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The Best Whey Protein Powder

We spent more than 20 hours reading research papers and speaking with experts to find out what makes a great protein powder. We then carefully considered the ingredients lists of more than two dozen protein powders made with whey. Finally, a panel of testers tried four different preparations of 10 powders in a blind taste test to find the standouts in a field that is usually barely palatable. Although all the powders we tested were very sweet, we found that Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey will appeal to the most people with its relatively mild flavors and lack of aggressive aftertaste, while offering a cost- and calorie-effective amount of protein.

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For more flavors, including vanilla, visit Amazon.com


Our panel of seven people found the taste of the chocolate and vanilla varieties of Gold Standard 100% Whey not to be as overwhelmingly sweet as the competition, with no strong aftertaste or off-notes. When we made it according to the instructions, the texture was creamy but not too frothy. With 23 flavors in total, Gold Standard 100% Whey offers far more versions to choose from than most of the other lines we tested, but we can verify that two of the most common flavors taste pretty good. At about a dollar a serving (in a 2-pound tub), Gold Standard 100% Whey is pricier than some of the other powders we tested, but we think it’s worth the few extra cents per drink.

If you want a powder that’s a little less sweet than our top pick, try Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Naturally Flavored 100% Whey. The Naturally Flavored Chocolate and Naturally Flavored Vanilla came in second to the regular Optimum formula in our taste test, scoring well compared with the rest of the pack. Optimum markets these powders as having “natural sweeteners,” in this case, stevia. Though the artificial sweeteners in our top pick are just as safe to consume in moderation, these powders lack the slight artificial-sweetener aftertaste that our top pick and most other powders have.

Also great
Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey (Molten Chocolate)
This powder has a stronger flavor and a fluffier texture than our top pick, but it still came in third for taste and feel.

For more flavors, including vanilla, visit Amazon.com


If our top pick and runner-up aren’t available, or you want to try another brand, many of our panelists also liked Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey, in Molten Chocolate and Whipped Vanilla. It’s sweeter than our top pick yet not as cloying as the competition. We found the texture frothier than that of the top pick and runner-up, and when we made it to the specifications on the tub, it was much thicker. (The mixing instructions call for a higher powder-to-liquid ratio than our top pick requires; even when we used more liquid to thin out the Cellucor mix, it still tasted stronger.) Our panelists likened the tastes of the chocolate and vanilla flavors to brownie batter and frosting, respectively, preferring the chocolate to the vanilla. Unlike our top pick, which our panel unanimously liked, this one had a few dissenters who thought it was too sweet compared with the competition.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

We considered nearly 100 protein powders to find the best one made with whey concentrate, the one offering the best balance of flavor, cost, and caloric/protein content. We tasted four preparations (two flavors each mixed with water and milk) of 10 powders with a panel of seven people who had a range of experiences with protein powder. We looked at test results from Labdoor, an independent testing company, to see how the powders stacked up to their nutrition-label claims and to make sure the powders we tasted didn’t contain dangerous levels of metals. We also interviewed Alicia Romano, a dietitian at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center, and Vasanti Malik, a research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to learn about the average person’s protein requirements. And we read half a dozen scientific papers to learn the basics of what a boost of protein can (and can’t) do for your body.

I’ve been an occasional connoisseur of protein powder since high school, when I drank it regularly so that I could get enough protein and calories to meet my needs as a track athlete and a vegetarian. My editor, Casey Johnston, drinks a protein shake every day (and sometimes mixes it in her oatmeal) as part of her powerlifting training.

Who needs this

While “many Americans get twice the [protein] RDA without trying,” some 40 percent of people over 65 don’t meet the RDA.

