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7 Best Protein Powders in 2020

Posted on March 15, 2020

7 Best Protein Powders in 2020Dividerimage

The wellness and sports nutrition markets offer a massive range of protein powders these days, from marine and bovine collagen to hydrolysed whey protein to exotic plant sources. Even algae protein powder is trickling into the marketplace.


Who would have thought we’d have access to a protein powder extracted from algae?


Though manufacturers certainly aren’t lacking in innovation, this enormous product availability can ultimately leave the customer confused as to what is best for them.


Do we want alkalizing protein, predigested or ocean sourced? Or should we go plant-based or stick to age-old whey protein?


In this article, we are simply looking at quality protein sources that provide, primarily, an abundance of essential amino acids.


After all, these are the only amino acids that the body cannot synthesize. They also offer the widest range of health benefits and are crucial for supporting muscle and whole body protein synthesis, as well as serving the biochemical needs of the human body.




For the majority of people, this is the best type of protein powder to go for. Sure, hydrolysed collagen is great for supporting connective tissues, like skin, tendons, ligaments and even bone, if you need particular support in these areas.


However, it is important to understand that collagen is not a rich source of essential amino acids and should not be used to replace higher quality protein sources.


So if you do supplement with collagen, do so in addition to an adequate protein intake from quality protein sources that provide an abundance of essential amino acids, and enough leucine to trigger mTOR—more on this later.


So without further-a-do, let’s dig into the absolute best protein powders that the industry has to offer. Whether you’re a vegan enthusiast or a fan of whey, there is a protein to suit your needs here. So sit back and relax, as we delve into the wonderful world of nutrition and all things delicious and mixable.


International Protein WPI

Whoever said that an old product can’t still be a market leader? International Protein Amino Charged WPI provides premium quality whey protein isolate, sourced from Fonterra New Zealand.


You know you’ve got a winning product when the protein percentage is over 88, with a solid branched chain amino acid content. This means we can be sure that the label-recommended serving size of 40g will indeed trigger mTOR.


An mTOR trigger means that the metabolic machinery of the muscle is primed for protein synthesis, which is essentially the repair or rebuilding of muscle mass. This is an essential part of the adaptation process to exercise.


But it’s not enough to prime a muscle by triggering mTOR. You also have to provide building blocks. After all, when building a house, we need our bricklayers (mTOR) to be alert and ready for action, but they also need to have plenty of bricks (EAAs).


Otherwise, not a whole lot is going to get done other than conversation-rich smoko’ breaks.


Research by Donald Layman indicates that we need approximately 2.5-3.0 grams of leucine, perhaps more for really muscular and tall individuals, in one protein shake (or meal) to trigger mTOR.


And it’s the essential amino acids that are the building blocks for myofibrillar protein, excluding tryptophan. So there are in fact 8 essential amino acids found in muscle protein, plus a host of non-essential amino acids, which are easily recycled from the unstoppable process of muscle catabolism.


International Protein WPI provides plenty of leucine, at 3.6 grams per serve, with plenty of building blocks to repair or rebuild muscle mass.


International WPI comes in a range of flavours, which are all simply delicious. Still, after all these years of being present in a super-saturated market place, their product is one of the nicest tasting products out there, delivering some of the best protein nutrition money can buy.




BSN Syntha-6 Cold Stone Creamery

If you’re familiar with this product, you might be wondering how it made its way into the 7 best protein powders in 2020. But I might remind you that best is a broad term that can be applied to best quality, best taste and even best price.


And there isn’t a doubt in the author’s mind that BSN Syntha-6 Cold Stone is one of the most delicious substances ever created.


BSN-Syntha-6-Cold-Stone.jpgAfter all, this product is a fusion of the incredibly popular original Syntha-6 protein powder and Cold Stone Ice-Cream.


How could it not tantalise the taste buds, leaving you mulling over how many daily protein shakes you can rationalise, without things getting a little excessive?


Thanks BSN … I think?


BSN Syntha-6 Cold Stone comes in some pretty crazy-delicious flavours, including Birthday Cake Remix, Germanchokolatekake and Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip.


What’s going on with the overly wordyproduct flavours, you ask? I can only guess it’s to impress upon you the extraordinarily flavour-sensation you are about to experience.


BSN Syntha-6 Cold Stone is the kind of protein shake to go for when you’re on holidays, you’re hitting an age milestone or just demolished a personal best in the gym.


It’s a celebratory shake, which you can in fact enjoy in birthday cake flavour!


