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From the roster of product testers that brought you best whey protein powder, best pre-workout, and best mass gainer, we now bring you the best protein shakes for when scooping and shaking is simply not an option. (Yes, those times do happen.) 

This guide to the best protein shakes wasn’t created by a faceless internet forum anon. This guide is the culmination of weeks of product testing and tasting by our team of certified personal trainers, competitive weightlifters, nutrition coaches, triathletes, and workout fanatics. We personally ordered, unboxed, and tested more than 20 pre-made protein shakes to determine which are the best. I’m a certified sports nutrition coach who worked with several registered dietitians to put each product through Garage Gym Reviews’ multi-point rating system, evaluating each on factors that include:

  • Formulation: We rated whether the macronutrient breakdown is ideal based on scientifically-backed evidence, including protein content per serving.
  • Ingredients: We favor products with minimal ingredients or those that avoid a significant amount of artificial ingredients.
  • Price: Using market standards, we rated products based on if they fell within a reasonable price range.

Ahead, learn about some of the best pre-made protein shakes on the market for on-the-go days when you need a quick, easy, and tasty high-protein snack or meal replacement shake.

RELATED: Best Protein Powder

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 Shakes in 2024

Best Protein Shake Overall: Fairlife CorePower High-Protein Milk Shake

Good for: Folks searching for the best-tasting protein shake with over 40 grams of protein per serving

Best Overall

Fairlife Core Power

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids
  • Ultra-filtered milk makes for high-quality protein
  • Ready to drink and lactose free
  • Helps to aid in post-workout recovery

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Ultra-filtered, lactose free
  • 42 g of protein
  • Low in sugar
  • Low cost per serving

Cons

  • Contains carrageenan
  • Not many flavor options

Bottom Line

Fairlife Core Power is a great option for those looking for a basic protein drink that tastes like a milkshake.

The Fairlife CorePower High-Protein Milk Shake snags this spot as the best overall protein shake for its high marks in taste, texture, and protein content. 

Certified personal trainer and GGR performance editor Anthony O’Reilly remarks that the texture is “like milk” and the Elite Vanilla flavor “tastes like my childhood vanilla ice cream cone but in protein form—slightly malted and you can truly taste the vanilla.” A 5 out of 5 on taste.

There are two versions of these Fairlife bottled protein shakes, regular and elite. The elite versions contain more protein—a whopping 42 grams compared to the still-good 26 grams in the regular version. 

fairlife core power bottle in hand

While the protein content per serving remains steady (26 or 42 grams), the counts for calories, sugar, fat, carbs, and micronutrients vary depending on which flavor you get. Regardless, the nutrient profile across the board is solid. 

Our one complaint about the Fairlife shakes is that they contain a multitude of sweetener types. In the vanilla flavor, there are four: Monk fruit juice concentrate, stevia leaf extract, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose. This isn’t inherently problematic, but something to watch out for a triple-check if you tend to have adverse reactions to sugar alternatives.

RELATED: Best BCAA Supplements

Calories per serving170 or 230
Protein per serving26 or 42 g
Fat per serving3.5 to 4.5 g depending on flavor
Carbohydrates per serving6 or 8 g depending on flavor
FlavorsVanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry Banana, Elite Vanilla, Elite Chocolate, Elite Strawberry
SweetenersMonk fruit juice concentrate, stevia leaf extract, acesulfame potassium, sucralose

Best Protein Shake for Building Muscle: Premier Protein Shakes

Good for: People who are serious about upping their protein intake to pack on muscle and want a lot of flavors to choose from

Best for Building Muscle

Premier Protein Shakes

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 30 g of protein
  • Only 1 g of sugar
  • Widely available at many different retailers
  • 24 vitamins and minerals
  • Won American Masters of Taste Gold Medal

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Widely available
  • Low in sugar and carbs
  • High in protein
  • Lots of flavor options

Cons

  • Contains carrageenan
  • Sweetened with sucralose

Bottom Line

Premier Protein Shakes are a great tasting, widely available protein shake option with a great amount of protein and very low sugar content.

