Protein supplements are the most purchased products for health and fitness. This type of supplement has many different variations to choose from, such as flavors and the specific kind of protein you desire. You can easily find these products within convenience stores, but a wider range of choices exists online.
However, the downfall to a reliable supplement is that several brands cut corners to make money, which reduces the quality of your supplement and may give you unwanted side effects. Understanding and researching your protein supplements is highly recommended.
In this guide, we are going to do just that. We’ll discuss everything you need to know about protein supplements. What they are, their benefits, how to use them, and our picks for the best protein supplements out there!
Best Protein Supplements
Here are our top picks. Keep reading to learn how we chose them.
- Best Overall: High Impact Whey Protein
- Best Plant-Based Protein: High Impact Plant Protein
- Best Non-Denatured Whey Protein: Naked Whey
- Best Protein Bar: Built Bar
Benefits of Protein Supplements
Protein supplements bring you those valuable nutrients necessary for muscle repair, development, and recovery. This macronutrient is required for protein synthesis to occur, which helps strengthen and repair tissues damaged during exercise leading to lean muscle mass gain. Without enough protein in your diet, you risk the chance of losing muscle instead of gaining it.
Protein also supplies essential amino acids which are necessary for proper cellular function. Additionally, protein can also help with food cravings and increase metabolism leading to better weight management.
How to Choose the Right Supplement
When it comes to choosing the right protein supplement, there are countless options out there. Making the choice a bit more challenging, there are also many different forms protein can come in.
First and foremost, you must make the choice of what type of protein. Your options include whey protein, casein protein, egg protein, meat-based protein, and plant-based protein. Once you’ve chosen the type of protein, pay close attention to the amount of protein within the supplement. A protein supplement will normally have between 20-25 grams of protein within its formula.
What To Look For
- High-quality ingredients
- Professionally-formulated blends
- The RIGHT amount of protein
- Healthy, energizing formulas
- Trustworthy manufacturers
- Third-party quality testing
What To Avoid
- Low-quality ingredients
- Ineffective/bad blends
- Over “hyped” marketing
- Protein spiking
- Unreliable manufacturers
- Lack of quality oversight
Top Rated Protein Supplements
Our goal at Fitness Clone is to consistently provide you with supplement options that are worth buying and using. With over 500 supplement reviews under our belts, we make sure to pay attention to each and every detail of the supplements we suggest. We thoroughly review each supplements’ formulation, quality, manufacturing, and company trustworthiness to ensure we are bringing you the top options. Below are our 4 best highly-rated probiotic supplements.
High Impact Whey Protein
by Power Life
High Impact Whey Protein is a top protein supplement powder designed to improve muscle strength and recovery. It is formulated and produced by Power Life, a supplement company from the creator of P90X, Tony Horton.
High Impact Whey Protein’s formula includes 15 grams of whey protein as well as HMB, Vitamin D3, Chlorella, Prohydrolase, and Chromium. It promotes benefits such as improved muscle strength, better recovery, and healthy digestion. Additionally, High Impact Whey Protein supports immunity and natural detoxification.
- Whey protein is a complete protein source
- Formulated by P90X creator, Tony Horton
- Benefits strength, recovery, and endurance
- 90-day money-back guarantee
- Includes the known allergens wheat and soy
- Price is on the expensive side for protein powder
- Two jugs needed for a one-month supply
Tri-Protein is a protein powder blend that contains protein from multiple sources, including whey protein, casein protein, and milk protein.
Each protein source breaks down in different phases for optimal results. For example, whey protein absorbs quickly which is great for a post-workout protein boost, while casein breaks down over a few hours to continue to provide your body with the protein it needs.
Tri-Protein is a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate protein powder with 21 total grams of protein. It also contains digestive enzymes to improve absorption and reduce any stomach discomfort.
- Protein from multiple sources (to be absorbed in phases)
- Low-calorie and low carbohydrate
- Contains 21 grams of protein
- No added fillers
- 30% discount available on subscriptions
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- Contains sucralose
High Impact Plant Protein
by Power Life
High Impact Plant Protein is another top protein option from Tony Horton and Power Life. This protein powder contains 15 grams of a unique blend of plant proteins, as well as all nine essential amino acids, and is vegan-friendly. It is designed to benefit muscle strength, recovery, and body composition.
High Impact Plant Protein is formulated with a plant-based protein blend that includes protein sourced from flax, sunflower, pumpkin, pea, and mung bean. It also includes HMB, Vitamin D3, Prohydrolase, Chlorella, and Chromium Picolinate. Additionally, High Impact Plant Protein is non-GMO, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free.
- Formula is plant-based and vegan-friendly
- Designed to promote healthy body composition, strength, and recovery
- Additional vitamin D3 benefits bone health
- 90-day money-back guarantee
- Price is on the expensive side without discounts
- Two jugs needed for a one-month supply
by Naked Nutrition
Naked Whey is a popular whey protein powder supplement from Naked Nutrition. This whey protein is derived from 100% grass-fed cows and is non-GMO and non-denatured. It is designed to promote lean muscle building and faster muscle recovery.
Naked Whey’s formula includes 25 grams of protein per serving as well as 5.9 grams of branched-chain amino acids. It does not contain any added sugars or preservatives, is soy-free, and is free of hormones.
