10 Best Protein Powders for Men
So you want to try a new protein powder? Or maybe you want to dabble in adding a scoop or two to your morning smoothie for the first time? Perhaps you're looking to bulk up a bit? Whatever the reason, there's no shortage of protein powders geared towards a male audience and specific fitness objectives men may have.
Why should men use protein powder?
"Men can use protein powder for any nutrition goal," explains Jim White, RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. White explains three scenarios where protein powder would be the best supplement for men to choose:
- Muscle gain or weight gain: "For weight gain or increasing strength, a protein drink can be a convenient and quick way to get in extra calories and protein between meals."
- Weight loss: "Since protein is satiating, it can be beneficial for weight loss if used as a meal replacement when following an overall reduced calorie diet."
- Supplemental nutrition: Certain protein powders can contribute to overall nutrition by helping men get certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they may otherwise be missing out on. "If one leads a busy lifestyle and finds themselves skipping meals, a protein [shake] can be a nutritious meal replacement when blended with fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats," White adds.
Protein powders can also help men increase their fiber intake, boost overall protein consumption for vegans and vegetarians, and load up on BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids, which aid in muscle growth.
Do you need more protein?
Before you order a tub of protein powder, it's worth noting that evidence indicates that most men are actually consuming more protein than they need.
This excess protein consumption is because of all the meat, poultry, and eggs consumed in the Standard American Diet (SAD). A shift to more nutrient-dense protein sources (think nuts, quinoa, oats) even if you consume less protein overall is a better move for your health, wallet, and the planet.
To determine how much protein you should be consuming, you can use the USDA's Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) calculator. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for both women and men is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound.
While many easily hit their daily protein quota, for those who currently aren't or for those leading an active lifestyle and looking to increase muscle mass, supplementing your diet with a high-quality protein powder is an excellent option.
How much protein powder should men consume at a time?
"Men should look for a protein powder that hits the 'sweet spot' of at least 20 grams of protein per serving," shares Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, founder of Essence Nutrition. "That amount has been studied to best contribute to MPS (muscle protein synthesis) after exercise," she adds.
What are the best protein powders for men?
You may be itching to grab a tub of powdered protein, but you should know that not all protein powders are created equal. "When looking for a protein powder men should read the label for added sugars and [should pick] brands with recognizable ingredients with minimal fillers from oils and flours. Opt for brands that have no added sugars or use natural non-nutritive sweeteners such as stevia or monk fruit instead of aspartame or sucralose if artificial sweeteners may cause you bloating," advises White.
The following 10 best protein powders for men are recommended by nutrition and health experts to help you get the body you're working so hard for.
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Max Protein
"When looking at protein powder, an important ingredient that is often overlooked is fiber. Fiber needs are higher for men that for women (38 grams per day vs. 25 grams per day), and most people don't even get half of the recommended amount of fiber," cautions Erin Brown, MSc, RD.
"Fiber is a compound found only in plants that the human body cannot digest, but it still serves a vital part in human health. Fiber is important for healthy digestion, and eating enough fiber on a daily basis helps reduce risk of colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, all diseases that affect men more than women." Since this protein is plant-based, it contains fiber as well as protein, with three grams of fiber per serving in "Max Protein." In the "Balanced Protein + Fiber" version, there are eight grams of fiber per serving.
Vega One All-in-One Shake
Protein powders can even can be a boon if you're looking to up your fruit and vegetable intake without, you know, eating more fruits and vegetables. "VEGA all-in-one powder is fortified with a wide variety of fruit and vegetable powders," notes White. "This adds an overall higher levels of vitamins and minerals to the powder, which many men are missing in their diets."
Bob's Red Mill Vanilla Protein Powder Nutritional Booster
"Men should look for a protein powder that includes some pea protein in order to reap the benefits of pulses (the protein-packed foods that include dried peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas), such as preventing heart disease, the leading cause of death in men. With the average male getting less than half of his daily requirement for dietary fiber, pea protein has a high-fiber content to help and which can also protect against heart disease," offer The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT.
"This pea protein powder is blended with chicory root, a prebiotic fiber, and with chia seeds to assist men in meeting their fiber recommendations (most men only get 15 of the 38 grams needed for good health), which is also important for a healthy heart. Additionally, it includes probiotics, which especially men, forget to take—and combined with the prebiotics and chia, it contains the perfect trio for a healthy microbiome that men often lack due to diets that are high in meats filled with antibiotics and in refined starches," The Nutrition Twins say.