Adding 30 grams of protein to your diet daily doesn’t get any easier than downing a Premier Protein Shake. The flavor lineup is so big you may not be able to choose just one, and each flavor packs 30 grams of protein in 160 calories. For those who are counting macronutrients, Premier Protein Shakes are a great choice due to that consistency among flavors.

I’ve been drinking these on and off for years during my training as a triathlete, and I’m a big fan. The Vanilla flavor tastes like a vanilla milkshake and the Chocolate tastes like chocolate milk. They’re sweet but not too sweet, and even though they contain artificial sweeteners, I don’t get that distinct aftertaste. 

As for texture, Premier Protein shakes are smooth and creamy, and they go down easy. I sometimes use the Vanilla and Caramel flavors as coffee creamer and I love how rich and sweet it makes my morning cup of Joe.

Those concerned about artificial ingredients may be taken aback by the long ingredients list. But don’t overthink it: Most of that lengthy list is showing the individual micronutrients in Premier Protein’s nutrient blend, which is added to each flavor. Aside from protein, these shakes include 25 vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. 

RELATED: How Much Protein Do I Need?

Calories per serving160
Protein per serving30 g
Fat per serving0.5 g
Carbohydrates per serving4 g
FlavorsChocolate, Vanilla, Caramel, Cookies & Cream, Cafe Latte, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cake Batter Delight, Strawberries & Cream, Winter Mint, Pumpkin Spice, Cinnamon Roll, Root Beer Float, Bananas & Cream, Peaches & Cream
SweetenersSucralose, acesulfame potassium 

Best Meal Replacement Protein Shake: Huel Ready-to-Drink

Good for: Busy people who need a nutrient-packed, high-protein meal replacement; people who are bulking and can’t down any more solid food

Best Meal Replacement

Huel Ready-to-Drink

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Formulated to be a meal replacer
  • 27 essential vitamins and minerals
  • Contains no animal products or lactose
  • Slow-release carbs to help maintain your energy

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Balanced macros
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Low glycemic index
  • Nutritionally complete

Cons

  • Reviews mention products received close to expiration
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Huel ready-to-drink is a great macro-balanced option for those who need a meal replacement on the go. Slow release carbs keep you full and vitamins and minerals give you everything you need.

Huel Ready-to-Drink is more than a protein shake: It’s a meal replacement, which conveniently contains 20 or 22 grams of protein, depending on the flavor you get.

There are eight flavors, and some flavors have a v1 and a v2. The difference is that the v2 shakes include hemp, which allowed Huel to squeeze an extra 2 grams of protein into the shakes as well as reduce their environmental impact by using a more sustainable crop. 

As you might (unfortunately) expect, something so clean can’t possibly be the tastiest product on the market. This certified sports nutrition coach tried the complete lineup of Huel v2 Ready-to-Drink shakes, and while they’re not bad per se, I definitely wouldn’t compare them to the Premier Protein or Fairlife shakes. 

They are also extremely thick—like, makes-your-mouth-sticky thick. However, it’s not terrible. It’s smooth and creamy, but be prepared for how thick it is. They’re extremely filling and to date, I’ve not finished a single bottle in one sitting. I do like to have a quarter or half of a bottle before a morning long run in place of eating solid food! It’s hard for me to eat before morning training, so these help a lot in those cases.

RELATED: Best Plant-Based Protein Powder

Huel claims that its Ready-to-Drink shakes are the most nutritionally complete option available, and honestly, I believe it, based on the nutrition facts and ingredients. These shakes contain all 27 essential vitamins and minerals, as well as ample fiber, fat, carbohydrates, omega 3s and 6s, BCAAs, and phytonutrients. 

Huel Ready to Drink Shake being poured into a glass

Only some of the v1 flavors include the artificial sweetener sucralose, with all of the others utilizing stevia and ground coconut sugar instead. These shakes are gluten-free, lactose-free, non-GMO, and free of palm oil. 

