guide on Intermittent Fasting), so I don’t consume my protein shake until after my workout.

So, stop worrying about protein timing and instead put your focus on training, total calories, and getting enough protein in the day itself.

Not sure if you’re training right?

Consider working with a Nerd Fitness coach who can build you a training program and help guide you on your nutrition!

Getting Started Drinking Protein Shakes

Let’s recap some of the key points of drinking protein shakes for you:

  1. Protein supplements can SUPPLEMENT a healthy diet, but should not replace it.
  2. My recommendation is to buy a tub of Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein online if you’re on a tighter budget, in whatever flavor you like.
  3. If you have more money, consider the Jay Robb’s Grassfed Whey Protein (my favorite).
  4. Consider mixing in a protein shake before or after your workout. Timing isn’t as important as total protein consumed over the course of a day when it comes to building muscle and recovery.
  5. Think of a shake as a way to get good protein when you can’t afford/don’t have time to make a good meal.
  6. A cheap blender will suffice if you don’t have other options, but if you have more of a budget I would recommend getting a Vitamix – you’ll have it for the next 30 years.

Hopefully, this should get you started! Feel free to try out different flavors and combinations of ingredients in your smoothies to make them something you actually look forward to!

Do you have any favorite protein shake recipes?

Any more questions about protein powders and supplements?

Share them with us in the comments!


PS: Don’t forget to read Part 1 of our Ultimate Guide to Protein if you haven’t already!

PPS: Still overwhelmed? Still not sure you’re training right or eating correctly? Want to know which supplements are worth it and which ones are a waste of money?

I hear ya.

These questions and people like you are why we launched our 1-on-1 Coaching Program: to help busy people cut through the noise and just start building muscle, getting leaner, and feeling better.

Click below to schedule a call to learn more:

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In order to help you find a good product, we’ve researched & compared the best post workout supplements on the market right now.

10 Best Post Workout Products Compared

ⓘ If you buy something after visiting a link below, we get a commission.

1. Post JYM Active Matrix

Post JYM Active Matrix is packed full nutrients to help your body to deal with the impact of an intense workout. It contains BCAAs to fuel muscle promote muscle growth and repair, glutamine to accelerate recovery and betaine to improve strength. With 4 patented ingredients – CarnoSyn beta-alanine, CarniPure L-carnitine L-tartrate, CON-CRET Creatine and BioPerine, this fantastic product is one of the most scientifically-advanced post workout supplements on the market today.


  • 8 ingredients, selected based on solid science
  • 6g BCAAs in a 3:1:1 ratio for muscle growth
  • 3g glutamine for accelerated recovery
  • Taurine for a physical and psychological boost
  • Only 1g sugar per serving
  • Available in 6 great fruit flavors

What’s in it: One serving contains:

Who makes it: Post JYM Active Matrix is made by JYM Supplement Science, a company founded by revolutionary athlete Jim Stoppani. All JYM Supplement Science products are developed by combining real science with top quality ingredients. JYM Supplement Science products are made by athletes, for athletes, so you can be sure that they are safe and effective.

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon

2. Cellucor Alpha Amino

Cellucor Alpha Amino is a highly effective and popular post workout drink mix. Designed by industry leaders, Alpha Amino is formulated to give your muscles the amino acids they crave to fuel recovery, as well as electrolytes and other ingredients to improve hydration.


  • 14 powerful amino acids
  • 2:1:1 BCAA ratio
  • Powerful hydration blend with chia seed, coconut and HydroMax
  • Available in 5 tasty flavors
  • High quality ingredients
  • Great value for money

What’s in it: One serving contains:

  • 5g BCAA matrix, consisting of branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
  • 5g amino acid complex, consisting of glutamine, alanine, arginine, and many other powerful amino acids.
  • 5g hydration formula, consisting of taurine, raw coconut water powder, chia seed and more.

Who makes it: Alpha Amino is made by Cellucor, one of the largest and most respected brands in the industry. Cellucor has a large line of fitness products, including the popular C4 pre-workout products. Founded in 2002, Cellucor has grown exponentially, and today, this award-winning company has developed a huge following of loyal customers and a wide selection of highly effective products.

