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Protein Water Is the Next Big Thing—Here Are 5 To Try

Is protein water worth the latest hype? We tasted popular brands to find out.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
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One of the most notable trends in the world of health and fitness right now is protein water. While protein shakes and protein powders have long been staples for fitness enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals, protein water is emerging as a convenient and nutritious alternative. This doesn't mean it's time to ditch your protein shakes and powders, but protein water offers some unique benefits that can complement your current protein routine.

Protein water is a grab-and-go drink that keeps you hydrated while giving you a solid protein boost. Whether you're aiming to build muscle, lose weight, or just up your protein intake without the extra calories or hassle of mixing shakes, protein water could be just what you need.

To help you understand this latest trend, we've delved into what these innovative drinks can offer and evaluated five different brands of protein water to determine which ones are worth your money. Here's what you need to know about protein water and our top recommendations.

What Is Protein Water?

Protein water is a combination of protein powder, usually whey protein, collagen, or plant protein. It is similar to a bottled protein shake, but it uses water as the base instead of a milk or milk alternative. This results in a product that is thinner in texture and often has fewer calories and added sugars than a shake.

The most common way to buy protein water is in individual bottles, but some brands also sell protein packets to add to your own water.

Common Ingredients in Protein Water

Protein waters contain different protein powders depending on the brand, such as whey protein, casein, collagen, plant-based proteins, or a combination of one or more types.

  • Whey protein powder: Whey is a dairy-based protein powder that either comes in the form of "whey protein concentrate" or "whey protein isolate." Isolate is a higher-concentrated form of whey and is often better for lactose-intolerant people because a lot of the lactose is removed during processing.
  • Casein protein powder: This is another type of milk-based protein. Your body digests casein slower than whey, so it's known as a "slower-release" protein. This is why many people consume casein-based products before going to bed.
  • Collagen powder: This type of powder is made up of small pieces of animal collagen. It can help your body form connective tissue, improving your muscles, skin, and bone health.
  • Plant-based protein powder: This type of protein is good for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet or those who can't consume dairy. Common plant-based protein powders are pea protein, hemp protein, and soy protein.

Along with added protein powder, many brands of protein waters will have other added ingredients like vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and sweeteners:

  • Sweeteners: Most brands of protein waters use zero-calorie sweeteners instead of sugar, so you'll most often see types like Stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, or sucralose.
  • Electrolytes: Some companies also add extra electrolytes to water, increasing your drink's hydration.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Depending on the brand, your water may also contain added vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium.

General Nutrition of Protein Water

The average amount of protein added to protein water is usually between 10 and 20 grams, and most of the popular brands on the market today all contain fewer than 100 calories, but these amounts can vary depending on the product. According to the USDA, an average bottle of protein water (made with a blend of whey, casein, and collagen) contains the following:

Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 72
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 24 mg
Carbs: 1 g (Fiber: TK g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 15 g

Along with these nutrients, protein waters often contain added vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, and vitamins C, B, and D.

Benefits of Protein Water

In general, protein is a necessary nutrient for your health and well-being. It helps you build muscle and repair muscle damage, reduces hunger cravings and increases satiety, provides sustainable energy, boosts metabolism, supports your immune system, and can help with weight loss (if this is your current goal).

Whatever your current protein goal, products like protein water can help you achieve it. When compared to shakes and powders, protein water offers a few noticeable benefits:

  • Low-calorie: For one, most protein waters are lower in calories than a protein shake or powder. These drinks can be a helpful choice if you aim to increase protein while reducing calories.
  • Hydrating: Many protein waters contain added electrolytes, but even without them, the water still provides a hydration boost.
  • Convenient: Having bottles of protein water on hand is one of the easiest ways to add protein to your day. You can take them with you anywhere, and you don't have to worry about throwing together a protein shake or protein smoothie in the morning before starting your day.

 15 Best Protein Shake Recipes for Weight Loss

How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?

The amount of protein needed per day is different for everyone, but the USDA Dietary Guidelines say that at the bare minimum, women should be getting at least 46 grams per day and men should be getting at least 56 grams. But to enjoy some of the benefits like reduced hunger, better metabolism, and increased weight loss, these numbers will likely need to be higher.

Top 5 Protein Waters To Try (Tested & Reviewed)

We taste-tested five popular protein water brands and discussed the experience with each one below, as well as detailed each product's ingredients and nutrition information. We believe they're all worth trying and offer up their own unique benefits, but read on to learn more about which protein water may be the right fit for you.

Then, check out 25 Superfoods That are Surprisingly High in Protein.

Clean Simple Eats Clear Protein

can of protein water on a pink background
Photo: Clean Simple Eats. Design: Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per can):
Calories: 90
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 5 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 20 g

Ingredients: Filtered Water, Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Stevia Leaf Extract, Reb M (as OnoSweet), Mushroom Extract (to Protect Quality).

Product info: Clean Simple Eats is best known for its protein and collagen powders, but its newest product is its Clear Protein Waters. Made with grass-fed whey protein isolate and offered in flavors like Dragonfruit, Blue Razz, Prickly Pear, and Tropical Orange, these drinks offer 20 grams of protein in each can for only 90 calories. When it comes to ingredients, Clean Simple Eats has its own "never list" of ingredients you'll never find in its products, which includes artificial flavors, colors, dyes, and added sugars.

Taste: I tasted the Blue Razz and Tropical Orange flavors, and I can easily say this was my favorite protein water as far as taste is concerned. Its texture is light and clean and very closely resembles "water" without any added thickness, which is an issue I ran into with another water on our list. The flavors are bold without being too overpowering, and I didn't get any sort of weird aftertaste from the whey or stevia extract.

