Best Protein Supplement: The Hardgainer’s Guide To Protein Powders and Weight Gain Supplements

“What are the best muscle building supplements?” is one of the most common questions in the minds of many muscle builders, so I’m going to attempt to give you some options here based on my research.

But first I need to get certain things out of the way.

I’m only reviewing plant-based supplements because they are the ones I had been experimenting with recently. I prefer plant-based protein products because I feel guilty when eating anything with animals in it so I stay away from animal-based protein products.

Well… that and I try to do my bit for the environment.

You see, animal-based products take so much more resources to produce (compared to plant-based ones). To be able to produce milk for example, a cow needs to be fed regularly. Of course only a small amount of the cow’s water consumption is turned into milk. So you can imagine how much fresh water and food it would take to produce just one gallon of milk. So if you drink water instead of milk, it would put considerably less stress on the environment!

Now you guys know how I think most bodybuilding supplements are a waste of your time and money, and I already gave many reasons for this in my previous posts. On top of this I also have an obsession for natural foods, so you can imagine why I could be the hardest person to persuade when it comes to shelling out some money for muscle supplements.

However, there is no denying that  as muscle builders, we really NEED high quality protein supplements if we really want to achieve maximum muscle gains in minimum time.

Trouble is, it’s extremely difficult to find decent protein supplements because:

  • There are so many misleading information out there.
  • The sports supplement industry is unregulated so anyone can put crap in fancy, well packaged bottles and viola! They’re in business!
  • You wouldn’t know good from bad unless you perform a thorough independent research and experiment on your own (through trial and error – which costs A LOT of time and money by the way!) to really know the truth.
  • Most muscle building supplement product reviews are published in magazines. The problem with this is that magazines are in business precisely because of the supplement industries buying ad space from them, so how do you know you’re reading an honest review?

Bottomline: it’s hard to answer the question, “What’s the best protein supplement?”

Now I don’t want to pretend that I absolutely know for sure what the “BEST” supplements in the market are, but I can share with you my own opinions and standards about the entire matter so far, and give you my recommendations.

Because I have conditioned myself to abhor all things pharmaceutical and artificial, the ones I mention here are only those that fit my own criteria and they are:

  • NO chemical preservatives or additives.
  • NO fillers.
  • NO artificial chemical sweeteners.
  • NO whey protein
  • NO dairy
  • NO animal products.
  • Non GMO (genetically modified organisms).
  • NO refined sugars.
  • NO egg derivatives.

Quite a tall order, I know. But the industry is now catching on and there are now a handful of supplements out there that won my trust. Here they are in no particular order.

Living Fuel Living Protein

If you are allergic to soy, whey or dairy, this Protein powder is for you. Living Fuel Protein contains protein extracted from Non-GMO brown rice and peas, and contains  freeze-dried fruits and natural sweeteners. On top of that it’s also pesticide free and has got digestive enzymes, probiotics, and plant-based amino acids.

Living Fuel Protein is highly bioavailable, offers a great amino acid profile, and easily digested by your body. Another thing I like about it is that it’s not sweet. OK, so that may be negative for you, but hey if you are serious about muscle building you know how it would do you the world of good if you stay away from high sugar stuff. Living Fuel protein might not be as sweet as most supps out there, but it doesn’t taste bad. It uses Xylitol which is a natural sweetener.

Nutribody Protein

Just like Living Fuel, Nutribody Protein uses a brown rice and pea protein blend.

You see, rice protein is high in cysteine and methionine, sadly it’s low in lysine. However, yellow pea protein tends to be low in cysteine and methionine but high in lysine. So you guessed it – together, rice protein and yellow pea protein offer a Protein Efficiency Ratio far superior to dairy and egg . And that’s not all – this protein blend has also been shown to have little  potential to cause allergic reactions or intestinal distress (which as you know are very common).

It’s probably one of the best-tasting protein supplements in the market today. It uses Stevia as its sweetener. Nutribody Protein also comes with amino acids and MCTs.

The downside? It’s more expensive than most protein powders.

SunWarrior Protein

Sun Warrior Protein Powder comes in Chocolate, Vanilla and Plain
Sun Warrior Protein Powder

[thirstylink linkid=”3659″ linktext=”SunWarrior Protein” class=”thirstylink” title=”SunWarrior Protein”] is my prefered protein powder and in my opinion is the best muscle building supplement on the market.

[thirstylink linkid=”3660″ linktext=”SunWarrior Protein powder” class=”thirstylink” title=”SunWarrior Protein powder”] is 100% raw vegan, gluten-free, and has a complete amino acid profile.

