Because I’ve done several reviews of protein powders, meal replacement shakes and otherwise cheap, unhealthy and overly processed quick fixes, I’m often asked about which protein powders I recommend. Here are my reviews and the products I do not endorse:

To be clear, I do not recommend meal replacement shakes. Protein shakes are not meals, they are essentially just a supplement to your diet. They’re mainly a good option for post workout. They are not a good option in lieu of an actual meal.

I’d also like to point out that my preference is real food post workout. I personally do not consume protein shakes daily and do not recommend them for everyone. However, I acknowledge that they can be helpful for those who are regularly performing strenuous workouts, trying to gain muscle or who just have trouble eating post workout. They’re also great as a snack, which is how I consume them.

For example, we keep protein in the house because my husband drinks a shake immediately after his workout. He gets up at 5 am, goes to the gym, works out really hard, drinks a protein shake to rebuild muscle and then also eats an actual meal after he showers. This is a great way to use a protein shake.

So back to my favorite protein powders.

My favorite protein source for shakes is grass-fed whey. It contains a great vitamin and mineral profile, it contains all essential amino acids (which plant-based proteins do not) and it’s easy for most people to digest (though not everyone).

I also like transparency, so it’s important for you to know that none of these companies are paying me to write this. However, the links to the products do go to Amazon, who I am an affiliate for. These reviews are my opinion, I would never recommend a product I do not fully endorse (which is why I recently turned down an offer from a pretty big plant-based protein company).

Naked Whey

Find out what The Healthiest Protein Powders are! No meal replacements or sketchy ingredients here!

Naked Whey is a protein powder that I have not tried yet but I just ordered. It’s one of the more affordable protein powders and literally has one ingredient: grass-fed whey. The whey is cold pressed, non-denatured and a great option. I love that it only has one ingredient and is so affordable.

The other thing I love about this protein is their transparency and the fact that they share where they source their whey: which is in the good ol’ US of A! It’s really important to me to buy from small, local, pastured farms. This whey isn’t local to me, but it is from small, pastured farms in California.

SFH Protein Powder

Find out what The Healthiest Protein Powders are! No meal replacements or sketchy ingredients here!

We normally use SFH. This whey is grass-fed and has a low lactose content. The protein non-denatured and simply contains grass-fed whey concentrate, sunflower lecithin, and stevia. Some people don’t like the stevia, others do. So it’s really a preference here. It’s on the more expensive side and I’m not entirely sure where they source their whey from, which is why we’ve made the switch to Naked Whey.


Find out what The Healthiest Protein Powders are! No meal replacements or sketchy ingredients here!

Promix is another great option for a grass-fed whey protein powder. It’s also derived from California cows. It contains a very small amount of sunflower lecithin and is pretty affordable. Promix is non-denatured as well. I plan on trying this after trying the Naked Whey. I love that they also source their grass-fed whey from American farmers.

Wait, you’re recommending a plant protein?? Yep.

Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein

Find out what The Healthiest Protein Powders are! No meal replacements or sketchy ingredients here!

For a long time, I haven’t recommended plant-based proteins. This is mainly because they are grain-based, difficult to digest and lacking in amino acids or nutrients. Granted, this protein is a bit lower protein and a bit higher carb, it’s a good option for those who can’t do dairy. It’s grain-free and has no sketchy ingredients. It’s the most easily digestible plant-based protein I’ve ever found.

Hydrolyzed Collagen

Find out what The Healthiest Protein Powders are! No meal replacements or sketchy ingredients here!

While I don’t recommend collagen as an exclusive protein powder, it’s a great addition. It contains ten grams of protein but I actually don’t recommend collagen for the protein content. I recommend it for:

  • gut healing
  • hair growth
  • reducing inflammation
  • nail growth
  • preventing wrinkles
  • improving/preventing stretch marks and cellulite
  • bone health
  • joint health
  • arthritis
  • you can read about all the benefits here

Because of all these reasons, it’s a great addition to your protein powder. It’s sourced from grass-fed cows and is all-around a wonderful product.

Some other great additions to a shake include Garden of Life Raw Organic Greens Powder, Aquatic Greens (insanely healthy), raspberries (low in sugar, high in fiber), raw cacao and wheatgrass.

Find out what The Healthiest Protein Powders are! No meal replacements or sketchy ingredients here!

You may be wondering why I haven’t recommended a beef or egg-based protein powder.

It’s simple, I haven’t found a source for grass-fed beef protein or organic/pasture raised eggs. CAFO beef and chicken yes, properly raised beef and chicken, no. Keep in mind that how an animal was raised and what it ate directly affects the nutrition of the food and therefore your body. So as of now, no recommendations for beef or egg protein powder.

