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Momentous is our pick as the best protein powder for muscle gain, followed by brands Naked, Ascent, and Garden of Life, among others.

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

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.

While protein powders serve as a convenient and high quality source of protein, there are seemingly endless options to choose from, which can make it difficult to determine which is best for muscle gain.

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

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 $1.25–$5.33 per serving, or $35.99–$94.99 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
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Best overall

Momentous Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein

  • Price: $$$$
  • Flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Unflavored (if you’re interested in the Unflavored option, it’s currently only available on the brand’s website)

Why we chose it

Momentous Essential is our pick for the best overall 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.

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.

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.

Travel packs of this protein powder are also available.

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop, or 28.7 grams (g), of Chocolate Momentous Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein:

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


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


  • expensive
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Best whey protein

Naked Whey

  • Price: $$
  • Flavors: Unflavored, Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry

Why we chose it

This whey protein from Naked is our top choice as the best whey protein on the market because of its thorough testing practices and simple, straightforward ingredient list.

In fact, Naked Whey’s Unflavored variety includes just one ingredient — whey protein concentrate sourced from grass-fed cows.

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.

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

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

Nutrition facts per 2 scoops (30 g) of Unflavored Naked Whey protein powder:

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


  • third-party tested by Informed Choice
  • contains just one ingredient (for the Unflavored option only)
  • has a smooth texture and creamy consistency


  • some reports that the powder is difficult to mix
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Best casein protein powder

Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein

  • Price: $$$
  • Flavors: Vanilla Bean, Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter

Why we chose it

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 with whey, casein is digested more slowly. As a result, some people take casein supplements before bed for sustained protein digestion throughout the night.

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 g) of Chocolate Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein powder:

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


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


  • contains stevia, which has an aftertaste some people may dislike
  • expensive
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Best vegan protein powder

Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder

  • Price: $$$$
  • Flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate

Why we chose it

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, research suggests that a plant-based diet can be just as effective for muscle building as a meat-based diet.

Garden of Life’s Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder is highly rated for taste, quality, and creamy consistency.

It’s both NSF Certified for Sport and Informed Sport Certified and is also certified gluten-free, certified vegan, and free of added sugar.

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

Nutrition facts per 2 scoops (42 g) of Vanilla Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder:

  • Calories: 160
  • Carbs: 7 g
  • Added sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 30 g


  • NSF Certified for Sport
  • Informed Sport Certified
  • certified gluten-free
  • certified vegan
  • contains all nine essential amino acids
  • creamy consistency and good taste


  • expensive
  • contains stevia, which some people dislike
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Best egg white protein powder

NOW Sports Egg White Protein

  • Price: $$
  • Flavors: Creamy Chocolate, Creamy Vanilla, Unflavored

Why we chose it

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.

Additionally, egg whites are rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which may help support post-workout recovery and promote muscle gain.

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.

Flavored varieties of this protein powder contain stevia and xylitol, a sugar alcohol that may cause some bloating and discomfort in some individuals.

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop (20 g) of the Unflavored powder:

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


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


  • flavored varieties contain xylitol, which may not be well tolerated by some people
  • some flavors sweetened with stevia, which has an aftertaste some people may dislike
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Best protein option for weight gain

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  • Price: $$$$
  • Flavors: Sweet Vanilla, Chocolate Glaze Donut

Why we chose it

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 challenged with consuming enough calories to gain weight.

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer is a unique mass gainer composed of whole food ingredients such as sweet potato, oats, coconut milk, 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.

Nutrition facts per 2 scoops (187 g) of the Sweet Vanilla flavor:

  • Calories: 730
  • Carbs: 109 g
  • Added sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 51 g


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


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


  • Price: $$$$
  • Flavors: Unflavored, Rich Chocolate, Caffè Mocha, Strawberry Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Sea Salt Caramel, Cinnamon Toast, Cookies & Cream, Madagascar Vanilla

Why we chose it

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. If you prefer to skip the subscription, you can purchase Gainful protein powders at select retailers instead.

While Gainful does not initiate third party testing itself, the company sources ingredients from manufacturers who do and requires them to provide a certificate of analysis (COA). However, those COAs are not available on its website.

Note that the nutritional information varies because the powder is customized to meet your needs. However, according to the website, Gainful protein powders contain 19–26 g of protein per serving.


  • sources ingredients from manufacturers who use third party testing
  • access to a registered dietitian included with subscription
  • personalized protein formulations


  • expensive
  • doesn’t do third-party testing (but requires the companies it sources ingredients from to do so)
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Best broth-based

NOW Sports Chicken Bone Broth

  • Price: $$$$
  • Flavors: Unflavored

Why we chose it

This paleo-friendly protein powder is made with chicken bone broth, a high quality source of protein that is naturally rich in collagen.

