The 12 Best—and Healthiest—Protein Powders, According to Registered Dietitians

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In an ideal world, you’d get all of the important nutrients your body needs from whole foods, including protein, says New York City-based registered dietitian Sharon Richter, RD. “But there are always situations where it’s useful to have protein shakes,” she says. “It’s just convenient and easy.” The problem is, choosing a protein powder can be complicated. Many use low-quality ingredients with unnecessary add-ins like fructose as well as artificial sweeteners and flavors. Thankfully, these aren’t the only options you have. The best—and healthiest—protein powders can offer what you need while leaving the stuff you don’t want out. 

Experts In This Article

The healthiest protein powders, at a glance

Do you need protein powder?

According to registered dietitian nutritionist Gisela Bouvier, RDN, protein powders are a convenient way to increase your protein intake (and prevent protein deficiency symptoms)—and it can be particularly helpful for people with higher protein needs, such as athletes or breastfeeding or lactating people. She adds that it can be beneficial for vegans and vegetarians too, or those who have diets that may not include as many protein-rich foods. Bouvier also mentions that a protein powder might be ideal for those who might want a post-workout boost or as a supplement to beverages and food that might otherwise be lacking in this nutrient. 

How to choose the healthiest protein powder for you


When shopping for a protein powder, the first thing to look for are powders with simple ingredients that you know to be safe, says Richter, while avoiding options with hard-to-pronounce chemical additives. 

If, in addition to these ingredients, you want to avoid consuming excess sugar, you will also find powders made with natural zero-calorie sweeteners, like monk fruit, erythritol, stevia, and allulose. You may come across protein powders with sugar alcohols too, and though neither sugar nor alcohol, they can make your powders sweeter without the same amounts of carbs and calories as regular sugars. However, registered dietitian nutritionist Bouvier warns that certain alternative sugars may cause stomach upset in some individuals. 

Keep in mind that protein powders that contain regular sugars aren’t necessarily a bad thing. “If you are using the powder for a meal replacement, without other add-ins like fruit, then a small amount of added sugar is OK, as you do need some carbohydrate to help your muscles use the protein more efficiently,” registered dietitian nutritionist Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook, told Well+Good.

In general, a simpler ingredients list may be better when selecting a healthy protein powder. And to ensure you’re choosing a powder made of quality ingredients, consider selecting an option with certifications from Informed Choice or NSF Certified for Sport, or are USDA-certified organic, registered dietitian nutritionist Kelly Jones, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, previously told Well+Good in an interview.

Protein dosage

Typically, the recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for healthy adults. For example, a 130-pound person may want to consume 47 grams of protein per day. However, the recommended dosage can differ for athletes as well as pregnant and lactating people—and you should consult your physician to determine exactly how much you need. That way, you can determine an adequate dosage that’s ideal for your body and what you’re using it for, whether as a meal replacement, for instance, or as a post-workout supplement. 

Animal-based vs. plant-based protein powders

As you shop, you’ll come across animal- and plant-based protein powders—and your choice will largely come down to your dietary preferences. The most common animal-based powders are made from whey, casein, eggs, and collagen. With the exception of collagen, animal protein sources contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete source of protein. If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or lactose intolerant, you might want to opt for plant-based protein powder—and the most common types include pea protein and soy protein (or soy protein isolate). 

Unlike animal-based protein powders, most plant-based powders aren’t considered a complete source of protein, except for soy, which also contains high amounts of protein per scoop, Jones told Well+Good. She adds that pea protein is a good option, too. “Like soy, pea protein also contains adequate amounts of the essential amino acids, and while soy protein has long been known as the best alternative to animal proteins when it comes to food, recent studies have suggested pea protein isolate is just as effective as whey protein isolate for muscle repair after both endurance and resistance activities,” she says. 

These 12 healthy protein powders come in animal-based and plant-based options and in a variety of dosage amounts, so you’ll be able to find the best option based on your unique needs.

