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I Tried 11 Protein Shakes & the Best Was Rich, Chocolaty, and Smooth

This chocolaty protein shake will definitely be a part of my daily routine from now on.

Out of the handful of New Year's resolutions that I made for myself at the start of 2024, the only one I've managed to stick with is increasing my protein intake. Just three months into the new year and it's already showing some noticeable results. I have more energy, I've seen better results after strength training, and I feel fuller in between meals. Unlike my other New Year intentions of taking morning walks, meditating, and giving up TikTok, getting more protein every day has been surprisingly easy—mostly because I've discovered so many high-protein foods.

As I've been cooking with more protein-rich foods at every meal, I've also been exploring various protein-packed grocery products for quick boosts of energy. I've tried numerous powders, and bars, and even fell in love with some protein brownies that gained popularity a few months ago. However, my top pick among all these products has been bottled protein shakes.

Since January, I've been regularly enjoying Fairlife Core Power Shakes and Orgain Organic Protein Shakes, but as someone who becomes obsessed with one thing until I get sick of it, it now feels like the right time to find a new bottled shake.

With new options constantly appearing on grocery store shelves, I decided to conduct a taste test to find my next protein obsession. Spoiler alert: I found one! I also rated each shake out of 10, to help others who are on the hunt for a new protein beverage.

How I ranked the bottled protein shakes

Below, I've ranked 11 protein shakes that I tried for the first time, starting with the ones I liked the least, and ending with one in particular that I'll keep stocking up on.

I rated each shake out of 10, considering factors such as texture, flavor, nutritional content, and overall satisfaction. I made sure to include a mix of plant-based and dairy products, sampling a range of flavors that caught my interest.

Read on to find out the winner, and then check out The 10 Healthiest Sources of Protein You Can Eat.


can of Nutrament vanilla protein shake
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per can):
Calories: 330
Fat: 9 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 230 mg
Carbs: 48 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 43 g)
Protein: 15 g

My rating: 2/10

Maybe it was the soup-like appearance or perhaps the staggering 43 grams of sugar, but before I cracked this one open, I was already pretty sure I wasn't going to like it. And the results were proof that sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

The flavor wasn't terrible, as it sort of just tasted like really sweet milk, but it was way too sweet to drink more than a few sips. Not only was the sweetness too overpowering, but I didn't care for the fact that the first few ingredients listed were skim milk, sugar, corn syrup, and canola oil.

I understand that some athletes and people regularly doing intense workouts may be looking for higher-sugar drinks for post-workout recovery, but 43 grams in one drink isn't necessary for my routine. In the last year or so, I've worked hard to limit my consumption of added sugars whenever I can, because I know that too much regularly can increase my risk of things like diabetes and heart disease, and I have so much more energy when I'm not eating a ton of sugar.

As a sweets lover who enjoys baking, I usually save my added sugars for dessert, so there's no way I want to justify 43 grams of sugar in a drink that I didn't even really like the taste of.

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Nestle Boost Very Vanilla

bottle of Boost Protein
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 250
Fat: 6 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 220 mg
Carbs: 28 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 11 g)
Protein: 20 g

My rating: 3/10

My first impression of Boost was that it tastes, feels, and smells like a protein shake. I get hints of vanilla, but the protein taste was more overpowering than anything else, and I was grossed out by the thicker texture. These may not be breaking points for other people who are used to shakes like this, but I couldn't even finish half of mine.

The only reason I'm giving this one an extra point above Nutrament is because of its ingredients. It contains a ton of vitamins that I sometimes struggle to get enough of, like vitamin D, calcium, and iron. Plus, it has a full 20 grams of protein and only 1 gram of saturated fat. For me, keeping my saturated fat intake at a minimum is important, because even though I'm only in my early 30s, I want to develop heart-healthy habits that I can take with me as I get older. The American Heart Association recommends keeping intake at around 13 grams per day for a healthy heart, as too much saturated fat can increase your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease as you age, so I try to aim for around that number when I can.

Still, with the number of protein shakes on the market that also come fortified with vitamins, I see no point in buying this one again.

