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It’s a bit of a catch-22 trying to find one of the best protein powders that’s both low-calorie and free of sugar substitutes because food and supplement companies use sugar substitutes to reduce the carb and calorie count, so there’s more room for the good stuff.  While many of us don’t mind slurping down some sucralose in the name of accurate macro counting, others actively avoid artificial sweeteners (We do have a roundup of the best sugar-free protein powder, though, if you’d like to peruse). These sweeteners are manufactured compounds designed to mimic the taste of sugar without delivering the same number of calories as sugar. 

That’s why if you ever see a version of a dessert or beverage that’s labeled as “reduced sugar” or “diet,” it’s a pretty fair bet it contains some artificial sweeteners. As a dietitian, I’m not entirely against them, as they can help improve the quality of life of certain populations, such as those with diabetes. 

I can understand the preference for keeping artificial sweeteners out of your diet the same as I understand those who avoid added sugars altogether. So, in that spirit, let’s take a look at what the GGR team has tested, rated, and declared the best protein powders without artificial sweeteners. 

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.

Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners 

Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners Overall: Transparent Labs Whey Isolate

Good for: People who want both a lack of sugar substitutes and a lack of fillers

Best Overall

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • High-quality whey protein isolate
  • 28 grams of protein per serving
  • 15 flavors to choose from
  • $1.99 per serving

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High-quality protein
  • No artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or preservatives
  • Lots of flavors to choose from
  • Good customer reviews
  • Whey isolate may be easier to digest for some people

Cons

  • Price per serving on the high end

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is a clean, high-quality protein powder that contains 28 grams of protein per serving.

Transparent Labs is a brand known for its high-quality, clean, and third-party-tested sports nutrition supplements. Their grass-fed whey protein powder is non-GMO, made with natural ingredients, no artificial sweeteners or food dyes, and is gluten-free. 

GGR Performance Editor Anthony O’Reilly, CPT, CNC, drank Transparent Labs grass-fed whey protein powder for a month and was a huge fan. He says, “As other customers have reported in reviews, I did not experience any digestive issues with this protein powder like I have with others in the past.”

RELATED: Best Protein Powders for Sensitive Stomachs

We gave the protein powder a rating of 5 in taste after our team tried the Peppermint Hot Chocolate around the holiday season. Based on Anthony’s feedback, we also gave it a 5 out of 5 for solubility. “When mixed with milk or water, it mixes very well, and I feel full for quite some time afterward,” Anthony adds.

Our tester drinking Transparent Labs 100 Whey.

Transparent Labs Whey Isolate also gets a 5 out of 5 for third-party testing and a 4.5 rating for formulation, with a whopping 28 grams of protein per serving. Certified by Informed Choice, the label shows the weight of each ingredient it includes for full transparency. There are only five natural ingredients and it’s sweetened by stevia. 

That said, we gave a 3.5 out of 5 for price, as $1.99 is a bit high for the market average compared to other protein powders our team has reviewed. However, it’s worth mentioning third-party tested protein powders are minimally processed and, therefore, a bit more expensive.

Interested in learning more about Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate? Check out our full Transparent Labs Protein review for more. 

Price per serving$1.99
FlavorsMilk Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cinnamon French Toast, Strawberry, Mocha, Vanilla Peanut Butter, French Vanilla, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie
Protein per serving28 g
IngredientsGrass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate, Peanut Flour, Cocoa Powder, Natural Chocolate Flavor, Sodium Chloride, Stevia Extract

Best-Tasting Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners: XWERKS Grow

Good for: Those who want an indulgent flavor from their sugar-free protein powder 

Best Tasting

XWERKS Grow

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Natural, healthy, convenient, and tasty way to get protein
  • Uses a microfiltration process to preserve critical biological nutrients in raw whey
  • Removes unwanted fats and carbohydrates
  • All flavors are naturally sweetened
  • Nicely flavored, easily digested, and low-carb protein powder
  • Promotes muscle growth and repair

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Keto-friendly
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Sourced from naturally raised grass-fed cows
  • Tastes great
  • Soy- and gluten-free
  • Convenient

Cons

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

XWERKS Grow whey protein isolate provides a solid blend of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in a whey protein isolate. It comes in a widely-loved range of flavors which are naturally sweetened, so they’re easily digested.

