Top 5 Best Protein Powders

Top 5 Best Protein Powders in America

There are hundreds of protein powders out there, in my opinion, here are the five best in the USA based upon quality, low cost, taste, muscle building ability, and health – see “What is the best protein powder?” section below.  Please see also:

 Mfg Percent Protein Size Grams Protein in tub Price Cost per 30g serving Filtering Ingredients
 Jarrow Whey Protein Powder Jarrow 77% 2 Lb 702g $20.69 $0.88 ultra-filtered whey, lecithin
 NOW Foods Whey Protein Powder Now Foods 91% 5 Lb 2025g $65 $0.96 micro filtered whey, lecithin
Bobs-Red-Mill-Whey-Protein-Concentrate Bob’s Red Mill 80% .75 Lb 272g $13 $1.43 micro filtered whey, soy lecithin
Integrated Supplements Whey Protein Powder Integrated Supplements 67% 2 Lb 784g $37.17 $1.42 cross micro filtered whey, fructose, salt, lecithin
 BlueBonnet Whey Protein Powder Blue Bonnet 1 Lb  2.2 Lb  788g  $40.21  $1.54  micro-filtered whey, natural vanilla, lecithin
 Jarrow Organic Whey Protein Powder Jarrow (organic)
76% 1 Lb 340g $21.99 $1.94 ultra-filtered organic whey
 NOW Foods Organic Whey Protein Powder Now Foods (organic) 76% 1 Lb 361g $24.79 $2.06 ultra-filtered organic whey, lecithin

How to use the above table

Highly recommended
book, read my review

They are all excellent protein powders, you cant go wrong with any of them!  Start by looking at the price for a 30g serving of protein, thats what matters to most people.  If you are cutting and trying to lose fat then look at the “% Protein” column, that is the percent of the calories from protein.  Ideally it would be 100% but no filtering process is perfect and some trace carbs are left in, also, some protein powders add a bit of sugar.   Note that these prices were current as of 8/29/2014 but they will fluctuate a lot.  Be especially aware of shipping costs as that can make a huge change in the price, many offer free shipping.  Also, the links I have provided to find the product are general search links.  The reason for that on a daily basis, new sellers offer the specified product and often the newer offerings are cheaper.  Make sure to check the label carefully and make sure it matches the information in the table before buying!

The good news is that in two years the industry has really cleaned up its act and now “Natural” really seems to mean natural in most cases.  Two years ago, I could not find one single protein powder that didn’t have artificial sweeteners and now there are lots of them!  Yeah team!  The other good news is that as the organic products become more popular and volumes increase, the prices are coming down.  In the last year, the price of organic whey has dropped by 50%.  You can now get the Jarrow Organic for $1.94 for a 30 gram serving of protein and although thats expensive compared to the 88 cents for the Jarrow non-organic products, its still cheaper than what you would find at a GNC store.  Keep an eye on those organic whey prices!!!

What Would Scooby Do?

Good question, glad you asked!  So I look at that chart and I think that the Jarrow and the Now Foods products are bargains.  In both of these you get a 30 gram portion of high quality protein for under a dollar.  The Integrated Supplements product and the Blue Bonnet products look just as good but they are 50% more expensive at about $1.50 per 30 gram serving so actually I would not buy them unless they were on sale and got down to the $1 per serving range.   If I am going to spend over a buck a serving then I would go for the excellent organic products here which cost $2 per 30g serving – the Jarrow Organic and the Now Organic.

Which builds muscle the fastest?

Protein powder is not magic.  Protein powder is not steroids.  You don’t NEED protein powder unless you are a vegetarian or vegan because you can get all the high quality protein you need by eating chicken, fish, beef and pork.  If you are a meat eater, real food builds muscle just as quickly as protein powder.  Protein powder is simply a more convenient way to get your protein than having to carry around a Tupperware with grilled chicken breast, brown rice, and brocolli in it.  The protein powder business is a big money and the marketing folks make all kinds of impressive sounding stuff up to make you buy their product over their competitors.  Again, please read The Truth About Whey.   Basically there are two ways the quality of protein can be ruined, the first is high temperatures and the second is extremes in PH.  The reason I dont recommend anything with ion-exchange whey in it is that it is exposed to extremes in PH.  Any protein powder that is concentrated by using filtration is done at a neutral PH and at temperatures low enough that the protein remains unharmed.  The marketing people have wars about whose filtration method is better but in my book, all filtered products are of the same high quality.  Again, dont be swayed by any claims of “scientific” superiority, trademarked processes, or fancy marketing terms.

Which is the best for mass gain?

Please read about protein powders, protein shakes, and mass gain powders.  If you want to gain “mass” then mix 1 bag or the above high quality protein powder with a 5 pound bag of sugar and you get the highest quality “Mass Gain” powder around.  Don’t believe the marketing mumbo-jumbo on these mass gain powders, they are just protein, sugar, and a few useless supplements tossed in to make them sound good.  I don’t recommend any “Mass Gain” products but if you are going to use one anyway, make your own and save 300%.   Mass gain = fat gain.  You dont gain muscle any faster by downing a bunch of sugar with your protein unless you are under 5% bodyfat.

What does it take to be the Best Protein Powder?

