Our 10 Best Unflavored Protein Powders You Can Buy
The amount of protein that gets into your body may dip as you get older due to dental issues, reduced appetite, or dietary changes. However, you actually have to eat more protein-rich food as you get older to avoid losing muscle mass and to help preserve bone health.
In a 23-year study conducted by Tuft University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, seniors with the most protein in their diet were 30% less likely to be functionally impaired than others who had low-protein diets.
In a separate study that involved over 2,000 seniors in six years, researchers found out that older adults who had the lowest protein intake were nearly twice as likely to experience a hard time walking or climbing steps compared to those who had the highest amount of protein in their diets.
While the recommended dietary allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram or 2.2 pounds of body weight per day, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that daily consumption ranges from 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilo (or 0.5-0.8 grams/pound) of body weight for younger adults working on increasing their muscle mass.
University of Stirling exercise metabolism teacher Oliver Witard even recommends as much as two grams of protein per kilo of body weight for athletes who want to reach new personal records in their performance. Meanwhile, the International Sports Sciences Association recommends 1.2 to two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for women.
Protein is clearly an important part of overall health, well into advanced years. Fortunately, there are means to get extra protein in various other forms for easier intake, such as protein powder.
Advantages of Using Unflavored Protein Powder
While it's convenient to pick a specific flavor such as chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla, unflavored powder gives you plenty of room to experiment or mix your drink with fresh fruits—all while getting your needed protein boost. You can also combine fruits or even vegetables (spinach, kale, celery, carrots, cucumber, moringa) for further variety and energy.
You can also try mixing the powder with soy, hemp, or rice milk or coconut water to suit your tastes.
Using unflavored powder also means less artificial flavorings, which is usually included in flavored protein formulas.
Unflavored protein powder is also best for cooking and baking. Unlike casein and whey powders, unflavored protein powder can retain moisture. It is also usually plant-based, which contains more healthy fats.
Common Types of Protein
1. Whey protein
This is the most common type of protein used in powdered supplements. Being a complete protein, it contains amino acids that the body can't produce naturally. Whey protein is recommended for muscle mass development, weight loss, and lower cholesterol levels.
2. Plant-based protein
Soy, rice, pea, hemp, and pumpkin seeds are examples of this protein.
Casein makes up 80% of the protein in regular milk. Unlike whey, casein is digested by our body slowly over seven to eight hours.
4. Egg protein
Egg white powder is ideal for people with a dairy allergy but want a complete protein.
Our Top Picks
1. Isopure Zero/Low Carb
The product contains 25 grams of 100% pure WPI per 29-gram scoop with 5.5 grams of BCAA, 4.5 grams of L-Glutamine, 25 grams of protein, 30 milligrams of calcium, and zero carbohydrates. It's gluten and lactose-free. Isopure is made of WPI, soy lecithin, and milk.
The recommended intake is 1 scoop (29 grams) for every six to eight fluid ounces (3/4 cup, 177 milliliters) of your chosen beverage.
2. Pure Whey 100% Premium Grass-Fed Whey Protein
Each 30-gram scoop of Pure Whey has 24 grams of grass-fed protein with 18 listed amino acids from cows raised in US farms, one gram of protein, and 2.5 grams of fat. The product is made of GMO and rBGH-free WPC and milk.
It's free from genetically engineered hormones and genetically modified organisms. It also has no added sweeteners or colors.
The recommended dose is 1 scoop for eight to 10 ounces of water or your preferred beverage.
3. TGS Natural Unflavored Whey Protein
TGS's formulation is made up of WPC, sunflower lecithin, and milk. Every 30-gram serving contains 25 grams of protein, two grams of carbohydrates, and two grams of fat. It also has vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium, and is packed with nine essential amino acids, including 5.5 grams of BCAAs.
It contains no soy, wheat, corn, gluten, starch, GMOs or rBGH hormones. The product also has no artificial flavors and colors, fillers, preservatives, or bleach.
TGS boasts of using an advanced micro-filtration system that gently processes whey, preserving bioactive proteins that strengthen your immune system.
The suggested intake is one scoop for every eight ounces (one cup or 236ml) of water or your preferred beverage.
4. Amazon Elements Grass-Fed 100% Whey Protein Isolate
The product contains WPI, sunflower lecithin, and milk. Each 30-gram scoop contains 25 grams of protein, one gram of carbohydrates, and zero fat.
Amazon Elements' WPI has no rBGH, genetically modified organisms, or any artificial coloring, flavors, and sweeteners. It's also gluten and soy-free.
You can mix a scoop of Amazon Elements to eight ounces (one cup or 236ml) of your chosen beverage or add it to your yogurt, oatmeal, or pastry recipes.
5. Julian Bakery's Paleo Thin Egg White Protein
This egg white powder comes from non-GMO and hormone/antibiotic-free chickens. It also contains sunflower lecithin, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.
Every 30-gram scoop has 25 grams of protein and one gram of carbohydrates and sugar each. The product also has BCAAs and EAAs. It's free of soy, gluten, and GMOs.
You can use four (1/2 cup or 118ml) to eight ounces (1 cup, 236ml) of water, almond milk, or coconut water for each scoop or serving of the powder.
6. MuscleGen's Genepro Next Generation Protein
This protein powder contains instantized peptide whey and hydrolyzed whey, which both undergo an extra heating process. Instantiation makes whey more easily dissolved in water while hydrolysis makes it more easily digested by our bodies.
