Skip to content

The 7 best types of protein powder

Die 7 besten Typen von Proteinpulver

Protein powders are very popular with athletes and health-conscious people, and there are numerous types of protein powder available from a range of sources. With so many options, it can be difficult to know which of these products will deliver optimal results.

So here's a list of the 7 best protein powders.

What are protein powders?

Protein powders are convenient sources of protein that come from animal or plant sources such as milk, eggs, rice, soy or peas.

The three most common forms of protein powder are:

  • Protein concentrates: these are made by extracting protein from food using heat, acid or enzymes. Their protein content is typically 60 to 80%, with the remaining 230 to 40% consisting of fat or carbohydrates.
  • Protein isolates: An additional filtration process removes more fat and carbohydrates. Protein isolates contain around 90 to 95% protein.
  • Protein hydrolysates: Hydrolysates are produced by further heating with acid or enzymes that break the bonds between the amino acids. Hydrolysates are absorbed by the body and muscles faster than other protein powders

Hydrolysates appear to raise insulin levels more than other forms of protein - at least in the case of whey protein. This can further stimulate your muscle growth after training (1).

Some protein powders are also fortified with vitamins and minerals - especially calcium.

However, not everyone will necessarily benefit from these powders. If your diet is already rich in high quality protein, then you won't notice any significant difference in muscle gain or quality of life by consuming additional protein powder. However, athletes and people who regularly train with weights will often find that using protein powder helps them maximize their muscle gains and fat loss.

Protein powders can also help people who struggle to meet their protein needs from food alone. Examples of this would be vegetarians, vegans, sick people and the elderly.

An overview of the most common types of protein powders

1. whey protein

Whey protein is made from milk. The raw material is whey, which is separated during cheese production. This is rich in protein, but also contains a lot of lactose - a milk sugar that many people have problems digesting.

Even if whey protein concentrates still contain some lactose, the isolate version is quite low in lactose, as most of the lactose is lost during processing.

Whey protein is quickly digested and rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Leucine, one of these BCAAs, plays an important role in promoting muscle growth and recovery after resistance or endurance training (2, 3).

When amino acids are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, they are available for muscle protein synthesis or muscle tissue building.

Scientific research has shown that whey protein can help build and maintain muscle mass and help athletes recover better and faster after heavy training sessions and increase their muscle mass in response to strength training (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

A study conducted with young men as subjects showed that whey protein increased muscle protein synthesis after resistance training by 31% more than soy protein and 132% more than casein (9).

However, a recent ten-week study concluded that postmenopausal women had a similar response to resistance training regardless of whether they used whey protein or a placebo (10).

Other studies in normal weight, overweight and obese individuals suggest that whey protein may improve body composition by reducing fat mass and increasing lean body mass (11, 12, 13).

In addition, whey protein appears to reduce appetite at least as much as other protein sources (14, 15, 16, 17, 18).

In another study, lean men were given four different types of liquid protein meals on different days. The whey protein meals resulted in the greatest reduction in appetite and the greatest reduction in calories at the next meal (18).

Some studies also suggest that whey protein may reduce inflammation and improve certain markers of heart health in overweight or obese people (19, 20, 21).

Summary: Whey protein is quickly digested and provides a rapid increase in blood amino acid concentrations, which may help increase muscle mass and strength. It may also reduce appetite and promote fat loss.

2. casein protein

Just like whey protein, casein is also a milk protein. However, casein is digested and absorbed more slowly than whey protein.

Casein forms a kind of gel when it comes into contact with stomach acid, which slows down gastric emptying and the absorption of the amino acids it contains into the bloodstream. This results in a slower and more continuous supply of amino acids to your muscles, reducing the rate of protein breakdown (22).

Scientific research suggests that casein is more effective than soy protein and wheat protein, but less effective than whey protein when it comes to increasing the rate of muscle protein synthesis (5, 6, 23, 24, 25, 26).

However, a study conducted with overweight men suggests that casein is superior to whey protein when it comes to improving body composition through resistance training when calorie restriction is used (27).

Summary: Casein is a slowly digestible milk protein that reduces muscle protein breakdown and promotes an increase in muscle mass and a reduction in body fat during calorie restriction.

3. egg protein

Eggs are an excellent source of high quality protein. Of all whole foods, eggs have the highest Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). This score measures protein quality and digestibility (28).

Eggs are also one of the best foods for reducing appetite and can help you feel fuller for longer (29, 30).

However, egg protein powders are typically made from egg whites and not whole eggs. Although the protein quality remains excellent, they are not as satiating as whole eggs because the high-fat yolk has been removed.

Like all animal products, eggs are a complete source of protein. This means that they provide all the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce itself.

