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The 9 Best Protein Shakes of 2023, According to a Certified Sports Nutrition Coach – SI Showcase

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With plenty of options on the market, choosing the right protein shake can be a challenge. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve created this comprehensive, nutritionist-backed guide to the best protein shakes. Whether you have specific dietary restrictions, prefer a plant-based protein or want something that packs in a ton of delicious flavor, we will help you find a protein shake to meet your needs. Here are our top picks for the best protein shakes to help you accomplish your personal health and fitness goals.

This content is meant to be informative, but should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention or treatment of health problems. Always speak with your doctor before starting any new supplement or exercise regimen.

Our Picks for the Best Protein Shakes:

Key features:

  • Calories per serving: 115
  • Protein per serving: 20 grams
  • Protein source: Organic pea protein
  • Zero grams of sugar, two grams of fat, three grams of carbs, three grams of dietary fiber

Essential Protein from Ritual is an all-natural plant-based protein powder sourced from organic yellow peas. This vegan-friendly formula is soy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO and free from sugars, sugar alcohols, artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners.

With 20 grams of protein per scoop, Ritual delivers a complete amino acid profile with eight grams of essential amino acids and four grams of branched chain amino acids in each serving.

At this time Ritual only has a vanilla flavor available, and the reviews regarding the taste are mostly positive. Ritual says the vanilla flavor has subtle nuances of caramel and hints of spice sweetened with fermented sugarcane and monk fruit extract.

Essential Protein is fairly expensive, but Ritual commits to clean sourced and high-quality ingredients that are regeneratively farmed. This product also has the Informed Sport certification marking it free from banned substances and safe for athletes.


  • Informed Sport Certified safe from banned substances
  • Plant-based protein powder with a complete amino acid profile
  • Essential protein is made with traceable ingredients a visible supply chain, so you know the exact ingredients in your supplement


  • Premium price point
  • Only one flavor option (vanilla) available

Key features:

  • Calories per serving: Varies slightly based on the formulation
  • Protein per serving: Varies between 19 to 27 grams of protein depending on your protein powder selection
  • Protein source: Whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, plant-based protein (organic pea, organic brown rice, organic oat)
  • Sugar, fat, carbs and fiber will vary based on the formulation

Gainful offers a subscription-based service in which a protein powder is individually customized to fit your dietary needs. They have whey, keto and plant-based formulations available. No matter the source of protein you choose, Gainful protein powder contains all nine essential amino acids and anywhere from 19 to 27 grams of protein per serving. The customized powders never contain any gluten, soy, fillers, artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors.

What is unique about this protein is that it actually comes unflavored, and you use various flavor packets to enhance your shake. Gainful offers nine different flavor packets and I have personally tried the chocolate, mocha, chocolate peanut butter and the sea salt caramel. They were all delicious and added a substantial amount of flavor, the sea salt caramel and chocolate peanut butter were my personal favorites. This variety is great for individuals who get tired of drinking the same flavored protein shake over and over again.

Gainful definitely isn’t the cheapest supplement brand on the market, but it does offer high quality ingredients and customized supplement blends. The Gainful subscription also grants access to individual sessions with a registered dietician. This is a particularly helpful service if you have personal weight loss goals.

For more info, check out our best protein powders for weight loss review here. 


  • Fully customizable protein powder options to align with your dietary preferences
  • Multiple flavor options available
  • Subscription to Gainful grants access to services from a registered dietitian


  • Significant cost per serving of protein
  • Subscription based service only
kos organic plant protein

Key features:

  • Calories per serving: 160
  • Protein per serving: 20 grams
  • Protein source: Organic pea protein, organic flax seeds, organic quinoa, organic pumpkin seeds and organic chia seeds
  • Two grams of added sugar, six grams of fat, nine grams of carbs, three grams of dietary fiber

KOS Organic is a vegan protein powder that tastes great and is supported by a blend of plant-based protein sources including peas, flax and chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and quinoa.

This ingredient list ensures each scoop of KOS organic is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids per serving. KOS also includes digestive enzymes, a blend of organic fruits and veggies and even some added vitamins and minerals.

