Protein shakes have become a popular choice for individuals looking to enhance their protein intake, especially among fitness enthusiasts. These beverages offer a convenient and efficient way to increase protein consumption, potentially aiding muscle recovery, growth, and overall well-being.
In this article, we will review a few options of what we consider to be the best protein shakes. We included various products to help you choose the most suitable one for you.
Best protein shakes: shortlist
- Future Kind — best third-party tested protein shake
- Huel — best protein shake fortified with vitamins and minerals
- Bulletproof — best collagen-based protein shake
- Transparent Labs — best protein drink with 15 flavor options
- PhenQ — best protein shake for weight loss
- Crazy Nutrition — best after workout protein shake
- Kaged — best zero-sugar protein shake option
- Portion Masters — best value protein drink
- Naked Nutrition — best protein shake with a range of distinctive flavors
- Owyn — best premade protein shake
How we chose the best protein shakes
As our goal of this article was to offer readers a wider overview of protein shakes, we employed criteria that include a broad spectrum of products. These criteria can help you assess the quality of protein shakes and allow you to make an informed decision.
|Contains no or little added sugar
|Vegetarian, vegan, keto-friendly
|Price per serving
- Safety measures. Since protein shakes fall under the category of dietary supplements, they do not require approval from the FDA. Some brands opt for third-party testing to ensure their products do not contain heavy metals or other harmful substances.
- Added sugar. We preferred products that contain zero added sugars. However, for this list, we also picked a few options for those who are avoiding artificial sweeteners that contain some added sugar.
- Dietary compatibility. For our list, we picked a wide range of protein shakes that may be suitable for various diets, including vegetarian, vegan, and keto.
- Price per serving. We calculated the final price per serving for each item on our list to provide you with a better price comparison. However, the price will be influenced by various factors such as protein source, other ingredients, and brand reputation.
Best protein shake: top products
There are different types of protein shakes available. This article introduces several options for you to consider, including pre-made shakes, low-calorie shakes, and meal replacement products. The most suitable protein shake for you will be determined by your specific fitness goals.
Without further ado, let us delve into the list of what we picked as the best protein shakes.
1. Future Kind — best protein shake that has been third-party tested
Future Kind is a vegan protein shake that delivers 20 grams of protein, 85 calories, 1 gram of carbs, and zero fat per serving.
What makes this product stand out is the fact that this protein powder is third-party tested for composition and presence of heavy metals and pathogens. Moreover, the brand also displays third-party results on their website as an extra measure to ensure transparency and build trust with consumers.
With no added sugar and 34% of the daily value of iron per serving, this product is a great addition to your diet.
As claimed by the manufacturer, Future Kind is also conscious of sustainability and offers carbon-neutral shipping.
One container offering 34 servings is now available for a one-time purchase price of $59.99 ($1.76).
2. Huel — best protein shake fortified with vitamins and minerals
Huel Ready-to-drink is a protein shake fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, calcium, iron, potassium, and various other micronutrients crucial for human health.
Each serving of this protein shake provides a total of 400 calories and 22 grams of protein. As it contains 41 grams of carbohydrates, this Huel product can also be considered the best protein shake for breakfast.
Huel offers a variety of flavors for its protein powder, including chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and cinnamon roll. The product only contains 4 grams of added sugar.
The manufacturer asserts that all Huel ingredients undergo testing by independent laboratories. However, certifications are not available on the company's website.
For those interested in trying the Huel protein shake, 12 bottles are currently priced at $66.50 without a subscription or $5.54 per bottle. However, you can purchase Huel with a subscription and save a substantial amount of your order now and in the future.
3. Bulletproof — best collagen-based protein drink
If joint and skin health is your priority, including collagen-based protein shakes in your routine may be the most suitable. Bulletproof's Energy Collagen Protein stands out as a top-notch choice for collagen-based protein shakes.
Crafted from hydrolyzed collagen, this dietary supplement provides 22 grams of protein and 110 calories per serving. Additionally, it contains 9 grams of carbohydrates, of which 7 grams come from dietary fiber. It does not contain added sugars.
