Protein supplementation is an important component of any mass building or fat burning diet. Getting enough protein is even more important if you plan on building muscle and burning fat at the exact same time, like we wrote about in this article – Protein supplementation for bulking, cutting or both!
So yeah, protein is an important foundational macronutrient for any fitness regimen.
But that doesn’t mean you’ve got to go out and buy a thousand dollar protein powder cache so that you can spend your days and nights mixing powders into shakes for the sake of righteous gains!
Instead, what you need to be doing is making sure that your real-food diet maximizes your natural protein intake.
From there, you can put your wallet to work on getting high-quality protein powder to supplement your daily protein intake with… In a way that fits your lifestyle.
The key here is, high-quality protein powders… Because the sick truth is that most of those mainstream proteins you’re chugging down are created from milk and cheese byproducts (aka trash).
Protein Powder Cliff Notes:
- You shouldn’t be spending all your money on protein shakes
- Maximize natural protein intake from your real-food diet
- Then, add high-quality protein powders in to meet your macronutrient goals
The best types of protein powders tend to be whey isolates and protein powders from grass-fed cattle, period.
Yes, there are good vegan-sourced protein supplements out there too… But they tend to have grainy textures and are generally not as pleasant to supplement with as a milk-based protein source. For that reason, we will primarily focus on dairy based protein powders.
Protein powder quality tiers in our respective opinion:
Milk Protein Concentrate: This is basically powdered milk, it contains whey protein, casein protein, as well as all the lactose and fats present in standard milk. If the milk is high quality, then the protein concentrate will be.
Whey Protein Concentrate: Whey protein concentrate is milk protein concentrate after a simple purification process, it often still contains dairy fat and lactose. This is a tad better than milk protein concentrate, but still, the majority is garbage unless quality control is at a high standard.
Casein Protein: Casein is a globular protein derived from dairy. Most notably, is its slow-digesting nature, due to the fact that it clumps up in the stomach. A few years ago we wrote this article: difference between whey and casein proteins; which summarizes the different reasons to take each type.
However now we recommend against the use of casein proteins. This is because casein causes a great deal of body inflammation, GI distress, and may be linked to higher risk of cancer.
Whey Protein Isolate: Whey protein isolate is pure whey protein taken from dairy milk. It does not contain any dairy fat or lactose (at least it shouldn’t). This is the preferred protein supplement if you simply can’t afford to get higher quality whey proteins from grass-fed cows.
The Grass-fed Difference: We have always preferred grass-fed sources for both whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. In our experience, these sources of protein always digest better and produce better results. One can assume that this is due to the greater level of care given to grass-fed cattle sourced products, that ultimate produces a higher quality protein powder. Whereas low-grade factory-like dairy production only goes farther downhill with processing.
Call us skeptics, but this is how we see it. You can ultimately choose whatever you want to subject your body to.
Top 15 Protein Powder Supplements on the market
#1 Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
If you want an award winning body, then you’ve got to be mindful of what you are putting into it. As of 2017, Transparent Labs is the most detail-oriented quality supplement manufacturer in the game. For that reason, we trust their grass-fed protein supplements above all others.
Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Specs:
- 28 Grams Whey Isolate Per Serving (highest)
- 30 Servings Per Each Bag
- Zero Artificial Flavors, Sweeteners, Colors
- Delicious, Refreshing, and Feels Clean
- Chocolate and Vanilla Flavor Options
#2 Natural Force Organic Whey Protein
Ranking in at second place on our health conscious best protein powders ranking is Natural Force’s own Organic Whey Protein.
Organic Whey Protein is minimally processed, organic, and modestly flavored to give you a natural, earthy product.
Organic Whey by Natural Force is a distinct second place ranker for two reasons: first, it is more expensive than TL Grass-Fed Whey; and second, Grass-Fed Whey tastes much, much better.
Natural Force Organic Whey Specs:
- 20 Grams Organic Whey Per Serving
- 15 Servings Per Container
- Zero Artificial Ingredients
- Available in Chocolate, Vanilla, and Unflavored
Available Natural Force and Unflavored on Amazon.com
#3 NutraBio Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
NutraBio has been around for quite a while and they make a massive line of supplements. It’s only right that they provide their loyal customer base with a high quality grass-fed whey isolate protein.
In comparison, NutraBio Whey Protein Isolate is similar to Transparent Labs Grass-fed Whey isolate.
- They are both Grass-fed
- They both come in chocolate and vanilla flavors
But, Transparent Labs Grass-Fed offers 28 grams of protein per serving while the latter 25 g. When we choose between the two, we pick Transparent Labs every time.
Review of NutraBio Grass-Fed Whey Specs
- Grass-fed Whey Isolate
- 25 Grams of protein per serving
- Flavors: Vanilla and Chocolate
- Respectable Brand with a long history
Available here on Amazon and most large retailers
What If I want An Affordable Whey Isolate Protein Powder Though?
#4 Featured Value Buy – Staunch Whey Isolate
If you want an affordable whey protein isolate, our favored recommendation would be Staunch Whey Isolate. We choose these guys because they are US based and a relatively small company. This means fresher protein powder, as you buy it directly from them, not some overstrung distribution network where protein sits in a warehouse for years.