Each 47 gram scoop serve of BSN Syntha-6 Cold Stone contains 22 grams of protein per serve, in the form of whey and casein, with a little egg and glutamine peptides.


In terms of hitting the 2.5-3.0 grams of leucine required to trigger mTOR, this might fall a little short. However, there is an easy fix. Go for a 1.5 scoop serve! And if you’re a big gal or lad, i.e., tall and heavily muscled, go for a 2 scoop serve.


Your taste buds won’t be disappointed!




Gold Standard Whey

What kind of a protein article would be complete without mentioning Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard? This multiple award-winning product packs some serious quality and reliability when it comes to taste, texture and nutrition.


The sheer volume of flavours makes Gold Standard Whey Protein easy to like over an extended period of time too.


Let’s put it this way, if you had one protein shake per day, from a 2.27kg tub, and kept rotating the flavours after you finished each tub, it would take three and a half years to get through the entire flavour range!


By then, Optimum Nutrition would probably come up with some new flavours anyway.


Gold Standard Whey Protein is also one of the most economical protein powders, with their massive 4.54kg bags offering the best per serve price.


So what is it about this product that makes it so good?


How is it that cracking open a new tub and inhaling the intoxicating aroma can plaster a permanent smile on your face for hours to come?


Their protein is sourced from one of the top dairy industries in the world—Glanbia based in Ireland. Their ingredients listing reveals a simple whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate with added whey peptides (hydrolysed whey protein). Apart from the addition of some lecithin to ensure easy mixing, flavours and sweeteners, that pretty much it!


But it gets the job done, with consistency, quality and palatability that are top notch. The whey peptides also create a lighter drink, with lactase to assist lactose (milk sugar) digestion.


Gold Standard 100% Whey offers the best price per 100 gram, as indicated in the table below. In addition, the 4.54kg bag has the best price per 100 grams of pure protein, making this a solid investment.


7 Best Protein Powders in 2020 Comparison Table



International WPI

Syntha-6 Cold Stone (Birthday Cake Remix)

Gold Standard Whey (Double Rich Chocolate)

Rule 1 Naturally Flavoured (Chocolate Fudge)

Balance Whey Protein (Chocolate)

Protein Switch (unspecified flavour)

Prana Plant Protein (Rich Chocolate)

Protein, grams per 100g








Calories, per 100g








Carbohydrates, grams per 100g








EAA Content, grams per 100g








Leucine Content, grams per 100g








Natural Sweeteners, Flavours, Colours?








100% Vegan?








Price per 100g powder

$4.67 (3kg Tub Size)

$3.86 (2.07kg tub size)

$3.74 (4.54kg bag size)

$5.77 (2.34kg tub size)

$3.96 (2.4kg tub size)

$8.25 (908g tub size)

$6.30 (3kg tub size)

Price per 100g protein*









*This figure represents how much the protein portion of the powder is costing you. This can be helpful if you are looking for the most economical buy. This figure is based on the protein grams per 100 gram of powder, indicating the protein-only cost.


Rule 1 Naturally Flavoured

Rule 1 R1 Protein Naturally Flavoured offers premium quality whey protein isolate with whey protein hydrolysate (whey peptides). This makes the finished product uniquely light on the stomach and rapidly absorbed.


Each 29.4 gram scoop contains a mere 100 calories, along with a solid 25 grams of bioavailable whey protein, rich in naturally occurring essential amino acids.


Rule-1-Natural-Whey.jpgThe main point of difference with this product is that it doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners or flavours. Rule 1 R1 Naturally Flavoured is sweetened with Rebaudioside A (Stevia Extract), making this a chemical free finished product that tastes great and mixes easily.


Whether you mix this product in cold water, milk or milk alternative, it goes down smooth every time. Given the high quality of the protein, there should be no issues in hitting the 2.5-3.0 grams of leucine per serve to switch on mTOR and ramp up muscle protein synthesis.


Rule 1 have a solid reputation for clean products that are true to label. This is crucial, given that manufacturers and their finished products are rarely inspected by government authorities, due to the sheer scope of the sports nutrition and wellness industries.


Balance Whey Protein

Few look past Balance Sports Nutrition when it comes to quality products at affordable prices, with an emphasis on purity. With no artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours or additives of any kind, you can be sure that Balance Whey Protein is always a winner.


Their premium protein is Fonterra New Zealand sourced, offering the nutritional quality of whey derived primarily from pasture-fed cows.


And if you’ve been to Middle-Earth before … or New Zealand that is, you’ll be well aware of the enormity of their green pastures.


