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Protein powders can help people build muscle. Having the powder before and after a workout may help speed up recovery from resistance and endurance training.

A person holding a scoop of muscle-building protein powder.Share on Pinterest
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A quick look at the best protein powders

In 2015, protein powders became the second biggest-selling product in the sports nutrition market, after sports drinks, with sales of $4.7 billion.

A 2014 study found that consuming protein products, such as these powders, helps reduce muscle soreness and prevent muscle damage after daily workouts. A 2021 study with competitive soccer players points out that increasing daily protein intake can help reduce deterioration during intensive training.

Find out how much protein a person needs each day.

Medical News Today chooses protein powders that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: Products suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: Products list all ingredients clearly, with manufacturing processes outlined.
  • Safety: Products contain ingredients deemed safe for ingestion.
  • Reputation: Products are from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.

Keep reading to learn more about some of the best protein powders for building muscle. Find out what they contain and how they work.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for a range of flavors: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey

  • Price: from around $38
  • Protein source: whey protein isolate
  • Available flavors: 18

Optimum Nutrition specializes in protein supplements. The Gold Standard 100% Whey protein powder is one of its best-selling products.

This product’s main ingredient is whey protein isolate. Because this powder also contains whey protein concentrate, there are 24 grams (g) of protein in a single serving.

People can easily mix the powder with liquid by using a shaker or spoon. The company recommends mixing 1 scoop into 6–8 ounces (oz) of cold water or milk, for example.

Advantages and disadvantages

This supplement offers a wide variety of flavor choices. The company also offers free delivery on orders over $75.

However, it is important to note that ingredients and nutritional information will vary depending on the flavor. A person should carefully consider which best fits their needs and ensure the flavor does not contain any ingredients they wish to avoid.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 29 g, of the unflavored powder are:

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Carbohydrates: 2 g
  • Sugar: 1 g

Best for dietary restrictions: BiPro BOLD Whey + Milk Protein Isolate

  • Price: from around $29
  • Protein source: 70% whey protein isolate and 30% milk protein isolate
  • Available flavors: 3

BiPro specializes in protein supplements and has a wide range of protein powders. The BiPro BOLD is one of its best-reviewed products.

BiPro Bold is free of lactose, gluten, and hormones. It is also Orthodox Union Kosher certified. Its main ingredient is whey protein isolate, and each serving contains 23 g of protein.

Advantages and disadvantages

This product contains coconut oil powder without genetically modified organisms (GMO), which provides 2 g of healthy fats per serving. BiPro Bold only contains natural sweeteners and flavors.

However, this means this supplement is not suitable for people with coconut allergies.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 39 g, are:

  • Calories: 160
  • Fat: 3.5 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Sugar: 1 g

Best for high quality protein: Myprotein Impact Whey Protein

  • Price: around $20
  • Protein source: whey protein
  • Available flavors: 27

Myprotein is a British company that recently started supplying protein supplements to the United States. The Impact Whey Protein is one of its bestsellers.

Myprotein recommends adding 25 g of this product to water or milk after a workout.

Advantages and disadvantages

This product contains 19 g of protein and 100 calories per serving. It has three sources of whey:

  • whey protein concentrate
  • whey protein isolate
  • hydrolyzed whey

These provide high quality protein with minimal fat and sugar, and speed up the absorption of protein, the company says.

Buyers can choose from packages of 10, 40, 100, and 200 servings. Additionally, the product’s packaging is recyclable.

However, this product may not be suitable for people with gluten allergies. The company makes the supplement in a facility that handles gluten and eggs, and cannot guarantee there will be no cross contamination.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 25 g, are:

  • Calories: 100
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Protein: 19 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3 g
  • Sugar: 1 g

Best for vegetarians: TrueNutrition RBGH/Soy Free Whey Protein Isolate

  • Price: around $20
  • Protein source: whey protein without soy or recombinant bovine growth hormone
  • Available flavors: 35

TrueNutrition specializes in nutritional supplements. The company offers its customers the opportunity to create a personal protein supplement.

The RBGH/Soy Free Whey Protein powder is one of its most highly reviewed powders.

TrueNutrition recommends mixing 1 scoop in 8–12 oz of water, juice, or milk.

Advantages and disadvantages

This product is gluten- and soy-free, with no additional hormones or antibiotics. It is suitable for vegetarians and contains 27 g of protein per serving.

People can choose to add boosts and customize their protein powder for a small additional cost, such as including essential amino acids or beef collagen.

However, some reviewers state the protein powder can taste gritty.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 21.5 g, are:

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 27 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Sugar: 0 g

Best for high protein diets: NOW Sports Chicken Bone Broth Powder

  • Price: around $35
  • Protein source: chicken bone broth
  • Available flavors: none

NOW Foods has been trading in supplements and health products since the 1960s. The Chicken Bone Broth product has the highest amount of protein per serving — 29 g.

NOW Foods recommends adding 1 scoop to 8 oz of water or another liquid.

Advantages and disadvantages

This product is paleo and keto diet-friendly. It is suitable for people with many common food allergies and sensitivities. It contains no artificial ingredients, soy, sugar, nuts, gluten, corn, dairy, or egg.

It is also a suitable option for people who want to avoid sweeteners and vegetable oils.

However, this supplement is only available in one size.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 32 g, are:

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 29 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g

Best for a range of protein sources: Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed

  • Price: around $25
  • Protein source: milk protein, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, whey protein hydrolysate, and micellar casein
  • Available flavors: 9

Dymatize specializes in workout supplements, and the ISO100 is one of its customer’s favorite products. This makes this product a potential choice for people who want to use it before or after working out.

