Can I benefit from a protein shake? Of course, nobody can have a healthy functioning body without protein. But, how much do I need and will a protein shake help me reach my goal? In this article we will discuss these questions in detail and reveal the best protein shakes in 2019.
If you’re a physically active person, someone trying to lose weight or just wanting to maintain a great figure, you may very well benefit from easy-to-drink and effectual protein powders.
In addition, good sources of protein are also good sources of other essential nutrients, so if you’re slacking on your diet, a fortified protein shake can also help you out. As a matter of fact, a recent study reveals that a significant amount of older adults in the US suffer from a lack of sufficient protein which affects ease of daily movement and meal preparation.
There’s a huge range of protein powders and shakes on the market today. They all make bold claims about how many benefits they have, but we’ve gathered our team to find the truth and sort out the best options for you: the best overall protein shake, the best for men, women and children, the best protein powders for vegans, for your digestion and the most basic, single ingredient protein shake too.
Protein Shake Buyer’s Guide
Before we get into exactly what you need to look for when choosing the best protein shake, let’s brush up on what protein and how much a person actually needs.
Why You Need Protein Everyday
Protein is needed practically everywhere in your body. It’s not only about repairing tissue and building muscle, it’s necessary for making hormones and enzymes, strengthening bones, cartilage, hair and is an important constituent of blood.
Protein is stored in the body in the form of muscle tissue. If you don’t consume enough protein daily, your body will break down muscle tissue. Too little protein also leads to the body actually storing more energy as fat.
Types Of Protein Your Body Needs
There are two types and sources of protein – plant and animal. As long as all essential amino acids are consumed, the body can use protein from both plant and animal sources. Proteins can be further divided into complete and incomplete proteins.
Complete proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) that are the building blocks for protein and these cannot be produced by the body. 3 of these 9 amino acids– leucine, isoleucine and valine– are known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and are particularly important for muscle gain, weight loss and fatigue reduction.
Sources Of Protein
Red meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy are the best sources of complete protein. Most sources of non-meat based protein lacks all essential amino acids and therefore vegans need to eat a wide variety of vegetables, legumes, nuts or grains everyday. Some simple combinations such as rice and beans, or peanut butter and wholemeal bread can give you all 9 amino acids.
Common plant-based complete proteins include quinoa, buckwheat (soba noodles), soy (tofu, edamame, tempeh), chia, hempseed, Ezekiel bread, Quorn and seitan. These are often found as source ingredients in plant-based protein powders.
It is important to realize that although red meats are high in protein and a good source of vitamin B12, niacin, selenium, and zinc; they contain more saturated fat and the possibility of increased cholesterol levels may increase the risk of cancer.
Protein shakes are an excellent way of meeting your protein requirements without the added risks that come with some high protein foods. Additionally, some protein powders have added nutrients, fiber and digestive enzymes.
The Amount Of Protein You Need
There are varying opinions on exactly how much protein we need. A very basic calculation depends on body mass and degree of physical activity. A low average assessment is 45-56 grams per day for sedentary or less physically active adults.
The best way to calculate your average is to use your body weight. The average sedentary (non-active) adult needs a minimum of 0.8g per kilogram or 0.3g per pound of body weight per day. For a 150 pound, sedentary person, this is equivalent to 45g per day, or about 6.5 ounces of animal or complete protein a day.
This is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The Daily Value (DV) found on food and supplement labels was developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers understand how a serving of food may or may not help them meet their RDA for specific nutrients.
Recently, there has been much criticism and analysis pointing out that most people need much more than that, and more protein in your diet will ensure better health as you get older. Recommended intakes to meet health and activity needs may range from 15% to 25% of daily calorie needs or higher.
For a more individualized calculation of your daily protein needs as well as other macro and micro nutrients; use this free USDA Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) tool by entering your height, weight, age, and activity level.
Types Of Protein Shakes
For clarity, there are three types of protein shake supplements.
- A Meal Replacement: There are no codified regulations for what can be labeled a meal replacement (MR). A MR should have 200‒400 calories with 1/3 from protein. Protein should be at least 15g with all 9 EAAs, and 25‒33% DV essential vitamins and minerals. Additionally, there should be at least 6g fiber and 6-15g fat.
Who should take this? – people who want to feel satiated from longer, control eating, lose weight, or feel that they may lack essential nutrients.
- A Fortified Protein Shake: This is a halfway option. There are usually added nutrients, fiber and/or digestive enzymes (lactase for whey). Compared to a meal replacement, calories will be lower and there will not be a complete nutrient profile.
