For many years now, protein has been at the forefront of the diet revolution. The touted benefits of a high-protein diet include everything from weight loss to improved joint health.
There are many protein powders on the market, and manufacturers have gone above and beyond in working to make them palatable and easy to ingest. However, the source of the protein leaves adherents of the paleo diet without many great options. Or so you might think.
In reality, there are great alternatives to milk proteins out there, and in this article, you’ll learn about the best paleo protein powders.
Don’t have the time read the entire review? Here’s a quick look at our top choices for the best paleo protein powders:
5 Best Paleo Protein Powders
1. Best Overall: Perfect Keto Collagen Peptides Protein Powder with MCT Oil
The founder of Perfect Keto, Dr. Anthony Gustin, started the company with the intention of marketing products designed for his personal use and the use of his family members. Every ingredient that goes into the Perfect Keto products is carefully tested using the latest scientific methods and analyses.
The Perfect Keto Collagen Peptides Protein Powder with MCT Oil, as well as all their products, are free from gluten, soy, peanuts, and corn.
This powder contains no fillers, no extraneous chemicals, and no artificial ingredients whatsoever. It contains no added sugars, but natural flavors are used to make it one of the best-tasting paleo protein powders on the market.
Hydrolyzed collagen has had its amino acids separated for easier absorption in the body. Also, the Perfect Keto powder dissolves quickly and easily in both hot and cold drinks.
True to its name, the powder contains 5 grams of medium-chain triglycerides in each scoop. These promote and support ketosis in individuals following the keto diet by slowing down protein metabolization.
In addition to the benefits of the added protein, collagen is an essential compound in hair, nails, and ligaments. Hydrolyzed collagen is conducive to health in all these structures, as well as heart and brain.
2. Budget Option: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Another collagen powder, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, guarantees that the collagen peptides are sourced from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows. Collagen peptides are highly bioavailable and metabolize quickly. You can use this powder to give you a boost before the workout and promptly recover after one.
As with other collagen-based supplements, Vital Protein peptides support the healthy growth of hair and nails, and the maintenance of joints, tendons, and ligaments. This powder mixes easily and is fully soluble in hot or cold liquids.
In addition to the 18 grams of protein that every serving provides, each scoop contains 100% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C and 80 milligrams of hyaluronic acid. The latter is a supplement that promotes skin and joint health.
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides contain no gluten, dairy, or sugar and have a relatively neutral taste. It’s also approved for the Whole30 program, a dietary protocol that focuses on removing inflammation-causing foods.
It has a relatively complete amino acid profile, but the proportions of essential amino acids are not in-line with some better sources. It will likely be a good supplement for most people, but shouldn’t be used as the primary source of protein in the average diet.
3. Best Organic Choice: Left Coast Performance Organic Grass-Fed Beef Bone Broth Protein Powder
Left Coast Performance is a family-owned business that specializes in ketogenic products with a focus on clean ingredients and no artificial colors or flavors.
They also promise a 100% money-back guarantee to customers who aren’t completely satisfied with their products. Their bone broth powder contains grass-fed, organic bone broth, which is a complete protein source with no carbohydrates and a healthy dose of collagen.
This powder is dairy-free and GMO-free. It also avoids any ingredients that might cause problems for people with a sensitive gut, such as guar gum and xanthan gum. What’s more, it has USDA organic certification.
The low-heat, extended extraction process ensures that most of the protein stays intact. The company goes to great lengths to guarantee a premium product with no fillers. It subjects the Left Coast Performance Protein Powder to independent third-party laboratory tests to verify the absence of heavy metals or impurities.
The company only makes direct-to-consumer sales, which reduce the price to end-users by eliminating the middle-men. It’s unflavored, which makes it an excellent choice for addition to either beverages or foods to increase protein content. With zero net carbs, it’s ideal for people on keto diet protocols.
As a result of the lack of fillers or mixing enhancers, the product is best blended into liquids. Some foaming will result from mixing, but that can be minimized by combining the ingredients slowly.
4. Best Tasting: Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Powder
Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Powder is made from pure chicken bone broth. The broth has been dehydrated, leaving behind the nutrients and in a convenient, ready-to-use formulation.
