Adding a good protein powder to your diet can help you stay full longer, build muscle mass, and aid with your exercise and fitness goals. Vegetarians and vegans might also consider using protein powders to supplement their diets.
Protein powders are not regulated by the FDA, so it’s up to you to find a protein source that contains a spectrum of benefits, like a full profile of amino acids and little to no added sugars. And if you're looking into plant-based muscle-builders, a combo of several different sources of protein is ideal as a complete nutrient source.
An important note: While protein powders can be added to a variety of foods, like smoothies, shakes, and oatmeal, it’s important to remember that protein powders are only supplemental to a healthy, balanced diet. To better understand what your recommended daily amount of protein is, consult your physician.
We conducted hours of research and tried some of the top-rated protein powders out there, our testers taking note of key ingredients, taste, consistency, as well as how easily each protein powder is digested. Our team then combined these results with our own research plus dietician-recommended picks to create this list.
Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+
Provides 20 grams of protein per scoop
Contains complete aminos
Made of clean ingredients
Not for all ages
You probably know Ritual by their range of beloved vitamins, but the brand also launched a line of protein powders, and they're poised to be just as much of a hit as their capsule cousins. The plant-based protein is soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly. It's also formulated without GMOs, major allergens, stevia, sugar or sugar alcohols, and artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Basically: You won't find a long list of ingredients that you can't pronounce; everything included—from choline for brain support, to monk fruit for sweetness—has a purpose and is Made Traceable with a visible supply chain.
There are options for specific life stages too. There's Essential Protein 50+ and Essential Protein Pregnancy & Postpartum.
Price at time of publish: $40
Key Ingredients: Organic pea protein, vanilla, sugarcane | Certified: Non-GMO, gluten-free, allergen-friendly | Dosage: 1 scoop daily | Size: 15.8 oz.
Runner-Up, Best Overall
ALOHA Protein Powder
Free of common allergens
Easy to digest
This tasty plant-based protein powder is ideal for those with food sensitivities as it’s free of gluten, soy, dairy, and stevia. Each serving packs in 18 grams of plant-based protein, sourced from hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and peas, and a complete amino acid profile for optimal wellness. Instead of artificial sweeteners, this formula relies on natural coconut sugar and monk fruit for its sweetness and vanilla bean, cinnamon, and coconut cream for its flavor. While users do like the taste, they also love that it’s non-irritating to their digestive system.
Price at time of publish: $30
Key Ingredients: Pea, brown rice, pumpkin seed, and hemp seed protein | Certified: Organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free | Dosage: 2 scoops daily | Size: 3 oz.
Now Foods NOW Sports Nutrition Pea Protein
Dairy and soy-free
Simple ingredient list
PRotein powders can be pricey, but this option from NOW Sports will give you the perfect boost of plant-based protein for under $25. It's made with only one ingredient—pea protein—and doesn't contain any soy, dairy, or sweeteners. It's a great choice if you're trying to stay away from artificial ingredients, and it mixes easily into smoothies, water, or baked goods.
Price at time of publish: $23
Key Ingredients: Pea protein | Certified: Non-GMO, kosher, vegan | Dosage: 1 scoop daily | Size: 32 oz.
Best for Toning
Tone It Up Plant-Based Protein Powder
Has low calories per serving
Low in carbs
Developed by the founders of Tone It Up (FYI, their Instagram is #fitnessgoals), this powder is ideal for those who live an active lifestyle and want to firm up their bodies. With zero sugar added (amen!) and 15 grams of protein, this powder is only 90 calories per serving—so if you're watching your caloric intake, consider this one your perfect match.
Price at time of publish: $20
Key Ingredients: Pea and pumpkin seed protein | Certified: Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free | Dosage: 1 scoop daily | Size: 11.36 oz.
Ora Organic Vegan Protein Powder
Provides 22 grams per serving
Easy to digest
Made of organic ingredients
Difficult to mix
Users love this protein powder for its raw organic superfood combo of kale, acai, blueberries, rice, pea, hemp, flax, quinoa, and spirulina. While it has an impressive 22 grams of protein, it also features just 5 grams of net carbs and no added sugar, so this is great for those on a low-carb diet. Plus, it’s easy on your stomach as it includes vegan digestive enzymes to aid in smooth digestion. And with no chalky taste, it’s perfect to add in even the simplest shakes.
