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4 Tips To Find A Good-Tasting Protein Powder

5 min read
From the source of the protein to the texture of the powder, we break some of the factors that affect flavor—so you can please your palate on the first go.
From the source of the protein to the texture of the powder, we break some of the factors that affect flavor—so you can please your palate on the first go.

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Flavor preferences are personal. That said, when it comes to finding a great-tasting protein powder, there are a few factors that, no matter your palate, make for a better consumption experience—whether you’re blending together a nutritionally balanced smoothie, trying out protein cake bites for dessert, or simply shaking it up with ice and water (post-workout protein shake, anyone?). Since it can be hard enough to discern what to look for when shopping for a high-quality protein powder—much less a delicious one at that—we put together a handy guide to help you circumvent the whole trial-and-error thing, and find the gold standard of flavor (and mouthfeel!) on the first go.

1. Pay attention to the protein source.

It’s a given that whatever protein blend you’re considering should be of high quality in order to best serve its purposes of supporting muscle protein synthesis and other bodily functions. (In this case, that means choosing one that not only contains enough grams of protein to support protein intake requirements, but also provides a complete essential amino acid profile—like Essential Protein.) There are many different protein sources out there to choose from, both plant-based (pea protein, soy protein, hemp protein, rice protein, brown rice protein) and animal-based (grass-fed whey protein, casein protein).*

Dietary restrictions aside, the source is an important consideration, and not just for its amino acid content—the taste can vary considerably depending on the type of protein used. Typically, a mild-tasting protein is ideal, especially if you’ll be using it in different recipes. Whey protein is commonly found in protein powder, and has a mild, easy-to-disguise flavor—the caveat is that it contains lactose, which can be an irritant for some people, and isn’t vegan-friendly. If you’re seeking a lactose-free and/or vegan protein powder, or just prefer a plant-based protein, pea protein is a great equivalent—it’s super versatile, and easy to mix with all sorts of foods and beverages.

2. Say no to added sugar and artificial sweeteners...

As a general rule, avoiding processed foods and shady additives is never a bad idea. This includes things like added sugar and artificial sweeteners (we’re looking at you, sucralose). When it comes to supplements designed to be taken regularly, such as protein powder, being mindful of excess sugar intake becomes even more salient—you’d be surprised how sneakily it can add up, particularly if your diet contains a lot of processed foods. The good news is that there are plenty of sweetener alternatives to explore, from honey and maple syrup to molasses.

Speaking of natural sugar substitutes: Essential Protein is the first protein powder of its kind, sweetened with a combination of fermented sugarcane, also known as Reb-M, and monk fruit. It’s also formulated without sugar††, stevia, or sugar alcohols. We chose Reb-M because, unlike stevia, it has no bitter aftertaste.*

††Not a reduced calorie food

3. … And yes to traceable flavor additions.

Emphasis on traceable—many protein powders contain shady flavoring extras, so do some research on the brand and the ingredient label. You’re looking for Traceability here: a record of not only what ingredients are included and why, but also the quality of said ingredients, along with insight into the supply chain and/or manufacturing processes. Finding a protein supplement that hits both marks—that is, remarkably tasty and remarkably trustworthy—is a huge factor in building that healthy habit (and reaping benefits along the way).

Take Essential Protein’s handcrafted vanilla flavor, for example: It’s infused with vanilla bean extract straight from Madagascar. We chose Madagascar vanilla because it’s renowned for its vanillin concentration and “quintessentially” vanilla profile—and we chose our supplier because of their sustainable harvesting practices. If you’re seeking a protein powder that tastes equally good with water as it does with other ingredients, make sure you shop from brands that do their due diligence when it comes to sourcing—chances are, if they have uncompromising standards when it comes to sourcing and quality, that rigorous vetting will extend to the flavor experience, too. (Oh, and for the record, with notes of sweet vanilla, subtle caramel, and a hint of warm spice, we think Essential Protein is absolutely delicious.)*

4. Last but not least—let’s talk about texture.

One of the most straightforward, time-saving ways to consume protein powder is to keep it simple—think shaking it up with water, or blending it into a smoothie or milkshake. In either case, chances are you want a powder that can effortlessly alchemize into something creamy and sippable, whether you’re using a shaker bottle or a blender. That means staying away from gritty or grainy textures, and opting for something like Essential Protein, which is powered by pea protein. (Generally, pea protein mixes well with water, and features a less chalky texture when compared to other plant-based protein powders, such as hemp.) When formulating Essential Protein, it was important for us to ensure it not only delivered on a next-level flavor experience, but that it also ticked all the mouthfeel boxes, too: smooth, luscious, and velvety.

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