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Does Whey Protein Powder Taste Bad?

Whey protein powder is a dietary supplement that is proven to help build lean muscle mass when used alongside strength training. Next to whole food sources, it is the most popular fitness supplement and has a place in many dietary programs. If you are new to the world of whey protein powder, then you may be asking if it tastes bad. Today I am going to deep dive into how protein powder tastes, and let you know how to improve the taste of your protein shakes.

Does Whey Protein Powder Taste Bad?

The first thing you need to know is that the taste of protein powder varies based on brand, flavor, and most importantly, quality.

As expected, powders of higher quality tend to provide a more pleasant and mild taste, while those of lower quality are more likely to be harsh on the taste buds.

Therefore, the answer to the question depends on what protein powder you pick. So you value a protein powder with a good flavor, then you will want to avoid most low-quality options, and instead grab a protein made with high-quality ingredients.

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Reasons Why Protein Powder Tastes So Bad

Generally, protein powders are nowhere near the top of the list of best-tasting dietary supplements. Some will argue that they do not belong on that list at all. Ever wondered why protein powder tastes so bad? Well, if that’s how you feel, then it’s time you tried a higher quality protein powder source.

Below you will find the most important factors to consider in order to get a great-tasting protein powder. But first I want to give a few of my favorite tasting options.

For a higher priced option that tastes great, I like Jocko Fuel Molk. I’m partial to the chocolate peanut butter flavor, but they all provide a quality experience.

But if the cost of Molk is a bit steep, the cookies and cream whey isolate from Getshifted tastes equally delicious. This is a great all around protein option that won’t leave you looking for something to wash it down with.

And if you are looking for a budget friendly option, then Gold Standard offers a large selection of flavors to choose from. I’ve used this brand for many years, and while it isn’t the best tasting option around, I find them to be generally the best tasting of the lower cost protein powders on the market.

Now, let’s look at what makes a protein powder taste good or bad and find some tips to make your supplements taste better.

Artificial Sweeteners and Stevia

Certain sweeteners can be an acquired taste; like with protein powder, the flavor produced depends on the quality of the sweetener used.

So, when choosing a sweetened protein supplement, select only those with good and preferably natural-based sweeteners.

Because unflavored protein has a somewhat bitter flavor, most brands add artificial sweeteners or stevia -a plant-based natural sweetener- to their products to give them a sweeter taste.

Unlike sugar, these sweeteners have zero calories and are often sweeter, making them a very convenient option.

However, the problem with artificial sweeteners is that they can leave a bitter aftertaste. This is most prevalent in powders of lower quality.

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Plant Proteins

If you think that plant-based protein powders are the best way to get a better tasting protein supplement, then there are a few things you should consider first.

Insoluble fibers occur naturally in plants; the higher their concentration, the more the plant will have an earthy flavor.

Because of this, many plant-based protein powders such as brown rice protein or powdered pea protein may have a strong earthy flavor (and sandy texture) that many find unpleasant. In some cases, they may even taste acidic.

An ideal solution to the sandy texture of plant protein will be to use a blender when mixing your protein powder. And if you are already blending your protein, it’s the perfect opportunity to improve the flavor by adding some tasty mix-ins.

Try adding some greek yogurt or milk and then blend in some of your favorite fruits or berries. The natural sweetness of fruit will balance out the earthiness of plant based proteins.

Protein Isolates

Protein isolates are highly processed and concentrated forms of protein obtained by isolating the amino acids from other components found in whey, such as:

  • Lactose
  • Fat 
  • Minerals
  • Carbohydrates

As a result of all the processing they go through, these protein isolates can end up tasting chalky and drab, especially in poorer quality brands.

Mesh Count

Texture is another factor affecting the taste of protein powder, and mesh count is a significant determinant of texture of your protein shake.

Typically, the lower the mesh count, the chalkier the protein shake will taste. Therefore, a higher mesh count is the key to a smooth protein shake.

Consider using milk-based protein powders over plant-based ones to get a smooth mesh count or texture.

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The Five Worst Types of Protein Shakes

Based on the most common reasons for bad-tasting whey protein powders mentioned above, here is quick look at what to watch out for, and how to make your protein taste better:

  • Chalky texture: This texture is most common with plant-based proteins and lower quality whey isolate. You can improve the texture by blending your powder with nut butters, yogurt, or fruit. But the best option is choosing a higher quality supplement.
  • Mixes poorly: Few things taste worse than chugging a giant clump of unmixed protein powder. Mixability is a huge factor in how your protein tastes. Fix this by adding more liquid to your powder, and using a shaker bottle or blender to mix your shake.
  • Metallic aftertaste: This is a common problem with low quality proteins produced with cheap artificial sweeteners. Again, the best solution is opting for a higher quality product that doesn’t skimp on using quality ingredients.

What Does Whey Protein Powder Taste Like?

Whey powder, similar in quality to milk protein powders, tastes slightly bitter in an unflavored and unsweetened form. However, this taste can easily change when flavors or sweeteners are added. It could taste slightly better when sweetened with artificial sweeteners or stevia, depending on the type and amount of sweetener added.

Flavored protein powder should taste like its flavor. Some of the most popular include chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, cookies and cream, banana, strawberry. These flavors are commonly found in some of the best-tasting protein powders so go with a flavor that sounds best to you.

Does Whey Protein Taste Bad?

There is no direct answer to this question, as this type of protein can taste good or bad, depending on several factors, including: 

– The quality of the product, which varies from one brand to the next
– The amount of artificial sweeteners that go into it. Contrary to what you might think, more is not necessarily better.
– The level of processing the protein goes through
– The mesh count of the protein. Typically, a lower mesh count will give a bad-tasting protein shake. 
– Your method of preparation, including what you mix with your protein.

How Do You Make Protein Made From Whey Taste Better?

If your current protein powder tastes terrible, here are a few ways you can make it taste better:

– Mix your protein powder with milk instead of water (almond or coconut milk for vegans). Although this adds a few more calories to your shake, it does an excellent job of countering the taste of sweeteners. And if you are trying to increase your protein intake, this helps move you in the right direction.
– Make use of a blender or shaker bottle when mixing your protein. This will help eliminate unblended clumps. 
– Add some ice to your protein shake.
– Blend in a frozen banana or berries to thicken watery, flavorless protein shakes.
– If you cannot make your whey taste better using the tips above, you might consider using it for something else. Some excellent options are mixing it with oatmeal or yogurt and even include it in baked good recipes.


If you are interested in finding out if whey powder tastes bad, we hope that we have been able to answer your questions. We have also provided you with the main reasons protein powders taste bad and the most effective ways of making your protein shakes taste better.

Jack Kelle

Jack is an entrepreneur, outdoorist, and animal lover with a background in philosophy, psychology, and business. He enjoys music, friends, and family. At RAVE, Jack works as the manager of marketing and content development.