Healthiest protein powders

Naked Whey Protein Powder
Overall best protein powder: Naked, Whey Protein Powder — $95.00

It doesn’t get any simpler than Naked’s line of one-ingredient powders from a variety of sources, including the unflavored version of Naked’s Whey Protein Powder, which is made from whey protein concentrate. What’s more, it is Informed Choice certified, so you can ensure that the powder is made from high-quality ingredients. This option has 25 grams of protein per scoop and only two grams of sugar. If you want a flavored protein, Naked offers chocolate and vanilla options, which are made of only three ingredients. Those who want to avoid animal-based protein powders may also opt for Naked’s Pea Protein Powder ($56). Regardless of your preference, all make fine options, according to Ritcher.

Amount per serving: 25g protein, 2g sugar, 3g carbs, 2g fat

What reviewers say: “I love this one because it doesn’t have any sweetness, and I can control the amount of sweetness I put in there should I decide to make this a dessert. It lasts a long while and mixes well with water or milk (or whatever alternative milk you prefer to use) … Because it is tasteless, it makes for a great-tasting shake or fruit smoothie.” — Amazon customer


  • Informed Choice certified
  • Made without artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors


  • Available in only one size
Best customizable protein powder: Gainful, Personalized Protein Powder — $45.00

“For someone looking for a customized formula, Gainful offers protein powders that can fit into anyone’s preferences and goals,” says Bouvier. Your personalized protein is made according to your results of a quiz, and you are given the option to choose an animal- or plant-based protein source, the amount of protein you want, as well from a range of flavors. While the powder is made unique to you, it will only contain up to seven ingredients, with no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners, making it an ideal choice for those who want something that is as healthy as it is satisfying.

Amount per serving: 19-27g protein

What reviewers say: “It has changed my entire routine. I have tried a lot of different protein powders but none of them have kept me so sated and satisfied! I have noticed less muscle soreness since drinking this after my workouts and I also love how versatile it can be!” — Gainful customer


  • Customizable to your preferences
  • Made without artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners


  • Some reviewers say it has a chalky texture
Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+
Best plant-based protein powder: Ritual, Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+

Ritual is another company that makes supplements and vitamins with simple ingredients, including protein powder. This option is made from organic yellow peas that’s been grown in the US. The non-GMO powder contains choline and L-methionine to support muscle strength and recovery, and it offers 20 grams of protein per scoop. You’ll also find Madagascar vanilla bean extract, fermented sugar cane, and monk fruit on the ingredient list, which lend the powder its sweet vanilla flavor. What you won’t find is gluten or soy. As a bonus, this protein powder is Informed Sport certified.

Ritual also offers protein powders for people over 50 years of age, and another for pregnant and lactating individuals—both of which are made to the same standard.

Amount per serving: 20g protein, 0g sugar, 3g carbs, 2g fat

What reviewers say: “I am very satisfied with this protein powder. I was looking for something to boost protein on a vegan diet. In addition to protein grams, the product supplies complete amino acids. Excellent product. Tastes good and blends well using a protein ball.” — Amazon customer


  • Informed Sport certified
  • Zero grams of sugar
  • Transparent, traceable ingredients


  • Only one flavor
ProMix Grass-Fed Whey Protein
Best whey protein powder for athletes: ProMix, Grass-Fed Whey Protein — $77.00

This ProMix whey protein is beloved among weightlifters and CrossFit athletes, thanks in large part to its quality ingredients. It’s made by a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist (who better?), and the unflavored version only contains two ingredients—whey protein concentrate and sunflower lecithin—making it free of artificial sweeteners and colors, as well as potential allergens like gluten and soy. You can also shop in flavored varieties, including chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, peanut butter, and vanilla, though keep in mind that these options contain about four grams of added sugar.

Amount per serving: 25g protein, 1g sugar, 3g carbs, 1.5g fat

What reviewers say: “I’ve been seeing this product for a while now and finally decided to go for it and wow, you can literally taste how clean and unprocessed it is. If you’re looking for a sweeter protein maybe don’t go for this one but if you’re looking for high quality clean protein this is the one!” —Amazon customer


  • Unflavored version is made with only two ingredients
  • Made without artificial sweeteners and flavors


  • Flavored varieties contain four grams of added sugar
Best egg white protein powder: Now Sports, Egg White Protein — $36.00

“For anyone who is looking for an animal-based protein powder but would prefer a dairy-free option, an egg white protein powder is a great option,” says Bouvier. She recommends this one from Now Sports. It contains 20 grams of protein per serving, and better yet, it’s made with NSF for Sport Certified ingredients. Choose from two flavor options, vanilla and chocolate.

