Which protein powder should I buy?

Protein consumption is a conversation that I have with just about every patient. I often recommend a protein powder to top up the grams of protein consumed during the day. However, when it comes to selection of a protein powder, it can get quite overwhelming. Which protein is best? Like most things in health, it depends!

Here’s a quick summary of the most popular protein powders to help narrow down your decision based on your individual needs.

Whey protein


High-quality protein that is easily digestible and is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs to build protein within the body. Whey protein is a great option for those looking to build muscle, as it is quickly absorbed by the body and can help to increase muscle protein synthesis. Blends easily into just water or milk, easy to bake with and you can add to cooking easily.


Whey protein can sometimes worsen acne flare ups in those who are prone to acne due to the high leucine content. This is not a plant-based option, not good for vegans and individuals who are sensitive to dairy.

Tip- look for a whey isolate rather than a whey concentrate,especially if you are someone who is sensitive to lactose. If you are sensitive to dairy, a whey isolate may still work for you.

Pea protein


Plant-based so it is a good option for vegetarians and vegans. It is derived from yellow peas and is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids.


Sometimes pea proteins can cause boating. If you are someone who easily bloats or is trying to lower FODMAPs, pea protein is not for you. Plant proteins in general are not as absorbable as animal proteins so you may need a bit more to meet the same protein goals. The texture is not as smooth as a whey protein powder and can be harder to sneak into recipes without a texture change.

Brown Rice

Plant-based so it is a good option for vegetarians and vegans. It is also hypoallergenic, meaning it is unlikely to cause allergic reactions and gut disturbances that may be caused with a whey or protein powder


Not a complete protein, lacks the amino acid lysine. Not as absorbable as an animal protein, you usually need a bit more in terms of grams to meet the same protein needs.

Tip- collagen powder is rich in lysine, mix this in your smoothie with your brown rice protein powder and you’ve got a complete protein!

Beef protein


High-quality protein that is easily digestible and is a complete protein. It is highly absorbable. Good option for those who are sensitive to dairy or who feel bloated on vegan protein powders.


Not a suitable fit for those who are plant-based eaters. Usually more expensive than other protein forms.

Hemp protein


A great protein source for vegetarians and vegans. It is also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and often has fibre accompanied with it. It is a great protein powder to add into baking and overnight oats as it has a slightly nutty flavour.


Usually much lower in grams of protein per scoop than other protein powders. It doesn’t mix well into soups or sauces like an unflavoured whey would. Does not absorb as quickly as a whey protein so it’s not as good for muscle protein synthesis.

I hope that helps you narrow down which protein powder might be best for you. In terms of brands, it doesn’t matter, but here are a couple of quick tips I often tell my patients.

1. Look for the least amount of ingredients. Protein powder should be as plain as possible, then mix with other ingredients as needed. This also makes them more versatile.

2. Look for the highest ratio of protein per scoop.If your scoop is 25g and you have 24g of protein, great! If you have 25g scoop and 14g of protein, ask yourself what else is added into this to account for the other grams.

Brands I’ve used over the years (no affiliation)

  • Whey -   Progressive Nutritionals, Naked Whey, Kazen Naturals, AllMax IsoNatural, Garden of life, ISO 100 Whey, President’s Choice
  • Pea and Rice - Vega, Garden of Life, Greens Plus
  • Hemp - Hemp Yeah by Manitoba Harvest
  • Beef- Pure Paleo by Designs for Health

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