18 Best Protein Powders for Muscle Gain

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Do you need a protein powder to build muscle? Of course not; it’s simply another tool in the bodybuilder’s arsenal, and like most other training and nutrition programs, can be effective when used properly. But how do you know which powders are best for results?

We’ve got you covered with this list of 18 of the best bodybuilding protein powders on the market, ranked by their quality and effectiveness.

Each of these products is designed to aid you in your quest for more muscle, or better yet, for building new muscle. Some are suited for fat loss; others are ideal post-workout recovery mixes; some are great meal replacements, and still, others may be your go-to protein source throughout the day.

The best news of all? All of these powders will help you achieve your muscle-building goals, and every one of them is a winner in our book. Just make sure to use this list as a reference when shopping for your supplements – don’t get duped into overpaying for fancy marketing, packaging, or celebrity endorsements.

Remember to bookmark this page so you can reference it when needed. Whether you’re looking for the best protein powder for building muscle or just checking out which supplements are supported by research and have a proven track record of success, this list has all the answers you seek! 

How does Protein Powder work?

You know how you do reps until failure?  That creates microtears in your muscle fiber – and it’s those microtears that signal your body to build new muscle tissue. 

But if you don’t eat enough protein, there isn’t a whole lot of amino acids available around for your body to use as building blocks. That means the microtears may go unfilled and your body won’t have anything to actually repair and build on. 

This is why some people say that eating enough protein (which is about 0.8g per pound of bodyweight) will make your muscles grow faster than anything else. 

Protein powder works by supplementing the dietary protein that you’re not getting from food – and since it’s high quality, it can be used as a substitute for regular food.

Is Protein Powder Safe? 

It’s perfectly safe – and actually one of the most studied supplements on the market. 

Studies show that protein powder side effects are unheard of, but it can cause upset stomachs in people who have intolerances to milk or lactose. 

If you’re going to use protein powder, you’re probably fine – but if you have gall bladder issues or sensitivities to whey or lactose, then you should take it easy with the protein shakes. 

Protein Powder is a supplement designed for muscle gain and there are 18 best proteins for this purpose. 

18 Best Protein Powders for Muscle Gain

Here’s our top 18 list of bodybuilding supplements: 

  1. Elm & Rye Protein Powder
  2. Legion Whey Plus
  3. Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein
  4. PlantFusion Complete Plant-Based Protein Powder
  5. Garden of Life Sport Grass-Fed Organic Whey Protein
  6. NutriCost Whey Protein Concentrate
  7. Ghost Whey Protein
  8. Isopure Low Carb Carb Whey Isolate
  9. NOW Sports Egg White Protein
  10. Naked Whey
  11. Core Nutritionals Grow
  12. Gold Standard 100% Whey
  13. Nuzest Clean Lean Protein
  14. Vega Protein & Greens
  15. Puritan’s Pride Soy Protein Isolate
  16. NutriBiotic Rice Protein
  17. Legion Whey Plus
  18. Hemp Yeah! Max Fiber Protein Powder

Which protein powder has the most protein?

Most protein powders have the same amount of protein per scoop. So you’re going to see the same answer to this question no matter where you look. 

However, there are lots of different factors that can come into play when choosing a protein powder: how much protein per serving is one of them, but so is price and ingredients. Some people want vegan or organic options; others may want low calorie and low sugar or low fat. 

The best advice is to consider your own needs and preferences, compare the information on the label with what you’re looking for, and choose something that seems like a good fit. We recommend reading reviews from others who have used any product before purchasing it yourself; finding out if protein powders mix well; what flavor tastes best; and if it’s easy to digest, among other factors.

Which Protein Powder has no carbohydrates or fats?

Basically, every protein powder will have carbohydrates and/or fats because they are often parts of the ingredients. 

However, some proteins contain more carbs than others; for example, soy protein tends to have slightly more carbs per serving than whey protein. If you’re looking for a fat-free powder, look for something that is primarily made of egg white protein because it’s almost pure protein.

Which Protein Powder has the most creatine?

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular bodybuilding supplements on the market, and for good reason, research has shown that it can increase power output, enhance muscle contractions (increasing your lifting ability), improve muscle mass, and increase lean body mass. 

The best protein powder for creatine? You guessed it: straight creatine monohydrate. The only other thing we would potentially add is dextrose (a type of sugar), which has been shown to further increase creatine uptake.

Which Protein Powder is Best for Building Muscle?

Creatine monohydrate is the only supplement that has proven, concrete evidence to support its claims of enhancing lean body mass. 

But aside from creatine monohydrate, higher quality proteins are always better – especially if they’re derived from whey, porcine (pork), or egg sources. If there’s one rule about building muscle to follow when picking a protein powder it would be this:

The higher quality of the protein source, the better. 

Whey is a very high-quality protein which makes it a great choice for many people pursuing weightlifting goals – although some vegan powders are close to, or sometimes better than whey. 

The best advice is to consider your own needs and preferences, compare the information on the label with what you’re looking for, and choose something that seems like a good fit. We recommend reading reviews from others who have used any product before purchasing it yourself; finding out if protein powders mix well; what flavor tastes best; and if it’s easy to digest, among other factors.