Staunch Whey Isolate Specs
- 24 Grams of Whey Isolate per serving
- Quantity Discount with Free Shipping
- 3 Delicious and Unique Flavors
- Fan Favorite Bodybuilding Brand
If you do not care about grass-fed sourced protein powders, or are simply tight on cash – Staunch Whey Isolate is what we would choose to supplement with.
Staunch Whey Isolate is available on their website, StaunchNation.com
#5 Naked Nutrition Naked Whey Powder
Naked Nutrition chose its name based on their choice to use as few additives as possible. Hence, they label their products as ‘naked’. Their Grass-Fed whey protein powder is no exception, and is a fantastic option for an unflavored grass-fed protein supplement.
Naked Grass-Fed Whey Protein Specs
- Good Value at about $1 per Serving
- Only Unflavored, no chocolate or vanilla
- Made from California Grass-fed cows
It’s worth noting that the naked brand also contains ‘less naked protein supplements’. While they are not grass-fed sourced, they are a reasonable option for flavored proteins. We really like this brand, and anticipate their rankings rising, and more of their products entering our site (keep up the good work naked nutrition!).
The Naked Brand has products across many online retailers
#6 Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Clean Whey Protein Isolate
Garden of Life has a strong history with making plant-based healthy supplements. With that in mind, they have been very strict to produce a milk based grass-fed whey protein powder supplement.
It is important for us to point out, that just because this protein powder is ranked #6, doesn’t mean it is bad by any means. In-fact, this is the cumulative list of all the best products that we’ve ever taken across our whole staff. We just feel that the protein powders above have earned your money more, if a quality yet economical protein powder is what you are after.
Garden Of Life Grass-Fed Whey Powder Specs:
- 24 Grams Whey Protein per Serving
- 20 Servings Per Container
- Available in Chocolate and Vanilla
- Uses Sugar Alcohols and Organic Creamers for flavoring
- Whey Powder Sourced From Ireland
Garden of Life Grass-Fed Whey can be found at most major online retailers
#7 Catalyst Grass-Fed Whey
Catalyst Nutrition is a branch-off from the popular website Strength.com. They make a few protein products, of them we have featured Grass-Fed Whey here.
What makes Grass-Fed Whey by Catalyst different from other brands, is that they use a blend of both grass-fed isolate and concentrate. They disclose this as a 3:1 ratio, meaning for every 3 grams of isolate protein, there are 1 grams of concentrate.
Given that each serving provides 24 grams of total protein – the breakdown is 18 grams of grass-fed isolate and 6 grams of grass-fed concentrate per serving.
Catalyst Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder Specs:
- 3:1 Isolate to Concentrate Ratio
- 24 Grams total protein per serving
- 30 Servings per container
- Expensive for not exclusively isolate
- 3 Flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry
#8 Promix Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Promix is a lesser-known brand with a supplement line-up focusing on non-gmo supplements. They use a similar quality grass-fed protein powder as many of the others above.
Of importance for many readers, is that this protein is unflavored. Thus, it will have a bland flavorless taste to it.
Despite its lack of flavors, you can be excited about getting a quality sourced protein supplement into your body that is more bio-available and less likely to cause inflammation and GI distress.
Promix Whey Isolate Protein Specs:
- Mostly Non-GMO
- Does Have Some Bad Reviews
- Available in Concentrate and Isolate
- Rather Expensive, Big Investment
You can find Promix Whey Protein Supplements on Amazon and their website
#9 Reservage Organics Grass-Fed Whey Protein Concentrate
Reservage Organics offers a small-sized specialty whey concentrate derived from grass-fed cow milk. This is an unflavored product, but if you are looking for a minimally refined whey protein that you can mix into your self-flavored smoothies… This is a fantastic option!
Reservage Organics Whey Protein Concentrate Specs:
- 12 Servings Per Container
- Whey Protein Concentrate
- Grass-Fed Cow Sourced
- Unflavored, but great texture
You can Find Reservage Organics Whey Protein on Amazon and their website
For Best Protein Powders ranking in the 10-15, we have more mainstream popular brands that you are likely to recognize.
At the end of the day, the protein powders below will still support your overall goals: weight loss or muscle gain. However, nothing can match the guaranteed quality behind minimally refined, high quality-control grass-fed protein products.
So, if you choose to go with these popular protein supplements below – we urge you to make an effort to eat more greens and less processed foods.
This will ensure that you are able to build the best body possible, by constructing it with the right components. After all, food isn’t just a source of energy, it is the actual building blocks of your body. Do your body right and choose high quality components for a superior and healthy body.
#10 Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein
Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Whey is literally the most popular whey protein powder on the planet. Go to any supplement store, online or in person – and this is a product that you will certainly find!
But with this intensely value-insinuating name… Does the protein powder stack up?
