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- Best Overall: Hi-Health Udder Bliss Grass Fed Whey Protein
- Best Clean Vegan Protein Powder: KOS Organic Plant Protein
- Best Value Clean Protein Powder: Now Sports Whey Protein Isolate
- Best Organic Clean Protein Powder: Garden of Life Organic Creamy Protein Powder
- Best Clean Whey Protein Powder: Momentous Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate
- Best Clean Low-Carb Protein Powder: Isopure Protein Powder
- Best Clean BCAA + Protein Powder: Simply Tera’s Pure Whey Protein Powder
- Cleanest Collagen Powder: Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein
- Most Well-Rounded Protein Powder: Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake
- Best Clean Protein Powder FAQ
Okay, what does “clean” really mean in the world of protein powder?
It’s simple: no artificial ingredients. This means no fake sweeteners and preservatives, among other additives that can affect purity, nutritional value, and even safety of any given product (protein or otherwise).
With this in mind, we present our list of the seven cleanest protein powders out there, including vegan options, isolates, whey protein, and more.
Our top pick goes (once again) to Hi-Health’s Udder Bliss Grass-Fed Whey Protein. (We’ll put up a different product when a better one exists! Consider the gauntlet thrown down.)
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|$119.99 ($1.50 per serving)|
Best Overall: Hi-Health Udder Bliss Grass Fed Whey Protein
- Cold-Ultrafiltration Technology enhances absorption
- Made with grass-fed whey from hormone-free New Zealand cows
- Digestive enzymes
- 6g of fiber per serving
- No real chocolate
- Premium price
Best for: Non-vegans looking for a well-formulated supplement that includes digestive support, slimming fiber, and highly absorbable protein.
Hi-Health Udder Bliss is an excellent example of how to differentiate a protein supplement without incorporating a ton of trendy, out-there ingredients.
The whey, for example, comes from grass-fed, hormone-free New Zealand cows, weighing in at 22 grams of protein per serving and providing all 9 essential amino acids.
The use of prebiotic-rich inulin, a dietary fiber that can “keep you regular,” enhance the weight loss effect of protein, and stave off a myriad of lifestyle-related diseases, is another simple but highly important tweak to the same old protein powder.
The digestive enzyme complex provides three enzymes to help break this product down more efficiently, which is helpful because protein is a chunky molecule.
Finally, you’ll get around 15% your daily value of calcium (225mg/serving) with Hi-Health Udder Bliss, and there are no sketchy preservatives to worry about.
We wish there were some organic ingredients in there, or real cocoa, but Hi-Health Udder Bliss is still a very clean product with several key advantages over more conventional protein supplements.
Best Clean Vegan Protein Powder: KOS Organic Plant Protein
- Organic ingredients
- Digestive enzyme and organic protein blends
- Strong value
- Some added sugar
Best for: Vegans and vegetarians looking for a clean, protein-rich supplement that covers other key nutritional gaps as well.
Tell your concerned mom that times are changing—vegans can get all the protein, iron, and other key nutrients they need for building muscle, thanks in part to plant-based protein powders like KOS Organic Plant Protein.
Like the above supplement, KOS Organic Plant Protein uses a multi-source organic protein blend as well as a pro-digestion blend, though the latter takes a more “enzymatic approach” with lipase, lactase, amylase, and other -ases to help with digestion.
Everything that can be organic is organic, including all of the protein sources (pea, flax seed, quinoa, pumpkin seed, and more). Each serving provides 20 grams of protein.
The chocolate version is flavored with natural chocolate flavor and organic stevia.
And we’d be remiss if we left out the fruit and veggie blend, of course, featuring (all organic) apple, carrot, cranberry, orange, broccoli, shiitake mushroom, and more.
Especially considering this supplement stays at the low end on price, we’re fans of KOS Organic Plant Protein for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Best Value Clean Protein Powder: Now Sports Whey Protein Isolate
- Informed-Sport Certified
- Above average protein content (25g/serving)
- Competitively priced
- No flavor options
- No enhancers (digestive enzymes, probiotics, etc.)
Best for: Anyone looking for the simplest and cleanest whey protein powder with nothing else—just high-quality protein.
It literally doesn’t get any simpler than Now Sports Whey Protein Isolate, which contains two ingredients: whey protein isolate and sunflower lecithin (<1%).
