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7 Best Protein Shakes & Protein Powders of 2022

Karla Tafra

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

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Jacked Factory Authentic Whey Premium Protein Powder

Jacked Factory Authentic Whey Premium Protein Powder

  • 24 grams of protein per serving
  • No artificial dyes
  • Sugar-free and non-GMO
  • Manufactured in a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -registered facility

Transparent-Labs-100-Grass-Fed-Whey-Protein-Isolate

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

  • 100% grass-fed whey protein
  • 28 grams of protein per serving
  • Gluten-free, non-GMO, free of artificial dyes and sweeteners

Naked Nutrition Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

Naked Nutrition Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free, non-GMO, and free from any artificial ingredients
  • 20 grams of protein per serving with a complete protein profile

Protein shakes are a great way to get extra protein into your diet and support your overall health. An adequate protein intake is necessary for the optimal function of your entire system, as this macronutrient is involved in almost every body process[1]

Protein is important for repairing and building your muscles and tissues; it encourages metabolic reactions, coordinates bodily functions, helps you lose weight, balances out your pH, and helps you maintain adequate fluid balance. 

Best Protein Shakes & Protein Powders on the market in (November. 2022)

Why You Should Consider A Protein Shake

Protein shakes help increase your daily intake of protein. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is a baseline number[2] supposed to meet your most basic protein needs. 

In order to determine your daily protein intake, there are plenty of macronutrient calculators that can help you do the math. But keep in mind that if you’re an active individual with a focus on fitness, there are more factors in play than just your body weight. You might need more than the general RDA to sustain your muscles and keep them optimized. 

The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) states that for most exercising individuals[3] who are focused on muscle growth and maintenance, the adequate daily protein intake should fall in the range of 1.4–2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. A kilogram is 2.2 pounds.

Research[4] points to the potential benefits of increasing the protein intake to three grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and more. It shows potential positive effects on body composition in those focusing on resistance training individuals, helping them decrease fat percentage and lose weight. 

In order to actually meet your protein requirements for the day, you need to carefully plan out your meals, making sure you’re getting enough protein. Sometimes, especially if you’re training hard, it’s almost impossible to get it from food alone. Even more so, if you’re unable to cook all of your meals, weigh them out, and ensure your macronutrient numbers are on point.  That’s where protein shakes come in handy, replenishing your body with 20-30 grams of protein in a quick and convenient way. 

Health Benefits of Protein Shakes

Protein shakes can bring a plethora of health benefits to your diet:

  • Promote muscle growth – probably their most important function[5], protein shakes help increase muscle growth, and research proves they are effective in increasing both size and strength
  • Aid in post-workout recovery – studies show[6] how protein shakes reduce muscle damage, improve protein synthesis, and increase muscle performance
  • Help with weight loss and weight management – protein shakes have a positive effect[7] on fat loss and weight loss, as well as reduced cholesterol and blood pressure

The Line Up At A Glance

Jacked-Factory-Authentic-Whey-Premium-Protein-Powder

Editor’s Choice

Jacked Factory Authentic Whey Premium Protein Powder

  • 24 grams of protein per serving
  • No artificial dyes
  • Sugar-free and non-GMO
  • Manufactured in a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) and Food and Drug

Transparent-Labs-100-Grass-Fed-Whey-Protein-Isolate

Best Grass-Fed

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

  • 100% grass-fed whey protein
  • 28 grams of protein per serving
  • Gluten-free, non-GMO, free or artificial dyes and sweeteners

Naked-Nutrition-Strawberry-Banana-Protein-Shake

Best Vegan

Naked Nutrition Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free, non-GMO, and free from any artificial ingredients
  • 20 grams of protein per serving with a complete protein profile

Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein

Best Variety of Flavors

Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein

  • 24 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) per serving
  • Gluten-free and tested for banned substances
  • 20 different flavors

Quest-Nutrition-Vanilla-Protein-Flavoured-Shakes

Highest Protein Count

Quest Nutrition Vanilla Protein Flavoured Shakes

  • 30 grams of protein per serving
  • Gluten-free, sugar-free, non-GMO
  • Conveniently packed into serving sizes

30% Off Coupon: NASM

Orgain Clean Protein Shake

Best Budget-Friendly

Orgain Clean Protein Shake

  • Grass-fed milk protein
  • 20 grams of protein per serving and low net carbohydrates
  • Gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO, soy-free

Vega Sport Premium Plant-Based Protein Powder

Highest Vegan Protein Count

Vega Sport Premium Plant-Based Protein Powder

  • 30 grams of plant-based protein and 5 grams of BCAAS
  • Contains probiotics
  • Contains tart cherry to aid in recovery

7 Best Protein Shakes in 2022

Jacked Factory Authentic Whey

A delicious combination of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate, suited for anyone looking to increase their muscle growth and improve recovery.