Who should take this? – people who feel they need extra protein but could also benefit from added enzymes and a few nutrients. These are good for workouts or as a supplement taken with a meal.
- A Pure Protein Shake – Apart from protein, these have a very limited nutrient profile. The product range here is typically whey protein, casein, egg white protein, bone broth powers or plant proteins derived from hemp, rice, pea or a mixture of plant sources rich in proteins and EAAs.
Who should take this? – People who have good micro-nutritional intake but require extra protein minus the fats and cholesterol that protein rich foods often contain. These are good for muscle building, physically active people and those wishing to maintain a lean, healthy figure.
For all of these options, the protein content will be between 15‒25g of protein. There is no point in taking in more protein in one sitting as the body is limited in how much protein it can synthesize.
The best protein shakes for building muscle contain adequate calories, carbohydrates as well as protein. It’s important to have enough calories both before and after a workout so that your body does not break down existing muscle to get required energy, regardless of how much protein you consume.
Whey-based protein is a well-studied option for athletes and those interested in muscle growth. Casein protein is a slower-digesting protein than whey and some research favors this protein type for younger athletes when protein is consumed by itself (without added fat or carbohydrates).
While research doesn’t always agree, it’s generally recommended that these kinds of shakes be consumed 1 hour before your workout, or up to 1 hour after.
When people talk about ‘losing weight’, they actually mean to say ‘losing fat’. Muscle also adds weight but it’s more compact and can help you maintain a leaner, more fit look. However, if you don’t want a muscular physique, protein shakes can still help you maintain your figure by helping you lose unwanted fat, especially belly fat!
How? Digesting and metabolizing protein in the body requires a lot more calories (energy) than metabolizing fats, carbs and other foods.
Protein is also known to be a very satiating food and can help prevent you from overeating other calorie-rich foods. A protein rich meal, especially at breakfast, makes you feel fuller for longer, keeps blood sugar and insulin lower than a high carb breakfast and can reduce excess calorie intake later in the day.
Multiple studies have shown that if 25% of your daily calorie needs come from protein, you can cut food cravings by up to 60%. Increasing protein from 15% to 30% of total calories, leads to people consuming 441 fewer calories per day! Consuming extra protein will also ensure that the muscle tissue you have does not degrade which will help you maintain a more fit and toned physique.
If you have a well-balanced diet and all you need is some extra protein to build muscle or lose weight, then that’s fine. However, a fortified protein shake or a meal replacement offer more than just protein– they also contain other important nutrients for the human body.
There are many reasons why our daily food intake is not providing enough micro and macro nutritional nourishment. We can’t always get the best quality foods, the foods we eat are cooked incorrectly, or we just have bad eating days and stress also depletes the body. For optimal health, choose protein shakes rich in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients.
That said, protein shakes should be used as a supplement to your diet and not a replacement for all of your meals since they will rarely match the levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals of a high quality diet.
Flavors And Sweeteners
Bear in mind that a protein shake is something that most people drink regularly, maybe even everyday, for a few months at least. For this reason, you want to be able to mix it quickly and easily. Common liquids used are milk, soy (or other plant-based) milk, juice and/or water.
If you don’t like the taste, how many days do you think you’ll keep it up? For long term use and personal taste, a few nice flavors to choose from is always appreciated.
Unflavored protein may taste neutral or even have an off-putting taste. For this reason sugar, sweetener and/or other flavors may be added. Always check the sugar content to see if the included amount is in line with your goals. Also, natural sweeteners (like stevia and erythritol) are much better than artificial ones.
Reviews Of The Best Protein Shakes In 2019
It’s a challenge for anybody to pick out the most suitable protein shake, especially when there are so many good choices on the market. Our selection below is what we call “close wins”:
- Garden Of Life Meal Replacement – Best Protein Shake In 2019
- Designer Whey Natural 100% Whey Protein – Best for Men
- Loose And Slim Meal Replacement Shake – Best For Women
- KidzShake Vanilla Organic Protein Powder – Best For Kids
- Vega One Organic All-In-One Protein Shake – Best For Vegans
- RSP TrueFit Grass-fed Protein Shake – Best For Digestion
- NAKED Nutrition Protein Powder – Best Single Ingredient
Here are our picks for the Best Protein Shakes In 2019
1. Garden Of Life’s Meal Replacement – Best Protein Shake In 2019
We all have a lot of things to take care of every day. From family responsibilities, work, school and a hundred other items on the to-do-list. Why add more with worries about getting enough protein, vitamins or too many calories? Besides, when there’s no time to focus on just one thing, we need fewer and more diversely effective solutions.
