The Best Protein Blends for an Effortless Boost

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You can change your daily routine with an easy protein source. Especially those who are dieting or body buildingIt is important to keep your protein levels high. Protein shakes are an easy and convenient way to get that boost.

While protein powder is fine, you may want to keep ready-made mixes on hand as well. It’s an easier on-the-go option – no mixing required.

There are two common types of protein shakes: whey-based and plant-based. We’ve tested many protein shakes for taste and nutritional value to help you determine which ones are worth your money.

If protein powders are more suitable for you, these are some of our favorites for mixing at home.

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/CNET

Pronounced “oh-win,” Owyn means Just What You Need, and is a plant-based protein blend that’s non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. And it does not contain gluten and dairy products, as well as the remaining top eight allergens such as soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish or shellfish. I tried Owyn for the first time about a year ago and was pleasantly surprised by the taste and quality of the drink. I tried it again recently, and dark chocolate is still one of my favorite flavors because it tastes like a chocolate dessert without too much sugar or the bad aftertaste that some protein shakes can have.

If you’re vegan, you know you need to put in a little more effort to meet your protein needs. Owyn’s standard protein shakes contain 20 grams of protein, but they also have a line of Pro Elite High Protein Drinks with 35 grams of protein per bottle. These are a good option if you’re looking for a mid-day snack or need a quick source of protein after a workout. I am lactose intolerant and may have a sensitive stomach when trying new supplements but I have had no issues with Owyn. It should be a safe choice if you are sensitive to dairy products or have a gluten or nut allergy.

pros

  • Creamy and full of flavor
  • No bad taste in your mouth
  • various flavors

Cons

  • Expensive for a 12-pack online or on Amazon
  • Not many flavor options under the Pro Elite High Protein range

You receive price alerts for OWYN Protein Shake – Dark Chocolate – 4pk/44.6 fl oz

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/CNET

Editor’s note, August 1, 2022: Premier Protein’s parent company, Lyons Magnus, has voluntarily recalled some of its chocolate, vanilla and cafe latte cartons. See the details of the recall.


Premier Protein has made itself a household name and is probably one of the most popular brands you’ll see on store shelves. This shake is whey-based and contains 30 grams of protein per serving. If you’re sensitive to whey protein, I prefer a plant-based protein shake or powder instead. I didn’t have any stomach issues when I tested Premier Protein, but I could see someone with the more severe lactose intolerance or sensitive to certain artificial sweeteners potentially experiencing some discomfort.

My favorite flavor from this line was the chocolate peanut butter protein shake because it tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in liquid form. The flavor profile is rich enough to make you feel like you’re drinking a sugary dessert, but it actually contains just one gram of sugar.

I’ve used Premier Protein as a protein shake to keep me up between meals and it gets the job done thanks to its protein profile.

pros

  • Various flavor options
  • Quick way to get protein on the go
  • taste like sweet

Cons

  • Artificial sweeteners can potentially upset some stomachs
  • The structure of the cardboard could be more durable

You receive price alerts for Premier Protein

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/CNET

If you’re looking for a creamy and delicious plant-based protein shake with a smooth profile, you’ll love Ripple’s protein shakes. It is available in vanilla, chocolate and coffee flavors and contains 20 grams of protein per bottle. Ripple’s vegan protein comes from pea protein and is slightly higher in calories (200 calories per serving) and sugar (9 grams per serving) compared to other plant-based proteins on this list.

I’ve tried each of the flavors Ripple has to offer, and I’m pleased that the brand has managed to make an on-the-go plant-based shake that doesn’t have a lumpy texture or a lingering aftertaste. Even some of the plant-based powders I’ve tried in the past have had a less impressive profile than the shakes Ripple offers. The sweetener used in this shake is derived from monk fruit, which surprised me because I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read the nutrition label. I’ve tried other products that contain the same sweetener and it’s more pronounced.