Everyone needs protein. Divide your weight in pounds by 3, and that’s about how many grams you need to consume per day, according to the USDA’s recommended dietary allowance, or RDA. (A 170-pound person needs about 57 grams, for example.) While the two nutrition experts I spoke to agreed that most people can get their RDA easily through a balanced diet, you might want to increase your protein intake for a few reasons, such as if you’re a vegetarian with a lot of restrictions (or just a picky eater), if you’re a serious athlete, if you want to curb your appetite a bit, or if you’re elderly. Berkeley Wellness points out that while “many Americans get twice the [protein] RDA without trying,” some 40 percent of people over 65 don’t meet the RDA. Protein is especially important for that age group, as it combats muscle loss.

Evidence also suggests that we all could benefit from slightly more than the RDA. A review in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism recommends half a gram to three-quarters of a gram per pound of body weight. The difference between the recommendations for increased protein intake and the RDA isn’t that much: about 25 grams or so for an adult who weighs 150 to 200 pounds. That’s the amount of protein in a serving of powder, or a generous helping of Greek yogurt.

Protein powders take 30 seconds to mix into a shake, don’t require any equipment to prepare other than a spoon and cup, and are easily transportable.

If you need to consume more protein for whatever reason, adding a protein shake (or a fraction of one) to your day is one easy way to do that. A serving of powder has around 25 grams of protein—to get the equivalent from food, you’d need to eat four eggs, 3½ ounces of meat, or about 8 ounces of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt. While most dietitians recommend “real food” and a balanced diet in lieu of supplements, as the Mayo Clinic points out, supplements in moderation can help if you struggle to meet your dietary needs.

Where powders really offer an advantage is in their convenience. Protein powders take 30 seconds to mix into a shake, don’t require any equipment to prepare other than a spoon and cup, and are easily transportable. You can also add them to other foods, like yogurt, smoothies, and oatmeal. And while tubs of protein appear expensive, whey powder is one of the least expensive protein formats gram for gram.

If you are lactose intolerant, use our picks with a little caution. Whey protein comes from milk, and in the extraction process most—but not all—of the lactose is removed.

As with any significant dietary change, you should consult with your physician first, especially if you have or are prone to medical issues. In particular, whey protein can lower your blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic, or exacerbate a calcium deficiency, according to a review in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Protein can help you build muscle

measuring cup full of powder on counter

A scoop of our top pick for protein powder, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey.

Young adults saw a big benefit from consuming more protein before or after working out.

Protein powder is most commonly associated with dudes who are really into weight lifting. The nutrition experts I spoke to both suggested that protein powder wasn’t really necessary unless you’re training at the college or professional level; if you run or lift weights a few times a week, you probably don’t have to worry about supplementing a balanced diet with additional protein.

But there’s evidence that, regardless of age or gender, adding extra protein after you work out can help build muscle mass. A review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 22 studies in which subjects lifted weights at least two times a week for at least six weeks. Some participants added 50 grams, give or take 32 grams—a wide range, since so many studies were included in the analysis—to their normal diet, which typically was already high in protein. Young adults saw a big benefit from consuming more protein before or after working out. Compared with groups who ingested a placebo powder instead, those who added the extra amount of protein saw a fourfold or greater boost in fat-free mass (muscle mass, basically). The gain was more modest in older adults: For that group, adding protein resulted in a 38 percent gain in fat-free mass over a placebo.

This protein doesn’t have to come from a powder. But as dietitian Alicia Romano pointed out to us, for some people, drinking something after a workout can be more appealing than eating food.

Why we started with whey

The protein in protein powder can come from a variety of sources, including eggs, hemp, soy, and more. For this guide we focused on whey, since it’s the most common form of protein powder available, judging by listings on Amazon and Bodybuilding.com, as well as the assortment of powders Labdoor has tested. While some powders of other varieties can cost over $2 per serving, whey powders are almost all less than $1.50 per serving.

Whey is the stuff left over from the cheesemaking process. Milk separates into curds, which can be made into cheese, and a liquid, which contains whey. About 720 pounds of that liquid can be filtered down into 5 pounds of protein powder. Whey is a great source of protein, according to the Mayo Clinic, but plain whey tastes kind of like warm, gross milk, and it may even be acrid, which is why powders typically contain sugar and flavoring to make them palatable.