Thanks to the minimalistic approach, you’ve got next to no sodium (45mg per serving), half a gram of fat per serving, and 10mg of cholesterol, though the downside is the complete lack of fiber and digestive enzymes.
This product comes in a bulk tub containing roughly 80 servings per container, and as the cheapest selection on our list, is an excellent value for people looking to simply increase their protein intake with a clean supplement they can take every day.
Now Sports Whey Protein Isolate is non-GMO, Informed-Sport Certified, and obviously, completely free of artificial ingredients.
Really, there isn’t much else to say—it’s just whey protein from a dependable brand and at a solid price.
Best Organic Clean Protein Powder: Garden of Life Organic Creamy Protein Powder
- Certified USDA Organic
- Multi-source, organic protein blend + probiotics
- More fiber and iron than most competing products
- Premium price
- Higher in sodium
Best for: Both vegans and non-vegans looking for a clean and nutritious protein supplement with fiber-rich probiotics and more.
Where most clean protein powders range between 2-5 ingredients (oftentimes, it’s just protein isolate and soy lecithin), Garden of Life Organic Creamy Protein Powder manages to provide much more without compromising on ingredient quality.
For example, the sprouted organic protein blend features an all-plant-based combination of fermented pea, brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and chia protein. Well beyond protein, Garden of Life is consistently one of the highest quality supplement makers when it comes to organic ingredient blends.
The prebiotic and probiotic blend contains inulin, acacia gum, and Bacillus subtilis (250 million CFU), to name a few.
As for flavoring—that’s where they’ll usually get ya—Garden of Life Organic Creamy Protein Powder uses organic erythritol, organic natural flavors, and organic coconut powder (using Vanilla Cookie flavor as reference).
Total sugars keep to less than 1g, and each serving delivers 20 grams of protein.
Overall, Garden of Life Organic Creamy Protein delivers industry-leading quality and value for such a clean product, taking our pick for the best clean protein powder overall.
Best Clean Whey Protein Powder: Momentous Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate
- Cold processing to prevent denaturing
- Clinically supported enzyme blend
- NSF Certified
- Premium price
- Contains stevia and natural flavors
Best for: Those looking for a highly well-preserved source of protein for efficient uptake in the body.
It sounds like one of those corny ads underneath online articles, but as we learn from brands like Momentous, there really is a “supplement trick that brands don’t want you to know about.”
We’re referring to cold processing; if a protein product isn’t made with cold processing, it’s likely that some of the protein is denatured along the way.
There’s a reason why Rocky Balboa didn’t bust out the frying pan for his morning eggs.
Of course, if you’re going to keep this already hard-to-digest molecule as preserved as possible, you should probably take even more care to help people process it themselves, which Momentous covers with a digestive enzyme blend.
The protein comes from Truly Grass FedTM Whey isolate, meaning the cows are actually fed on grass instead of supplemented with grain feed.
It’s gluten free, and though the product uses stevia and natural flavors, the chocolate version has real cocoa. The NSF certification is also an important factor, ensuring the product is free of more than 250 banned substances.
You’ll pay a little extra, but if you’re looking to get the most out of every gram of protein (20g per serving, by the way), Momentous Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is an excellent choice.
Best Clean Low-Carb Protein Powder: Isopure Protein Powder
- 25g protein, 2g carbs per serving
- 100% whey, rBST free
- A bit higher in sodium
- Natural flavors
Best for: Both keto and non-keto people looking for a super clean source of protein with no artificial anything.
For most non-keto folks, your everyday protein powder supplement will be low enough in carbs to not derail the diet, but if every gram counts for you, Isopure is a trusted favorite.
As of this writing, Isopure Protein Powder has just under 60,000 reviews on Amazon (averaging 4.6/5 stars), many of which laud the low carb content, taste, and ingredient cleanliness.
Speaking of, Isopure Protein Powder (referencing the chocolate) contains whey protein isolate, cocoa, natural flavors, soy lecithin, monk fruit, and stevia—that’s the whole list.
Each serving delivers 25 grams of 100% whey protein, along with BCAAs.
It’s gluten-free, lactose-free, non-GMO, rBST-free, and contains 2 grams of carbs per serving.
If you’re a keto person looking for a tasty and high-protein supplement that keeps the carbs at bay, or anyone else just looking for clean protein, Isopure Protein Powder is a well-vetted staple.