Calories per serving400
Protein per serving22 g
Fat per serving18 g
Carbohydrates per serving35 g
FlavorsChocolate, Vanilla, Iced Coffee Caramel, Berry, Banana, Strawberry Shortcake, Cinnamon Roll, Salted Caramel 
SweetenersCoconut sugar, steviol glycosides, sucralose (v1 flavors only)

Best Vegan Protein Shake: Ripple Protein Shake

Good for: People looking for tasty vegan protein shakes to support health and fitness goals

Best Vegan

Ripple Vegan Protein Shake

GGR Score: 3.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Pea protein is more sustainable than other proteins
  • Vegan and free from lactose, soy, and nuts
  • 30% of your daily recommended intake of iron 
  • Great calcium source
  • Certified B Corp company

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Shelf-stable
  • Contains phosphorus
  • Gluten and soy free
  • Low in sugar

Cons

  • Many customers said they received expired product
  • Only 3 flavors

Bottom Line

Ripple Vegan Protein Shake is a great option for someone looking for a protein shake that is free from animal products and environmentally friendly.

If you’ve read any of our other protein-related guides (like best protein bars), you might recall that, in general, our product testers aren’t fans of vegan protein supplements. We try to remain objective, but none of us eat a vegan diet, so it’s tough. That’s actually why we’re always so stoked to find a vegan protein product that tastes good and has a solid nutrient profile. 

Such is the case with the Ripple Protein Shake, tested by GGR writer and certified personal trainer Lauren Strong. “For a vegan shake, I was blown away,” she says. “The chocolate flavor was smooth and not overly sweet. Both my husband and I liked these and drank them willingly—not just when we were in a pinch for an easy 20 grams of protein.”

Opening a Ripple Protein shake bottle

Additionally, “The texture has the right balance between not too creamy or too thin,” which Lauren liked. And as for side effects? “Nothing other than feeling satisfied and curbing my hunger.” 

Not only are these free of dairy products, soy, nuts, and gluten, but they use natural sweeteners only, which I really like. The sweeteners include cane sugar and monk fruit extract, and although that means the sugar content is a bit higher at 9 grams, it’s a trade-off worth having for those who prioritize natural ingredients. 

Calories per serving200
Protein per serving20 g
Fat per serving7 or 8 g depending on flavor
Carbohydrates per serving12 or 13 g depending on flavor
FlavorsChocolate, Vanilla, Coffee
SweetenersCane sugar, monk fruit extract

Best Vanilla Protein Shake: Pure Protein Shakes

Good for: People wanting a solid protein shake with a good vanilla flavor

Best Vanilla

Pure Protein Shakes

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Protein shakes with 30 g of protein
  • Contains protein derived from milk
  • 24 vitamins and minerals
  • Less than 1 g of sugar
  • Non-GMO
  • Available in five flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 30g of protein
  • 24 vitamins and minerals
  • Low sugar
  • Non-GMO

Cons

  • Contains artificial flavors
  • Pricey shipping

Bottom Line

Pure Protein Shakes are milk protein shakes with 30 grams of protein in each shake. Coming in five different flavors, these shakes also have 24 vitamins and minerals, as well as added fiber. Plus, Pure Protein Shakes have less than a gram of sugar in each shake.

 With other classic flavors like Rich Chocolate and Strawberry Milkshake, our pick for best vanilla protein shake goes to Pure Protein Shakes and its Vanilla Milkshake flavor, packed with 30 grams of protein. 

While GGR writer and 2020 Olympian weightlifter Caine Wilkes hasn’t had this flavor, his wife Emelie has had it many times before and likes the vanilla milkshake. “The texture is pretty nice, and it’s not overly sweet,” she says. “It has a pleasant French Vanilla taste to it.”

Another writer on staff, certified personal trainer Lauren Strong, tried the strawberry milkshake, and loved the texture. “It’s creamy! While it’s not ultra dense like a milkshake, it’s got some thickness to it and it’s very reminiscent of a milkshake.” Although it does have some artificial flavors and sweeteners, Lauren never experienced any unpleasant side effects either, saying, “I felt great and I love that this has 30 grams of protein!”

Woman pouring the Pure Protein Shake into a glass

The protein comes from a whey and milk protein blend, and the shake has less than 1 gram of added sugars. It’s also certified to be non-GMO, but if you easily have problems from artificial sweeteners, then beware—Pure Protein uses some sucralose as a sweetener in addition to sugar.

