The 8 Best Protein Powders for Muscle Gain

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Written by Tim Kalantjakos
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Why rank protein supplements by their ability to promote muscle growth if that’s what (virtually) all proteins do anyway?

Because the quality and completeness of the protein, the use of other ingredients, taste/texture, and the lack of certain ingredients can make the difference between the best protein powder for building muscle and just another chalky supplement. 

In this list of the 8 best protein powders for muscle gain, we factor in everything from probiotics to protein-by-dry-weight ratio to bring you the most effective supplements out there.

When it comes to muscle gain, we’ve got to give it up to Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein for its USDA organic ingredients, probiotic/enzyme blends, and more. 

TNI Main Logo 700x432 1 Best Overall
Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein
Most Potent
Magnum Quattro Protein
Grass-Fed
Hi-Health Udder Bliss Grass-Fed Whey Protein
Product Garden of Life Magnum Hi-Health
Protein 22g 30g 22g
Price $33.59 ($1.68/serving)
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$89.99 ($3.75/serving)
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$46.99 ($1.96/serving)
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Best for: Anyone looking for an affordable, USDA Organic protein powder for “clean gains” that can be taken regularly with less chance of gastrointestinal issues.

Known for their tendency to liven up stale product categories (check out our review here), Garden of Life sticks to form with their plant-based Raw Organic Protein Powder.

This squeaky clean muscle gainer contains an all-organic raw protein blend featuring well over a dozen plant-based protein sources including amaranth sprout, adzuki bean sprout, flax seed, pumpkin seed, and more.

The raw probiotic and enzyme blend delivers a comprehensive selection of both, including lipase, protease, beta-glucanase, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, and more, totaling 3 billion CFU (colony-forming units) of benevolent bacteria. 

If you’ve never regularly consumed protein powder, the probiotic thing may seem strange, but if you know, you know—a strong shot of protein can hit the digestive system hard.

At 22 grams of protein per serving, Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein is slightly above average in terms of amount of protein, and though we appreciate the organic cacao and vanilla, some may be put off by the stevia and erythritol (still organic though). 

Overall, Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein makes a strong case for the best protein powder for muscle gain. 

Best for: Those aiming for a higher daily protein intake.

As always, the first place to look for high-quality protein is in whole, natural foods, but if your situation demands a higher daily intake than most, Magnum Quattro Protein provides a well-above-average 30 grams of protein per serving.

Granted, this supplement costs around double that of many premium competitors, so that’s a thing, but in addition to the higher amount of protein, Magnum Quattro contains a high-quality protein matrix (whey, milk, casein, and egg isolates), organic flax seed, and the digestive enzyme bromelain.

We also appreciate the use of real cocoa powder, but we don’t love to see the natural/artificial flavors and sucralose. 

It certainly isn’t “dirty gains” territory by any means, but not quite as squeaky clean as most of the products we prefer to recommend.

Still, there are no sketchy preservatives to worry about, less than a gram of sugar per serving, and a whole lot of protein in Magnum Quattro for maximum swole-ness. (Okay, we’ll stop.)

Best for: Those looking for a high-quality dairy-based protein with fiber and enzymes for digestive support (and weight loss).

Taking first place in our more generic list of the best protein powders on the market, High-Health Udder Bliss Grass-Fed Whey Protein is also a serious contender in the department of gains for a few reasons.

First off, Udder Bliss is a complete protein loaded with all of the essential amino acids, and is derived from grass-fed, hormone-free cows.

The use of inulin (a form of fiber) is also a big deal for people looking to gain muscle and stimulate fat loss without side effects, as it can aid in weight loss and support healthy metabolism.

In addition to the 6 grams of fiber per serving (plus 22 grams of protein, by the way) the digestive enzymes help to facilitate digestion so you can easily handle this supplement on a daily basis.

Finally, though we don’t love umbrella terms like “natural flavors,” Udder Bliss is otherwise very clean in the “other ingredients” department.

Best for: Those looking for a form of protein with more performance-focused benefits; anyone looking to gain muscle and support skin health at the same time.

Bridging the gap between mirror primpers and barbell heavers, the structural protein collagen is unique in how it supports both skin health and connective tissue integrity.

Many bodybuilders rely on collagen because, in addition to supporting muscle growth, collagen peptides make up 65-80% of the dry weight of tendons, according to this study out of the University of Huddersfield in the UK. 

As tendons are the “ropes” that secure our muscles to their skeletal anchors, shoring them up with collagen while growing muscle is an excellent strategy for boosting performance while preventing injury.

Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein provides 5 forms of collagen per serving, and is made from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows

The addition of probiotics supports metabolic health and more, and the vitamin C helps collagen uptake. Otherwise, the ingredient list is extremely clean—just natural vanilla flavor and stevia leaf extract—but you will pay a bit extra.

Especially for people in their 30s or older (as the body’s collagen production starts to decline around then), we highly recommend Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein for safe and smart muscle gains.

Best for: Anyone looking for a super clean and highly potent protein powder with none of the sketchy preservatives or artificial ingredients.

If the “100% grass-fed” claim feels a little superfluous (why not just grass-fed?), the unfortunate truth is that some supposedly grass-fed products are not totally grass-fed, but such is not the case with Transparent Labs Protein Isolate.

Yup, it’s actually grass-fed and -finished, and at 82% protein-by-dry weight, you don’t have to force down two huge scoops to get 28 grams of protein per serving.

