Protein powders are a convenient, effective way to hit your daily requirements. But far too many protein powders have a history of tasting disgusting. They can make even the most die hard enthusiasts reluctant to slam down the next shake. Luckily, with new technologies and ingredients, next-gen protein powders taste halfway decent, even delicious. This guide discusses a handful of the best tasting protein powders and what makes them taste so good.
#1 Rated in Organic Plant Based Protein Powders
Great taste isn’t the single most important factor a protein powder should have. There are plenty of great products out there that taste dreadful. But a protein powder with a great flavor can motivate you to hit your daily macros more consistently. If you like to drink it, drink it you will. And often.
Not sure if flavor is important in a Protein Powder? Check out what the folks at Buzzfeed thought about some of these protein powders:
Protein is the building block of all muscle, states the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (https://www.eatright.org/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-your-workout/protein-and-the-athlete). Protein intake can fuel your workouts and help you recover more quickly. Protein also stabilizes your blood sugar, improves insulin sensitivity and rescues you from energy crashes and unexpected cravings associated with a diet full of simple carbs and junk. Protein powders make it easy for you to fit your protein intake into any lifestyle, at home, at work or on the go.
Flavors are highly subjective. Having a large variety to choose from always helps. A selection of flavors lets you enjoy different flavors on a rotating basis, keeping your protein intake fresh and interesting. As a general rule, you can’t go wrong with flavors you already love, whether it’s rocky road or chocolate peanut butter.
At the same time, don’t sleep on bland or neutral flavors. If you’re trying a new protein powder, grab the vanilla, chocolate or plain flavor. Vanilla, chocolate and plain tend to mix well with other flavors, letting you tweak recipes and improve on basic flavors before you branch out and try more experimental concoctions.
Even the best of the best rely on some of those basic flavors to make a great shake. Check out what kind of shake Brian Shaw relies on to build muscle:
Remember: Taste isn’t the end-all. If a given protein powder contains everything you’re looking for but turns out to taste horrid, it’s still a great buy.
Protein powders have a plethora of ingredients that affect flavor. Some protein powders are just protein, whereas others contain vitamins, minerals and additional nutrients that alter flavor for better or worse. The most pleasant and unpleasant protein powders owe their flavors to several key ingredients: sweeteners, sodium, artificial flavors and complex, engineered chemical compounds.
Sweeteners come and go according to breakthroughs in the sports nutrition manufacturing industry. As new info and substances become available, particular sweeteners grow and wane in popularity. A few sweeteners that seem to reappear often include:
Stevia: A noncaloric substance derived from a South American herb. It is low carb and safe to consume for long periods.
Sucralose: A sugar substitute sold under the brand name Splenda. The jury’s still out on its long term safety.
Aspartame: A blend of aspartic acid and phenylalanine that is low-calorie but possibly carcinogenic.
Fructose: A hexose sugar from honey and fruit that is natural but laden with carbs.
Maltodextrin: A combination of maltose and dextrin, two substances derived from starch.
Sucrose: Good old fashioned table sugar. Tastes great but has carbs and causes you to crash.
Agave nectar: From several species of agave. It has carbs, so it might not be best during cutting phases.
Honey: Natural and tasty. It can spike your insulin, which is good if you require rapid uptake of nutrients and bad if you have insulin issues.
Don't feel like you need to go with an overly sweet protein shake to make it taste good. There are a lot of ways to improve your shake. Check out how Layne Jackson makes an amazing shake using Optimum Nutrition's protein powder:
Sodium appears in protein powders as salt (sodium chloride) or bound to a phosphate to improve digestion. Salt is the direct counterpart to sugar in terms of flavor, and it can affect the taste of protein powder. It intensifies sweetness, giving it more body and fullness on the tongue. The amount of salt varies from product to product.
Protein powders often contain compounds engineered in labs. Some compounds seem impossible to pronounce or decipher. A quick keyword search online can clear up any confusion. These compounds may be based on an organic equivalent or they may be entirely synthetic. Either way, they can affect taste.