As far as taste, KOS comes in a wide variety of flavors. According to customer reviews, the chocolate and vanilla flavors are both delicious, especially when compared to other dairy-free plant-based protein shakes on the market.


  • USDA certified organic ingredients
  • Completely vegan protein powder that is dairy and lactose-free
  • Contains organic fruit and veggie blend, digestive enzyme blend and KOS vitamins and minerals blend


  • Might not be suitable for customers with allergies since it contains tree nuts (coconut)
  • Slightly higher calories than other protein powder supplements
Kaged Clean Meal_Source Kaged Muscle

Key features:

  • Calories per serving: 260
  • Protein per serving: 29 grams
  • Protein source: Whey protein isolate
  • two grams of sugar, five grams of fat, 20 grams of carbs, three grams of dietary fiber

Kaged Muscle’s Clean Meal is a complete meal replacement formula that is perfect for achieving some serious muscle gain. The two-scoop serving comes in at 260 calories and has a great macronutrient profile.

The product contains whey protein isolate, organic quinoa and oats for the complex carbohydrates, and vitamins sourced from organic fruits and vegetables including vitamin C, calcium and zinc to name a few.

This product is designed to replace one of your meals or snacks during the day. However, if you are trying to build muscle, it is better to just add this shake to your diet instead of using it to replace a meal.

The flavor options include peanut butter, vanilla cake and snickerdoodle and are sweetened using both stevia and sucralose. As far as taste, reviewers especially rave about the snickerdoodle flavor. 


  • Informed Sport Certified safe for athletes
  • Zero added sugars
  • Great macronutrient profile for a high protein meal replacement powder


  • Not ideal for individuals searching for a low-calorie shake option
  • Due to the serving size, it is a challenge to mix in a standard shaker bottle

Key features:

  • Calories per serving: 130 calories in the Clean Protein Shake and 150 calories in the Plant Protein Shake
  • Protein per serving: 20 grams for both
  • Protein source: Grass-fed milk protein concentrate for the Clean Protein Shake, and pea protein for the Plant Protein Shake
  • Clean Protein Shake: Three grams of sugar, two grams of fat, 11 grams of carbs, two grams of dietary fiber.
    Plant Protein Shake: One gram of sugar, 4.5 grams of fat, nine grams of carbs, one gram of dietary fiber.

Orgain offers two ready-to-drink protein shakes that both have 20 grams of protein per carton.

The Clean Protein Shake only comes in two flavors including creamy chocolate fudge and vanilla bean, and the Plant Protein Shake is only available in creamy chocolate. Despite having a limited number of flavor options available, some reviewers say that they taste like milkshakes.

These are great grab and go options for if you’ve got a busy schedule and need a convenient, easy way to add some additional protein in your diet.


  • Ready to drink protein shakes
  • Plant-based and whey protein powder options available
  • 25 percent off your first subscribe and save order


  • The ready-to-drink cartons are more expensive than the powder alternatives
  • Limited flavor options available.
Naked Nutrition

Key features:

  • Calories per serving: 130 to 150 depending on the flavor
  • Protein per serving: 20 grams
  • Protein source: Pea protein
  • Three grams of added sugar, three to four grams of fat, six to seven grams of carbs, one gram of dietary fiber

Naked Nutrition is committed to creating supplements free from additives such as artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. Its combination of pea protein, MCT oil and coconut sugar delivers a crave-worthy shake that provides 20 grams of protein per serving.

The Naked Nutrition Shake is available in six unique flavors including chocolate, hot cocoa, vanilla, strawberry banana, pumpkin spice and peanut butter blueberry. With less than five grams of added sugars and no artificial sweeteners you won’t feel guilty mixing up one of these protein shakes.


