The 5 Most OVERRATED Protein Powders (Based On Testing)

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If you’re like me, you’re probably inundated on social media with companies and athletes claiming that their protein powder is the best. 

With so much information overload, knowing which products are worth the investment and which don’t stand up to the hype can be hard. 

Notwithstanding, many of the “reviews” you see on social media are paid or sponsored, meaning you don’t really know whether the claims are honest and transparent.  

On, I have bought and tested over 20 whey protein brands, and I’ve never received any money in exchange for a positive review.  

So, I’m not afraid to tell you whether a product falls short. Below, I have broken down the five most overrated protein powders based on my testing. 

Prefer to watch? Check out our video of the 5 Most Overrated Protein Powders.

Key Criteria

What criteria did I use to determine whether a product is overrated?

  • Protein Quality/Source:  I assessed whether the product is third-party tested and whether it used a high-quality protein source. This adds assurance that you are getting a complete protein that undergoes additional testing for ingredient label accuracy. 
  • Protein Percentage: One of the biggest criteria is the percentage of protein that a product offers. That is, what percentage of the calories come from actual protein? Here are the ranking criteria:

    Poor Quality: Less than 65%
    Reasonable: 65%-74%
    Good: 75%-84%
    Excellent: 85% or higher 
  • Cost/Value: I don’t want to overpay for a high-quality protein powder.  So this criteria addressed whether the cost of the product is justified.  If a product offered a very low protein percentage but had a high cost per serving, it was deemed overrated. For reference, the average cost of protein powder is $1.34 per serving. 
  • Taste and Mixability: You won’t get any of the benefits from taking a protein powder if you can’t stand the taste or texture of your product. This is why I tested each product and dug deep into its overall tasting experience.
  • Additional Benefits: I assessed what benefits are advertised or should be experienced based on the protein type and whether the product met these expectations. For instance, a product with casein protein should provide more satiety, whereas an isolate protein should digest quickly and provide better support for workout recovery. 

Overrated Protein Powders

1.  Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder

Muscle Milk Genuine protein powder


  • 45% protein per serving
  • 32g of protein per serving
  • Blend of whey concentrate and whey isolate
  • Has added maltodextrin and vitamins/minerals

Why It’s Overrated

  • The macronutrients (45% protein, 27.5% fat, 27.5% carbs) and 280 calories per serving resemble more of a meal replacement powder than a protein powder
  • It is not advertised as a meal replacement, it’s advertised as a protein powder
  • Had a terrible taste and texture
  • Overpriced at $1.93 per serving

Redeeming Qualities

  • NSF Certified and safe for use by elite/drug testing athletes
  • Really good for satiety
  • Has added vitamins and minerals


For overall experience (taste, texture), Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder was memorably one of the worst products I ever tested. It had a strong, bitter taste and had a very gritty texture that lingered and never dissolved entirely. 

My biggest issue with this product is that it advertises itself as a protein powder, except that the majority of the product is, in fact, not protein. 

I find this to be incredibly deceptive marketing, especially for consumers who might not know what to look for. They see 32g of protein and less than 3g of sugar on the front of the container and may assume they’re buying a lean protein product. 

With 280 calories and 32g of protein per serving, Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder is only 45% protein. It has 20g of carbohydrates and 9g of fat, making it much more similar to a meal replacement than a protein powder. 

One redeeming quality of this product is that it is NSF-certified, a certification process with very strict quality control standards. So, even though it is a product that is overpriced with an exceptionally low protein percentage, its ingredients are high quality and third party tested. 

2. Six Star Nutrition

Six Star Nutrition


  • 67% protein per scoop
  • 30g protein per serving
  • A blend of whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate

Why It’s Overrated

  • Low protein percentage per scoop
  • Maltodextrin (a processed carbohydrate) is the second ingredient
  • High number of added gums and fillers
  • $1.55 per serving

Redeeming Qualities

  • Easily accessible and available in most supermarkets


When I first tested Six Star Nutrition Whey Protein, I specifically tried their product called “For Her.” That product has since been discontinued (for good reason), but the remaining Six Star Nutrition 100% Whey Protein still leaves much to be desired. 

While it does provide 30g of protein per serving, it also contains 3g of fat and 8g of carbohydrates, meaning that protein only makes up around 67% of the total calories. This puts it into our “reasonable” protein source category, but just barely

Six Star Nutrition uses a blend of concentrate and isolate proteins, which is common among brands that want to provide isolate proteins (which have a higher protein percentage) but still want to keep the cost low. 