According to the manufacturer's website, Bulletproof products undergo testing, although the specifics of whether the testing is conducted in-house or by a third-party laboratory are not stated.
Currently, you can acquire a single jar of Energy Collagen Protein for $44.99. With 14 servings per jar, each serving comes down to $3.21. You can save 20% on the order if you choose the subscription-based purchase option.
4. Transparent Labs — best protein drink with a wide range of flavor selection
Crafted from milk sourced from grass-fed cows, this whey protein shake by Transparent Labs stands out for its remarkable flavor options. The product offers a selection of 15 flavors, including milk chocolate, sugar cookies, blueberry pancakes, and mocha. Additionally, this powdered shake is also available in an unflavored option.
Each serving of this protein powder provides 28 grams of protein, a mere 1 gram of carbohydrates, and zero fat, resulting in a total of 120 calories per serving. This protein shake has no added sugar as well.
The manufacturer asserts that their protein powder undergoes testing by an independent laboratory. However, it's worth noting that a Certificate of Analysis is not readily available on the brand's website.
For a current price of $59.99, you can acquire one jar of Transparent Labs protein shake, offering a total of 30 servings. This breaks down to a cost of $2.00 per serving.
5. PhenQ — best protein shake for weight loss
As presented by PhenQ, this protein shake has been formulated to aid weight loss. Containing 16-17 grams of protein (depending on the flavor), this product is proposed to help curb cravings and snacking throughout the day.
In addition, PhenQ is enriched with 13 vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin B12, niacin, and biotin. The product does not contain added sugar but does include 21-22 grams of carbs.
For better digestion, the manufacturer also includes digestive enzymes within the shake.
Right now, you can choose from three flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberries & cream.
One package containing 14 servings of PhenQ is priced at $64.99 (or $4.64 per serving).
6. Crazy Nutrition — best post-workout protein shake
If your goal is to build more muscle, this mass gainer from Crazy Nutrition comes as a top choice on our list. Designed to be added to your diet for increased gains and better muscle recovery, this dietary supplement from Crazy Nutrition can be easily integrated after an intense workout.
One serving of this protein shake delivers 40 grams of protein and 488 calories per serving. You can choose from two flavors: chocolate or vanilla.
Right now, you can purchase this dietary supplement for $89.99. As the package contains 20 servings, one serving would cost you $4.50.
7. Kaged — best no-added-sugar protein shake option
If you are looking for the best low sugar protein shakes, this product from Kaged is an excellent choice. Containing no added sugars, the flavor of this protein powder is enhanced by a naturally derived sweetener, stevia.
Each serving of this protein shake provides 25 grams of protein, zero fat, and 2 grams of carbohydrates, amounting to a total of 110 calories. Furthermore, this product is enriched with digestive enzymes.
According to the manufacturer's claims, this protein powder has received third-party certification. However, it's worth noting that no Certificate of Analysis is currently accessible on the Kaged website.
Buyers can choose from four delicious flavors, including s’mores, chocolate peanut butter, and vanilla.
A jar containing 25 servings is currently retailed at $39.99 (or $1.60 per serving).
8. Portions Masters — best value protein shake
If you are on a stricter budget, consider this high-quality Portions Masters protein shake. With only $1.25 per serving, Portion Masters stands as the most affordable product on our list.
One serving of this protein shake would deliver 110 calories — almost all of them coming from protein. One serving of Portion Masters has 24 grams of protein, 1 gram of fats, and 1 gram of carbohydrates. Although it is made from whey protein, it has been filtered to make it lactose-free.
Currently, one package of Portions Master protein shakes is priced at $39.99.
9. Naked Nutrition — best protein shake with unique flavors
Naked Nutrition presents a variety of 10 flavors, ranging from the familiar (chocolate, vanilla) to more distinctive (pumpkin spice, apple pie).
One serving of this powder provides 20 grams of protein and 130-150 calories per serving depending on the flavor. This product also contains 3 grams of added sugar.
Suitable for a vegan diet, Naked Nutrition also ticks the box for those seeking dairy-free options.
Moreover, as claimed by the provider, this protein shake went through independent third-party testing to ensure that it is free of heavy metals.
