Protein Powders and Meal Replacement Shakes

Without a doubt, the best way to get health benefits is a balanced diet that relies on real food. However, there are many cases where protein powders and meal replacement shakes can be a valuable addition.

In particular, these can often help to promote weight loss and ensure that you get all the vitamins and minerals that you need. The protein is also particularly relevant for anyone trying to gain muscle, along with those who simply want to feel less hungry. 

This resource page provides a list of some of the best such products that have been examined across this site. The links provided are affiliate links, meaning that I receive a small commission from sales but this doesn't impact the cost to you. Nor does the approach affect which brands I focus on. 

The Best Whey Protein Powders

Whey is a complete source of protein and may be the best option for weight loss and muscle gain
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Gold Standard Whey
  • Serving size: 31 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Sugars: 1 g

One of the most popular whey protein choices. The brand has a wide range of flavors and sizes of Gold Standard Whey at reasonable prices.

Naked Whey
  • Serving size: 30 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Sugars: 2 g

The main selling point with Naked Whey is the lack of additives - making it a great choice for protein. 

Legion Whey+
  • Serving size: 27.2 g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Sugars: 0 g

The low fat and sugar content makes Legion Whey+ very relevant for weight loss.

But, it does contain xanthan gum and stevia. 

IsoPure
  • Serving size: 62 g
  • Protein: 50 g
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Sugars: 0 g

Isopure Low Carb is targeted at low carb and keto dieters.

For that matter, the unflavored version is carb free.

GNC Pro Performance
  • Serving size: 38.2 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Sugars: 3 g

Although it sells poorly on Amazon, this GNC product is still popular and effective. 

EAS Whey
  • Serving size: 43 g
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Sugars: 2 g

The main advantage of EAS 100% Whey is that it is fairly inexpensive.

Plus, it tends to be readily available. 

Whey Comparison Table

Swipe left to view more columns

Product

Protein (g)

Fat (g) 

Sugar (g)

Net Carbs (g)

Price

Optimal Nutrition

Optimum Nutrition

24

1

1

2

Naked Whey

Naked Whey

25

2

2

3

Legion Whey+

Legion Whey+

22

0

0

4

IsoPure

Isopure Low Carb

50

1

0

2

GNC Pro Performance

GNC Pro Performance

24

2.5

3

7

EAS Whey

EAS 100% Whey

30

2.5

2

5

Plant-Based Protein Powders

Plant-based protein powders have advantages and disadvantages when compared to whey. While they are not a complete protein source, this type of powder can still be effective. Additionally, plant-based options are better for those sensitive to dairy and are often easier to digest. The biggest downside is that most contain some type of sweetener and may be more processed than whey options. Still, for many, plant-based powders are worth trying out.
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Orgain Organic Protein
  • Serving size: 46 g
  • Protein: 21 g
  • Protein type: Mixed
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Sugars: 1 g

With a mixed source of protein, this powder has a good amino acid balance.

The protein powder is also soy-free, organic and non-GMO - although sweeteners are used. 

Plant Fusion
  • Serving size: 30 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Protein type: Mixed
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Sugars: 0 g

This choice is more expensive than most but PlantFusion Organic does contain fermented ingredients. 

As such, it may promote gut health. 

Purely Inspired
  • Serving size: 38 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Protein type: Pea and brown rice
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Sugars: 2 g

The combination of pea and brown rice is particularly good for amino acid composition and texture. At the same time, this protein powder offers an attractive balance of price and nutrition.

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend
  • Serving size: 25 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Protein type: Mixed
  • Fat: 1.5 g
  • Sugars: 0 g

Unlike many other products, this Warrior Blend uses MCTs from coconut oil for greater potential benefits.

The mixed protein source results in a powerful amino acid balance.

Nutiva Hemp Protein
  • Serving size: 30 g
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Protein type: Hemp
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Sugars: 7 g

This Nutiva Hemp Protein is fairly natural with relatively few added ingredients. Some people also enjoy the flavor profile.