Honestly, you don’t need expensive meal replacement shakes sold to you from people who know next to nothing about nutrition. I know these types of products seem like an easy way to lose weight and keep it off, especially with all of those promises they sell you – but it’s all bullsh*t.

The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat well, nourish your body, exercise, reduce stress, have fun and get good sleep. These are the keys to not just weight loss, but a happy life and loving your body. You deserve the best nutrition, not some meal replacement shake that is full of GMOs, synthetic vitamins and cheap protein sources like inorganic whey or soy. You are better than that.

Meal replacement shakes may work in the short-term, mainly because you’re creating a huge calorie deficit, but the reality is that it’s not sustainable in the long-run. Majority of people on meal replacement end up gaining all of the weight back, and often more. Eat real, whole, unprocessed foods. Add a protein powder if you need to. I guarantee this will work better than any meal replacement shake.


  1. You’re going to love Naked Whey! I just bought my first container of it in December and it’s great.

    Also, I’m fairly new to your blog but am L-o-v-i-n-g your perspective on things. You’re filling a much needed gap in the paleo/primal world xo!

  2. Hi. Just wondering… Do you still recommend Reserveage Whey protein?

    • dani Reply

      I do not, these are better. It’s not bad, I’ve just found better options.

      • Thank you for these recommendations. I found your website looking up reviews of juice plus and isagenix after people telling me how great they are. I took it with a grain of salt and willing to look into them. I am not looking to replace meals or lose weight. I am a breastfeeding mom needing extra calories and nutrients and not enough time to eat an extra meal. I strive to eat minimally processed and healthy but am also dairy free and have found it difficult to find a shake that actually tastes good that is dairy free. I’ll have to give garden of life a go since it looks like they have reformulated there powder.

        • dani Reply

          I’m actually coming out with a collagen protein + supergreens powder next month if you’re interested! Totally dairy free.

  3. Have you heard of the brand “Bulletproof” and any opinions on this? Sorry, you probably get multiple questions on so many brands!

  4. HI there! Thank you for your website; reading this and Mark’s Daily Apple has me really questioning the SAD my family is used to and the low carb plan we just began. Seems you and Mark think lower carb, grain-free is rIght answer for better health and weight loss, but I saw you also bought several rice based pastas from Thrive Market. Is that something you suggest once goal weight is achieved? Also noticed you bought some Primal Kitchen products, but not the shake. Understand you do not favor protein shakes and prefer real food. And I read with amusement the Shakeology post; my goodness that was a rabid response you received! Anyway, do you happen to know if the Primal Kitchen shakes have the same issue with their whey protein? Thanks very much.

  5. Chelsea Dawn Reply

    I was surprised to see that Hemp protein wasn’t listed under Plant protein options. Is there a particular reason for that?

  6. The ONLY shake my kids will drink is Shakeology (and I like it, as well). I have been searching for a healthier alternative that doesn’t taste like ass for several months. One that comes up a few times online as being a lesser evil is Garden of Life, so I bought it and three alternatives (Vega One among them), and then did a blind taste test with my kids. All 3 of them hated all 4 shakes, and the consensus was (and I concurred) that Garden of Life tastes the MOST like ass. I would love to find an affordable, healthier alternative to Shakeology that also tastes good. I was planning to try Arbonne, which is how I ended up on your blog. Interesting info and VERY interesting conversation: to see the Attackers and the Defenders of all the protein powders! LOL

    • dani Reply

      Kids really don’t need shakes, they need real food.

      • Allyson Hang Reply

        True but when you have picky eaters, parents become desperate and will try anything. You will cross that bridge when your baby starts eating solid foods. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a fan of PROCESSED shakes either. However, the ONLY “shake” I endorse and will give my own kids is nothing but the highest quality, NOT processed and gently dehydrated which make it premium and nutrient dense. Did I mention that all of the ingredients come from our own organic farms that we own? The problem with the food system in this country is that the majority of our soil is depleted and is covered in glyphosate and pesticides so pick your poison wisely 🙂 I’d rather give ORGANIC, LIVE, ACTIVE, RAW superfoods and plant based protein to my kids than what’s available in the grocery store shelves today 🙁

        • dani Reply

          My son has started solids. He eats fish eggs, chicken liver, beef, avocado, egg yolks, yogurt – pretty much whatever I offer. Picky eating starts at home. When I was growing up, if you didn’t like the food you were given and refused to eat it, you didn’t eat. As he gets older, I will continue to give him nutrient dense, organic, real food.

  7. I’ve recently started taking the collagen supplement you recommended and have noticed a difference in my skin. Thank you.

    Love your blog!

  8. I recently began using Naked Whey and love it. I also love the SFH in coconut.

  9. The two protein powders I’ve tried and still use is Trim Healthy Mama and Andrew Lessmans. Can you give a review? Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed your reviews.