$44.99 at Clean Simple Eats
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PWR LFT Whey Protein Water

bottle of PWR LFT protein water on a pink background
Photo: PWR LFT. Design: Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 50
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 240 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 10 g

Ingredients: Water, Whey protein isolate, Natural flavors, Fruit and vegetable juice (for color), Monk fruit juice concentrate, Salt (electrolyte), B vitamin blend [Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Calcium D-Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1)], Citric acid, Stevia leaf extract (Steviol Glycosides), Dipotassium Phosphate (electrolyte).

Product info: Compared to other protein waters on our list, PWR LFT has the smallest amount of protein with 10 grams per bottle, but it can still be a helpful choice when you need just a slight boost of protein before or after a workout. Aside from whey protein isolate, this water has 650 milligrams of electrolytes and 2,000 milligrams of BCAAs, also known as branched-chain amino acids. These amino acids act as building blocks for protein and can help you build more muscle mass during workouts. This water is also free of sugar and artificial sweeteners and flavors.

Taste: I sampled the Berry Strawberry and Lemon Lime flavors, and the Berry Strawberry was an easy win for me. The flavor is subtle and has a nice level of sweetness, and even though I experienced a mild aftertaste, it wasn't enough to ruin the taste for me. I enjoyed the smooth texture of this water, and it most closely resembled the texture and flavors of an electrolyte drink like Gatorade. PWR LFT also comes in Orange Mango and Blueberry Pomegranate.

$27.99 at Amazon
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Ready Protein Water

bottle of Ready Protein Water on a pink background
Photo: Ready. Design: Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 90
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 40 mg
Carbs: 1 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 20 g

Ingredients: Water, Whey Protein Isolate, Phosphoric Acid, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Monk Fruit Extract, Stevia Leaf Extract, Fruit and Vegetable Juice (color).

Product info: We like the short ingredients list found in Ready Protein Water, as well as the fact that it offers 20 grams of whey protein at only 90 calories. This water contains electrolytes to help you stay hydrated, and it uses zero added sugars and instead gets its slight sweetness from monk fruit and stevia extract.

Taste: Curiosity got the best of me, and I took a risk on trying the Cotton Candy Grape flavor. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one because I worried the cotton candy flavoring would be too overpowering or sweet, but it was neither. It has a subtle sweetness, and even though the taste of cotton candy was pretty strong, it wasn't too much and instead just felt like a refreshing sweet treat. One thing I'll say about this one is that I didn't love the texture as much as the other waters on the list. It's a bit thick for my liking, and it just didn't feel like I was drinking water. But overall, I still liked the flavor and would drink this one again. If cotton candy isn't your thing, they also offer Blueberry, Orange Mango, Black Cherry, Lemon Ice, and Pink Grapefruit.

$29.88 at Amazon
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Protein2o Plus Whey Protein Infused Water

bottle of Protein20 water on a pink background
Photo: Protein20. Design: Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 70
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbs: 7 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 15 g

Ingredients: Water, Whey Protein Isolate (Milk), Erythritol, Natural Flavors, Vegetable Juice (color), REB A (Stevia Leaf Extract), Phosphoric Acid.

Product info: Protein2o Plus is a protein water made with whey protein isolate. It offers 15 grams of protein and has only 70 calories and 0 grams of sugar. The Protein20 Plus line of waters differs from the original Protein20 in offering additional benefits outside of protein. For instance, the Tropical Coconut flavor (the one I taste-tested) comes with added electrolytes for hydration, and the Cotton Candy flavor comes with caffeine for an energy boost.

Protein20 also notes that their products are guaranteed BPA-free every time, so you can rest assured that you're steering clear of potentially harmful plastics. It's also important to note that this water contains erythritol—a zero-calorie artificial sweetener used to add sweetness to foods and drinks. Unfortunately, recent research has shown that there may be a link between high levels of erythritol and an increased risk of heart disease. Consuming this sweetener in smaller doses should be okay, but we suggest talking to your doctor if you have concerns.

Taste: I only tried one flavor of Protein20 Plus—Tropical Coconut. I loved the experience of drinking one, especially after a sweaty workout on a hot day. The texture is clean and smooth, and the coconut flavor adds a nice sweetness that feels perfect for summer without fully overpowering the drink. Along with Tropical Coconut, Protein20 Plus also comes in Mixed Berry and Cotton Candy.

$27.98 at Amazon
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Celebrate CLR Protein Water

bottle of Celebrate CLR protein water on a pink background
Photo: Celebrate Supplements. Design: Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per bottle):
Calories: 80
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 20 g

Ingredients: Water, Whey Protein Isolate, Citric Acid, Sucralose, Fruit and/or Vegetable Juice (color).

Product info: These protein waters from Celebrate Supplements offer 20 grams of whey protein with 0 grams of sugar and only 80 calories, so they'll fit into most high-protein eating plans—especially those that are low-calorie. Celebrate CLR has a nice short ingredient list, but it uses the artificial sweetener sucralose, which some people may be trying to avoid. Sucralose in small quantities may not pose too many risks, but some recent research has linked excess sucralose consumption to increased cancer risk. If you're worried about artificial sweeteners, talk with your doctor before drinking Celebrate CLR.

Taste: Overall, I enjoyed drinking Celebrate CLR. The Pink Lemonade flavor tasted just like a sweet and tart lemonade drink, and it had such a light texture that it really did feel like drinking regular flavored water. The one thing that hindered this experience for me a bit is the aftertaste, which probably comes from using sucralose as a sweetener. It was still enjoyable, and I'd reach for this drink on a hot day when I need a protein boost. Along with Pink Lemonade, Celebrate CLR offers their protein water in a Mixed Berry flavor, too.

$16.95 at Amazon
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Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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