Best Protein Powder for Lean Muscle

Top 10 Best Protein Powder for Lean Muscle Gain in 2024

Want lean muscle gains without the unwanted fat? Finding the best protein powder for lean muscle is essential. We cut through the clutter to bring you a straightforward, no-fluff lineup of the top protein powders that cater to various dietary needs and preferences.

Whether you’re vegan, sensitive to lactose, or need a low-carb formula, our vetted selection prioritizes quality, absorption, and taste—because your muscle-building journey deserves the best.

Quick Overview of the Best Protein Powders for Lean Muscle

Variety of protein powder containers on a table

The journey to find the perfect protein powder may seem overwhelming, but this brief guide will help you navigate. Here are the top picks that can assist you in gaining the lean muscle mass you desire:

  1. Best for Low-Carb Diets: Dymatize ISO 100

  2. Best for Zero Fat and Sugar: Reflex Iso Pro 2:1

  3. Best for Daily Protein Boost: Applied Nutrition ISO XP

  4. Best for Sport Athletes: Thorne Whey Protein Isolate

  5. Best for Bulking Up: Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  6. Best Vegan Option: KOS Organic Superfood Plant Protein

  7. Best for Smooth Texture: Xwerks GROW

  8. Best Natural Choice: Gnarly Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder

  9. Best Overall: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey

  10. Best for Flavour Variety: Dymatize Iso100 Whey Protein Powder

  11. Best for Overnight Recovery: Dymatize Elite Casein Protein Powder

  12. Best Sugar-Free Option: Naked Nutrition’s Chocolate Grass-fed Whey

  13. Best Innovative Flavours: PEScience Select Protein

Each of these protein powders holds its unique strength, making them leaders in their respective categories. Regardless of whether you’re a vegan athlete or someone looking for overnight muscle recovery, there’s a protein powder to fulfill your requirements.

Dymatize ISO 100

Price: £79.99

  • Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate

  • 25g of Protein Per Serving

  • Less Than 1g of Sugar and Fat


  • Rapid Absorption for Muscle Recovery

  • Low Lactose Levels

  • Wide Range of Flavours


  • Potentially Higher Cost Compared to Other Options

  • Some Flavours May Have an Artificial Aftertaste

Dymatize ISO 100 is a standout in the protein powder landscape, offering top-quality nutrition while accommodating various dietary restrictions. Touted for its low-carb, gluten-free formula that’s mostly lactose and cholesterol-free, this protein powder is a godsend for those with specific dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance or lactose sensitivity. It’s also a heavyweight champion in the flavour department, offering a spectrum that caters to every palate.

With each scoop, you’re guaranteed a punch of 25 grams of hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, ensuring maximum absorption and muscle recovery. The enzymatically hydrolyzed protein provides a rapid influx of amino acids, including the essential amino acid, to your muscles, which is critical post-workout. The low-fat and sugar content align perfectly with those aiming to stay lean while building muscle. However, despite the variety, some may find certain flavours have a slightly artificial aftertaste, a small price to pay for the quality on offer.


  • Taste: 4/5

  • Mixability: 5/5

  • Value for Money: 4/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 5/5

Reflex Iso Pro 2:1

Price: £29.99


  • Whey Protein Isolate

  • Zero Fat and Sugar

  • Added Chromium and MCT Oil


  • Optimal for Muscle Growth

  • Supports Blood Glucose Regulation

  • Fat-Free Carbohydrate Source


  • May Not Suit Low-Carb Diets

  • Limited Flavour Options

If you’re striving to build lean muscle, Reflex Iso Pro 2:1 is a valuable partner in your muscle-building journey, offering a lean protein powder option. With zero fat and sugar, this powerhouse includes enzyme hydrolyzed Waxy Maize Starch and whey protein isolate, giving your muscles the high-quality fuel they need without the unwanted extras.

What sets Iso Pro 2:1 apart is the addition of chromium, which aids in the normal regulation of blood glucose levels—beneficial for those keeping a close eye on their sugar intake. Not to mention, the inclusion of MCT oil enhances the powder’s nutrient profile. However, those on a strict low-carb diet may need to look elsewhere, as the Waxy Maize Starch is a carbohydrate source. Flavour variety is also more limited compared to other brands, which may deter those with a more discerning taste.


