Protein powders have come a mighty long way in the last decade or so. Years ago, they tasted like that magnesium citrate you are given before a colonoscopy. Thankfully, today you may not even tell the difference between a healthy protein shake and an indulgent milkshake made with ice cream. According to our editor, the best-tasting protein powder is vanilla-flavored because it's not too strong to overpower other ingredients in the smoothie or shake, and it's still delicious.
Over the years, protein powders have become a critical part of fitness and health. According to experts, consuming at least 30 grams of protein after a workout helps repair and rebuild muscles after the damage done by exercise. The best tasting protein powder seems like the fastest and easiest way to get that 30 grams as you only need to add a scoop or two to your after-work-out shake or smoothie.
With the sports supplements market growing like no other, consumers are confronted with an overwhelming amount of choices. In this guide, we help you choose the best tasting protein powder for you and also show you how to select one among so many.
What are the Different Types of Protein Powders?
Both animal and plant-based foods contain protein, and protein powders are simply a broken-down version of these foods. The three common forms of protein powders are;
- Protein concentrates- These are 60 to 80 percent protein, and the remaining 20 to 40 percent is carbs, fats, and vitamins. The concentrates are created using heat or acid on whole foods to extract the protein.
- Protein isolates- After getting the protein concentrates, they are filtered even further to remove the fat and carbs, leaving you with 90 to 95 percent protein.
- Protein hydrolysates- If you continue with the process, the protein isolates are broken down into essential amino acids, which the body finds easier to absorb.
According to a 2017 study, supplementing with whey protein hydrolysates reduces muscle damage caused by exercise and drastically improves muscle function and growth. With that in mind, here are the best-tasting protein powders in the market right now.
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The BSN Syntha-6 whey protein powder is what happens when a protein powder company joins hands with an ice cream company. It is hands down the best-tasting protein powder with a creamy, rich texture like a milkshake but tastes exactly like Cold Stone ice cream. The powder contains 22 grams of protein per serving, comprising whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, micellar casein, egg albumin, calcium caseinate, and milk protein isolate.
If you blend this powder into whole milk, you are basically drinking a milkshake. However, you can also mix it with fruit smoothies, and other protein shakes to have post-workout, between meals, or as a snack any time of the day. Surprisingly, the powder contains only 3grams of sugar per serving which is hard to believe considering how yummy it is. The flavors are mint ice cream, chocolate chip, fudge, and brownie flavor mixed with real cookie bits to add some texture.
If you are looking for something healthier but still delicious, this Garden of Life Raw Organic Vanilla Protein Powder might do it for you. It is a raw organic protein blend of pea protein, sprouted brown rice protein, amaranth, and buckwheat. It also contains millet, cracked wall chlorella, quinoa, chia seeds, lentils, Garbanzo beans, flax seeds, and other protein-rich organic sprouts. The powder contains 22 grams of sugar-free plant protein per scoop, and it is vanilla or chocolate flavored.
While other plant-based protein powders taste and smell like something you would only get in a hospital, this Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Vanilla Powder has a surprisingly lovely taste. However, you will barely notice it when mixed with a shake or a smoothie. The delicious organic plant-based protein powder also contains vitamins A, D, E, and K, and 3 billion CFU probiotics and enzymes for excellent digestion.
Vanilla protein powders often taste like chalk or uncooked beans. Bodylogix Natural Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder is unique because it tastes more like home-churned vanilla ice cream. While it gets its proteins from animals, the whey is sourced from grass-fed cows, and it has no artificial colors and flavors.
Each serving of this protein powder contains 24 grams of protein, so you might need two scoops to get your daily requirement. The natural whey helps to increase lean muscle and stimulate muscle protein synthesis so you can be on your best every damn day. Even though it contains only 2 grams of sugar per serving, this protein powder tastes really good even when you blend it in water.
The people at Sprout Living understand exactly what a protein powder is supposed to do for you. This product contains superfoods like yellow pea, sunflower, pumpkin, sacha inchi, and cranberry seeds for complete muscle recovery and exceptional performance when working out. It is a creamy and smooth texture that blends nicely with water or any other cool drink without leaving clumps.
