It’s difficult to produce a shortlist of the best protein powders and protein shakes around. After all, everyone has their own reasons for taking protein supplements, individual taste preferences, and personalised budget. Nevertheless, we think we’ve nailed it!
First of all, you should ask yourself “what makes Fitness Savvy’s best protein powder guide special?”
The answer is simple:
We’ve considered scientific studies, macro profiles, nutritional info, and price, then thrown in some advice you won’t read anywhere else. For good measure, we’ve also quoted useful online reviews so you can see what other people think of the protein shakes in this list.
Not only do we highlight some of the best protein powders available, but we link to our own comparison pages where you can watch videos, read reviews, and then compare prices from hundreds of retailers.
On top of that, we’ve also included a helpful guide to creating your own comparison tables, right here on the Fitness Savvy website!
We trust you’ll agree that this makes Fitness Savvy’s guide the most useful one around.
A Quick Note on BCAA Content
Before we jump into our top five, we wanted to take a moment to talk about BCAAs.
Some protein supplement packaging will state how many grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are in each serving. Other packets might say “contains naturally occurring BCAAs”.
You must remember this:
All whey, casein and plant-based protein shakes contain naturally occurring BCAAs.
If the packaging does not state how many grams the product contains, you can use this quick trick, assuming a 25-gram scoop of powder:
- whey protein: 5 – 6 grams
- casein protein: 4 – 5 grams
- soya protein: 4 grams
- other plant-based proteins: 3 – 4 grams
Fitness Savvy’s Top 5 for 2018
Now we’ve got that out of the way, here are our top 5 best protein powders for 2018.
Bulk Powders Micellar Casein
Whenever you find a compilation of best protein powders, whey protein nearly always tops the list. Whey protein is fast acting, and for this reason, it is the preferred supplement to take post-workout.
Some hardcore gym-goers invest in whey protein to take after their workout and casein (a slower-release protein) for bedtime.
But if you could only choose one, which should it be?
Studies comparing both whey and casein protein, post workout, found little difference in their effect on protein synthesis. Other studies also show casein protein to be beneficial when re-comping. For this reason, we give casein the upper hand, and the number one spot on our list.
So, how does Bulk Powders Micellar Casein stack up? Well, when it comes to taste, this is certainly one of our favourite protein shakes. We’ve tried the chocolate and vanilla, and both taste awesome. While we’ve not tried the strawberry, we’re sure it will hold its own against the others.
As we said before, flavour is subjective. However, just to give you the complete picture, we have included comments other reviewers have left online.
Delicious! I look forward to a shake (I use milk, not water) a few times every week.
One reviewer stated that they started mixing with almond milk for a better experience:
I figured it goes better with almond milk. I feels less thick and doesn’t stick in the corners of the mouth when with almond milk. It also goes fine with greek yogurts and porridges.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the only review suggesting to mix with almond milk. Others had the same idea:
Nice flavour mixed with milk or almond milk.I think the protein is having a small effect and I’m not so achy when I wake up in the morning after taking this.
Regarding negative reviews, one user was unhappy about something they found inside:
Not happy I found piece of plastic inside
Someone did pipe up to suggest that might have been the scoop! Another review we found was very detailed, insightful and descriptive:
We doubt the authenticity of this review, due to the fact that they neglected to use an exclamation mark. Anyone who really thought this was “yuck” (to the point they deemed it necessary to write a one-word review on Amazon) would undoubtedly use an exclamation mark to firmly make their point, we’re sure you’d agree!
Anyway, flavours available include:
Each 30-gram protein shake contains:
- 108 calories
- 27 grams of protein
- 0.4 grams of carbs
- 0.4 grams of fat
- Macro ratio % (protein, carbs, fat) 95/1/4
- Gluten Free
- GM Free
This protein is great for those looking to cut down, re-comp, or lean bulk.
However, if you’re looking for a supplement with a ton of calories to add mass, this is not for you! Check out our item at number 4 for that.
