Flavored protein powders are often preferred by those who like a boost of sweetness in their protein drinks. These powders can be sweetened naturally with sugar, monk fruit, or stevia, or with artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium.
Some people use whey protein to gain weight and muscle mass. The following whey protein powder product is high in calories as well as carbohydrates and protein, which, combined with proper resistance training, can help you gain muscle mass.
If you’re using weight gainer supplements for weight loss related to a medical condition such as cancer, it’s important to talk with your healthcare team before adding a new supplement to your routine, to make sure it’s safe for you.
Whey protein isolate has undergone more processing than whey protein concentrate and thus is lower in fat and carbs and higher in protein. It also tends to be more expensive due to the additional processing.
There are three main types of whey protein used to make protein powder supplements, though there’s currently no evidence that suggests one kind is better than the others:
Whey protein concentrate: This type contains anywhere between 25–89% protein, but typically has around 70%, and therefore has higher amounts of fats and carbohydrates compared to whey isolate or hydrolysate. It tends to be less expensive as well, making it a good budget-friendly option.
Whey protein isolate: Isolate varieties contain more than 90% protein and are lower in carbs, fat, and lactose than whey protein concentrate, making this option desirable for individuals following a low-carb diet or with lactose intolerance
Whey protein hydrolysate: This protein type has been broken down to accelerate digestion and absorption rates. Because of this, it’s also a little easier to digest. However, it tends to be the most expensive due to its additional processing and it’s unclear whether this offers any significant benefit, as the difference in absorption between hydrolyzed and intact whey is minimal.
Product quality and testing: Most products on this list have undergone third-party testing to ensure they are free of heavy metals, mycotoxins, and substances banned in professional sports.
Certifications: Some companies on this list offer certificates of analysis (COAs) — documents that provide details regarding product quality and purity — for their whey protein products.
Ingredients: We tried to choose protein powder supplements that don’t contain certain ingredients you may want to limit or avoid, such as artificial sweeteners, high amounts of added sugars, and artificial colorings.
Brand trust: The supplements on this list are made by brands that healthcare professionals trust. They are made with limited ingredients, and most have undergone third-party testing and carry certifications verifying their quality and safety.
People may use whey protein powder for a variety of reasons, like enhancing muscle recovery and promoting muscle growth after hard workouts, or as a way to increase overall protein intake, which has been shown to support weight management.
Some research also shows that using whey protein could help reduce blood lipid levels — including LDL (bad) cholesterol — in certain populations.
A 2020 review that included 22 studies found that supplementing with whey protein significantly reduced LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in people with metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms that raise your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, including elevated blood sugar and blood lipid levels.
Researchers think that whey protein may help reduce LDL cholesterol and other blood lipids by decreasing fat absorption in the digestive tract and stimulating enzymes involved in the metabolism of fats.
Even though these results are encouraging, more research is needed to understand how supplementing with whey protein may benefit people with high LDL cholesterol levels.
If you’re trying to reduce your LDL cholesterol, consider using whey protein in nutritious, low-sugar protein shakes and incorporating them into a high-fiber diet rich in plant foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts.
When shopping for a whey protein supplement, there are a few key factors to consider:
Third-party testing: It’s always best to choose products that have been third-party tested to ensure safety and quality, as well as the accuracy of the label. It may be especially important for competitive athletes to choose products that carry the Informed Choice Trusted by Sport and the Informed Sport seal, which verify that a product is free of substances banned in professional sports.
Taste preferences: Whey protein can come in a variety of flavors as well as sweetened and unsweetened.
Your goals: For example, if you’re hoping to gain weight, a weight-gainer supplement like Naked Mass may be the best choice. If you’re hoping to find the best whey protein powder for muscle gain, you may want to consider a product like NOW Sports Unflavored Organic Whey Protein or Raw Organic Whey, which are both high in protein but low in calories.
Cost: If you plan to use whey protein regularly, consider the cost per serving to see what cost feels comfortable for your budget.
Limited ingredients: We recommend choosing whey protein that contains no or few additives and preservatives.
Protein powders are made from various protein sources, including animal products such as whey and casein from cow’s milk, and eggs, as well as from plant sources like brown rice, hemp, and peas.
Whey protein is often recommended for building muscle and for supporting weight loss. There are three different types of whey protein — concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate — but there is no evidence suggesting that one type is superior to the others.
If you have dairy or egg allergies or avoid animal products, plant-based protein powders can be an excellent choice for increasing your overall protein intake.
The better protein powder will also meet your needs in terms of nutrient profile, cost, and sweeteners.
It’s also best to choose a product that has been third-party tested to ensure quality, safety, and accuracy of the label.
Is whey protein powder good for weight loss?
Adding a whey protein supplement to your diet may help you lose body fat.
Protein is the most filling micronutrient, and adding protein sources to meals and snacks, including protein shakes, can help you feel more full and satisfied, which may lead to consuming fewer calories overall.
But reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight depends most on your total dietary intake and activity level. If you over-consume calories and lead a sedentary lifestyle, adding whey protein powder to your diet is unlikely to impact your body weight.
However, adding a protein supplement while also focusing on improving your overall diet quality, reducing your calorie intake, and being more active is a beneficial way to promote healthy weight loss.
Some people like to use whey protein daily in their protein shakes or smoothies, while others use it a couple of times a week as a pre- or post-workout snack.
One misconception about protein powders is that using them increases the risk of consuming too much protein. However, there is currently no evidence that consuming protein powder or high-protein foods is harmful to healthy individuals, though some, like those with kidney issues, may need to be more cautious.
If you’re not sure how you should incorporate whey protein into your diet or how much you should be consuming, consider working with a registered dietitian. They can help answer any questions you have about dietary supplements and can help with goals related to sports performance, weight loss, and more.
Which protein powder is the highest quality?
High-quality whey proteins, like the products on this list, are made with limited ingredients and are free of artificial sweeteners, fillers, preservatives, and other additives that are frequently used in protein powder products.
The best quality options will also be third-party tested and carry certifications like Informed Choice and NSF Certified for Sport.
There’s also some research that suggests grass-fed protein may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease because it appears to have higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, but more research on these benefits is needed.
However, grass-fed proteins do tend to be more sustainably sourced and the better environmental choices.
If this is important to you, AGN Roots Grass-Fed Whey and Raw Organic Whey offer the benefits of being grass-fed as well as third-party tested.
There are many whey protein powder products on the market, and the right one for you will depend on your needs and your preferences.
Choosing a whey protein powder from this list can help ensure that you’re buying a high-quality, safe product that can help you meet your protein needs and health goals.
Last medically reviewed on September 20, 2023
How we reviewed this article:
Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
Hansen TT, et al. (2021). Are dietary proteins the key to successful body weight management? A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies assessing body weight outcomes after interventions with increased dietary protein. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/9/3193