We focused on powders made with whey concentrate as a main ingredient. Powders made up of whey typically say “100% Whey” or “Whey Protein” on the tub. (Check the ingredients list to be sure; the main protein source will be the first ingredient.) Some whey powders mix in casein or egg protein, but for the purpose of comparing like with like, we discarded any that used those other forms of protein (per research, casein in particular absorbs differently in your body than whey).

Whey concentrate has a slightly higher fat and carb concentration than the other two varieties of whey available, called isolate and hydrolysate. The latter is broken-down isolate or concentrate, and is not as common. These varieties typically have higher protein-to-calorie ratios and are typically marketed toward bodybuilders, on the idea that these formulas have fewer calories for the amount of protein they contain and that they may absorb faster (though studies show that hydrolysate and isolate do not absorb meaningfully faster than regular whey). When whey isolate is the only protein source, the powder will typically have the word “isolate” in the name (some blends, like our top pick, advertise “isolate” in smaller print on the tub). For serious bodybuilders who may have strict dietary guidelines to meet, isolate is the “holy grail of whey.” But if you don’t need to watch what you eat extremely closely, the worse taste of whey isolate won’t outweigh the marginal caloric difference over whey concentrate or a whey blend. The trade-off is typically less than 10 to 30 calories and a gram or so of fat. Hydrolysates are pricier, and they taste worse than whey concentrate or a whey blend for the same reasons as isolates. Because of those factors, we left pure isolates and hydrolysates off our list for now.

How we picked

a person writing testing notes next to stack of protein powder tubs

Taste-testing 40 samples of protein powders back to back—way less fun than it sounds.

As with many a beverage in America, the marketing for whey protein powder is all about convincing you that one particular formula will make you a stronger and better person. But when you get inside the plastic tub or bag, most whey powders are very similar: They tend to have between 20 and 30 grams of protein per serving, and they taste a lot alike. That said, you have a few things to consider when selecting a powder.

Major ingredients aside, we evaluated the powders for safety. When Consumer Reports tested 15 protein powders, it found at least a little arsenic, cadmium, lead, and/or mercury in all but three. But you’d need to drink three or more servings of those protein powders every day to ingest enough contaminants to exceed the United States Pharmacopeia’s recommended limits for the contaminant, Consumer Reports noted. Most normal people using protein powder won’t take nearly that much, but we still consulted an independent testing source to make sure none of the powders we were going to test had either high levels of metals or inaccurate nutrition labels.

We started with a list of proteins from Labdoor, which evaluates the contents of top-selling protein powders. Labdoor ranks powders based on the accuracy of the label, the nutritional value, the amount and kind of protein, and the safety of the ingredients. Many protein products inflate their protein count in the label or understate the amount of sodium or calcium they contain, practices that range from mildly annoying to a little dangerous. Labdoor’s independent testing aims to catch such errors.

Some of the companies have updated their powder labels since Labdoor last did its testing (our top pick now lists a higher sodium content on its label, for example). “We’ve tracked a lot of companies who have changed their labels and/or formulations after we’ve released our testing results,” said Neil Thanedar, CEO of Labdoor. “A few companies have confirmed that Labdoor caught their quality control issue, with a bad contract manufacturer or ingredient supplier to blame.” Labdoor reps told us that it plans to complete a new round of testing on powders again this year, though it has been adding a few individual powders to the list in the meantime.

Many protein products inflate their protein count in the label or understate the amount of sodium or calcium they contain.

Our criteria varied from Labdoor’s in a few ways; for starters, its testers docked points for artificial sweeteners, and we don’t think they are an issue. But we did use Labdoor’s rankings as a starting point for safety and for label accuracy. Anything that earned a B- or above from Labdoor and was made with whey concentrate was fair game for our list.