Bulk Powders Micellar Casein is a fine protein supplement to take at any time of day. With only 0.4 grams of carbs and 0.4 grams of fat, it has a great macro ratio, if protein percentage is your main concern. We also find this powder mixes well to form a thick shake and is rather filling, unlike other whey supplements which can mix quite “thin” and taste watery.
This product makes it to our number one spot based on macro profile, the way it can be used, overall online reviews and our own personal experience. Fitness Savvy founder, Robin Young, used this exact product while he conducted his body re-composition experiment, where he added 8.4lb of muscle while losing 6.2lb of fat.
A 4kg bag can be picked up for as little as £45-50, also making this the cheapest protein powder on our list. This can be done by using a Bulk Powders discount codes on the Bulk Powders site, or purchasing on Amazon while on offer.
- Amazing Value
- High protein percentage
- Low calorie, low carbs, and low fat
- Good all-round supplement
- No added vitamins and minerals
- Limited flavours available
- The powder is light and can get messy if you’re not careful!
Phd Diet Whey
Before discovering Bulk Powder’s awesome casein protein, we were big fans of PhD products. One great thing about this brand is that you’ll always find them on the shelves of your local supermarket. So, if you’re unable to buy some online, and you’ve just run out, you can always pop to Tesco or whatnot and grab some!
Of all the PhD protein shakes, Diet Whey is their most popular. It mixes to form a thick shake, and tastes great. Some online reviews comment on how thick this particular product mixes, and understandably this could be viewed as a negative. However, the simple solution is to add more water.
Here’s what the awesome people who take time out of their busy days to write unpaid reviews thought:
Taste is wonderful, reminds me of melted chocolate icecream. No weird after taste at all. I am not big fan of protein powders, but this one is really tasty.
A seasoned veteran also left a helpful review, too:
I would definitely recommend this product. I have tried a few diet ones and this brings a ten from me
Other glowing reviews praise how it saved them from turning to the supplement-free dark side:
No word of a lie, this protein shake is what saved me from stopping taking these supplements
Regarding the small number of negative reviews on Amazon, the main issues seem to relate to packaging being open. This can sometimes happen, and we recommend returning the product if you do find something similar, no matter where you buy it from.
Flavours available include:
Belgian Chocolate, Vanilla, Banana, Strawberry, Chocolate Mint, White Chocolate, Chocolate Orange, Raspberry, Chocolate, Cherry Bakewell
Each 25-gram protein shake contains:
- 91 calories
- 17 grams of protein
- 2.75 grams of carbs
- 1.4 grams of fat
- Macro ratio % (protein, carbs, fat) 74/12/14
Perhaps one of the best things about this shake is the combination of scientifically researched weight-loss ingredients. It includes CLA, flaxseed, green tea and l-carnitine – all of which show promise in aiding weight loss.
As the name suggests, this protein powder is aimed at those looking to slim down. If you are already overweight, your protein requirements will be lower, so the macro profile of 74/12/14 reflects this.
However, if you are not new to training, you should opt for a supplement with a higher protein percentage. In conclusion, this is a great protein supplement for those who are new to exercise and looking to slim down without sacrificing taste and texture.
- Added weight-loss ingredients
- More balanced macro profile than others in this list
- Great tasting
- Ideal for those new to exercise or who need lower protein intake
- Low price point
- Mixes easily
- Available from many supermarkets, as well as online
- Lower protein content per serving
- Some customers report broken packaging when ordering online
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey
Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey is, hands down, the most popular protein shake there is. When it comes to whey protein, it sits on a throne and wears a crown, and looks down its super-ripped nose at the lower-level protein supplements as they fight to try and steal its glory.
For this reason, it commands a higher price than other supplements.
The main reason ON Gold Standard Whey is so popular is because of the taste. Simple. Let’s be honest, if it tasted like crap, it would never have grown so much in popularity – no matter how good the marketing was. It mixes easily, though we find a little thin. For this reason, we add less water than the instructions recommend.
