Up until a few months ago, I'd never met a protein drink I could stomach, much less enjoy. Despite their deceptively nutritious guise, many options on the market are actually far from healthy—loaded with artificial ingredients, tons of sugar, and other suspect oils and preservatives that, frankly, our bodies really don't need. Especially when it's just as effortless to get a hit of protein from a homemade shake (psst, check out our favorite clean protein powders), a hard-boiled egg, or even palmful of almonds. Thus, considering the number of sketchy ingredient lists I've scanned and the even sketchier chalky aftertastes I've endured, it's been a personal mission of mine to steer clear.
However, a couple of months ago I began receiving an onslaught of pitches and deliveries all bearing protein-rich, allegedly "healthy" beverages. Additionally, whenever I'd go to the gym or visit my favorite natural grocery stores in L.A. like Erewhon Market or Whole Foods, I would notice a new slew of admittedly intriguing protein elixirs, infused with superfoods, ultra-clean ingredients, and enticing flavor profiles like cake batter and mint chocolate. Obviously, I concluded, proteins drinks were having a startling resurgence within the wellness world, and while I desperately wanted to ignore them, I couldn't help having a piqued interest.
So, being the health junkie nit-picky consumer I am, I decided to conduct the ultimate experiment (FYI: I freaking love experiments) by slurping, sipping, and yes, sometimes even chugging the new and most promising protein shakes. My criteria was simple: The drink must have clean, truly healthy ingredients (aka nothing I couldn't pronounce or buy straight up at the grocery store) and honest-to-goodness deliciousness. Too much to ask? Apparently not, because I managed to find a fabulous five I fell pretty hard for—and yes, this coming from the person who's a self-proclaimed protein drink basher. In fact, if you were to look at the fridges I frequent (both work and home), you'll find at least one of each waiting and ready for my eager guzzle. Ahead, five super-delicious protein drinks that just so happen to be honest-to-goodness healthy. Cheers!
Meet Après, one of the newest kids on the protein drink block with the super-chic packaging, unexpected flavors, and über-healthy ingredient panels. All four flavors are vegan (you'll pick your poison from Mint Cacao—my fave—Sea Salt Chocolate, Vanilla, and Cold Brew) and boast a filling hit of 14 grams of plant-based protein to keep you feeling full and energized, but never bloated or logy. I've found them to be the perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up, after-dinner craving crusher, or early morning smoothie base.
I'm admittedly a big Bulletproof fan and regularly keep my pantry stocked with its collagen-based protein bars, MCT oil, supplements, and the like. Therefore, it was really no surprise when I fell for Bulletproof coffee drink elixirs, which are infused with grass-fed butter, the brand's signature brain octane oil, and an extra dose of protein thanks to collagen. I love them in the morning before a workout when I crave an extra kick of caffeine and don't want to end up ravenously hungry mid-sweat.
Rebbl's super herb–infused drinks are not only ultra-healthy and filled with exotic ingredients your body and taste buds will love (think adaptogenic mushrooms, maca, turmeric, spices, and more), they're also low in sugar and the perfect antidote if you're craving something sweet but satisfying enough to squelch a stubborn sweet tooth. In addition to its range of 10 drool-worthy elixirs, the brand also has a slightly smaller but just as delicious spread of protein-spiked sips—Vanilla Spice, Dark Chocolate, Banana Nut, or Cold Brew.
Whether you're keto or not (I'm not), you'll flip for these three dessert-inspired protein drinks. The yummy flavor options include Caramel Creme, Cake Batter, and Chocolate Brownie with remarkably zero added sugar, 14 grams of MCT oil (hello, healthy fats!) and 12 grams of plant protein.
I've loved and sworn by Vega's line of protein powders since college. They taste great and have a smart mix of vitamins, minerals, and superfoods which had me all the more excited to try their far more travel-friendly shakes. Although the brand sticks to the classics flavor-wise (e.g., chocolate and vanilla) it offers a filling dose of plant-based protein (20 grams) while remaining relatively low calorie and high in veggies, minerals, vitamins, and fiber.