  • Taste: 3.5/5

  • Mixability: 5/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 4.5/5

  • Innovativeness: 4/5

Applied Nutrition ISO XP

Price: £39.99


  • 22.5g of Protein Per Serving

  • Minimal Lactose, Sugar, Carbs, and Fat

  • Soy and Gluten-Free


  • Ideal for Increasing Daily Protein Intake

  • Halal Certified Product

  • Great Taste with Milk or Water


  • Not as Low in Calories as Some Competitors

  • Some Users May Prefer a Dairy-Free Option

If you’re searching for an everyday protein enhancement, Applied Nutrition ISO XP meets all the criteria:

  • 22.5g of protein per 25g serving

  • Excellent choice for anyone looking to increase their protein intake without overloading on fats, carbohydrates, or sugars

  • Halal certification broadens its appeal to a wider audience.

The versatility of ISO XP is noteworthy; it’s as delicious with water as it is with milk, making it a flexible addition to your dietary regimen. Its soy and gluten-free composition also makes it a safe bet for those with allergies or intolerances. While it’s not the lowest in calories compared to some competitors, the trade-off is a more satisfying and creamier shake—especially when mixed with milk. However, the lactose content, albeit minimal, may still be a concern for those with severe lactose intolerance.


  • Taste: 4/5

  • Mixability: 4.5/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 4/5

  • Inclusivity: 4.5/5

In-Depth Review of Thorne Whey Protein Isolate - Best for Sport Athletes

Price: £59.99

  • 21g of Protein Per Serving

  • NSF Certified for Sport

  • Low Carbohydrate Content


  • Supports Muscle Repair with High Protein and Leucine Content

  • Free from Banned Substances

  • Beneficial for Post-Workout Recovery


  • Contains a California Proposition 65 Warning

  • Advised Consultation for Pregnant or Hypersensitive Individuals

Thorne Whey Protein Isolate is the answer for athletes who push their boundaries in training and competition, needing a protein powder that can keep up. With 21 grams of whey isolate protein and an impressive 2.3 grams of leucine per serving, it’s engineered to support the rigorous demands of muscle repair and recovery post-exercise.

The NSF Certified for Sport label ensures that Thorne’s protein powder is devoid of banned substances, providing athletes with peace of mind when it comes to product purity and safety. However, it’s essential to note the California Proposition 65 warning for reproductive harm on the label, which may raise concerns for some potential users. Additionally, due to its low carbohydrate content, an extra carbohydrate source might be necessary for optimal recovery.


  • Taste: 4/5

  • Mixability: 5/5

  • Athletic Performance: 5/5

  • Safety Certification: 5/5

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer Protein Powder Review - Best for Bulking Up

Muscular person lifting weights with a protein shake

Price: £79.99

  • 53g of Protein Per Serving

  • 760 Calories Per Serving

  • Gluten-Free and Non-GMO


  • Effective for Significant Muscle Gains

  • High-Calorie Content Ideal for Bulking

  • Naturally Sweetened with Stevia and Monk Fruit


  • High Saturated Fat Content

  • Not Suitable for Low-Carbohydrate Diets

When your goal is to gain size, Transparent Labs Mass Gainer should be your first choice. Every serving is a hefty 760 calories, comprising 53 grams of protein and 109 grams of carbohydrates, making it the perfect partner for those looking to bulk up. The inclusion of creatine monohydrate is a welcome addition, amplifying the powder’s muscle-building potential.

Despite its undeniable effectiveness in supporting muscle growth, the mass gainer’s high saturated fat content may raise eyebrows, especially for those concerned with heart health. It’s also not the ideal choice for individuals on low-carb diets. But for the “hard gainers” or those struggling with appetite, this high-calorie supplement could be a game-changer. Plus, the taste is often a deal-breaker when it comes to mass gainers, and Transparent Labs scores high marks for its palatable Sweet Vanilla and Chocolate Donut flavours.