Well, it’s more ‘average’ than you would think. 100% Whey is a blend of concentrate and isolate protein. It is artificially flavored, artificially sweetened, and even contains artificial dyes. To us, that’s not the ‘gold standard of optimum nutrition’…
But on the bright side, it is extremely inexpensive and comes in a vast selection of flavors. So, if you fear no food dye, milk source, or processing practice – then this is exactly what you want, hands down.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Specs:
- Very Affordable Whey Protein Powder
- Countless Different Flavor Options
- Wide Availability In-Store and Online
- Contains Artificial Ingredients
The best place to find Optimum Nutrition protein powders is in-store or on Amazon.
#11 Dymatize: ISO100 – Ultra-Pure Whey Isolate
Dymatize is more mind-full of their protein quality as you can see in their ISO100 protein powder. Where many other popular brands use a combination of whey isolate and concentrate, ISO100 features ultra-pure whey protein isolate.
While the sourcing of this whey protein is up for debate, at least they are purifying it to the best of their abilities and taking out any junk.
ISO100 is reasonably priced, and provides 25 grams of protein per serving totaling 110 calories per serving. Unlike our top reviewed protein powders, ISO100 uses artificial sweeteners and flavors.
Dymatize ISO100 Whey Isolate Specs:
- 25 Grams Protein Per Serving
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Ultra-Filtered Whey
- 110 Calories Per Serving (averaged)
- 24 Servings Per Container
#12 Muscletech Nitrotech
Muscletech has always made very excitingly named products. Nitrotech is a perfect example, and it makes our list of the best protein supplements. So, what’s in the scoop?
Nitrotech contains 30 grams of protein per scoop, which is awesomely high. This protein is a mixture of isolate and concentrate which they do not disclose.
Something that looks great at first, is how they advertise Nitrotech containing 6.9 grams of BCAAs. However, these BCAAs are not additional. Instead, this is the naturally occurring amount in that 30 grams of protein.
So, with Nitrotech you are getting 30 grams of protein along with 3 grams of creatine monohydrate and a small enzyme blend.
Muscletech Nitrotech Protein Specs:
- 30 Grams Protein Per Serving
- 3 Grams Creatine Monohydrate Per Serving
- Many Different Flavor Options
- Low Servings Per Container
#13 Jym Pro-Jym
It wouldn’t be a top 15 supplement list without at least one Jim Stoppani product. However, unlike pre workout supplements where Jym makes a fantastic performing pre workout like Pre-Jym… They are slacking on the protein side of business, using lesser sources.
But in defense of Jim, while the sources of protein may be questionable – he does excel at explaining why he chose the ratio of protein forms in Pro Jym.
The Pro Jym protein breakdown is this per scoop:
- 7.5 grams whey protein isolate
- 7 grams micellular casein
- 2.5 grams egg albumin
- 7 grams isolated milk protein
This blend of protein sources allows Pro Jym to supply your body with fast digesting protein, medium digesting protein, and slow digesting protein. This may or may not lead to enhanced gains.
Jym Supplement Science Pro Jym Specs
- 24 Grams Protein per Scoop
- Multi-Protein Blend
- 7 Grams Carbohydrates per Serving
- Available in 4 Flavors
#14 Cellucor COR Performance Whey
COR Performance Whey is really the same story that we see among many other supplement companies: Flashy branding, value suggesting name, and same old average protein.
When you look into this ‘new’ COR Performance Whey, you will find a mixture of whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate. That’s it. They boast a BCAA content on the front, but that isn’t added BCAAs… It’s the naturally occurring BCAAs found in the protein blend.
COR Performance Whey
- 24 Grams Protein Per Serving
- Whey Isolate and Concentrate Blend
- Artificial Sweeteners and Flavors
- Nothing Special Here
#15 BSN Syntha-6 Whey Protein “Candy-like Protein Supplement”
Ranking in at last place is Syntha-6 by BSN – the makers of NO Xplode. We’ve taken Syntha-6 frequently, and while it tastes really, really delicious (seriously delicious)… We always found ourselves not making any gains at all.
This sucks, and doesn’t make sense when you look at BSN’s marketing for Syntha-6.
- BSN Claims Syntha-6 is Ultra-Premium Protein Powder
- They Boast 10 Grams of Essential Amino Acids Per Serving
But, what you are actually getting is 22 grams of protein per serving, containing several different concentrates, along with 14 grams of carbs and 6 grams of fat!!!
Yes, this is the first ‘ultra-premium’ protein to contain nearly as much carbs and fat as actual protein!!
Is this a good thing? Probably not, but at least it tastes good…
Syntha-6 Protein Powder Specs:
- 22 Grams Protein Per Serving (Very Low)
- 6 Grams Fat Per Serving
- 14 Grams Carbohydrates Per Serving
- Relatively Inexpensive
- Flashy and Shiny Label
There Is a Definite Quality Gradient among Protein Powders As You Can See
We’ve finally reached the end of our 15 best protein powders ranking. Through this list, we hope that you’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a quality protein powder so good. From there, you can judge exactly where your budget and health needs meet.
If you want the utmost best for your body, then our #1 choice Transparent Labs Grass-fed Whey through #3 NutraBio Grass-Fed Whey are the best choices. However if you’d like to save money, and don’t worry as much about sourcing – then Staunch Whey Isolate trumps all others!