Pyridoxine hydrocloride, or vitamin B6, appears in many protein powders in synthetic form. The vitamin B family is famous for its pungent smell and flavor. Although protein powders usually only contain trace amounts of B vitamins, these trace amounts can still contribute odor and flavor some might find unpleasant.
A long list of strange, synthetic ingredients isn’t always a good thing, no matter the hype. Err on the safe and tasty side at all times. Reach for protein powders with recognizable, pronounceable ingredients. They are usually safer in the long run and taste better.
What other things do you need to watch out for? Tim Muriello from I'll Pump You Up will let you know a few signs that your protein powder is garbage:
Some protein powders blend seamlessly into any liquid medium. Others clump up and stick to the sides of your shaker bottle. Ideally, you want a finely powdered protein supplement that dissolves almost entirely into water, milk or juice. It should have a relatively smooth texture and go down like a milkshake. Protein powders with high mixabiblity tend to go down better, taste better and, as a result, make for more pleasant consumption.
BSN Syntha-6 Whey Protein Powder packs 22 grams of protein into each serving as well as fiber and amino acids for recovery. It comes in 7 flavors, and most fans rave about Chocolate Milkshake and Vanilla Ice Cream. Sucralose is the sweetener, and the flavorings are both natural and artificial. Syntha-6 contains very straightforward ingredients, boasting a mixture of fast- and slow-digest proteins to maximize recovery and gains.
Syntha-6 contains both salt and sodium bound to other substances. Undoubtedly, the salt lends brightness to the sucralose while also serving as a natural preservative.
Syntha-6 mixes easily in a shaker bottle and has a rich, smooth consistency. You can mix it with water or milk. The manufacturer recommends combining one scoop with four to five ounces of fluid. However, you’re welcome to adjust this ratio to achieve a texture that is heavier or lighter. Either alternative is quite delicious.
PlantFusion is a fairly competitive vegan-friendly protein infused with tons of amino acids. The protein in this product comes from plant sources like quinoa, pea, artichoke and sprouted amaranth. These plant sources also have a bunch of fiber. Fiber and protein together stabilize your blood sugar, which helps manage your cravings. Fiber also gives a physical sensation of fullness for longer periods between meals.
PlantFusion doesn’t skimp on BCAAs. Each single-scoop serving boasts 21 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of which are all BCAAs. Another 3 grams of glutamine fuel your recovery while minimizing soreness after grueling workouts. The vanilla flavor gets the highest marks, especially blended with fresh berries.
Each serving also includes digestive enzymes. These enzymes support smoother digestion, preventing painful bloating, gas and diarrhea. This product is free of most major allergens, such as shellfish, tree nuts, nuts, eggs and gluten. It’s also free of rice, soy and dairy. PlantFusion uses stevia and fructose for sweetening, each flavor is all natural, and there is zero salt.
Isopure lives up to its brand name, offering 25 grams of whey protein isolate per scoop. Each serving also includes a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Protein powders with vitamins and minerals come in handy if you don’t take a daily multi for whatever reasons. The added nutrients replenish more than just your protein requirements, giving you a balanced internal environment more suited to recovery.
Isopure is gluten and lactose free, so opt for this brand if you’re lactose intolerant or prone to bloating. This product contains sucralose for sweetness as well as natural and artificial flavors. Isopure includes salt in the form of potassium chloride, more than likely to balance the sucralose.
Isopure is famous for its high mixability. Although a shaker bottle or blender are advisable, Isopure mixes respectably with just a glass of water and a spoon. In fact, this product’s texture is so fine, you can add it to dry ingredients when baking protein-rich treats. The Dutch Chocolate is a big hit. Devotees even mix this flavor into hot coffee to make a protein-infused mocha.