Amount per serving: 20g protein, 0g sugar, 3g carbs, 0g fat

What reviewers say: “I’ve been using this stuff for a year now. Chocolate and vanilla are both great. Solid source of protein that is easy to digest and doesn’t cause bloating or any GI distress. Also love that it contains a full amino profile. It’s basically protein and BCAA/EAAs in one. My only suggestion would be to make the flavors a little stronger, but overall it’s great as is.” — Amazon customer


  • NSF for Sport Certified
  • Dairy-free


  • Some reviewers don’t like the flavor
Aloha Plant-Based Protein Powder
Best plant-based protein powder for sensitive stomachs: Aloha, Plant-Based Protein Powder — $30.00

Aloha’s plant-based protein is made with peas and pumpkin and hemp seeds to provide a complete source of protein. The vegan powder is certified USDA-organic, and it’s made with 12 ingredients. It provides 18 grams of protein per scoop and just three grams of sugar. What’s more? It’s free of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, making it ideal for those with sensitive stomachs. You can shop it in two classic flavors—vanilla and chocolate.

Amount per serving: 18g protein, 3g sugar, 10g carbs, 2.5g fat

What reviewers say: “I have tried countless plant-based protein powders and this is by far the best tasting product out there. It blends well and, as they say, ‘checks all the boxes’ with regard to safe ingredients.” — Amazon customer


  • Made with USDA-organic certified ingredients
  • Formulated without stevia and sugar alcohols


  • Available in only flavored varieties
Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein
Best organic plant-based protein powder: Garden of Life, Raw Organic Protein — $35.00

Garden of Life’s plant-based protein uses USDA-organic certified ingredients, such as peas, sprouted brown rice, and amaranth and buckwheat sprout, plus probiotic and dietary enzyme blend to support digestion and proper absorption. In addition to being USDA-organic certified, it is also non-GMO Project verified and NSF certified for contents, so you can trust it contains exactly what the label says, with zero unwanted contaminants. This protein powder comes in unsweetened, vanilla, vanilla chai, and chocolate flavors, all containing 22 grams of protein and zero grams of sugar per scoop.

Amount per serving: 22g protein, 0g sugar, 2g carbs, 2.5g fat

What reviewers say: “I have a dairy intolerance so finding a protein powder I can use that doesn’t have grit has been challenging. I like that this one has greens in it, too, as this is lacking somewhat in my diet. The taste is fine if I add fruit to it, and it blends up pretty well in the blender.” — Amazon customer


  • USDA-organic certified, non-GMO Project verified, and NSF certified
  • Made without artificial flavors and colors


  • Made with stevia, which might upset sensitive stomachs
Vega Protein and Greens
Best vegetable-infused plant-based protein powder: Vega, Protein and Greens — $38.00

Vega’s protein powder is made with vegans and vegetarians in mind. It’s made with peas, brown rice, and sacha inchi, plus kale, alfalfa, broccoli, and spinach powder to increase both your protein and veggie intake, and stevia to lend it sweetness. If anything, it’s made with undisclosed “natural flavors,” though in minimal doses. It’s available in an unflavored version and four flavored options, including chocolate, vanilla, coconut almond, and berry.

Amount per serving: 20g protein, 1g sugar, 3g carbs, 2.5g fat

What reviewers say: “This protein powder is a staple in my house. Love the taste and especially that I get my vegetable servings.” —Amazon customer


  • Made with a variety of plant-based protein sources
  • Formulated with vegetables


  • Made with stevia, which might upset sensitive stomachs
Orgain Organic Protein Powder
Best budget plant-based protein powder: Orgain, Organic Protein Powder — $28.00

Orgain is a plant-based protein powder that uses only USDA-organic certified ingredients. The protein powder is made with pea protein, brown rice protein, and chia seeds, and it offers a total of 21 grams of protein per scoop. It comes in a range of fun flavors in addition to vanilla, including chai latte, churro caramel swirl, horchata, and pumpkin spice. With the exception of the pumpkin spice flavor (which contains one gram of sugar per scoop), zero sugars are found in these Orgain’s protein powders. Most also contain up to 9 grams of dietary fiber.

