Protein powder has become a staple item for those who are leading a healthy lifestyle or working out at the gym.
However, one of the main reasons preventing people from drinking protein shakes daily is the taste of protein powder. No matter how good the ingredients are, if your taste buds don’t like the product, consuming it would be a struggle.
Luckily, there’s a solution, and you will find it below — these are some of the best-tasting protein powder supplements on the market. You will surely find something to your liking, as well as learn the main facts about what protein powder is and how to choose the right one for you.
- 1 5 Best Tasting Protein Powders
- 1.1 Vega One Plant-Based Protein Powder
- 1.2 Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder
- 1.3 Sascha Fitness Protein Powder
- 1.4 Body Fortress Whey Protein Powder
- 1.5 Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder
- 1.6 Why Is Protein So Important?
- 1.7 Foods With the Highest Protein Content
- 1.8 Main Types of Protein Powder and the Difference Between Them
- 1.9 What Benefits Does Protein Powder Have?
- 2 Things to Look for When Choosing Protein Powder
5 Best Tasting Protein Powders
Vega One Plant-Based Protein Powder
Vega One is one of the best tasting plant-based protein powders for many reasons.
First, it combines different vegetable sources of protein — pea, hemp, flax, and sacha inchi — to provide you with all essential amino acids you need. Second, it’s additionally enriched with vitamins and minerals crucial for your health.
Besides, Vega One allows you to use the powder in many ways! You can shake it with blender, add it to your smoothie or swap part of the flour in your baking recipes!
With one scoop, you will get 20 grams of protein and 6 grams of dietary fiber, which promotes better gut flow and makes you feel full for a longer time. A small tub of Vega One contains approximately ten servings, and there also are Large and XL tubs available, if you want to stock up your pantry.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder
The Optimum Nutrition powder could be an excellent choice for those who are craving chocolate brownies while dieting because this is the best tasting chocolate protein powder available on the market, as it combines a rich taste and only 3 grams of carbs per serving!
Besides that, Optimum Nutrition packs 5,5 grams of BCAA and 4 grams of glutamine to speed up your recovery and muscle growth after training.
Per one serving, which is equal to 1 rounded scoop, you will get 24 grams of a high-quality protein blend (whey isolate and concentrate) that can help you feel full and happy.
The only downside of this brand is that it may contain trace amounts of soy, so if you’re sensitive to this product, you may want to choose another brand.
Sascha Fitness Protein Powder
Zero sugars, all essential amino acids, and high-quality whey protein that comes from grass-fed cows make Sascha Fitness one of the best-tasting protein powders for weight loss on the market.
One scoop contains 25 grams of whey isolate, which quickly mixes in water or milk. Sascha Fitness provides you with all-time favorite flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and caramel.
Plus, it has pretty straightforward instruction: if you need to lose fat, take one serving daily, if you need to increase muscle mass, then double that amount.
Body Fortress Whey Protein Powder
Body Fortress is the best-tasting whey protein powder for both dieting and bulking people. Its main feature is flexible dosing: 1 scoop contains 30 grams of quality whey protein, but the manufacturer also allows two scoops at a time, meaning you can get as much as 60 grams of protein per meal!
Another great advantage of Body Fortress is that it packs 6 grams of BCAA and the patented Body Fortress Super Recovery Blend (a combo of creatine, taurine, and L-glutamine) for faster progress towards your gains.
The only issue with this protein powder lies in the fact that it’s a blend of whey concentrate and isolate, with concentrate being prevalent. Thus, along with protein, you will get some carbs and fats.
Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder
Isopure offers one of the best tasting low-carb powders for those who are living a low-carb life or following a keto-diet. One serving contains 25 grams of whey isolate mixed with vitamins and minerals for better nutritional value.
The artificial sweetener sucralose is responsible for the sweet taste of this powder. It cannot be absorbed by our bodies, which means that you can enjoy a good protein shake, or a smoothie, or pancakes — it’s up to you! — without getting excessive calories from sugar.
Isopure protein is available in four package sizes (1 lb, 3 lbs, 4.5 lbs, and 7.5 lbs) and allows you to choose between nine different flavors. There’s also good news for lactose and gluten intolerant individuals, as this product is free from these substances.
Why Is Protein So Important?
Protein, along with carbs and fats, forms the triad of the main macronutrients you can get from food. This nutrient is often referred to as a building block of life because almost all cells in your body contain protein in the form of DNA or need protein to build and repair its membranes.
However, the functions of protein aren’t limited to just that. It also plays an essential role in many processes, such as:
- building bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, hair, and blood cells;
- wound healing and regeneration;
- production of hormones and enzymes;
- creating immunoglobulins and antibodies for your immune system.
