Product Reviews
Protein Powders, Shakes, and Drinks Review
 

Reviewed and edited by Tod Cooperman, M.D. Tod Cooperman, M.D.
Initial Posting: 12/21/18   EXPANDED: 1/12/20 Last Update: 6/16/20

Find the Best Protein Powders, Shakes and Drinks

23.5% of Protein Powders and Drinks Fail CL's Tests of Quality
Protein, Meal, and Diet Powders, Shakes, and Drinks Tested by ConsumerLab.com
Alphabetical list of protein powder and protein drink brands compared in this review
AmaZing Grass Green Superfood Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Whey PaleoThin Organic Egg White Protein - Unflavored
Beachbody Performance Recover Post-Workout Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein - Vanilla Bean
Beachbody Shakeology - Chocolate GNC Amplified Wheybolic 40 - Chocolate Premier Protein - Chocolate
Beachbody Shakeology Vegan - Vanilla GNC Total Lean, Lean Shake 25 Swiss Chocolate Protein2O - Harvest Grape
EAS 100% Whey Protein Chocolate MyProtein Impact Whey Isolate Quest Protein Powder - Salted Caramel Flavor
ENTOMO Farms Cricket Powder NOW Sports Pea Protein - Natural Unflavored Universal Casein Pro - Vanilla Soft Serve
EXO Pure Cricket Powder Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein Powder Vega Sport Performance Protein - Vanilla Flavor
Garden of Life® Organic Whey Protein Grass Fed ON [Optimum Nutrition] Gold Standard 100% Whey Vitacost Soy Protein Isolate - Natural Chocolate Flavor
Garden of Life RAW Organic Meal Vanilla Orgain Organic Protein - Vanilla Bean  
AmaZing Grass Green Superfood Beachbody Performance Recover Post-Workout Beachbody Shakeology - Chocolate Beachbody Shakeology Vegan - Vanilla EAS 100% Whey Protein Chocolate ENTOMO Farms Cricket Powder EXO Pure Cricket Powder Garden of Life® Organic Whey Protein Grass Fed Garden of Life RAW Organic Meal Vanilla Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Whey Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein GNC Amplified Wheybolic 40 - Chocolate GNC Total Lean, Lean Shake 25 Swiss Chocolate MyProtein Impact Whey Isolate NOW Sports Pea Protein - Natural Unflavored Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein Powder ON [Optimum Nutrition] Gold Standard 100% Whey Orgain Organic Protein - Vanilla Bean PaleoThin Organic Egg White Protein - Unflavored PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein - Vanilla Bean Premier Protein - Chocolate Protein2O - Harvest Grape Quest Protein Powder - Salted Caramel Flavor Universal Casein Pro - Vanilla Soft Serve Vega Sport Performance Protein - Vanilla Flavor Vitacost Soy Protein Isolate - Natural Chocolate Flavor
Make sure your protein powder or protein drink passed our test and is right for you!
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Summary: What You Need to Know About Protein Powders, Shakes and Drinks
  • Do they help? Extra protein (typically about 30 grams to 50 grams per day) from a powder or drink can help athletes build muscle, and help older people prevent or reverse age-related loss of muscle and strength when used in conjunction with resistance-type exercise. It may also help people with diabetes maintain blood sugar levels and even reverse diabetes if taken as part of low calorie diet. (See What It Does).
  • What type? Protein products vary based on the source of protein (e.g., whey, casein, soy, rice, pea, egg, hemp, and cricket). All can help build muscle, but, in general, whey is most popular as it is a complete protein and rather quickly digested. Casein is digested more slowly — which is why it is sometimes taken in the evening — to counter loss of muscle at night. Vegans may be more interested in plant sources, such soy, pea, rice, and hemp. See ConsumerTips, Protein for more about each type of protein.
  • Which brand? Among the protein products that ConsumerLab.com selected for review, 23.5% failed to pass tests. (See What CL Found). Among products that were Approved, the lowest cost to obtain an equivalent amount (20 grams) of protein was 37 cents from a pea protein powder while it was over $5 for some products with many additional ingredients or offering more of a meal-replacement profile. For most products, the cost to obtain 20 grams of protein fell within 80 cents to $1.50. See which products were CL's Top Picks based on a combination of quality, value, and taste. You can also compare all of the products in the Results Table.
  • How to use? Protein taken after, rather than before, exercise may be more beneficial (See What It Does). Protein powders are typically mixed with water or other liquids such as milk or juice, but be aware that these can add calories (See What to Consider When Using). Also be aware that taste of powders varies by protein type, flavorings, and the addition of sugar or other sweeteners, and that and some powders mix more easily into liquids than others (see the taste and mixability comments in the Results Table).
  • Cautions: Protein supplements may cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some people, and individuals with lactose intolerance may want to avoid certain milk-based proteins. People with kidney disease should consult with their physician before taking protein supplements (see Concerns and Cautions).
You must be a member to get the full test results, along with ConsumerLab's recommendations. You'll get results for 26 protein supplements -- 17 selected by ConsumerLab and nine that passed the same testing through our voluntary Quality Certification Program. 

