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The best protein powders tried and tested

The best protein powders tried and tested

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We tested this popular nutritional supplement to find the best protein powder on the market. Discover how to use it safely, and when to seek advice.

All products were chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more and read about how we write BBC Good Food reviews.

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Once used exclusively by bodybuilders, protein supplements have grown in popularity so much that it's now common to see people of all ages, genders and body types consuming protein shakes in and out of the gym.

We put protein powders to the test to find the best on the market, then asked a nutritionist for her opinion and tips on how to use them safely. Read on to see her advice.

Once you've determined whether a protein supplement is right for you, discover which powders are best. You might also enjoy our review of the best protein bars.

For more than 200 buyer's guides, visit our product review section to find more health-related reviews, including fitness trackers, kombucha and meal prep containers.

Best protein powders at a glance

  • Best value protein shake: MyProtein Impact chocolate brownie whey protein, £25.13 for 1kg
  • Best protein powder with subtle flavour: Pulsin natural vanilla whey protein, £49.99 for 1kg
  • Best higher calorie & macronutrient option: Protein World banana split whey protein concentrate, £30 for 1.2kg
  • Best low-calorie, low-fat protein powder: Protein Works vanilla crème diet whey isolate 90, £49.99 for 1kg
  • Best blend of fast-acting & slow-release protein: Grenade Hydra 6 protein Killa vanilla flavour, £55 for 1816g
  • Best organic whey protein option: The Organic Protein Co organic whey protein raw cacao & maca flavour, £59 for 1.2kg
  • Best for added vitamins and minerals: Free Soul whey protein blend chocolate flavour, £24.99 for 600g
  • Highest protein option per serving: Innermost The Strong Protein smooth chocolate flavour, £29.95 for 600g

Best protein powders 2022

MyProtein Impact chocolate brownie whey protein

Best value protein shake

  • Grams of protein per serving: 21g per 25g serving
  • Calories per serving: 103 kcals
  • Type of protein: whey protein concentrate
  • Fat per serving: 1.9g (1.3g sat fat)
  • Carbohydrates per serving: 1g (1g sugar)

The ingredients list is reassuringly short, and although the flavour we tested was sweetened with sucralose, there are stevia-sweetened options available if you prefer (there's also an unflavoured option if you'd rather avoid any unnecessary extra ingredients). It’s also suitable for vegetarians.

Impressively, this powder is available in more than 40 different flavours – we tested the chocolate brownie one, which was a winner. The powder mixed beautifully, forming a milkshake-like consistency that would be ideal for those who like a thicker shake. The flavour was like a lovely, just-baked brownie with a rich milk chocolate aftertaste, making it easy to drink and very filling.

With 40 servings per 1kg packet, it's also good value for money at around 63p per scoop.

Nutritional information based on the unflavoured version.

Available from:
MyProtein (£25.13 for 1kg)
Amazon (£25.13 for 1kg)

Pulsin natural vanilla whey protein

Best protein powder with subtle flavour

Pulsin Whey Protein Vanilla 1kg bag
  • Grams of protein per serving: 21.7g per 25g serving
  • Calories per serving: 98 kcals
  • Type of protein: whey protein isolate
  • Fat per serving: 0.1g (0g sat fat)
  • Carbohydrates per serving: 1.9g (0.6g sugar)

The flavour of this product is nice and subtle – it has a heady vanilla scent, but the taste isn't overpowering and it's not too sweet, so it's great for smoothies or milkshakes as it won't overwhelm other ingredients. The powder dissolves quickly and easily in water without creating lumps, but if you like a thicker shake, it's best mixed with milk.

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It is on the more expensive side as compared to the other powders – a 250g packet provides 10 servings, coming out at approximately £1.49 per shake – but if you're not a fan of strong, overly sweet shakes, it might be a sound investment.

Available from:
Pulsin (£49.99 for 1kg)
Amazon (£52.40 for 1kg)

Protein World banana split whey protein concentrate

Best higher calorie & macronutrient option

  • Grams of protein per serving: 30.7g per 40g serving
  • Calories per serving: 162 kcals
  • Type of protein: whey protein concentrate
  • Fat per serving: 3.2g (1.8g sat fat)
  • Carbohydrates per serving: 2.4g (1.8g sugar)

This shake is really easy to drink and doesn't taste overbearingly sweet, despite containing sucralose. It has a good consistency – on the thinner side, but still offering a creamy finish. The powder dissolves well without leaving any lumps, and forms a light foam on top after shaking.

True to its name, this drink tastes just like a banana split in liquid form. All in all, the experience is more like drinking a banana milkshake than a protein supplement, earning it a definite thumbs-up.

A 1.2kg packet provides 30 servings, coming out at £1 per shake.