I would love for Ripple to expand their selection of plant-based shakes by adding those with extra protein and new flavors. While it may be harder to have high-protein options with plant-based protein, it’s still possible as Huel has learned how to do it.

pros

  • The flavors are creamy and rich
  • perfect on the go
  • Available through third-party vendors

Cons

  • Only three types available
  • Sugar is on the side a little high for a protein shake

You get price alerts for Ripple Vegan Protein Shakes – Chocolate – 4pk

Other protein shakes we’ve tried

Kate Farms

Editor’s note, August 11, 2022: Kate Farms’ parent company, Lyons Magnus, has voluntarily recalled some of its pediatric, standard beverages and nutritional blends. See the details of the recall.


Kate Farms uses organic yellow pea protein in its plant-based blends that are free of gluten, soy, dairy, and artificial sweeteners. I loved how creamy and delicious these protein shakes were. They’re higher in calories (330 calories), which is okay as it’s considered a meal replacement drink, not just a protein shake. This product nearly made the top list, but fell short in one key area: It only contains 16 grams of protein per serving, compared to other plant-based brands that pack at least 20 grams of protein. If Kate Farms had rearranged its formula to include 20 grams or more of protein, it would easily have made the top list.

Orga Organic Nutrition Shake

I’m familiar with Orgain’s plant-based protein powders because I’ve had it in the past. However, I had never tried their shakes before and they fell short for me. I really wanted to enjoy them, but there was an aftertaste that powders normally don’t have, and even the creamy chocolate fudge flavor (which I usually like) didn’t taste the same to me. If it were up to me, I would use Orgain in powder form and mix it with my non-dairy milk as I normally do.

Iconic Life Protein Drink

This whey-based protein shake wasn’t a hit for me as I couldn’t get over the artificial taste. I often enjoy vanilla flavors, but I wasn’t a fan of this version of vanilla protein. The chocolate flavor was a little better, but ultimately the blend of sweeteners wasn’t right for me.

how we chose

Flavor: We did a taste test to see if the flavor reminded us of the flavor profile. We also made sure that there was no bad taste in the mouth.

Ingredients: We looked at the ingredients to see contains additional minerals and nutrients to support the protein profile. We also checked for suspicious additives.

Protein grams: We made sure the products contained at least 20 grams of protein per serving.

Side effects: We observed whether gastrointestinal issues occur, as there can be a potential side effect of consuming supplements containing whey or artificial sugar.

Factors to consider

  • Be sure to read the ingredient label, especially if you are lactose intolerant.
  • Some protein shakes are sold in packages or separately, depending on where you buy them.
  • Whey concentrate and whey isolate usually make up the whey-based proteins. The difference is in the way it’s processed with whey isolate, which has more protein but less fat and carbohydrates. Plant-based protein main ingredients tend to be a mix of peas, brown rice, hemp, pumpkin seeds, or soy.

Protein Blends FAQ

What should you look for when shopping for protein shakes?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate supplements like protein shakes, but a good way to make sure you’re getting a quality protein powder is to check which brands have been tested by third-party companies. These include NSF International or Informed Choice certifications.

Are whey-based protein shakes better than plant-based ones?

Whey-based protein is isolated from whey and contains lactose. It is considered the gold standard for muscle growth because it is a complete protein, meaning it has all nine essential amino acids. Plant-based protein is considered a complete protein only if it is made from soy. However, there are many plant-based blends of peas, hemp, and pumpkin that when combined make a complete protein with all essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids. Avoid plant-based shakes that have added sugar or fillers. Also, be wary of any allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients.

Do you even need protein shakes?

It is important to remember that supplements are intended to support a balanced diet and should not be used as real food substitutes. If you’re getting enough protein throughout the day, you don’t need to drink protein shakes. But they are helpful if you need an on-the-go option to meet your protein quota.

Are there any negative side effects of drinking protein shakes?

If you’re lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy products, whey-based protein shakes may not be the best choice because they can upset your stomach. Additionally, some protein shakes may contain artificial sweeteners or ingredients that can also cause bloating or other gastrointestinal issues, so it’s important to read nutrition labels first.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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