At the time we checked, none of the powders on Labdoor’s list had arsenic, lead, cadmium, bismuth, antimony, or silver compounds in excess of one part per million. That’s still enough to exceed the US Pharmacopeia’s recommended limits, but Labdoor’s tests aren’t sensitive enough to detect quantities below that. Still, if you are drinking a powder from that list in moderation, contaminants aren’t likely to be an issue.

As is the case with many foods and supplements, not all protein powder nutrition labels are completely accurate. In particular, Labdoor’s test results show that some powders contain 50 percent (or more) sodium and calcium than the tub notes. Though we picked powders that earned high scores for accuracy, nutrition labels and formulas are a moving target. It’s also possible that protein powder formulas are not well-controlled for these ingredients, and the content could vary from one product run to another. If you’re watching your sodium and calcium intake for health reasons, you should definitely consult with your physician before starting to take protein powder, stick to reputable brands, and monitor your health carefully.

Current research indicates that artificial sweeteners are safe, and fears of using them in moderation are overcautious or outdated.

Protein powders come in a wide range of flavors, from strawberry to tropical Dreamsicle to tiramisu to “cake donut.” Since flavor is a bit of a personal preference, we narrowed our contenders to their best chocolate and vanilla flavors, since those tend to be the most popular and to have the most utility outside of just mixing with water or milk. Some powders have several variants of those flavors (rocky road, milk chocolate, French vanilla, vanilla ice cream, and so on). In those cases we chose one each of the highest-rated variety according to Bodybuilding.com; for instance, if vanilla ice cream was the most popular vanilla flavor, we chose that one. (If you’re buying just one flavor, note that in our tests we typically preferred chocolate when the powder was mixed with just water or milk, whereas vanilla worked better added to smoothies or other food.)

Our nutrition experts were not enthusiastic about the artificial sweeteners used in protein powder. ”We don’t know the long-term effect of consuming artificial sweeteners daily,” argued research scientist Vasanti Malik. That said, the current research indicates that artificial sweeteners are safe, and fears of using them in moderation are overcautious or outdated. The US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates their use, has a summary of the amount of work that has gone into demonstrating their safety, and the US National Cancer Institute outlines the work that has been done to show that they aren’t linked to cancer, specifically. If you’d prefer to avoid artificial sweetener for taste reasons, our runner-up pick is the same brand as our main pick but is sweetened with stevia.

The term “natural sweeteners” doesn’t mean only sugar, as you might (and I did) assume at first glance. For example, stevia is classified as a “natural” calorie-free sweetener because it’s derived from a plant. The ingredients list for Optimum Nutrition’s Naturally Flavored 100% Whey powder doesn’t clearly indicate that it’s in there, but when I emailed the brand’s PR representative and asked specifically if stevia was present, he said yes. The Optimum Nutrition label names a more specific form of stevia, Rebaudioside A. The powder’s ingredients list also includes “natural flavors,” a proprietary formula that the PR rep couldn’t share with me.

Just because a powder is labeled “natural,” as our runner-up is, doesn’t mean it’s fundamentally different in formulation from other powders. Natural and artificial flavorings come from different sources but are usually chemically identical. Natural flavorings are also often used because they have different standards for ingredient disclosure, allowing companies to more easily protect formulation trade secrets.

How we tested

numbered but unlabeled plastic bags of powder

A sample of the blinded powders for taste testing.

We selected 10 powders, nine of them in two flavors each, for blind taste testing with a panel of seven people. We used a shaker bottle to mix each powder with milk and water, and we served them to our panelists in plain Dixie cups—38 individual samples in all. We asked our panel to rank each one by overall taste and texture, and to note whether they would recommend the powder to a friend, with separate scores for chocolate and vanilla. In between sips of different brands of powder, panelists drank seltzer and snacked on saltines to clear their palates.

The procedure was simple enough, but completing it was tough. I had implicitly promised the volunteer taste testers that this would be fun: a morning of sampling nice, sweet drinks with names like “molten chocolate” and “whipped vanilla.” But as soon as I served them the first round, I realized that I actually might be subjecting them to the grossest way to spend a morning.

four people with cups and metal bowl

An accurate summary of our overall reactions to protein powder flavors. Note the metal dumping bowl.