Full Breakdown: Cellucor Alpha Amino Review

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon

3. Evlution Nutrition Recover Mode

Recover Mode by Evlution Nutrition is a post workout cocktail, designed to help your body to recover faster, rebuild muscle damaged during intense training, improve strength and develop endurance. 5g of the highest-quality BCAAs available, plus recovery and energy boosters and natural energizers make this product a fantastic addition to your nutritional regime.


  • Ultra-premium BCAAs in 2:1:1 ratio
  • 4 key ingredients to boost energy and recovery
  • 3 natural energizers
  • Zero carbs
  • Zero calories

What’s in it: One serving contains:

  • 5g BCAAs (2.5g Leucine, 1.25g Isoleucine, 1.25g Valine)
  • 3g L-Glutamine
  • 2.5g Creatine Monohydrate
  • 750mg Patented Creatine HCI
  • 6g CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine
  • 5g Betaine Anhydrous
  • 1g L-Carnitine L-Tartrate
  • 1g L-Taurine
  • 1g Calci-K (Calcium Potassium Phosphate Citrate)
  • 90mg Vitamin C
  • 500 IU Vitamin D
  • 60 IU Vitamin E
  • 180mg Calcium
  • 90mg Phosphorous
  • 150mg Chloride
  • 170mg Sodium
  • 150mg Potassium
  • 3mg Black Pepper Extract

Who makes it: Recover Mode is made by Evlution Nutrition, a US company with a great reputation in the nutritional supplement field. Evlution Nutrition offers a military discount on all its products and free 2-day shipping on all orders over $49.

Bottom line: Recover Mode is streets ahead of most other post workout supplements. Not only does it include BCAAs, glutamine and creatine like most post workout supplements, but also provides massive amounts of vitamins to boost your immune system right when it’s at its most vulnerable.

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon

4. SciVation Xtend BCAAs

SciVation Xtend BCAAs is a supplement designed to be used during your workout to help you get a jump-start on recovery. It combines BCAAs and other recovery ingredients with slow and fast releasing carbs.


  • Taken during your workout
  • 7 grams of BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio
  • Added glutamine, citrulline and electrolytes
  • Slow and fast-releasing carbohydrates

What’s in it: One serving contains:

Who makes it: Xtend BCAA is made by SciVation, a small but rapidly growing company in the sports nutrition industry. SciVation’s stated goal is to “build better bodies through science and innovation”. Their supplements are developed by industry professionals to provide the tools needed for optimal results, without any of the junk found in lower-quality products.

Full Breakdown: SciVation Xtend Review

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon


Amino X is a powerful instantized recovery supplement made by BSN. As the first instantized effervescent amino acid supplement available, Amino X takes post workout nutrition to a whole new level. This powdered supplement mixes instantly, providing a 10g serving of micronized amino acids in each scoop. It’s instantized formula makes it very easy to prepare and take. It can be used at any time, since it doesn’t contain sugar or caffeine.


  • 10g of amino acids per serving
  • Absorbs instantly in the body
  • No caffeine or sugar – use anytime!
  • Easy to mix
  • Great flavor options

What’s in it: One serving contains:

  • 10g anabolic amino acid interfusion, consisting of leucine, valine, isoleucine, alanine, taurine, and citrulline.

Who makes it: Amino X is made by BSN, a large-scale manufacturer in the fitness supplement industry. For many years, BSN has been at the cutting edge of the industry, producing innovative and effective products for a wide variety of uses. They have received several awards, and have built up a solid base of loyal fans and customers.

Full Breakdown: BSN Amino X Review

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon

6. Jacked Factory GROWTH SURGE

GROWTH SURGE is designed with bodybuilders in mind. It is specifically formulated to accelerate recovery and make full use of the anabolic window – the period straight after exercise when your muscles are primed to receive amino acids and other nutrients. It contains 4 powerful nutrients, designed to flood your muscle with all they need for growth, right when they’re primed to receive it.


