It’s not just for #gains—promise.
By Ashley Mateo
If you think protein powder is something only CrossFit addicts and guys who grunt at the gym use to make #gains, you’re seriously missing out on a potent ingredient that could help you lose weight.
“Protein plays a big role in weight loss because it keeps us full and satisfied so that we make it to our next meal without snacking in between,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, R.D. It can also help you increase and maintain muscle mass—something necessary to burn fat, even when you’re not working out, says Zeitlin.
And here’s the thing: Even if you think you’re eating enough protein already, it can’t hurt to supplement with a bit more. “Adding some protein powder to a meal or snack that may otherwise be lacking in protein is a great way to balance your meals,” says Alyssa Lavy, R.D., of Alyssa Lavy Nutrition & Wellness, LLC.
There’s just one small problem: With so many protein powders out there, it can be hard to choose the healthiest option. Zeitlin’s main suggestion? Focus on the unsweetened kinds. “They won’t add in sneaky sugars that could actually be sabotaging you.” Keeping that in mind, these are the best protein powders for weight loss:
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% WheySHOP NOW
- This is “one of the better-tasting protein powders, says Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., CEO of The NY Nutrition Group, a private New York City-based nutrition practice. “Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard has 24 grams of high-quality whey protein isolates per scoop and only two grams of sugar,” she adds.
- Power Crunch Proto Whey
“Power Crunch comes in a variety of delicious flavors, from cookies and cream to café mocha,” says Moskovitz. She also adds that it’s easier on the digestive system than many other protein powders.
- Orgain Grass-Fed Whey
Simple, tasty protein powders are often hard to come by, but “Orgain is a superior option,” says Moskowitz. Snag this one when you want a good protein powder with zero artificial ingredients or sweeteners.
- BiPro Whey
Their plain flavor is straight-up whey protein—and it’s sugar-free, lactose-free, and gluten-free, while “the flavored ones simply have natural flavors, some stevia, and sunflower lecithin” says Tara Collingwood, R.D., team dietitian for the Orlando Magic.
But, the thing that really makes it one of the best protein powders for weight loss: “I like that it has 20 grams of protein for only 90 calories,” says Collingwood.
- Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein
“Ascent uses only natural ingredients, and it has 25 grams of protein for only 110 to 130 calories, depending on the flavor,” says Collingwood. “It’s also an excellent source of all essential amino acids.”
- Naked Nutrition Egg White Protein
“Naked Nutrition uses clean ingredients and non-GMO eggs, and the only other ingredient is sunflower lecithin,” says Collingwood. “It doesn’t have any added sweeteners or colors, and it packs 25 grams of protein for 110 calories.”
- Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein
“Garden of Life is a trusted brand, and their plant-based variety of protein powder doesn’t have a significant aftertaste like many others do,” says Collingwood.
- Navitas Organics Cacao & Greens Essential Blend
“This is a great blend that consists of pea, pumpkin seed, sunflower seeds, flax, and hemp,” says Lauren Antonucci, R.D. She also adds that it has added greens for fiber, as well as probiotics for gut health, which solidifies its place on the list of best protein powders for weight loss.
- Profi Vegan Protein Powder
“Profi Vegan Protein Powder is my favorite because, unlike a lot of other plant-based supplements, it’s a complete protein source—meaning it has all of the essential amino acids,” says Abbey Sharp, R.D. “It’s also been shown in research to be 100 percent digestible, non-GMO, and in my opinion, is the tastiest on the market!” Have a little fun with it by using it to make Sharp’s Vegan Matcha Rainbow Protein Pancakes or Vegan Red Velvet Protein Pancakes.
- Naked Nutrition Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
“Naked Nutrition Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder has just one ingredient: whey protein!” says Sharp. “That means there are no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors added.”
- Tera’s Whey Protein
“TERA’s Whey Protein is one of my go-to choices because it doesn’t contain the myriad of artificial ingredients found in many protein powder products,” says Edwina Clark, R.D., head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly.
- Kura Grass-Fed Dairy Protein
“Kura blends have added fiber and probiotics, which offer additional benefits like digestive health, satiety, immunity, and cholesterol control,” says Clark.
- Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
“Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is completely tasteless, so it makes a great addition to any dish if you’re trying to increase the protein content of the meal, like in a soup or stew,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, R.D.
- Huel Powder
“I recently tried Huel and I really liked the nutrition lineup and plant-protein source,” says Sharon Palmer, R.D., noting that the product is vegan. The ingredients, which include oats, brown rice protein, and pea protein, have been “carefully planned by dietitians to meet nutrient needs,” she adds.
- Vega Protein & Greens
“I like Vega because it includes many nutrients that I’m interested in,” such as pea protein, brown rice protein, and organic kale powder, says Palmer.
- Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein
“This protein powder is vegan and made without soy or sweeteners, making it suitable for various diets,” says Lavy. It doesn’t taste like much—which is actually a good thing if you want to add it to smoothies or other foods.
- Solgar Whey-To-Go Natural Vanilla
This protein powder is whey-based, but it’s actually 98 percent lactose-free, which means it’s easily tolerated by those with lactose intolerance (unlike many other whey protein options), says Lavy. It’s also got just one gram of sugar, but still has a sweet flavor, she adds.
- Crazy Richards 100% Peanut PowderSHOP NOW
Though this isn’t technically a protein powder, powdered peanut butter is a great way to add extra protein (and a delish PB flavor) to smoothies or other foods, says Lavy (this one’s her favorite). Something else to note: Powdered peanut butter might be easier on those with finicky digestive systems, she says.