You know you need plenty of protein to fuel muscle growth and help speed along the results from that time you spend lifting in the gym. And per research, the optimal time to get that protein is immediately after your workout, per a study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. So unless you carry hardboiled eggs and grilled chicken in your gym bag, you’re gonna need to find a supplement. But you don’t have to buy one with a bunch of ingredients you can’t pronounce ground up in a powdered form.
“What people want to look for would be that inclusion of the protein, and then as few other ingredients as possible [on the label],” says Connie Diekman, the Director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. Also important: Check to make sure that protein is the first ingredient listed and the product contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving.
With Diekman’s help, we found five powders that meet that criteria. Diekman believes that whey and soy are the best choices in powders (based on current research), but we also included some alternative options.
Exos Performance Nutrition
This whey protein powder was recently put on the market by EXOS, a performance center for elite and pro athletes based in Phoenix, AZ. The experts at EXOS teamed up with Thorne Research to create a supplement that is mainly whey with few other ingredients. The supplement contains 21 grams of protein per serving.
$60 for 30 servings, ExosFuel.com
Jay Robb Vanilla Egg White Protein
It is no secret that eggs are great sources of protein, so egg-based protein is a good choice if you are an ovo-vegetarian. Jay Robb’s Unflavored Egg White Protein has limited excess ingredients and contains 25 grams of protein per serving.
$26.95 for 10 servings, JayRobb.com
Gold Standard Natural 100% Casein
Diekman likes this particular blend of casein because, “It has a little bit more carb, which is needed to build muscle and it does have fewer additional ingredients.” Casein, like whey, includes dairy.
$34.99 for 2lb, Optimumnutrition.com
This vegan blend combines whole grain brown rice, pea, alfalfa, and SaviSeed protein (with very few other ingredients) to deliver 25 grams of protein per serving.
$64.99 for 23 servings, MyVega.com
Hammer Nutrition Soy Protein
Soy is lactose- and gluten-free, and is a great source of protein for vegetarians. If you do consume milk products, Diekman suggests mixing soy and whey-based protein.
$32.95 for 24 servings, HammerNutrition.com