  • Contains 4 powerful ingredients to promote recovery and build lean muscle
  • Designed to help you recover faster and come back stronger
  • Manufactured in the USA
  • Manufactured in a GMP facility
  • 100% money back guarantee

What’s in it: One serving contains:

  • 5mg BioPerine Black Pepper Extract
  • 3g Creatine Monohydrate
  • 5mg Betaine Anhydrous
  • 2g L-Carnitine L-Tartrate

Who makes it: GROWTH SURGE is made by Jacked Factory, a US company that aims to offer highly effective formulations made with cutting-edge ingredients. Jacked Factory aims for perfection in all of its products, just like you aim for perfection in all of your workouts. Jacked Factory offers free US shipping on orders over $49 and free international shipping on orders over $149.

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon

7. Vintage Labs Vintage Build

Vintage Build by Vintage Labs is a 3-in-1 essential muscle builder. It contains absolutely everything your body needs after an intense workout to maximize muscle gains. BCAAs provide the building blocks for new muscle, creatine helps to boost strength and L-glutamine can accelerate recovery. This product is designed to help you to recover quickly from even the toughest workouts, ready for the next one.


  • Combines 3 powerful increase to accelerate recovery and help to build lean mass
  • Easy-mix powder
  • Great tasting
  • No artificial flavours or sweeteners
  • Made in a GMP facility
  • Third-party tested

What’s in it: One serving contains:

  • 5g BCAAs (2.5g Leucine, 1.25g Isoleucine, 1.25g Valine)
  • 3g Creatine Monohydrate
  • 2g L-Glutamine
  • Stevia
  • Natural flavorings

Who makes it: Vintage Build is made by Vintage Labs, one of the fastest growing sport-supplement brand on Vintage Labs is committed to bringing the highest quality products to its customers. Vintage Labs products are manufactured in the USA, in accordance with strict FDA regulations, so you can be sure that any supplement you purchase is top-quality.

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon

8. MHP Dark Matter

Dark Matter is a unique and effective after-workout supplement made by MHP. Dark Matter is formulated to stimulate protein synthesis and glycogen replacement in the body as quickly as possible. With amino acids, creatine, and much more, Dark Matter covers many of the essential ingredients for post workout nutrition.


  • Contains amino acids, creatine and more
  • Absorbs rapidly

What’s in it: One serving contains:

  • Protein synthesis accelerator complex, consisting of BCAA’s leucine, isoleucine and valine in a 10:1:1 ratio.
  • Glycogen replenishment complex, consisting of glucose polymers, waxy maize, insulin amplifiers, and more.
  • Creatine complex, consisting of creatine monohydrate, creatine magnapower, and more.

Who makes it: Dark Matter is made by MHP, otherwise known as Maximum Human Performance. Since 1997, MHP has been dedicated to setting new standards in the industry, through science and innovation. While not as large as some of the industry giants on this list, MHP is a good company with a track record of developing useful, high-quality supplements.

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon

9. Optimum Nutrition Essential AmiN.O. Energy

Essential AmiN.O. Energy is a powerful and effective post workout supplement, made by Optimum Nutrition. Combining amino acids with beta-alanine, green tea extract, and more, this product makes an excellent post workout recovery shake, and can also be used during your workout.


  • Provides essential amino acids
  • Contains 5g micronized free-form amino acids
  • Added beta-alanine
  • Added green tea extract and green coffee extract
  • Zero fat and sugar
  • Only 10 calories per serving
  • Available in 9 tasty flavors
  • Great for a post workout shake or a intra-workout one
  • Can be used at any time pre- or post workout

What’s in it: One serving contains:

  • 5g amino acid blend, consisting of taurine, arginine, leucine, beta-alanine, valine, and many more.
  • 160mg energy blend, consisting of green tea extract and green coffee extract.
  • 50mg caffeine per serving.

Who makes it: AmiN.O. Energy is made by Optimum Nutrition. Founded in 1987, Optimum Nutrition has risen through the ranks of the fitness supplement industry to become one of the most respected brands out there. Their Gold Standard line of fitness supplements has won countless awards through the years, and they have developed a well-earned reputation for producing quality and innovative products.

