Best After Workout Protein Powder (An RD’s Top Picks)

This is our top-rated post-workout protein powders for recovery, muscle building and weight loss, plus a complete buying guide (what to look for and FAQs) so you feel more than great about going with the right product.

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Working out is a great way to stay in shape and look your best, but this is a process that frequently challenges your muscle groups. Part of the process of building muscle results in damage to your muscle fibers and then you rebuild them. This protein synthesis process in the muscles utilizes amino acids and other nutrients. Ensuring that you’re providing your body with enough protein each day can help take your workouts to the next level while speeding up the recovery process.

In this article I’m going to review the importance of using a post workout protein powder as part of your fitness routine. I also want to review seven of the best protein powders that I’ve come across for this purpose. Lastly, we’ll discuss the process of purchasing a post workout protein powder, so you know exactly what to look for and what to stay away from.

Benefits of Using Protein Powder After Your Workout

benefits post workout protein powder

Protein powder has many benefits in general, but according to science and research, it is especially important to take immediately after your workout (post-workout). There are specific types of protein powders that are designed for post workout, which we'll cover after this section. For now, let's check out some of the reasons why you would want to drink a protein shake right after your workout.

Muscle Gain and Recovery

What happens to our muscles after we work them? That's right, they tear up. And, naturally they'll need about 48-72 hours to fully recover after resistance training. Post workout protein powder can actually speed up that recovery process and feed the muscles the protein it needs as a building block to build more muscle.

Weight Loss

Protein helps us feel full longer, which is one of the main reasons why protein is great for weight loss. When we exercise we burn a lot of calories and energy. A post-workout protein powder can help us replenish calories lost and the protein that our muscles need to build correctly as well as provide us more energy throughout the day.

The 7 Best Protein Powders for Post Workout

after workout protein powder

The fitness and health market is inundated with different kinds of pre-workout products, post-workout products and protein. The following products are seven of the best protein powders for post workout that I can recommend to you.

#1. 1st Phorm Phormula-1

phormula 1 post workout protein

This Phormula-1 post workout protein powder from 1st Phorm is designed to increase your amino acid retention to speed up the process of repairing your muscles. Based on a whey protein isolate ingredient profile, 1st Phorm Phormula-1 is one of the best tasting products of this type. It mixes really easily, which is something a lot of people have trouble with. You can quickly blend it into a smoothie or shake it up in a blender bottle with something like oat or almond milk.

Phormula-1 is made using high quality ingredients and through the process of low temperature processing and cross-flow micro-filtration. This helps with absorption and retention of amino acids. It’s also very easy to digest, so you don’t experience any GI discomfort like other protein powders cause. Phormula-1 post-workout helps to repair your muscles, especially when you combine it with some of the other 1st Phorm products like their Ignition post-workout supplement. It’s recommended for use with moderate to high intensity workouts. You can also use it when you wake up in the morning to break your fast and get your body going. The steady flow of amino acids it provides to your body along with an exceptional protein content makes this a top notch fitness supplement.

Pros

  • Mixes easily and has a great taste
  • Has the potential to speed up muscle growth and shorten your recovery period
  • Very low carbohydrate content
  • Low Temperature Processed Cross-Flow Micro-Filtered Whey Protein Isolate
  • Easy to digest

Cons

  • Comes in a variety of flavors, but some of them are more palatable than others

#2. Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

transparent labs whey protein post workout

This grass-fed whey protein isolate is the first product in the Protein Series from Transparent Labs. Sourced from grass-fed, hormone-free American cows, it has an extremely high protein-by-weight ratio. There are twenty-eight grams of protein in one 32 gram scoop of product. This product can be used to promote a healthier and faster post-workout recovery period, as well as helping you ingest enough protein over the course of a day. It’s an extremely clean product that is free of artificial sweeteners, fake food dyes, gluten, and preservatives.