Balance Whey Protein is a blend of whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate, making this a rapidly absorbed source of amino acids. Whether it’s post-workout, between main meals or to fortify a low protein meal, this is a product worth digging into.


Switch Nutrition Protein Switch

Switch Nutrition have been pumping out quality products for some time now, with Protein Switch the latest in their nutritional armory. This product contains a blend of natural plant protein sources in addition to muscle protein synthesis supportive ingredients.


The protein blend includes organic pea, organic hemp, organic pumpkin seed, sprouted watermelon seed and whole algae protein. Algae offers a unique nutritional profile, rich in mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E), lutein, zeaxanthin and beneficial lipids.


Switch-Nutrition-Protein-Switch.jpgThe major bonus with Protein Switch is the addition of Velositol, which is an amylopectin chromium. Velositol provides 1,000mcg of chromium per 36g serve, as well as 2,000mg of amylopectin.


Research published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2017 indicated that when this amylopectin-chromium complex was supplemented with protein powder (they used 6 grams of whey protein), there were some interesting results.


The Fractional Synthetic Rate, in this case used to measure muscle protein synthesis, was increased in the protein powder and velositol group versus the protein powder only group.


And in case you’re wondering, muscle protein synthesis is basically the building of skeletal muscle tissue. So, velostiol plus protein led to more gains! In fact, the study indicated twice as much muscle growth with the velositol supplemented group.


This puts Protein Switch at the top of the shopping list for anyone looking for enhanced adaptation to any form of exercise. And with 1,000mcg of elemental chromium per serve, you won’t need to buy chromium products any time soon.


In fact, chromium has a long list of benefits associated with its use, such as improved insulin sensitivity, which may go a long way towards reducing age-related muscle mass declines and preventing bodyfat gain and type 2 diabetes development.


Whether it’s a post-workout smoothie or a before bed protein shake, Protein Switch has got you covered, with Vanilla Bean, Peanut Butter Toffee and Chocolate Sea Salt flavours.


Prana ON Power Plant Protein

No protein powder list would be complete without a Prana ON product. And since their reformulation, you can be sure that their protein is chemical free, containing natural sweeteners and flavours.


One of the major selling points about Prana protein powder has always been their flavour profiles, which can quickly turn that protein shake time of the day into an enjoyable event.


Their product contains a blend of pea, rice and fababean protein powders, which offer a naturally occurring abundance of essential amino acids, including the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).


Coconut MCT powder is also included, offering a natural source of energy that is not readily converted into bodyfat. Note that this is a coconut derived MCT, and not a palm product.


In addition, Prana ON protein powder contains free-form BCAAs for enhanced mTOR signaling, reduced muscle soreness and enhanced muscle recovery.


Reishi mushroom is added to support immune health, as well as a digestive enzyme complex, including the all-important protease to enhance protein digestion and absorption.


Prana ON Power Plant Protein is still a top product, with few industry rivals, worth your consideration as the next tub on your shopping list.


Final Thoughts

From the merging of world-leaders in ice cream and dairy powders to create the decadent BSN Syntha-6 Cold Stone, to a bio-enhanced vegan product that offers unique nutritional support for muscular adaptation, you can be sure that there is no lack of innovation in the protein powder industry.  


It makes you wonder where we will be in 2100, or even in 3030? Perhaps we can simply lay down on the gym floor after a solid session and call to our protein container, which will be collected by the nearest complementary gym-robot.


Maybe we could get a shoulder rub with that too.


And what will the protein consist of in the years to come? There is still so much unknown regarding the human body, with nutritional biochemistry knowledge in its infancy.


Perhaps protein powders will be custom suited to our phenotype, ultimately being modified to suit our environmental and lifestyle stressors, training schedule and nutrient intake.


And by this time, I’d place a bet that it will be a highly economical plant-based powder, with a small protein or amino acid dose, bio-enhanced to ensure maximal muscular adaptation and overall nutritional support, with a great deal more specificity.


And hopefully at this time, checking our anabolic status will be as simple as checking our smart-phone (or other electronic device), to see what the swarms of medical nano-robots circulating through our bloodstream are discovering.


In the meantime, we’ve still got seven cracking protein powders that can get the job done.




Thanks to the following for use of their images in creation of the graphics on this blog:

  • Vectorpocket, Courtesy of FreePik.
  • Macrovector, Courtesy of FreePik.
  • KJPargeter, Courtesy of FreePik.
  • and PNGTree.