It was only a matter of time before XWERKS appeared on this list, as it’s a brand that ditches all the bells and whistles for the good stuff. It varies depending on the flavor you choose. A typical serving contains zero to 2 grams of fat, 23 to 25 grams of protein, and 1 to 2 grams of carbohydrates. By the way, this makes it a great option to safely increase the protein intake of those on a keto diet. Like XWERKS Lift Creatine, their whey protein powder only includes ingredients necessary for flavor and mixing, so we awarded it a 5 out of 5 in formulation. 

Seven GGR team members tested XWERKS Grow, one being Anthony O’Reilly, who tried the chocolate flavor. All of our testers gave a 5 out of 5 for taste. Anthony states, “It’s super smooth and probably the best protein powder I’ve ever tasted. There’s no need for a blender ball for it to dissolve, either; it’s a total 5 out of 5 in solubility.” 

A bag of XWERKS Grow stands proud and lonely in a nice looking gym.

At nearly $2 per serving, though, we gave Grow a 3.5 out of 5 rating for price, as that may be tough for most budgets. 

If you want more information about this protein powder, read our full XWERKS Grow Whey Protein review.

Price per serving$1.97
FlavorsChocolate, Vanilla, Peanut Butter, Strawberry
Protein per serving25.8 – 27.8 g
IngredientsWhey protein isolate, natural flavoring, xanthan gum, and stevia

Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners For Flavor Variety: Legion Whey+

Good for: Active individuals who like to change up their protein powder flavors often

Best For Flavor Variety

Legion Whey+

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Sourced from small dairy farms in Ireland
  • Over 5 g of BCAAs per serving
  • Non-GMO and animal welfare approved
  • Third-party tested for banned substances

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Low in carbs and fat
  • Natural ingredients
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Made with ethically-sourced milk
  • Lots of flavor options

Cons

  • Comparably high cost per serving
  • May be clumpy when mixed
  • Some flavors have mixed reviews

Bottom Line

Legion Whey+ is a clean, sustainable protein powder that also is macro-friendly and a great option for anyone looking for a clean protein supplement.

Quite a few members of team GGR are loyal to Legion Athletics, especially Legion’s grass-fed whey protein powder, which never seems to run out of flavor ideas. With 16 flavors ranging from Banana Bread to Fruity Cereal—my personal favorite—we had to crown it the best protein powder for flavor variety. 

Our expert team rates Legion 4 out of 5 in taste after trying the Cinnamon Cereal flavor, which intends to give you both a hit of essential amino acids and a nostalgia for Cinnamon Toast Crunch. We also gave a 4 out of 5 in solubility. “I got some clumps when using a shaker bottle to mix Legion’s protein powder,” Anthony explains. 

RELATED: How To Mix Protein Without a Shaker

legion whey protein bag bottle

Legion’s formulation got a 4 out of 5. Even though this protein supplement contains all-natural ingredients, some flavors have a longer ingredient list than other powders on our list. Those ingredients include xanthan gum and sunflower lecithin, which “can cause digestive issues in some people,” Anthony rightly points out. 

Lastly, Legion Whey+ protein is $1.99 per serving before taxes, so we gave it a 3 out of 5 for cost. Though we appreciate the high-quality ingredients and lack of proprietary blends, it’s a relatively high price for a protein powder that’s not third-party tested by globally recognized supplement testing programs like Informed Choice. 

That said, be sure to check out our full Legion Whey Protein review. Anthony even shares his protein French toast recipe, which you can make without artificial sweeteners!