Does whey protein cause Acne? 

Whey itself doesn’t directly affect acne, but it can indirectly contribute to acne due to its high sugar content (to be clear: not all wheys are high in sugar). 

The main cause of acne is a bacterial activity in the body (in fact, most acne can be completely cleared up simply by cleaning your face twice a day with plain water and NOT using any soap) – but diet does also play a role.

Some people may notice more breakouts when beginning the use of whey protein powder due to the increase of dairy sugar (lactose) in their diet. 

So, if you want to avoid worsening acne, we recommend consuming whey protein powders that are low in lactose and/or avoiding entirely if it triggers an acne flair-up. 

The best rule of thumb is:

If your skin flares up when using whey protein, stop using it.

Which Protein Powder is best for losing fat? 

The only product that’s ever been proven to cause weight loss (while maintaining lean body mass) is green tea extract, which has a thermogenic effect. 

Whey protein may also help if you’re watching your calorie intake because whey tends to have fewer calories than most protein powders. 

But if you’re looking for the best protein powder to aid in weight loss, there is none – protein just doesn’t have any effect on fat loss.

Which Protein Powder has no carbs or fats?

There are very few protein powders that are “no carb” or “no fat.” 

They do exist, but they’re not very common. A lot of the “low-fat” products still have a considerable amount of fat in them – so while they may have fewer calories from fat compared to other powders, it’s not by much. 

If you want a protein powder that has no carbs or fats, look for one that has more than 25 grams of protein per serving (if it’s less than 25 grams of protein per serving, then the product is too low-protein to be considered a quality powder). 

What does it mean if your protein powder says “Instantized?” 

Instantized means that the manufacturer has done something to make the powder dissolve in water easily. 

It’s a chemical process that increases the surface area of the powder particles, making them more “in tune” with water – which means it mixes easier. 

A tip: if your protein powder doesn’t mix well with a spoon, add an ice cube or two to make mixing easier. 

Does protein powder have caffeine? 

Some protein powders do, some don’t. 

The vast majority of products are caffeine-free because the water extract from green tea is far more effective for increasing energy expenditure compared to caffeine. 

But some companies get around this by adding guarana extract instead of actual caffeinated beverages. Guarana is a plant that contains caffeine, but in lower amounts than coffee beans. 

The one thing to look out for is “green tea extract” because some companies will add actual green tea to their products, while others simply add the water extract without any actual tea leaves.

Can you build muscle with protein powder alone?

If your goal is to build muscle and get stronger, then yes – you can build muscle with protein alone.

The only time it becomes difficult to use protein powder for building muscle is if your calorie intake is too low or you’re restricting yourself from gaining weight by eating too little food (which means you won’t have the caloric surplus needed to grow). 

What’s The Right Dosage of Protein Powder for Muscle Gain?

While there is no exact dosage on how much protein you need to build muscle, studies show that around 0.4g per pound of body weight (1g/kg) seems to be the sweet spot for maximizing protein synthesis. 

You probably won’t build twice as much muscle if you use double the dosage than someone else though. 

However, studies show that taking a dose higher than 0.8g per pound of bodyweight doesn’t really make a difference in muscle gains at all. 

Can you use protein powder as meal replacements?

Yes, you can – but it’s probably not the best idea. Meal replacement powders are typically high-calorie formulas with a high amount of carbs, fat and fiber.

Protein powder is low in calories and carbs, so it’s going to be a bit difficult to get the right amount of nutrients from only protein shakes. 

So if you’re going to use protein powder as a meal replacement, get a high-calorie one that’s bulked up with carbs and fats. 

Can You Take Protein Powder Instead of Eating Food?

You can’t “replace” real food with protein powder. But aside from not being nutritionally complete, it can also be quite difficult to get all the necessary micro-nutrients from protein powder alone. 

It’s a supplement, not a replacement – so you should still try and get your nutrients from whole foods whenever possible. 

Which Protein Powder Has The Best Taste?

This question really depends on personal preference because everyone has different taste preferences. 

What tastes good to me might taste bad to you and vice versa. 

It’s all about trying out different things until you find something that offers a great taste, quality ingredients, and has the macros (protein, carbs, and fat) that work best for your goals. 

Which Protein Powder Has The Best Mixability? 

This question can be answered by looking at the ingredients label. 

Some proteins mix well with water because the company has added ingredients that increase its solubility. 

For example, adding lecithin to a protein powder ensures it mixes well with no clumps and little foam. Whey isolate is a great example of a protein that mixes very well with just water.

In conclusion, it is unlikely that anyone protein powder will emerge as the single best for muscle gain; rather, each of these 18 products will play a role in your quest to build more muscle.

To find out which one fits your goals and budget perfectly, you’ll have to review all 18 of the protein powders for muscle gain we included in the list above. We think you’ll be surprised at how many high-quality products are on the market these days.

This article has been supplied by Verma Media, a paid advertiser. Content has not been independently verified by Los Angeles magazine.