Right now, one jar containing 30 servings of this protein shake is priced at $41.99 (or $1.40 per serving)
10. Owyn — best protein shake on the go
Owyn can be considered to be one of the best premade protein shakes out there. Packed in separate bottles, Owyn offers the most efficient solution to keep you fueled throughout your busy day.
Packing 20 grams of protein and 180 calories, Owyn also contains 4 grams of added sugar. However, this drink is free of stevia — a sweetener that some people are looking to avoid due to its bitter aftertaste.
This protein shake is suitable for vegans as it is made with plant-based protein. Moreover, the product is a source of omega-3.
When it comes to testing, Owyn protein shakes are tested by third-party laboratories for any potential cross-contamination with major allergens.
Owyn also offers a great variety of flavors like dark chocolate, smooth vanilla, and more unique, like pumpkin spice.
If you decide to try Owyn, 12 bottles of this protein shake would cost you $36.99 (or $3.08 per bottle).
Comparing best protein shakes
|Protein per serving
|Calories per serving
|Added sugar per serving*
|Servings per container
|Price per serving
|Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cinnamon roll, etc
|Vanilla bean, dark chocolate
|Milk chocolate, sugar cookie, blueberry pancakes, mocha, peanut butter, and 10 more
|Chocolate, vanilla, strawberries & cream
|Vanilla, chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, s’mores
|Peanut butter cup
|Chocolate, blueberry muffin, hot cocoa, etc
|Dark chocolate, strawberry banana, pumpkin spice, etc
* — May contain naturally occurring sugars.
How to choose the best protein shake?
If you have decided to include protein shakes in your daily routine, there are certain factors worth considering before making a purchase. Below, we will outline what to look for in the best protein shakes.
Consider your goals
Some pre-made protein shakes, unlike pure protein powders, may include higher amounts of carbohydrates and fats. Depending on their intended purpose, these products might be referred to as mass gainers or meal replacements. As these will be higher in calories, they may not be the optimal choice if you are trying to lose weight.
Check for third-party testing
One of the best ways to ensure the quality of a product is to check if the protein shake has been tested by an independent laboratory. Moreover, it is advisable to check for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) issued for products that have undergone third-party testing. This serves as an indication of a transparent and trustworthy brand.
Check for additional ingredients
Examine the ingredient list to identify any additives, sweeteners, or preservatives present in the protein shake. Some individuals may have sensitivities or allergies to certain ingredients, so it's crucial to choose a product that aligns with your health considerations. Additionally, be wary of excessive amounts of sugar or artificial additives, as they can counteract the health benefits of the protein shake.
Benefits of protein shakes
The benefits of protein shakes correlate with the benefits of increasing or optimizing protein intake.
Key benefits of protein in our diet include:
- Essential for optimal body function. Protein plays a crucial role in enzymatic activity, immunity, cell signaling, and muscle contraction. Therefore, maintaining an adequate daily protein intake is vital for supporting overall body function.
- Muscle gain. Protein serves as a fundamental building block for muscles. Consequently, individuals aiming to increase their muscle mass, particularly those leading active lifestyles, can boost their protein consumption through the incorporation of protein shakes.
- Increased satiety. High-quality protein food, including protein shakes, may decrease hunger throughout the day. This could be beneficial for people looking for effective weight management strategies.
How much protein do you need?
The amount of protein needed can be influenced by your lifestyle and other health considerations.
For the general population, it is commonly advised to intake 0.75-0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day.
Active individuals, especially those engaged in endurance sports, should increase their protein intake beyond the general recommendation. A target range of 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily is advisable for individuals participating in endurance activities. Meanwhile, those involved in resistance or speed exercises may consider a higher protein intake, ranging from 1.6-1.8 grams per kilogram daily.
When to drink protein shakes?
The time you drink protein shakes does not matter that much as long as your overall protein consumption throughout the day is consistent with your goals.
However, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming protein shakes immediately to 2 hours post-exercise may be the most optimal for muscle protein synthesis.
Moreover, it is recommended that the protein you consume throughout the day would be evenly spaced. Do not rely on protein shakes alone to reach your protein requirements.
Potential downsides: Who should avoid protein shakes?