As soon as I served them the first round, I realized that I actually might be subjecting them to the grossest way to spend a morning.

Protein powders, in general, do not taste great. We might even go so far as to say that the point of protein powder is to taste it as little as possible; you just want something that will be over quickly and relatively painlessly. “Enjoyable” is a very high ask for protein powder, and turning attention to the flavor is a dangerous prospect for pretty much all types and varieties. Even those among us who drink these mixes regularly had trouble taking in sip after sip after sip over the course of an hour or so. It didn’t help that we discarded the leftovers from each sample in a giant metal bowl in the middle of the table.

Aside from flavor, the panel also assessed powders for their texture and how smoothly they mixed with water and milk. While protein powders have come a long way in how well they mix since the last time you may have tried one, some modern powders, such as Myprotein, still won’t dissolve completely even when you mix them according to the label’s instructions. When a powder doesn’t mix fully, chunks tend to bubble up to the top and sit in the foamy head of the drink, greeting you on the first sip. For obvious reasons, we favored powders that mixed as evenly as possible.

“Enjoyable” is a very high ask for protein powder.

Our panelists were extremely picky, which made finding our top picks quite simple. While most of the powders made at least one of our testers write “NOPE” or something similarly emphatic in the feedback form we gave them, two got high marks from all of our testers in both the chocolate and vanilla flavors. For those picks, we also tried a separate spoon-stirring test.

I also rotated through our picks for a couple of weeks, using them after workouts or adding them to a morning smoothie. I found them both much more pleasant to consume when I was hungry and needed to drink only one shake—as opposed to the panel testing, when I had to stomach 38 different samples in a row.

Our pick

two top pick tubs, one on its side, next to scoop of powder

Our top protein powder pick, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey.


For more flavours, including vanilla visit Amazon.com


We think Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey is the best protein powder because it easily won our taste test. That fact alone sold us on this protein powder, since our panelists disliked the flavor of many of the other options so passionately. But we like it for other reasons, too. It’s easy to mix in a shaker bottle or to blend with a spoon; after we shook or stirred it for 30 seconds, the texture was smooth with no chunks or lumps left, unlike several other powders we tried.

This powder fell in the middle of the range of cost and calories per serving. Both flavors have 24 grams of protein per serving. The Extreme Milk Chocolate flavor has 120 calories per serving, and the French Vanilla Creme flavor has 110. Both cost less than a dollar per serving if you buy a 5-pound tub.

Optimum’s was the only powder where initial sips were followed by a short silence then measured nods of approval, with one tester saying, “Actually, that’s not bad.”

Both flavors were sweet, but not overpoweringly so, unlike much of the competition, and our testers liked them with both milk and water. Overall, five out of seven panelists ranked the vanilla version as their favorite or second-favorite, and three out of seven ranked the chocolate version as a favorite. While we found that using a shaker bottle produced a nicer texture, the powder mixed easily with a spoon, with relatively few lumps.

During the tasting, most of the powders immediately prompted sounds of disgust from our panelists. Optimum’s was the only powder where initial sips were followed by a short silence then measured nods of approval, with one tester saying, “Actually, that’s not bad.” The vanilla flavor had a “nice balance,” wrote one tester; it’s sweet, but not cloying. Another tester likened it to the flavor of the milk that’s left at the bottom of a bowl of cereal. Other vanilla powders tasted overwhelmingly like frosting or birthday cake.

The chocolate flavor was similarly more subdued than the competition: Two testers said that the chocolate mixed with milk tasted a bit like a glass of Swiss Miss cocoa; another wrote, “Just like chocolate milk p[retty] much.” Overall, it didn’t have the same icky-sweetness as the competition—one tester even detected a touch of saltiness.