Best Clean BCAA + Protein Powder: Simply Tera’s Pure Whey Protein Powder
- 5.45g BCAA per serving
- Grass-fed, gluten-free whey product
- No rBGH, rBST, or GMO feed
- No added fiber or digestive enzymes
Best For: Anyone looking for a clean protein source that delivers above-average BCAAs.
Delivering 21 grams of protein and 5.45 grams of BCAAs per serving, Simply Tera’s Pure Whey Protein Powder puts up the numbers where it counts, but is it clean?
The 4-item ingredient list says yes, featuring whey protein concentrate, organic vanilla, sunflower lecithin, and organic stevia leaf extract.
This is one of the only products that uses both organic flavoring from real food (vanilla) as well as organic stevia, and with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
The whey comes from non-GMO-fed cows, and is also free of the hormones rBGH and rBST. (hormones)
Regardless of whether you’re in a dietary niche (keto, weight watchers, etc.) or not, Simply Tera’s Pure Whey Protein Powder is a reliable way to get some high-BCAA protein with none of the sketchy ingredients.
Cleanest Collagen Powder: Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein
- 20 grams of collagen per serving
- Grass-fed, pasture-raised source
- Contains vitamin C and probiotics
- Premium price
Best for: Clean eaters looking specifically for a collagen-rich source of protein with no sketchy ingredients.
Aside from the multi-collagen complex, which sources this structural protein from bovine hide, fermented eggshell membranes, chicken broth, and more, there are only two “other” ingredients: natural vanilla flavor and stevia leaf extract.
Well, there’s vitamin C as well—that helps the collagen absorption.
If you didn’t know, collagen is the most abundant protein in the body; it’s basically the “scaffolding” of skin and connective tissue, imparting key benefits both cosmetically and performance-wise.
Our bodies make collagen, but production drops off naturally as we age into our late 20s and early 30s. If you’re looking for a clean solution sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals, Ancient Nutrition Multi-Collagen Protein is our top pick.
Most Well-Rounded Protein Powder: Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake
- USDA Organic
- Protein + fiber, probiotics, antioxidants, and more
- Considerably more expensive
- Few servings per container (18)
Best for: People who prefer to bundle supplements together without compromising ingredient quality; anyone who wants a very well-rounded protein supplement.
On the one hand, we won’t pretend for a second that the price tag isn’t steep compared to the vast majority of protein powders out there, but on the other hand, Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake is way more than a protein powder.
In addition to 20 grams of plant-based protein rich in a variety of amino acids, each scoop also delivers 2 billion CFU of probiotics (bacillus coagulans), 4 grams of fiber, 500 milligrams of omega-3 ALA, a ton of antioxidants, and more.
This plant-based Vega product is USDA Organic, and contains organic greens like chard, kale, and lettuce as well as pumpkin seed, pea protein, organic acerola juice (great antioxidant content), and more.
The ingredient list is filled with real, organic foods and zero questionable preservatives, added, or copious amounts of sugar.
When you factor in the other supplements you can cut out by switching to Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake, it ends up being an excellent value.
Best Clean Protein Powder FAQ
How do I know if my protein powder is clean?
The ingredient list will get you part of the way there, and researching the protein itself should help determine if it really is a clean protein powder.
For example, you can find out within seconds of reviewing the product if there is added sugar (dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, etc.), preservatives, and so forth from the ingredient list.
But how can you tell “whey protein isolate” apart on ten different ingredient lists? (Don’t assume all plant-based protein powder is automatically clean, by the way).
Research the brand’s packaging and website to determine if the cows were grass-fed, non-GMO, and treated with hormones.
Is protein powder actually healthy?
On paper, protein powder is healthy in that it fulfills the body’s essential need for this vital macromolecule, but inferior products with artificial ingredients, preservatives, and so on can be unhealthy. Organic protein powders are generally preferred for both the ingredient quality and their lack of (in most cases) harmful additives.
It’s crucial that you ensure each product you review is made with clean ingredients, a full amino acid profile, and high-quality protein.
Why are there heavy metals in protein powders?
Heavy metals are ubiquitous throughout the soil all over the world, though some areas are more or less contaminated than others.
Hence, both the plants grown in the soil and the animals that feed on plants will contain traces of mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and lead.
Not all protein powders and other supplements test their ingredients for heavy metals, but if you see that they do, it’s a major differentiator for product safety—especially if products are tested at the source and/or by an independent third-party laboratory.