  • Taste: 4.5/5

  • Caloric Density: 5/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 4/5

  • Mixability: 4/5

KOS Organic Superfood Plant Protein - Best Vegan Option

Price: £49.99


  • 20g of Plant-Based Protein Per Serving

  • USDA Organic Certification

  • Blend of Five Plant Proteins


  • High-Quality, Diverse Protein Sources

  • Naturally Sweetened Without Erythritol

  • Boosts Energy Levels


  • Some Varieties May Have a Strong Flavour

  • Possible Issues with Powder Not Fully Blending

KOS Organic Superfood Plant Protein provides a strong protein source, making it a sanctuary for vegans. It boasts:

  • 20 grams of protein per serving

  • A blend of peas, flax, quinoa, pumpkin, and chia

  • USDA Organic certification

  • Quality ingredients, including vegan protein powder

  • Natural sweeteners: organic agave, coconut sugar, stevia, and monk fruit

This makes it a guilt-free indulgence for those avoiding artificial additives.

Granted, some users have noted a strong perfumey flavour in certain varieties and challenges with the powder fully blending, leading to foam and separation. But the energy boost experienced by many is undeniable, and the muscle-building effects, when paired with exercise, rival those of whey protein—despite the lower leucine content typically found in vegan proteins.


  • Taste: 4/5

  • Mixability: 3.5/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 5/5

  • Eco-friendliness: 5/5

Xwerks GROW - Best for Smooth Texture

Price: £59.99


  • 25g of Whey Protein Isolate Per Serving

  • Low Carbohydrate Content

  • Minimal Aftertaste


  • Rich Chocolatey Taste

  • Smooth Consistency and Easy to Mix

  • Versatile for Various Foods


  • Thinner Consistency with Water

  • Some Users May Prefer a Thicker Shake

For those who value a smooth, lump-free protein shake, Xwerks GROW is a clear winner. It offers:

  • Remarkable chocolatey taste

  • Minimal aftertaste

  • 25 grams of whey protein isolate

  • 2.5 grams of leucine with each serving

Users rave about its malt-like flavour and the ease with which it blends into a froth-free drink, even when simply shaken in a bottle.

The texture is noteworthy; it’s thinner when mixed with water, making it a light, refreshing option for those who may feel weighed down by heavier shakes. However, this same quality might not be as satisfying for those who prefer a creamier, more shake-like consistency. To maximize the smoothness, some users recommend letting the shake settle after mixing. Xwerks GROW’s adaptability also shines through, as it’s a fantastic addition to smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods, broadening its appeal far beyond the shaker bottle.


  • Taste: 5/5

  • Mixability: 5/5

  • Versatility: 5/5

  • Consistency: 4/5

Gnarly Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder - Best Natural Choice

Price: £59.99

Specifications (skip if not applicable)

  • 25g of Grass-Fed Whey Protein Concentrate Per Serving

  • Added Digestive Enzymes and MCT Oil Powder

  • Free from Antibiotics and rBGH


  • Natural and Wholesome Protein Source

  • Enhanced Digestibility with Probiotics and Enzymes

  • Positive Consumer Feedback on Flavour


  • Higher Sodium Content

  • May Not Suit Those Looking for a Vegan Option

Gnarly Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder provides a natural option for those who prefer a pure approach. Here are some key features of this protein powder:

  • Extracted from the milk of antibiotic and rBGH-free cows

  • Delivers a robust 25 grams of protein per serving

  • Supports your muscles and overall health

  • Made with ingredients that are good for the planet

Apart from its impressive protein content, Gnarly Whey comes infused with prebiotics, probiotics, and enzymes, enhancing lactose digestion and mitigating potential gastrointestinal issues—common complaints that often accompany lesser protein powders. And let’s not forget about the taste; the lightly sweet vanilla flavour has received the thumbs up from consumers, making it an enjoyable addition to any diet.

While its sodium content is something to be mindful of, and it’s not a vegan product, the benefits it brings to the table for those who can consume dairy are significant.


