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.