Collagen is a type of protein found in connective tissue, which has been shown to support healthy skin aging and improve skin elasticity and hydration when taken as a supplement.

Some research also shows that collagen supplements may promote recovery, reduce pain, and enhance strength when combined with resistance training. Plus, collagen might also improve body composition by supporting muscle gain.

This product is free of carbohydrates, added sugar, and artificial sweeteners, making it a good option if you’re following a low carb or ketogenic diet.

It’s also certified by Informed Sport and is free of GMOs and major allergens, including dairy, nuts, eggs, and soy.

Nutrition facts per 1 scoop (32 g) of Unflavored broth:

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 0 g
  • Added sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 29 g


  • Informed Sport certified
  • keto-friendly
  • free of artificial sweeteners
  • contains collagen


  • expensive
  • no flavored varieties available
  • not suitable for vegans or vegetarians
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Here’s a quick look at how the products compare:

Product and price rangeProtein source
(grams per serving)
Momentous Whey,
whey isolate (20 g)• NSF
• Informed Sport
whey concentrate (25 g)Informed Choice
Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein,
casein (25 g)Informed Sport
Garden of Life SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein,
pea, navy bean, lentil, garbanzo bean, and cranberry (30 g)• NSF
• Informed Sport
NOW Sports Egg White, $$egg white (16–20 g)Informed Sport
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer, $$$$whey concentrate (51 g)Informed Choice
Gainful, $$$$whey isolate concentrate or plant-based (19–26 g)
NOW Sports Chicken Bone Broth,
chicken bone broth (29 g)Informed Sport

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 g of protein per serving and have evidence-backed ingredients such as whey protein and BCAAs.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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 g of protein per serving to promote muscle gains in combination with resistance exercise.

If you’re increasing your protein intake, it’s also important to adjust the ratio of other nutrients in your diet to ensure you’re meeting bodily needs.

For example, it’s best to balance high protein foods or supplements with other nutritious ingredients at each meal, including:

  • fruits
  • veggies
  • whole grains
  • healthy fats

Rather than depending solely on supplements, you might also want to consume protein from a variety of sources, such as:

  • meat
  • fish
  • poultry
  • eggs
  • dairy
  • soy products
  • legumes

Be sure to drink plenty of water and consume enough fiber, which can help round out your diet and prevent some of the negative side effects associated with high protein intake.

Additionally, while you don’t necessarily need to increase your carb consumption while taking protein powder, low carb intake can worsen some side effects of a high protein diet.

Signs you need to tweak your intake

While protein is an essential part of a balanced diet, consuming too much protein from supplements can cause adverse effects on health.

Some possible signs of excess protein intake include:

  • weight gain
  • kidney problems
  • intestinal discomfort
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • irritation
  • fatigue

If you experience any of the symptoms above after adding protein powder to your routine, it might be best to reduce your intake.

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

Momentous Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein is our top choice, as it contains grass-fed whey protein with all of the essential amino acids needed to support muscle gain.

Naked Whey is another solid option, which is formulated with grass-fed whey protein concentrate and includes nearly 6 g of BCAAs per serving. Both are third-party tested.

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

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.

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.

Because protein powders have been studied mostly in adults, teen athletes looking to increase muscle mass can also talk with a doctor or dietitian to determine whether protein powder is suitable for them.

For some people, certain ingredients commonly found in protein powders can contribute to acne, including dairy.

If you find that dairy causes acne or breakouts for you, switching to a dairy-free protein powder — such as the Garden of Life SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein — may be beneficial.

A few of the most popular alternatives available also include protein powders sourced from:

  • egg whites
  • bone broth
  • plant-based sources like peas or brown rice

Some research also suggests that consuming a high amount of carbohydrates or foods with a high glycemic index — a measure of how much certain foods increase blood sugar levels — can also contribute to acne.

Therefore, selecting protein powders that are low in carbs or added sugar might also be a good choice to help keep skin clear.

If you’re able to tolerate dairy, the whey protein powders from Momentous, Naked, or Ascent are all free of added sugar and contain less than 5 g of carbs per serving.

Whether you’re sensitive to dairy or prefer following a dairy-free diet, there are plenty of high quality protein powders available.

For instance, Garden of Life’s plant-based protein is derived from a blend of protein sources, including peas, beans, and lentils, making it a great choice if you’re sensitive to dairy.

The egg white and chicken bone broth protein powders from NOW are also dairy-free and rich in essential amino acids to help boost muscle gain.

Some athletes and recreational gym-goers have a hard time meeting 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.