  • Taste: 4.5/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 4.5/5

  • Environmental Impact: 5/5

  • Digestive Comfort: 5/5

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder - Best Overall

Scoop of whey protein powder with fruits and nuts

Price: £49.99


  • Blend of Whey Protein Isolate, Concentrate, and Hydrolyzed Whey Peptides

  • 24g of Protein and 5.5g of BCAAs Per Serving, including nine essential amino acids

  • Minimal Carbs and Fat


  • Comprehensive Blend of Whey Proteins for Optimal Absorption

  • Easy to Mix and Lump-Free Experience

  • Economical Choice for Budget-Conscious Consumers


  • Some Users May Prefer Non-Dairy or Vegan Options

  • Flavour Intensity May Vary Between Batches

There are plenty of reasons why Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder is a popular choice among many. Here are some of its key features:

  • Blend of whey protein isolate, concentrate, and hydrolyzed whey peptides

  • Delivers 24 grams of protein per serving

  • Contains 5.5 grams of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) per serving

  • Supports muscle recovery and growth

What truly sets Gold Standard apart is its mixability. This protein powder is designed to blend seamlessly into your drink of choice without any grittiness or lumps, providing a smooth experience every time. The brand’s commitment to an economical price point also makes it a staple in many fitness enthusiasts’ pantries.

While not the best fit for those who avoid dairy or prefer plant-based options, its minimal lactose content does make it more accessible for those with mild sensitivities.


  • Taste: 4/5

  • Mixability: 5/5

  • Value for Money: 5/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 5/5

Dymatize Elite Casein Protein Powder - Best for Overnight Recovery

Price: £49.99


  • 25g of Micellar Casein Per Serving

  • 5.3g of BCAAs

  • Rich Cinnamon Bun Flavour


  • Promotes Muscle Growth and Recovery During Sleep

  • Filling and May Assist with Weight Management

  • Smooth Texture and No Residue


  • Limited Flavour Options Compared to Whey Variants

  • Not Suitable for Individuals with Dairy Intolerances

As your body switches to recovery mode when you sleep, Dymatize Elite Casein Protein Powder steps in to repair and develop your muscles. Casein’s slow-digesting properties provide a sustained release of amino acids, making it the perfect nocturnal snack to fuel muscle synthesis. Each serving contributes a substantial 25 grams of protein, including 5.3 grams of BCAAs, essential for muscle growth and repair.

The Cinnamon Bun flavour is a standout, offering a decadently rich taste that can be enjoyed as a pudding before bedtime, satisfying your sweet tooth while supporting your gains. Additionally, the filling nature of casein can curb late-night cravings, aiding those on a weight management journey.

Although the flavour variety doesn’t quite match up to whey protein options, and it’s not suitable for dairy-free diets, for those who can indulge, Elite Casein is a dream come true.


  • Taste: 4/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 5/5

  • Effectiveness: 5/5

  • Mixability: 4.5/5

Naked Nutrition's Chocolate Grass-fed Whey Protein Powder - Best Sugar-Free Option

Price: £79.99


  • 25g of Grass-Fed Whey Protein Per Serving

  • No Added Sugars or Artificial Sweeteners

  • Versatile for Use in Meals


  • High-Quality, Grass-Fed Protein Source

  • Sugar-Free for Health-Conscious Individuals

  • Smooth Texture and Easy Mixing


  • Flavour May Not Be as Rich as Sweetened Options

  • Packaging Could Be Improved for Product Quantity

Naked Nutrition’s Chocolate Grass-fed Whey Protein Powder embodies the brand’s dedication to straightforwardness and purity. This sugar-free protein powder is sourced from grass-fed cows, ensuring 25 grams of high-quality protein per serving. Among whey protein powders, it’s a versatile beast, equally at home in your post-workout shake as it is in your morning pancakes or smoothies.

Opinions on the taste are diverse—some liken it to nostalgic childhood flavours, while others equate it to ‘unseasoned vegetables’—but the consensus is clear on its health benefits. Additionally, the extra space in the packaging suggests there could be more product included, a point for potential improvement. For those seeking a sugar-free option without compromising on quality, Naked Nutrition’s offering is a solid choice.