Full Breakdown: ON Essential AmiN.O. Energy Review

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon

10. Universal Nutrition Torrent

Universal Nutrition Torrent is a complete post workout supplement that combines free form amino acids with advanced creatines, whey protein, and more, Torrent provides a balanced blend of post workout nutrition to help you maximize the results of your exercise efforts. The addition of creatine and whey protein concentrate make it easy to stop taking those products individually, and simplify your workout stack.


  • Contains hydrolyzed whey protein
  • Contains free-form amino acids
  • Contains a full dose of advanced creatines
  • Great tasting fruit flavors

What’s in it: One serving contains:

  • 8g anti-catabolic leucine complex, consisting of L-leucine, leucine alpha ketoglutarate, leucine ethyl ester, and more. This blend provides much-needed leucine.
  • 7g volubolic amino blend, consisting of taurine, glutamine, citrulline malate, and more. Provides the amino acids your body needs.
  • 3g creabolic complex, consisting of creapure, magnesium creatine chelate, and creatine gluconate.
  • 20g protein, consisting of partially hydrolyzed whey protein concentrate. Provides a solid dose of easily-absorbed whey protein concentrate.

Who makes it: Torrent is made by Universal Nutrition, a large sports nutrition company founded in 1977. In their nearly 40 years in the industry, Universal Nutrition has grown into a dominant force in the industry. They offer a huge line of fitness supplements, designed by professionals to suit the needs of fitness enthusiasts from all walks of life.

Where to Get It

Buy on Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions About Post Workout Supplements

Why is Post Workout Nutrition Important?

About 1-2 hours before your workout, you’ll want to eat a balanced meal consisting of plenty of protein and carbohydrates, which will give you the fuel you need for a successful workout. After exercising, you should consume a balanced meal to help meet post workout nutrition standards. post workout nutrition is very important.

During exercise, your body exerts itself to the extreme. It burns tons of calories, uses water to cool itself down, and depletes its stores of amino acids and other nutrients in order to build and protect muscle. Because of this, it’s important to replace those lost nutrients immediately after exercising.

After exercising, you’ll want to rehydrate with plenty of fluids, and eat a big meal with a lot of protein. Protein is the building block of muscle, and is absolutely essential for post workout recovery. Protein is made up of amino acids, which your body use to rebuild muscle, repair cells, and perform essential bodily functions.

Protein can be found in meats, dairy, eggs, grains, nuts and seeds. You can get a lot of protein naturally in your diet, but for weightlifters, it can be hard to get enough protein strictly from the foods you eat. Weight trainers need quite a bit of protein in their diets, often twice or more the standard daily recommended amount.

Because weightlifters need so much protein, they often supplement their diets with protein powders and other post workout supplements. Protein powders provide a convenient and affordable way to increase daily protein intake.

Protein powders are widely used in the weightlifting community. They provide a steady stream of amino acids to fuel muscle recovery and recharge the body. While protein powders are popular and effective, there are also post workout supplements that go beyond the basics and deliver the optimal blend of post workout recovery ingredients.

What Is a Post Workout Supplement?

Post workout supplements are supplements that you take soon after exercising, in order to replace lost nutrients and jump-start your recovery. Often, they’ll contain a mix of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle, as well as other ingredients to assist in recovery, rehydrate your body, and replace the nutrients that are lost during intense exercise.

Most post workout recovery supplements come in the form of powders that are mixed into milk, water, or blended into shakes. They are designed to be absorbed and digested quickly, so that they can get to work right away. You can also find recovery supplements in the form of capsules or pills, which can be more convenient in some cases.

What is the Science Behind Post Workout Supplements?

The main ingredient in most post workout supplements is branched chain amino acids, or BCAA’s. There are 3 amino acids that are consider branched chain amino acids; leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three amino acids are absolutely essential to the building and preservation of healthy muscles.

BCAA’s, and leucine in particular, help to stimulate protein synthesis. Basically, that means they help your body absorb and use protein more efficiently. Recent studies have also shown that BCAA’s can also help increase the amount of protein your cells can efficiently use. Because of this, BCAA’s can increase the efficacy of protein powders, allowing your body to use protein more effectively.

