If you take your training seriously, you’re going to need protein. A lot of it.
Protein is one of the three macronutrients—the other two are carbohydrates and fats—that make up the food we consume and give us energy to move, breathe, and, well, live.
Studies have proven that protein is essential to building lean mass and muscle. That’s because our cells need protein to kickstart protein synthesis, which is needed for hypertrophy, the process cells use to heal and grow bigger muscles after being broken down through exercise. Protein powder can be an excellent way to add more protein to your diet and load up on extra nutrients—ranging from chlorella and spirulina to collagen and antioxidants from leafy greens— included in the blends, too.
You probably get plenty of protein in your diet, especially if you eat meat. Still, you probably need more. The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) general recommendation for athletes is 1.2 to 2.0 g/kg of body weight per day, with people training specifically for muscle growth needing even more—which means you’ll probably need to turn to supplements to get enough for your gains.
This isn’t just bro science, either. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that supplements can give your muscle mass and performance a boost when you put in the work, so those big tubs filled with the powder aren’t just for show—there’s a lot of good stuff in there. For people with lactose intolerance, other food allergies, or those who don’t consume animal byproducts, there are plenty of great options, too.
Check out these 15 varieties of protein powder that you can toss in recipes, smoothies, or just your trusty shaker bottle. Want a little more guidance to understand exactly what you’re chugging? Check out this helpful guide.
If you’re all about whey protein powders, this stellar powder loaded with omega-3s, prebiotics, and probiotics, gets our vote. Available in chocolate and vanilla, it tastes great with just water, but you can also add it to your favorite proper shake recipe
BPN Whey Protein Powder
Another standout whey product, this whey-casein protein blend boasts 25 grams of protein per serving and is Informed Sport certified, meaning every batch is tested for quality assurance. It’s got great mixability and comes in a wide array of flavors ranging from cinnamon roll to apple pie, to boot.
Klean Collagen+C – 340g
If you’re looking to support your joint health (yes, heavy lifters, we’re talking to you), the addition of collagen to your protein powder can be a great choice. This NSF Certified for Sport product contains 14 grams of protein per serving and is sweetened with monk fruit extract, for less than 1 gram of sugars per serving.
Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+
Another plant-based pick, we dig that this powder has a 50+ version for adults 50 and older to help promote the maintenance of lean muscle mass. All of Ritual’s protein powders are third party tested, non-GMO, entirely vegan, and made with no artificial flavors or synthetic fillers. Each blend (there’s a pregnancy and postpartum option for the ladies, too) clocks in at 20 grams of protein per serving.
Raw Organic Plant Protein Greens
Chase your protein powder supp with a side of greens. Well, dehydrated organic spinach, alfalfa grass, broccoli, and more are included in every scoop of this tasty vanilla or chocolate protein powder with great mixability. Bonus: The brand doesn’t use synthetic ingredients, reached Carbon Neutrality status in June of 2021, and is obsessed with using traceable, clinically-researched ingredients. More on their testing standards here and here.
Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder
Whey is the consensus-MVP protein for building muscle, so if you can swing it, make sure you’re taking the good stuff. Ascent’s powder is made using native whey, which the company calls the “least-processed” form. There are 25 g of protein per serving and 0 artificial ingredients, so you’re getting the good stuff.
Garden of Life Protein Powder
Garden of Life
If you care about where your food comes from, this is the supp for you. The whey is certified organic from grass-fed cows — plus, there are probiotics to help fuel digestion.
Nitor Elite HD Protein
This powder means business, adding a balanced amino acid profile to the 22 g per serving of protein. The supplement is also free of any thickeners, dyes, or preservatives. The company claims that makes for quicker recovery times and faster gains. Just know that it’s higher in carbs (16 grams per serving).
BodyTech Elite Hydrolyzed Whey Isolate
Go big with 30 g of protein per serving, the biggest number on the list. The company markets the supp as a choice for advanced athletes, since the higher concentration of protein means you’ll have faster digestion times for quicker recovery.
Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder Isolate
You’re not out of luck if you’re lactose intolerant—you can still reap the benefits that come with whey protein with whey isolate. This supplement from Dymatize gives you 25 g of the good stuff per serving, low lactose and, best of all, a range of flavors to choose from.
Vega Sport Vegan Protein Powder
Protein isn’t just for the carnivores among us. There are still options for those that choose not to consume animal products, like this supp from Vega Sport. Its mix of peas, pumpkin, organic sunflower seeds, and alfalfa is vegan certified, and offers 30 g of protein per serving.
Bodylogix Vegan Plant Based Protein Powder
Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to make concessions for how things taste—at least in the case of this supp. The NSF-approved product offers 25 g of protein per serving from five different sources like chia and quinoa.
NOW Sports Pea Protein
Pea protein has made waves in recent years as another vegan-friendly alternative to whey, since the veggie is a rare non-meat complete protein (which means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids). This best-selling option offers 24 g per serving.
Isopure Zero Carb, Keto Friendly Protein Powder, 100% Whey Protein Isolate, Flavor: Creamy Vanilla, 3 Pounds
It’s an isolate, which means it isn’t blended with various protein sources. That’s a good thing because it’s isolates that have the scientific track record of muscle growth. This jug offers zero carbs per serving—ideal if you’re looking to get cut.
Onnit Grass Fed Whey Isolate Protein – Mexican Chocolate (30 Servings)
It’s NSF Certified for Sport, meaning that it carries the gold standard in third-party approval. What’s advertised on the front of the label is inside the packaging.
Brett Williams, NASM
Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running.
Perri O. Blumberg
Perri is a New York City-born-and-based writer; she holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Columbia University and is also a culinary school graduate of the plant-based Natural Gourmet Institute, which is now the Natural Gourmet Center at Institute Of Culinary Education.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io