Ensure Max Protein

bottle of Ensure protein
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per carton):
Calories: 150
Fat: 2 g (Saturated Fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 230 mg
Carbs: 6 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 30 g

My rating: 4/10

I'd say Ensure is tied with Boost Protein Shake for flavor and texture. It had a mild vanilla flavor that didn't do enough to cover up that weird protein taste, and the texture was thick enough to ruin the experience for me. This one may be okay for people who aren't easily bothered by strange textures in their foods and drinks, but for me, it's an instant no.

However, what earned this one an extra point in my book was the nutrition information. I loved that it came with 4 grams of fiber and zero sugar, while still providing 30 grams of protein. But at the end of the day, I still didn't like it enough to buy it again.

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Remedy Super Chai Fuel

bottle of remedy protein
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 190
Fat: 9 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 180 mg
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 12 g

My rating: 6/10

With organic ingredients and a unique chai flavor that I don't see in many protein shakes, this Remedy Super Chai Fuel had so much potential. But ultimately, it fell a bit flat for me.

Yes, the organic ingredients like almond milk, coconut sugar, pea protein, maca, and cinnamon are a huge plus, but the end result flavor was too watered down. The texture wasn't bad, maybe a little grainy, but not super distracting like some of the previous shakes I mentioned.

Nutritionally speaking, I wasn't thrilled with the mere 12 grams of protein in this shake. Typically, I aim for a minimum of 20 grams per serving. According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, meals containing 25–30 grams of high-quality protein are enough to stimulate muscle protein synthesis for healthy adults, so if I'm unable to meet these numbers with one of my regular meals, I like having shakes with more protein to help me reach my goals.

I also didn't love the 8 grams of added sugar, which may not seem like much for some people, but I have an intense sweet tooth that I like to save for dessert and not waste on my protein shakes. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of added sugar for women per day, so I try to stick to this when I can. But I don't love having 8 of those grams come from just one drink.

Rebbl Strawberries & Creme

bottle of Rebbl protein shake
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 250
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 9 g)
Sodium: 260 mg
Carbs: 14 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 16 g

My rating: 6/10

I tasted a few different strawberry-flavored protein shakes, and the Rebbl Strawberries & Creme was my least favorite. Although the fragrance of this one was really nice and smelled just like fresh strawberries, the flavor was pretty boring in my opinion, and the texture was super grainy. I also wish there was more protein in this bottle.

Rebbl does offer some nutritional perks such as reduced levels of added sugar and the inclusion of adaptogenic ingredients like ashwagandha, maca, reishi, and MCT oil. However, if you're specifically in the mood for a strawberry protein drink, I'd recommend passing on this one and opting for one of the other two options I sampled instead.

Huel Strawberry

bottle of Huel Strawberry Protein
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per 1/2 bottle serving):
Calories: 200
Fat: 9 g (Saturated Fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 105 mg
Carbs: 20 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 11 g

My rating: 7/10

I'm honestly torn on Huel Strawberry. If I were judging based on flavor alone, this drink would get a higher rating. The strawberry taste feels fresh and not super artificial. The texture is a bit grainy, resembling more of a bottled smoothie than a protein shake, but it didn't bother me at all and was pretty refreshing.

Where I feel conflicted is in the nutritional information. This Huel drink is marketed as a "ready-to-drink meal," and it does have important vitamins, healthy omega-3s and 6s, and fiber, but there are only 11 grams of protein per serving, which just seems too small for an actual meal replacement.

It's worth noting that each bottle contains two servings, resulting in a total of 22 grams of protein if you drink the entire thing. However, the dual-serving setup is a bit confusing, especially for those looking to stick to recommended portion sizes. Personally, I can easily see myself consuming the entire bottle, which might pose a challenge for those striving for portion control.

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Soylent Creamy Chocolate

bottle of Soylent protein shake
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 400
Fat: 24 g (Saturated Fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 300 mg
Carbs: 36 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 20 g

My rating: 7/10

I don't have much to complain about with this Soylent Creamy Chocolate Protein Shake. It's rich but not too sweet, and even has a slight bitterness like what you'd get from a dark chocolate bar. The texture is creamy and not too thick, and it was all too easy to down this bottle in a matter of minutes.