BCAA’s and all the essential amino acids are found in protein powders like whey protein isolate. So, why would you need to take a post workout supplement if you’re already taking a protein powder, you may ask? Basically, while whey protein takes several hours to fully break down and digest, the BCAA’s in post workout supplements digest very rapidly, because they are free-form and do not require digestion to enter the bloodstream.

Other common ingredients in post workout products include electrolytes, which help you stay hydrated, and protein powders, such as whey protein isolate. Both of these ingredients can be taken on their own, but for some people it’s nice to have it all in one easy package.

What Are the Benefits of a Post Workout Supplement?

Post workout supplements are designed to help your body recover after a strenuous workout. They typically contain a blend of ingredients including amino acids, BCAAs, protein, creatine, and more.

Each formula is different, but they all aim to achieve a similar goal: faster, better post workout recovery. Some potential uses and benefits of these supplements include:

Post workout Recovery

Post workouts aim to support the recovery process following strenuous exercise. They do so by providing the nutrients that were depleted during the workout, and supplying specific ingredients aimed at supporting recovery. Several included ingredients can help.

Branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, can help stimulate protein synthesis which helps build muscle and start the recovery process. A 2006 study found that BCAAs helped with muscle building and protein synthesis because they activate key enzymes involved in the process. BCAAs can also help to reduce muscle soreness, with several studies (1, 2, 3) showing soreness levels as much as 33% lower in participants given BCAAs after exercise.

Other ingredients may help with recovery by improving hydration. Glutamine can speed recovery by improving muscle hydration. Taurine helps to regulate fluid balance and may contribute to cell hydration.

Muscle Growth

Post workouts are designed to help your muscles recover from exercise and grow stronger as a result.

BCAAs – and specifically leucine – are beneficial. Multiple studies (1, 2) have shown BCAAs to be beneficial in building lean muscle mass when combined with resistance training. Protein powders also help, by supplying amino acids needed for muscle growth. Recovery is a key part of the muscle-building process, and proper post workout nutrition is key to a good recovery.

Muscle Soreness

Post workouts may help to reduce muscle soreness, making recovery more pleasant. Do note that muscle soreness is a normal side effect of intense workouts, and while some supplements might help, it’s likely that you’ll always experience some level of muscle soreness after exercise.

BCAAs play a key role. Several studies confirm that participants given branched chain amino acids after resistance training report muscle soreness levels as much as 33% lower than the control group (1, 2, 3). Protein powders can also help reduce soreness and speed training session recovery.


After you exercise, your body needs nutrients, fluids and amino acids as soon as possible. This helps restore lost nutrients and kick start the recovery process. While no replacement for a good meal, post workout supplements are a convenient way to ensure you get certain key nutrients quickly after concluding a workout.

While beneficial, these supplements are best used in combination with healthy post workout meals. See this guide for some post workout nutrition guidelines.

Who Can Benefit from Post Workout Supplements?

A wide range of people can benefit from adding these products to their daily supplementation routine. The people who will see the most benefit are:

  • Weightlifters – Anyone who lifts weights should be taking some sort of post workout product. Weightlifters put their body under intense strain, so it’s very important for them to replace those lost nutrients and get a jump-start on recovery. People who like to train often will also appreciate the reduced muscle soreness that these products promote.
  • Men and Women – Both men and women can greatly benefit from a good post workout product. Any active individual, regardless of their gender, can benefit. Generally, there is no need to take a “gender specific” recovery product, but there are a few designed specifically for women.
  • Dieters – Anyone on a diet should take post workouts after exercising. When you diet, you can run the risk of not getting enough protein and nutrients.
  • Athletes – Since these products help you recover after strenuous activity, athletes and endurance runners can benefit from taking a post workout supplement. These products can help you recover quicker, and reduce muscle soreness, which can make it easier to continue doing the activities you enjoy.

How Do I Take a Post Workout Product?

Generally, post workout supplements should be consumed immediately after exercise, or even during your workout. Because these products fuel recovery efforts, the sooner you take them, the better.