“Protein may also become a source of energy if you don’t consume enough fats and carbs. In this case, your body will begin breaking down muscle tissue into amino acids, which serve as fuel.”
Your body needs quite a modest amount of protein every day, so true protein deficiency is a rather rare thing in the Western world. However, some people, such as those who are following a vegan diet, might have lower protein intake, which usually manifests with the following symptoms:
- Skin, hair and nail problems. These parts of your body are mostly made of proteins, and when you don’t get enough of this nutrient, their condition obviously worsens.
- Loss of muscles. Your body may begin to burn your muscle tissue to compensate for low protein intake.
- Slower recovery after illness. Your immune system needs protein to form antibodies and aid recovery.
- Impulsive eating behavior. Proteins make you full for a longer time because they’re digested more slowly than other nutrients. If you don’t get enough of them, you might start eating more carbs or other foods.
“The US Dietary Guidelines state that an adult male with an average level of activity needs about 0.36 grams of protein per pound, or a minimum of 10% of his daily value.”
Foods With the Highest Protein Content
The easiest way to score your daily protein intake is to eat protein foods, mainly meat and animal-based products:
- lean grilled beef — 31g per 100g;
- pork chop — 31.6g per 100g;
- chicken breast — 32g per 100g;
- lamb — 29.2g per 100g;
- tuna (canned) — 23.5g per 100g;
- salmon — 24.2g per 100g;
- seafood (prawns) — 22.6g per 100g;
- milk — 3.3-3.4g per 100g, depending on its type;
- cottage cheese — 12.6g per 100g;
- eggs — 6g per 1 egg.
As you can see, 2-3 servings of different proteins per day can easily replenish your needs.
“Be sure to choose lean meats, as some high-protein meats, such as pork, are also high in saturated fats, which can contribute to cardiovascular problems. Fat fish, on the contrary, is beneficial for vessels, because it’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.”
Along with that, protein can be found in a variety of beans, nuts, mushrooms, and grains. Here are the primary plant-based sources of proteins:
- chickpeas — 8.4g per 100g;
- lentils — 7.6g per 100g;
- kidney beans — 6.9g per 100g;
- tofu — 8.1g per 100g;
- almonds — 21.1g per 100g;
- whole oats — 11.2g per 100g;
- whole wheat flour — 12.6g per 100g.
“Animal-based proteins are often called complex because they pack all essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins usually have a lower amount of aminos, and you need to consume different sources to be sure that you’re getting enough.”
Main Types of Protein Powder and the Difference Between Them
There are many types of protein powder available today, and each of them has its own features and drawbacks. Moreover, people often get confused about these protein types and their properties.
To help you sort out the main differences between each protein type, here’s a list of the most popular ones:
- Whey. Whey is a liquid that appears after you remove the curd. It’s rich in protein, however, may also pack lactose, which might be a turn-off for lactose intolerant people. Quick absorption and balanced amino acid profile are the reason why whey protein is the most popular on the market.
- Casein. Casein is another protein derived from milk. However, contrary to whey, casein is being absorbed by your body much longer, because it forms a gel in your stomach, thus slowing digestion speed. Casein dissolves well in fat-containing liquids and may serve as a creamer for your warm beverages. So, if you’re looking for protein powder for smoothies, then casein might be your choice.
- Albumin. Albumin is an egg white. Scientists believe that egg protein has the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score. This means that your body can easily absorb all the beneficial nutrients from the egg protein.
- Plant-based protein. This category includes soy, pea, hemp, and brown rice proteins. Plant-based proteins often come in the form of blends to provide balanced amino acid profile. They also contain some amounts of fiber that might slow the digestion process and limit bioavailability.
Another standard classification of proteins is based on the manufacturing process, i.e. extraction. All proteins, whether they’re plant-derived or animal-based, fall into three categories:
- Concentrate. This is the most basic form of protein. The concentrate is a result of the first extraction stage when the proteins separate from the food source with the use of acid or enzymes. Typically, concentrate contains about 70-75% of protein, with the remaining volume split between fats and carbs, and is the cheapest form of protein supplements.
- Isolate. Isolate appears at the second stage of extraction when protein concentrate is additionally filtered. Isolates contain 90-95% of pure protein and a very small amount of fats and carbs, which results in a higher price.
- Hydrolysate. To make hydrolysate, you need to take isolate and mix it with enzymes, again (or, use heat). This will break some amount of proteins into amino acids so that they will become available for instant absorption. However, this also gives the final product a slightly bitter taste and results in the highest cost among the protein supplements.
“Some brands mix several types of proteins in their products, making them more affordable this way. However, the potency of these supplements may vary depending on the ingredients.”
What Benefits Does Protein Powder Have?
Although protein is a crucial molecule for your life and well-being, most well-known and widely researched protein benefits come out from its use as a sports supplement.
