*Bulk up your meals without loading up on calories
*Build lean muscle mass
*Take that green smoothie to the next level
Editor’s Choice: NAKED Nutrition Undenatured 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
Bottom Line: Pure whey with zero additives makes this the healthiest protein powder money can buy.
Editor’s Notes: This one is pricey, but that’s because the whey is sourced from grass-fed cattle from small, California dairy farms. You’re paying for purity.
Choice: BSN SYNTHA-6
Bottom Line: Perhaps the best tasting product on the market. It works, too– this one is as advertised when it comes to building muscle.
Editor’s Notes: It’s one of the more affordable of the protein powders we tested, but the high soy content might turn off some purists.
Best Value: Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard
Bottom Line: It gets excellent ratings for both taste and purity. It’s not the cheapest on a per serving basis, but we think it delivers the most bang for your buck.
Editor’s Notes: The relatively low price and its overall effectiveness make this the smart pick for people looking for a high quality, all-whey powder.
Buying Guide for Protein Powders
Protein is a basic nutrient the body uses to grow muscles, skin, hair, and bones. Proteins come from different sources—beef, eggs, soy, etc.—but the powders our testers rated the highest come mainly from whey.
Whey protein is low in lactose content and is considered “complete” as it contains all nine essential amino acids. This means it’s easily digestible and can be absorbed into the body quickly. There are three types of whey protein: concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. The most widely used type is concentrate—it’s also the cheapest.
Besides helping to build muscle, whey protein may lower blood pressure, help treat Type 2 Diabetes, and reduce inflammation. It’s also highly satiating, reducing hunger and making it the protein of choice for many bodybuilders. If taste is important to you, whey protein powder is generally considered to be the most palatable.
People who are vegan may prefer soy protein. Soybeans are a great source of amino acids as well, but they are commonly used in processed foods. Soy protein also tends to have more fiber than whey protein.
How to Use Protein Powder
Don’t make the mistake of confusing protein powder with either meal replacement products or mass gainers.
In addition to proteins, meal replacements contain fats and carbs and are intended to provide more calories and be more filling than protein powder shakes. And although the price is usually much lower than protein powder, mass gainer products contain a much higher concentration of other nutrients and are high in calories.
You should not substitute a protein shake for a real meal; it’s intended to be a supplement. One of the most effective times to have a protein shake is after a workout.
Whey protein powders do expire. All whey protein powder containers have a best buy date printed on them. Consuming protein past the best buy date may cause upset stomach or, in rare cases, more severe symptoms.
There is a variety of protein powders on the market and an equally expansive array of price points. To find the best value, it’s most helpful to calculate either the price per pound or the price per serving. Look at the label, then simply divide the total price by either the number of pounds or the number of servings. Just make sure the serving size of each product offers the same number of protein grams.
Q. If I already eat a balanced diet, do I need to use protein powder?
A. You probably obtain the necessary proteins from your diet, but using a supplement is smart if you want to build muscle mass or recover quickly from a workout.
Q. Besides protein, what else is in protein powder?
A. There might be added fat or carbs in some types of protein powder. Flavors or sweeteners may also be added, and manufacturers might also include vitamins or minerals for additional health benefits.
Q. Is protein powder pasteurized?
A. Pasteurized whole milk is the raw material in whey protein. However, whey is processed at low temperatures in a sterile environment to prevent the protein from being denatured unless otherwise noted.
This guide is brought to you by BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review website that reviews and tests products purchased with their own funds in order to provide consumers with completely unbiased advice.