Though we tested only the two versions of chocolate and vanilla, our pick comes in 23 flavors, including coffee, cinnamon, chocolate peanut butter, and key lime pie. You can see a ranking of the various flavors on Bodybuilding.com. At this writing, Optimum’s powder is the top seller in Amazon’s sports nutrition whey protein powders category, with a rating of 4.5 stars out of five (across 17,495 reviews).

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey comes in on the costlier side if you’re buying a small container. In taste, however, we liked it much better than the powders that are lower in calories and cost. Plus, you don’t save much going with the cheapest protein powder we looked at (which costs about 30¢ less per serving) or the lower-calorie protein powder (about 45 calories less per serving).

The main complaints we have about this powder are complaints we have about all powders—the taste is not, shall we say, delightful. Though more balanced than the competition, Optimum’s Gold Standard 100% Whey is still pretty sweet. Also, on first use, you have to dig the scoop out of the container. This is a pretty normal experience with supplements, but at least one of our other contenders had a neat little clip for the scoop, so we know that better technology is out there.

A less-sweet powder

two tubs of runner up natural pick with scoop and blender bottle

If you don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners, the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Naturally Flavored 100% Whey is the same as our main pick but made with a type of stevia (again, artificial sweeteners are not dangerous when you eat them like a normal person). The taste difference is similar to that between the blue- or pink-packet sweeteners and the green or yellow ones.

The Naturally Flavored chocolate and vanilla came in second in our taste test overall. “This is fiiiiine,” one panelist wrote—a sentiment echoed by most of our panelists, who adamantly disliked much of the competition. Again, the bar for what tastes good when it comes to protein should be set pretty low, but this powder generally passed muster with our panel.

Although the taste was a little less sweet compared with that of our top powder, the Naturally Flavored powders seemed not to mix as well as our main pick: The texture was a little “grainy” and “mucous-y,” testers reported. They found the vanilla to be far sweeter mixed with milk than with water. I found in my own testing that the vanilla powder worked well in fruit smoothies, making them sweeter while still being unobtrusive.

Each serving has the same amount of protein as our top pick, 24 grams. The vanilla flavor costs 10¢ more per serving compared with our top pick and has 20 more calories; the chocolate version costs the same as our top-pick chocolate flavor and has 10 more calories.

Also great

alternate pick tubs with half full blender bottle smoothie

Also great
Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey (Molten Chocolate)
This powder has a stronger flavor and a fluffier texture than our top pick, but it still came in third for taste and feel.

For more flavours, including vanilla visit Amazon.com


If you want something a little creamier than our top pick, or if that powder is out of stock, try Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey, in Molten Chocolate or Whipped Vanilla. In our taste test, though we didn’t like the flavor as much as that of our top pick, it scored well versus the rest of the competition. Plus, it costs about the same (just 10¢ more per serving), has about the same caloric content, and offers about the same amount of protein (25 grams per serving.)

The chocolate came in third for taste, with testers likening it to brownie batter. The texture was smooth and thick, and more foamy than that of our top pick. The vanilla wasn’t as big of a hit: That flavor scored in the top half, compared against other vanilla powders, with several testers likening it to cake batter. The instructions on the Cellucor tub recommend using more powder and less liquid than do the mixing instructions for other powders. For a thinner—but still foamy—drink, you can just use more milk or water.

With six flavors to choose from, this powder doesn’t have as many options as our top pick does. Cor-Performance Whey comes in basic chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, as well as in a few more adventurous choices: peanut butter marshmallow, cinnamon swirl, and cookies and cream.

The taste isn’t for everyone—what our testers liked about its taste might be a quality you hate. At the moment this powder has a rating of 4.3 stars out of five across 981 reviews on Amazon, with many of the complaints being subjective takes on flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough. Reviewers also report problems with the powder clumping even when they used a shaker bottle. Though we didn’t experience clumps when we used a shaker bottle, stirring with a spoon resulted in a very lumpy shake. Clumpiness may vary between flavors, so if you try one other than chocolate or vanilla, your results may differ.