As usual, we have sifted through the online reviews so you don’t have to. Here is what people had to say about Gold Standard Whey:
This protein powder is the best I have had in a long time, before I had Bulk Powders and I have to say the quality difference was evident from the ver first use. This is easily mixed dissolving completely in water and milk and the taste is great not being too sweet or bitter. What else can I say? It’s great!
If you like bananas, you should probably get the banana flavoured one, yeah?
First time I have used this and it taste great but I don’t know why I didn’t go for the banana flavour, I like bananas
One reviewer provided some very valuable advice to save us all some time:
Make sure you thoroughly check the bottle for the scoop before you reach for the ‘contact us’ button as it is there, buried deep, just give it a shake.
Flavours available include:
Banana Cream, Caramel Toffee Fudge, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies and Cream, Double Rich Chocolate, Rocky Road, Strawberry, Vanilla Creme, and Vanilla Ice Cream
Each 29-gram protein shake contains:
- 120 calories
- 24 grams of protein
- 3 grams of carbs
- 1 grams of fat
- Macro ratio % (protein, carbs, fat) 82/10/8
The main ingredient in Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey is whey protein isolate. This is the fastest acting protein around. To find out more about the different types of whey protein, check out our whey protein buying guide.
Gold Standard Whey is not cheap. Although the guys at Optimum Nutrition were kind enough to include some cool protein shake recipes on the back of the packaging (a nice little extra), we don’t feel it justifies the price. Unfortunately, this means we rarely invest in it. However, we did pick up several 2.27kg tubs up for just £35 each back in April 2018, when Fitness Savvy told us they were going for a crazy price!
- Huge range of flavours
- Made using whey protein isolate for faster digestion
- The world’s most popular protein shake
- States the amount of BCAAs per serving on packaging
- Added vitamins and minerals including calcium and iron
- Includes recipes for shakes on back label
- Expensive (when no deals are on – check Fitness Savvy to find best prices)
- Mixes quite thin
- Some flavours are very sweet
Hench Nutrition Hi-Calorie Mass Gainer
If you’re looking to add mass, but finding it hard to get enough calories, you should probably consider investing in a weight gain protein shake, commonly referred to as a “mass gainer.” Possibly the best all-round gainer you will find is Hench Nutrition’s Hi-Calorie Mass Gainer.
These are great for those who find it difficult to eat enough food to put on weight. If you’re looking to slim down, this is not for you – especially considering it has 1,000 calories per serving!
The strawberry flavour gets a lot of love on Amazon, with many reviewers commenting on how the taste of other mass gainers put them off. We’ve skimmed the reviews so you don’t have to. Here are some of the comments regarding taste:
The strawberry flavour is gorgeous, I could drink it all day!
As with other protein powders like PhD Diet Whey, some users found it to be a little too thick. However, common sense prevailed!
If you make it according to the spec on the box it turns out to be extremely thick and it makes you literally wanna throw up.. The best solution I’ve found is to obv reduce the amount of cups of powder I add and add some water to thin it out.. – I’m very happy with this purchase and going to re-order another tub!
89% of the whopping 426 people reviewing this product gave it 4 or 5 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately, this score might be skewed by the fact that some people obviously don’t understand how the scoring system works! Check out this 1-star review and judge for yourself:
Purchased this as decided to do bodybuilding, I got the strawberry flavour one. I just have one shake a day as it is 1000 cal. Very easy to drink i make mine in a blender for ease well done people at Hench
Flavours available include:
Banana, Butterscotch, Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla
Each 160-gram protein shake contains:
- 1,000 calories
- 55 grams of protein
- 130 grams of carbs
- 29 grams of fat
- Macro ratio % (protein, carbs, fat) 22/52/26
Other mass gainers on the market fall into the “all-in-one” category. This means they contain added vitamins and minerals, and are effectively a meal replacement. However, Hench Nutrition Hi-Calorie Mass Gainer does not contain these added extras.