The bone broth concentrate comes from non-GMO chickens farmed in the United States. It’s flavored with natural cocoa powder and Stevia to produce a mild and pleasant flavor that doesn’t overpower other tastes. To balance out the palate, the formulation includes monk fruit extract, as well.
This powder is ideal for use in recipes such as pancakes, brownies, and other baked goods. It’s easy to mix with other ingredients, which also makes it a great choice to add to smoothies, coffee, or just hot water. Moreover, it contains no soy, gluten, or dairy.
The collagen and other related compounds in bone broth support healthy immune functions, as well as joint function and skin health. Gelatin, glucosamine, and chondroitin are essential minerals, and they’re in plentiful supply in this powder.
One scoop provides 20 grams of protein and 6% of the daily recommended value of potassium. There’s also zero net carbohydrates.
Dr. Josh Axe, the clinical nutritionist behind the Ancient Nutrition bone broth powder, stands by his claims, and unsatisfied customers are entitled to a refund within 30 days of purchase.
5. Best Plant-Sourced Paleo Protein Powder: Health Warrior Superfood Protein Powder
This plant-based protein powder has a unique blend of proteins sourced from a variety of “superfoods.” Pumpkin, hemp, flax, and chia seeds provide the protein for this powder, while the included probiotics improve their digestion. Health Warrior Superfood Protein Powder offers 20 grams of protein per serving and only 2 grams of sugar.
The Health Warrior Superfood Protein Powder is free from grains, soy, and dairy, and uses exclusively non-GMO ingredients. It provides a source of complete protein that’s both paleo and vegan-friendly, with all the essential and non-essential amino acids included.
It’s sweetened with natural Stevia and has no added sugars or sugar alcohols. Also, there are no artificial flavors or preservatives.
To help promote gut health and improve the digestion of its plant proteins, the Superfood powder contains 1 billion CFU of prebiotics and probiotics in every scoop. They help replenish and support gut flora.
The Health Warrior Superfood Protein Powder is a great option to mix with water or milk as a pre- or post-workout shake. You can also use it to add some protein to your busy day, even if you don’t work out. It mixes easily and creates a creamy consistency.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants and are high in magnesium and fiber. Chia and hemp also provide fiber and a slew of antioxidants. Combined, these seeds offer a variety of health benefits.
The Importance of Protein
Protein is one of the three macronutrients that we eat, the other two being carbohydrates and fats. They play a fundamental role in the structural makeup of muscle tissue, and also have an impact on an extensive range of metabolic functions.
Every cell in our bodies contains proteins of some kind, which makes protein intake an essential part of maintaining good health.
In addition to muscles, proteins play a vital role in the structure of the skin, ligaments, tendons, and our hair and nails. Collagen is the primary type of protein in these structures, and you can find it in high concentration in animal hides and bones.
Some types of proteins also act as biochemical messengers, instructing certain organs to work in specific ways. These proteins, which we know as hormones, fall into three categories: peptides, amines, and steroids. Produced in endocrine tissue, if these are out of balance, they can cause a host of problems in the body.
Other proteins are responsible for fluid management in the body. Albumin and globulin are two types of protein that are dissolved in blood plasma. Their function is to sequester fluids in the vascular system. If there aren’t enough of them dissolved in the plasma, fluids are “leak out” of blood vessels, which causes bloating.
Proteins are made up of amino acids, and the amount and type of amino acids present in a protein determine its usefulness to us. Based on their amino acid makeup, protein sources are divided into two broad categories as they relate to nutrition. Complete proteins and incomplete proteins are their names.
Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids that we use in our body, nine can’t be produced through chemical processes in the body and, therefore, must be ingested. Protein sources that have all nine of those are considered complete.
In other words, they provide all the amino acids that are necessary for metabolic function. Meat, eggs, and dairy are good examples of complete protein sources.
Incomplete protein sources are those that don’t have all nine essential amino acids. Many plants are good examples of incomplete protein sources. That doesn’t mean that an incomplete protein source is inherently bad; it just means that you will have to supplement it with another source that provides the essential amino acids that it lacks.
It’s also worth noting that there are conditionally essential amino acids. While we’re young, we still can’t produce certain amino acids, so they are considered essential during our early years.
How to Know if You’re Getting Enough Protein
Protein gets so much attention that some people are getting too much of it, and others are worried that they might not be getting enough. Much like with other matters involving nutrition, there’s no hard and fast rule about the amount of protein one should be getting.
