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5 Best Protein Powder to Build Muscle in 2022

Blanca Garcia

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

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crazy bulk tri-protein

CrazyBulk Tri-Protein

  • Blend of proteins
  • Bulk savings
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

naked nutrition

Naked Nutrition

  • Local source of grass-fed whey
  • Vegan products
  • Protein powder or amino acid options

Optimum Nutrition

Optimum Nutrition

  • Weight gain formula available 
  • Variety of protein products
  • Customizable subscription

When trying to achieve muscle growth with fat loss, proper nutrition is vital. Sometimes a protein powder for muscle gain and fat loss can help limit calorie intake. The exercise goals can also require extra nutrition, and the options may include protein shakes or protein powders. Therefore, the variety of protein powders is immense; there is a powder out there for everyone. The protein powder for muscle mass growth can be varied; whey protein supplementation is most common. 

Many protein powders come with a variety of proteins like

  • Whey protein
  • Concentrate
  • Isolates
  • Hydrolyzed whey protein isolates
  • Casein protein
  • Vegan, grass-fed whey protein. 
  • Hemp, pea, soy, rice, sacha inchi proteins in various combinations

The variety of protein types can make it challenging to choose the correct one. 

The important thing to know is that the body needs a variety of amino acids that include the nine essential amino acids not made by the body[1].

The nine essential amino acids are Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine.

You can find these essential amino acids through powders or liquids; some include branched-chain amino acids or are sold as individual amino acids.

Best Protein Powder For Muscle Gain on The Market in 2022

Why Is Protein Essential For Muscle Gain?

Muscle is a tissue that helps the body with multiple functions like movement, protection of organs, and basic skin movements[2]. It’s made up of fibers of different lengths and colors, each with a functional purpose. 

For a muscle to repair and grow, it needs amino acids known as the building blocks of protein. Proteins, therefore, are the building blocks of muscles and other body parts. In varying combinations, 20 amino acids make up proteins for different uses in the body[3]. Moreover, nine of those amino acids are essential, meaning that the body cannot make them and must get them from somewhere else. 

The muscle is grown or broken down by muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown. Both processes are influenced by external loading and aminoacidemia[4], also known as high levels of amino acids in the blood. 

Most people get enough protein in their diets, but in some cases, they may need more protein to complement the additional protein required with exercise for building muscle. Consequently, protein powder can help people achieve the muscle growth and recovery they seek.

The Line Up At A Glance

crazy bulk tri-protein

Editor’s Choice

CrazyBulk Tri-Protein

  • Blend of proteins
  • Bulk savings
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

naked nutrition

Best for Transparent Ingredients

Naked Nutrition

  • Local source of grass-fed whey
  • Vegan products
  • Protein powder or amino acid options

optimum nutrition

Best Variety

Optimum Nutrition

  • Weight gain formula available 
  • Variety of protein products
  • Customizable subscription

Gainful-Personalized-Protein-Powder

Best High-End

Gainful

  • Personalized product
  • Access to a Registered Dietitian
  • No gluten, soy, fillers, or artificial flavors

garden of life sport grass fed whey

Best Value

Garden of Life Sport Grass-Fed Whey

  • Grass-fed whey
  • Non-GMO project verified whey
  • NSF certified for Sport® and Informed-Choice for Sport Certified

Top 5 Best Protein Powder For Muscle Gain 2022

Crazy Bulk Tri-Protein (Crazy Nutrition)

crazy bulk tri-protein

Tri protein powder stands out, with its three-phase absorption and 21 grams of protein per scoop; it packs six different types of proteins.

  • Blend of proteins
  • Bulk savings
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Not suitable for dairy allergies
  • Three-phase protein absorption can vary by person

Providing six protein types per serving is not like other protein powders. It allows a steady absorption of protein into the body at different levels. It also helps with feelings of being energized and satisfied for hours. This protein is unique in its three-phase protein formula, in sets of two short, mid, and slow absorption ranges. A variation of whey concentrate, whey isolate, and casein protein provide this unique absorption range. 

The first two proteins are whey protein isolates and whey protein hydrolysate. These two are the ones that are absorbed quickly. Whey protein isolates have at minimum 90% protein as dry weight. When it comes to whey protein hydrolysate, the further breakdown of whey protein helps with improved functionality. The second set of proteins absorbs less quickly. Whey protein concentrates with 34-80% of protein as dry weight[1] and milk protein concentrate with less than 90% protein as dry weight[2].

