We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Healthline only shows you brands and products that we stand behind.

Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we make on our site. To establish that the product manufacturers addressed safety and efficacy standards, we:
  • Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
  • Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
  • Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?
We do the research so you can find trusted products for your health and wellness.

Protein powders have become a staple in the nutritional regimens of competitive athletes and recreational gym-goers alike.

These products serve as a convenient and high quality source of protein. Yet, with seemingly endless options to choose from, you may wonder which is best for building muscle.

Keep reading for our picks of the 10 best protein powders for muscle gain.

When looking for the best protein powders for building muscle, we considered the following criteria:

  • Formulation. To support muscle gains, we chose products that contain at least 20 grams of protein per serving and have evidence-backed ingredients such as whey protein and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) (1).
  • Quality. We looked for powders that are made with high quality ingredients and contain minimal additives and fillers.
  • Taste. From dessert-inspired flavors to unflavored varieties, we included powders to suit a range of preferences. We also looked for products that have mostly positive reviews for taste and texture.
  • Price. We considered whether the quality of the product aligns with the cost.
  • Manufacturing standards. The companies included adhere to current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs) as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Third-party testing. All the protein powders on our list are third-party tested.
  • Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet Healthline’s medical and business standards. You can read more about our vetting process here.

A note on price

General price ranges with dollar signs ($–$$$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas four dollar signs indicate a higher cost.

Generally, prices range from $0.61–$4.10 per serving, or $19.99–$61.49 per tub or packet, though this may vary depending on where you shop.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $1.00 per serving
  • $$ = $1.00–$1.50 per serving
  • $$$ = $1.51–$2.00 per serving
  • $$$$ = over $2.00 per serving

Best whey protein powder

Momentous Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein

  • Price: $$$$
  • Flavors: vanilla, chocolate

Momentous Essential is our pick for the best whey protein powder thanks to its high quality ingredients and rigorous quality testing.

Specifically, the powder contains whey isolate sourced from milk produced by grass-fed cows.

Whey isolate contains more than 90% protein by weight and is relatively low in lactose, whereas whey concentrate contains 25–89% protein and more lactose (2).

The powder also includes an enzyme blend that the company claims helps improve the absorption of protein and reduce stomach upset, though research doesn’t currently support these claims (3).

Momentous Protein is third-party tested and is both NSF Certified for Sport and Informed Sport Certified, which means it’s a good option for competitive athletes. It’s also certified gluten-free.

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop (28.7 grams) of chocolate Momentous Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein (4):

  • Calories: 100
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Added sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Pros

  • Informed Sport Certified
  • NSF Certified for Sport
  • certified gluten-free
  • no added sugars

Cons

  • expensive
  • available in only chocolate and vanilla

Best unflavored whey protein

Naked Whey

  • Price: $$
  • Flavors: unflavored

While some people enjoy flavored protein powders, others prefer unflavored ones that can be added to foods and beverages without imparting a taste.

Naked Whey fits this bill perfectly with its single ingredient — whey protein concentrate.

This protein powder is sourced from Rumiano Cheese, a California-based company whose products come from cows that have been pastured more than 300 days per year and more than 19 hours per day.

In addition, Naked Whey is third-party tested by Informed Choice.

If you prefer a flavored option, Naked Nutrition also offers chocolate and vanilla products, which are naturally flavored with coconut sugar.

Nutrition facts per 2 scoops (30 grams) of unflavored Naked Whey protein powder (5):

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Added sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 25 grams

Pros

  • third-party tested by Informed Choice
  • contains just one ingredient
  • mixes well

Cons

  • some reports that the powder is difficult to mix

Best casein protein powder

Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein

  • Price: $$$
  • Flavors: vanilla, chocolate, chocolate peanut butter

Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein is a high quality protein powder that claims to use only natural ingredients.

Casein is another protein that’s found in milk. Compared to whey, casein is digested more slowly. As a result, some people take casein supplements before bed for sustained protein digestion throughout the night (1, 6).

Notably, Ascent processes grade A milk in the company’s own facilities to turn it into protein powder, whereas most manufacturers buy preprocessed protein.

In addition, the product is third-party tested by Informed Sport to ensure suitability for athletes and recreational gym-goers alike.

Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein is highly reviewed online, with customers particularly liking the flavor and texture of the chocolate powder.

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop (36 grams) of chocolate Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein powder (7):

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Added sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 25 grams

Pros

  • third-party tested by Informed Sport
  • minimal ingredients
  • no artificial sweeteners
  • mixes well with water or milk

Cons

  • contains stevia, which has an aftertaste some people may dislike
  • expensive

Best vegan protein powder

Momentous Essential Plant-Based Protein

  • Price: $$$$
  • Flavors: vanilla chai, chocolate

If you follow a vegan lifestyle, it may be challenging to meet your daily protein needs. One way to get enough is to include a plant-based protein powder in your diet.

In fact, recent research suggests that a plant-based diet can be just as effective for muscle building as a meat-based diet (8).

Momentous Essential Plant-Based is highly rated for quality and taste.

It also contains a blend of plant-based protein sources, which research suggests may result in a greater leucine content. This is notable because leucine is a BCAA that plays an important role in building muscle (9, 10).

Momentous Essential Plant-Based is both NSF Certified for Sport and Informed Sport Certified. It’s also certified gluten-free.

It has a smooth texture and mixes easily in a shaker. Reviewers comment that it doesn’t taste chalky, unlike many other plant-based protein powders.

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop (37.7 grams) of chocolate Momentous Essential Plant-Based Protein (11):

  • Calories: 140
  • Carbs: 10 grams
  • Added sugars: 2 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Pros

  • NSF Certified for Sport
  • Informed Sport Certified
  • certified gluten-free
  • contains all nine essential amino acids
  • smooth texture and good taste

Cons

  • expensive

Best grass-fed protein powder

Garden of Life Sport Grass-Fed Organic Whey Protein

  • Price: $$$
  • Flavors: chocolate, vanilla

The whey protein used in this protein powder from Garden of Life comes from Truly Grass Fed, an animal welfare-friendly and 95% grass-fed dairy farm in Ireland.

Grass-fed dairy has been shown to be higher in certain beneficial nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, compared with conventional dairy (12).

Garden of Life Sport Grass-Fed Organic Whey Protein is certified organic, free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and third-party certified by both NSF International and Informed Choice, ensuring that it’s free of banned substances.

Moreover, the protein powder packs 2 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of probiotics, which may be beneficial for gut health in some individuals (13).

It’s important to note that this protein powder contains erythritol, a sugar alcohol that may cause stomach upset in some people if consumed in large amounts (14).

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop (33 grams) of the chocolate flavor (15):

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Added sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 24 grams

Pros

  • Informed Choice Certified
  • NSF Certified for Sport
  • certified gluten-free
  • whey sourced from grass-fed cows

Cons

  • expensive
  • contains sugar alcohols
  • available in only chocolate and vanilla

Best-tasting protein powder

Ghost Whey Protein

  • Price: $$$
  • Flavors: cereal milk, peanut butter cereal milk, fruity cereal milk, cinnamon cereal milk, coffee ice cream, milk chocolate, marshmallow cereal milk

Ghost is known for its creative dessert- and breakfast-inspired flavors. In fact, the company frequently partners with popular brands such as Chips Ahoy and Nutter Butter to include cookie pieces in some of its protein powders.

And you don’t have to take our word for it — Ghost Whey Protein is highly rated by customers who appreciate its delicious taste and how easy the powder is to mix using a shaker bottle.

Ghost protein powder is made up of a blend of whey isolate and whey concentrate and a blend of digestive enzymes.

While some research suggests that digestive enzymes may be beneficial for some individuals, such as those with lactose intolerance or cystic fibrosis, it’s unclear whether digestive enzymes are beneficial for adults without these conditions (16).

Ghost Whey Protein is produced in a CGMP-certified facility and third-party tested by NSF International to ensure purity and potency. The brand’s whey protein powers are also certified soy- and gluten-free.