Despite using this blend of proteins, Six Star Nutrition still has a slightly higher cost per serving ($1.55), above the average cost of protein powder per scoop ($1.34). 

After the sub-par protein percentage and high cost per serving, the last major issue with Six Star’s Whey Protein is the lengthy ingredient list. The first ingredient is protein, as it should be. The second ingredient is maltodextrin, a highly processed carbohydrate.  

From there, we see as many as 15 different added ingredients, including lecithins and gums to improve mixability and texture, as well as six different flavoring sources. 

While most brands have 4 or 5 different ingredients to improve taste and mixability, having more than ten is, in my opinion, excessive. Especially when other companies like Transparent Labs have products that taste great and mix well without these artificial additives. 

Overall, Six Star Nutrition missed all the marks for me.

3. Pure Protein

Pure Protein Powder


  • 62% protein per scoop
  • 25g of protein
  • Blend of whey concentrate and whey isolate
  • Added maltodextrin adding 9g of carbs per serving

Why It’s Overrated

  • $1.50-$1.60 per serving puts it on par value-wise with products that provide a much higher protein content
  • Fails to meet our minimum standard for a “reasonable” protein source 

Redeeming Qualities

  • Conveniently available at most supermarkets and big chain stores


This product is incredibly similar to Six Star Nutrition. 

They use a blend of protein (concentrate and isolate), which, as discussed, helps keep the cost low.  However, it also has added fillers like maltodextrin and multiple sources of gums and artificial flavors.  Albeit, Pure Protein has only 5-6 additives compared with Six Star’s 15.  

They also have a relatively low protein percentage per scoop, with protein providing only 62% of the total calories. 

With such a low protein percentage per scoop, you’d think Pure Protein would be a budget-friendly option.  However, it’s not.  

Priced as much as $1.60 per serving, this protein powder is well above the average cost of protein, especially for a powder where the second ingredient is a carbohydrate (maltodextrin). 

One noticeable aspect of this protein powder was its thick, creamy texture, which isn’t common for this type of protein blend. This makes it a good option for people looking for something that mixes up thick. Otherwise, the taste was pretty unremarkable.

4. MuscleTech Grass-Fed Whey

MuscleTech Grass-Fed Whey


  • 57% protein per scoop
  • 20g protein
  • Whey protein concentrate is the only protein source

Why It’s Overrated

  • Fails to meet’s minimum standard of 65% protein per scoop
  • Incredibly misleading advertising

Redeeming Qualities

  • Uses grass-fed whey protein
  • Inexpensive


When it comes to deceptive advertising, I remember being more frustrated with Muscletech Grass-Fed Whey than I was with any other product. 

First of all, it advertises itself as 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein. This may imply that the tub contains only protein powder to individuals unfamiliar with the supplement industry. 

In reality, MuscleTech Grass-Fed Whey offers 20g of protein per 140 calories, meaning that only 57% of the calories come from protein. 

Secondly, it promotes itself as a product free of additives and advertising that it has no artificial colors or flavors. 

The product does use sucralose, however, which is an artificial sweetener. While MuscleTech technically didn’t lie, it does seem misleading to say that your product doesn’t contain artificial flavors when it does use artificial sweeteners. 

While there is some variability depending on where you are shopping (e.g., the MuscleTech website vs, this protein powder can be purchased for as low as $1.00 per serving, its key redeeming feature. 

MuscleTech Grass Fed Whey Protein uses exclusively grass-fed whey protein, which is regarded as a higher standard and contains no growth hormones or antibiotics. 

5. Ryse Loaded Protein

Ryse Loaded Protein


  • 67-77% protein per scoop
  • 25g protein
  • Blend of whey isolate, concentrate, and casein (fast, medium, and slow digesting)

Why It’s Overrated

  • Wide variability in calories based on flavor can drop this down from a good protein source (75% or higher) to barely meeting the adequate criteria 
  • Its cost per serving puts it on par with products that offer as much as 90% protein per scoop

Redeeming Qualities

  • Good texture and mixability
  • Unique flavor varieties
  • Some flavors fall within a “good” protein percentage


I didn’t necessarily dislike Ryse Loaded Protein powder, except for a weird and distinct aftertaste that I had experienced with the peanut butter vanilla flavor. 

The biggest reason that Ryse Loaded Protein makes the list of overrated protein powders is that it costs anywhere from $1.50 to $1.90 per serving. 