Eating protein-rich foods may contribute to a more prolonged feeling of satiety. Thus, it will allow you to limit snacking and even reduce the size of your meal, which results in lesser efforts in maintaining or losing weight.
A 2007 meta-analysis showed that supplementation with whey protein improved body composition in patients with obesity. Researchers also suggest that protein supplementation may be beneficial in improving some risk factors of cardiovascular diseases, such as:
- hypertension and the ratio of systolic and diastolic blood pressure;
- high blood sugar;
- increased low-density lipoproteins and cholesterol levels.
Another study reported that casein may contribute to weight loss and decrease the percentage of visceral fat.
However, more studies are needed.
Muscle Growth and Recovery
Your muscles need protein to grow even if you’re not going to the gym. With higher levels of activity, the need for protein also increases significantly.
A systematic review of data from 49 different studies finds the use of protein powders for boosting muscle synthesis to be beneficial in both men and women, and suggests that taking protein might improve your gym gains such as muscle strength and volume.
Along with that, protein can aid in muscle recovery after training and speed up the repairing process.
A Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation study showed that supplementing with protein can improve muscle damage markers, such as soreness, isometriс strength, and motion range.
Aid for People with Reduced Protein Intake
Another common protein use lies in the ability of protein to serve as a meal replacement. A protein molecule is stable, so no matter what source you’re getting it from, you will still get the same benefits.
Protein supplementation might be useful for certain categories of people who find it challenging to get the required amounts of this nutrient from food. These are, in particular:
- older people;
- vegans and vegetarians;
- people from developing countries;
- people with chronic illnesses.
Things to Look for When Choosing Protein Powder
The best protein powder shouldn’t only taste good; it also has to be efficient and meet your particular goals. Below, you will find a useful checklist that will come in handy when you will face the need to purchase a protein powder again:
- Dietary needs. Probably the most important part. Vegans, lactose intolerant individuals, and older people may need different types of protein. That’s why you need to choose the proper type, based on the recommendations of your healthcare provider.
- Solubility. Another important thing is how well your protein will incorporate into different liquids, such as water, milk, or its alternatives. Some brands of proteins sell samples of its product, so you can try before purchasing the whole pack. Or, order a shake at your fitness bar at the gym and ask about the powder they use.
- Amino acid score. You need to consume essential aminos from food or other sources, and protein cocktail can be one of them. Good protein powder packs not only all eight essential amino acids but also some conditionally essential ones, such as glutamine.
- Flavor. Almost all protein powders come with a flavor, with the most popular ones being vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and banana. However, some brands offer unusual options as well. If you want to use protein as an addition to your recipes, you can also opt for an unflavored protein powder that won’t alter the taste of your food.
“Quality of the ingredients is essential for any supplement. Look for brands that go through third-party testing and have certifications from independent organizations.”
FAQ for Protein Powder Buyers
Does protein powder go bad?
Yes, it may go bad, just like any food. Protein powder may accumulate moisture and form clumps that make it harder to mix it in. Or, different bacteria may grow in there. Most manufacturers state that protein powder will last from 3 to 6 months after opening.
How much protein do I need to consume during the day?
The optimal dosage of protein for adults with moderate physical activity is 0.36 grams per pound or 0.8 grams per 1 kg of body weight. For example, if you weigh 60 kg, you will need 60*0.8 = 48 grams of protein per day. Athletes and people who work physically may want to increase this amount up to 1-1.5 grams per 1 kg of body weight.
How many grams of protein can your body absorb at a time?
Contrary to popular belief that you can only absorb 30 grams of protein per meal, it isn’t true. Since your body needs proteins and amino acids literally for every process, you will digest and absorb all the protein you will get with food.
Can I use a protein shake as a full meal replacement?
An average serving of protein cocktail packs somewhere between 180-300 calories, depending on the ingredients. This might be enough for a snack or a light meal. But liquids typically absorb faster, so you may feel hungry again in a couple of hours.
Is protein powder good for you if you’re vegan?
It’s more than just good. If you’re following a vegan diet and lead an active lifestyle, consuming plant proteins can help you reach your daily intake and get all the amino acids you may need. You can not only use it as shakes but also add it to your smoothie bowls or sweet baked goods (as a partial substitute for flour).
Protein is an essential macronutrient that your body needs for repair and growth. People with a low-protein diet, like those in developing countries, as well as vegans and athletes, may need higher amounts of protein, which can be obtained from using protein powder.
The modern market can offer you various types of protein, based on your diet and food sensitivities. For example, vegans will benefit the most from using mixed plant protein with a balanced amino acid profile.
Taking protein as a meal replacement or through supplementation didn’t show any adverse effects in the long term; however, it’s better to consult your therapist before self-supplementation.