Price at time of publish: $36
Key Ingredients: Pea, rice, and hemp protein | Certified: Organic, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free | Dosage: 2 scoops daily | Size: 22.9 oz.
Orgain Organic Protein Powder, Vanilla Bean
Contains artificial sweeteners
We're happy to report that this protein powder is unbelievably delicious—not too sweet or and not at all powdery-tasting. In addition to packing in 21 grams of plant-based protein per serving (derived from pea protein and chia seeds), it also contains five grams of organic fiber. Mix a scoop in your iced coffee for a delicious kick that will keep you full for hours.
Price at time of publish: $30
Key Ingredients: Pea protein, chia seed, brown rice | Certified: Non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free | Dosage: 2 scoops daily | Size: 32 oz.
Best With Collagen
Vital Proteins Original Collagen Peptides
Contains collagen to moisturize the skin
Has versatile uses
Not ideal for workouts
Collagen refers to a family of proteins that are the primary structural component of connective tissues, such as skin, ligaments, and cartilage. Topical collagen creams are said to improve fine lines and wrinkles by replacing the lost collagen, though its main benefit is moisturizing the skin.
Can you guess what the most abundant protein in our bodies is? I'll give it to you straight: collagen. Not only is it the amplest, but it's literally the thing that holds our bodies together. Our skin, bones, muscles, and tendons all have collagen, so it's safe to say that it's a pretty important protein. Unfortunately, like all good things, collagen production begins to slow down as we age, so refueling our bodies with that protein is needed. That's where this one-ingredient protein powder comes in. It basically supports your entire body—nails, joints, skin, and more. Users love it for its versatility; it can be added to almost anything, like cold and hot liquids, and baked goods (we're thinking cookies). Tamar Samuels, RD, NBC-HWC, a New York City-based holistic dietitian and nutritionist and the co-founder of Culina Health, is a self-proclaimed “big fan,” lauding the brand for being transparent about ingredients and sourcing.
Price at time of publish: $51
Key Ingredients: Collagen, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid | Certified: Non-GMO, paleo, gluten-free | Dosage: 2 scoops daily | Size: 20 oz.
Best With Whey
Care/of Whey Protein
Ideal for muscle recovery
Has a creamy consistency
Contains grass-fed whey
A dairy-based protein, this grass-fed whey is an isolate, which means it has the highest concentration of protein and little carbs, fats, and sugars. While it’ll promote muscle growth and recovery post-workout, it can also be used as a snack substitute if you’re looking to manage your weight. It’s also delightfully creamy in texture, making your protein shakes and smoothies all the more delicious. Add two scoops to 8-10 ounces of your favorite cold liquid—we love unsweetened almond milk—and shake thoroughly.
Price at time of publish: $28
Key Ingredients: Whey protein | Certified: Non-GMO, gluten-free | Dosage: 2 scoops or 1 packet daily | Size: 9.5 oz.
Kapowder Strength Plant Protein with Superpowers
Boosts muscle growth and recovery
Contains no sugar
Can only be mixed in liquids
Looking for a protein powder that doesn’t use any animal-derived ingredients? Look no further than this alkalizing formula from Kapowder. Powered by three different plant-based proteins—hemp, bio-fermented black rice, and pea—it works hard to give your bod a toning boost post-workout. The formula contains over 80% raw digestible protein with live enzymes and high levels of BCAA (branch-chain amino acids), which help boost muscle growth and reduce exercise-induced fatigue. Also nice: The sugar-free, low-carb formula is free from synthetic ingredients and is flavored with delicious Peruvian cacao and coconut for a protein boost you’ll actually look forward to drinking.
Price at time of publish: $32
Key Ingredients: Hemp, bio-fermented brown rice, and pea protein | Certified: Vegan, non-GMO, | Dosage: 2 tsps daily | Size: 7.8 oz.
Best With Fiber
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Organic Max Protein Protein Powder
Contains filling fiber
Has a complete amino acid profile
Large serving size
This protein powder provides 10 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein to keep you full longer. Fiber takes up a lot of space in the stomach without providing any calories, so it's ideal for those who want to stay satiated for an extended period of time. Hemp, another plant-based protein alternative, contains all nine essential amino acids that we get from food. It's also easily digestible, with one user reporting that it helped improve her digestion, unlike other protein powders. “I haven’t tried this one, so I can’t vouch for the taste or texture, but hemp has all nine essential amino acids, the product is organic, and the formula contains minimal ingredients,” notes Samuels.