  • 24 grams of protein per serving
  • No artificial dyes
  • Sugar-free and made with ingredients free from genetically modified organisms (non-GMO)
  • Manufactured in a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -registered facility
  • Not grass-fed whey
  • Higher price

Jacked Factory Authentic Whey is made through a special filtration process that results in highly-purified whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate, minimal fat, and almost zero sugars. It’s therefore low in lactose, so it could potentially be well tolerated by those sensitive to this milk sugar. 

One serving contains 24 grams of protein, and it’s easily digestible as well as fast to absorb by your body. It’s one of the best protein shakes for men, and it comes in five delicious flavors and contains no added sugars, GMO, or artificial dyes. Their formula promises to help promote lean muscle growth, increase strength, and improve recovery.

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

One of the cleanest whey protein isolates made from grass-fed cows contains a very high protein count per serving: 28 grams.

  • 100% grass-fed whey protein
  • 28 grams of protein per serving
  • Gluten-free, non-GMO, free of artificial dyes and sweeteners
  • Expensive

Transparent Labs created one of the cleanest protein powders out there. Their 100% grass-fed whey protein isolate is made without any artificial sweeteners, dyes, additives, or colorings. It’s also gluten-free, non-GMO, and sugar-free. 

It has one of the highest protein-by-weight ratios as one serving of 32 grams contains 28 grams of easily digestible protein. Whey protein isolate is best-taken post-workout as it’s then supposed to be the most effective in helping you increase muscle, improve strength, promote weight loss, and enhance recovery. Transparent Labs protein shake comes in nine flavors, from the crowd’s favorite vanilla and strawberry to more interesting options such as cinnamon pastry and vanilla peanut butter.

With 28 grams of protein per serving, it can also be considered one of the best protein shakes for weight gain, the healthy way.

Naked Nutrition Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

Plant-based protein with no artificial ingredients, perfect for anyone looking to increase their muscle growth but cannot tolerate whey protein.

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free, non-GMO, and free from any artificial ingredients
  • 20 grams of protein per serving with a complete protein profile
  • Expensive
  • Lower in protein than other, whey-based protein shakes

Naked Nutrition is well known for its clean and pure formulas containing no artificial ingredients whatsoever. All of their products are made without any synthetic colors, additives, sweeteners, or thickening agents, and they contain only a few simple, whole-food-derived ingredients. 

Their Strawberry Banana Vegan Protein Shake is based on pea protein powder with added medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil for healthy fats, as well as a strawberry-banana juice blend derived from natural fruit and not their powder forms. 

One serving contains 20 grams of vegan protein but with a full amino acid profile. Even though it’s a bit lower in protein than other whey protein-based shakes, it contains all essential amino acids and helps increase lean muscle mass, enhances recovery, and supports your weight loss goals.

Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle or a little bit of both, this protein shake is for you. With 24 grams of high-quality whey protein per serving, it’s one of the best post-workout shakes on the market.

  • 24 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) per serving
  • Gluten-free and tested for banned substances
  • 20 different flavors
  • Not grass-fed whey
  • Presence of artificial sweetener, sucralose

Optimum Nutrition has held the gold standard amongst the bodybuilding community for decades now, constantly improving its protein-based formulas and adding one delicious flavor after the other. 

The presence of BCAA makes them the best protein shakes for muscle gain.

Currently, with 20 unique flavors such as banana cream, rocky road, and chocolate malt, just to name a few, Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein has thousands of raving reviews and satisfied customers. 

The formula consists of 24 grams of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate per serving, together with 5.5 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that now only help you increase muscle growth and promote recovery but also maintain lean muscle mass even in your “cutting phase[8].” The cutting phase strives to eliminate the fat gained during the bulking phase while still retaining muscle mass.

The formula is also gluten-free and tested for banned substances, making it a perfectly safe option for even the world’s most substance-prohibiting sports. However, it does contain a controversial ingredient, one approved by the FDA, but research[9] indicates there may be health problems associated with it. Sucralose has been linked to adverse disturbances in the gut microbiome leading to health difficulties as well as having an adverse effect on blood sugar when combined with carbohydrate sources in some people.