  10. Hi! Are there any vegan protein powders that you recommend? Thank you!!

  11. Hi Dani
    Have you tried Miessence Protein Powder at all or any of their Superfoods? They are Certified Organic.
    Would love you to do an unbiased review on their products ?

  12. What is the scoop on “AboutTime” whey protein isolate? I just bought some to replace my shakeology. It’s non GMO, sweetened with stevia, lactose free, gluten free, no artificial sweeteners.

  13. I have arthritis due to surgeries & I struggle with joint issues. I was wondering if there is any other brands of collagen you’d recommend? I LOVE Garden of life products & eat as clean as possible, but am hoping maybe collagen could help with some of my issues. Thank you for these unbiased reviews! I love it!

  14. Mk, so how do you feel about Sarah Pope’s take on low processed Whey protein? She says: “Don’t buy into the ‘low temperature dried’ protein powder fallacy as well. Low temperature processing and drying of protein powders is a less damaging manufacturing method. The powderization process still denatures the protein, however. Whey protein in particular is very fragile and should not be dried or powdered.”

    Also, what about MSG?

    And, have you tried ReserveAge, Teraswhey or VitalWhey? They seem very very popular among Weston Price style bloggers? I’m surprised you haven’t covered these.

  15. What do you think about using real food in a shake with protein powder? Low glycemic fruit, greens, healthy fat, liquid and protein/collagen. I’ve been doing this as a fast, easy meal replacement using organic healthy real food.

  16. Hey Dani,

    I’m a fan of your straightforward, no nonsense (and well researched!) responses. I’m curious if you have an opinion on Onnit’s Hempforce protein powder. I’ve heard really good things about, particularly about how it’s easy to digest. Would love to hear your opinion!

  17. Would love a review of the Bulletproof line? Thanks for all your work. Love all you do.

    • dani Reply

      That’s a great idea! I’ll have to work on that one.

  18. I have been using Naked Whey for awhile now. I like it because it does not have additional ingredients.

  19. Thank you for the very informative articles on protein powder and shakes. I was just going to waste some money on one of your major no-no’s. I will be ordering one of your higher recommended online. Thank you again.
    Trying to get healthy one meal at a time.

    • dani Reply

      I love that – trying to get healthier one meal at a time. That’s great. Glad to have helped, you can also check out a lot of healthy recipes on the recipe section of my site!

  20. Have you ever reviewed Thrive products? If you haven’t yet, I’d be very interested in your Unbiased Review. should get you to their website.

  21. I love primal kitchen protein powder and collagen powder. Great ingredients, high quality.

  22. I use IsaPro Vanilla flavour and have researched his product(as well as sister products) ~ sound like it’s a twin to your perfect choice. I’m positive your choice are a personal preference as is mine.
    Think for yourself people do the research yourself and make your own call for trying a product… I have tried many grassfed undenatured whey protein powders:shakes I have a few favorites and do my OWN research (tasting) following the leader will not satify your personal palate unless you try the products yourself…. I challenge you all to do the taste test of the called good and bad and decide yourself!

  23. I’m so glad I found this article, I was looking between Advocare and Shakeology. For the Naked Whey, do you feel the same about the flavors? I know you can make smoothies with it but for drinking straight protein I need flavor!

  24. Yap Teong Liang Reply

    When do you use naked whey? Supplement or replacement meal or post workout?

  25. I was wondering if you could review IDLife & their Shakes. It contains 23grams of grass-fed, cold- filtered 100% Whey Protein, Dextrose, Micro-milled Chia Seed powder, xanthan gum, natural flavors, vanillin, stevia leaf extract. They offer a vegan friendly option also. They do not advertise this as a meal replacement but a protien shakein conjuntion with work outs.

  26. Tanya Harmon Reply

    Hi Dani,

    Just read through this article on protein powder. I’m looking for ways to help my 75-year-old mom regain 10 lbs she recently lost after surgery (AND being on Plexus weight loss drink that I won’t say who gave her – sheesh!!!)

    Can you give any update on your experiences trying the whey protein powders you wrote about? Also, any other recommendations for ways to increase her weight in a healthy way? (She’s also suffered memory loss in the last year we are also working on.) I am looking to integrate higher calorie healthy foods, so she doesn’t have to eat as much to get the calories, since her appetite isn’t very good right now. Thinking of things like avocados, almond butter, brown rice, quinoa, bananas, a good protein drink supplement.

    Finally, I am going to have her start doing weight exercises such as bicep curls and weight leg raises while she is sitting. And get her back to walking a little more.

    Any ideas or comments would be helpful. Thanks!

    Tanya Harmon

    • dani Reply

      I think any good, grass-fed whey protein would be helpful. Additionally, I would think about mixing it with coconut milk for added calories and fat. The End of Alzheimer’s is a great book to help prevent and reverse cognitive decline, I suggest checking that out. And any physical activity she can do will be great!

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