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop (34.5 grams) of the cereal milk flavor (17):

  • Calories: 130
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Added sugars: 2 grams
  • Protein: 25 grams

Pros

  • third-party tested by NSF International
  • certified soy- and gluten-free
  • available in multiple breakfast- and dessert-inspired flavors
  • mixes easily

Cons

  • contains artificial sweeteners, which some people may prefer to avoid

Best low carb protein powder

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey

  • Price: $
  • Flavors: banana cream, chocolate coconut, chocolate hazelnut, chocolate malt, chocolate mint, coffee, delicious strawberry, double rich chocolate, French vanilla, rocky road, strawberry banana, white chocolate, unflavored

For those looking to limit their daily carb intake, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey is one of the best options.

The protein powder provides the same high quality whey protein isolate as other protein powders, but with just 2–4 grams of carbs per serving, depending on the flavor you choose.

What’s more, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Why Protein is produced in a CGMP-certified facility and is Informed Choice certified.

The product also has more than 83,000 mostly positive reviews, with satisfied customers appreciating its great taste and low sugar content.

Just keep in mind that this powder contains sucralose, an artificial sweetener that some people may prefer to avoid.

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop (31 grams) of the chocolate malt flavor (18):

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Added sugars: 1 gram
  • Protein: 24 grams

Pros

  • Informed Choice Certified
  • suitable for lower carb diets
  • affordable
  • good variety of flavors to choose from

Cons

  • contains artificial sweeteners, which some people may prefer to avoid

Best egg white protein powder

NOW Sports Egg White Protein

  • Price: $$
  • Flavors: creamy chocolate, creamy vanilla, unflavored

While whey is one of the most popular types of protein powder, it’s not the only option.

Egg white protein powders are an excellent alternative for people who need or want to avoid dairy products.

NOW Sports Egg White Protein is a great option if you’re interested in an egg white protein powder. It has a relatively short ingredient list and is third-party tested by Informed Choice and Informed Sport, ensuring high quality ingredients that are free of banned substances.

This protein powder contains xylitol, a sugar alcohol that may cause some bloating and discomfort in some individuals (14).

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop (20 grams) of the unflavored (19):

  • Calories: 80
  • Carbs: 2 grams
  • Added sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 16 grams

Pros

  • Informed Choice Certified
  • Informed Sport Certified
  • suitable for those who are dairy-free

Cons

  • contains xylitol, which may not be well tolerated by some people
  • sweetened with stevia, which has an aftertaste some people may dislike

Best protein option for weight gain

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  • Price: $$$$
  • Flavors: sweet vanilla, chocolate glazed donut

If you’re trying to gain weight, you have to consume more calories than you expend on a regular basis.

Mass gainers are high calorie, high protein supplements that can be helpful for people who struggle to consume enough calories to gain weight.

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer is a unique mass gainer composed of whole food ingredients such as sweet potato, oats, avocado oil, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, and whey protein concentrate — all in the form of a powder.

The product provides an excellent source of protein and calories, which you can consume around workouts or as a snack throughout the day.

Transparent Labs products are third-party tested by Analytical Resource Laboratories.

Nutrition facts per 2 scoops (189.2 grams) of the sweet vanilla flavor (20):

  • Calories: 760
  • Carbs: 109 grams
  • Added sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 53 grams

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • whole food ingredients
  • formulated to support weight gain

Cons

  • expensive
  • available only in two sweetened flavors
  • sweetened with stevia, which has an aftertaste some people may dislike

Best personalized

Gainful

  • Price: $$$
  • Flavors: unflavored, Madagascar vanilla, rich cocoa, sea salt caramel, caffè mocha, strawberry cream, chocolate peanut butter, cookies & cream, cinnamon toast, and matcha green tea

Gainful offers whey and plant-based protein powders that are customized to your preferences and goals.

All the protein powders are unflavored, with an option to add flavor boosts that are sweetened with stevia and monk fruit extract.

With a Gainful subscription, you’ll also have access to a registered dietitian for personalized fitness and nutrition guidance.

Gainful is third-party tested by Informed Sport, which ensures that its products are free of banned substances.

Note that the nutritional information varies because the powder is customized to meet your needs. However, according to the website, Gainful protein powders contain 17–27 grams of protein per 1-scoop (30-gram) serving (21).