Lastly, the third set of proteins takes longer to absorb; they are micellar casein, with more than 80% of protein as a dry weight[3] along with calcium caseinate. Caseinate also has properties that counteract muscle breakdown in the body[4]. Thus, the recommendation is one scoop to 16 oz of water as needed.

Naked Nutrition

naked nutrition

Naked Nutrition prides itself in sourcing grass-fed whey protein from California, its production in the USA, the presence of no additives, containing only three ingredients and containing no artificial sweeteners or colors.

  • Local source of grass-fed whey
  • Vegan products
  • Variety
  • Expensive

Naked protein powder is not like other protein powders; you can use it in shakes, smoothies, and baking. It can also be used in the morning, pre or post-workouts.

A variety of proteins are available for every need. Therefore, you can find regular grass-fed whey protein, pea protein, micellar casein protein, brown rice protein, goat whey protein, bone broth protein, seed protein, egg white protein, and some blends in the protein powders. Also available are protein powders that help to gain weight. The regular whey protein is a five-pound jug of one ingredient only; whey protein concentrate. Sourced from California cows in small family farms, cows feed 300+ days on pastures. Most protein powder products have less than three ingredients. Then, you can add variety by incorporating fruits and vegetables in the powder using one scoop per serving mixed with 6-10 oz. of water, milk, or nut milk substitute.

Optimum Nutrition

optimum nutrition

The company offers a variety of protein powders to choose from in several flavors. Flexible subscription options are available to lower costs.

  • Weight gain formula available 
  • Variety of protein products
  • Customizable subscription
  • Complicated return policy

Optimum Nutrition has an array of protein powders for muscle gain. The plant-based protein powder comes with a blend of pea protein, organic brown rice, and sacha inchi, all good sources of complete protein when blended together. It also comes with a mix of grains. Products also available are regular whey protein, casein protein, hydrolyzed high-quality protein in the form of whey protein isolate, and hydrolyzed whey protein isolate. Additionally, it uses stevia as a sweetener and exciting flavors like chocolate and peanut butter. 

The whey protein isolate is the best prized out of all the products, but not much. The optimum nutrition gold standard 100% whey protein is the company’s best-selling protein powder great for post-workout muscle support and recovery, with 24 grams of protein per serving to help build muscle. Mix one scoop of about 6-8 oz of water, milk, or plant-based beverage.

Protein powder can help boost a person’s protein needs by trying to increase muscle mass.  Recovery and tissue repair are essential to get the muscles to grow. Protein intake is necessary and can usually be fulfilled with regular foods. On the other hand, if food intake is not enough, protein powders can be a solution. 

The best reasons to take protein supplements are convenience, being busy, making the transition to a plant-based diet, losing the desire to eat, or aiming for improved recovery after a workout.  Lastly, if eating a meal is too heavy for a pre-workout or if post-workout food isn’t readily available, this can also warrant taking protein powder. 

Although beneficial in many ways, anyone taking protein supplements, whether as protein shakes or protein powders, should always be aware that too much protein can be heavy on the kidneys and contribute to body weight gain.

Gainful

Gainful-Personalized-Protein-Powder

Comes with a high-end service subscription of health professionals and customized protein powder options. High-quality protein powders in several options.

  • Personalized product
  • Access to a Registered Dietitian
  • No gluten, soy, fillers or artificial flavors
  • Must have a subscription 
  • Price may vary

Gainful provides customized products by taking a comprehensive quiz about your health goals. It will generate a variety of products that fit your needs. The company is subscription-based and provides access to Registered Dietitians for additional support. Every protein supplementation is unique to you; therefore, the price may vary. The health assessment determines the recommended protein supplementation. It will ask about gender, age, products interested in, height, weight, sleep patterns, eating patterns, dietary preferences, allergies, nutrition goals, weight, and exercise goals.

The ideal product per individual is recommended and will provide additional recommendations based on the health assessment. All products are free of gluten soy and contain no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. You can also find products that are 100% plant-based. A typical protein powder bag will contain 14 servings and be mailed out every 28 days. In conclusion, the recommendation: One to two scoops per 8 oz of ice-cold milk or plant-based milk in a shaker bottle per day.

Garden Of Life Sport Grass Fed Whey

Garden of life is a leader in vegan protein powders but also strives for top-quality grass-fed whey protein powders.