The slightly higher protein, calorie and carb content in Protein World's banana split whey protein concentrate make it a good option for those who want to increase their overall calories and macronutrient levels as part of a balanced meal plan.

Available from:
Protein World (£30 for 1.2kg)
Amazon (£31.99 for 1.2kg)

Protein Works vanilla crème diet whey isolate 90

Best low-calorie, low-fat protein powder

Protein Works vanilla crème diet whey isolate 90 bag
  • Grams of protein per serving: 23g per 25g serving
  • Calories per serving: 92 kcals
  • Type of protein: whey protein isolate
  • Fat per serving: 0g (0g sat fat)
  • Carbohydrates per serving: 0.6g (0.6g sugar)

We tried the vanilla crème flavour, which is lovely – it's quite custardy in flavour, and sweet enough without being overly so, despite being sweetened with stevia. The powder foams up quite a lot after shaking, so you might like to let it settle before drinking. Made with 150ml water, it was on the thinner side – try mixing with milk if you prefer a thicker shake.

A 1kg packet provides around 33 servings, so each scoop costs roughly £1 – a good middle-of-the-range option.

Protein Works vanilla crème diet whey isolate 90 is a good option if you're looking to increase your protein intake without bumping up your other macronutrients, when consumed as part of a balanced meal plan.

Available from Protein Works (£49.99 for 1kg)

Grenade Hydra 6 protein Killa vanilla flavour

Best blend of fast-acting & slow-release protein

Grenade Hydra 6 Killa Vanilla tub
  • Grams of protein per serving: 25g per 35g serving
  • Calories per serving: 130 kcals
  • Type of protein: whey protein isolate and micellar casin (50/50 split)
  • Fat per serving: 1.8g (0.9g sat fat)
  • Carbohydrates per serving: 2.4g (0.8g sugar)

This shake has an almost biscuity vanilla flavour which is quite moreish, and is pleasantly sweet without being sickly. Given a vigorous shake, it mixes well to create a smooth drink, but it is on the thinner side when combined with water – try using milk as your base liquid if you prefer a thicker consistency.

This product is designed to provide a 50/50 ratio of protein sources, half from fast-acting whey protein isolate and half from slower-release micellar casein, with the aim of supporting muscle recovery for an extended period after exercise.

A 1816g packet contains approximately 52 servings, working out at £1.05 per serving.

Available from:
Grenade (£55 for 1816g)
Amazon (£40.80 for 1816g)

The Organic Protein Co organic whey protein raw cacao & maca flavour

Best organic whey protein powder

The Organic Protein Co Organic Whey Protein raw cacao & maca bag
  • Grams of protein per serving: 15g per 25g serving
  • Calories per serving: 96 kcals
  • Type of protein: whey protein concentrate
  • Fat per serving: 2g (1.2g sat fat)
  • Carbohydrates per serving: 3.7g (1.23g sugar)

If you’re not a fan of hyper-processed, artificially sweetened protein powders, this one might just be for you. It has a very nice, natural-tasting cocoa flavour and isn’t too sweet, as we’d expect from a blend that uses unrefined coconut sugar as the only sweetener.

One tip from testing – the powder does take some time (and arm power) to mix up in a shaker, but once it’s combined it creates a nice, smooth, creamy texture that’s very pleasant to drink.

Another added benefit is the 5% maca powder that’s thrown in for good measure. It’s also certified organic by the Organic Food Federation, and for every pack the company donates 25p to Compassion in World Farming.

A 1.2kg packet contains roughly 48 servings, coming in at £1.23 per serving.

Available from:
The Organic Protein Co (£59 for 1.2kg)
Amazon (£59 for 1.2kg)

Free Soul whey protein blend chocolate flavour

Best protein powder for added vitamins and minerals

Free Soul whey protein blend chocolate flavour bags
  • Grams of protein per serving: 20g per 30g serving
  • Calories per serving: 96 kcals
  • Type of protein: whey protein concentrate
  • Fat per serving: 2g (1.2g sat fat)
  • Carbohydrates per serving: 3.7g (1.23g sugar)

If you’re after a one-stop shop for protein, key vitamins and minerals, you might want to give this powder a whirl. With a natural-tasting, plain cocoa flavour, it was very palatable and not too sweet, despite using steviol glycosides in the ingredients. This is another option that takes a little time and effort to mix, although it fared better whizzed up in a blender, and eventually did create a smooth, satisfying shake.

There’s an array of added nutrients, vitamins and minerals that have been formulated with the nutritional needs of women in mind. These include iron, calcium, magnesium, biotin (B7), thiamine (B1), vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and pantothenic acid (B5). It’s worth taking a careful look at the packet before you purchase, and bear in mind whether you already take any nutritional supplements or have any specific nutritional needs.

