Best protein powder: protein supplements and bars to help you lose weight well and achieve your fitness goals

Protein supplements can be a convenient, cost effective, and tasty way to add protein to your diet and aid your nutritional goals. Here are our favourites. 

Protein supplementsProtein supplements
Protein supplements

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The temptation to opt for a fad diet – Bas Kast, no carb, low carb, 5:2, Paleo (its an endless, vaguely dystopic list) – is always strong, despite the fact that the fundamentals of a good diet remain evergreen.  

Want to lose weight permanently? Reduce your calorie intake – not a lot, but consistently. Want to add muscle? Exercise using free weights, and increase your calorie intake – not a lot, but consistently. Want to run your first 5K, half, full marathon? Ensure you're eating a balanced diet, to fuel your increased activity.  

That said, if you are looking to add muscle to your frame, lose weight, or exercise more, adding protein to your diet is an effective means of aiding your goals.  

Why is protein useful when dieting?  

First and foremost, protein-rich foods aid satiety. They take longer to leave your stomach than carbohydrates, meaning you feel fuller for longer, and are less inclined to over-eat or snack. Consider how you feel eating a round of toast versus a chicken breast – the latter is infinitely more filling.  

In addition to this, if you're hoping to lose weight using a calorie restrictive diet, keeping your protein intake high will serve to ensure that weight lost is fat, not muscle. Your body utilises the amino acids in protein to build lean muscle, leaving you stronger and more toned. It makes for a more efficient metabolism, which in turn aids fat loss.  

Why is protein useful for building muscle?  

If you want to add lean muscle mass to your frame, you need to eat an appropriate amount of protein, in addition to your weight lifting routine. The macronutrient works to repair muscle tissue 'torn' during each workout. To build muscle, your body needs to synthesise more muscle protein than it breaks down, which is why you need to up your intake if you're looking to bulk.  

Unfortunately, the correct amount of protein has been mis-sold by some – unless you're an elite athlete, you won't be needing to eat as much as 200 grams of protein a day. A protein calculator, such as this one, is the best way of tailoring your protein intake to your planned goals.  

Why use supplemental protein?  

Adopting sound nutritional habits is more complicated than simply knowing what they are. Most of the best sources of protein – chicken, steak, eggs, cheese – require more lengthy preparation than their carbohydrate housemates. They're also more difficult to transport, and often include or require additional fat to prepare, meaning that in trying to incorporate more protein in your diet, you'll also incorporate unwanted calories.  

Enter: the protein supplement. A shake, bar, or snack can easily incorporate balanced protein (and accurate micro-nutrient data) into your diet easily. We've used them to assist in our fitness goals over the past eight years, and the right ones are a tasty addition to a healthy, balanced diet.  

Here are our favourite (and best tasting) options.