Bonus: It's gluten-free, vegan, and a good source of Omega-3s, a nutrient linked to heart health.
BiPro Bold Whey + Milk Protein Isolate
Looking to put on muscle? BiPro is an excellent choice. While you'll see many vegetarian and vegan options on this list, when you're looking for one of the best whey protein powders for men, look no further than this pick. "BiPro has all the BCAAs you need," offers White, referring to the branched-chain amino acids that are found in protein-rich foods. "It has 2.5 grams of Leucine [which is one such BCAA]. Leucine is an amino acid that helps increase muscle synthesis."
RELATED: Learn how to fire up your metabolism and lose weight the smart way.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Organic Plant Based Vegan Protein Powder
Is your protein powder making you pimply? Could be, y'all. "One important tip to bodybuilders with acne or acne-prone skin: Dairy-made, whey protein is a common trigger of acne breakouts," says Yoram Harth, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist, Medical Director of MDacne. "Whey proteins are made from casein, which is a dairy protein. Similar to cow's milk and dairy, whey protein contains more than 60 different hormones. Many of these hormones, particularly IGF (Insulin-Like Growth Factor), have been shown to increase the size and activity of the sebaceous glands, leading to more acne breakouts." Harth recommends those prone to breakouts seek out protein powders made from pea protein, soy protein, or hemp protein, such as this stellar choice from Optimum Nutrition made with a blend of organic pea, rice, and sacha inchi (a plant also known as Inca-peanuts, native to tropical South America) proteins."
Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein
Hop aboard that vegan train and boost your fiber intake, fellas: "Orgain protein has seven grams of fiber per serving," says White. "Most men are not getting in enough adequate levels of fiber in their diets." With flavors like creamy chocolate fudge and chocolate peanut butter cup, you'll be looking for excuses to scoop this up.
Remember that muscle protein synthesis (MPS) Auslander Moreno mentioned earlier? She explains further that "if you can find a grass-fed whey one, that's the gold standard for MPS. And if it comes with hefty Vitamin D (quite hard to find in food sources), you've hit the jackpot. You'll also want to avoid ones with tons of additives, chemicals, stabilizers, artificial sweeteners, etc." If you can find a protein powder that also has fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics to keep your gut microbiota healthy, all the better. "On the market, [this] protein powder connects all of these dots above. A rare breed, indeed, and actually tastes incredible to boot."
PRO7EIN SYNTHESIS by Vitasport
For guys without much downtime, this tasty protein mixes instantly so you can shake and run. "For men, ingesting the correct amount of protein per day is necessary for the development of muscle mass, strength and recovery. The key however is making sure you get enough throughout the day, while keeping carbs and fat in check, which can be difficult from food alone," states Juan Bautista, MD, a primary care physician in Fresno, California. "As an active male who is concerned about my health and fitness, I prefer this [powder] because it's a great tasting, quality, sustained-release protein blend that delivers a whopping 34 grams of protein per serving, with only 2 grams of carbs."
True Nutrition Protein Powder Custom Blend
Sometimes, it's best to customize your protein powder to your personal nutrition profile. "I work with a lot of clients who have unique dietary needs which is why I recommend True Nutrition protein where you can customize your own blend," comments Christina Towle, Clinical Nutritionist and founder of Hudson Valley Nutrition. "Their Protein 'generator' is a tool that allows our customers to design their very own custom protein mixes online." Choose from a wide variety of flavors, flavor intensity (light, regular, or heavy), and boosters like electrolytes, turmeric, probiotics, and more.
Herbalife24® Enhanced Protein Powder, Natural Flavor
"Men generally have higher protein needs than women do, and should look for a protein powder that has a relatively high protein content per serving, and one which has few additional ingredients to keep the calories low. The advantage to a protein powder that has few added ingredients is that it allows the user to adjust the amount of protein used without taking in a lot of excess calories," suggests Susan Bowerman, RD, Herbalife Nutrition, who is also board-certified in sports dietetics. "A two-scoop serving of Herbalife24 Enhanced Protein Powder contains only 120 calories but has 24 grams of protein from a blend of whey and casein proteins which allow for a sustained release of amino acids (and especially important branched-chain amino acids) to promote muscle recovery and growth."