  • No artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors
  • 20 grams of vegan protein and a complete amino acid profile
  • non-GMO and soy free


  • Might not be suitable for customers with allergies since it contains tree nuts (coconut)
  • Can be challenging to mix due to the large serving size

Key features:

  • Calories per serving: 120
  • Protein per serving: 21 grams
  • Protein source: Organic brown rice protein, pea protein, organic pumpkin seed protein
  • One gram of sugar, two grams of fat, five grams of carbs, one gram of fiber

Biosteel’s Plant Based Protein powder is a 100 percent vegan protein shake that has completely natural non-GMO ingredients. The combination of the brown rice, pea and organic pumpkin seed proteins make a complete protein with an amino acid profile similar to whey protein isolate.

Biosteel is a supplement company designed with athletes in mind. All of its products are free from gluten, soy, artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors and are NSF International Certified safe for sport.

The four flavors for the plant-based shake include chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon bun and blueberry cobbler. I definitely encourage you to try the limited-edition cinnamon bun flavor since it is absolutely delicious, especially for a plant-based protein powder. Hopefully, if enough people enjoy it, the brand will keep it around full time.


  • Natural non-GMO ingredients free from gluten, soy and artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors
  • 100 percent complete vegan protein powder
  • NSF International Certified safe for sport
  • Mixes well in standard blender bottle


  • Limited flavor options available
  • Fairly high price per serving
transparent  labs whey

Key features:

  • Calories per serving: 120
  • Protein per serving: 28 grams
  • Protein source: Grass-fed whey protein isolate
  • One gram of sugar, zero grams of fat, two grams of carbs, one gram of dietary fiber

One of Transparent Labs’s flagship products is the 100 percent grass-fed whey protein isolate sourced from American cattle.

Whey isolate, known as the gold standard for protein powder, is different from whey concentrate because it is processed to reduce the fat and lactose content, leaving mainly high-quality protein. This offers consumers a low-calorie and low carbohydrate protein shake that is perfect for people with diabetes or weight loss goals.

The protein powder comes in eight flavors and is sweetened with stevia leaf extract. The vanilla protein shake flavor is excellent and one of my personal favorites.


  • 100 percent grass-fed whey protein isolate
  • Hormone-free and contains no artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors
  • Low-calorie high protein option at 88 percent protein by weight


  • High quality supplement but comes with a premium price point
XWERKS Grow Whey Protein Isolate

Key features:

  • Calories per serving: 110
  • Protein per serving: 27.8 grams
  • Protein source: Grass-fed whey protein isolate
  • Zero grams of sugar, zero grams of fat, one gram of carbs, zero grams of fiber

XWERKS Grow is sourced from grass-fed pasture-raised cows from New Zealand. The whey is ultra-filtered to remove excess carbohydrates, including lactose and fats to create a high-quality low-calorie protein isolate.

Despite only having four flavors to choose from, reviewers stand by the fact that this is one of, if not the best tasting protein powders available. They love the fact that it mixes easily, never clumps and isn’t overly sweet.

The calories in this protein shake come almost entirely from protein making it an ideal product if you’re following a low-carb or keto diet.


  • 100 percent whey protein isolate from grass-fed pasture-raised cows
  • No artificial sweeteners or colors
  • Instant mixing with no clumping


  • This product is pricey
  • Strawberry flavor uses artificial flavoring

How to Choose the Best Protein Shake for You

When picking your protein shake, you want to start by determining whether you are looking for a whey protein (milk protein) based or plant-based protein powder to accommodate your personal dietary preferences.

You should then look at the calorie and macronutrient profile to make sure it aligns with your diet plan.

From there, review the quality of ingredients, and whether a protein powder uses artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, and what flavor options are available. This is important because even if the protein powder is high quality, if it tastes horrible you aren’t going to use it.

Finally, I always encourage consumers to look at the price point and see how it compares to similar supplements. There are plenty of options available so that you can find one that fits with both your budget and your taste buds.

How We Chose the Best Protein Shakes

In order to find the best protein shakes we looked at a number of different factors including the overall quality of ingredients, online customer reviews, the price point and our own first-hand experience using these products.

There are so many different protein supplements that claim to be the best in terms of taste, muscle gain and performance, we wanted to see which companies delivered on their promises. Not only should your protein shake taste great, but it should also provide your body with the high-quality nutrients it needs.