What does it take to be the Best Protein Powder?Plain whey is only about 13% protein and the rest is carbs so you would get fat trying to gain muscle using that.  There are two basic ways to remove the carbs from the whey, by cold filtering and by ion exchange.  In my opinion, filtered is far superior to ion exchange whey, please read The Truth About Whey if you want more information.  Heat and PH changes can decrease the quality of the whey and cold filtering uses neither.  I also stay completely away from anything that says “blend” or “proprietary protein mix” because to me, that says that they just dump in whatever is cheapest that day and they don’t need to tell you what they are really using.  Every manufacturer has their own marketing word for the protein concentration process but the only important thing is that it contains the word “filter”, it can be nano-filtered, cross-filtered, ultra-filtered, or scooby-filtered – you get the idea.  All filtering is done cold and without the use of anything that changes the PH so these all filtered products have excellent quality protein.In my book, the other thing that qualifies a protein powder for this “Best Protein Powder” list is being natural.

There is a lot of garbage out there, read Consumer Reports article on protein powders if you want to see how bad it gets.  It doesn’t have to be organic, thats twice as expensive but at least the ingredients need to be clean.  The ingredients of a good protein powder in my book looks like this “Ingredients: filtered whey, sugar, lecithin” – thats it. Even better if the “sugar” is missing because whey is sweet by itself, it doesn’t need sugar.  I don’t want creatine in it, I don’t want caffeine in it, I don’t want ephedrine in it, I don’t want vitamins in it, I don’t want it laced with pro-hormones – I just want protein.  If you want any of that other stuff then buy it separately so that you can control exactly how much you are getting.


PS: I know the title is “top 5” but there are six listed.  The reason is that one of the recommended ones isn’t currently available :)

About Protein Powder Flavors


You will note that all of the products I recommend are either unflavored or chocolate, there is a very good reason for that.  A lot of times its the flavors that add incredible amounts of artificial junk and a nasty aftertaste which is the reason that I always choose unflavored or chocolate.  Chocolate is easy, you just add natural cocoa powder.  Cocoa powder is virtually nonfat, its natural, and its good flavoring – easy peasy.  Unflavored whey also tastes really good but note that unflavored does NOT mean vanilla.  Vanilla typically tastes horrible in my experience and almost always has a horrible aftertaste, again, because of the artificial flavors.  Back to unflavored whey, it tastes amazingly good.  Unflavored, unsweetened whey has a very pleasant neutral flavor that is slightly sweet and if you add it to water it tastes a lot like … well, milk.  Milk that is 90% protein instead of 5% protein.  The fruit flavors like strawberry and banana are virtually always artificial and pack a really nasty aftertaste so choose those only after very careful inspection of the ingredients list.  Flavors that sound like candy bars should be avoided like the plague as they are always artificial – “toffee bar crunch”? Nope, pass.

So, please stick to either chocolate or unflavored protein powders! 

Why isn’t my favorite protein in the above list?

If your protein is not listed, its probably because:

  1. It has artificial flavors or artificial sweeteners
  2. It has other supplements mixed into it (creatine, weight loss products, vitamins, etc)
  3. The protein is a “proprietary” mix,  a “blend” or a trademarked name- those are just codewords for they put in whatever cr*p is cheapest that day
  4. Its ion-exchange and not cold filtered
  5. It has ingredients other than whey

If you think I have overlooked a protein powder, please let me know on Facebook by posting the ingredient list and I will add it above.  Note: Please read the ingredients list of the protein powder you are suggesting and make sure it satisfies the above criteria!  Here are some popular protein powders along with the reason why they are not on my “Best Protein Powder” list:

not recommended optimum-nutrition-gold-standard-100-natural-whey optimum nutrition gold standard 100% natural whey NOT RECOMMENDED (USA)
Label is full of trademarked gobbledegook (i.e. Hydrowhey) and mumbo jumbo (i.e. Aminogen), read it and you will see that I mean.  Protein is a “custom blend” which allows them to hide the actual ingredients, they can include expensive filtered whey in the list even if the tub only contains 1% filtered whey. Yes, I used to recommend this but not any more – read boycott Optimum Nutrition
Not Recommended Muscle-Milk-Protein-Powder,-Chocolate Muscle Milk Protein Powder, Chocolate NOT RECOMMENDED (USA)
List of artificial ingredients a mile long.
not recommended Cellucor-Performance-Whey-Protein Cellucor COR-Performance Whey NOT RECOMMENDED (USA)
Artificial ingredients, trademarked protein blend hides actual ingredients. “COR-Performance why protein matrix”, Acesulfame potassium, protease A-S, Lactase, Artificial Flavors.

Asia Protein Powders Under Investigation (still working on these!) (singapore) (asia)

Vegan Protein Powders

Lists coming in 2015


As I have always stated clearly on my Support Scoobysworkshop page, I do make a small percentage if the product I link to is thru amazon – its one of the ways I can afford to spend so much time and effort on a free website like this.  Compiling all these protein lists took a full week of my time.   I personally buy all my protein powder thru amazon because 1)their customer service is excellent 2) their prices are excellent 3) their shipping is free.  If you can find lower prices elsewhere (including shipping) then do it!