Pros

  • third-party tested by Informed Sport
  • access to a registered dietitian included with subscription
  • personalized protein formulations

Cons

  • expensive
  • requires a subscription

Here’s a quick look at how the products compare:

Price rangeProtein sourceGrams of protein per servingThird-party testingBest for
Momentous Whey$$$$whey isolate20• NSF
• Informed Sport
whey protein
NAKED Whey$$whey concentrate25Informed Choiceunflavored
Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein$$$casein25Informed Sportcasein protein
Momentous Plant-Based$$$$pea and brown rice20• NSF
• Informed Sport
vegan
Garden of Life Whey$$$whey isolate24• NSF
• Informed Choice
grass-fed
Ghost Whey $$$whey isolate and concentrate25–26NSFtaste
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard$whey isolate24Informed Choicelow carb
NOW Sports Egg White$$egg white16–20• Informed Choice
• Informed Sport
egg white
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer$$$$whey concentrate53Analytical Resource Laboratoriesweight gain
Gainful$$$whey isolate or concentrate or plant-based17–27Informed Sportpersonalized

With so many protein powders on the market, it can be difficult to determine which is best for building muscle.

Here are a few factors to consider:

  • When will you consume it? Whey is best on either end of a workout, whereas casein is preferable when you want a sustained release, such as before bedtime.
  • What’s your budget? Protein powders vary greatly in price. Determine your budget, and then find options within that range.
  • Does it come in flavors you like? If you have specific taste preferences, do your research to see whether a given protein comes in the flavor you want.
  • Does the company use third-party testing? Third-party testing ensures that the product is free of banned substances and harmful contaminants.
  • Is the product manufactured in a CGMP-certified facility? This label ensures adherence to high manufacturing standards set by the FDA.
  • Do you have any dietary restrictions? Some protein powders contain potential allergens or substances you may be sensitive to, so it’s best to read the label carefully before purchasing.
  • Are all ingredients openly listed? Some companies use proprietary blends to hide specific ingredients and amounts used. Because of this lack of transparency, it’s best to avoid these products.
  • Is it properly dosed? A good general rule is to look for a protein powder with at least 20 grams of protein per serving to promote muscle gains in combination with resistance exercise (1).

Research shows that consuming protein powder in combination with a resistance training regimen increases muscle protein synthesis, the process of building muscle. This is especially true when protein powder is consumed after workouts (22, 23).

According to some research, the most important factor in building muscle is overall intake of both calories and protein. From this standpoint, protein powders can help increase total protein intake throughout the day, which can promote muscle building (1).

Which protein powder is best for muscle gain?

The most effective post-workout protein powders are ones that are easily digested and contain all nine essential amino acids (EAAs), as well as adequate amounts of leucine — a BCAA that’s important for muscle building (1).

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 1–3 grams of leucine is adequate for promoting muscle gain (1).

Whey protein is a popular option because it is easily digested and is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine EAAs. It can be found in hydrolyzed, isolate, and concentrate forms, all of which appear to be equally effective in supporting muscle building (24).

For those who prefer a plant-based option, soy protein has been found to be just as effective as whey protein is for building muscle (25).

Other plant-based protein powders can also be effective, but it’s important to choose one that is made of a blend of plant-based protein sources to ensure it offers all the EAAs needed to promote muscle gain (26).

Casein protein powder is another option that is a slower digesting protein and has been found to be beneficial for muscle gain if consumed before bed because it stimulates muscle protein synthesis overnight (1).

Does protein powder actually help build muscle?

Research does support the use of protein powder, specifically after working out, for building muscle (22, 23).

Some research suggests that an overall increase in calories and protein is important for muscle gain as well. Therefore, protein powders consumed at any time — not just post-workout — can still be beneficial (1).

Which protein powder is best for muscle gain for beginners?

As a beginner, you can try any protein powder you’d like, but it’s a good idea to take time to read the label first to check for any allergens or unwanted ingredients.

Choosing a third-party tested product is always recommended, regardless of your fitness level.

An easy way to get started is to consume a protein shake immediately after your workout to help stimulate muscle building and recovery.

Some athletes and recreational gym-goers struggle to meet their protein needs through whole foods alone.

Protein powders provide a high quality source of protein that you can take before or after workouts or between meals to promote muscle gain.

When shopping for protein powder, focus on the quality, taste, price, and manufacturing standards. For the best options, consider one of the products in the list above.