Benefits of Protein Shakes

The primary health benefits associated with protein shakes are that they are a convenient and effective way to increase your daily protein intake. We know protein is important because it has a number of important roles in the body ranging from muscle building and muscle recovery to supporting weight loss and overall health and wellness. Therefore, shakes are not only a perfect option for some post-workout recovery, but they also can be fortified with additional ingredients like oats, fruits and vegetables to create nutritious and well-rounded meals.

Another added benefit is that protein is the most satiating macronutrient which means that it will help you feel full for a longer period of time and help you consume fewer calories throughout the day. These benefits, especially when used in conjunction with a well-designed resistance training protocol will have you well on your way to reaching your health and fitness goals.

Who Might Not Benefit from Protein Shakes

It is important to remember the definition of a supplement as something that enhances your diet. For example, if you eat a plant-based diet and have trouble getting enough protein from food alone, then a daily protein shake might prove beneficial. The same could be said for a bodybuilder or athlete who has increased protein demands due to their training and activity levels. In this case they might utilize a protein shake to supplement their diet. However, if you aren’t very active, or have a diet high in meat, eggs and dairy then you are likely getting enough protein from your food alone and won’t need the added protein from a shake.


Are protein shakes actually good for you?

Yes, if used correctly, protein shakes can definitely be beneficial for you. These shakes are just an additional source of protein and calories for your body. They can be helpful for people who struggle to consume enough protein through their diet alone or have athletic performance or bodybuilding aspirations. These shakes can also be beneficial for individuals who have weight loss goals and are looking for a tasty low-calorie snack to supplement their meals. Protein shakes are no longer the nasty chalky tasting supplements of the past. In fact, when blended together with some milk and ice, most flavors transform into delicious milkshakes that can satisfy almost any sweet-tooth.

How many protein shakes can I drink per day?

In most cases, you probably want to limit your maximum protein shake consumption to two shakes per day. While these shakes might be convenient, they usually don’t provide the additional calories and nutrients from whole food sources that your body needs. Consuming too many shakes may also cause unwanted side effects such as nausea, stomach pain and digestive issues, especially if you are new to drinking these shakes. Remember, protein shakes should only be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and not as a complete replacement for whole foods.

How much protein do I need per day?

The World Health Organization advises a protein intake of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (0.36 grams per pound of body weight). This protein intake is enough to maintain the muscle mass of a relatively sedentary person, but it is most definitely not enough to support or maximize muscle growth. The actual amount of protein someone needs depends on a number of different factors including age, weight, activity levels and fitness goals. 

For some recommendations regarding how much protein to consume on a muscle building, fat loss or body recomposition program, refer to our Best Protein Powders of 2022 article.

Do doctors recommend protein shakes?

It is always smart to consult with a doctor before starting any new dietary supplement, including protein shakes. A doctor, especially a registered dietitian, will be able to provide recommendations and advice on the type of protein supplement that would work best for you. This is especially true for individuals with pre-existing health conditions or who are taking any medications. The doctor or dietitian will be able to help identify which protein shake supplement might be the best for your specific needs and goals.

Can you drink protein shakes without working out?

Yes, protein shakes are meant for anyone that isn’t getting enough protein from their diet alone. This is because protein is an essential nutrient that plays many different roles in the body and is not just for people looking to build muscle. So, whether you work out or not, if you are failing to consume enough protein then these shakes can be a great resource.

Can protein shakes replace meals?

Unless specified on the product, most protein supplements are not intended to act as meal replacement options. This is because most shakes are high in protein, but low in carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients. If you are looking to use protein shakes to replace one of your meals, then I would suggest adding additional ingredients like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to fortify the shake with the added nutrients and calories.

If you would like additional information regarding high calorie shake options designed specifically to replace meals, then check out our article on The Best Meal Replacement Shakes of 2022.

Final Thoughts

Protein plays a key role in almost all of the biological processes of the body and consuming enough daily protein is extremely important for overall health and wellness. While protein shakes are not a replacement for a well-balanced and varied diet, they are a convenient and tasty way for individuals who struggle to consume enough of the muscle building macronutrient from their diet to meet their daily protein needs.

Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.


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