What to look forward to

With so many options for nearly identical powders, we had to tightly constrain our search for this guide, both at the research and testing phases. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find a pretty significant taste difference between the best and worst powders; though a lot of whey is sourced from only a few providers, protein powders are not all the same. In the future, we hope to test more of them directly, including some new additions to Labdoor’s list, provided we can ever trick a panel of people into participating again. We’ll also update this guide after Labdoor completes its 2017 testing of protein powders and if we note any changes to the formulas of our top picks.

Aside from other whey varieties, many different protein formats are also available, including egg, soy, rice, pea, and hemp. We hope to expand our research to these other categories in the future to address different dietary and nutritional needs.

The competition

We dismissed protein powders from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods early on, as they contain less protein per serving than the competition and cost more per serving.

Here are the other powders we did test, in order of the best-scoring chocolate flavor to the worst.

We found the chocolate flavor of MusclePharm Combat 100% Whey “pretty mediocre,” as one tester put it, and almost all our testers agreed that the vanilla flavor was too sugary. “Lumpy and too sweet,” wrote one tester. MusclePharm is a popular brand, so we were interested in testing it, but this powder wasn’t on Labdoor’s list, so we can’t fully sign off on it, safety-wise.

While the chocolate flavor of EAS 100% Whey Protein scored fine with our taste testers, this protein powder had only one notable aspect: The lid had a little clip for the scoop to slide into so that it wouldn’t get buried in the powder (in most tubs, you have to get wrist-deep to dig out the scoop). We wish every protein powder tub had this design feature, but it wasn’t compelling enough to outweigh the subpar taste. Interestingly, Labdoor reports that EAS’s powder has even more protein than the label claims, at 30.2 grams per serving instead of 26 (most inaccurate labels overstate the protein content).

Neither the chocolate nor the vanilla BodyTech Whey Tech Pro 24 scored well, with one tester simply writing “NOPE” in the comments. The problem? Too sweet, with not enough actual flavor. The vanilla flavor tasted too much of whey.

Both flavors of Pure Protein 100% Natural Whey Protein scored poorly, with one tester noting that the chocolate flavor was both too bitter and too sweet.

Myprotein Impact Whey Protein scored in the bottom half of our taste tests, with some panelists noting that it tasted artificial and lumpy in both flavors. While Labdoor gave this protein high marks for label accuracy, the reviews on Amazon for this one are currently mixed (4.1 stars out of five across 62 reviews). That said, this protein also comes in an “unflavored” option, unlike much of the competition. Unflavored whey tastes pretty gross on its own, like warm milk with a strong aftertaste. But when I tested it in smoothies, it was less noticeable than the sugary, flavored powders—and with the power of a blender, it mixed in just fine. If you always have your protein powder in a drink with other strong ingredients, this is a good one to try.

While MRM All Natural Whey was the least expensive per gram of protein out of everything we tested, and had the lowest calorie count, it wasn’t cheap enough or low-calorie enough to overcome other flaws in the chocolate flavor. Our testers found the texture sour and fake tasting, with a bit of an aftertaste. The vanilla scored in the top half, with testers noting that the flavor wasn’t overpowering when mixed with milk, and with one tester ranking it as their favorite vanilla protein powder. If you’re looking to shave off a few pennies and calories per drink, consider the vanilla MRM All Natural Whey.

We had trouble buying CVS Whey Protein Powder. Online, the vanilla flavor was out of stock (which we learned only after CVS mysteriously canceled our order). And when we went to pick up the powder in our local store, the chocolate flavor was out of stock. Even though it’s a store brand, it’s basically the same price as our top pick; each gram of protein costs half a penny less. And each serving has 40 more calories. We did try the vanilla flavor, and it came in third place in the taste test, just ahead of the Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey, with a frothy texture and a not-too-sweet flavor. If picking this powder up is convenient for you, it’s a good option.

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