What’s more, it has Bouvier’s stamp of approval. “This protein powder is a great option for vegans,” she says, with the caveat: “It is sweetened with sugar alcohol erythritol, which may cause some gastrointestinal discomfort to some individuals.”

Amount per serving: 21g protein, 0 sugars, 15g carbs, 4g fat

What reviewers say: “We have on hand several flavors. All are great. No complaints. It’s a great breakfast to go when you are in a hurry. Mixes really well (I use a shaker bottle), no chalky flavor, and it doesn’t upset my stomach.” —Amazon customer


  • Made with USDA-organic certified ingredients
  • Most varieties contain up to 9 grams of dietary fiber


  • Made with stevia, which might upset sensitive stomachs
KOS Vegan Protein Powder
Best flavored plant-based protein powder: KOS, Vegan Protein Powder — $50.00

The KOS vegan protein powder is made with USDA-organic certified ingredients and with five plant-based protein sources—namely, pea and quinoa, as well as flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds. Plus, you’ll find essential vitamins and minerals in the mix, including iron, vitamin E, and vitamin B12. As if that wasn’t enough, the protein powder is made with a proprietary digestive enzyme blend to aid in digestion and absorption. The powder offers a total of 20 grams per serving, and it comes in delicious chocolate and vanilla flavors. Keep in mind it contains two grams of added sugar and more calories than other options listed, which might be a trade-off for some individuals.

Amount per serving: 20g protein, 2g sugar, 9g carbs, 7g fat

What reviewers say: “This is the best vegan protein powder I have had since I decided to adopt a strict vegan diet six years ago. This is the only vegan powder that even tastes good with just water. I have purchased both the chocolate and salted caramel flavor and they are delicious! I also feel and see the difference in my body and performance when doing cardio and strength training. This is the BEST vegan protein powder and worth the price.” — Amazon customer


  • Made with USDA-organic certified ingredients
  • Includes five plant-based protein sources


  • Made with two grams of added sugars
Shaklee Life Shake Plant Protein Powder
Best plant-based protein powder for meal replacements: Shaklee Life, Shake Plant Protein Powder — $46.00

The Shaklee Life plant protein powder is made from peas, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds, and it offers20 grams of protein per serving. The powder is rounded out with six grams of fiber, 24 essential vitamins and minerals, plus a dietary fiber and proprietary prebiotic to support gut health. With all the ingredients this protein powder packs, you can use it as a meal replacement if you so please. Just keep in mind that it contains five grams of added sugar. It’s available in vanilla and chocolate flavors.

Amount per serving: 20g protein, 5g sugar, 17g carbs, 4g fat

What reviewers say: “I use this product to make a healthy shake because I don’t eat much meat and want to get the nutrients. I always add a piece of (fruit fresh or frozen) to it in the blender and use almond milk or coconut milk and ice to make a ‘tasty treat’ … I know Shaklee products are good as I grew up on them, and it does take a little getting used to the taste but now I love it and so does my partner.” —Amazon customer


  • Made with 24 essential vitamins and minerals
  • Includes six grams of dietary fiber


  • Contains five grams of added sugars
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Best collagen protein protein powder: Vital Proteins, Collagen Peptides — $45.00

Collagen-based protein powders like this option from Vital Protein have benefits for the hair and skin, as well as bone and joint health. This protein powder is not only a great option for adding collagen to your diet, but also protein. It contains 18 grams of protein per scoop, with no added sugars and artificial sweeteners. Included in the mix are vitamin C to increase collagen absorption and hyaluronic acid for additional skin, bone, and joint support. Better yet, the powder is NSF Certified for Sport that ensures it contains only what is listed on the ingredients list. This comes in only an unflavored variety, which makes it adaptable for a wide array of beverages, from smoothies to your morning cup of coffee.

Amount per serving: 18g protein, 0g sugar

What reviewers say:“I’ve tried hundreds of collagen products over the years. I’ve tried to spend less on them as I can but this Vital Proteins collagen is always the best. [I] use two scoops regularly everyday and notice a huge difference in hair and nails.” —Amazon customer


  • NSF Certified for Sport
  • Contains 20 grams of collagen


  • Only contains 18 grams of protein

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