Best Cheap Protein Powder Brands - A 2017 Market Study


And did you know that most protein powders HAVE LESS PROTEIN than what's stated on the label?

Welcome to the Protein Investor! My name is Trey and when I found out about this I was FURIOUS!

You see, I had been taking protein shakes for years and when this information came to light I felt cheated...and you should to. The idea that some brands are under-dosing protein and protein spiking just left a bad taste in my mouth.

That's why I created the Protein Investor.

If you are a fitness buff like me, then you know that whey protein is almost a staple food. It is hard (and expensive) to eat enough meat to meet our daily protein requirements. So protein supplements are actually a cost-efficient choice.

That's why I like cheap whey protein powders. Or to put it another way, I like protein powders that DELIVER VALUE FOR MONEY. And that's what this site is all about.

Making sure YOU can choose the BEST WHEY PROTEIN FOR YOUR DOLLAR.

I've done latest market study on the best 'bang for your buck' cheap protein powder brands available today. In the table below you will find my comparison chart for the 10 most popular whey protein powder brands on the market.

I've ranked the products below by several criteria, explained later, but I would like to draw your attention to our main metric: Cost-per-100g of actual protein.

This metric tells you is how much it costs to obtain 100g of actual protein from a compared product. Or to put it another way, it shows value for money. And that's what it's all about.

This metric will prevent you from being distracted from the price of a product (some lower priced products are actually less value for money than you might think), the total weight of the product, and serving size. It basically allows you to compare all the brands on an even playing field.This is the main criteria you should use to select the appropriate whey protein powder for your budget.

Let's get right down to it!

The Protein Investor's Cheap Protein Powder Brand Comparison

Name/Image Learn MoreProduct PriceCost per 100g of Actual ProteinClaimed Protein per servingActual Protein per servingNo. of ServingsCalories per servingCarbs (sugar) per servingFats per serving
EAS 100% Whey Protein

EAS 100% Whey Protein

view pricefull review $40.00$2.4530g30.2g54 servings170 calories6g (2g)2.5g
Six Star Pro Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Plus

Six Star Pro Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Plus

view pricefull review $40.92$3.0130g30.6g44 servings180 calories9g (2g)2g
MusclePharm Combat Powder

MusclePharm Combat Powder

view pricefull review $37.99$3.2225g22.7g52 servings130 calories5g (2g)1.5g
NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate

NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate

view pricefull review $59.02$3.3025g22.1g81 servings110 calories<1g (<1g)0.5g
Dymatize Nutrition Elite Whey

Dymatize Nutrition Elite Whey

view pricefull review $55.00$3.3825g25.8g63 servings130 calories3g (1g)1.5g
Cellucor COR-Performance Whey

Cellucor COR-Performance Whey

view pricefull review $54.97$4.3125g24.6g52 servings120 calories4g (1g)1.5g
Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard

Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard

view pricefull review $58.00$3.7324g21g75 servings120 calories3g (1g)1g
MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Performance Series

MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Performance Series

view pricefull review $43.00$5.2830g20.8g40 servings140 calories2g (<1g)1.5g
BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder

BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder

view pricefull review $43.00$4.3722g20.4g48 servings200 calories15g (2g)6g
CytoSport Muscle Milk

CytoSport Muscle Milk

view pricefull review $47.99$4.5416g16.5g64 servings150 calories9g (2g)6g



Let’s take a look at the criteria I use to rank the protein powders.

Main Protein Ranking Factors

  • Cost-per-100g of Actual Protein: This is the Protein Investor’s proprietary metric in which I look at how much it costs to obtain 100g of actual protein from a 5lb tub of each of the analyzed brands. The lower this amount, the better. (Calculation: Actual Protein per serving x Number of Servings = Total Protein per tub.  Price per tub x 100 / Total Protein per tub = Cost per 100g of Actual Protein)
  • Product Price: Average retail price for a standard 5lb tub. Varies due to seasonal discounts and flavors.
  • Claimed Protein-per-serving: The number of grams of protein in a single serving as claimed on the label.
  • Actual Protein-per-serving: As you know, most brands’ protein content varies from the amount stated on the label? Based on results of an independent lab analysis, I’ve listed the actual and measured amounts of protein-per-serving for each of the products below.

Secondary Quantitative Factors

Other product details that may factor into your purchase decision depending on your fitness goals or workout/diet plans.