Calories per serving140
Protein per serving30 g
Fat per serving1 to 2 g depending on flavor
Carbohydrates per serving5 to 6 g depending on flavor
FlavorsRich Chocolate, Vanilla Milkshake, Strawberry Milkshake, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel
SweetenersSugar, sucralose

Best Plant-Based Protein Shake: OWYN Plant-Based Protein Shake

Good for: Anyone who needs to be cautious of allergens; these shakes are free from the top eight major allergens

Best Plant-Based

Owyn Plant-Based Protein Shake

GGR Score: 3.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Formulated with allergen-friendly ingredients 
  • All Owyn Shakes contain Superfoods Greens blend
  • Free from artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols
  • Provides all nine essential amino acids

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Plant-based and vegan
  • Contains 535 mg omega-3s
  • Independently tested for allergens
  • Low carb
  • Refrigeration not required

Cons

  • Some flavors had mixed reviews
  • No returns allowed if you don't like it

Bottom Line

Owyn Plant-Based Protein Shake is a great option for those looking for something vegan and free from the top eight allergens.

Free of dairy, animal ingredients, artificial sugars, soy, gluten, wheat, egg, peanut, and tree nuts, OWYN Plant-Based Protein Shakes are a good option for people who have multiple dietary no-nos, from minor allergies to intolerances to autoimmune diseases. 

OWYN shakes use protein derived from peas and pumpkin seeds, and every flavor includes a greens blend of broccoli, kale, and spinach for an extra nutrient boost. Thankfully, those greens go undetected, according to certified nutrition coach and GGR performance editor Anthony O’Reilly. 

owyn protein shake bottle in hand

He tried the Cookies and Creamless flavor, and thought it was tasty overall. “I thought it had more ‘cream’ than cookie flavor,” he says. “The texture was a bit watery, but not really in a bad way. It just went down a bit easier than something made from actual cream.”

Additionally, “It didn’t leave any aftertaste on my tongue like you sometimes get with protein shakes,” Anthony praises. 

Each bottle has 20 grams of protein from OWYN’s protein blend, which includes pea protein, pumpkin seed protein, and organic flax oil. These shakes are sweetened with organic cane sugar and monk fruit extract, and contain 4 grams of added sugar. 

Calories per serving170 or 180 depending on flavor
Protein per serving20 g
Fat per serving7 g
Carbohydrates per serving8 or 9 g depending on flavor
FlavorsDark Chocolate, Cold Brew Coffee, Smooth Vanilla, Cookies and Creamless, Sea Salted Caramel, Strawberry Banana
SweetenersMonk fruit extract, organic cane sugar

Best Chocolate Protein Shake: Iconic Grass-Fed Protein Shakes

Good for: Anyone wanting a great-tasting protein shake in a classic chocolate flavor

Best Chocolate

Iconic Grass-Fed Protein Shakes

GGR Score: 3.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Milk protein shake
  • 20 g of protein per shake
  • Sugar-free, non-GMO, and gluten-free
  • Lactose-free
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Comes in 4 flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Sugar-free
  • Lactose-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Gluten-free
  • No artificial sweeteners

Cons

  • Pricier protein shake
  • Some customer reviews said the shake was overly sweet

Bottom Line

Iconic Protein Shakes contain 20 grams of protein derived from grass-fed cows’ milk. In addition, the shakes are sugar-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO. Interestingly, these milk-protein shakes are also lactose-free, making them a great choice for people with lactose intolerances. These come in four flavors and are a great way to boost your protein intake for the day.

Iconic takes our spot for the best chocolate protein shake on our list, with its Chocolate Truffle flavor, which GGR Senior Editor and precision nutrition coach Nicole Davis rated a perfect 5 out of 5 in her testing. “The chocolate flavor is fantastic—very creamy and no weird aftertaste,” she says.

Being gluten-free, soy-free, and lactose-free, these protein shakes from Iconic are non-GMO verified and free of artificial sweeteners, made from grass-fed milk protein. They shouldn’t cause much stomach trouble for most people. 