Protein shakes are mostly well tolerated and should not cause any side effects in healthy populations. However, this only applies in cases when protein shakes are consumed in larger servings than recommended by the manufacturer.
For instance, whey protein shakes may increase bowel movements, especially if consumed in higher amounts.
If you have any conditions or take medications, you may want to consult your doctor if you are planning to consume protein shakes routinely.
Why and when to seek medical advice on protein shake use
Most healthy individuals can incorporate protein shakes without any medical advice or professional supervision.
However, if you have any specific conditions (e.g., kidney) you may want to consult your healthcare provider. Moreover, if you are thinking about increasing your protein intake by more than 2 grams per body weight in kilograms per day for prolonged periods, it may also be worth considering contacting a professional healthcare expert.
The science behind protein drinks
Proteins, together with fats and carbohydrates, belong to the category of macronutrients — meaning humans need to get large amounts of them through their diet. Protein itself can be used for energy (just like fats and carbohydrates) but it is also essential for growth, repair, and maintenance.
For most people who are interested in purchasing high protein shakes, these drinks are seen as a convenient way to increase protein intake. The reasons why you may want to increase your protein intake vary, from fitness goals to overall health.
For instance, studies suggest that a high-protein diet may be linked to increased satiety, which, in turn, may be helpful for people trying to lose weight. Moreover, it is recommended for active people to increase their protein intake — especially when trying to build muscle mass.
Besides that, protein also plays an important role in our general health. For instance, there is some evidence to suggest that a protein-rich diet may positively influence our sleep quality.
Another interesting reason why one would want to incorporate more protein in their diet is skin and joint health. For example, collagen protein products may help to reduce wrinkles.
Final thoughts: best protein shakes
Protein shakes can offer a convenient way to increase your protein intake. With many options to choose from, everyone can find what works best for them.
In this article, we picked a few healthy protein shakes that can be easily integrated into your routine. Our priority was to select brands that invest in extra safety measures such as third-party testing. Moreover, we looked for products that do not contain many unnecessary additives.
Other products that could be beneficial in your fitness journey
If you are looking to increase your muscle mass, check out our best supplements for muscle growth article.
For those looking for a boost before a workout, we picked a few of the best nootropic pre-workout supplements.
We also got you covered after a good workout — find our top picks for the best supplements for muscle recovery here.
Lastly, check out the best massage guns that may also help to expedite the muscle recovery process.
What is the best protein shake?
There are different types of protein shakes and thus the best one may depend on your goals. For instance, people trying to lose weight may prefer low-calorie protein shakes, while people trying to increase muscle mass will look for alternatives that contain more protein or calories in general.
Are protein shakes actually good for you?
Protein shakes can help you meet your protein intake goals. Although preferably you should be able to meet your protein intake by consuming whole foods, in some cases, protein shakes can serve as a convenient way to increase your protein intake.
Can you drink protein shakes without working out?
Yes, you can incorporate protein shakes into your routine even if you do not work out. However, protein shakes themselves will not make you gain muscle or lose weight; they are only used to support your fitness goals.
Can protein shakes replace meals?
No, protein shakes can not replace a healthy and balanced diet. However, they can help you to meet your protein intake goals. Moreover, increased protein intake can help you feel fuller, and thus, protein shakes are often used to help control appetite.
How many protein shakes can you drink per day?
It depends. Usually, it is not recommended to consume more than 2 grams of protein per body weight in kilograms for extended periods unless supervised by a professional.
- British Nutrition Foundation. Protein.
- Current Sports Medicine Reports. Exercise and the Institute of Medicine Recommendations for Nutrition.
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition Beyond the zone: protein needs of active individuals.
- Current Sports Medicine Reports. Exercise and the Institute of Medicine recommendations for nutrition.
- Food & Function. Dietary protein intake and human health.
- Toxicology Reports. A human health risk assessment of heavy metal ingestion among consumers of protein powder supplements.
- Clinical Nutrition. Protein supplementation increases adaptations to endurance training: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
- Nutrients. Animal Protein versus Plant Protein in Supporting Lean Mass and Muscle Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.
- Journal of Dietary Supplements. Protein Supplements: Pros and Cons.