Unflavored Protein Powder You Can Add to Anything and Everything
With some things in life, the more flavor the better: personalities, your sex life, salsa verde. When it comes to protein powder, however, the benefit of added flavor is debatable. Some people love a burst of sweetness, others find it unnecessary and too overpowering.
Enter: unflavored protein powder, a convenient way to amp up your protein intake if you prefer to avoid sweeteners. Here's the scoop (pun intended) on flavorless protein powder, including how to use it in recipes and the best options to buy. (Related: Is It Better to Drink a Protein Shake Before or After a Workout?)
What Is Unflavored Protein Powder?
Unflavored protein powder is exactly what it sounds like—with a caveat. "Unflavored means that no flavorings are added," says Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., founder of Real Nutrition. "For most protein powders, that means they are not adding any additional flavors or sweeteners. It does depend on the brand though, as some brands add additional ingredients to improve texture and taste. It is important to read nutrition labels and not just accept what is stated on the front of the package." The Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate dietary supplements as strictly as it does medication, and companies can label a powder "unflavored" when it actually contains added flavor ingredients.
The main advantage of using unflavored protein powder is that it (typically) doesn't contain sweeteners. Avoiding sweeteners can be a matter of taste—a lot of people find ingredients like stevia to taste overly sweet—or it can be a health-focused choice. "Some sweeteners, such as sucralose, are not healthy regardless of the fact that they're calorie-free, and others may cause stomach upset or bloating," says Shapiro.
How to Use Unflavored Protein Powder
Once you're familiar with how much protein you should eat in a day, you can start getting creative with your recipes. Smoothies and shakes are the obvious choices, but you're not limited to sweet drinks when it comes to adding a scoop (or two) of protein powder. Because unflavored protein powder isn't sweet, it's more versatile. While you'd probably never dream of sprinkling Fruity Pebbles-flavored protein powder into a savory recipe, unflavored protein powder is more neutral. Garlic bread, fried chicken, homemade pasta…the possibilities are endless.
Keep in mind that just because it's flavorless doesn't mean it tastes like air. Rather, unflavored protein powder tends to have a bit of a nutty taste and/or grainy texture—both of which can easily be masked with ingredients such as nut butters, fruits, cacao, or herbs if you're not a fan. If you're skeptical, Shapiro recommends adding small amounts of the powder (even a quarter-scoop at first) and increasing the amounts until you're used to the flavor. (Related: The Best Protein Powders for Women, According to Nutritionists)
Where to Buy Unflavored Protein Powder
You could spend hours comparing the many protein powders available, even if you've narrowed your search down to unflavored options. It'll help if you know what to look out for. To choose one of the best unflavored protein powder options, Shapiro suggests keeping the following in mind:
- The best options use organic, minimally-processed, and well-sourced ingredients. "By well-sourced I mean making sure it is grass-fed, lead-free, made from clean ingredients from trusted manufacturers and farms, etc.," says Shapiro. (You'll probably have to do some digging on the company's own website.)
- Double check on the ingredient list that it only contains the type of protein(s) you're intending to consume (whey, pea, etc.).
- Avoid soy additions like soy lecithin. Soy is inflammatory for many people and the form in powders tends to be highly processed, says Shapiro.
- Some brands rely heavily on fillers and emulsifiers, which are ingredients that enhance texture and prevent clumping. (Carrageenan, maltodextrin, and lecithin are some common examples.) Err on the side of a short ingredient list and a high amount of protein per serving. Keep in mind vegan protein sources are automatically going to be lower in protein by volume compared to animal-based protein.
With that all in mind, here are some of the best unflavored protein powders:
Revly Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate Powder, Unflavored
Whey is considered a high-quality protein since it contains all nine essential amino acids—the building blocks of protein—and tends to be easier on the stomach (unless, of course, you're sensitive to dairy). This tasteless whey protein powder only contains two ingredients: whey protein isolate (which contains a higher protein concentration than whey concentrate) from grass-fed cows and sunflower lecithin. And it's relatively inexpensive, which certainly doesn't hurt.
Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder, Natural Unsweetened
Orgain's unflavored protein powder is a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free option made with pea protein, brown rice protein, and whole chia seeds. It's USDA-certified organic, mixes into liquids easily, and doesn't have a gross taste that you'll feel inclined to mask.
Isopure Zero Carb Unflavored Protein Powder
If you're on a low-carb diet, you'll appreciate that Isopure Unflavored Whey Protein Isolate has zero (yes, zero) grams of carbs. Made with whey protein isolate, the tasteless whey protein powder packs 25 grams of protein in a single 100-calorie serving.
Naked Nutrition Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
Naked Nutrition specializes in supplements without additives—and this unflavored protein powder is no exception. This one-ingredient protein powder is made of whey from grass-fed cows at Rumiano's small, organic dairy farms in California.
Huel Powder v3.0
If you're in search of a nutritionally-complete meal replacement rather than just any ol' protein powder, try Huel Powder v3.0. One 400-calorie serving of the vegan, unflavored powder has 38 grams of carbs, 29 grams of protein, and 13 grams of fat with 27 vitamins and minerals. Huel conveniently makes a variety pack of "flavor boosts" which you can keep on hand in case you want to convert the powder into a flavored option.