Quest Nutrition Vanilla Protein Flavoured Shakes

An easy, convenient, and delicious way to get 30 grams of high-quality protein in one protein shake.

  • 30 grams of protein per serving
  • Gluten-free, sugar-free, non-GMO
  • Conveniently packed into serving sizes
  • Not grass-fed

Quest Nutrition Vanilla Protein Flavoured Shakes are affordable just as they are delicious. They come pre-mixed and pre-packed, making it really easy just to grab them, shake them, and drink them. One serving contains a whopping 30 grams of easily digestible protein and only one gram of naturally occurring sugar. 

Quest Nutrition products are all gluten-free, cane sugar-free, free from any artificial ingredients, and absolutely delicious. The constantly growing number of consumers and fans, also known as the Quest Squad around the world is eagerly awaiting which new product will come out of their labs. 

Orgain Clean Protein Shake

One of the cleanest whey protein powders out there, Orgain’s 20 grams of protein per serving are made for anyone looking to fuel their workouts, enjoy a nutritious snack or a meal replacement, support their weight loss journey, and help increase muscle growth.

  • Grass-fed milk protein
  • 20 grams of protein per serving and low net carbohydrates
  • Gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO, soy-free
  • Sweetened with monk fruit and stevia
  • Low protein count compared to other whey-based protein powders

Orgain Clean Protein Shake is definitely one of the cleanest on the market. Their formula is gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher, and soy-free, and it’s really convenient to take on the go. Even though it’s a bit lower on the protein count than other whey-based protein powders, Orgain is made with 100% grass-fed New Zealand cows who haven’t been treated with hormones or antibiotics. 

It comes in two delicious flavors, and they’re one of the most affordable on the market. They also offer a subscription plan that saves you 35% forever when you sign up. It’s also one of the best protein shakes for pregnancy as it contains only plant-based sweeteners, stevia, and monk fruit.

Vega Sport Premium Plant-Based Protein Powder

30 grams of vegan protein is hard to find, and Vega Sport is up to the task. It’s a great protein shake for anyone following a vegan diet and looking to increase muscle mass and lose weight. It is one of the best protein shakes for diabetics having no added sugars in its ingredient profile.

  • 30 grams of plant-based protein and 5 grams of BCAAS
  • Contains probiotics
  • Contains tart cherry to aid in recovery
  • No added sugars
  • Expensive

Vega Sport Premium Plant-Based Protein Powder is packed with 30 grams of plant-based protein and five grams of BCAAs. It’s also equipped with recovery-boosting tart cherry[10] and probiotics to help keep your microbiome healthy. 

The formula is a multi-sourced protein-containing formula consisting of pea protein, pumpkin seed protein, sunflower seed protein, and alfalfa protein. It comes in five simple but delicious flavors and no added sugars, making it suitable for those on a keto diet. 

Their formula is also tested for banned substances, so it’s safe for all athletes following a vegan diet or wishing to stay away from whey protein and looking to add some extra protein into their daily numbers. 
Additionally, it contains 2 billion colony forming units (CFUs) of Bacillus coagulans. This probiotic is similar to lactobacillus in that it is a beneficial bacteria for the gut microbiome.

How to Choose The Best Protein Powder?

Before you rush and buy the first protein powder you see in your grocery store or hear about on social media, here are a few important factors to take into account:

  • If possible, choose grass-fed whey – grass-fed whey protein is higher in quality and contains all of the naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals. It’s also higher in healthy fats and contains a larger number of BCAAs due to less processing.
  • High-protein count – choose a protein shake with a high protein count per serving as it’s less likely to have other “fillers” to fully justify their caloric amount.
  • If possible, choose organic – organic protein powders that are pure, clean, and really high- quality.
  • Check for a National Science Foundation (NSF) or Informed-Sport certificate – these certificates can ensure you that their product contains no banned substances.
  • Opt for real ingredients – avoid brands with large amounts of added sugars, artificial flavors, dyes, artificial sugars, and colorings, and choose those with only a few clean ingredients derived from real foods.
  • Complete protein – when choosing a vegan protein shake, it’s important to look for formulas that contain a complete protein profile with all the essential amino acids. This can be accomplished by using a source complete in all nine essential amino acids such as whey, soy, or hemp or combining vegetable proteins to complete an amino acid profile.

