The 7 Best Protein Powders in 2021
Bulk up and maximize your workout gains with the best protein powders in 2021.
Heading to the gym and completing your reps is only half the battle if you want to really build muscle. The other half of the battle involves eating the right diet and providing your body with the building blocks it needs to repair muscle damage and boost your biceps. To that end, we decided to find the best protein powders in 2021 and provide them to you in the guide below! Each of these protein powders is great for building muscle, but some of them are exceptional for a particular purpose.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard
Best Overall Protein Powder
- Has plenty of top ingredients
- Comes in several sizes and flavors
- Mixes in very well
- All ingredients are quality controlled
- Includes naturally occurring amino acids
- Not the best for weight loss
Why should you buy this? The ON Gold Standard Powder comes in several different flavors ranging from double rich chocolate to French vanilla cream and has everything you need in a protein supplement. It’s an ideal all-around pick for most fitness enthusiasts.
ON Gold Standard
Why we picked the ON Gold Standard:
Plenty of Carbs and Sugars – Some protein powders don’t have lots of key elements to maximize your gains and recovery period. This protein powder has plenty of carbohydrates and sugars along with 1.5 g of fat. This ensures that you feel great both before or after your workout depending on when you choose to take the supplements.
Instantized – Too many protein powders are chunky when you try to mix them into your drink. This protein powder has been specifically developed to avoid this flaw and easily mix into milk, water, or any other beverage you want to combine it with.
Conclusion – With four sizes to choose from and all the ingredients made from top-tier sources, this protein powder is an excellent choice if you want a versatile powder that’s appropriate for weight gain and muscle building alike.
BSN Syntha-6 Whey
Best Cheap Protein Powder
- Very affordable for most
- Very good for recovery
- Includes a high amount of protein and sugar
- Multiple sizes available
- Taste could be better overall
Why should you buy this? The BSN Syntha-6 Powder is an affordable choice that’ll work for anyone looking to build muscles or gain weight overall. It has plenty of sugar and a whopping 22 g of protein from whey protein isolate and other natural sources.
BSN Syntha-6 Whey
Why we picked the BSN Syntha-6 Whey:
Anytime Works – Unlike some protein powders that are specialized for either before or after your workout, this powder works no matter when you decide to mix it with your drink. As such, it’s perfect for those with unorthodox schedules or for exercisers who need something they can take both before or after their workouts.
Recovery Support – The powder formula is supplemented with specific amino acids and other proteins that will boost your recovery time. As such, it’s an ideal pick if you don’t like your muscles being too sore after you complete a heavy workout and want your protein powder to help you with this aspect.
Conclusion – All in all, this protein powder is affordable and just as effective as more expensive choices on the market. As a result, even budget-minded exercisers should be able to get the gains they want without having to break the bank.
Best Vegan Protein Powder
- Made with non-GMO ingredients
- Easy to digest
- Contains plenty of protein and superfoods
- Good flavor overall
- Not as much in the container as other protein picks
- Recovery benefits aren’t as good
Why should you buy this? The PlantFusion Complete Pea Protein Powder is a vegan alternative to traditional protein supplements. All the ingredients are made with non-GMO elements, so it’s perfect for environmentally-minded and animal-friendly exercise enthusiasts.
Why we picked the PlantFusion Complete:
Top Ingredients – Too many protein powder supplements are made with subpar ingredients that affect the long-term quality of the product. This protein powder, despite being vegan, does a fantastic job of boosting your gains and includes 21 g of plant-based proteins from peas and other vegetables. In fact, it’s chock-full of other superfoods that are hand-selected to provide you with the maximum benefit.
Easy to Digest – Many protein powders weigh heavily on the stomach, making them an unattractive prospect after a heavy workout. This protein powder is exceptionally easy to digest as the formula has been fortified with digestive enzymes and it’s totally dairy-free.
Conclusion – Overall, we think this protein powder is one of the best choices on the market even if you aren’t vegan thanks to its quality ingredients and its tasty flavor, which is surprisingly good given its plant-based factors.
Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass
Best Tasting Protein Powder
- Lots of protein
- Good flavor
- Digests well
- Helps with recovery
- Powder grains are a bit thick compared to other powders
Why should you buy this? The ON Serious Mass Weight Gain Powder is one of the best choices on the market if you want to build muscle and gain weight like nobody’s business. It contains a whopping 1250 cal for every two scoop servings and over 50 g of protein per serving.
ON Serious Mass
Why we picked the ON Serious Mass:
Excellent Vitamins – In addition to its aforementioned protein benefits, this protein powder also contains over 25 vitamins and minerals you need to build muscle and remain healthy overall. As such, it’s not only one of the best protein powders for building muscle but is one of the best after workout supplements bar none.
Great Flavor – Finding a protein powder that tastes good is often a challenge, but this powder comes in a delicious chocolate format by default. Or you can select from several other top flavors ranging from banana to strawberry to vanilla. Whatever you choose, you’ll find that the protein powder mixes well with either milk or water and is exceptionally easy to guzzle down.
Conclusion – This protein powder is a fantastic choice overall but an even better option if you want to add muscle as quickly as possible or recover from sore workout fatigue more often than you currently are.
USN Supplements Bluelab Whey
Best Protein Powder for Women
- Very easy to digest
- Has high converting amino acids
- Supports muscle growth and recovery
- Great tasting flavor
- A little pricey given the tub size
Why should you buy this? This whey protein pick is a great choice for women because of the ingredients list and the excellent flavor. It provides optimal muscle support and recovery and is a versatile post-workout supplement that’s ideal both for cardio workouts or for muscle building exercises.
USN Supplements Bluelab
Why we picked the USN Supplements Bluelab:
Good for Muscle Growth – Women already struggle to build muscle to the same degree as men, so they need an excellent protein powder that can really help them pack on the pounds. Each serving of this powder contains 25 g of protein and several other top amino acids that can help women add muscle and recover more quickly. It even promotes optimal nitrogen retention and the conversion of new amino acids.
Easy Digesting – Additionally, this is another top choice because of its easy digestibility. It uses a combination of top-tier ingredients and smart concentrate mixing to make it easy to swallow and digest. Many women will appreciate this aspect, especially since it’s quite a tempting flavor: cookies and cream as opposed to regular dark chocolate like most other protein powders.
Conclusion – All in all, most typical protein powders will work for women like they will for men. But this is an especially good choice thanks to its high protein convertibility and other elements.
PlantFusion Complete Lean Weight Loss
Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss
- Very good at reducing appetite
- Easy to digest
- Can help you break down sugars and carbs
- Works well for vegans
- Pricy for only 1.85 lbs
- Not the best for muscle recovery
Why should you buy this? Some protein powders are made for building muscle, but others, like this variety, are also great for slimming down on fat. It’s a naturally flavored protein powder that features a unique protein called EcoLean. Combined with the rest of the formula, it can help reduce your appetite and help you lose weight.
PlantFusion Complete Lean
Why we picked the PlantFusion Complete Lean:
EcoLean – This unique protein is derived from a specific variety of yellow pea sourced in Europe. This gives the powder the ability to curb your hunger, inspiring you to eat less and still maintain your workout routine. While it won’t help you shed pounds by itself, it can help you stick with a diet and training regimen and make it a lot easier to hit your weight loss goals than it would be otherwise.
Great Ingredients – The rest of the ingredients are similarly top-tier. Everything is certified non-GMO, and it serves well as a vegan alternative for both men and women if you don’t want any animal products. It even includes a special blend of prebiotic fiber with banana leaf and chromium to help you break down sugars and carbohydrates. This makes it delicious and easy to digest.
Conclusion – This protein powder is a great choice both for building muscle and losing weight thanks to its unique ability to sit in your stomach without making you feel heavy or sick after an intense workout.
Optimum Nutrition Performance Whey
Best Whey Protein Isolate
- Has a relatively good flavor
- Contains many top amino acids
- No artificial flavors or sugars
- Helps with recovery and muscle building
- Doesn’t do much to curb appetite
Why should you buy this? The ON Performance Whey Isolate Powder comes in several different packages depending on how much you need. But each package contains 30 g of high-quality whey protein isolate, which is the purest form of the protein available on the market. Combine that with a great chocolate flavor you have a top-tier option for most.