Price Per Serving$1.99
FlavorsDutch Chocolate, Cinnamon Cereal, Apple Pie, Banana Bread, Birthday Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cocoa Cereal, Cookies & Cream, French Vanilla, Fruity Cereal, Honey Cereal, Mocha Cappuccino, Salted Caramel, Strawberry Banana, Unflavored, Chocolate Hazelnut
Protein Per Serving22 g
IngredientsWhey Protein Isolate, Natural Flavors, Stevia Leaf Extract, Sea Salt

Best Vegan Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners: Ritual Essential Protein 18+

Good for: Those who want a dairy-free protein that actually tastes good

Best Vegan

Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+

GGR Score: 4.13 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Organic pea protein powder
  • 20 g of protein per serving
  • Formulated to support adults 18-49
  • Third-party tested
  • 150 mg of choline per serving 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Complete amino acid profile
  • Non-GMO
  • USA-grown peas

Cons

  • Only comes in one flavor
  • Price per serving is on the high end

Bottom Line

Ritual’s Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+ is specifically designed for 18-to-49 year-olds with 20 grams of protein per serving and 150 milligrams of chlorine (to support brain and nervous system function). This protein powder from Ritual is third-party tested and Informed Sport Certified, which means this formula has been screened for over 250 banned substances.

Ritual is a bit of an unconventional protein supplement in many ways. For one, you must sign up for a monthly membership (and monthly shipments) to purchase. Second, this protein powder is a certified non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free pea protein made from organic yellow peas. 

RELATED: Pea Protein Vs Whey

Kate Meier, NASM-CPT, USAW-L1, CF-L1, and GGR senior director of content tried Ritual. Vanilla is the only available flavor, so that’s what she went with and gave this reason for her 4 out of 5 taste rating: 

“It doesn’t taste too ‘plant-like’ like the flavor most plant-based protein powders tend to have. I would actually be okay drinking it with just water instead of milk, but the aftertaste does remind me of chalk just a bit.” She gives a perfect 5 out of 5 for solubility, however.

“No floaters and it dissolves completely,” says Kate, who tried the plant-based protein in some fruit smoothies, along with just a shaker. “I was shocked at how good the consistency was for a dairy-free protein. It’s not too thick but not too watery even when mixed with water.”

RELATED: Plant-Based Protein Powder Benefits

ritual essential shake 18+ in blender next to bag

We did give it a 1 out of 5 for price, though, based on our GGR testing criteria. The average price per serving is between $1.25 and $2, so lower scores are given to powder more than $1.90 per serving. Ritual is $2.66 per serving, and you don’t get to choose your flavor, so the rating is low. 

If you’re wondering if pea protein powder is worth it, studies have shown it has very similar leucine content1—one of the BCAAs most responsible for muscle growth—to whey protein. It’s also a great option for those sensitive to lactose. 

We also gave Ritual 18+ a 5 out of 5 formulation, as the protein powder supplies 8 grams of essential amino acids. Additionally, if you’re like me and aren’t a fan of the aftertaste of stevia, you’ll take comfort knowing Ritual uses monk fruit extract as a sweetener. 

Finally, we gave it a score of 5 out of 5 for third-party testing. Kate adds “It’s rare to find a sports nutrition supplement that’s tested by both Informed Sport and NSF for Sport!” 

If you want to read Kate’s full experience with Ritual, read our Ritual Protein Powder review.

Price per serving$2.66
FlavorsVanilla
Protein per serving23 g
IngredientsOrganic pea protein, Natural flavor, Organic coconut medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, Xanthan gum, Salt, Sunflower lecithin, Reb-M (from fermented sugarcane), Mixed tocopherols, Organic monk fruit (Luo han guo) extract

Best Whey Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners: Momentous Grass-Fed Whey

Good for: People who want a whey protein that’s easy on their stomach

Best Whey

Momentous Grass-Fed Whey

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Grass-fed whey protein isolate 
  • Cold-pressed with a micro-processing filtration 
  • ProHydrolase enzyme blend 
  • Protein is sourced from Irish cows

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Clean
  • Third-party verified
  • Mixes well
  • High-quality
  • Bioavailable

Cons

  • Unflavored may clump when mixing
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

If you are willing to pay a premium price for a high-quality grass-fed whey protein, the Momentous brand is a solid choice.