. The powder is made from brown rice protein and offers a suprisingly good amino acid profile that’s almost as good as egg protein.

One scoop of this powder is a whopping 85% protein. It contains the 9 essential and non-essential amino acids, and has high absorption rate. If you have food allergies, worry no more because it is safe for you. The powder contains Gamma Oryzanol which helps increase muscle mass,  cut down cholesterol, even reduce and prevent ulcers.

One thing you’ll really appreciate is its silky smooth texture, making it super easy to mix with any liquid of your choice even when you’re just using a shaker. I’m actually not too keen on the plain flavour one, but their Vanilla and Chocolate flavored ones are truly delicious. Even my girlfriend (who used to wretch just at the smell of my old protein powders, and who has never seen any point in drinking Protein powders) love Sun Warrior Protein and drink it everyday (she’s been weight training for most of her life but never used any supplements until now because she noticed a difference in her performance and because having her daily protein shake is a good excuse to have her sweet tooth satisfied without the guilt).

The disadvantage to [thirstylink linkid=”3660″ linktext=”SunWarrior Protein” class=”thirstylink” title=”SunWarrior Protein”] though is its price. But I think if you are going to use supplements, you either go all out or you shouldn’t bother at all – there’s no middle ground. In my book, there’s no point trying to compromise on your nutrition. Sun Warrior is in my opinion though – definitely worth the money.

NutriBiotic Rice Protein

NutriBiotic Rice Protein is Vegan, Organic, and Gluten-free. It’s made from whole grain sprouted brown rice and natural flavoring. If you or someone you know are allergic to soy, milk, eggs, wheat, corn, nuts, yeast and preservatives, this is a good choice to have.

15 g of this protein powder contains 12 g of Protein, 2 g of Carbohydrates, 0 g of Fat and 60 calories.

Hemp Protein

Hemp protein offers the best nutritional profile of all the weight lifting supplements mentioned here, but its biggest flaw lies in its unpleasant, bitter taste. But it’s not just the taste- it’s very gritty too, making it hard to swallow/drink.

When I first bought it I thought it was the best thing ever because it was nutritionally superior and yet so cheap. I ordered a 5 kg bag from, only to discover that there was no way I will be able to consume it all. Boy, I really struggled.

If you’re interested in the best muscle building supplements that use hemp, Nutiva’s HempShake tastes better than most of its hemp protein powder counterparts.

How about soy protein?

In powdered form, Soy is often processed with a toxic solvent called Hexane which has a negative impact on the environment and it is also damaging to your health. So my recommendation is stay away from any products that contain soy – unless you know for sure that it was never processed with hexane.

On top of that the nutritional value found in soy protein isn’t very reliable. Soy is typically farmed using Genetically Modified (GM) techniques.

Soy also contains Isoflavones, daidzein and genistein. These are plant-based phytoestrogens which have been shown to mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and decrease the testosterone levels of rats, monkeys, and humans.  It also lowers testosterone levels, which as you know we men need for more muscle building potential.

Another reason to avoid Soy is that the Protein in Soy contains oligosaccharides which in some people can cause stomach aches and wind. Nutritionally speaking, Soy based products are often sweetened with refined sugars, so soy protein is usually much cheaper compared to other protein powders in the market – and thus it’s usually the ignorant muscle builders who buy this  cheap source of  protein.

The Bottom Line on Plant-Based Protein Powders

I’ve given you more than enough choices for bodybuilding supplements here. If you’re still asking, “Whats the best protein powder for ME?” Well, I say go for whatever is the best-tasting one for you. If you choose from this list it wouldn’t matter as they are all great nutrition-wise, so you can’t really go wrong.

I would recommend you give any of these a go and taste for yourself which one you like the most, or if you have learned to listen to your body well – taste which one makes you feel the best. If you know how to listen to your body, your body actually has a built in mechanism for detecting what foods you should have.


Founder & Fitness Nerd

Founder of Muscle4Hardgainers. Loves to experiment and teach others the best ways to reach their physical goals.

  1. Good review of the different proteins. I have heard really good things about sun warrior protein. I myself use hemp protein mostly and I still use a little bit of whey sometimes. You are right hemp protein is pretty hard to drink on it’s own, but it mixes really well if you put it in a smoothie with fruits and stuff. It is suppose to be a very good protein for your body with good amounts of good fats too.

    1. Hey Cory!

      I’ve tried so many protein powders and Sunwarrior is by far the best. Did you see my recent email with the recipe for the tastiest protein shake ever? My friend devised it. WOW. Amazing flavor.

      That’s a point right there that I share really cool stuff via my email only – so if you want to see this, sign up at the top of the blog.

      Take care!