While you should try to take your post workout as soon as possible, it’s not a huge deal if you have to wait to get home to take it. In general, you should consume your post workout supplement within 45 minutes after your workout. This will ensure adequate time for the supplement to digest and begin fueling your recovery in the most efficient way.

Most people like to make a post workout recovery drink to consume immediately following their workouts. You can use a BlenderBottle to make recovery shakes on-the-go. It’s a good idea to keep a pre-made shake in your car so that you can drink it on the drive home from the gym.

As with any supplement, it’s important to follow the instructions on the product packaging. Do not consume more than the recommended amount. Also, be careful about mixing too many supplements together, as that can cause side effects.

Go To: Top 10 Shaker Bottles & Mixers

Are There Any Side Effects?

Most people will not experience any side effects from taking post workout supplements. BCAA’s themselves should not cause any side effects, and they are the main ingredient in most of these products.

That being said, some post workouts contain ingredients that can cause side effects, such as creatine. While very effective at increasing muscle mass and endurance, creatine can cause bloating and temporary weight gain. This is because creatine increases water retention in the muscles, leading to extra water weight. This is a very minor and temporary side effect, and does not bother most people.

Some ingredients used in these products can also cause dehydration, but only if you don’t drink enough fluids. Proper hydration is especially important for athletes, so make sure you’re getting enough water on a daily basis.

Exercise heats the body, and the body uses water to cool itself down, so you will always lose some fluids during your workouts. Also, common ingredients such as creatine can cause dehydration on their own, so drinking more water than normal is recommended when you’re using post workout supps.

Note: We do not recommend taking any supplements featured on this website without speaking with a doctor first!

How Do I Pick a Good Post Workout Product?

There are a wide range of products available in the “post workout” category. It’s hard to wade through all the options and find the one that’s right for you. Let’s go over some things you should look for when selecting a product.

  • Ingredients – number one – what’s in it, how much is in it, and what can it do for you. Take a close look at the ingredients and note whether or not it contains everything you’re looking for. Also, keep in mind the supplements you already take (like protein powder) and how they’ll stack with the post workout.
  • Brand reputation – who makes the product? Are they a well known, well respected company? You can read post workout supplement reviews to get an idea of the quality of the companies who make these supplements.
  • Value for money – how much does it cost? More accurately, how much does it cost per serving. When comparing two or more products, calculate the cost per serving and compare that, rather than the cost of the product itself.
  • Taste/flavor – does the flavor sound good to you? You’ll want to find something tasty or at least decent, otherwise you won’t want to actually use the product. A good way to find out about the taste of the product before you buy is to read user reviews and to only buy flavors you actually like.


We all realize that exercise is obviously very important – you should be following a regular exercise schedule with a good mix of weightlifting and cardio routines. However, exercise by itself will simply not give you the results you want: you need proper nutrition.

Good nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and it’s even more important for weightlifters. In fact, most experts agree that maintaining a healthy diet is the #1 factor in reaching fitness goals. Exercise puts a lot of strain on your body – proper nutrition gives your body the energy and tools it needs to fuel your muscles for exercise, and repair them afterwards.

Weightlifters and fitness enthusiasts need to follow healthy diets to reach their goals. Overall diet is very important, so you should establish and follow a bodybuilding nutrition plan. Just as important as your overall diet is pre-workout and post workout nutrition.

Now that you know more about these supplements, it’s time to choose the product that best suits your needs and budget. We firmly believe that any product on this list would be a great choice

If you’re looking to build muscle, boost your performance, and make the most out of all your hard work in the gym, whey protein is the way to go.

Research suggests that using whey protein powder along with resistance training can help maintain lean body mass and increase upper and lower-body strength. But walk through the aisles of any supplement store, and you’ll see a wide variety of different protein types.

So why whey? One of the major benefits of using whey protein is that it contains a wide range amino acids not seen in plant-based protein products, like pea or hemp proteins, says Marie Spano, M.S., sports nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks, Braves, and Falcons.