Momentous makes their whey protein in collaboration with sports performance specialists and registered dietitians. The milk they use is sourced from European, grass-fed cows and is cold processed, which theoretically protects the protein from denaturing.

Caine Wilkes, a GGR senior staff writer and Olympic athlete, gave Momentous a 4 out of 5 for taste after trying the vanilla. “When mixed with only water, it doesn’t have any flavor,” Caine says. “It tastes a lot better with milk,; like vanilla bean ice cream, and requires no effort to mix for a good consistency.” That said, he gave the powder a perfect 5 for solubility. 

RELATED: Should You Mix Your Protein Shake with Milk or Water?

Close up view looking down on a hand scooping Momentous Grass-Fed Whey Protein into a stainless steel mug.

For formulation, we gave it a 4. It’s relatively low-calorie because of the low content of carbs and fats. The highlight, however, is the digestive enzymes. Momentous contains Prohydrolase, a cocktail of digestive enzymes that help the gut break down amino acids for smoother digestion. 

A study conducted in 20202 showed that ProHydrolase did increase levels of amino acids more quickly compared to the placebo in those who are active and lift weights. Theoretically, it’s posited that this could help enhance muscle recovery, but more research is needed.  

Momentous does cost $2.70 per serving which makes it the most costly protein powders on this list, so we had to give a rating of 1 for price. There are also only 24 servings per bag, so plan accordingly if you’re used to a full month’s supply. 

Check out our full Momentous Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein review

Price per serving$2.70
FlavorsUnflavored, Vanilla, Chocolate
Protein per serving20 g
IngredientsGrass Fed Whey Protein Isolate, ProHydrolase

Best Budget Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners: Orgain Organic Grass-Fed Whey

Good for: Individuals looking for an organic protein powder that’s affordable

Best Budget

Orgain Grass Fed Whey Protein

GGR Score: 3.75 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 21 grams of grass-fed whey protein per serving 
  • Gluten free, soy free, no sugar added, kosher, non-GMO, carrageenan free
  • Available in vanilla bean and chocolate fudge
  • 100% New Zealand-sourced grass-fed whey protein

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Mixes well
  • Clean ingredients
  • Virtually sugar free
  • non-GMO certified

Cons

  • Contains stevia extract and erythritol
  • Mixed reviews on taste

Bottom Line

Orgain Organic Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder delivers 21 grams of clean, grass-fed whey protein that's great on its own or when used for baking.

GGR expert tester Anthony O’Reilly, CPT, CNC, gave Orgain Organic a 4.5 out of 5 for price. At  $2 per serving—oftentimes closer to $1.50 on Amazon—the price per value seems great for a certified organic protein powder. As for taste, he gave a 4.5 out of 5, stating, “The vanilla is just okay. Nothing offensive, but nothing to write home about either.”

The feedback for solubility was similarly lukewarm. “Some clumps floated to the top, but nothing crazy,” so Anthony gave it a 4 out of 5 for solubility. For the formulation, we gave it a 3.5 out of 5 rating, and hoo boy, there’s some stuff to unpack here. 

For starters, you need two scoops to get to 21 grams of protein, which could inspire dread in those sensitive to lactose or whose stomachs can’t handle a large volume of protein powder. Furthermore, the primary protein source in this powder is whey protein concentrate, which has a higher lactose content than isolate.

RELATED: Whey Protein Isolate Vs. Concentrate

Orgain Vegan Protein Powder

One serving also contains 11 grams of carbohydrates, which could cause a bigger spike in blood sugar compared to other protein powders. Finally, Orgain whey is sweetened with both stevia and sugar alcohols, specifically erythritol. 

While both are technically natural sweeteners, the latter can have some side effects as sugar alcohols aren’t completely digested by the small intestine3. This means as the bacteria in your gut tries to break them down, bloating and gas may occur. 

