Best Cheap Protein Powder Brands - A 2016 Market Study

Welcome to the Protein Investor!

We are pleased to present you with the latest market study on the best cheap protein powder brands for your dollar available today. We hope you will find this site helpful in helping you choose the right  cheap whey protein for your needs and budget.

In the table below you will find our comparison chart for the 10 most popular whey protein powder brands on the market today.

While we have ranked the products below by several criteria, which we have explained below, we would like to draw your attention to our main metric which is the Cost-per-100g of actual protein. Basically what this metric tells you is how much it costs to obtain 100g of actual protein from a compared product.

The power of this metric is that it prevents 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 to compare all the brands on an even playing field. This will be the main criteria which we will be using to select the appropriate whey protein powder for your budget.

Let's get right 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 pricesfull reviews $43.72$2.8326g26.6g58 servings150 calories7g (2g)2g
Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard

Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard

view pricesfull reviews $58.00$3.3824g23.2g75 servings120 calories3g (1g)1g
Dymatize Nutrition Elite Whey

Dymatize Nutrition Elite Whey

view pricesfull reviews $51.99$3.8525g21.5g63 servings130 calories3g (1g)1.5g
BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder

BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder

view pricesfull reviews $39.20$3.9822g20.4g48 servings200 calories15g (2g)6g
MusclePharm Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Whey

MusclePharm Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Whey

view pricesfull reviews $49.00$3.4322g20.6g70 servings120 calories6g (2.5g)1g
NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate

NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate

view pricesfull reviews $59.02$3.3025g22.1g81 servings110 calories<1g (<1g)0.5g
Cellucor COR-Performance Whey

Cellucor COR-Performance Whey

view pricesfull reviews $47.49$3.7225g24.6g52 servings120 calories4g (1g)1.5g
MusclePharm Combat Powder

MusclePharm Combat Powder

view pricesfull reviews $37.97$3.2224g22.7g52 servings130 calories5g (2g)1.5g
MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Performance Series

MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Performance Series

view pricesfull reviews $47.59$4.5430g20.8g50 servings140 calories2g (<1g)1.5g
CytoSport Muscle Milk

CytoSport Muscle Milk

view pricesfull reviews $54.14$5.1616g16.4g64 servings150 calories9g (2g)6g



Let’s take a look at the criteria by which we have ranked the above protein powders:

Main Protein Ranking Factors

  • 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: Do you know that most brands’ protein content varies from the amount stated on the label? Based on results of an independent lab analysis, the actual and measured amounts of protein-per-serving for each of the analyzed products below are listed.
  • Cost-per-100g of Actual Protein: This is the Protein Investor’s proprietary metric in which we 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)

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! (Note: Please read our article What is protein spiking and how does it affect you?)

Other Qualitative Factors

These are other qualitative factors that we have extracted from various user reviews that you may consider for purchasing decisions. 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, we will be adding in a delicious and simple protein smoothies 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 we are looking at 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 our article Concentrate / Isolate / Hydrolyzed Whey: What’s The Difference?

Top 3 Cheap Protein Powder Brands For Your Dollar

Looking at our comparison table, we can see that our Top 3 winners are:

  1. EAS 100% Whey Protein
  2. Muscle Pharm Combat Powder
  3. NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate

The cheapest whey protein by far is EAS 100% Whey Protein, with 100g of protein only costing $2.83! This is a no-frills pure whey concentrate (meaning that it might not be suitable for those with digestion issues) that also comes with 6.3g of BCAAs and 1.6g of glutamine 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.

The second cheapest whey protein 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!

And finally, rounding out our Top 3 is NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate. This is a 100% whey isolate that is suitable for those with digestion issues, and is also the lowest in calorie and cholesterol content. It is also a great value for money with 100g of actual protein costing $3.30.  Further, as you will see below, this product scores highly in our other categories as well.

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, placing at #3 on the list. 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, we should note that if flavor is an important criteria for you, this protein might not be to your liking as it is unflavored. We have 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 triple 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 our 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 our Workout Resources page to learn more!

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

Thank you for visiting our site. We at the Protein Investor 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 us if you have any feedback, queries, or requests.