Price at time of publish: $16
Key Ingredients: Hemp protein | Certified: Vegan, B corporation, organic | Dosage: 4 tbs daily | Size: 16 oz.
Best for Gut Health
Supergut The Gut Balancing Shake
High prebiotic fiber
Helps regulate blood sugar
Prebiotic resistant starch fibers help make Supergut's line of microbiome-friendly protein shakes an ideal choice for those looking to improve gut health. The keto-friendly formula contains allulose, a low-calorie sweeter that tastes just like sugar, as well as milk, pea, brown rice, and pumpkin seed protein. Unripened bananas are also in the mix, which not only add more helpful prebiotic fiber, but make you feel fuller longer and help to maintain blood sugar.
Price at time of publish: $225
Key Ingredients: Milk protein concentrate, pea protein, brown rice protein | Certified: Not listed | Dosage: 1 scoop daily | Size: 34.6 oz.
Best With Immune Support
Four Sigmatic Plant-Based Protein with Superfoods
One-scoop serving size
Made of organic ingredients
Also contains adaptogens
If you’re looking for added immune support in addition to upping your protein intake, try this blend from Four Sigmatic. Formulated with five organic plant proteins (hemp, pumpkin seeds, chia, coconut, and pea protein), it also contains with a slew of functional mushrooms like chaga, reishi, and lion’s mane and adaptogens like ashwagandha to support overall wellness, including giving your immune system a boost. It contains only 2 grams of sugar—no stevia here—and has a sweet vanilla flavor that's sourced from real organic vanilla, to boot. Mix this into your shakes, smoothies, or even into your pancakes to add a nutrient-rich (and absolutely delicious) kick.
Price at time of publish: $40
Key Ingredients: Hemp, pumpkin seeds, chia, coconut, and pea protein | Certified: Organic, plant-based, gluten-free | Dosage: 1 scoop daily | Size: 21.16 oz.
Best With Greens
Sakara Organic Protein + Greens Super Powder
Has a complete amino acid profile
Contains sesame, a potential allergen
For equal parts protein and daily greens, check out this powder supplement from Sakara. Each serving contains 12 grams of whole-food, bioavailable protein sourced from organic pea, hemp, pumpkin seed, and sesame, which together provide you with the nine amino acids your body needs but is unable to produce naturally. It also contains a powerful blend of greens, including wheatgrass and barley grass—which are high in phytonutrients, enzymes, and magnesium—as well as spirulina and chlorella, both of which are sources of DHA and EPA, two fatty acids critical for cognitive health and hormonal balance.
This blend has a naturally sweet yet mildly earthy flavor that easily mixes into smoothies or other recipes, and we love that you can purchase it either as individually wrapped single-serving packets or as a full pouch with a scoop.
Price at time of publish: $45
Key Ingredients: Organic pea, hemp, pumpkin seed, and sesame proteins | Certified: Organic, plant-based | Dosage: 1 packet daily | Size: 21.16 oz.
Best With Adaptogens
Moon Juice Blue Beauty Adaptogenic Protein
Has a full amino profile
Contains greens and chia seeds
Made of just seven pure ingredients
Adaptogens are herbs that are thought to help boost your body’s resistance to both physical and emotional stress. Moon Juice, a brand known for its many cult-favorite adaptogen blends, combines this plant magic with bio-fermented brown rice protein to help boost energy, manage stress, combat the signs of aging by preserving natural collagen and elasticity, and protect the body against oxidative stress. It contains only seven ingredients, including the likes of ashwagandha, amla, and blue spirulina. Plus, as some reviewers mention, the blend is relatively tasteless, making it a great nutrient-dense addition to plant milk, smoothies, and even baked goods.
Price at time of publish: $50
Key Ingredients: Bio-fermented brown rice protein | Certified: Vegan, gluten-free | Dosage: 1 scoop daily | Size: 16 oz.