Price per serving$1.50
FlavorsCreamy Chocolate Fudge, French Vanilla
Protein per serving21 g
IngredientsGrass Fed Whey Protein Concentrate, Organic Erythritol, Organic Creamer Base (Organic Acacia, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Inulin, Organic Rice Dextrins, Organic Rice Bran Extract, Organic Rosemary Extract), Natural Flavors, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sea Salt, Potassium Chloride, Organic Stevia

Best Organic Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners: Organifi Complete Protein

Good for: Individuals willing to pay a little extra for a clean protein powder 

Organifi Complete Protein

Organifi Complete Protein

GGR Score: 3.7 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 20 g of plant-based protein per serving
  • Contains whole food vitamins and minerals
  • Certified organic ingredients
  • Soy-free, gluten-free, and whey-free
  • Available in chocolate and vanilla flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Certified organic
  • Minimal ingredients
  • Whole food vitamins and minerals
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Soy-free, gluten-free, and whey-free

Cons

  • Only available in two flavors
  • Pricier protein

Bottom Line

Made with certified organic ingredients, Organifi Complete Protein is a plant-based protein blend with 20 grams of protein per serving. Available in chocolate and vanilla flavors, this protein is soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, making it great for people avoiding certain allergens—although it does contain tree nuts (coconuts).

Organifi is a 100% organic, dairy-free, and soy-free protein supplement made with a “complete protein blend” including pea protein, flax seed protein, quinoa, and pumpkin seed protein. We had an expert tester, CPT and CF-L1, test the vanilla flavor.

He gave Organifi a 3 out of 5 for taste, saying, “The oat milk that I mixed it with likely overpowered the flavor of the vanilla, since the vanilla is very mild. It tastes more like a buttermilk pancake than vanilla.”

However, he was absolutely floored by the cost, so we had to give a 1 out of 5 rating. “You get a great feeling of fullness after drinking it, but the price is just ridiculous,” he says. “This isn’t a vegan protein I would recommend if you’re a beginner just looking to try one out, and the price is a big reason.” Indeed, one tub of 30 servings costs about $79.95, which comes out to $2.67 per erving. For most people, $80 for a tub of protein is hard to justify. 

RELATED: The Best Alternatives to Whey Protein

That said, we gave the formulation a 4 out of 5 as there are a few interesting ingredients. For starters, though the blend of plant proteins is seemingly random, they actually combine to make an amino acid profile similar to whey protein. Furthermore, the dietary supplement contains digestive enzymes with amylase, cellulase, protease, lactase, and lipase.

Man drinking Organifi Complete Protein and holding the container

Finally, although it’s sweetened with monk fruit and stevia extract, the protein also contains coconut sugar. Coconut sugar, while slightly healthier than refined white sugar due to its potential effect on blood glucose levels4, is still an added sugar. 

So, if you don’t mind an extra 3 grams of added sugar and digging a little deeper in your pockets, Organifi is an option. Read our full Organifi Complete Protein review

Price per serving$2.67
FlavorsVanilla, Chocolate
Protein per serving20g
IngredientsOrganic Pea (seed) Protein, Organic Quinoa (grain) Trim, Organic Pumpkin (seed) Protein, Organic Coconut (fruit) Milk Powder, Amylase, Protease, Lipase, Lactase, Cellulase, Organic Agave (Prebiotic) Powder, Organic Flax (seed) Powder, Organic Acacia (Prebiotic) Powder, Organic Fruit and Vegetable Blend (Tomato, Broccoli, Carrot, Shiitake, Cranberry, Apple, Orange).Other Ingredients: Organic Cocoa (fruit) Powder, Organic Coconut Sugar, Sea Salt, Organic Chocolate Flavor, Organic Stevia (leaf) Powder, Organic Luo Han Guo (Monk Fruit) Extract

Other Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners We Researched

  • Naked Whey: We really like this one, but it’s unflavored, which inherently means no artificial sweeteners, so it didn’t make the list.
  • Klean Athlete Klean Isolate: This one is very expensive, but we like the formulation a lot. 
  • Truvani Plant Protein: One of our favorite-tasting plant-based protein powders, but again, it’s very expensive at about $2.50 per serving. 