Pros

  • 100 percent grass fed
  • Contains almost thirty grams of protein in each scoop (one serving)
  • Made from naturally fed, hormone-free cow whey
  • Free of artificial sweeteners
  • Does not contain preservatives

Cons

  • Contains stevia

#3. Ritual Essential Protein Powder

ritual protein powder after workout

Ritual’s Essential Protein Powder contains twenty grams of protein in each serving, providing you with the ability to support strength and boost recovery. Each serving contains a complete amino acid profile that includes eight grams of EAAs and four grams of BCAAs. It helps you feel full for longer periods of time, so you cut down on snacking, and it’s formulated without the use of artificial ingredients, GMOs or stevia (is is sweetened with fermented sugarcane and monk fruit). Each batch of Ritual Essential Protein Powder is tested for more than 250 banned substances.

Pros

  • A clean, traceable protein to support muscle growth and recovery
  • Contains twenty grams of protein in each serving
  • Contains a complete amino acid profile
  • Made with traceable ingredients
  • Non-GMO

Cons

  • Doesn’t come in a variety of flavors

#4. Jacked Factory Authentic ISO Whey Protein Isolate

jacked factory whey protein post workout

Jacked Factory’s Authentic ISO Whey Protein Isolate is a very clean product that the body will utilize quickly thanks to how easily digestible it is. It’s made with ultra-pure grass-fed whey protein isolate, complete with a high amino acid profile. This triggers muscle protein synthesis and speeds up recovery times. A highly developed filtration process is used to produce such a beneficial product that is clean and safe for the body. It contains very few carbohydrates, not much sugar and is free of fillers and artificial ingredients.

Pros

  • Rapidly absorbed by the body
  • Easy to digest
  • Low carbohydrate and fat content
  • You can subscribe to save money on each purchase
  • Contains twenty-five grams of protein in each serving
  • Manufactured in a in a state-of-the-art cGMP and FDA-registered facility

Cons

  • Expensive if you don’t use the subscribe and save option

#5. Bulk Supplements Whey Protein Isolate 90%

bulk supplements whey protein after workout

Bulk Supplements makes a whey protein isolate product that includes a very complete and comprehensive amino acid profile as well as high amounts of leucine. A very pure form of protein, a special filtration process is used to separate the protein from fat, carbs, cholesterol and lactose. The end result is a very safe, pure and effective product for someone that wants to speed up their recovery process, burn more fat and much more. Compared to other similar post-workout products, you’ll be shocked at how little sugar, calories and fat are included in each scoop.

Pros

  • Can aid in muscle recovery
  • Helps build lean muscle
  • Very pure and easy on the stomach
  • Antimicrobial properties
  • Increases the feeling of being full

Cons

  • This product is not flavored, which makes it versatile when added to other ingredients but might not be preferred by people who are looking for a tasty product.

#6. Thorne Whey Protein Isolate

post workout protein thorne whey isolate

Thorne’s Whey Protein Isolate can be used as your main protein supplement but also as a post-workout product. Each scoop of product contains twenty-one grams of protein from a non-denatured whey source. It has a very balanced amino acid profile that is high in lysine and arginine. Also included are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which helps with protein absorption and usage. Whey Protein Isolate from Thorne is perfect for fitness, weight managements, recovery or simply upping your protein intake each day. It contains minimal amounts of fat, sugar and calories. Versatile enough to be added to smoothies or shakes, Thorne has developed a product that is very pure and free of artificial ingredients.

Pros

  • Contains twenty-one grams of protein in each serving
  • Low in sugar, calories and fat content
  • Each batch is tested for compliance with label claims and for 200 different banned substances
  • Added bromelain and papain for boosted amino acid activity
  • Subtle, mild flavor

Cons

  • Available in only chocolate and vanilla flavors

#7. Legion Whey+ Protein Powder

legion athletics protein post workout

Legion Whey+ Protein Powder provides a safe and healthy source of protein to increase your daily intake. It’s very low in calories, doesn’t have a lot of carbohydrates and it’s low in fat as well. The best part is that it shouldn’t cause any kind of digestive upset like a lot of other protein powders do because the lactose has been removed. You get approximately 21 to 23 grams of protein in each serving along with 5.6 grams of branched chain amino acids. There’s nothing added that’s artificial like preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors. Every single ingredient in this product has a natural source. Each ingredients is included in precise amounts that have been scientifically backed.

