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The sheer number of protein powders available online and on store shelves will make your head spin like the blades of a blender set on puree. They are not all created equal. Some are gritty, chalky, and don’t blend well with other ingredients, while others are packed with sugar and artificial ingredients. Choosing the wrong protein powder can actually derail your effort to lose weight. So we’re going to make it easy for you. These healthiest protein powders are the ones we at Eat This, Not That! dump into our blenders along with our favorite produce and nut milk.
You can’t go wrong with these. Still, you have a choice to make. There are two main categories of protein mixes for smoothies: animal-based protein supplements and plant-based protein powders. The former is made from eggs, whey, or casein protein. The vegan proteins are made from pea, hemp, rice, and soy proteins. Both are good for weight loss.
If you are vegan, the choice is obvious. But even those who do eat meat may prefer plant-based proteins because they’re lactose-free and usually lower in sugar, so they do a better job of fighting bloat and inflammation. Read through the descriptions and try a few different powders and flavors. You can often find single-serving pouches that make it easy to sample many different styles.
Regardless of which type you choose, these healthiest protein powders will provide at least 15 grams of protein per serving. Here they are, and for more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.
Look for pea, hemp, soy, or rice powders, ideally in blends. Because many single-plant-based varieties aren’t complete proteins, consuming a blended plant-protein powder (like one that contains both pea and rice, along with a variety of sprouts) will ensure you’re getting more amino acids and thus the most bang for your supplement buck.
Protein source: Pea, hemp, cranberry protein, and brown rice
Protein payoff: 19 grams per serving
A great raw protein option, this GMO-free powder derives its muscle-building power from raw organic pea, cranberry, and hemp seed protein—it’s even tasty enough to take on its own! What’s more, there are no sugars, gluten, or artificial sweeteners to cause a metabolism-confusing midday crash.
This blend is also good for a pre-workout smoothie because its branched-chain amino acids can help shuttle energy directly to your muscles.
Protein source: Pea protein and hemp protein
Protein payoff: 20 grams per serving
Loaded with six servings of greens, probiotics, antioxidants, and 50% of your daily intake of food-based vitamins and minerals, this super-clean option is difficult to turn down. With tasty flavors like vanilla chai and berry, adding water alone is enough to create a tasty shake you’ll enjoy sipping. If you have more time, combine a scoop—which doles out 20 grams of protein—with unsweetened milk alternatives and a frozen banana for an irresistible milkshake-like creation. Created by a former Ironman triathlete, this balanced protein also tastes great in homemade protein muffins.
Protein source: Organic sprouted protein blend (brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, and millet)
Protein payoff: 22 grams per serving
This complete protein showcases 13 raw and organic sprouts, with 22 grams of protein per serving, all the essential amino acids your body needs, plus tea and cinnamon extract. Just make sure you whip up a smoothie using a healthy fat like nut butter or avocado. Makers of this powder load it with fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which can only be fully absorbed by your body when paired with a healthy fat. Their original unflavored powder works in any post-workout shake, but we’re suckers for slimming, satisfying chocolate versions. When you’re looking for an option with rice, make sure the brand uses sprouted brown rice (like Garden of Life does), not just “rice protein.” Sprouting the rice reduces the number of carbs and increases the amount of protein, which lowers the glycemic effect (minimizing blood sugar spikes) and increases the nutritional profile. Plus, when rice protein is sprouted, it changes in genetic makeup to make its nutrients more bio-available to the body, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.
Protein source: Hemp
Protein payoff: 15 grams per serving
Hemp protein is derived from the hemp plant, offering a substantial amount of fiber (8 grams) that’s easy to digest. On top of 15 grams of complete protein per serving, hemp also boasts heart-healthy doses of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. This option is an ideal mix-in for oatmeal or smoothies; the fiber will make you feel fuller longer, and it contains eight essential amino acids to build muscle.
Protein source: Hemp, pumpkin seeds, and peas
Protein payoff: 18 grams per serving
Milk the benefits of this tasty, plant-based protein powder by slipping it into one of your quick smoothies or shakes. The organic, vegan powder is made with hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and peas for an impressive punch of 18 grams of protein per serving—with no chemicals or artificial fillers. And while it may be gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free, it’s certainly rich in flavor. When you try this in a shake recipe that is originally dairy-based, you’d swear it was the real thing from its rich texture and flavor. Try their wild-harvested vanilla or fair trade organic cacao powder swirled into a quick shake with half a frozen banana for an ice cream-like texture and a tablespoon of nut butter for satiating healthy fats and some extra protein.