How We Picked and Tested the Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners

If you’re reading this, it’s a safe bet that you’re looking to keep your intake of artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes low. So, we took that into account, along with some other factors, when compiling this list. 

Other Artificial Ingredients

If our readers are looking for a protein powder without artificial sweeteners, they probably wouldn’t trust us too much if we gave them a list of protein powders full of fillers, additives, and other artificial ingredients. So, we wanted to be sure the brands we chose kept these ingredients to a minimum. 

RELATED: Protein Powder for Recovery

Legion Whey Protein Powder

Trusted Brands

As part of our mission, we strive to recommend brands that aren’t just well-known in the fitness industry but are trusted for their integrity and ability to deliver high-quality products. As a team of dietitians, trainers, and athletes, we have personally used all of the products listed, so we know first-hand what we’re recommending and wouldn’t pass along a product we didn’t believe in. 

Protein Content

Though we’ve debunked the myth5 that the body can only absorb 20 grams of protein at a time, there’s still a benefit to choosing a protein powder containing 20 to 25 grams of protein per serving. 

Not only can it make your protein intake more efficient if you’re trying to hit certain macros, but the reason that myth came about in the first place is the misinterpretation of studies that have shown that 20 grams of protein is where the pathway for maximal muscle building begins6

Third Party Testing

Though it’s not a requirement to choose a third-party tested protein powder, we’d like to say that that’s our preference if all things are ideal. Even if a protein powder isn’t third-party tested, dietary supplements with transparent labeling and no proprietary blends tend to be more reliable in terms of safety and potency. 

Benefits of Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners

Whether you’re going for weight loss, better muscle recovery, or you just want a low-calorie protein source without sugar substitutes, there are plenty of benefits. Let’s look at a few reasons to take protein powder without artificial sweeteners. 

A person holds a container of Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate.

Better for Sensitive Stomachs

Though the science is far from conclusive, some research shows that zero-calorie sweeteners may negatively impact your gut health, especially if you already have a sensitive tummy. Thus unflavored protein and protein without artificial sweeteners are a much better option. Lactose-free protein powder is a good thing to try if you have this issue. 

Less Aftertaste

If you’ve ever had a drink with the common sweeteners saccharin and aspartame, you know they have a pretty sharp and noticeable aftertaste. This means that even if you choose your favorite flavor, it might still be an unpleasant drinking experience. 

Though sweeteners like sucralose taste a little close to cane sugar with much less of an aftertaste, it’s still a manufactured sugar, and it’d be cheating to include it on this list. 

Appetite Control

Foods with too much refined sugar, cane sugar, and corn syrup tend to spike blood glucose, which can throw off your hunger cues later in the day. They also just aren’t generally good for wellness when taken in excess. Because many people take supplements like casein protein powder to prevent overeating (especially during weight loss), taking a protein powder with a lot of added sugar defeats the purpose. 

Shelf-Stable & Portable

A man holds up a bag of Momentous Whey Protein while drinking a shake in the background.

One of the many beauties of protein powder is that you can store and carry it nearly anywhere. This is important as many food sources of essential amino acids, like eggs, cheese, seafood, and poultry, usually need to be refrigerated. However, having a portable source of protein that you only need to add water to makes protein intake more convenient for busy adults on the go. 

Helps Meet Protein Needs

If you’re over 50, train a very high volume, have a large amount of muscle mass, or are going through a cutting cycle, your protein needs may be higher than most. These high protein needs can be difficult (and expensive) to meet through food alone. 

RELATED: Mass Gainer Pros and Cons

This is where protein powder comes in. Mix unflavored protein powder in your food, make protein smoothies for breakfast, or have protein shakes before bed to boost your numbers. Whichever way you choose to fit it in, drinking protein powder is much easier than eating a meal with an equal amount of protein. 

Dosing and Interactions 

Dosing for your protein powder should be as directed by the label, unless you’re advised otherwise by a registered dietitian or other healthcare professional. 