Chocolate Truffle Iconic Protein Shake bottle with glass

Nicole had no issues or problems from the Iconic shakes, except for that shipping was a mess. After buying the variety four-pack off of Amazon, she says, “The package showed up wet and upon opening it I realized that the vanilla one had started leaking so I didn’t try that one.” The Cacao and Greens flavor was also very clumpy, so she didn’t try that one.

However, the ones she tried were very good, especially the chocolate. The main issue Nicole had was the damaged shipment from Amazon. She wasn’t able to return the sampler pack even though it arrived damaged. Purchasing off the website though would get you a limited satisfaction guarantee, which you can replace or refund your order if this happens to you.

Calories per serving140
Protein per serving20 g
Fat per serving2.5 g
Carbohydrates per serving8 g
FlavorsChocolate Truffle, Vanilla Bean, Café Latte, Cacao with Greens
SweetenersMonk fruit extract powder, stevia leaf extract

Best Organic Protein Shake: Orgain Organic Protein Grass-Fed Protein Shake

Good for: People who prioritize organic and natural ingredients 

Best Organic

Orgain Organic Grass-Fed Protein Shake

GGR Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Organic and non-GMO ingredients
  • Made from all grass-fed protein sources
  • No artificial preservatives or carrageenan
  • Low in sugar and high in protein

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Clean ingredients
  • Great taste
  • Widely available

Cons

  • One flavor option
  • Contains erythritol

Bottom Line

Orgain Organic Grass-Fed Protein Shake is a great option if you are looking for a standard protein shake that is organic with clean ingredients.

Grass-fed milk protein concentrate is behind the 20 grams of protein in the Orgain Organic Grass-Fed Protein Shakes. Available in Creamy Chocolate Fudge and Vanilla Bean, these bottled protein shakes include just 3 grams of sugar and 2 grams of fat, with 11 grams of carbohydrates and 130 calories. 

Precision nutrition coach Nicole Davis, GGR senior editor and tester of these protein shakes, said they’re “pretty good, definitely chocolate-y.” And they have “a bit of an aftertaste, but it’s not super off-putting.” 

orgain grass fed protein shake

“If I was out and about and needed an easy protein source, I’d buy one of these again!” she says, noting that the texture is “very creamy, similar to whole milk.” 

“This was what sold me on these—you just can’t really achieve this consistency with protein powder at home, unless maybe you are mixing with whole milk, which I would never do,” Nicole says.

These Orgain shakes are free from artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, such as sucralose and erythritol, respectively. They’re sweetened with organic agave, monk fruit extract, and stevia extract. They also contain a good bit of calcium (45% of the daily value) and small amounts of iron and potassium. 

Calories per serving150
Protein per serving26 g
Fat per serving4 g
Carbohydrates per serving14 g
FlavorsCreamy Chocolate Fudge, Vanilla Bean
SweetenersOrganic agave, organic monk fruit extract, organic Reb A (stevia extract)

Best Fruity Protein Shake: Ascent Recovery Water

Good for: Those who want an easy way to consume more protein but are sick of dessert flavors

Best Fruity

Ascent Recovery Water

GGR Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Contains protein and electrolytes 
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Informed Choice certified
  • Low in calories, sugar, and carbs
  • Light, refreshing formula

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No gluten or soy
  • Hydrating
  • Low in calories, sugar, and carbs
  • Clean ingredients

Cons

  • Tastes very sweet
  • Some users complained of strong aftertaste

Bottom Line

Ascent Recovery Water is a great option if you are looking for something that both hydrates and has protein to help you recover from your workout.

Up to this point, every protein shake on our top picks list has been chocolate, vanilla, or some other sweet dessert flavor. I’m a self-proclaimed chocoholic with a serious sweet tooth, but even I get tired of such flavors at times. 

Welcome Ascent Recovery Water to your supplement stack, for when you need a punch of protein but can’t stomach the thought of another milkshake-like drink. Ascent Recovery Water consists of 20 grams of native whey protein and 250 milligrams of electrolytes in a 100-calorie bottle. 

It’s available in four fruity flavors: Fruit Punch, Orange Mango, Pineapple Coconut, and Watermelon. This certified nutrition coach got Fruit Punch to test for this guide, but I have tried Orange Mango in the past. I prefer the latter, although both are tasty; very vibrantly fruity. 

