The 7 Best Protein Powders Of 2023, With Insights From Medical Experts

The 7 Best Protein Powders Of 2023, With Insights From Medical Experts

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the average adult in good health and with at least a somewhat active lifestyle should consume 0.36 grams of protein per day for every pound of body weight. That means an individual who weighs 160 pounds should look to consume nearly 58 grams of protein every day, which is backed by the FDAs recommended daily value of 50 grams of protein per day. But if youre not getting enough protein in your diet, or you simply need more, the best protein powders can help whether youre looking to enhance muscle growth, increase weight loss or improve your personal health. And while Rituals 18+ Essential Protein earned high marks for its nutrients and lack of additives, options abound.

In writing this article, I consulted with more than half a dozen experts, including medical doctors, registered dietitians, fitness coaches and even a professor of biophysics. Their insights confirmed what I had long known only in general terms: Proper protein consumption is essential for good health. Many people think protein is all about building muscle, and while you do indeed need plenty of protein to increase your strength, toning and muscle mass, protein does so much more than that.

Proteins are needed for hormone and enzyme synthesis, for the creation of bone cells and of hair and nails, for transporting oxygen throughout the body, for supporting immune health and so much more. In short, dont sell your body short of protein. Should you be in the market for a protein supplement, these are the best powders available today.

Servings per container: 15 | Protein per serving: 20 grams | Flavor(s): Vanilla

According to the United States Census Bureau, the current median age in America is 38.9 years old. That means millions of Americans are in the zone for Rituals 18+ protein powder, which was specifically formulated for adults aged 18 and up (thus the 18+). A serving of Rituals vanilla-flavored protein powder delivers 20 grams of protein along with L-Methionine, an essential amino acid, and choline, a nutrient that helps with brain function. And what you wont find here are allergens, heavy metals, sugars or artificial sweeteners.

You also wont find that chalky aftertaste so common with protein powders. This is a pricier option given that you only get 15 servings in each bag, but the quality makes it worth consideration if youre looking to add a quality protein powder to your diet.


  • Contains beneficial, high-quality nutrients
  • Great taste
  • Vegan-friendly and soy-free


  • Smaller number of servings
  • Hard to mix by hand

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant Protein


Servings per container: 20 | Protein per serving: 24 grams | Flavor(s): Vanilla, Chocolate

Each serving of Gold Standard plant-based protein powder from Optimum Nutrition will cost you a bit less than $1.50. Thats not too steep a price to pay for 24 grams of protein, a sweet-spot amount thats suitable for pre-workout energy, post-workout recovery and muscle development, or for use in shakes as part of your diet. And along with that protein, youll get four grams of BCAAs (that’s branched-chain amino acids) which is what your muscles burn for energy, per WebMD. These can make a workout more productive and more pleasant, both by reducing fatigue during exercise and making recovery more efficient.


All that good stuff said, note that some reviews dont like the powders texture. It tends to form clumps if not mixed vigorously, so use a blender to thoroughly mix it into a smoothie or shake if possible. And also note that the container it comes in is quite large and is notorious for being half-filled even when new. Youre not being swindled, youll get the 20 servings; you just also get a lot of air.


  • Good price point
  • Excellent amount of protein per serving
  • Sugar-free and vegan


  • Tends to form clumps if not blended thoroughly
  • Deceptively large container

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Advanced

Servings per container: 28 | Protein per serving: 18 grams | Flavor(s): Unflavored

As we mentioned earlier, protein does a lot more than just build muscle. In fact, its actually more about building your body in general, from muscles to bones to hormones and enzymes. For example, collagen is a structural protein that makes up the majority of connective tissue, and its used to build keratin, a protein that makes up your hair and nails.

If youd like to promote healthy hair and nail growth, consider adding this Vital Proteins powder to your diet. Its designed primarily for hair and nail growth, but the addition of hyaluronic acid helps to improve skin hydration and joint mobility. Many consumers report healthier, more elastic and more youthful-looking skin once theyve used Vital Protein Collagen Peptides for an extended period of time.

Now, to be clear, this is very far from a vegan product. While many protein powders are vegan and others are at least vegetarian (being dairy-based) this one is bovine-based, so if thats an issue, look elsewhere. And if your GI system is a bit sensitive, you may want to do the same, as this powder upsets some stomachs.


  • Contains daily collagen needs in one serving
  • Almost completely flavorless
  • Stellar customer ratings


  • May disrupt sensitive GI systems

Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass

Servings per container: 8 | Protein per serving: 50 grams | Flavor(s): Vanilla, banana, chocolate peanut butter, strawberry, chocolate

If you want to build up those muscles, you have to tack on mass, and that means consuming more protein and calories. Id say 50 grams of protein and 1,260 calories per each two-scoop serving fits the bill there, and thats what youll get with Optimum Nutritions Serious Mass protein powder.

It was specifically designed to help people build muscle or for those struggling to put on more weight. The more than two dozen beneficial minerals and vitamins youll get along with the protein and calories are helpful, too.

This protein powder does contain quite a bit of maltodextrin, which is a highly processed carbohydrate that can cause inflammation in some people, so thats one potential red flag, but if you plan to use the stuff as part of a muscle-building regimen that youll change up once you hit your goal, it may be less of an issue.


  • Huge dose of protein per serving
  • Available in many flavors
  • Vegan-friendly and soy-free


  • Only eight servings per container
  • Contains maltodextrin

Vega Organic All-In-One Shake

Servings per container: 18 | Protein per serving: 20 grams | Flavor(s): Vanilla, chocolate, chocolate mint, berry, coconut almond, mocha, unsweetened

You know those days where you just can’t find time to make a proper breakfast in the morning or pause for long enough to have lunch? On those days, blending a serving or two of Vega Organic All-In-One Shake powder with some fruit and water or almond milk (or what have you) will give you just about all the energy and nutrients needed to power yourself though the next part of your day.