An image of a woman drinking Ritual Essential protein powder for pregnancy

Very high doses of protein powder can cause several side effects, such as intestinal distress, acne, nausea, thirst, bloating, and headaches. However, protein powder is generally very safe, unless you have liver disease, kidney problems, or lactose or milk sensitivities.

Third-Party Testing

The third-party certification of protein powders isn’t necessary, but it can provide extra protection and is always our first pick.

The brands that proudly bear the seal of third-party testing also inform you that an impartial source has tested their protein powder and has found that it is free of heavy metals, banned substances, or other harmful ingredients. Some of which may have been added accidentally during processing or added intentionally. 

RELATED: High-Protein Foods For Muscle-Building

If you’re an athlete who has to submit to drug testing, it’s recommended you only choose third-party tested supplements of any kind, not just protein powder, to limit your exposure to ingredients that may be harmful to your overall wellness. 

Buying Guide: What To Look For in Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners

Want to shop for a protein powder without zero-calorie sweeteners? Here are some other things to look out for while you’re on the hunt:

Sugar Content

If you think artificial sweeteners are bad, wait until you hear about sugar. Hundreds of studies have shown the association between sugar and chronic inflammation7 in the body. 

An image of Xwerks Grow protein

The reason this is important is that chronic inflammation leads to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes if it gets bad enough. While a little sugar here and there is fine, if you plan on chugging your protein powder copiously and often, it could start to take a toll. 

RELATED: Best Low-Sugar Protein Bars

Presence of Sugar Alcohols

Most of us have already heard of aspartame (aka Nutrasweet or Equal), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and sucralose (Splenda). However, fewer are familiar with the likes of xylitol and erythritol which are technically not artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners have zero calories, but sugar alcohols have about 2.6 calories per gram, meaning that products that use sugar alcohols can still claim to be “sugar-free” but not calorie-free. 

As mentioned, these products can cause serious GI distress if taken in excess, which is why I caution my athletes against consuming them before any type of performance, especially a competition. However, natural sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia extract do not have the same effects. 

Protein Source

Whey protein isolate is probably the most commonly consumed form of protein supplement in various forms, be it protein bars, protein shakes, or even protein chips. However, we realize it’s not the best option for everyone, especially those who can’t handle lactose. 

RELATED: Best Protein Chips

So, we wanted to choose protein powders for a variety of diets and digestive systems. This means choosing lactose-free protein powder that contains sources of protein that still deliver the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth and maintenance. 

Price

A clean protein powder that’s free of artificial sweeteners, fillers, and additives can come at a price—literally. It’s an unfortunate truth that higher quality means higher cost. Though powders full of maltodextrin and corn syrup are more affordable, this may also mean they’re lower quality and, in some cases, have less protein.

While protein powder is hardly a superfood, it’s likely going to be something you’ll be ingesting often. So, it’s important to keep the price per serving low so you don’t break the bank in the name of gains. 

Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners: FAQs

Which protein shake does not have artificial sweeteners?

Plenty of shakes on the market don’t contain artificial sweeteners. The protein powders on our list are a great place to start, but having a good understanding of protein powder labels can help you avoid sweeteners when shopping for other brands as well. 

What is the safest protein powder to take?

Since most protein powders are generally safe to take when taken as directed for healthy adults, no one brand could be named the safest. However, choosing a protein powder that is third-party tested may help minimize your exposure to potentially harmful ingredients. 

Is there a protein powder that isn’t sweet?

Choosing an unflavored protein is probably your best bet if you are looking for a protein powder that isn’t sweet, as most protein powder supplements are designed to be hyper palatable to encourage consumption. 

Which protein powder is best without side effects?

Most protein powders won’t cause you any noticeable or harmful side effects. However, some protein supplements may not be appropriate if you suffer from allergies or sensitivity to the ingredients, such as lactose or dairy. In this case, it’s best to simply avoid these ingredients. 
RELATED: Whey Protein Side Effects

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

References

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