The same goes for protein shakes. Why purchase a product which contains mostly protein when there are plenty of fortified protein shakes rich in micronutrients? That’s the definition of the ideal protein shake: natural as in the way we usually consume proteins, and still providing all 9 essential amino acids.
After careful consideration and evaluation, Garden Of Life’s Raw Organic Meal Replacement is the best product to meet all requirements:
- It’s vegan, suitable for everyone.
- It has a large range of vegetable and fruit nutrients– 13 vitamins and 8 minerals.
- The ingredients are organic.
- There are no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors or chemicals.
- It contains all 9 amino acids in the right amount.
- It comes in 4 flavors and 3 sizes.
Strictly speaking, this product is more of a meal replacement as the label states, but the protein content and profile is as good as any protein powder. The only downside to this product would be the price.
Another product from Garden Of Life for more active people is Protein Powder Sport: It’s meant for athletes and has 30 grams of protein per serving, including 5g of BCAAs and a higher amount of antioxidants for muscle repair and recovery.
2. Designer Whey Natural 100% Whey Protein – Best for Men
Whey protein is often the best protein option for those who are supplementing for physical activity and muscle building. Also, men’s daily nutrition needs are slightly different than those of women, and we chose Designer Whey Natural 100% Whey Protein for that very reason.
As discussed, the absolute minimum of protein required according to Daily Value recommendations is 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.36 / lb). So, the average male requires some 56g of protein per day while physically active men and athletes are often recommended 1.2g to 2.0g per kilogram of body weight (0.55g to 0.91g / lb). That’s about 1.5 to 2.5 times the recommended minimum.
Protein rich meats may also be high in saturated fats and unhealthy cholesterol, so it’s not a good idea to eat them in excess. For this reason, it is often a good choice for active men to get at least some of their protein needs from a good protein powder.
Why Designer Whey protein powder?
Designer Whey is a good choice because it has 2 of the 3 types of whey protein: whey concentrate and isolate. Compared to whey concentrate, whey isolate is more highly processed, faster acting and is easier to digest. Whey concentrate takes more time to process, while adding on a few more calories.
Designer Whey provides 20g of protein per serving from GMO free milk free from antibiotics and growth hormones (typically used on cows in the dairy industry). It is also free of all artificial colorants, flavors and uses stevia and monk fruit as a sweetener.
Best of all, it is fortified with extra calcium, vitamin D and 4 B vitamins. These are not only recommended for better men’s health, but they also help to synthesize proteins in post-workout recovery. Additionally, also for men, it has extra zinc for reproductive health as well as probiotics, digestive enzymes for the metabolism of the protein, and prebiotic fiber to support gut health.
Because there are only 110 calories per serving, it would be a good idea to also have a banana with this shake because men require additional potassium for better cardiovascular health. French vanilla flavor is good for blending and mixing.
What’s also great about this product is that you can also buy sachets which are perfect for putting in your sports bag or taking to work.
If all you want is just the protein (minus all the extras), why don’t you try YougloResearch™ Pure Bone Broth Powder? It comes from 100% grass-fed cows, is rich in collagen for joint health and dairy free.
3. LadyBoss Lean Premium Protein Shake– Best For Women
Many brands have products designed specifically for women. Although labels might read ‘for women’, only a few actually provide specific nutrients at amounts recommended for women, so many can be used for both men and women. LadyBoss, however, is specifically formulated for women.
For many women trying to lose weight, carbohydrates and calories are a big focus. However, any macronutrient—carbohydrates or proteins—in excess can cause you to put on unwanted weight.
Limiting carbohydrates is important because if your intake doesn’t match your activity level, your blood sugar rises which requires your body to produce more insulin. While the hormone insulin helps to remove sugar from the bloodstream, it also promotes weight and fat gain because insulin also acts as a storage hormone, driving extra calories into fat stores.
Besides limiting excess calories and especially excess carbs, another way to lose fat effectively is to build more muscle. The more muscle you grow with muscle-building exercise, the more fat you can burn, even while at rest!
Another factor is the desire to eat food or typical food cravings. Protein also helps here because it makes you feel full or satiated. Other macronutrients such as fiber do the same. Being properly nourished with sufficient nutrients will further reduce food cravings, and to achieve this you need to have optimal digestion too.
At the end of the day, an ideal product for women should have more than 10g of protein per serving, be low in added sugars and calories. Additionally, plant ingredients can provide calcium and folate for reproductive health as well as fiber (prebiotics) for satiety and to support gut bacteria.
Why LadyBoss Premium Protein Powder?