Ascent Recovery Water being poured into a glass

These certainly aren’t your average protein shake! They’re more of a juice than a shake, similar to SEEQ Clear Whey Protein, which we feature in our guide to the best-tasting protein powder

The texture is thin and watery—which in this case is a very good thing, otherwise you’d be drinking a fruit punch milkshake. Yuck. It is slightly grainy and does have an interesting mouthfeel, but that’s not a dealbreaker for me.

(P.S. these do not actually contain any real fruit juice, so don’t depend on them for your daily dose of vitamin C.)

Calories per serving100
Protein per serving20 g
Fat per serving0 g
Carbohydrate per serving3 g
FlavorsFruit Punch, Orange Mango, Pineapple Coconut, Watermelon
SweetenersOrganic cane sugar, stevia leaf extract

Best Lactose-Free Protein Shake: Chobani Complete

Good for: People who want all the richness of dairy shakes without the digestive upset

Best Lactose-Free

Chobani Complete

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Lactose free Greek yogurt with 20 g of protein
  • Made without added sugar
  • Non-GMO with no artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Has all 9 essential amino acids

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Lactose-free
  • No added sugars
  • Non-GMO
  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids

Cons

  • Higher in sugars
  • Can't buy in bulk

Bottom Line

Chobani Complete is a great protein option for those looking to also add prebiotics and probiotics into their diet. With high protein and real fruit, if you don't mind keeping this refrigerated, it’s a great choice.

When you hear “Chobani,” your mind probably goes to “yogurt.” Mine does, too, so I was a little surprised to learn that Chobani makes a lactose-free (not dairy-free) protein shake. But they do indeed. 

Chobani Complete shakes contain 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 0 grams of added sugar. The protein comes from cultured low-fat milk, but Chobani adds lactase to the shakes. Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose, and this essentially pre-digests the lactose, making the drink tolerable for people with lactose intolerance. 

The result is a super smooth, creamy protein shake with all of the flavor and rich texture you’d get from a dairy-based shake, but without the digestive discomfort. Available in four flavors, Chobani Complete is sweetened with monk fruit extract and stevia leaf extract. 

RELATED: Best Probiotic

Due to the natural fruit content and sugars from milk, these shakes are higher in sugar with 11 to 12 grams of sugar per bottle, depending on the flavor. However, none of it is added sugar, which is a plus.

My only real complaint regarding these is that you can’t purchase them in bulk, at least not to my knowledge. You can get them online in singles via Amazon Fresh and other grocery delivery services, but otherwise, you have to buy them in-store as individual bottles, too. 

Calories per serving170
Protein per serving20 g
Fat per serving2.5 g
Carbohydrates per serving16 g
FlavorsVanilla, Mixed Berry Vanilla, Strawberry Cream, Cookies and Cream
SweetenersMonk fruit extract, Reb M (stevia leaf extract), fruit 

Other Protein Shakes We Researched

Though the above protein shakes represent our top picks for this type of supplement, we looked at many other options, from ones you can buy in bulk on Amazon to the individual bottles you can pick up at Whole Foods. Some of those include: 

  • GNC Total Lean Shake Vanilla Protein Shake 
  • Orgain Plant Protein Shakes
  • Protein2o Whey Protein Isolate Infused Water
  • Evolve Plant Based Protein Shake
  • Dymatize ISO100 Clear 100% Whey Protein Isolate Drink
  • Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein Drink
  • SlimFast High Protein Shakes
  • Aloha Organic Plant-Based Protein Shake
  • Labrady Lean Body Ready-to-Drink Protein Shakes

Ultimately, the products you see above earned their places in this guide due to their taste, texture, and nutritional value.

How We Picked and Tested the Best Protein Shakes

As always, our team of expert product testers began with our own experience with protein shakes—we added the ones we like to our list and nixed the ones we didn’t. In addition to taste-testing, our team of experts used a strict testing methodology and 1-to-5-star point system to rank each protein shake on price, ingredient quality, and brand transparency or third-party testing.