- Includes only 1 ingredient: Grass-Fed Whey Protein
- Benefits lean muscle mass, immune system, and heart health
- Formula is free of additives and artificial sweeteners
- Available in four flavors
- Price is high compared to other protein options
- Not vegan-friendly, formula includes dairy
by Built Bar
Built Bar is a protein bar designed to make getting your daily amount of protein easy and delicious. It comes in over 18 flavors, with options such as peanut butter brownie, toffee almond, and double chocolate mousse.
Built Bar’s ingredients include whey protein, gelatin, erythritol, glycerin, chocolate, and maltodextrin. Each bar contains around 17g of protein, 6g of fiber, and 4 grams of net carbs per bar, with macro amounts varying slightly based on flavor choice. Built Bar provides benefits, including satisfying hunger cravings and providing necessary protein for your diet.
- Formula includes 17g protein per bar
- Designed to provide protein and satisfy cravings
- Ketogenic-diet friendly, low sugar content
- Wide variety of over 18 flavors
- Not vegan or vegetarian-friendly
- Some may prefer protein powder/shakes over bars
Protein Supplements FAQ
What Are Protein Supplements?
A protein supplement is used to consume when you are having difficulty meeting your nutrient needs. For example, after a workout, you may need to go straight to work, and the time to eat is very short.
Protein powders come in handy because you can easily have a small meal by drinking this in place of not being able to eat. This type of product is basically the same as eating protein-rich foods like chicken, beef, or even plants.
Essentially, you are using protein supplements to provide the whole food nutrients you are not consuming enough of.
What are the different types of protein?
Protein supplements can derive from several sources such as dairy, animals, or even plants too. The commonly used source is from cow’s milk being processed to strip whey or casein protein from the rest of the nutrients. 80% being whey and 20% being casein.
Protein powder can further be broken down into different categories depending on the type of processing it has gone through. These are:
Protein Concentrate – This is the basic protein process and costs cheaper than any others. The amount of protein is 80% max, and the rest of the nutrients in the product will be fats and carbohydrates.
Protein Isolate – Isolate is refined slightly better, allowing it to be priced higher than protein concentrate. Nearly all fats and carbs have been stripped during this process, and the end result is 90% or more protein only.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is one variation you will often see with the extra title isolate, concentrate, etc. displayed following the name. This type of protein breaks down and absorbs faster during digestion making it good before or after your workout.
Whey is a complete protein, which means it has all the amino acids essential for absorption and converts over during protein synthesis. Consumer use and studies show this has the least irritability on the stomach unless you are lactose.
What is Casein Protein?
Casein is the other 20% of protein that comes from milk and is slow digesting. This is also a high-quality protein with all the essential amino acids present for proper digestion.
However, casein is not fast digesting like whey protein is. Instead, your body will digest this protein slowly since a gel forms around casein within the stomach.
What is Egg Protein?
Eggs are also a complete protein source with all 9 essential amino acids present. This type of powder has been around for as long as whey, but does not get the same attention.
Egg white protein powder has the highest grade of digestibility and quality. However, egg protein does not seem to have as much research on its benefits.
What is Meat-Based Protein?
Meat protein powder may be okay to purchase if you just find the product on sale, but the quality of the protein is unmatched to whey protein. In various studies, they state that beef protein powder contains only half the amount of essential amino acids compared to whey.
The highest amino acids found in beef protein powders are known as fillers, which are the ones that spike protein content, but have no useful value for protein. Only purchase these products if they have been reinforced with essential amino acids for quality.
What is Plant-Based Protein?
Plant protein powders can derive from pea, brown rice, hemp, chia seeds, or all of these mixed together. This type of protein is normally purchased by those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, many do buy this to get their source of vegetables, even if they are not following those diets.
Pea protein powder is the best out of the group since it contains a high amount of BCAAs and other essential amino acids. Brown rice protein powder, for example, has all the amino acids but is very low in lysine. For this reason, many do not see this as a complete protein.
Are there any cautions for choosing a protein?
Beware of false product advertising when choosing a protein supplement. Protein supplements can be labeled as having a higher protein content per serving than what really exists. This is called protein spiking, which is using aminos to spike the lab testing of protein to sell more products.
Several well-known brands went through a lawsuit for this, but still something to look out for when it comes to smaller brand names.
Any protein with extra creatine and taurine added in needs to show that these counts are separate from the protein amino test.
Also, proteins that come from animal and plant products will already have EAAs and BCAAs naturally within the product. Some brands may add more, but this is only noticed when you check the ingredient amount.
When is the best time to take protein powder?
Protein powders are just like consuming a meal that contains a rich protein source. This is not to say replace all your meals with a supplement, but protein powders can replace a meal when necessary to get the nutrients you need.
Muscle building will be beneficial if you consume a whey or pea protein powder within 30-45 minutes following a workout. This time frame has shown to have 10-15% better digestion of proteins for muscle repair, which leads to better growth and prevents muscle from being used in place of nutrients.
Casein protein is the best before sleeping. Being a slow-digesting protein supplement, you can slowly give your body protein while asleep instead of being fasted. During rest is the best time for nutrients to be used for recovery and growth. Even dieticians recommend a small snack 1-2 hours before rest.