I have a confession to make; I’m a protein powder hoarder, with whey protein powders making up the majority of my collection. Years ago, I was afraid to use protein powders, thinking they would make me bulk up and beef up like some sumo wrestler or bodybuilder. Yet, a couple years ago, I started using plant based protein powders and eventually whey protein powders, to up my lean muscle mass and increase my energy. Protein powders are a great way to get direct fuel to your muscles for repair after exercise. You can use them in replacement for regular flour in recipes, use them to thicken puddings and make your own protein pudding, plus they take any smoothie or shake to a whole new, creamy, dreamy level. The key to consuming protein powders is to keep them clean. This means no nasty ingredients, and making sure the whey protein you consume comes from clean sources. Check out my favorite sources below for the leanest, cleanest whey protein powders to create a leaner, cleaner you!
1 About Time Whey Protein
This brand is one of the most popular and well-known whey protein powders for their clean profile and delicious taste. The brand promises their powders will never contain lactose, gluten, hormones, fat, sugar, carbs or artificial sweeteners. In addition, their ingredient list is minimal, containing only 100% whey protein isolate (the best form of whey protein for weight loss and metabolism), stevia, xanthum gum as a natural thickening agent derived from plant sources, and contains no salt, sugar or anything else. Though the ingredient list is minimal, the flavor options are most definitely NOT! This brand has flavors such as Birthday Cake, Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Banana, Cinnamon Swirl, Peaches and Cream, Mocha Mint (my favorite) and a plain, unflavored variety. This brand also has a vegan protein powder if you’re interested. iHerb offers 2 pounds for $45.
2 Bluebonnet Whey Protein Isolate
This protein powder is one of the cleanest and best tasting in my opinion, and it comes in a variety of flavors. The French Vanilla flavor is my favorite, as well as the chocolate. Strawberry and unflavored options are also available. This brand of whey protein stands out because it comes strictly from grass-fed cows in New Zealand and contains no hormones, antibiotics or nasty fillers. It is only sweetened with stevia, and contains no lactose, gluten, salt, sugar or artificial sweeteners. It really creates a nice, thick protein smoothie or shake and the flavor is really prominent without being too sweet. I also love that it has a high ratio of branch chain amino acids for heightened metabolism and a faster recovery rate. I highly recommend trying the French Vanilla if you love using protein powders. You won’t be disappointed! Get 2 pounds for $45 from iHerb.
3 Jarrow Formulas Organic Whey Protein
If you want pure, organic whey protein and almost nothing added, this is another great option. Jarrow Formulas brand features whey protein isolate with no gluten, hormones, sugar, fillers, salt, or artificial sweeteners. The ingredients include only whey protein isolate, stevia and vanilla flavor. An unflavored variety is also available. Be advised that the brand also carries a non-organic version of whey protein, but it contains added sugars, fillers and fats, so stick with the organic for the cleanest variety. Get 1 pound for $25 from iHerb.
4 Designer Whey All Natural Protein
Designer Whey is by far one of the most popular whey protein brands of all brands out there. The brand has been around since the early '90s and has truly come so far in cleaning up their whey protein. A few years ago, all the varieties by this brand still contained some nasty fillers and artificial sweeteners, but not anymore. Recently, the brand revamped their protein powder flavors to be 100% natural, including all the delicious flavors such as French Vanilla, Gourmet Chocolate, Double Chocolate, White Chocolate, Vanilla Almond, Vanilla Praline, Luscious Strawberry and Unflavored. The brand is only sweetened with erythritol and stevia now, instead of sucralose and other artificial sweeteners. It contains no gluten, casein, lactose, MSG or yeast. I especially love this brand for listening to its consumers' requests for a more natural protein powder and adore the French Vanilla and Gourmet Chocolate flavors myself. It costs between $15-$35 at iHerb.
5 Well Wisdom’s Vital Whey
This brand is one of the most popular grass-fed varieties of premium whey protein. It has absolutely nothing added except natural flavoring from either real vanilla or real cocoa. It has no hormones, comes from cows that are grass-fed all year round, and it tastes amazing, though I’m not fond of the price. However, the brand is 100% clean and it is hard to argue with the impressive ingredient list on this one. The $67 2.5 pound size bag from iHerb is a two month supply, whereas most protein powders only offer a one month supply for roughly half the price of this one, making them come out even in cost. This brand is also one of the rare brands to be certified GMO-free, cold processed, pesticide-free and completely chemical-free through processing.
6 Philosophie Raw Whey Protein
I have not yet tried this protein powder due to the cost, but I have tried other products by this brand and highly recommend this whey protein if you want pure, raw whey protein. Philosophie is one of the most well-known superfood companies today and is highly popular with celebs as well. The company's superfood blends are unlike any other I’ve ever tried, and their Green Dream product is my favorite. Philosophie’s whey protein powder is raw and cold processed, and contains only raw vanilla and raw stevia to flavor it. It contains no soy, lactose, gluten, MSG, yeast, casein, artificial flavors, fillers, binders, salt, allergens of any kind, and comes from cows that are grass-fed year round. I definitely recommend trying it if you can afford it. If you’re interested, The Philosophie brand also features a Berry Bliss superfood blend that contains this whey protein. Acai and gogi berries are added to the blend, along with other high quality, organic and raw superfoods. You can get a 2-week supply of this product for $38.
7 Swanson Vitamins Grass- Fed Whey Protein
For 17 grams of pure grass-fed protein with no nasty fillers, hormones or artificial sweeteners, you can’t beat this price! It contains 18 servings per container, which is cheaper than most other brands out there. It has no MSG, casein, yeast, soy or lactose, along with no other fishy ingredients. It comes from grass-fed cows in New Zealand and has added enzymes to help with digestion and absorption. I highly recommend trying it if you are new to the Swanson Vitamins brand. They have been one of my favorite health food companies for quite some time and to beat all, their shipping is inexpensive, fast and reliable. You can buy 15 ounces for $15.99.
Protein powders are truly one of the easiest ways to get nutrition into your diet. If you’re new to using them, I highly suggest picking up a sample or small container of one of the above brands to try. I promise you, you’ll grow to love them as much as I do, and if you’re vegan, consider implementing in plant-based sources instead of whey protein. Do you use protein powders like whey protein powder? If so, what are your requirements for a “clean” protein powder profile?
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