It will ultimately depend on every individual’s activity levels, nutritional goals, and starting point.
A person whose goal is to increase lean muscle mass and who works out vigorously several times a week will need more protein than someone who wants to stay healthy.
Conversely, someone with impaired kidney or liver function may need to reduce protein intake to a bare minimum. However, some basic guidelines, which you can use as a starting point, do exist.
Protein is a source of energy, as well as amino acids. Every gram contributes four calories, and a useful reference for the average person is to make protein around 15% of daily caloric intake. So, for a person consuming 2000 calories a day, that would amount to 300 calories from protein. That’s around 75 grams.
Research suggests that higher-protein diets can help maintain a healthy weight. However, there is also evidence that a significant increase in certain protein sources, such as processed meats, can have adverse health effects.
It’s certainly important to get enough protein, but the source of the protein is also worth considering. No whole foods exist that provide protein exclusively, so the additional fat, carbohydrates, and micronutrients that added protein entails should be taken into account as well.
Other guidelines suggest that the minimum protein intake should be around 10% of the daily caloric intake, and the healthy range extends to approximately 35%. It’s reasonable to assume that, for most people, the ideal amount of protein will fall somewhere in that range.
Another way to assess protein requirements is via bodyweight, but it’s a less reliable measurement. For a moderately active adult with healthy body weight, the British Nutrition Foundation recommends a protein intake of 0.75 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.
There is also a risk of overconsuming protein. Maintaining a high-protein diet for extended periods has been linked to some relatively minor complications such as bad breath and constipation, but also severe problems such as the increased risk of cancer.
No research suggests that high-protein diets can cause kidney problems. Nonetheless, they do put a strain on the kidneys and can be dangerous for people with pre-existing kidney conditions.
How to Choose the Best Paleo Protein Powder
Now that you know how much protein you need and why you need it, the question remains as to how you’ll know which one is the best. As far as the best paleo protein powders go, the primary concern is whether or not they’re paleo. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably aware of what that entails.
For those who don’t know, the paleo diet focuses on the consumption of unprocessed foods. The list includes nuts, vegetables, meat, and fruits. Depending on the kind of paleo diet, cooked food may or may not fall within the parameters.
So, in terms of protein powders, the most widely available paleo-friendly sources of protein are eggs, beef, animal bones, and some plant sources such as pea and hemp. Some niche manufacturers are experimenting with other sources, but those are difficult to find and are generally boutique-priced.
Besides being paleo, other considerations should include the taste, ease of use, variety of amino acids present. The paleo diet is all about minimally processed foods. Therefore, paleo-friendly protein powders will tend to have minimal added flavors, but that doesn’t mean that they lack taste.
Poorly concentrated or isolated protein powders retain some of the taste of their source. In the cases of bone broth protein or collagen, the flavor can be a little off-putting at first and hard to mix with other ingredients.
A quality paleo protein powder should be easy to mix, ideally with a shaker cup. Some might require a blender, but as long as there is no clumping or texture in the end product, you’ll know it’s a quality powder.
Finally, you’ll want a protein that provides all or most of the essential amino acids. Some sources used in protein powders, such as coconut protein, aren’t complete and leave out some essential amino acids.
If you don’t want to keep track of individual amino acid contents, the most convenient option is to choose sources of complete protein.
Now that the criteria are covered, it’s time to move on to the best paleo protein powders.
Final Thoughts on the Best Paleo Protein Powder
The clear winner of this roundup is Perfect Keto’s Collagen Peptides Protein Powder. Perfect Keto has an excellent reputation for the meticulous composition of its products, and nowhere is that more evident than in this collagen powder.
Although it is designed to be a great protein source for people on a keto diet, it’s also paleo-friendly as the collagen is from animal sources. It’s one of the best mixing powders out there, bar none, and it has a great taste achieved through the combination of stevia extract and various natural flavors.
Perfect Keto Collagen Peptides has MCT oil, which slows down protein metabolization. MCT oil also encourages your body to use protein for recovery, rather than store it.
If you’re looking for more articles about protein powders, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 5 Best Hemp Protein Powders (2023 Review)
- 9 Best Vegan & Plant-Based Protein Powders (2023 Review)
- 7 Best Meal Replacement Shakes For Men (2023 Review)