“With any plant-based protein, it’s not a complete protein,” Spano says. “It doesn’t have all amino acids necessary for muscle growth and repair.”The ease of protein powder lends itself to on-the-go options like shakes, but you can use it to boost the protein content of real food, too. When it comes to incorporating whey protein into meals, Spano suggests adding it into foods like yogurt or oatmeal because the moisture makes for easier integration. She also recommends combining whey with foods like peanut butter that have significant fat content, since that helps compensate for the drying effects that whey protein sometimes has.

There is also an abundance of essential amino acids in whey protein, one of which is leucine. Leucine is needed to ‘turn on’ muscle building at a cellular level, according to Mike Roussell, Ph.D., author of The Meta Shred Diet.

But keep in mind — you need to put in the work in the gym for your whey protein powder to actually help you build muscle. “It is important to note that whey protein alone won’t lead to muscle building,” Roussell notes. “In order to build muscle you need to be in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you are burning) and consuming ample total protein (1g/lb body weight).”

There are three types of whey protein:

Whey protein concentrate (WPC): “As its name suggests, the protein in here is concentrated. WPC maintains more nutrients than other types of whey because of the processing methods,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, M.S., R.D., nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition.

Whey protein isolate: “It’s quicker to digest than WPC; it also is usually removed of all carbohydrate and therefore the lactose, making it suitable for many folks with lactose intolerance. Since most of the fat has been removed, so are a lot of the fat-soluble vitamins,” says Auslander Moreno. Still, check the label if you have trouble with lactose.

Whey protein hydrolysate: “This process breaks down the little building blocks of proteins, called peptides, and into an almost “pre-digested” state for quickest absorption (but whey on the whole digests pretty quickly). It also can sometimes taste bitter because of processing methods,” says Auslander Moreno.

But for even more targeted body benefits, check out this list of whey powders.

The scene: You walk into a convenience store, workout complete, dripping in sweat. You don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, but you know you need protein—and fast. To the right is the deli counter, replete with questionable, how-long-have-those-been-sitting-there ingredients. To the left, though? That cooler jam-packed with juices, milks, and an array of ready-to-drink protein shakes.

RTDs, as they’re known in industry lingo, can be lifesavers for fitness enthusiasts on the go, especially when the alternative—making your own smoothie—requires so much more time and energy. To do it yourself, you’d have to go home, pray you have fruit on the counter, hope there’s still protein powder in the tub, blend it all together, get the proportions all wrong, drink it anyway, clean the blender, cut your finger cleaning the blender—you get the picture. “Shakes can be a great way to recover from a strenuous workout,” says Lisa Hayim, MS, RD. “The fact that they’re premade adds an important convenience factor.”

Of course, drinks that come in plastic containers and almost always have a hint of chalkiness to their taste are not ideal. But for when you’re in a pinch, Hayim walks us through what you should be looking for in that grab-and-go blend—and gives us the baseball card highlights on five of the most popular options out there.

A brief recap of why this matters in the first place: Your muscles aren’t going to just build themselves after a tough workout. When you get in a pump, you’re breaking down your muscle tissue. All that lifting results in a bunch of microscopic tears, and it’s the healing of those tears that allows your muscles to come back bigger—like, Jonas Brothers revival-level bigger—and better than before.

But in order to kick-start this rebuilding process, your body needs fuel first. “You should be looking for a post-workout option with carbs, protein, and a little fat—without adding too much sugar,” says Hayim. Aim for a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, and rely on whole, organic food sources instead of refined grains and added sugars. Think of it this way: In the best protein shakes, blending an actual apple is great; chugging apple juice is not.

Warning: The shakes in that cooler usually don’t check either of these boxes. Many of them offer a 1:2 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, or 1:1 at best. In other words, protein shakes are meant to be just that—a protein source. Further supplementation may be necessary for optimal results. “If you’re looking to up your carbs in addition to your shake, it may be worthwhile to grab a banana or a piece of toast to go with it,” Hayim says.