Dosage

The usual serving size contains 20 to 30 grams of protein, depending on the brand. Your lifestyle choice, daily diet, and caloric expenditure will determine your optimal daily protein intake, so you can plan your meals accordingly. 

Some people take one protein shake a day, usually post-workout, but others take more, knowing they can’t reach their protein numbers with just food alone. Whey protein is derived from milk, and those who are lactose intolerant may have digestive issues[11] if they drink too many protein shakes per day. 

If you’re new to protein shakes, start with one after a hard workout and slowly build up as needed to reach your health and fitness goals. 

Final Thought

Protein powders are a great way to get additional protein into your daily diet. Many people struggle with even the baseline numbers, and if you’re an active individual who participates in physical exercise, it can be even harder to obtain it from food. 

Choose the ones without artificial ingredients, try to aim for grass-fed and organic, and keep your dosage moderate in line with your health goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many protein shakes should I consume per day?

It depends on your fitness goal, but one to two a day should be more than enough.

Can a protein shake be used in place of a meal?

Yes, protein drinks can be used as a meal replacement, but it’s important to make sure you’re not eating too little. So, in case your protein powder of choice is lower in calories, add some nuts and seeds or a banana to make it a full meal. Keep in mind that you still need your essential vitamins and minerals and if using a protein powder as a meal replacement, the supplement should contain nutrients, or you should think about taking a multivitamin to meet your nutrient needs for vitamins and minerals.

Do protein shakes help gain muscle?

Yes, they are designed to help you build and increase muscle and strength.

Do protein shakes aid in weight loss?

Yes, they support you on your weight loss journey by increasing lean muscle mass and therefore burning excess fat, as well as keeping you fuller for longer and curbing your appetite.

When is the best time to drink a protein shake?

It’s recommended to drink a protein shake immediately after your workout to maximize muscle growth and start the recovery process fully.

How to make a protein shake?

Simply mix one or two scoops (depending on the brand) with water or milk of choice, shake, and drink.


+ 11 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. Medlineplus.gov. (n.d). What are proteins and what do they do?: MedlinePlus Genetics. [ONLINE] Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/howgeneswork/protein/
  2. Harvard Health. (2022). How much protein do you need every day?. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096.
  3. Jäger, R., Kerksick, C.M., Campbell, B.I. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 20 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8
  4. Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T., Orris, S., Scheiner, M., Gonzalez, A., & Peacock, C. A. (2015). A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women–a follow-up investigation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 39. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-015-0100-0
  5. Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, et alA systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults British Journal of Sports Medicine 2018;52:376-384.
  6. Kim, J., Lee, C., & Lee, J. (2017). Effect of timing of whey protein supplement on muscle damage markers after eccentric exercise. Journal of exercise rehabilitation, 13(4), 436–440. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.1735034.517
  7. Srinivasaraghavan N., Das N., Balakrishnan K., Rajaram S.. (2021) Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation on Perioperative Outcomes in Patients with Cancer—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PROSPERO 2020: CRD42020188666). Nutrition and Cancer 0:0, pages 1-14.
  8. Is carb-cutting a safe way to diet? New research suggests that a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is less risky than many experts had thought. Does that mean it’s a healthy way to eat?. (2003). Harvard women’s health watch, 11(3), 1–2.
  9. Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Is Sucralose Bad for You? The Truth About Splenda – Cleveland Clinic. [ONLINE] Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-sucralose-splenda-bad-for-you/. [Accessed 1 June 2022].
  10. Hill, J. A., Keane, K. M., Quinlan, R., & Howatson, G. (2021). Tart Cherry Supplementation and Recovery From Strenuous Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of sports nutrition and exercise metabolism, 31(2), 154–167. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2020-0145
  11. Facioni, M. S., Raspini, B., Pivari, F., Dogliotti, E., & Cena, H. (2020). Nutritional management of lactose intolerance: the importance of diet and food labeling. Journal of translational medicine, 18(1), 260. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-020-02429-2
Karla Tafra

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Karla is a published author, speaker, certified nutritionist, and yoga teacher, and she's passionate when writing about nutrition, health, fitness, and overall wellness topics. Her work has been featured on popular sites like Healthline, Psychology.com, Well and Good, Women's Health, Mindbodygreen, Medium, Yoga Journal, Lifesavvy, and Bodybuilding.com. In addition to writing about these topics, she also teaches yoga classes, offers nutrition coaching, organizes wellness seminars and workshops, creates content for various brands & provides copywriting services to companies.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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