During our testing, we took note of factors like taste and texture, mouthfeel, aftertastes, side effects, and satiety. We combined those findings with the nutritional profiles of each drink, plus any third-party certifications, to establish our list of the best protein shakes, which you see here. 

Formulation

One of the most important factors to we had to consider was how many grams of protein each shake offered per serving. We also analyzed the ratio of protein to fats and carbohydrates. Ideally, for a perfect 5-out-of-5-star rating, we wanted to see protein over 20 grams per serving with fairly low fats, carbs, and artificial ingredients.

For a low score in the formulation category, the protein content was typically outshined by the number of carbs and fats. Even lower scores were given to shakes if there were a ton of unnecessary ingredients or additives.

Price Per Serving

From our extensive protein shake testing, we found that price per serving can range from $2 on the low end to upwards of $5 on the high end. For a shake to earn a perfect 5-out-of-5-star score, it had to be less than $2.50 per serving. Anything over $4.50 earned at 1 or 2 star rating.

Transparency and Third-Party Testing

Since dietary supplements are not approved by the FDA, having an independent third-party lab verify that what’s on the label is truly what’s in the shake is important for your health and safety. For this reason, low scores were given to any protein shake with no third-party testing or ingredient transparency.

For middle-of-the-road 3-star ratings, the protein shake brand had be fairly transparent but the product is not certified by a major organization like NSF, Informed Choice, Informed Sport, or Banned Substance Control Group (BSCG).

And for 4- and 5-star scores, the company is fully transparent and the product is third-party tested by one of the organizations I named above.

Benefits of Protein Shakes

Protein shakes, like protein powder, bring many potential health benefits to the table. Here’s a look.

Increase Daily Protein Intake

If you aren’t getting enough protein each day, a protein shake is one great way to increase your daily amount of protein, as well as your daily intake of essential amino acids and other nutrients. Even vegan protein powders and shakes can help, thanks to sources like chia seed protein and brown rice protein. Remember, though, that plant proteins aren’t complete proteins, meaning they don’t contain all nine essential amino acids. 

Support Satiety

Protein can help you feel more full throughout the day1, which is helpful if you’re trying to lose weight, struggle with cravings, or tend to be on-the-go and can’t always eat at opportune times. 

May Help With Weight Loss

Increasing your dietary protein intake may help with energy regulation and appetite, thus contributing to successful, long-term weight loss, according to a 2012 study in the British Journal of Nutrition.2 

May Help Build Muscle

Perhaps the most well-known benefit of protein among fitness-minded individuals is its ability to assist in the muscle-building process. Aside from water, muscle tissue is primarily composed of bundles of proteins called myofibers3, which means a big key to packing on more muscle mass is consuming more protein to support the growth of new muscle tissue4. Additionally, consuming protein post-workout is shown to assist with muscle recovery, according to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.5

Quick, Easy Snack 

Finally, pre-made protein shakes can support your overall wellness goals by providing a healthy and tasty snack to hold you over until your next meal. 

Dosing and Interactions 

There’s nothing to really be concerned about in regard to protein and its relationship to other nutrients. 

Ritual protein getting ready for the blender

Protein is an essential nutrient and a macronutrient, which means human bodies need it in large quantities. Eating too much protein or too much of a specific type of protein isn’t a concern for most people; in reality, many individuals could stand to consume more than they currently do. 

One thing worth noting is that protein will slow the digestion of carbohydrates, so if you need a boost of quick energy for a workout, it’s best to consume carbohydrates in isolation. 

RELATED: Best Pre-Workout for Men

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for adults (g/kg/d).

Athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone else who regularly exercise recommend 1.2 to 2.0 g/kg/d to support muscle recovery and performance.

Buying Guide: What to Look for in Protein Shakes

As you search for your new go-to protein shake, consider the following factors. 

Protein Per Serving

We recommend looking for a protein shake that has at least 20 grams of protein per serving. This is considered the industry standard, although you’ll find some with more, such as the Premier Protein Shakes and Fairlife CorePower Elite shakes that we recommend. 

Calories Per Serving

Calories aren’t everything, but forgoing a quick check could be detrimental to your goals if you’re either trying to lose weight or gain weight. Low-calorie protein shakes aren’t a necessity for weight loss; just make sure that, if weight loss is your goal, consuming one each day won’t pull you out of your calorie deficit.