Every 30-gram serving contains 30 grams of protein, 0.6 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.3 grams of fat. The product is free of lactose, gluten, and GMOs.
7. Jarrow Formulas' Whey Protein
Jarrow Formulas' protein powder is made of WPC from growth hormone-free cows, lecithin from sunflowers, and milk. Each 23-gram scoop of the product contains 18 grams of protein (including four grams of BCAAs), one gram of carbohydrates, and two grams of fat.
It has no egg, wheat, soybeans, gluten, nuts, shellfish/fish ingredients. It doesn't contain any hormones and artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors. The product is also made at a Current Good Manufacturing Practice-certified facility.
The recommended dose is 1 scoop for every four (1/2 cup or 118ml) to six (3/4 cup or 177ml) ounces of cold water, juice, or milk. You can also mix it into your pastry recipes.
8. BN Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
BN Labs' powder is made of grass-fed WPC free of GMO and rBGH and sunflower lecithin. Every 30-gram scoop of the product contains 24 grams of protein (including six grams of BCAAs) sourced from Wisconsin's Happy Healthy Cows farm that are hormone and steroid-free, three grams of carbohydrates, and two grams of fat.
The product doesn't contain any artificial flavors, sweeteners, or fillers.
9. Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein
Every 28-gram scoop of this protein powder contains 22 grams of sugar-free plant protein from sprouts and peas, including EAAs. It also contains digestion-enhancing vitamins A, D, E, and K plus probiotics and enzymes.
This vegan protein powder doesn't contain any GMOs or dairy, soy, and gluten ingredients. It is also certified USDA Organic by the Quality Certification Services.
The suggested intake is one scoop with 10 ounces (one and one-fourth cup or 296ml) of water.
10. Performance Levels Nutrition 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein
This powder contains grass-fed WPC, non-GMO sunflower lecithin, and milk. Every 30-gram scoop of the product contains 25 grams of protein (including 5.9 grams of BCAAs), three grams of carbohydrates, and two grams of fat. It also has vitamins A and D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
The paleo and keto-friendly supplement has no soy, antibiotics, rBGH/rBST, hormones, GMOs, artificial sweeteners, or artificial flavors.
One to two scoops of the powder can be mixed with eight (1 cup, 236ml) to 12 ounces (1 1/2 cup, 355ml) of water or your favorite beverage.
How Does Unflavored Protein Powder Taste Like?
While it can vary from brand to brand, protein powder originally comes from milk and cheese and will usually taste milky, creamy, cheesy, or all three. That means milk lovers will have no problems generally drinking it dissolved in plain hot or cold water.
Mixing it with various types of milk, fruits, and vegetables will make it more flavorful, and more tailored to your palette. You can even sprinkle it on your morning cereal or oatmeal, orange juice, eggs, and bread.
What should I look for in a protein powder?
When choosing a protein powder, make sure to check the ingredient list. A good quality protein powder will contain the following:
High protein content
Your powder must have a high protein yield, or percentage of protein per serving. If your 100-gram product says it has 50 grams of protein, then only half of your purchase is actual protein.
Combination of branch chain and essential amino acids
When we talk about amino acids in protein powders, there are two kinds: Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) and Essential Amino Acids (EAA).
BCAA's help your muscles synthesize other amino acids and have anti-catabolic properties, meaning they protect muscle mass from being broken down. Meanwhile, EAAs can't be produced by your body and only come from what you eat. They’re later used by the body for muscle building and regulating immunity.
Protein powders must also have a good concentration or 50-55% total BCAA over total EAA of all 20 amino acids. However, beware of "amino spiking," or the fraudulent practice of substituting less important amino acids—usually glycine, creatine, and taurine—to artificially raise the whey content than what is actually on the label.
Whey is considered the gold standard of protein powders. It comes in the form of whey protein isolate (WPI) or whey protein concentrate (WPC). WPI also referred to as whey isolate, is the purer protein powder because it passes through a secondary filtration process that removes fats, sugars, and carbohydrates. It normally contains 90% protein by weight.
Meanwhile, WPC is a by-product of cheese-making. It's cheaper than WPI, but that doesn't mean that it's worthless. It also undergoes several steps so that it becomes the whey protein ingredient in supplements, containing about 70-80% protein.
WPI is ideal if you're losing weight or cutting down on carbohydrates. It's also best for people with gastrointestinal problems because it has less lactose than WPC. Protein concentrate is also absorbed by your body more slowly (2-4 hours) than protein isolate (30 minutes). Meanwhile, higher WPC content will work better if you're after a tastier and creamier protein drink.
What should I avoid?
Ingredients that are non-protein and non-amino acid can be considered fillers, such as cocoa and flavorings, as well as natural zero-calorie or artificial sugars such as stevia. Stevia can come with sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol that can make you feel bloated.
How many carbohydrates should I have in my protein drink?
Protein powders that have plenty of carbohydrates and fat usually sell at a lower price and have a longer shelf life than higher-quality powders.
The ideal is for your protein powder to provide up to three percent of your daily value of carbs per serving. But if you have diabetes, your protein drink must have below five grams of carbs per serving.
It's better to increase your daily dose of carbohydrates and sugar naturally by eating fruits and vegetables or adding these to your drink. Adding milk products, oatmeal, and nuts is a great way to add carbs—and texture—to your protein drink.
How can I determine quality brand protein drinks?
Quality brands are produced at facilities inspected by the Food and Drug Authority and have a Good Health Manufacturing certification. You can view the labels to make sure.