However, hemp does have its limitations, especially as the balance of macros is different than many other shakes. 

Garden of Life
  • Serving size: 31 g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Protein type: Mixed
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Sugars: 0 g

There are a few differences with this Garden of Life powder, including the use of sprouted ingredients, along with a probiotic and enzyme blend. 

Those aspects do make this more expensive but the additional benefits can be worth the cost. 

Plant-Based Comparison Table

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Product

Protein (g)

Fat (g) 

Sugar (g)

Net Carbs (g)

Price

Orgain Organic Protein

Orgain Organic

21

4

1

3

Plant Fusion

PlantFusion Organic

20

3

0

6

Purely Inspired

Purely Inspired

20

2

2

2

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend

20

1.5

0

1

Nutiva Hemp Protein

Nutiva Hemp Protein

10

2.5

7

7

Garden of Life

Garden of Life

22

2.5

0

1

Meal Replacement Powders and Shakes

Meal replacement options are specifically designed as an alternative to a meal (often breakfast). As such, they typically contain a higher number of calories, along with a range of added vitamins and minerals. This makes them powerful for weight loss but does mean that they are often more processed. Additionally, you need to choose brands carefully, as some have a lot of sugar or additives.
Skip to the Comparison Table!

GNC Lean
  • Serving size: 52 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Protein type: Whey
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Sugars: 4 g

This is an attractive option for a dairy-based protein shake, especially as the sugar content is relatively low.

It also fares well in independent testing - which is another key reason to consider it. 

Isagenix
  • Serving size: 61 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Protein type: Whey
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Sugars: 11 g

This powder is popular because of the flavor and the company. It fairly high in sugar. But, this may be appealing if you want that extra sweetness.

Vegan Smart
  • Serving size: 43 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Protein type: Mixed (plant-based)
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Sugars: 5 g

This is a vegan meal replacement option and contains nutrients from a range of fruit and vegetables.

Vega One
  • Serving size: 41 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Protein type: Mixed (plant-based)
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Sugars: 1 g

Vega One is another vegan brand. It is considerably lower in sugar than Vegan Smart and uses stevia for some of the sweetness.

Garden of Life
  • Serving size: 36 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Protein type: Mixed (plant-based)
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Sugars: <1 g

This is the meal replacement version from Garden of Life and has the same raw & natural focus as their protein powder. 

The product also contains probiotics and enzymes, along with various fruit and vegetable components.

  • Serving size: 1 shake
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Protein type: Whey
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Sugars: 1 g

Unlike the other options, Premier Protein is a ready-to-drink product. As such, it contains more compounds and is designed to be shelf-stable.

18 Shake
  • Serving size:  27.3 g
  • Protein: 15 g
  • Protein type: Whey
  • Fat: 1.5 g
  • Sugars: 1 g

18 Shake is a popular brand and many people enjoy the flavor and texture. It is on the expensive side and is lower in protein than the other products but is still an attractive choice.

310 Shake
  • Serving size: 27.7 g 
  • Protein:  15 g
  • Protein type: Pea, brown rice and hemp
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Sugars: 0 g

Nutritionally, 310 Nutrition is similar to 18 Shake, although this is a plant-based option. The protein is relatively low here too but the shake does taste good. 

Meal Replacement Comparison Table

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Product

Protein (g)

Fat (g) 

Sugar (g)

Net Carbs (g)

Price

GNC Lean

GNC Total Lean Shake

25

3

4

9

Isagenix

Isagenix IsaLean Shake

24

2

11

16

Vegan Smart

Vegan Smart

20

5

5

8

Vega One

Vega One

20

6

1

4

Garden of Life

Garden of Life

20

2

<1

1

Premier Protein

Premier Protein

30

3

1

2

18 Shake

18 Shake

15

1.5

1

3

310 Shake

310 Nutrition

15

1

0

2