We surveyed 1,310 health & fitness enthusiasts to find their favorite protein powder flavors and types. Data was collected on our survey title "Survey: the taste of protein" using Formstack.
Protein powder provides a convenient way to add pure protein to your diet and can be prepared in a matter of seconds. The powder can be baked into foods, blended in a shake, or simply mixed with water.
The problem is that there are so many companies selling different types of protein. On top of that, there are so many different flavors to choose from. If you're looking for some guidance on finding the best tasting protein powder, we may be able to help.
In this article, we reveal how people feel about different protein powder flavors and protein types. Data has been separated by gender because data varied drastically between male and female.
How to use this guide
Our grades are not based on sample size. Our grades and rankings are based on positive and negative feedback.
Every question has one answer choice saying "I have never tried / not sure". If this option was selected, then the participant did not contribute any answer to the rating.
|Peanut Butter vs. Vanilla Protein Powder (Men)|
|I'd buy this flavor||71%||41%|
|I didn't like it||5%||18%|
|I have never tried / Not sure||166||49|
The sample size shows that more men have tried vanilla protein than peanut butter protein. However, peanut butter has more positive feedback (71% versus 41%) and less negative feedback (5% vs 18%).
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that all of our data is an aggregate of personal opinions. A higher ranking flavor means it has a higher percentage of positive feedback. Flavors and protein types are subjective to the user. Diet restrictions such as lactose intolerance, allergies, and diet preferences (vegan) have likely impacted each person's preference.
Table of contents
- Best tasting protein flavors
- Best types of protein
- How to choose the best protein
- Different types of protein powders explained
Best tasting protein powder flavors for men and women
The results are in! 1,310 participants told us about their protein flavor preferences.
Remember, everyone has different preferences. These findings exists to show some interesting trends we found when asking the community about protein preferences.
|Best Tasting Protein Powder For Men And Women|
|Protein powder flavor||Men’s Flavor Grade||Women’s Flavor Grade||Summary|
|Birthday Cake||F||D-||Low ratings across the board|
|Chocolate||A+||A+||Great staple flavor, can be easily mixed into foods and shakes|
|Cookies and Cream||C+||C-||Very popular flavor, ratings are so-so|
|Peanut Butter||A||B-||Unpopular but very highly rated, consider this flavor|
|Unflavored||F||F||Very niche usage, unpopular amongst the masses|
|Vanilla||C||A+||Another solid staple flavor, enjoyed mostly by women|
Do not force any high rating products on yourself simply because of the rating we give. Use these results for inspiration and guidance when looking for your next protein supplement.
Chocolate is the highest rated protein powder flavor
79% of men and 76% of women gave chocolate flavored protein a positive rating which is the highest percentage across all flavors.
Consider chocolate protein powder as your flavor of choice if you want to play it safe!
If you plan on mixing your protein powder into baked goods or foods like oatmeal, a simple flavor like chocolate is a great choice.
Chocolate seems to be the clear favorite for both genders. This flavor is a safe choice.
|Chocolate Flavored Protein Powder|
|I'd buy this flavor||79%||76%|
|I didn't like it||3%||7%|
Women enjoy vanilla protein powder more than men
Out of all survey participants, 89% of users have tried vanilla flavored protein before.
69% of women gave vanilla a positive rating, 24% of women said "it's okay", and 7% of women gave a negative rating.
41% of men gave vanilla a positive rating, 41% of men said "it's okay", and 18% gave a negative rating.
Vanilla protein was rated very differently between male and female. On average, vanilla protein is more liked by women
|Vanilla Flavored Protein Powder|
|I'd buy this flavor||41%||69%|
|I didn't like it||18%||7%|
Peanut butter protein powder is a hidden gem
Only 51% of people say they've tried peanut butter flavored protein (89% have tried vanilla for comparison).
Out of those who have tried, 71% of men gave a positive rating while 68% of women gave a positive rating.
That ranks peanut butter flavored protein as the second and third favorite for men and women, respectively.
The positive feedback for Peanut butter flavored protein was a huge surprise and exciting to discover.
|Peanut Butter Protein Powder|
|I'd buy this flavor||71%||68%|
|I didn't like it||5%||23%|
Cookies and Cream protein powder is okay
Most people who try Cookies and Cream flavored protein said "It's okay". There was more neutral feedback than positive and negative feedback.
Cookies and Cream was ranked #4 out of 6 total flavors, beating Birthday Cake and Unflavored.
Only 42% of women have tried Cookies and Cream. Alternatively, 67% of men have tried the flavor.
|Cookies & Cream Protein Powder|
|I'd buy this flavor||39%||48%|
|I didn't like it||14%||19%|
Best protein types for men and women
We also asked these 1,310 participants about their favorite types of protein. The results from these protein types are also influenced by dietary restrictions, lactose allergies, etc.
|Best Protein Type For Men And Women|
|Protein type||Men's grade||Women's grade||Summary|
|Casein||C||F||Milk derived protein, slow digesting|
|Pea protein||C||A+||The highest rated vegan protein|
|Soy protein||F||D||Somewhat controversial vegan protein|
|Whey concentrate||B||C+||Milk derived protein, good value|
|Whey isolate||A+||B||Highest rated, milk removed|
Use this data to get a better understanding of which protein types people choose. We surveyed participants about their thoughts on the following protein powders:
Highest and lowest ratings
Whey protein isolate is liked the most by men while pea protein is liked the most by women. This means that Whey isolate and has the highest ratio of high positive to low negative feedback amongst men. Pea protein has the highest rating for women.