However, the most impressive thing about this protein powder is that it has zero sugar or flavor added. The delicious sweetness you taste is all from the natural protein sources we have listed, so they don't add anything else. Each serving gives you 19 grams of complete vegan protein and is 100% nutrient-dense. Simply add two scoops of this plant-based protein powder to your favorite liquid or smoothie and take it as a post-workout shake.
If you are not a fan of vanilla flavor, this Sunwarrior Warrior Blend organic chocolate blend is perfect for you. The company uses organic flavorings like cocoa, stevia extracts, and ground coconut to make that sweet, nutty and chocolatey flavor. The protein blend itself comes from pea protein, hemp protein, and goji berry, which are loaded with antioxidants and iron.
Each scoop of this protein powder contains 19 grams of pure organic protein and 6 milligrams of iron, which is great for people following a vegan diet that is commonly low in iron. Thanks to the coconuts, each serving also provides branched-chain amino acids and brain-boosting MCTS. As if that wasn't enough, it contains electrolytes to keep your body functioning at peak performance and promote muscle growth and recovery.
What to Look for in Protein Powder
When choosing the best tasting protein powder, let flavor be only one factor among many. Some other things you must consider;
1. Protein Source
Protein powders are derived from various plant and animal protein sources. Whey and collagen are the most common animal-derived protein sources, while plant-based sources could be anything from hemp, pea, soy, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, and flax seeds. Your choice of protein source depends on several factors such as allergies, nutritional needs, and religious beliefs. For example, vegans and vegetarians only take plant-based protein. On the other hand, some people could be allergic to soy, dairy, and gluten, so you have to double-check the sources just to be sure.
2. Nutritional Value
Apart from protein, the best-tasting protein powders must have other nutritional components like dietary fiber, MCT oils, probiotics, and vitamins. Some powders even go as far as adding greens and digestive enzymes. It's also important that the protein powder be easy to digest and fast-acting. Although a powder may taste great, ingredients like sugar, alcohol and other additives can cause gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort.
3. Flavorings and Sweeteners
Just as important as protein sources are the flavorings used to make the protein powder taste good. As a rule, you should choose products that have no artificial ingredients. The best protein powders use natural flavorings like chocolate, vanilla beans, and cranberries instead of sugar and stevia.
Last but not least, it's crucial to find a protein powder that has a smooth, creamy texture and dissolves easily when mixed with liquids. The last thing you want is a protein shake with chunks and clumps that can make you throw up.
When it comes to choosing the best-tasting protein powder, preference is key. Some people prefer chocolate and mint over vanilla, while others prefer tasteless powder to add to their vegetable and fruit smoothies. Whichever way you choose, make sure the protein powder is healthy, affordable, and readily available. It should also be easy to mix with water and other liquids and helpful in terms of repairing and rebuilding muscles after a workout.
Frequently Asked Questions about Protein Powders
1. What is the best way to take protein powder?
There are many effective ways to take protein supplements. The easiest and fastest way is mixing the powder with water and taking it with you to your workout session. If the taste doesn't do anything for your palate, consider blending it with your favorite milk, yogurt, or coconut water. Making a fresh fruit smoothie and then adding a scoop of protein powder works great as well. Though rare, some people add the powder to their morning oatmeal, cereal, or soups.
2.Does a protein powder help with weight loss?
Taking a protein powder after your workout can help you lose weight in several ways;
One, the protein inhibits appetite-stimulating hormones and increases hunger-suppressing hormones, which will result in you feeling fuller for longer. This means you will not be reaching for unhealthy snacks every now and then.
Secondly, protein enhances your metabolism and encourages muscle growth, which helps to burn more calories and lose weight faster. If losing weight is your goal, go for plant-based or organic protein powders with no sugar, gluten, or soy.
3. Is protein powder safe?
Absolutely. Protein powders are simply plant or animal proteins broken down into a powder to make it easier for you to consume the macronutrient. While there are brands out there containing more sugar and other not-so-healthy ingredients, the vast majority of protein powders are very healthy and safe for consumption. You can take them after and before a workout to provide your body with an ongoing source of protein.