They use premium grass-fed whey and unlike many other shakes targeting women, LadyBoss does not contain any artificial sweeteners. It’s nutrient profile is designed to match the needs of women and it has added dietary support with digestive enzymes. Although it contains 3g of added sugar, the calorie count of 100 is actually quite low.
At first glance the protein content is only 16g or 27% DV and calcium DV 6%. However, when mixed with a glass of low-fat milk this will change– which is something a lot of makers and shakers forget about! The average glass of low-fat milk contains 8g protein and a further 29% DV calcium. This shake is actually a little low on fiber for probiotic support, so eat some good fruits or vegetables for breakfast too.
4. KidzShake’s Vanilla Organic Protein Powder – Best Protein Shake For Kids
Why would a kid need a protein or supplement shake? Of course, it’s better when children get what they need from mother nature herself. However, in today’s often hectic family life, with busy schedules and both parents working, this is a safe, tasty and nutritious drink that will put your mind at rest.
Good nutrition depends on quality produce, which unfortunately comes at a price these days. Furthermore, we can’t always be in control of what our kids are putting into their mouths, let alone forcing them to eat the nutritious stuff they don’t want to! And, when they’re not around, we fret about, “How healthy was the school lunch?” or, “What did they eat at their friend’s house?” Sometimes, it’s just better to be on the safe side.
If you’re thinking about extra nutrition for your kids, protein shakes need to be convenient, fun-looking and flavorful, but they also serve a different purpose. At a young age, children need lots of nutrients and not just proteins.
There are two ways protein supplements are packaged: powders that require mixing as in a shake, and on-the-go drinks. Many choose on-the-go protein shakes for their convenience, delicious taste, and of course, cool logos. However, they are slightly more expensive and come in small cans or bottles of 1 serving each.
Powder forms offers some benefits. They are more affordable, you can teach your children about environmental waste and besides, having to store 24 disposables in your refrigerator may not be practical. Best of all, you can easily make the shakes yourself for breakfast and that way you know that your child is actually drinking it!
Why Dr Rach’s KidzShake?
Our top choice therefore is Dr Rach’s KidzShake with organic protein powder, featuring 11 vitamins, 6 minerals with 10 grams of proteins and 90 calories per serving. The powder contains no GMOs, no fillers and no preservatives. What’s more, it is rich in probiotics, omega-3s, digestive enzymes, and fiber. Although Vanilla Cream is the most popular flavor, it is completely lactose and gluten free!
The best part? It’s available in 6 flavors!
If you would still prefer the on-the-go variety we can recommend this 12 pack Orgain Kids Protein Nutritional Shake. It contains 8g of organic milk and whey protein, 21 vitamins & minerals and 200 calories per serving. Also, it’s non GMO, carrageenan free, soy free and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Orgain also offers an on-the-go plant-based protein shake as well.
5. Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake – Best Protein Shake For Vegans
Even before the vegan protein shakes became popular, there was a huge debate among health enthusiasts whether or not a vegan diet causes protein deficiency. Thankfully, that argument has now been settled and you can be confident that Vega One Organic is another excellent choice for you.
What sparked this debate was that, in the early days, an increasing number of vegans were found to be deficient in protein. At first, it was thought that plants alone, not supplemented by dairy, contained fewer amino acids and were thus to blame. This, however, was proved not to be the case.
Sure, a piece of meat indeed contains complete amino acids while a piece of broccoli doesn’t. However, a variety of vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and/or grains eaten in the right combination, provide the same amount of protein as a piece of meat, if not more. Vegetarians and vegans should no longer be in fear of protein deficiency and should feel confident they can meet their nutrient needs.
It is safe to believe, therefore, that a quality vegan protein powder provides as many amino acids as a non-vegan one, such as whey or casein (isolated, slow absorbing milk protein).
There are two types of vegan protein shakes:
- Single-ingredient: made of one superfood that contains all essential amino acids and less likely to cause allergic reactions.
- Multiple-ingredients: many ingredients, more complex flavor, may cause allergic or intolerance reactions in sensitive individuals.
Some prefer the single-ingredient shake for its simplicity. An environmental advantage of multiple-ingredient shakes is they utilize (perfectly good) vegetables and fruits discarded for sale– because they don’t have that perfect look!
Why Vega One Organic all-in-one shake?
- It contains 20g of organically derived protein, 150 calories and 1g sugar.
- Additionally, it has omega-3 fats, probiotics and fibre.
- Micro and macro-nutrients come from blueberries, acai, spirulina, kale, quinoa, chia seeds, maca root, mushrooms and more.
- A good quantity of raw ingredients have been saved from disposal.
As a plus, it comes in 9 flavors and 4 canisters sizes– all made of recycled plastic.