Soy protein has the lowest rating amongst men. This is probably due to the stereotype that soy protein will lower testosterone in men. Testosterone is a male sex hormone that is a big driver in muscle growth and development.
This assumption spawns from the fact that soy protein contains phytoestrogens. A meta analysis of 15 studies in men showed that soy protein did not affect free testosterone or total testosterone (study, Hamilton-Reeves).
For women, casein protein was the lowest rated protein type. Casein is slow digesting milk protein that is often supplemented to help muscles recover overnight.
Whey isolate seems to be a safe choice for both men and women. Men chose whey isolate while women chose pea. Soy protein is the least favorite for men while casein is the least favorite for women.
Vegan pea protein by the numbers
Let's talk about pea protein. Pea protein is the most common type of vegan protein powder. Other types include soy protein, brown rice protein, and hemp protein.
Women gave pea protein a much higher rating than men did. Out of women who tried vegan pea protein, 61% gave a positive rating while 14% gave a negative rating.
Men felt differently about pea protein. Out of men who tried vegan pea protein, 36% gave a positive rating while 21% gave a negative rating.
53% of women survey participants have tried pea protein before compared to 38% of men.
Vegan diets are more popular with women
The significant differences in ratings is likely due to the fact that vegan diets are statistically more popular with women than men. Simply put, more women search for vegan based protein powders than men.
A study from The Vegan Society surveyed 10,000 vegans. The data showed that the vegan population in the UK consists of 63% women and 37% male (study, Ipsos MORI).
According to data presented by TopRNtoBSN, out of the 1 million Americans that are vegan, 79% are female and 21% are male.
Pea protein is the highest rated plant based protein powder. It seems to be more popular amongst women than men possibly because more vegans are women.
Which protein flavor and type is best for me?
Finding a compatible protein powder will help you incorporate the proper amount of protein into your daily diet. It will be harder to consistently drink protein shakes if you do not enjoy it. The best protein powder is the one that fits into your diet seamlessly.
Protein shakes provide an easy way to supplement protein into your diet. High protein diets are important to bodybuilders looking for weight loss and lean muscle mass. To learn more about building muscle, read our muscle building diet guide.
Choosing the right flavor
I've seen all types of flavors on the market including salted caramel, vanilla ice cream smoothies, mocha, chocolate milkshake, etc. Use our data above to help make a decision if you aren't sure.
If you plan on using protein shakes for a meal replacement, consider mixing your protein powder into foods such as oatmeal, milkshakes, and baked goods. I recommend a vanilla or chocolate flavor if you plan on mixing with food often.
If you will be mixing this with water or milk in a shaker bottle, consider a more complex flavor like peanut butter or double rich chocolate. These flavor profiles are more complex and will taste better when taken straight up.
Think about how you'll be taking your protein on a day to day basis. This will help determine how complex of a flavor to choose. Will it be on the go? At home? Mixed with food? Answering these simple questions can help lead you in the right direction.
Natural and artificial sweeteners
All flavored protein powders use natural sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, or a combination of both. If you are looking for a supplement with no artificial ingredients, then consider a naturally sweetened protein powder.
Stevia is a natural sweetener of choice for most protein companies. It's short for Stevia rebaudiana and contains zero calories. Stevia is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar.
Sucralose is the most popular artificial sweetener found in many products like splenda, diet sodas, chewing gum, dairy products, condiments, and most protein powders. Sucralose is 400-700 times sweeter than sugar, making it a popular zero calorie sweetener (study, Wiet).
Sucralose is a controversial sweetener mainly because it is artificial. Sucralose can generate harmful substances at high temperatures so do not bake anything with sucralose protein powders (study, Bannach). Besides this, there is no clear cut evidence that sucralose is harmful to humans when taken normally.
Most protein powders use a combination of natural and artificial sweeteners. Products like optimum nutrition gold standard use a combination of both sweeteners in their products. To see if your protein powder contains artificial sweeteners, read the label and look for sucralose or aspartame.
Personally, I opt for protein powders with a mix of natural and artificial sweeteners. Taste is important for me and I enjoy the mix of natural and artificial sweeteners more than all natural.
If you will be baking protein powder infused desserts, avoid the artificial stuff. If you simply prefer all natural ingredients, avoid the artificial stuff.
If you're serious about fitness and are looking to build muscle mass, consider our protein stack supplement. These supplements are designed for bodybuilders looking to satisfy all of their nutrition goals in one single serving daily packet.
Each protein stack is:
- High in protein
- Contains muscle building vitamins and minerals
- Prepared in less than 5 minutes
- Completely adjustable
Our personalized protein stacks are tailored to each individual and only contain the ingredients you need. Contact us if you need any assistance in setting up your stack. For more information on nutrition and diets for building muscle check out our 4 step guide for building muscle.