It's meant to be a meal replacement, which explains the 400 calories, but I do wish there was even more protein and a bit more fiber to round out this "meal." I'm not sure how often I would end up buying this shake because if I'm drinking something as a meal, I'd like at least 30-40 grams of protein. But overall, this is certainly a tasty protein drink.

Koia Cold Brew Protein Coffee

bottle of Koia protien shake
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 190
Fat: 7 g (Saturated Fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 240 mg
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 18 g

My rating: 8/10

Caffeine and protein in one drink? I of course had to try Koia Cold Brew Protein Coffee, and overall, it didn't disappoint. It smelled and tasted like a cold brew with milk, with the major difference being that the texture of this drink was slightly grainy.

A huge benefit in my book and one of the reasons it earned a few extra points is that each bottle has 7 grams of fiber, making it the highest-fiber drink on the list! That plus protein, healthy fats, and caffeine made for a drink I'd buy again. As I mentioned, I'd still normally love to see a bit more protein in my shakes, but the fiber and caffeine make up for it.

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Owyn Elite Pro Vanilla

bottle of Own Protein shake
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 200
Fat: 7 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 270 mg
Carbs: 3 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 32 g

My rating: 9/10

Okay, so we are now getting into my top three rated protein shakes, and I can see myself becoming addicted to any of these. This Owyn Elite Vanilla Shake smells exactly like vanilla ice cream and the mild flavor was easy to drink and satisfied my sweet cravings. I can still taste a bit of that protein, but overall it wasn't too overpowering and was easy to finish.

I love that it only has 1 gram of saturated fat, 200 calories, and zero sugar, while still providing a very full 32 grams of protein per bottle. I'm now an Owyn fan, and my next step is to try their Chocolate or Nut Butter Cup flavors.

Muscle Milk Pro Advanced Nutrition Protein

bottle of Muscle Milk
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 220
Fat: 2.5 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 230 mg
Carbs: 11 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 40 g

My rating: 10/10

The next two drinks were my absolute favorite. They're both from Muscle Milk but I always see these two varieties side by side in the store, so I wanted to test the differences between the two. Coming in as my second favorite shake is the Slammin' Strawberry from Muscle Milk Advanced Nutrition Pro, which has 40 grams of protein in each bottle.

I love that there are 6 grams of fiber and only 1 gram of sugar, all for only 220 calories. When it comes to the taste, the flavor is exactly like the strawberry milk I drank as a kid, and the texture isn't too thick. It still tastes like a protein shake, but the protein flavor isn't as overt as in some of the other shakes on the list.

This shake will be an easy purchase for me in the future, and there was only one drink out of the 11 that I tasted that I liked slightly more than this one.

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Muscle Milk Zero Sugar Protein

bottle of Chocolate Muscle Milk
Samantha Boesch/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 170
Fat: 5 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 260 mg
Carbs: 11 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 25 g

My rating: 10/10

To me, this Chocolate Shake from Muscle Milk Genuine is the perfect protein drink. It has only 25 grams of protein compared to the 40 from the other Muscle Milk drink, but because I usually drink shakes as a snack between meals and not a full meal replacement, 25 grams is all I need.

What I love about this drink is that it has zero sugar and still 6 contains grams of fiber. The zero grams of sugar helps me with my overall goal of keeping my added sugar intake low, and the added fiber helps me get enough for my day if I need a boost. The USDA recommends at least 25-28 grams of fiber per day, so shakes like this can help me on days when I'm struggling to get this amount through my food.

I love the nutrition info for this shake, but what makes it an absolute winner in my book and enough to put it in the #1 spot is the taste. It's rich, chocolaty, smooth, and not too thick, and I felt like I could have had an extra bottle even after I finished with the first one. I gulped it right up and would love to have this for breakfast or even a post-dinner dessert when I'm short on my protein intake for the day.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
Sources referenced in this article
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