‘Protein’ doesn’t immediately mean ‘healthy’, and many shakes are loaded with more than necessary amounts of sugar and additives. But there are also brands offering cleaner alternatives: protein powders that contain the bare, recovery-assisting essentials.
MF BEST BUY:
£29.23 (613g), amazon.co.uk
They say: ‘Made from a complete multisource plant-based protein blend.’
We say: Vega Essentials rules the roost for its combination of good taste and all-natural ingredients. This protein is packed with performance-boosting vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre-rich flaxseed and heart-healthy omega-3. Vegan protein doesn’t always get the balance right, but Vega has shown it can be done.
£26 (520g), formnutrition.com
They say: ‘Combining plant-based protein with greens and superfoods in one easy shake that tastes amazing.’
We say: The best-tasting protein powder we tried. Despite containing no artificial flavours, artificial sweeteners or added sugar, it manages to be sweet but not sickly and, as well as the 20g of protein, each serving is loaded with probiotics to keep your gut in good health.
The Organic Protein Company Organic Whey
£22 (400g), theorganicproteincompany.co.uk
They say: ‘Organic means you’re avoiding artificial pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified organisms.’
We say: The taste isn’t amazing, but that’s only because there’s absolutely nothing bad going on: just whey from organic, grass-fed cows’ milk, freeze-dried organic fruit and a dash of unrefined organic coconut sugar. A healthier protein powder you will not find.
USN 100% Plant Protein
£32.99 (900g), amazon.co.uk
They say: ‘USN brings you their 100% Plant Protein. Sugar and soya free, this high protein blend tastes great.’
We say: There are a few ‘unpronounceables’ in the ingredients list (cyanocobalamin?), but USN’s 100% Plant Protein can still claim to be far more natural than most shakes out there. It’s free from sugar and contains a carbohydrate blend of oat bran, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and millet, for energy and immune support.
Healthspan Elite Whey Protein Isolate
£29.99 (1kg), healthspan.co.uk
They say: ‘We only use quality-assured protein developed using a special microfiltration process. This means that the essential amino acids are maintained.’
We say: The purest whey protein on the market, with a 90 per cent protein content amounting to a whopping 32g per serving. There’s also 7.5g BCAAs, as well as added vitamins and minerals to aid protein synthesis. The downside is that you have to add your own ‘flavour drops’, so it’s slightly more faff than conventional shakes.
foodspring Whey Protein
£24.99 (750g), foodspring.co.uk
They say: ‘Our whey protein contains the perfect formula for your muscles. Perfectly creamy when mixed with water, milk, or your favourite milk alternative.’
We say: It’s available in a range of flavours, but Vanilla gets the MF seal of approval, with just enough stevia sweetness and a smooth texture with either milk or water. Each serving gives you an impressive 24g of grass-fed whey protein, plus BCAAs and other essential amino acids to optimise post-workout recovery.
One Pro Nutrition Whey Protein + Collagen
£39.99 (750g), onepronutrition.com
They say: ‘Hydrolysed collagen supports fast recovery, and strengthens and repairs ligaments and connective tissue.’
We say: A plentiful 23g of protein per serving is backed up by body-strengthening collagen and 5.2g of muscle-maximising branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The taste is unremarkable, which isn’t a bad thing, and this is a genuinely performance-driven product designed to give your body exactly what it needs post-training.
PhD natural whey
£19.99 (500g), phd.com
They say: ‘Premium grass-fed natural whey protein (that is) naturally flavoured and sweetened.’
We say: If you’re used to traditional, sugar-loaded whey protein, this taste will leave a little to be desired. However, the clean bill of just five ingredients means PhD’s Natural Whey lives up to its name. There’s a decent 18g of protein per serving, plus 4g of BCAAs, and it mixes well with water or milk.
The Protein Works Vegan Wondershake
£37.99 (750g), theproteinworks.com
They say: ‘Using Quadplant™ technology, Wondershake is the world’s first vegan protein shake that tastes like a dairy shake.’
We say: Taste-wise, ‘Nice Enough Shake’ might have been more apt, but while it doesn’t quite live up to its grand title, the Wondershake is definitely full of all the right stuff. There’s a blend of premium-grade plant proteins (21g per serving) and each shake comes in at just 89 calories, making it a good bet for anyone watching their intake.