Protein source: Organic pea protein, organic hemp protein, organic chia, organic quinoa
Protein payoff: 21 grams per serving
This may not be the best-tasting protein powder on the list, but it certainly is up there with the best for you. This superfood blend packs 21 grams of complete protein as well as two servings of organic fruits and vegetables. The company strives to use non-GMO, kosher, vegan, and gluten-free ingredients only, making their powders as raw as possible.
Protein Source: Organic pea protein, organic brown rice, protein, organic chia seed, organic hemp protein
Protein payoff: 24 grams per serving
This protein powder is made from some of the highest quality certified organic plant proteins. It is made with no hormones, no antibiotics, and no pesticides or herbicide residues. The company also eliminates any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. And better yet, all ingredients are sourced right in the USA. This powder is loaded with 24 grams of organic protein, 5 grams of belly-filling fiber, and a complete amino acid profile. The texture of this powder is as smooth as pancake batter—and it smells just like it! The flavor, however, is quite strong and sweet, almost too sweet for us, but definitely worth a shot for readers who love their dessert.
Protein Source: Raw whole grain brown rice protein
Protein payoff: 16 grams per serving
Sunwarrior’s claim to fame is using an abundant amount of amino acids. It’s also free of GMOs, soy, gluten, dairy, and unnecessary calories. For just one scoop of this flavor-packed drink, you get 80 calories and 16 grams of muscle-molding protein. For a more filling and nutrient-packed meal, double it up! Start your day right with two scoops of this deliciously satisfying chocolate drink for 160 calories and 32 grams of the satiating macronutrient.
If you find you’re not terribly lactose intolerant, milk proteins are some of the best sources of muscle-building amino acids out there. Milk proteins such as whey and casein have the ability to preserve lean muscle mass and improve metabolic health during weight loss, according to research published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.
Protein source: Grass-fed whey protein concentrate
Protein payoff: 25 grams per serving
If you want a fast-acting protein that will stimulate protein synthesis after exercise, go with whey. While a whey protein concentrate has a lower percentage of protein than whey isolate, it contains more bioactive compounds found in the milk fat that positively influence metabolism and immunity. Just make sure it’s low-temperature-processed (raw or cold-processed). This method allows the mix to retain many of its fragile immune factors and nutrients, leaving it loaded with the ideal blend of easily absorbed amino acids, anti-inflammatory compounds, essential fats, energy-replenishing carbs, metabolism-boosting peptides, potent antioxidants, and alkaline minerals. You’ll get even more of these nutrients when your powder is made of dairy from pasture-fed cows, which have a higher concentration of inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids and two to five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than their corn- and grain-fed counterparts. CLA provides a variety of health benefits, like burning fat and maintaining lean body mass. Besides toning your body, these two sources of dietary fat will also improve the absorption of key vitamins and carotenoids. Not to mention, grass-fed cows are less likely to be treated with antibiotics than grain-fed cows, meaning you’ll have a lower risk of building up antibiotic resistance or gaining unnecessary weight.
Protein source: Micellar casein from U.S. dairy farms
Protein payoff: 26 grams per serving
If you’re looking to repair and regrow muscle, take some Naked Casein Powder before bed. Casein, as opposed to whey, is digested more slowly (it’s the same principle as low-glycemic-index “slow carbs”) and stays in the system longer to nourish muscles.
Protein Source: Whey full spectrum peptides, whey protein concentrates, whey protein isolate
Protein payoff: 20 grams per serving
Like a good pair of designer shoes, Designer Whey lives up to its name. The blend is made up of natural GMO-free whey protein concentrate and GMO-free whey protein isolate. All of the whey from milk is made free of artificial growth hormones and antibiotics. Unlike most animal-based protein powders, this option also provides 3 grams of prebiotic veggie fiber, which helps suppress any hunger between meals.
Now that you have a protein powder picked out, here are 11 Tricks for the Best-Ever Smoothie.