This page is a detailed look at how I test all the vegan protein powders on this site.
The thinking behind developing a methodology for testing the powders is to minimize any bias that I do have.
In my reviews, I score protein powders based on 4 aspects:
The first 3 can all be measured or quantitatively evaluated with little to no bias.
A Quick Note on How I Derived The Formulas in the Following Sections
My goal was to find one or two relevant inputs for each section. For example, the price per 100 grams when calculating a price score.
Then I wanted to transform that into a score from 0 to 25 for each section, where a high score is always better. This score gives a quick way to compare protein powders relative to each other.
To do this, I tested my first batch of protein powder (around 10), and recorded their scores for each input. Then, I simply created a linear formula that mapped the input to a score out of 25 (simple y=ax+b).
The 'a' and 'b' values could be derived by knowing the minimum and maximum values of 'y' (0 and 25), and the minimum and maximum values that I observed from the initial testing of each category.
Budget is probably the most common factor when it comes to picking a protein powder.
It’s actually quite complicated to come up with a score for 3 main reasons:
- Different protein powders have different sizes
- Prices are different in different countries
- Shipping prices vary across sites (and brick and mortar stores)
My approach has always been to optimize the scoring for the most amount of people.
To start with, most protein powders come in a size close to 2 lbs, so the fairest comparison that I can get comes from the size closest to 2 lbs.
Next, the U.S. dollar is the most universal, so all dollar values are in U.S. dollars. In the case that a protein is only available in a certain country, like Canada, I convert the Canadian price to USD at the current exchange rate at the time of writing the review.
Finally, I pick the store with the cheapest cost, after including shipping costs. If Amazon is available, they typically have the cheapest overall price since it’s so easy to get free shipping.
In short, I take the price per 100 grams of the size closest to 2 lbs in USD, then plug that number into this simple formula:
The big limitation that this formula has is if you’re specifically looking for a bulk (5 lb+) deal. The unit price can change dramatically at those sizes, and only certain companies offer those sizes.
However, more detailed pricing information, including bulk deals are included in individual protein reviews.
Most people buying a vegan protein powder care about one thing: the protein.
When I look for a powder, I look to see how much of the calories come from protein, versus coming from carbohydrates and fats.
Again I developed a simple linear formula that scores the nutritional content of each powder based on what percent of the total calories in the powder come from protein.
The higher the ratio, the higher the “nutrition score.”
A powder obtains a score of 25 if it has 80%+ of its total calories coming from protein.
While people vary, most hate the taste and texture of chunks in their drink, so I developed a way to test how well a powder mixes.
The idea is to simulate mixing the protein in a realistic situation, and then measuring how many solids were left.
To do that, I follow these steps:
- Pour 450 mL of unsweetened almond milk into a shaker bottle.
- Add approximately 35 grams of protein powder.
- Shake for 45 seconds.
- Filter through a fine strainer (weigh before).
- Weigh the remnants and record.
Then I plug that remnant weight (the number of grams of “chunks”) into this formula.
Again, it’s a simple linear formula like the rest.
Why the bottle and almond milk?
A blender will almost always result in better mixing, but I don’t think it’s realistic for most people. Using a blender can be a pain, and isn’t portable.
Almond milk is the most common liquid used in my research. I could’ve used orange juice or something else, but it doesn’t really matter as long as I’m consistent (which I am).
Here’s an example of what the “remnants” look like, along with the strainer that I use:
It does a good job at catching even small clumps.
Keep in mind that this is a sample size of 1 in most cases. It’s main purpose is to give a reasonably accurate account of how the powder mixes in a real-world scenario.
If you’re using a different shaker, or even a blender, or temperature of liquid, you may have better or worse results.
Here's what the process looks like:
Taste is often the biggest factor in choosing a protein powder.
Unfortunately, there’s no way of objectively measuring it. I fully admit there’s going to be bias in these rankings, but they still may prove useful.
I try to be consistent among all the proteins by judging them according to this general chart:
Amazing, would drink for enjoyment alone.
Drinkable, not really good or bad.
A bit of a struggle to get down
Most of the ratings I give are in increments of 5, unless I’m incredibly conflicted between intervals.
If you go to the detailed review of each protein powder, I break down why it receives a specific score (Chalky? Aftertaste? etc.).
I don’t claim that this is a “perfect” procedure, but I think it’s very good for what it tries to do.
The outcome of each score gives us an objective (aside from taste) way to compare several protein powders against each other.
I have compiled all the data and made it easy to sort and compare in my list of the best vegan protein powders.
I do hope that all this research helps you find the right protein powder for your specific situation.
A Note on Score Distributions
The scores are mostly calculated with a linear formula, but this doesn't mean that they have a normal distribution (mean = 12.5). In fact, I'm telling you that they don't.
Here's what they looked like after the first 13 protein powders were tested and scored. They are likely a bit different now, but still very similar.
The mean for all 3 of the calculated score is about 17, with a median around the same point.
An average vegan protein powder would have an overall score of 67, with half of the proteins essentially having an overall score of 71 or higher.
Just keep these numbers in mind when judging the scores of a protein powder that you're interested in.