In this post I am going to tell you everything I know about the best tasting protein powders I have tried, and I have tried quite a few! If you are skeptical about adding protein powder to your daily diet, take a minute to think about how active you are and if the protein you eat everyday is enough. I did some research on the topic and wrote about it here, if you want to check it out. But, the truth is, most Americans are barely staving off protein deficiency. However, just adding a protein shake to your diet is a pretty great way to really up your daily protein intake.
I pick out protein powders the same way I pick out a pint of ice cream. The flavor has to be delicious. I try to find the best tasting protein powders, and blend them into milkshakes. So, my protein shakes, IMO, are more like milkshakes since I blend them in a NutriBullet with ice and water. Post workout milkshake. I seriously look forward to my mid day protein milkshake, I mean, who wouldn’t look forward to eating a milkshake everyday? Also, through the school year, a protein shake is always my go to breakfast; it is so important to support stressful work days with healthy food!
|Protein per 150 calorie serving||Heart healthy?|
(Sodium and Cholesterol)
|Grams of carbs per serving||Other nutrients?||Calcium and Iron Fortified?||Source of Protein||Can I make it taste like a milkshake?||Cost Per Serving|
|28 g||Sort of.||6g||Not really!||Calcium 15% |
|Pea, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, alfalfa||Meh…||$2 per serving|
|Garden of Life Sport|
|28 g||YES!||7 g||Yes, various.||Calcium: 15% |
|Pea, navy bean, lentil, garbanzo cranberry||Yes, but with water is a bit bland, I recommend making with vanilla almond milk.||$2 per serving|
|Quest Cookies and Cream||30 g||YES!||7 g||Not really||Calcium 20%|
|Whey Isolate, Casein||OMG. YES.||$1.10 per serving|
|Inno Supps Birthday Cake||29 g||NO!||2 g||Not really||Calcium 13%|
|Pea||Yes, but it is slightly grainy and has a slight flavor of artificial sweetener.||$2 Per Serving|
|31 g||YES!||2 g||Not really||Calcium 10% Iron 0%||Whey Isolate||OMG. YES!||$1.60|
As you can see in the table, I looked at eight parameters: Protein/calorie ratio, heart health, carbohydrates, general nutrition value, calcium and iron, source of protein, how much I can get it to resemble a milkshake, and cost. Let’s check out the winner in every category!
Protein to Calorie Ratio: Legion is #1
Legion is the winner here, at 31 grams of protein per 150 calorie serving. (I did the math here. This is not what the nutrition label says!) All of the protein powders came in extremely close here. My personal preference is to only have to spend 150-170 of my daily calories for 30 grams of protein in my protein shakes. Consequently, I will not purchase a protein powder that does not come near this! So, really as far as getting a lot of protein for your calorie intake, all of these are really good, but gram for gram, Legion came out on top by 1! (I have to give a quick shout out to the maker of Legion products, Michael Matthews. I reviewed one of his amazing books on fitness here.)
Heart Health: Garden of Life is #1
I wouldn’t pay much attention to this, however my dad had quadruple bypass surgery back in 2018. He likes to have good sources of protein in his diet, so heart health markers are on my mind. Here, I am looking at sodium and cholesterol. Garden of Life comes in first here by 1% point. Legion in second. I was surprised at how high some of these were in sodium.
However, since these are recovery protein drinks, it makes sense they at they have some sodium in them, to replenish sodium lost in sweat during a workout. However, for heart health, less is best for sodium. (If you are wondering WHY excess sodium is bad for a person with heart disease, it is because too much salt causes you to retain too much water, which puts pressure on your blood vessels.)
Grams of Carbohydrates: It depends!
If you are looking for a really low carb option, then Inno Supps or Legion is the winner. Otherwise it doesn’t really matter! None of these are a good source of fiber. At most only 2 grams of the Carbohydrates comes from fiber, and that goes to Vega. For a good source of fiber, I wouldn’t really look to protein shakes to fill that in my diet! You want your fiber and carbohydrates to come from fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Other Nutrients: Garden of Life is #1
Because these are protein powders, and not meant to be meal replacements, it is not surprising that there are not a ton of other nutrients listed on the nutrition labels. If the purpose of the shake were a meal replacement, I would expect to see a lot more nutrition. The extra nutrition s a bit of a bonus. However, the Garden of Life powder does have a number of other minerals listed on the nutrition label.
Milkshake taste test: Tie for #1: Quest and Legion
I have to hand it to the whey proteins. I never purchased whey proteins until this summer. This summer, I just wanted to give them a try. For you guys! I wanted to be a little more well versed in what is out there in the protein supplement world. I typically avoid too much dairy, but since whey powders, thorough processing have a lot of the lactose removed, I figured I’d go for it. And wow. They are definitely more creamy than plant based proteins. Cheers to protein shakes that really taste like milkshakes!
Price Per Serving: Quest is #1
At only $1.10 per serving, Quest is the best value! It comes as no surprise that the whey based proteins are significantly less expensive than plant based powders. Whey proteins have been on the shelf for consumers for so much longer than plant based products have.
So which will I keep in my pantry?
I am so glad I wrote this review on the best tasting protein powders! I hope I have given you some clarity, because I have given myself clarity! For price value and sheer deliciousness, Quest. Quest makes a number of amazing sounding flavors, I don’t think I will ever get bored. (However, fair warning on Quest protein bars if you decide to try them! They taste totally weird to me!) Quest is also heart healthy, so I can share it with my dad, who has heart disease. I also have to go Vega, for the calcium and iron. I only eat one serving of meat a day, aside from egg whites, and I don’t drink dairy milk, so for me, having something fortified with calcium and iron will be good for me.