There’s a complete money-back guarantee if you’re not completely happy with the results you see from Legion Whey+ Protein Powder. Third-party lab testing is used to ensure safety and purity for this product. You can find more information on the Legion website, and rest assured that this is a very transparent brand.

Pros

  • No added sugars included
  • Enhances post workout recovery
  • Boosts muscle strength and development
  • Gentle on your stomach
  • Lactose free
  • No artificial dyes, sweeteners, flavors or preservatives

Cons

  • Contains stevia in addition to the natural monk fruit extract included

Buying Guide for Post-Workout Protein Powders

buying guide post workout protein powder

Ready to start shopping for a post-workout protein powder? I have a simple buying guide that will help you sort through your options while determining which are the good ones and which are the bad.

What to Look for

finding post workout protein powder

There are a few things you'll want to make sure you know before purchasing a protein powder for after workout. Let's go over what to look for so you feel good about going with the right product.

Type of Protein

Protein powders source their protein from a number of different places. Each provides its own nutritional profile and set of benefits, so this is a detail that you won’t want to skip when you’re shopping for a post-workout product. A lot of people prefer a plant-based product that is free of dairy. This provides an adequate amount of protein without causing stomach discomfort. There are also lactose-free protein sources that are comfortable to consume. Let’s take a closer look at your protein options.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is made from milk, specifically the curds that form when a coagulant is added. Whey separates into the water-soluble portion of milk. It’s sold in a variety of products, including protein powders. It’s important to understand that not all sources of whey protein are the same. There are some which have been highly processed. Others are much more pure and safe.

It’s common to use whey protein to increase your daily intake, to speed up recovery and to create more muscle mass when you’re partaking in some form of resistance training. Unfortunately, some people continue to experience GI issues despite the lack of lactose in whey protein.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is found in products such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk, meat alternatives, however it is also the main protein source for a number of supplements and post-workouts. Soy can be processed a number of ways, but fitness supplements that use soy for its protein content will be made by de-fattening soybean flakes that have been washed in alcohol or water. This removes the sugars and fiber before dehydration occurs. The end result is a fine powder that can be reconstituted in a number of fluids. Be careful of the soy protein that you consume as many brands include highly processed soy in their recipe.

Egg Protein

Eggs provide a lot of protein per serving, and you can find post-workouts that use powdered egg as their main source of protein. Because eggs are a complete protein source, they contain all of the amino acids and BCAAs that are needed for muscle repair and gains. They also benefit your bones, organs, skin, hormones and neurotransmitters. Unfortunately, eggs are a common allergen and many additional people cannot tolerate them. If you’re one of those affected people, skip the egg protein and try something else.

Brown Rice Protein

Brown rice protein is excellent because its dairy free, egg free and very healthy. In addition to filling in gaps in protein consumption, brown rice protein can reduce your bodily glycemic response, regulate your cholesterol levels and improve kidney health. Brown rice is very easy to digest and can actually help soothe and regulate your gut. Plant-based protein tends to be much cleaner than other varieties that can be contaminated with a variety of toxins.

Quality of Ingredients

I’ve talked a little bit about the quality of the protein powder that you use post-workout, but it’s really important that you learn as much as you can about a supplement before you take it regularly. Post-workouts run the risk of being contaminated with very low quality ingredients, heavy metals and other toxins. Look for a brand that clearly communicates where their ingredients come from and how they make their product.

Brand Transparency

If a post-workout protein supplement brand doesn’t clearly state what their product is made out of, how it’s made and why it’s beneficial, move on to the next option. If a company is using high quality ingredients and a trustworthy process to create their items, they will want to show that off. If you can’t get answers from customer service, you should be wondering why that is.