  • Taste: 3.5/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 5/5

  • Value for Money: 4/5

  • Versatility: 5/5

PEScience Select Protein Review - Best Innovative Flavours

Price: £49.99


  • 24g of Protein Per Serving

  • Includes a Digestive Enzyme Blend and MCT Oil Powder

  • Unique Flavours like Snickerdoodle and Cake Pop


  • Innovative and Enjoyable Flavours

  • Aids Digestion with Enzyme Blend

  • Fine Texture for Easy Mixability


  • Not All Flavours May Appeal to Everyone

  • Some Users May Prefer a Pure Protein Source Without Additives

With its inventive approach to flavours, PEScience Select Protein makes its mark in the competitive protein market. Imagine starting your day with a Snickerdoodle or Cake Pop flavoured shake—it’s not just a protein boost, it’s a treat. The 24 grams of protein per serving ensure you’re getting what you need to support your lean muscle gain goals.

The inclusion of a digestive enzyme blend and MCT oil powder sweetened with stevia adds to the allure, making it more than just a protein powder—it’s a well-thought-out nutritional supplement. The texture is another win; it’s so fine that mixing is a breeze, leaving no residual clumps or aftertaste.

While not every flavour will be everyone’s cup of tea, and some may prefer a more straightforward protein composition, the innovation PEScience brings to the table is undeniable.


  • Taste: 5/5

  • Mixability: 5/5

  • Innovation: 5/5

  • Nutritional Profile: 4.5/5

Choosing the Right Protein Powder for Lean Muscle Gain

Selecting the best protein powder for lean muscle gain involves more than just considering the protein content. It’s about the quality of ingredients, the presence of essential amino acids, and how it complements your overall diet and fitness goals. Consider whether the product contains high sodium content or calcium, which are key for muscle recovery and health. Third-party certifications, like those from Informed Choice, can be a beacon of quality and safety, highlighting products free from banned substances.

Taste is a personal journey, and the flavour of your protein powder can be the difference between a chore and a delight. Some protein powders, despite a higher price point, are well-regarded for their delicious taste. Evaluate the value offered by a brand by considering the cost per serving and the brand’s reputation. Sometimes, a higher investment in a protein powder pays off in the quality and results it delivers.

However, be aware of potential drawbacks. Some protein powders may cause digestive issues, and concerns about ingredients like artificial sweeteners or soy are valid. Packaging can also be a concern for some, with worries over contamination or the amount of product provided. Keep these factors in mind as you weigh your options and choose the protein powder that aligns with your fitness journey and your values.


In the pursuit of lean muscle gain, the protein powder you choose can be your most trusted ally.

We’ve explored a range of options—from the low-carb Dymatize ISO 100 to the innovative flavours of PEScience Select Protein—each designed to support different goals and preferences.

Whether you’re looking for a vegan-friendly option, a nighttime recovery aid, or the best overall protein powder, the key is to find a product that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle and helps you achieve your desired results.

With the insights from this guide, you’re now equipped to make an educated choice that supports your journey to building lean muscle and optimizing your health.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much protein should I aim for in a protein powder for muscle gain?

Aim for a protein powder with at least 20 grams of protein per serving to support muscle gain. More protein content can be beneficial, but 20 grams is a good minimum target to look for.

Are there any protein powders suitable for vegans that are as effective as whey protein?

Yes, vegan protein powders like KOS Organic Superfood Plant Protein offer muscle-building effects similar to whey protein when paired with exercise. Consider trying KOS Organic Superfood Plant Protein for an effective plant-based option.

Can protein powder help with weight loss or weight management?

Yes, protein powders, especially slow-digesting ones like casein, can help with weight management by reducing the desire to snack between meals. Incorporating them into your diet can support your goals for weight management.

Should I be concerned about artificial sweeteners in protein powders?

You can choose a protein powder with natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit as an alternative to artificial sweeteners, which can address your concerns about the product. Always check the ingredient list to make an informed decision.

Is it safe to consume protein powders that have a California Proposition 65 warning?

It's best to consult with a healthcare provider if you have concerns about consuming protein powders with a California Proposition 65 warning, especially if you are pregnant or have hypersensitivity. Always prioritize your health and well-being.

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