The 5 best protein powders 2018

Do you even lift, bro?

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Yes, it’s a meme but all memes are born out of truth (okay, most of them) and truth is, we’re becoming more health-conscious and learning how to treat our bodies properly. In some instances, this is eating swapping sodas for water, getting light exercise every day, learning to say no to that last slice of pizza. In other cases, it’s building muscle. And, if you want to build muscle then we consider Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey as the number one protein powder on the market today.

Protein powder is an essential part of getting ripped/buff/shredded/(insert your own word for looking muscular and trim). Pre-workout shakes give you the energy you need to keep going and push yourself harder and further than before. Post-workout shakes help repair your muscles after a hard day at the gym and is an efficient way of helping your progress along.

But which are the most efficient and deliver the best value for money? Which taste the nicest? Which actually mix well and won’t leave any disgusting lumps to drink? Here are the best protein powders available to buy.

Our pick of the top protein powders you can buy today

1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey

It’s called Gold Standard for a reason

Reasons to buy
+Extremely effective+It actually tastes nice
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't taste nice with water-Flavours mostly limited to chocolate and vanilla variants

This is the protein powder most gym fanatics will default to and for good reason. It delivers on the protein and gains front, as you’d expect from a protein powder, but it also delivers in another category – it actually tastes nice. Protein powder can be a little bit like whipping up a sawdust cocktail and hoping you’ll see results almost immediately to block out the awful taste. But Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard has a wide range of nice flavours to choose from – Vanilla Ice Cream, Double Rich Chocolate, Extreme Milk Chocolate, Salted Caramel, French Vanilla Cream, and so on.

2. The Curse

If WWE did protein powders…

Reasons to buy
+Sustains energy for entire workout+It’s called The Curse
Reasons to avoid
-No sudden burst of energy-Not suitable for vegans

You know what you’re getting with The Curse, because 1) it’s called The Curse and 2) if you were in any doubt as to the extreme measures that entails, its logo is a skull with glowing eyes. “THE ULTIMATE PRE WORKOUT” it shouts in caps on its packaging. “INSANE ENERGY. EXTREME MENTAL FOCUS. HUGE MUSCLE PUMPS.” It’s like the WWE of protein powders. Fortunately, its bravado is backed up by how good it is. Although it won’t give you a sudden burst of energy, this pre-workout powder will keep your energy levels high throughout the workout.

3. USN Essentials Dynamic Whey

The all-round protein powder

Reasons to buy
+Mixes well+Great for post workout recovery
Reasons to avoid
-Not as effective as more expensive options-Taste isn't for everyone

When you take your first steps into the world of protein powders, you’ll be surprised at the things you start to look out for. In the case of USN Essentials Dynamic Whey, it’s not that it helps your recovery after workouts (although it does) and it’s not that it’s great value for money (even though it is). It’s that it mixes well, leaving no lumps or bumps or sticky bits in your protein mix. It’s something few protein powders get right so USN Essentials deserves credit for figuring out the solution to what seems to be a difficult problem. The flavours aren’t too exciting (Vanilla, Chocolate, etc) and there are better protein powders available but for this price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option.

4. MaxiNutrition Max Protein Shake Powder

The perfect entry-level protein powder

Reasons to buy
+Good entry level product+Well priced
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best tasting powder-Contains a lot of sugar

A big name in sports, MaxiNutrition has made its name by delivering high-end protein powders that athletes use. Those protein powders contain benefits that are mostly irrelevant for us, such as how they won’t use any substances banned by professional sporting bodies, so it’s good to see MaxiNutrition has also gone the other way with this entry-level protein powder. The key appeal here is the price, which makes it an affordable way for those new to the world of protein powders to start getting used to it, making it part of their routine, and so on. Word of warning: this has a lot of sugar and carbs, making it better suited to those who are endurance training rather than those who are looking to lift and build muscle.

5. Cute Whey Protein Shake

The protein powder for women

Reasons to buy
+Has free ‘fat buster’ eBook+Unusual cocktail flavours
Reasons to avoid
-Is it really tailored for women?-Pornstar Martini?!

In case the lipstick imprint, “Cute” and Strawberry Daiquiri clues don’t give it away, this is protein powder for women. If you’re wondering how the protein powder differs from that which men would take… the answer appears to be that it doesn’t differ in any significant way bar the available flavours. You can choose from Pornstar Martini and Strawberry Daiquiri, flavours which are apparently gender-exclusive if Cute is to be believed. Otherwise, this is a protein powder that does what you expect a protein powder to – helps your protein intake, helps you recover after workouts and helps speed up metabolism.