Nutritional Profile 

Do you eat a specific sort of diet, such as soy-free, keto, or gluten-free? Make sure to check the ingredients list, not just the nutrition facts label. The ingredients list is where you’ll find things you won’t necessarily see on the nutrition label. Such ingredients might include soy lecithin, sunflower oil, collagen, soluble fiber, carrageenan, maltodextrin, and others.

Sweeteners

Look to the ingredients label to find sweeteners used in the drink, too. Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols aren’t inherently bad, but if they cause you digestive problems, it’s probably best to steer clear. Many shakes include natural alternatives to sugar as well, such as stevia extracts and monk fruit extract. 

As we note in our No Cow protein bar review, there are some people who will experience no symptoms and others who may feel ill after consuming a protein supplement with artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols.

Storage Needs

If you plan on using protein shakes as a way to curb hunger on busy days away from home, make sure to check the storage needs. Many shakes must be kept refrigerated, although not all. 

Who Might Not Benefit From Protein Shakes?

People with dairy sensitivities or digestive issues may not benefit from protein shakes due to the dairy content in most protein shakes, though there are many plant-based, non-dairy protein shakes available. Protein shakes may not be suitable for people who have specific nutrient deficiencies, such as anemia (lack of dietary iron).

FAQs About Protein Shakes

More questions about protein shakes? We’ve got answers.

Are protein shakes good for you?

The nutritional profile of protein shakes varies dramatically from brand to brand and from product to product. In general, protein shakes can be a part of a healthy diet, but it’s important to check labels and make sure any product suits your needs. If you’re concerned about protein shakes related to a specific health concern, the best thing to do is talk to a registered dietitian nutritionist.

Is it OK to drink a protein drink everyday?

Unless you’re already consuming a very high-protein diet, it’s highly unlikely that drinking a protein shake everyday will have any adverse effects. Hopefully, the only side effect you’ll have is just that you enjoy a more regulated appetite and notice some muscle growth after a while!

What’s the best protein shake for muscle gain?

There are many great protein shakes available. Here are our top recommendations:

Best Protein Shake Overall: Fairlife CorePower High-Protein Milk Shake
Best Organic Protein Shake: Orgain Organic Protein Grass-Fed Protein Shake
Best Protein Shake for Building Muscle: Premier Protein Protein Shakes
Best Meal Replacement Protein Shake: Huel Ready-to-Drink
Best Vegan Protein Shake: Ripple Protein Shake
Best Vanilla Protein Shake: Pure Protein Shakes
Best Plant-Based Protein Shake: OWYN Plant-Based Protein Shake
Best Chocolate Protein Shake: Iconic Grass-Fed Shakes
Best Fruity Protein Shake: Ascent Recovery Water
Best Lactose-Free Protein Shake: Chobani Complete

What is the best protein to drink daily?

The best protein to have daily is one that you’ll stick with accompanied by a diet rich in protein and other nutrients. One of the most common protein powders is milk-derived whey protein, but there are other types of protein powder available for those who have lactose sensitivities.

Do protein shakes help build muscle?

Protein shakes contain protein (d’uh), so they absolutely can help someone build muscle as long as they’re part of a well-built nutrition plan.

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

  1. Moon J, Koh G. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2020;29(3):166-173. doi:10.7570/jomes20028
  2. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lemmens SG, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. Br J Nutr. 2012;108 Suppl 2:S105-S112. doi:10.1017/S0007114512002589
  3. McCuller C, Jessu R, Callahan AL. Physiology, Skeletal Muscle. [Updated 2022 Mar 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537139/
  4. Mielgo-Ayuso J, Fernández-Lázaro D. Nutrition and Muscle Recovery. Nutrients. 2021;13(2):294. Published 2021 Jan 20. doi:10.3390/nu13020294
  5. Poulios A, Georgakouli K, Draganidis D, et al. Protein-Based Supplementation to Enhance Recovery in Team Sports: What is the Evidence?. J Sports Sci Med. 2019;18(3):523-536. Published 2019 Aug 1.

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