A 600g packet contains roughly 20 servings, coming in at £1.25 per serving.

Available from:
Free Soul (£24.99 for 600g)

Innermost The Strong Protein smooth chocolate flavour

Highest protein option per serving

Innermost The Strong Protein smooth chocolate flavour
  • Grams of protein per serving: 34g per 40g serving
  • Calories per serving: 147 kcals
  • Type of protein: whey protein concentrate, whey isolate and casein
  • Fat per serving: 1.1g (0.3g sat fat)
  • Carbohydrates per serving: 0.8g (0.8g sugar)

At last – a protein shake that mixed super easily in the shaker! This one blended up like a dream into a smooth, highly sippable shake. We enjoyed the chocolate flavour, which was quite delicate and not overpowering when it came to sweetness.

Although it sits at a higher price point than some of the competitors, you do get quite a nutritional bang for your buck with this powder. This blend also includes creatine monohydrate, Montmorency cherries, bilberries and magnesium, with the aim of increasing muscle mass, reducing inflammation and boosting exercise performance.

A 600g packet contains roughly 15 servings, coming in at around £1.99 per serving.

Available from:
Innermost (£29.95 for 600g)


Protein powder health advice

How to use protein powders safely

Supplements such as protein shakes need to be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet, and not used as a substitute for whole food. Nutritionist Kerry Torrens explains: ‘Protein powders are highly processed and lack the micronutrients and other beneficial nutrients of whole, natural food. We should all aim to achieve our protein from a well-balanced diet, but for short-term use or in certain circumstances, protein supplementation may be considered.'

Discover how to eat a balanced diet and the best protein sources, including options for vegetarians and vegans.

Who could benefit from using a protein supplement?

If you're regularly getting enough protein from your diet, adding a supplement might not make a noticeable difference to your health.

However, those who are either unable to regularly eat enough protein due to decreased appetite or illness, or who have increased protein needs as a result of high-intensity exercise might benefit from taking a supplement.

Kerry explains: 'One example, which is probably not an obvious one, is the elderly. This group often has a greater need for protein, but a lower appetite. Increasing protein intake in a form that is palatable and suits their lowered appetite may be effective in protecting against muscle loss. That said, in this group other aspects, such as kidney health and osteoporosis, need to be considered and monitored – it’s worth checking with a GP that protein supplements are safe and suitable for each individual.’

Who shouldn’t take protein supplements?

Children shouldn’t take protein supplements unless directed by a dietitian. The NHS advises that consuming too much protein in the long term is linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, and may worsen existing kidney problems.

Some people find protein powders difficult to digest – it’s best to include them gradually into your diet, and see how you get on.

Although allergens should be stated on the label, anyone with allergies should be cautious about using a new supplement as there is an obvious risk of cross-contamination in factories. Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or being treated for existing medical conditions should consult their GP before starting new supplements.

Is it possible to take too much protein?

Yes. The Department of Health advises adults to avoid consuming more than twice the recommended daily intake of protein (55g for men and 45g for women). Always read the label of any protein supplement carefully, stick to the recommended serving size, and be mindful of other protein sources in your diet. If you’re concerned that you might be consuming too much protein, speak to your GP.

Buyer's advice

How to choose a protein powder

Choosing a suitable protein powder will depend on your personal requirements and goals. For example, if you're looking to gain weight or build muscle, you might want to consider a 'mass gainer' product that is higher in calories and carbohydrates. Look for a product to fit your dietary requirements and double-check allergen labelling on the packet.

When choosing a protein powder, make sure that you buy from a reputable company, ideally based in the EU, as those that are based outside of Europe may not pass the same safety standards as those within. If you’re in any doubt about the safety of a product, speak to your pharmacist or GP.

What we looked for in protein powders

Taste and texture: is the flavour pleasant to drink? Does it dissolve well?
Type of protein: whey or plant-based? Concentrate, isolate or hydrolysate?
Nutrient profile: how much protein per serving? What about calories, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates and sugars?
Type of sweetener: does it contain sugars, artificial sweeteners or neither?
Dietary requirements: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free?
Value for money: how does it compare to others on a cost-per-serving basis?

Testing notes

All powders were prepared as per the instructions on the packet using cold water as the liquid, and mixed thoroughly by hand in a shaker before being served in a glass. We included 16 samples from a range of retailers with differing nutritional information, protein types and price points in this review.

Read more

The best protein bars
Best sources of protein
The best sources of protein for vegetarians
The best sources of protein for vegans
What to eat for a workout
Sports nutrition: What's worth trying?

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Do you use protein powders? Leave a comment below...

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This review was last updated in April 2022. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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