Core Power High Protein Milk Shake, Chocolate

The numbers: 170 calories, 26 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams sugar

The lowdown: Having consumed this one myself after a long run just last weekend, I can attest that it tastes a whole lot more like a glass of chocolate milk than a protein shake. The good news? The taste isn’t the only good thing about it. “The fact that it contains real dairy means that you’re getting a complete protein—all the essential amino acids—which assists in muscle repair and growth,” says Hayim. “Despite containing dairy, it is free of lactose, making it easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance.”

OWYN Plant-Based Protein Drink, Chocolate

The numbers: 180 calories, 20 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams sugar

The lowdown: OWYN is completely plant-based, yet still packs in the nine essential amino acids necessary for recovery. “It’s free of stevia, sugar alcohols and anything artificial,” says Hayim. “I love that it also contains a blend of greens from kale, spinach and broccoli.” With about four grams of sugar—the exact number varies by flavor—OWYN drinks are also free of allergens like dairy, soy, wheat, peanuts, and eggs.

Every Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST, hosts a live broadcast on Periscope called “Snack Sesh” with fun new ideas for health-conscious snackers. Make sure to tune in live—you’ll be able to ask us questions and make comments in real time—and in the meantime, here’s a recap of the recipes we cooked up this week!

You probably know by now that what you eat (or drink!) after a workout can be just as important as what you do at the gym. When we talked to top fitness instructors about their go-to post-workout snacks, we noticed a huge trend: Almost all of them rely on protein shakes.

If protein powders turn you off, we hear you. There are so many types out there that it can be hard to figure out which one is right for you.

Once you’ve hopped on the protein powder train and done a little trial and error to figure out which one you prefer, another question pops up: How the heck do you use this stuff? You could just mix your protein with water or milk and drink it plain, but since we’ve been there and done that, we can say with confidence: There are better ways.

Exhibit one: these three easy protein shakes that will transport you straight to flavor town and give your body the nutrients it needs after a good sweat.

RELATED: 7 Post-Workout Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Lauren Del Turco

Strawberries and Cream Protein Shake

We started off with almond milk and a handful of ice, then added a serving of strawberries and cream protein powder (vanilla works, too!), frozen strawberries, some rolled oats, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

While you get that protein your muscles need from the protein powder and the Greek yogurt—which also makes the shake super creamy—the strawberries and oats provide a healthy dose of carbohydrates to restore the glycogen you lose during a workout.

Blend all the ingredients until smooth, and you’ve got a shake that’s light and fruity.

Lauren Del Turco

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Next, we whipped up a shake inspired by one of our favorite flavor combos: chocolate and peanut butter. We combined chocolate protein powder, two spoonfuls of all-natural peanut butter, almond milk, ice, and Greek yogurt. Then we added a frozen banana—hey, potassium and carbohydrates!

Remember: You can use whatever type of milk or yogurt works best with your lifestyle and/or dietary restrictions. We like Greek yogurt for the extra punch of protein and probiotics, but if you’re dairy-free, try using coconut yogurt. (Same goes for milk: cow’s milk, rice milk, soy milk—it all works.)

This shake was thick and creamy. Think: liquid Reese’s with actual nutritional value.

Lauren Del Turco

Tropical Protein Shake

Our last shake was all about island flavor…because who doesn’t love a pina colada? After our base of almond milk, ice, and Greek yogurt, we added banana cream protein powder (yep, that exists!), a frozen banana, a few chunks of pineapple, and a spoonful of shredded coconut to the blender.

If you can’t find banana-flavored protein, we recommend using vanilla.

Drinking this shake was like teleporting to the beach. It was naturally sweet with just the right amount of coconut flavor.

The next time we’re having a make-or-break workout moment, you can bet we’ll be fantasizing about drinking these shakes to get us through the pain.

Do you have a protein shake recipe you just can’t get enough of? Let us know! Tweet at @WomensHealthMag to share your favorite flavors. And don’t forget to tune into Snack Sesh next Wednesday afternoon on Periscope to check out our latest snack obsession!

Lauren Del Turco Lauren Del Turco is a writer, editor, and social media/content manager, who has contributed to Men’s Health, Women’s Health, The Vitamin Shoppe, and more.

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