  • Grass-fed whey
  • Made with genetically modified organisms (GMO) free verified whey
  • NSF certified for Sport® and Informed-Choice for Sport Certified
  • May not last a whole month
  • Contains allergens, milk, soy, nuts

Garden Of Life wanted to make sure that the Sport Grass Fed Whey protein powder is derived from grass-fed cows. In fact, the source of true grass-fed herds comes from 4800 generational farms in Ireland with year-round access to grass. It is the only non-GMO project verified whey. It is also NSF certified for sport®,so no worries that it will contain illegal substances.

This product contains a protein blend of whey protein isolate at 85% and milk protein at 15%. It also has fiber added and stevia as its sweetener. This product stands out in that it includes two billion CFU Bifidobacteria lactis BI-04 to help support the immune system and improve intestinal function[5]. Hence, it only needs to be taken with one scoop per serving in an 8 oz glass of water once a day or as required. It helps refuel and repair muscle, support the immune system and reduce recovery time.

How To Choose The Best Protein Powder?

A person would want to take a protein powder for personal reasons. It can be related to health reasons, deficiencies in diet, need to gain weight, build muscle, or recover. Someone can also want a choice based on their interest, such as vegan protein powder, gluten-free, grass-fed protein, powders with a protein blend, powders free of milk protein, soy-free options, and so on. 

Choosing the best protein powder for muscle gain:

  1. Know your protein needs 
  2. Decide whether you want animal-based protein or plant-based
  3. Choose powders with the least amount of ingredients
  4. Choose ones that have undergone third-party testing
  5. If an athlete chooses protein powders, choose tested for banned substances (informed sport). 

The type of protein also matters depending on the desired outcome. For example, you can find whey protein in three different forms: concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate; sometimes, these are found in combination. The concentrate is the most common, but the isolate is processed to increase the protein concentration. Hydrolysate is best for digestion and absorption. If a person is vegan, the best options are plant-based proteins like pea, brown rice, and hemp, to name a few.

Final Thought

When deciding to increase muscle mass, dietary protein is naturally the way to go. Food is the best protein source. Yet, as you need more protein, diet alone may not give you what you need. 

Protein powder tends to be safe for consumption, and finding a high-quality protein powder can be easy with the availability of third-party testing. Very few protein powders cause side effects, but possible symptoms can be nausea, gas, stomach pains, or bloating. As a result, protein powders are not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women and only for people over 18.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which protein powder is best for muscle gain?

It can depend on your goals and protein needs; on average, protein supplements have about 25 gms of protein per serving.

How much protein powder should I take per day?

The recommendation will depend on your protein needs. But usually 1-2 scoops per serving of an 8 oz glass of water or milk.

What should I mix with protein powder to maximize building muscle?

You can add milk, almond milk, soy milk, or peanut butter to increase protein in the protein supplement. You can also add branched-chain amino acids for additional support.

When should I take protein powder?

Ideally, pre-workout or post-workout, but there isn’t a specific recommendation of when you should take it. Most products are recommended as needed or wanted.

How many calories are in a cup of protein powder?

Considering the protein powders featured, you will find between 120 kcals-300 kcals per serving; check individual product nutrition facts label for specific calories.


+ 5 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Handling. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Whey%20Protein%20Concentrate%20TR.pdf.
  2. Meena, G.S., Singh, A.K., Panjagari, N.R. and Arora, S. (2017). Milk protein concentrates: opportunities and challenges. Journal of Food Science and Technology, [online] 54(10), pp.3010–3024. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5603002/
  3. Hammam, A.R.A., Martínez Monteagudo, S.I. and Metzger, L.E. (2021). Progress in micellar casein concentrate: Production and applications. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, [online] 20(5), pp.4426–4449. Available at: https://ift.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1541-4337.12795
  4. Corgneau, M., Gaiani, C., Petit, J., Nikolova, Y., Banon, S., Ritié‐Pertusa, L., … Scher, J. (2019). Nutritional quality evaluation of commercial protein supplements. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 54(8), 2586–2594. doi:10.1111/ijfs.14170
  5. Optibacprobiotics.com. (2017). Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04® | Database. [online] Available at: https://www.optibacprobiotics.com/uk/professionals/probiotics-database/bifidobacterium/bifidobacterium-lactis/bifidobacterium-lactis-bl-04.
Blanca Garcia

Written by:

Blanca Garcia, RDN

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Blanca is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and freelance nutrition writer from Los Angeles, CA. She has more than 8 year’s experience in nutrition and dietetics. She is a Latina and enjoys traditional Mexican and Salvadoran cooking, eating flavorful meals and sharing her knowledge about food and nutrition with others through her writing.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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