Optimum Nutrition (ON) whey protein powder is your basic, go-to whey to hit your daily macros during bulking and cutting phases. This unpretentious formula consists of whey protein isolate and not much else, amounting to 90 percent pure protein per serving. There’s a little calcium and iron, but only in naturally occurring trace amounts.
ON whey protein powder’s simplicity is its strength. Since it doesn’t contain much filler, each small scoop delivers 24 grams of whey protein and roughly 55 grams of naturally occurring branched chain amino acids as well as glutamine. Of the available 20 flavors, French Vanilla, Vanilla Ice Cream, Double Chocolate, Chocolate Mint and Strawberry Banana seem to be the winners.
BCAAs improve your overall performance and prevent muscle breakdown during and after your workout. Glutamine comprises upwards of 80 percent of all the amino acid content in your body at any given time. As a result, glutamine supplementation speeds recovery, helping you bounce back more quickly between workouts and potentially see faster gains, according to Bodybuilding.com (https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-benefits-of-glutamine.html)
Orgain is a lifesaver for vegetarians and vegans who want a timely source of more healthy protein. Orgain’s protein is entirely plant-based, consisting of pea protein, brown rice protein and chia seeds. The formula is also organic, so there are no worries about ingesting harmful chemicals.
Orgain’s sweetener is stevia, with natural sea salt serving as a counterpart to the sweetness. There is no sugar in this product. An organic creamer base gives this product wonderful mixability and milkshake texture. The cream base includes high oleic sunflower oil, a beneficial monounsaturated fatty acid that promotes healthy levels of good cholesterol.
Orgain also includes inulin, a prebiotic substance that feeds healthy “good” bacteria that live in your gut. Orgain comes in five flavors derived from natural flavor sources, including vanilla bean, vanilla almond, peanut butter and creamy chocolate. Surprisingly, the vanilla bean and peanut butter have the most fans. Each two-scoop serving delivers 21 grams of protein, 5 grams of organic fiber and a mere 150 calories.
Labrada is an industry veteran, both as a competitor and a sports nutrition innovator. Lean Body has an industry-wide rep as one of the tastiest low-carb protein powders on the market.
Labrada restricts the ingredient list to less than 10 items, relying on natural sources for flavor. Lean Body chocolate contains pure cocoa, for example. There are only two flavors, chocolate and vanilla. Longtime Labrada lovers champion both flavors equally, praising their authenticity and superior, velvety texture.
Lean Body contains sucralose and salt to provide enjoyable sweetness while keeping carbs to a minimum. This product is whey protein concentrate, offering 24 grams of gluten-free protein, BCAAs, essential amino acids and glutamine per serving.
Lean Body tastes great with water, juice or milk. It’s micro-filtered, so the texture is extremely fine. Consequently, it has high mixability. You can toss it into a shaker bottle or a blender, or you can mix it in a glass with a spoon and drink it through a straw.
True to its name, Lean Body supports lean body mass, giving you just protein to fuel workouts and recovery without tons of sugar. If you prefer, you can add starch to Lean Body to tweak carb levels to your goals.
The best tasting protein powder for 2018 is Optimum Nutrition 100% Pure Whey Protein. It tops the list of flavor choices with 24 available options, which is a far cry from Lean Body’s pitiful two choices. Unlike BSN Syntha-6, ON whey protein has no chemical aftertaste. Its mixture of isolates, whey concentrate and peptides makes it more protein-dense per serving than Orgain and PlantFusion.
Each ON whey protein serving treats your body to 14 whopping grams of glutamine for recovery and 55 grams of BCAAs. No other powder in this category can make such a claim. Although Isopure comes in a close second, its hit or miss texture takes away crucial taste points. ON whey protein stacks well with creatine and any multi of your choice.
Lastly, ON interfaces with Alexa, letting you use Alexa to search protein-based recipes that incorporate ON whey protein, such as muffins (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hga0VdO0tIM). This added feature goes one step further toward helping you manifest real life fitness goals by giving you a concrete way to hit your daily protein requirements creatively and deliciously.
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