While Transparent Labs Protein doesn’t contain probiotics and digestive enzymes, whey protein isolate (versus whey protein concentrate) is generally lower in lactose and thereby easier to digest for the lactose intolerant.

In the realm of added ingredients, there are zero artificial sweeteners or colors. There is stevia and natural flavors, but otherwise, it’s squeaky clean.

If you want a clean and highly potent serving of protein from a reputable brand, Transparent Labs is an easy choice.

Best for: Anyone looking to build muscle with a USDA Organic, vegan product from a trusted brand; anyone looking to avoid artificial sweeteners and preservatives in their protein supplement.

As we cover in the brand review, Orgain was founded by an integrative medicine specialist and cancer survivor looking to change the protein shake game after slogging through a sea of underwhelming options for his own treatment.

Almost 15 years later, Orgain Organic Protein Powder continues to deliver on the ingredient quality front, offering an organic protein blend as well as an organic creamer base while staying vegan and non-GMO.

Each serving provides 21 grams of plant-based protein  from brown rice, chia seeds, and more, with no added sugar.

There is (organic) erythritol and natural flavors, as well as an organic stevia extract, but for the majority of people who tolerate these sweeteners well, Orgain is an excellent vegan supplement for gaining muscle.

And while it isn’t the very cheapest option on the market, Orgain Organic Protein Powder certainly comes close as far as reputable organic/vegan supplements are concerned.

Best for: Those looking for a super clean and simplistic protein supplement that provides 25+ grams per scoop and no artificial ingredients; anyone with more stringent dietary restrictions looking for a simple protein product. 

There’s very little room to hide with TGS 100% Whey Protein Powder, which contains a total of two ingredients: whey protein and non-GMO sunflower lecithin.

Each scoop provides 25 grams of high-quality whey protein, which, at 30 grams of total weight per scoop, is on the higher end of the potency spectrum.

Whey protein contains all nine essential amino acids, including the three branched chain amino acids (isoleucine, leucine, valine) prized by gym rats as muscle builders with almost pre-workout-like benefits.

With zero added sugar (2g of naturally occurring sugar per serving), just 55 milligrams of sodium, and zero artificial anything, TGS 100% Whey Protein Powder gets our pick for the best protein powder to build muscle in the whey department.

Best for: Those looking for an affordable and stepped-up protein powder with high potency (30g/serving), creatine, and branched-chain amino acids for performance.

Especially considering the price, MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Whey Protein is one of the best proteins for muscle growth in the value department. 

In addition to a well-above-average 30 grams of protein per serving, each serving of MuscleTech also delivers 3 grams of creatine monohydrate and 6.6 grams of BCAAs.

This whey protein powder also includes amylase to help with digestion, though we can’t let them off completely scot-free—sucralose and natural/artificial flavors make an appearance as well.

Still, the ingredient list registers zero grams of added sugars per serving, and with this much protein and creatine content, MuscleTech does make a strong argument for a muscle gainer that outpaces the competition.

Protein Powder for Muscle Gain FAQ

Does protein powder make you gain muscle faster?

While each person’s situation may vary based on their diet, other supplements, exercise habits, and more, increasing your protein intake should accelerate muscle growth. 

Protein is directly involved in rebuilding and repairing muscle, and is affected directly by muscle protein synthesis (the body’s ability to produce new muscle protein).

Whether the source of the protein takes the form of supplement or whole foods, increasing your intake of this crucial macronutrient can speed up muscle growth.

The best protein powder to build muscle comes with a complete amino acid profile, and digestive enzymes and/or probiotics can help the body digest the supplement more efficiently.

Is it better to drink protein shakes before or after a workout?

Actually, some people would say neither (and we agree).

Fittingly, proteins tend to be very bulky molecules, which is why the body has to work harder and for longer periods to break down and absorb them. 

If you consume a high-protein food too close to your upcoming workout, you may experience digestive problems as you are trying to exercise because your system is still trying to process it.

If you consume protein immediately after a workout, your body will likely not be able to break it down and process it within that critical 30 or so minutes after exercising.

Protein should be seen more as a “maintenance molecule” than an acute performance booster (with some exceptions). Consume high-protein foods throughout the day, before and after your workout, making sure to leave a buffer to avoid the above issues.

What food helps you bulk up?

Peanut butter or greens? Water or milk? The answer depends on each person’s definition of bulking.

If you want to stay as lean as possible while gaining weight and muscle mass, you can increase the amount of dark leafy greens, legumes, fish, and some healthy fats (like olive oil) in your diet. You don’t necessarily have to start wolfing down obscene amounts of peanut butter and other high-calorie foods if you simply increase your intake of lean, high-protein foods.

However, if your goal is to gain a more considerable amount of weight and you don’t mind a little bit of “padding” (presumably to be toned after the bulk phase), the best muscle-building protein sources can be found in high-fat dairy products, peanut butter, nuts, grains, butter, and other more calorically dense foods. 

How to get 150 grams of protein a day?

Seek out very protein-dense foods like chicken breast, turkey, egg whites, fish, beans, most dairy products, and lean beef.

Integrating these throughout your day with the help of a highly potent protein supplement like Magnum Quattro will help you climb towards 150 grams while still maintaining a nutrient-rich and healthy diet.

Outside the concentration, remember that the type of protein matters: shoot for a complete amino acid profile (all nine essentials at the very least). 

As always, don’t neglect your leafy greens and fruits, as these are not only important for overall well-being, but contribute nutrients that help your body absorb and process the protein. 



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