This could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. For what it is – a product whose purpose is to help you add mass – it does just that. However, we would recommend ensuring that you consume other important vitamins and minerals, primarily through your diet in the way of fruit & vegetables, and then maybe via a multi-vitamin.
Based on taste, the sheer volume of calories, and the price, Hench Nutrition take the crown of best gainer for 2018. If you want to check out more options, head on over to our mass gainers page to find more products to compare.
- Very high-calorie mass gainer (1,000 calories per serving)
- Fantastic online reviews
- High protein
- Great taste
- Limited number of flavours
- Only available from Amazon
- Doesn’t include any added vitamins and minerals
- Some reviewers state it is a hard protein shake to stomach
BSN Syntha-6 Edge
BSN’s Syntha-6 Edge is another popular whey protein powder. It is not the cheapest protein powder around, but is unrivalled in terms of taste.
You’ve guessed it. We’ve included some helpful reviews we found online:
So when it comes to protein powder usually (in my case anyway) you have to try/sample multiple brands until you find the one that is right for you. This being down to ether mix-ability, taste or consistency. For me I have tried multiple powders from Optimal Nutrition, The Protein Works, PHD, My Protein. So far out of all that I have tried I found that the BSN has been one of the best.
But don’t just take Myles’s word for it, here are some other opinions:
I have been using BSN supplements for many years IMHO it’s still by far the best. Mixes easily without a blender, tastes great (even with water) . More importantly it does the job for my weight training and diet, Great stuff! Well worth spending the extra few quid rather than the usual cheap brands like ‘My Protein’ as the difference in taste, mixing and performance is massive!
We’ll finish off with this short, but sweet summary:
Best overall protein powder on the market.
Most of the unfavourable reviews centre on the fact that the containers were only 2/3 full (as with more products you buy), or didn’t contain 43 servings. Not really sure who bought this item, and from the outset was intent on measuring whether it contained all 43 servings or not.
The other small number of negative reviews recommend using Optimum Nutrition, or PhD, who we have already included further up this list!
Taste is great however it doesnt mix well and i always find lumps even when i use a coil. for the money i would recommend Phd or ON as alternate brands. Also highly recommend mixing with milk not water
Flavours available include:
Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies & Cream, Salted Caramel, Strawberry Milkshake, and Vanilla
Each 39-gram protein shake contains:
- 155 calories
- 24 grams of protein
- 4.5 grams of carbs
- 3.7 grams of fat
- Macro ratio % (protein, carbs, fat) 65/12/23
BSN Syntha-6 contains more calories than other protein shakes on this list, and has the lowest percentage of calories coming from protein, at 65%. This product would best suit those looking to lean bulk, but who want great taste at a reasonable price. It is also great for those just looking to add a little more protein to their diet to help with general fitness and physical activity.
- Amazing taste
- Good price point
- Great for those looking to lean-bulk
- Protein percentage is lower than others in our list
Use Fitness Savvy to Compare Protein Supplements
We’ve tried hard to narrow down the huge selection of protein powders and shakes to just five.
We also understand that you’ll consider many factors when choosing the right protein supplement for your needs, and that it is impossible to consolidate that into just one guide.
So, here’s the deal:
By using Fitness Savvy’s unique fitness-specific filters, you can narrow down your search and build your very own comparison tables!
This allows you to view key product info such as nutritional content, macro ratios and flavours, side-by-side.
The image below shows what such a custom-made, Fitness Savvy comparison table looks like:
Just so you know:
You can do this on thousands of fitness products – exercise bikes, weights, multi gyms, power racks and many more – not just protein supplements!
1. Visit one of our category or brand pages.
2. Use the filters on the right to narrow down your search.
3. Add to your own comparison set using the scales icon. This can be found on the product page, or brand/category page
So, there you have it. We’ve picked five protein of the best protein powders for 2018, and also show you how you can make your own comparison tables to find the right product for you.
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