In this comprehensive review, you'll discover:
    • Which protein products failed testing, which passed, and which are CL's Top Picks
    • How protein powders and drinks compare on taste, mixability, ingredients and price
    • The pros and cons of different types of protein (whey, casein, soy, rice, pea, egg, hemp, bone broth, and cricket) and different forms of protein (concentrates, isolates, and hydrolysates)
    • When to take protein for the best results
    • Ingredients you may want to avoid in protein powders and drinks
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Dr. Tod Cooperman Explains Protein Powders

Learn More About Protein Powder, Shakes and Drinks

ConsumerLab.com Answers -- for Protein Powders, Shakes, and Drinks Review
Question:
Which supplements are important after bariatric surgery (i.e., weight loss or stomach-reducing surgery)? Are there any I should avoid? Get the answer >>

Question:
Can heat and humidity destroy whey protein and other sports nutrition supplements (e.g., creatine, BCAAs, digestive enzymes) during shipping or while storing at home? Get the answer >>

Question:
What is carrageenan? Should I be concerned that it is an ingredient in my supplement? Get the answer >>

Question:
Immunocal is much more expensive than other whey protein isolates - is it worth the extra cost? Get the answer >>

Question:
I've heard that rice has high levels of arsenic. Does that mean rice bran oil does too? Get the answer >>

Question:
When choosing a protein powder, which protein source is best -- whey, casein, soy, pea, rice, hemp or egg? Get the answer >>

Question:
Do glutathione supplements work to prevent aging or for other conditions? Get the answer >>

Question:
What is the best protein supplement for vegetarians and vegans? Get the answer >>

Question:
Is Greek yogurt a good source of protein? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which supplements can help lower or control my blood sugar? Get the answer >>

Question:
I am having trouble sleeping. I regularly take a multivitamin, fish oil, magnesium, calcium, vitamins D and K, and a protein supplement. I also take a low-dose blood pressure medication. Could any of these supplements be causing my insomnia? Get the answer >>

Question:
Does soy affect the risk of breast cancer or prostate cancer? Get the answer >>

Question:
What's the best protein to keep and gain muscle when you're older? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which supplements can cause constipation? Get the answer >>

Question:
Do whey or soy protein powders contain estrogens? Get the answer >>

Question:
Is it true that protein can strain the kidneys as you get older? Get the answer >>

Question:
Does consuming casein protein, like in Greek yogurt, increase the risk of prostate cancer? Get the answer >>

Question:
What are the health benefits of stevia? Is it safe? Get the answer >>

Question:
Is it true that I need to drink more water or increase calcium intake when supplementing with protein powder? Get the answer >>

Question:
I do moderate exercise for about an hour a few times a week. Which supplements might help me? Get the answer >>
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