Best Protein Powder Supplements for Every Athlete: Happy Muscles, Happy Mouth

From nutrition content to taste, from Paleo to vegan, we have it all. These are the best protein powder supplements right now.

All protein powders are definitely not created equal. Between actual nutritional content, added ingredients, potential contaminants, and the all-important flavor profile, finding the perfect post-workout protein powder can be a minefield.

After my coach and a nutritionist told me I needed an extra serving of protein in my diet, I went on the hunt for my perfect protein powder. Hundreds of studies have expounded the virtues of whey — the traditional powerhouse protein option — for its amino acid profile. And the science doesn’t lie.

But fear not: Even if you’re vegan or simply can’t stomach a protein shake, there are options that work. As an avid triathlete and certified cycling coach, I’ve tried and tasted each of the following options. And this list includes a favorite for every type of athlete.

Best Protein Powders

Best Whey Protein: Isopure Low Carb Protein Powder

Isopure protein

The dutch chocolate flavor of Isopure Low Carb Protein Powder has one of the most true-to-chocolate-milk tastes I’ve tried in a protein powder. Sipping it after a brutal training session actually feels indulgent instead of cringe-inducing.

After surveying every pro athlete I know, including recently retired mountain biker Amanda Batty, this flavor won best-tasting. And no, she’s not sponsored! A single scoop provides 25 g of protein, along with added vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, B12 and K, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and biotin.

Isopure: $43 (48 oz.)

Best Single-Serving Protein: Klean Athlete Klean Recovery

Klean Athlete protein

If you find yourself driving home from a training ride or run and immediately hitting up a drive-thru calorie fix, it might be time to embrace a single-serving packet of protein powder. No muss, no fuss — just a quick shot of whey protein isolate combined with hydrolyzed marine proteins. And with plenty of quick-burning carbs (a 4:1 ratio), Klean Athlete provides quick recovery from a serious workout that’s left you bonked and hangry.

The milk chocolate flavor is tasty and leaves me feeling less inclined to order that second serving of guac and chips. Plus, Klean Athlete also has a solid basic whey isolate protein powder in chocolate, which tastes great!

Klean Athlete: $34 (10-pack)

Best Protein for Smoothies: Bob’s Red Mill Whey Protein Concentrate

Bob's Red Mill protein

Another unflavored option, Bob’s Red Mill Whey Protein Concentrate is perfect for blending a smoothie without creating odd flavor mashups. It’s actually a top-secret favorite among many pro athletes who use it instead of their sponsor-correct ones!

Mixed with dark chocolate almond milk, a scoop of peanut butter, and a half of a frozen banana, you basically get a milkshake for your workout recovery. With zero added flavor, color, or sweetener, this is about as basic as it gets.

Bob’s Red Mill: $44 (48 oz.)

Best CBD Protein: Floyd’s of Leadville CBD Isolate Recovery Protein

Floyd's of Leadville CBD protein

The health and wellness mainstage has embraced CBD as a champion inflammation-fighting compound. And Floyd’s of Leadville combined it with the brand’s whey protein powder to create a tasty protein shake. It provides 25 mg of CBD atop 27 g of protein in post-workout muscle recovery and anti-inflammation.

Mixed with water, it’s thick enough to resemble chocolate milk and tastes like it, too, thanks to organic raw cacao flavoring the whey isolate. It’s also one of the few protein powders that use organic evaporated cane juice as a sweetener versus artificial sweeteners or no-cal options like stevia. But the taste benefits from a carb count of only 10 g.

Floyd’s of Leadville: $40 (16 oz.)

Best Vegan Protein: Vega Protein & Greens Chocolate

Vega protein

Mix in greens with your vegan protein thanks to Vega’s reasonably tasty blend. It’s a bit more grassy (thanks in part to the greens) compared to the other options here. But it tastes just fine when blended into a fruit smoothie. As an athlete who has tried a lot of vegan options over the years, I still choose Vega as my go-to.

And unlike most vegan proteins, Vega’s is soy-free! It relies instead on non-GMO pea protein, brown rice protein, and sacha inchi protein to offer up 20 g per serving. The greens include organic alfalfa powder, spinach powder, broccoli powder, and organic kale powder. And stevia sweetens the whole mixture.

Vega: $30 (28.7 oz.)

Best Protein for Coffee: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Vital Proteins

Unlike whey protein — which you should not dissolve in hot water — collagen is meant to be dissolved in heated liquids like coffee or even stirred into oatmeal. The unflavored version of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides stays true to its marketing and is completely undetectable when mixed into a cup of coffee.

For the adventurous, however, the vanilla version adds a bit of flair to an otherwise basic black coffee (a dash of cinnamon makes it even better!). The unflavored version has one ingredient: collagen from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows. And it provides 20 g of protein with nothing else. It’s basically the easiest way of boosting your protein intake without noticing.

Vital Proteins: $43 (20 oz.)

Best Pre-Mixed Protein Shake: CLIF Protein Recovery

CLIF Recovery protein

After workouts, when you can’t make a shake but need carbs to boost you through the next session and protein to satiate hungry muscles, CLIF Protein Recovery essentially acts like a shelf-stable glass of chocolate milk. It also has essential electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. As someone who’s spent a lot of time in the pro racing scene, CLIF Protein Recovery is one of the only sports nutrition products I’ve seen racers buy  — even when they weren’t sponsored!

CLIF: $22 (16 oz.)

Best Vanilla Protein: Kaizen Performance Series Pure Native Isolate

Kaizen protein

Not everyone likes chocolate (monsters!). So if you’re more of a vanilla milkshake or basic fruit smoothie kind of person, Kaizen’s Performance Series Pure Native Isolate in Vanilla is one of the tastiest options out there. It has a rich flavor, but no added artificial sweeteners. Instead, stevia adds natural sweetness to 30 g of whey protein per scoop.

Pro tip: A key marker for a good whey protein is a leucine content higher than 2,300 mg, and Kaizen Performance has over 3,500 mg per serving. The brand also scrutinizes the cows from which it sources milk, and only uses grass-fed, non-GMO, rBST-free cattle.

Kaizen Performance: $55 (27 oz.)

Molly Hurford is a coach and journalist in love with all things cycling, running, yoga, nutrition, and all else movement-related. She’s a USA Cycling and PMBI-certified coach and a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. She races cyclocross, road, and mountain bikes, and triathlons from sprint distance to Ironman. and running races from 5Ks to 50Ks in the mountains.

Molly is obsessed with getting more women psyched on adventure and wellness, and hosts talks and coaches clinics and camps for cyclists. She’s also the author of multiple books on cycling and nutrition, runs, and co-hosts The Consummate Athlete Podcast. Her most recent project, Shred Girls, is a young adult fiction series focused on getting girls excited about bikes.