A friend asked me to recommend him a protein powder. However, he wasn’t a fan of the one I was using, so I set out to find him a new one. “I just want something cheap, healthy and effective,” he told me. How hard could that be? I could have pointed him to just about any well-known protein and be done with it. But the heavily analytical part of me was curious. After selecting the best-rated protein powders, with high-quality ingredients, I wanted to answer one simple question: which protein powder is the cheapest and offers the best value for your money?
Was this question really so difficult? Couldn’t I just compare the prices and be done with it? Well here are some flaws with that:
- Not all protein powders come in the same size tub. To make it more confusing, they are often labeled in different units as well.
- Not all protein powders are equally as efficient. For some, you need to consume more powder to get the same amount of protein.
These are just a few issues among others which made the entire process more difficult than just looking at the price tag. Equations need to be formed and calculations made! Luckily, I was well prepared for this. You see, before I make any “life changing” decision such as choosing a protein powder (which I will use almost every day), I need to know that this is the best option out there. I used to compare proteins side by side in the store, which took up to an hour sometimes before I found the right one. Then I got a little smarter and made some charts which I could use to compare several proteins at once. But it was all too time-consuming, so I developed a few simple formulas to help make these decisions easier. And voila, the protein value index (PVI) was born. It determines, more or less, what kind of value you are getting from your protein.
Note: No whey proteins are included, as this was an allergy/vegan-friendly list. However, I will make a list of whey proteins if requested as well. I used Amazon’s best selling list, as well as popular fitness magazines and users’ recommendations to find these proteins. I eliminated a lot of proteins that had questionable or hard to understand ingredients. Of course, this list is not perfect and I may have missed some proteins. So if your favorite protein is missing and you would like to see how it stacks up, leave it in the comments below, and I’ll plug it into the formula.
From my results, Growing Naturals pea protein was the winner by far. Second place went to Plant Fusion, despite it seems a bit pricey. As you can see from the results, it was never as easy as looking at the price. Some of the less expensive proteins rank on the bottom, while some of the more expensive ones are at the top. Keep in mind that prices are always changing, but it may not be necessarily a bad thing as it can go both ways. Another thing to keep in mind that this is purely for those seeking for cheap good quality protein. Some of the proteins listed ranked lower because they used more expensive ingredients like pumpkin seeds for example. Others ranked lower because they had more nutritional value and thus were priced higher than those with just a handful ingredients. Let me know if this is somewhat helpful to you and your wallet.
Update: Since the prices are always changing and you may also have proteins, not on this list, we created a calculator tool to help you calculate the value of your protein powder. Here’s the PVI (Protein Value Index) calculator.
Note: Get these values from the nutrition label which is typically displayed on sites like Amazon, or you can get it at the maker’s website. The tub size is usually on the front label. Make sure you convert the measurements to grams, or it won’t display the correct value.