Furthermore, eggs are only superior to whey protein when it comes to the best source of leucine - the branched-chain amino acid that plays the most important role in muscle growth (31).

However, it should be kept in mind that egg white protein has not been studied as extensively as whey protein and casein.

In one study, egg white protein showed less potential to reduce appetite than casein or pea protein when consumed before a meal (32).

In another study, female athletes who consumed egg white protein experienced similar gains in muscle mass and strength as athletes who supplemented carbohydrates (33).

Egg white protein could be a good choice for people who suffer from milk protein allergies or lactose intolerance but still prefer an animal protein source.

Summary: Egg white protein is an easily digestible, high quality protein source, although it may not be as satiating as other protein sources.

4. pea protein

Pea protein powder is particularly popular with vegetarians, vegans and people who are allergic or sensitive to dairy products or eggs. It is made from yellow peas, a high-fiber legume that is rich in almost all essential amino acids.

Pea protein is particularly rich in BCAAs.

A study conducted with rats noted that pea protein is absorbed slower than whey protein but faster than casein. Its ability to stimulate the release of various satiety hormones may be comparable to that of milk proteins (34).

In a twelve-week study of 161 men who consumed a (36).

Even when performing resistance training, those who consumed 50 grams of pea protein experienced a similar increase in muscle thickness as subjects who consumed the same amount of whey protein per day (35).

In addition, one study showed that humans and rats with high blood pressure experienced a reduction in elevated blood pressure levels when using a pea protein supplement is promising, but further high-quality research is needed to confirm these results.

Summary: Although the evidence is limited, pea protein may be as effective at promoting satiety and muscle growth as animal-based protein sources.

5 Hemp protein

Hemp protein is another plant-based protein supplement that is becoming increasingly popular. Although hemp is related to marijuana, it only contains traces of the psychoactive compound THC.

Hemp is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and several essential amino acids. However, hemp protein is not considered a complete protein as it only contains very small amounts of the amino acids lysine and leucine.

Although there are few studies on hemp protein to date, it appears to be an easily digestible plant protein source (37).

Summary: Hemp protein is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and appears to be easily digestible. However, it is low in the amino acids lysine and leucine.

6. rice protein

Protein powders made from brown rice have been around for some time, but they are generally considered inferior to whey protein when it comes to muscle building.

Even though rice protein contains all the essential amino acids, it is too low in lysine to be considered a complete protein.

There is not a lot of research done on rice protein, but one study compared the effects of rice protein and in young, fit men. This eight-week study showed that ingesting 48 grams of rice protein or whey protein per day resulted in similar changes in body composition, muscle strength and recovery (38).

However, further research with rice protein is needed to confirm these results.

Summary: Initial studies conducted with rice protein suggest that it may have positive effects on body composition. However, it is low in the essential amino acid lysine.

7. mixed plant proteins

Some protein powders contain a mixture of plant protein sources to provide the body with all the essential amino acids. Usually 2 or more of the following protein sources are combined:

  • Rice protein
  • pea protein
  • hemp protein
  • alfalfa protein
  • Chia seed protein
  • Linseed protein
  • Artichoke protein
  • Quinoa protein

Due to their sometimes higher fiber content, mixed plant proteins tend to be slower to digest than proteins of animal origin. Although this may not be a problem for many users, it can limit the amount of amino acids your body can use immediately after training.

In a small study, young men with weight training experience were given either 60 grams of whey protein, 60 grams of a pea-rice protein blend, or 60 grams of a pea-rice protein blend with added enzymes to speed up digestion (39).

The enzyme-added protein powder was comparable to whey protein in terms of the rate at which amino acids entered the bloodstream.

Summary: A number of protein powders consist of a mixture of plant proteins. Adding enzymes to these plant protein blends can speed up their digestion and absorption.

Which protein powder is best?

Although all protein powders provide a concentrated source of protein, certain types can be more effective at giving the body what it needs.

For muscle gains

Scientific research has consistently confirmed the ability of whey protein to promote gains in muscle mass and recovery. Whey protein concentrate is cheaper than whey protein isolate, but it also contains less protein per unit weight.

For weight loss

Casein, whey protein or a combination of both may be the best protein supplement to promote satiety and fat loss.

For vegetarians and vegans

For vegetarians and vegans, mixed plant proteins are an option, which can provide a complete protein through a combination of different plant protein sources.


Protein powders can provide high quality protein in a concentrated, convenient form. Although not everyone needs protein powder supplements, they can support you if you are strength training or cannot meet your protein needs through food alone.




Previous article Slow mass gain: How you can prevent fat gain during the mass phase
Next article 23 simple things you can do to prevent overeating