This cost per serving might seem in the right place from the protein powders discussed in this list. 

However, other products with whey isolate and concentrate blends, like Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard, are available for as little as $1.15 per serving and offer higher protein percentages. 

There are also brands like Transparent Labs, which are third-party tested, use exclusively high-quality whey isolate, and don’t use any artificial flavors or colors that retail for the same cost as Ryse Loaded Protein. 

For customers who like having the coolest new products or want unique flavor collaborations like Skippy® Peanut Butter or MoonPie® Chocolate, then the cost per serving may be justifiable. 

For individuals who want to prioritize high protein percentages and the highest quality ingredients, other options are available at a similar price point.

1 Protein Powder Worth Mentioning (That Is NOT Overrated)

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There are a lot of great protein powders on the market that check all of the criteria boxes mentioned above: 

  • High-quality ingredients
  • High protein percentage
  • Good taste and mixability
  • Reasonable price

After thoroughly testing over 20 whey protein powders, here is one pick worth mentioning: 

Transparent Labs Protein

As discussed, one key issue surrounding the protein powders mentioned above is that as much as 65% of the calories found in the products didn’t come from protein but instead from processed carbohydrates and fats. 

Many of these products also contain added preservatives and ingredients like gums and lecithins to improve texture and mixability, with some products having as many as 15 additional ingredients. 

If you are looking for a protein powder that maximizes quality, has publicly available third-party testing, and offers up to 93% protein per scoop, then consider Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein

Transparent Labs doesn’t use artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives in their formula. Instead, they opt for natural flavoring like cinnamon, vanilla, and cocoa and use stevia as a sweetener. 

At $1.73 to $2.00 per serving, Transparent Labs is a bit more expensive than other products on the market but is worth the investment for individuals who prioritize the highest quality. 

BECAUSE YOU ASKED: How Can I Tell If My Protein Powder Is Worth Its Cost?

One of the main questions I get on our YouTube videos is, “How can I tell whether a protein powder is worth the cost.”  So, I thought I’d address two quick methods you can use to determine whether you should buy a protein powder or not.  

Calculate The Protein Percentage

The first is to calculate the protein percentage, which I discussed as being key criteria above. 

To do this, you multiply the total grams of protein in a product by 4 (there are four calories in a gram of protein). 

Then, divide that number by the total number of calories in a product and multiply that by 100 to find your protein percentage. 

For example, look at a product with 27g of protein and 130 calories per scoop.

27g of protein x 4 calories = 108 (108 calories come from protein)

(108 protein calories / 130 calories in one scoop) x 100 = 83.07 %

In this example, 83% of the calories come from protein, which puts it into the “good” protein source category, almost excellent. 

Calculate The Percentage Of Nutritive Ingredients

You can assess how many grams of your protein scoop comes from nutritive food sources (i.e., carbs, fats, and protein) and how much comes from other things, like flavoring, sweeteners, preservatives, and other additives. 

The first step is adding grams of carbohydrates, fats, and protein in each product. 

For example, Transparent Labs: 1g fat, 1g carbohydrate, 28g of protein = 30g from nutritive foods.

Transparent Labs has a total scoop size of 34.9g.

When taking the total grams of nutritive calories (30g), divide that by the scoop size (34.9g), and then multiply that factor by 100, you get 85.95%.

This means that nearly 86% of the weight of the Transparent Labs protein powder comes from nutritive food sources and 14% of the weight is other factors like flavors and sweeteners. 

Most protein powders fall between 85 and 90% in this category. Even the overrated products on this list fall within that range. 

Be wary of a product that drops below 80% in this category, indicating that 20% or more of its volume comes from sources that are not food-related. 

Testing Methodology Explained

When evaluating protein powders, I do more than just look at the product label. I test protein powders under various situations, such as different times per day and different modes of ingestion, such as a shake with water or mixed into yogurt and oatmeal.

About My Recommendation

I have been a supplement store manager for over a decade and a personal trainer and protein powder user for longer. This has given me a lot of first-hand experience and insider industry knowledge regarding what makes a high-quality product. 

About The Author

Jennifer Vibert

Jennifer Vibert is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Nutrition Coach, and supplement store manager. She has a Bachelor of Kinesiology with a major in Fitness and Lifestyle and a minor in Psychology from the University of Regina. She is a Certified Nutrition Coach through Precision Nutrition, with a passion for helping clients learn the fundamentals of nutrition and supplementation in order to build healthy, sustainable habits.

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