Dymatize recommends having 1–2 servings per day, each mixed with 5–8 oz of water, depending on the flavor.

Each serving contains 25 g of whey protein and 110 calories when mixed with water.

Advantages and disadvantages

This product is gluten– and fat-free. It is suitable for vegetarians.

However, some customers state the powder does not mix well with water.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 32 g, are:

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Sugar: 1 g

Best for building muscle and losing weight: Gaspari Nutrition Proven Egg

  • Price: around $60
  • Protein source: egg white
  • Available flavors: 5

This protein powder is low in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar while being high in protein. This may help build muscle and reach a person’s weight goals alongside exercise and a nutritious, balanced diet.

It also has no hormones, antibiotics, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners.

Advantages and disadvantages

According to the company, egg whites are 21% more efficient than whey protein in building muscle. Additionally, this supplement reportedly does not have an egg smell.

However, some customers state that some flavors have a high sodium content.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 34 g, are:

  • Calories: 100
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Carbohydrates: 2 g
  • Sugar: 1 g

Best for post-workouts: MuscleTech Nitro Tech 100% Whey Golden Protein

  • Price: from around $30
  • Protein source: whey protein peptides and whey protein isolate
  • Available flavors: 2

This gluten-free protein powder has 24 g of protein and 4 g of glutamine per serving. Buyers have the option of choosing between 2- and 5-pound sizes.

Glutamine can reduce fatigue by increasing glycogen synthesis and reducing the amount of ammonia in the body.

The company suggests mixing a scoop in 6 oz of cold water or skim milk and consuming it before meals, or before and after exercise.

Advantages and disadvantages

This supplement is gluten-free. The company offers free shipping on all orders above $9.99.

However, this protein powder has fewer flavor options than many of the powders in this article.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 33 g, are:

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Carbohydrates: 2 g
  • Sugar: 2 g

Best for vegans: Evlution Nutrition Stacked Plant Protein

  • Price: around $40
  • Protein source: pea protein, rice protein, and alfalfa protein
  • Available flavors include: 2

This plant protein powder is suitable for vegans and those with a gluten allergy or sensitivity. Each serving contains 20 g of protein.

Additional ingredients include:

  • vitamin D
  • calcium
  • iron
  • potassium

Advantages and disadvantages

The company states this supplement contains probiotics and does not contain any soy, GMO, or artificial ingredients.

However, it has more carbohydrates and sugars, and less protein, than most other options on this list.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 36.7 g, are:

  • Calories: 140
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Carbohydrates: 10 g
  • Sugar: 3 g

Best for grass-fed protein: Garden of Life Sport Grass-Fed Organic Whey Protein

  • Price: around $54
  • Protein source: whey protein isolate
  • Available flavors: 2

This protein powder contains grass-fed whey protein isolate and probiotics that the company states may help improve immune system health. This product also has a USDA Organic certification.

The company recommends consuming this supplement within 1 hour after a workout or throughout the day to improve satiety. People should mix 1 scoop with 8 oz of water.

Advantages and disadvantages

This supplement does not contain any added sugars or artificial colors or flavors.

However, the protein powder is higher in carbohydrates than some other options.

The nutritional facts for each serving of 1 scoop, or 33 g, are:

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Sugar: 0 g

The following table provides a comparison of the protein powders in this article.

Protein sourceFlavor optionsProtein contentPrice
Optimum Nutritionwhey protein isolate1824 garound $38
BiPro70% whey protein isolate and 30% milk protein isolate323 garound $29
Myproteinwhey protein2719 garound $20
TrueNutritionwhey protein without soy or recombinant bovine growth hormone3527 garound $20
NOW Sportschicken bone broth029 garound $35
Dymatizemilk protein, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, whey protein hydrolysate, and micellar casein925 garound $25
Gaspari Nutritionegg white525 garound $60
MuscleTechwhey protein peptides and whey protein isolate224 garound $30
Evlution Nutritionpea protein, rice protein, and alfalfa protein220 garound $40
Garden of Lifewhey protein isolate224 garound $54

People do not generally need to contact a healthcare professional before consuming protein powders.

However, if any protein powders contain caffeine, a person may wish to contact a healthcare professional for advice. For example, caffeine is generally unsuitable for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It may also be unsuitable for individuals with certain health conditions.

People should immediately discontinue using protein powder if they have an allergic reaction to one or more ingredients. If a person experiences an allergic reaction, they should seek immediate medical attention.

Here, we answer some common questions about protein powders.

Is protein powder good for burning fat?

Research suggests that, while whey protein can improve nitrogen excretion in people with obesity or overweight, there is no significant improvement in body composition or fat percentage.

People may find better fat loss results if they eat a balanced, nutritious diet alongside regular exercise.

Can you use protein powder as a meal replacement?

Protein powders generally do not contain the nutrients a person would otherwise consume in a balanced diet. People should not use protein powders as meal replacements.

Do you need to exercise while using protein powder to build muscle?

Protein powders do not build muscles by themselves. A person will need to exercise the muscles they wish to build.

Many kinds of protein powders are on the market, and people should check ingredient lists carefully. Some contain allergens, while others are not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.

Also, anyone with a medical condition should discuss the options with a doctor to prevent interactions and any other adverse effects.

While protein powders cannot make muscles suddenly appear, they may help people gain muscle mass when taken as directed and as a part of a nutritious, balanced diet.