Third Party Tested

Third party testing is used to check a post-workout supplement for a number of things. First, a brand wants to make sure that their product actually holds up to the claims that are included on the label or on the website. Many brands also want to make sure that the ingredients are as pure and potent as advertised. Lastly, third party testing will often ensure that a product is free of contaminants or banned substances.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have some questions about protein powders and post-workout supplements, that’s perfectly normal. I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you out.

Is it best to take whey protein after a workout?

When you’re exercising regularly, consuming whey protein after your workout will help build more lean muscle and burn more fat than if you were just working out and not doing anything else to help the process along. Whey protein has the potential to decrease the amount of muscle mass that’s lost as you age as well.

Which protein is best for post workout?

Whey protein is very basic and is found in a large majority of post-workout supplements. If you’re looking for something cost effective that contains a good amount of protein, whey might be your best option. If you tolerate whey fine, you can use it post-workout but also before your workout to increase your protein intake. It’s also great at different points in the day if you’re trying to lose weight and want to cut back on calories or reduce the feelings of being hungry.

How long should I wait to drink a protein shake after a workout?

For the best results you should drink your protein shake within sixty minutes after you’ve completed your workout routine. This is the window of time when your body is going to get the most benefits out of a high quality supplement. If you really want to increase your results, drink your protein shake fifteen to thirty minutes after your workout is over. This allows for quick absorption of nutrients as well as faster recovery.

Do you need protein right after a workout?

If you’re using protein to speed up your recovery process, build more muscle mass or help you lose weight, you should be consuming your protein right after a workout. Make sure you’re doing so within thirty minutes to one hour. Also, make sure you’re not consuming more than thirty grams of protein at one time. Anything more than that is too much and can negatively affect your results.

The Bottom Line

Protein is one of the three major nutrients in the body; the others are carbohydrates and fats. Protein along with amino acids is what makes up our bones, skin, tissues, organs and muscles. Eating protein results in the breakdown of amino acids, which will be used to create new proteins throughout the body as needed. When we don’t consume enough protein, muscle can start to break down. That breakdown can progress to other parts of the body over time.

If you want to replenish the fuel that was lost during your workout as well as repair muscle damage and restore fluids, a post-workout supplement is something you should be using. That positive protein balance will help you achieve the results that you’re working so hard for.

Recap of our Best After Workout Protein Powders

Post-Workout Protein PowderAvg. RatingWhere to buy
1. 1st Phorm Phormula-14.9/5 (Over 15,000 reviews)at 1st phorm
2. Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate4.8/5 (Over 1,800 reviews)at transparent labs
3. Ritual Essential Protein Powder4.7/5 (Over 500 reviews)at ritual
4. Jacked Factory Authentic ISO4.7/5 (Over 80 reviews)at jacked factory
5. Bulk Supplements Whey Protein Isolate4.8/5 (Over 2,800 reviews)at bulk supplements
6. Thorne Whey Protein Isolate4.5/5 (Over 50 reviews)at thorne
7. Legion Athletics Whey+ Protein Powder4.8/5 (Over 3,700 reviews)at legion

Tips for Success from the RD

In addition to consuming a pre- or post-workout supplement, you can also increase the amount of protein that is in your diet. Let’s look at some of the healthy nutritional protein sources that will help you along.

Eggs

Eggs are a very complete food because of all the nutrients they contain. Eggs are very high in protein as well as vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants.

Nuts

As long as you’re not allergic, grabbing a handful of nuts here and there will increase your protein intake. They are also high in fiber, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium.

Lean Meat and Fish

Red meat is something you want to limit because it can cause inflammation in the body and raise your cholesterol levels. Lean meat/fish that contains high levels of protein include chicken breasts, salmon and shrimp.

Photo of author

Courtney D'Angelo

Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, earned her masters degree in Nutrition and Foods from the University of Georgia. She's a Registered Dietitian at Morrison Healthcare and has a strong passion in helping people improve their wellness!

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