Connect with us


The 17 best protein powders in 2024 to gain muscle and boost fitness, tried and tested



The 17 best protein powders in 2024 to gain muscle and boost fitness, tried and tested


What are the different types of protein powder?

Whey concentrate is the most common form and is often the cheapest, according to Rachel Butcher, head nutritionist at Natural Fitness Food. “It typically has low fat and cholesterol content but the protein levels can vary from 40 to 90% depending on the brand,” she says. “If your goal is to build muscle, a whey concentrate with a higher protein content is probably the best to go for.”

Whey isolate is more refined, and therefore more expensive. “Whey isolate is refined in a process that will remove the fat and the lactose from the compound,” says Butcher. “That makes it one of the leanest options, meaning it usually comprises of upwards of 90% protein content.” 

Whey hydrolysate is whey protein that’s been put through hydrolysis. “That is, the addition of water to allow for the protein to be broken down into its smaller building blocks,” Butcher explains. “This means it can be absorbed by the body much faster and at higher rates.” Needless to say, it’s on the costlier end of the scale.

Vegan protein powders are the fourth option. Pea, hemp, tofu and soy are popular sources of plant protein but there are plenty of other types like rice protein. “What’s key here isn’t just looking at the protein content, but the quality,” says Butcher. “You can tell that by looking at its essential amino acids – it’s ‘complete’ if it contains all nine. To achieve this, you’ll want a blend of at least two protein sources.” 

What is the healthiest protein powder to drink? 

No one protein powder will be healthier than any other, unless you are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy. “In which case, I would usually suggest one of the many vegan blends on the market,” says Butcher, adding that a shorter ingredient list is best for any.

Wondering if a daily shake is too much? “As long as you’re not completely relying on them over whole food protein sources, which will contain more micronutrients, it’s fine to use a protein powder every day,” says Butcher. If you’re bored, try some in your morning porridge or smoothie.

Which protein powder is best for weight loss?

“Calorie control is a huge part of any weight loss programme and protein shakes can help as a low-calorie snack,” says Collins. “Consuming enough protein can help to reduce muscle wastage and ensure that the weight you are losing is fat and not muscle.” 

With its higher protein percentage, whey isolate may be your best bet, Butcher suggests. “If you’re eating in a calorie deficit, it will help give you high protein content while cutting down on unnecessary extras.” 

Whic protein powder is best for building muscle?

“’Mass gainer’ protein powders may seem the obvious choice for those wanting to build muscle,” says Kristoph Thompson, director of S8 Training, which offers courses in PT and sports nutrition. 

“However these contain many more calories from fat and carbohydrate than they do from whey isolate and concentrate,” Thompson explains. “Whilst these may help to increase mass, it is most likely the increase will come from fat rather than muscle.”

So what’s best? “Building muscle requires resistance training, sufficient protein and a small calorie surplus,” says Thompson. “In theory, any type of protein powder can be used to boost protein intake, but a protein powder with added creatine may help maximise training performance and therefore gains.”

Is vegan protein healthier than whey?

As discussed, a vegan option is of course healthier if you’re not able to consume dairy. But for those who can and are willing, whey has plenty of benefits for the body. 

“Whatever your goal is when taking protein powders, nothing beats having a good quality, complete protein source,” says Butcher. “Whey is the gold standard there.”

Who should take protein powders?

Protein powders may be convenient for building muscle but they’re only really necessary for vegans, who don’t eat enough protein or elite athletes who are training most days every week. Personal trainer Max Lowery wrote in a 2mealday blog post, “The average untrained person needs as little as 60-75g of protein and the average trained person who exercises three times a week needs 1.2g – 2g per kilo of bodyweight. You can easily get enough protein from eating real food – the western diet is protein dense.”

For more ways to reach your fitness goals, read our guides to the best exercise bikes and the best running shoes for women

View the latest MyProtein deals

Continue Reading