The best protein shakers 2023: shakers for every workout and activity

a photo of a woman drinking from one of the best protein shakers
(Image credit: Getty/VioletaStoimenova)

We've tried and tested the best protein shakers to help you decide what to carry before, during and after your workouts. And we've done that much testing, we've got wrist aches from shaking up protein recipes. Speaking of which, Chris Hemsworth’s go-to protein shake is worth trying if you need a new recipe.

Gone are the days when you'd throw your protein shake in any old container in the cupboard. Models now offer compartments for supplements, non-drip lids and insulation for hot and cold shakes. There really is something for everyone.

Adequate protein intake is crucial for muscle tissue repair and provides the building blocks for building muscle. When shaking up the best protein shaker, we watched out for potential leakages and how well they mixed ingredients — a chalky protein shake is a no-go in our books.

If you have your recipes locked down, then it's time to find your perfect shaker to pair it with. Find out how to clean your blender properly and read on to see the best protein shakers money can buy based on our testing. 

The best protein shakers you can buy today

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How to choose the best protein shaker for you

At the end of the day, a protein shaker is just a widemouthed water bottle with a stainless steel blender ball inside, right? But when choosing the best protein shaker, pay close attention to the lid. Our favorite shakers have locking mechanisms and other leakproof designs to prevent unwanted spills. Look for comfortable carrying handles on top that are easy to snag with the tips of your fingers. 

If you’re going to tote your liquid nutrition around with you, why not do it with a little panache? Some of the best protein shakers come in a variety of snazzy colors (and/or motivational logos), so if you want a gym accessory to match your personal style, it’s OK to be a little picky. That being said, always favor function over fashion, folks. Nobody’s taking their protein shaker to a runway show.

Another thing to look out for is the size of the shaker. Most protein shakers hold between 16 and 36 ounces of liquid, leaving enough extra space inside to dissolve that workout mix or protein powder with whatever bartending flair you have on hand. 

Lastly, think about what you want to carry and how cold, or warm, you want it to stay. Most protein shakers are made from lightweight plastic (often BPA-free), but some of the best protein shakers use stainless steel insulation to keep cold drinks colder, longer. You can leave such shakers out in the sun without worrying about a lukewarm milkshake after a few late-afternoon laps.

How we tested the best protein shakers

In order to determine which protein shakers belonged on the top of this list, we evaluated them based on functionality, quality of build materials, and how each bottle felt while holding it. We also made sure to test out the seal for every lid; nobody likes a gym bag filled with lukewarm protein sludge. After filling each shaker up with water, we knocked them around on the floor a bit and checked for any leakage. 

Lastly, since we live in a tech-centric age, we looked for any extra bells and whistles (ex, multiple liquid chambers, removable pill trays, detachable carrying loops) that were genuinely useful. At the end of the day, the best protein shakers sure won’t break the bank, but they should still be a good value overall.  

To test any insulated protein shakers, which are designed to handle both hot and cold beverages, we filled them halfway to the top with ice water, screwed on the lids, and let the shakers sit for 10 minutes. Then we removed the lids and quickly recorded the inner temperature of each bottle via infrared thermometer. After sealing the shakers again and letting them stand for 24 hours in a 70-degree room, we recorded the inner temperature a second time. In short: the smaller the temperature flux, the more effective the insulation. 

Q&A

What are the best protein powders to put in your shaker?

There are many types of protein powders on the market, all with different pros and cons. Most protein powders can be divided into dairy proteins, which includes whey protein and casein protein, and non-dairy, which includes pea protein, soy protein, rice protein and hemp protein. The type will often depend on your personal preference and your health goals. Whey protein, for example, can be absorbed faster than casein protein, which is why some bodybuilders opt to take casein protein before bed.

When should you have a protein shake?

Not sure what to eat before a workout? Protein shakes can be consumed before or after workouts, but this is the best time to drink a protein shake, and it's not when you think

In short, if you're using a protein shake as a meal or snack replacement as a way to lose weight, it's worth taking a protein shake at the time you'd normally eat the meal or snack you're replacing. If your goal is to build muscle, we recommend a protein supplement between 30 and 60 minutes after exercising to improve recovery and build muscle mass. 

If you plan to consume a protein shake before exercise, it could help fuel workouts and aid protein synthesis. In this case, consume 60-90 minutes before exercise. Either way, taking protein and carbs after a long effort has been found to promote recovery and help muscles rebuild.

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Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy. 

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