ON Performance Whey
Why we picked the ON Performance Whey:
Good for Muscle Growth – There are few protein supplements more effective at helping you pack on muscle than pure whey isolate. This particular variety contains 13.5 g of natural but essential amino acids and 6.5 g of other amino acids. Combined, they can help you build muscle and recover from intense workouts if you take the powder right after finishing your exercise routine.
Flavor Isn’t Overwhelming – Many whey isolate powders have bad tastes or their manufacturers shove them full too much sugar to be worth your time. This particular whey isolate doesn’t have any artificial flavors or sweeteners and only contains a single gram of sugar and fat. This makes it a healthy choice and an ideal alternative to regular protein powder even if you don’t normally like the taste of isolate options.
Conclusion – This whey isolate powder is a great option if you want to maximize your muscle gains and help reduce the time you spend recovering after your workout. It’s also a lot lighter than other protein powders in both carbs and sugars, so it’s ideal if you want to watch your weight.
How we test
When we were looking for the best protein powders on the market, we decided to test out each formula ourselves. The workouts were great, but we also paid attention to how each protein powder tasted, how they mixed in with different liquids like milk or water, and how easily the protein seemed to digest, particularly after heavy workouts. Because we did this, we were able to find out the top protein powder picks for each of the categories we have about. For our women’s pick, we got first-hand testimony about that protein powder so we know it’ll work for the fairer sex.
This is how we found out about the ON Gold Standard Powder, which should be the perfect choice for the vast majority exercisers.
Protein Powder FAQ
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a key compound in the majority of protein shakes and supplements. It’s a mixture of proteins created from whey, which itself is a byproduct of cheese production. Whey protein is normally used in protein powders because it’s leaner than other types of proteins and it contains several key amino acids that are absorbed by the body quickly. It’s basically a super protein that works perfectly for the type of supplement that a protein shake or drink is meant to be.
Whey Protein Isolate vs Concentrate
Whey isolate and concentrate are both made from the main whey amino acids we described above. The biggest differences arise because of how the two compounds are processed or produced.
Whey concentrate is created when lots of liquid whey is collected and combined, increasing the protein content so it can be mixed with other elements to become powder. Whey protein is essentially dry to concentrate, which is often something around 80% protein by weight. The rest of the powder is made up of other vitamins or roles or other macromolecules like fats.
Whey isolate simply changes the concentration of whey protein so that it’s about 90% protein and 10% other elements in the resulting powder. Therefore, whey isolate powder, like the ON Performance Whey Isolate Powder, is basically a version of protein powder with more amino acids and more muscle-building potential.
Is Whey Protein Good for You?
Yes! Whey protein is one of the best sources of protein in the natural world, as it allows amino acids to be absorbed quickly and efficiently by your body. It helps your muscles repair themselves and become stronger over time.
Whey Protein vs Plant Protein
In most cases, plant-based proteins are not as nutritionally complete as whey protein because of their source. Therefore, plant-based protein powders need to have more protein complements and ingredients in order to provide you with the same advantages as traditional protein powders. The PlantFusion Complete Pea Protein Powder is a great example of this supplement type.
This isn’t to say that plant protein isn’t good or that vegans can’t enjoy their unique protein powders. It just means that the formulas are a little more complex and you may need to take slightly more protein powder over time to see the same health benefits as an exerciser to use regular protein powder.
Additionally, many plant-based proteins have a slightly different taste than regular protein powders.
Is Whey Protein Gluten-Free?
Yes, whey protein is naturally gluten-free. Whey itself doesn’t have the chance to interact with gluten, which is primarily a compound found in carbohydrate products like bread. Therefore, almost every protein powder is naturally free although they may not be GMO-free or suitable for vegans. Still, this means that almost anyone can use protein powder and improve the efficacy of their workouts, even if they are gluten intolerant.