Along with 20 grams of protein, each serving of this flavorful stuff delivers 50% of your daily value of 12 different vitamins and minerals, but its also packed with fiber for your gut, and it’s a good source of amino acids and antioxidants.

Many consider Vegas powders to be too sweet, and that sweetness comes primarily from stevia, which some people try to avoid, but if youre not among those groups, youll have a great new meal supplement on hand.


  • Contains multiple vitamins and minerals
  • Available in multiple flavors
  • Organic ingredients


  • Too sweet for many palates
  • Chalky texture if not blended well

Servings per container: 12 | Protein per serving: 20 grams | Flavor(s): Vanilla lucuma

Many protein powders throw off gastrointestinal systems, causing bloating, inflammation, gas and other internal issues wed rather avoid. Fortunately, Sprout Livings USDA-certified organic Epic Protein blend will cause no such harm. Designed with gut-healthy prebiotics and made entirely with safe, natural and plant-based ingredients, this protein powder is gentle on your insides. But it can still help you build hard, toned muscles given the 20 grams of protein you get in each serving.

This highly soluble protein powder can be stirred into coffee, blended into a shake or just chugged down after being mixed with water. Note that its flavor is often described as more toward a cinnamon or chai profile than a true vanilla, but youre consuming this powder for its health benefits, not as a tasty treat.


  • Promotes gut health
  • Certified organic
  • Good for use in baking


  • Few servings per bag
  • Does not taste much like vanilla

Servings per container: 30 | Protein per serving: 28 grams | Flavor(s): Vanilla peanut butter, dark chocolate, mocha latte, peanut butter

One interesting thing I learned in preparing this article is how important protein is for older adults, and especially for women who are going through or have passed through menopause. As older adults often experience more health issues than their younger counterparts, I sought out a protein powder that was designed to be very easy to digest and does not cause bloating or other GI issues. Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate delivers a solid 28 grams of highly bioavailable protein per serving, meaning you get plenty of protein without needing to consume a lot of the powder, and its easy on your bodys digestive system.

That daily serving of protein helps those bodily systems along as you might expect, but it also promotes longevity, as your body will be better able to protect itself against injury or illness and can better recover when such things occur.


  • Easy to digest
  • Contains every essential amino acid
  • Lots of protein per serving


  • Rather high in sodium
  • Pricey

How We Chose The Best Protein Powders

Before selecting any of the protein powders on this list, I consulted with experts who use and recommend protein powders on a regular basis. In fact, I had input from more than a dozen experts, and I leaned heavily into their insights and recommendations when putting together this list. These experts include: Dr. Laura Purdy, MD, MBA; Professor Jed Macosko of Wake Forest University; Avery Zenker, a personal trainer and registered dietician; Michelle Routhenstein of Entirely Nourished; and Dr. Danielle Kelvas, MD.

When the time came to identify noteworthy protein powders, I first cross-referenced all of the input I received on protein powders in general, considering ingredients, use cases, price per serving and more. I then developed categories by which to differentiate various protein powders from one another in a manner that suits different consumers. Whether youre looking for a protein powder to build muscle, to stimulate hair growth or to simply up your daily intake, theres an option on this list for you.

Finally, after weighing many of the specific product recommendations I received from the experts against my own experience using protein powder over the years, I looked over reviews and ratings left by customers to confirm my selections. And with that, I arrived at this list of the best protein powders that serve different needs.

If youre in need of energy before and during a workout, weve also reviewed the best pre-workouts with insights and recommendations from fitness and nutrition experts.

What Is Protein Powder Good For?

Protein Powders work as a supplement if you are not consuming the daily recommended amount of protein or are an individual who requires more protein daily, says Dr. Laura Purdy. Adding protein powders to your diet can also aid in weight loss, boost your metabolism, help you maintain strong bones or help you build muscle and increase muscle strength. Protein powder can be a convenient way to increase your protein intake which is important for your overall health. And protein Powders may aid in increasing your body’s muscle mass, enhancing athletic performance when taken before you work out, or post-workout to support muscle repair or even to help aid in weight loss.

How Much Protein Powder Do You Need?

We touched on this earlier, but its a question that flummoxes many folks, so lets cover it again. Professor Jed Macosko, a biophysical chemist by training who has been a professor of biophysics at Wake Forest University for 20 years, explains it like this: You [need to] consume 0.80 to one gram of protein per kilogam of body weight per day.

Who Best Benefits From Protein Powder?

Registered dietician and personal trainer Avery Zenker says: Protein powder can be helpful for individuals who want to increase their total protein without increasing total calories, fat or carbohydrates. It can help meet macronutrient goals with more precision. This isn’t limited to fitness goals, there are many other reasons protein is important, including bone and hormonal health.

Protein powder can help increase total protein intake, which can support muscle building and maintenance. This may be helpful for those looking to build muscle, lose fat or maintain muscle mass. They can also be helpful for people with dietary restrictions, including individuals who are vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free. And its great for those struggling to eat enough: Certain medical conditions and poor appetite are just two of many reasons why someone may struggle to eat enough protein.

Is There Anything To Avoid In Protein Powders?

Many protein powders have added sugars, artificial sweeteners and some have been found to have harmful chemicals, says Michelle Routhenstein, a preventive cardiology dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist. It is important to read the ingredient list on the food label and ensure the product is third-party tested.

And primary care physician Dr. Danielle Kelvas, MD adds: Casein powder is high in lactose and may cause bloating and gas, and additives like dextrins and maltodextrin are often processed with GMO corn, which can be an insidious source of gut inflammation. Also, artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame and saccharin can cause headaches and gastric distress.

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