  • Number of Servings: Per 5lb tub. See how long that tub of protein is going to last you.
  • Calories per-serving: Self-explanatory.
  • Carbs (sugar) per-serving: Number of grams of carbohydrates per serving, plus how much of that is sugar. For all you low-carb and keto dieters out there.
  • Fats per-serving: Number of grams of fats per serving.
  • Other ingredients: Protein spiking? High cholesterol? Find out here!

Other Qualitative Factors

Other stuff you might consider before buying. Check out the individual product reviews for this information!

  • Flavor: Does it taste like a delicious smoothie or will you be pinching your nose as drink it?
  • Mixability: Will a few shakes of your free GNC plastic mixer do, or will an industrial grade blender be required for this one?

BONUS: If you absolutely can’t stand the taste of whey protein powder, I will be adding in a delicious and simple protein smoothie recipe soon.

Without further ado, the Protein Investor brings you its analysis of ten of the most popular whey protein brands on the market today.

Note: As I want to give you the most economical options for our whey protein, the following chart mainly looks at whey protein concentrate/isolate blends, which is the generally the cheapest option, unless you are lactose intolerant. For more information please check out my article Concentrate / Isolate / Hydrolyzed Whey: What’s The Difference?

Top 3 Cheap Whey Protein Powder Brands For Your Dollar

Looking at our comparison table, the top Top 3 winners are:

  1. EAS 100% Whey Protein
  2. Six Star Pro Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Plus
  3. MusclePharm Combat Powder


EAS 100% Whey Protein Best Cheap Whey Protein

The cheapest whey protein by far is EAS 100% Whey Protein, with 100g of protein only costing $2.45! This is a no-frills pure whey concentrate (meaning that it might not be suitable for those with digestion issues) that also comes with 7.3g of BCAAs per serving. The taste is great, especially the chocolate flavor, although mixability might be an issue. It is also a little  on the high side when it comes to calories and has a higher cholesterol content compared to the other brands. So if you are not too concerned about calories or cholesterol, from a pure value perspective, then this is the number 1 choice for sure.

Six Star Pro Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Plus Cheap Protein Powder

Nipping at the heels of the number one product is Six Star Pro Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Plus with 100g of acutal protein costing only $3.01! A great deal, considering the fact that this is a whey concentrate and isolate blend. In fact, they even throw in three different types of whey isolates into the mix. So if you don’t think you can stomach a pure whey concentrate, then go for this one instead.

As an added bonus they have 2.5g of creatine monohydrate, about half of your daily recommendations.

Keep in mind that just like the number one product, this one is also on the high side when it comes to calories and carbs. Taste and mixability are great; in fact this product is downright delicious. The sweetest whey protein I’ve ever tasted in my life. You can’t go wrong with this one!

MusclePharm Combat Powder Top Whey Protein

And finally, rounding out our Top 3 is Muscle Pharm Combat Powder at $3.22. This is a high quality protein, blending whey concentrate, isolate, and hydroslate with additional casein and egg white albumen. It also contains a high amount of amino acids and digestive enzymes. A top contender for both quality and quantity!

NOW Foods Best Whey Protein Isolate

BONUS: Top Cheap Whey Protein Isolate – NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate

Now, for our bonus mention, the prize goes to NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate, a 100% natural whey isolate product that’s also a superb value for money deal. Its cost per 100g of actual protein is $3.30 placing at #4 on the list and narrowly missing out on the Top 3. If you have a sensitive stomach, or would simply like a pure whey isolate, then this product is definitely the top choice in terms of both quality and value.

However, note that if flavor is an important criteria for you, this protein might not be to your liking as it is unflavored. I singled out this product mainly because even though it is a 100% whey isolate, it is still cheaper than most of the other whey concentrate/isolate blends! This one definitely gets a ‘Quality’ stamp of approval.

BONUS #2: Cheapest Protein Powder for Low-Carb Dieters – NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate

Looks like this one’s a double winner! At <1g of carbs and sugar per-serving, NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate is the best choice for those who are following a low-carb or keto diet. At 110 calories per serving, this is also the ideal choice for those who may simply be watching their calories.

Please see my detailed review of each product by clicking on the ‘Full Review’ button on our table above.

What Next?

So now that you have selected the best protein powder for your needs, perhaps you would like more information relating to workout routines? What better way than to make sure all that protein converts into lean muscle than to follow a tried-and-proven lifting program? Check out my Workout Resources page to learn more!

Or perhaps you were wondering how much protein would you need to consume in a day? Well, I got you covered! Check out the recommended guidelines for protein consumption here.

Thank you for visiting my site.

I sincerely hope that you have found the information contained here valuable in helping you select the right choice of whey protein powder for your needs. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any feedback, queries, or requests.