Best With Pea Protein
Naturade Vegan Smart Plant Protein Shake
Contains filling fiber
Some reviewers note it can be hard to blend
This inexpensive pick by Naturade, a brand that's been around since 1926, uses non-GMO, certified vegan pea protein in addition to dietary fiber and BCAAs for a low-calorie shake formula. We love that it is gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and cholesterol-free, making it easily digestible for those with sensitive stomachs. Reviewers note that the shakes are satisfying and can be used as meal replacements, and the vanilla flavor is tasty.
Price at time of publish: $34
Key Ingredients: Pea protein, amino acids | Certified: Vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO | Dosage: 1 scoop daily | Size: 16.5 oz.
The Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+ is a soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly formula made with clean and simple ingredients like organic pea protein, vanilla, and sugarcane. If you're looking for a formula that's easy to digest, consider ALOHA Protein Powder which is plant-based and free of common allergens, making it ideal for those with food sensitivities.
Meet the Expert
Tamar Samuels, RD, NBC-HWC, is a New York City based holistic dietitian and nutritionist. She's also the co-founder of Culina Health.
What to Look For
“Protein powders aren’t regulated by the FDA, which means that they do not require pre-market approval before being sold to the public,” explains holistic dietician Tamar Samuels, RD, NBC-HWC. That means it falls on you to do your due diligence when it comes to not only reading the ingredient label but also looking further into the product. Samuels recommends choosing brands that are transparent about “all aspects of their product, including sourcing, manufacturing, and processing." She says, "You should be able to find all this information on the website. If it's not available, skip it.”
To that point, Samuels also suggests choosing formulas that don’t have lengthy ingredient lists, full of fillers and additives, but rather just a handful of ingredients that you actually recognize. We especially love the Moon Juice Blue Beauty Adaptogenic Protein, which only has seven ingredients, and the Sakara Organic Protein + Greens Super Powder, which only has five.
Type of protein
Not all protein sources are created equal. Ideally, you want a source that contains all nine essential amino acids, explains Samuels. Animal-based sources have all of them, but not all plant-based options do (hemp seeds, chia, and quinoa being the exception). If you’re going with a different plant-based protein, look for a formula that combines it with other ones so that you make sure you get that complete amino acid profile, she suggests. The Naturade Vegan Smart Plant Protein Shake is a great plant-based pick—containing all of the essential amino acids with five different vegan protein sources.
What can you mix protein powder with?
Samuels considers protein powder to be a convenient way to add additional protein to certain foods or meals without altering the flavor profile too much—unless, of course, you choose to go with a flavored supplement. “I love adding protein powder to oatmeal, which is high in fiber but naturally low in protein,” she says. “For oatmeal, I prefer neutral-tasting protein powders like collagen peptides, but you can also add flavored protein powders (chocolate tastes great) to add some variety. I also love adding it to smoothies. Again, you can use neutral or flavored options here, just make sure the texture is right.”
Looking for more ideas? Samuels also recommends adding protein powder to baked goods. “I love making high-fiber muffins and pancakes with protein powder for a healthy, high-protein grab-and-go breakfast.”
When should you take protein powder?
According to Samuels, you can take it at any time for an extra boost of protein, but you can also optimize when you take it, depending on your goals. “Most people struggle with getting enough protein with breakfast because they either skip it or eat a carbohydrate-rich breakfast,” she says. “Eating enough protein first thing in the morning is important for stabilizing blood sugar for the rest of the day, which helps prevent over-eating, minimizes cravings, and stabilizes appetite.” That said, she recommends having it at breakfast time to reap these benefits.
Big on the gym or lifting weights at home? “If you exercise, it can be helpful to add protein powder during or right after your workout if you aren’t planning on having a protein-rich meal post-workout,” she says. “This helps support muscle growth.”
How often should you eat protein powder?
Samuels doesn’t recommend having protein powder more than once daily. “Even the best protein powders are still processed foods, and you’re missing out on key vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and other phytonutrients when you opt for protein powder over whole food sources,” she says. So again, treat it as an added protein boost for certain meals or snacks, but don’t use it as a meal replacement, especially more than once a day.
Why Trust Byrdie
Syden Abrenica is a Byrdie contributor with over five years experience and has written for publications like Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Health, and Harper's Bazaar. For this roundup, she considered dozens of protein powders, conducting hours of research on key ingredients, taste, consistency, as well as how easily each protein powder is digested. Our team then combined these results with our own research and testing insights, plus dietician-recommended picks to create this list. Additional input was provided by Tamar Samuels, RD, NBC-HWC.
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