6. RSP TrueFit Grass Fed Protein Shake – Best Protein Shake For Better Digestion
When it comes to improving digestion, two easily mistaken terms that appear in articles are prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are actual bacteria, whereas prebiotics are the fibers that feed the bacteria. This TrueFit protein shake gives the best quantities of both and that is why we chose it for you.
As mentioned above, prebiotics are foods that provide the right kind of fiber to enrich the bacterial environment inside your digestive tract. In layman’s terms, it’s something that makes the bacteria in your belly happy, and happy bacteria equals happy eating.
“Probiotics” is the term term that refers to these beneficial bacteria. We already have them in our gut but for several reasons, it is necessary to add extra.
Why RSP TrueFit grass-fed protein shake?
With that cleared up, let’s take a look at the selection: RSP TrueFit Grass Fed Protein Shake. This product comes in one flavor only and is packed with probiotics and fiber (prebiotics) to help bust belly bloat and improve digestion. Although the vitamin and mineral content doesn’t look very comprehensive, it is a great option for those who dislike taking probiotics in tablet or capsule form.
This shake also has 8g of fibre and 25g (50% DV) of protein– both of which are pretty high for protein shakes outside of the mass muscle bulk category. Moreover, this RSP product is made with organic ingredients with no artificial flavors and it’s gluten free.
This is a great breakfast or snack choice for both busy men and women. Don’t forget to eat good fibrous foods like fruits and vegetables during the day for their higher nutritional and prebiotic content.
7. NAKEDNutrition Protein Powder – Best Protein Shake With A Single Ingredient
No, we hadn’t forgotten about the single-ingredient protein shake! One of the main reasons for choosing this kind of product is to avoid allergic reactions and sensitivities such as lactose intolerance. Naked Rice is another excellent product.
The thing is, consumers often don’t clearly understand what a single-ingredient protein powder actually is. A product with ‘whey protein’ on the label may still contain different sources of dairy protein – like concentrate, casein and others. It’s best to have a glance over the ingredients list before purchasing.
A key concept behind the brand NAKEDNutrition is, “Nutrition with nothing to hide”. Its focus is to create products from a pure source, and then finely ground to a powder. The following are single-ingredients used in their products:
- YELLOW PEA and BROWN RICE: yellow split pea and brown rice are considered complete proteins when paired together.
- MILK WHEY and CASEIN: both these proteins, extracted from cow’s milk, are complete proteins. Casein is processed more slowly by the body.
- GOAT WHEY: similar to cow milk, goat milk whey protein contains all 6 essential amino acids.
As can be seen, there are vegan and non-vegan options. The best option, suitable for most people is NAKED RICE or NAKED PEA – not just in terms of the amino acid profile, but also for those worried about allergies and lactose intolerance.
NAKED RICE and PEA both have all 9 essential amino acids (3-BCAAs) though not in concentrations high enough to equate to complete proteins by themselves. The ideal choice would be to combine these two products together.
Both products have also been tested for heavy metals by an independent lab.
Alternatively, for a single ingredient protein powder, we also highly recommend Nutiva Hemp Protein. It’s branched-chain amino acid profile isn’t as good and it only has 15g of protein per serving, but it is much higher in fiber, iron, magnesium and zinc. It is completely organic with no sweeteners or additives.
A Comparison Table Of The Best Protein Shakes in 2019
|Product||DV PROTEIN |
|Garden of Life Meal Replacement||20g / 40% DV||Meal Replacement||Complete nutrients. Probiotics and enzymes. Vegan / Organic|
|Designer Whey Protein||20g / 40% DV||Fortified Protein Shake||Added nutrients for men. Organic.|
|LadyBoss Premium Protein||15g / 27% DV||Fortified Protein Shake||Balanced nutrition for women. Organic.|
|Dr. Rach’s KidzShake||10g / 20% DV||Fortified Protein Shake||No sugar. High DV nutrition. Organic.|
|Vega-One Organic All-in-one Shake||20g / 24% DV||Fortified Protein Shake||50+% DV vitamin content. Vegan / Organic|
|RSP TrueFit Grass Fed Protein Shake||25g / 50% DV||Fortified Protein Shake||Packed with probiotics and 8g of fiber. Organic.|
|NAKEDNutrition Protein Powder||25g / 50% DV||Pure Protein Powder||Made only from rice. Allergy and lactose free. Vegan / Organic.|
We hope that you have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the importance of protein in your diet. The great protein shakes and powders recommended here can be used as supplements to your everyday, healthy eating routine. They can be consumed for breakfast, after a tough workout or physically demanding day or as a snack to help meet your daily protein needs. Enjoy!