The Low Carb Jumpstart
The 10 protein shakes we ranked.


The 10 protein shakes we ranked.

In order from left to right: Fairlife Core Power Elite Shake, Boost Glucose Control Max Protein Shake, Atkin’s Protein Rich Shake, Premier Protein Shake, Muscle Milk Zero Protein Shake, Pure Protein Shake, Ensure Max Protein Shake, Quest Nutrition Protein Shake, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Protein Shake, and OWYN Pro Elite Protein Shake.

Which Protein Shake Wins?

Juggling work and life while maintaining your nutritional goals can be tough, but having a convenient, high protein snack might be helpful in a pinch and can support you in staying the course. Some people find that protein shakes help to do just that, by managing their hunger and helping them to stay on-plan rather than eating off-plan foods when they get busy.

We’ve done the hard work for you by taste testing 10 popular low carb protein shakes and ranking them based on flavor, consistency, and price. To determine which shakes to try, we ran a search of common ready-to-drink protein shakes on the market, and picked out 10 low-carb options (which we defined as containing less than 10 grams of total carbohydrates). Check out our rankings below to see which one takes the (low carb) cake.

Disclaimer: Nutritional values may vary slightly based on the varieties/flavors of the product. Prices and availability are subject to change based on location, store, and local sales/promotions.

Authors of this blog have no financial or professional ties to disclose regarding the products described in the article. This article is intended to provide general information about protein shakes and rankings are based on the authors’ subjective opinions.

Protein Shake Comparison Chart

NamePrice per cartonServing SizeCaloriesTotal CarbDietary FiberProteinSugar Substitute Used
OWYN Pro Elite Protein Shake$2.5012 fl oz200 kcal3g3g32gMonk fruit
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Protein Shake$2.5011 fl oz130 kcal3g1g24gSucralose, Acesulfame K
Quest Nutrition Protein Shake$3.2511 fl oz170 kcal4g1g30gSucralose
Ensure Max Protein Shake$2.8711 fl oz150 kcal6g4g30gSucralose, Acesulfame K
Pure Protein Shake$2.0011 fl oz140 kcal6g4g30gSucralose, Acesulfame K
Muscle Milk Zero Protein Shake$3.2511 fl oz100 kcal6g4g20gSucralose, Acesulfame K
Premier Protein Shake$2.8711 fl oz160 kcal4g1g30gSucralose, Acesulfame K
Atkin’s Protein Rich Shake$1.7511 fl oz160 kcal5g3g15gSucralose, Acesulfame K
Boost Glucose Control Max Protein Shake$3.1211 fl oz160 kcal4g0g30gSucralose, Acesulfame K
Fairlife Core Power Elite Shake$4.2914 fl oz230 kcal9g2g42gMonk fruit, Stevia, Sucralose, Acesulfame K
Bonus Feature: Isopure Low Carb Protein Powder$79.99 per 3 lb container1 scoop (32g)110 kcal2g0g25gSucralose

#10 OWYN Pro Elite Protein Shake

4 pack, $9.99 @ Kroger ($) $2.50 per shake

Also available at: Walmart, Meijer, CVS, online

Coming in at #10 is OWYN Pro Elite. The name OWYN stands for “Only What You Need” and their focus is on using minimally processed ingredients for their products. Unlike many other protein powders on the market, OWYN uses plant-based pea protein instead of dairy, making it ideal for those who have dietary restrictions such as a milk allergy, lactose intolerance, or following a plant-based diet. With 32 grams of protein and only 3 grams of carbs for $2.50 per shake, we think this is a pretty good deal especially for those looking for a plant-based option. The subtleness of the chocolate and distinct flavor of pea protein, however, did leave us wanting a little more which is why we ranked this in lowest place.

#9 Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Protein Shake

4 pack, $9.99 @ CVS ($) $2.50 per shake

Also available at: Walmart, online

Gold Standard offers a variety of protein powders that are popular among folks looking to supplement their protein intake. Their vanilla flavored shake was a classic and we had very little to critique about it except that we hoped it would taste a little more creamy. Overall, the shake is fortified with an impressive list of vitamins and minerals, and checked the boxes for being low carb and reasonably priced. Compared to others, it did have slightly less protein at 24 grams per shake.

#8 Quest Nutrition Protein Shake

4 pack, $12.99 @ CVS ($) $3.25 per shake

Also available at: Walmart, Target, online

Quest first gained popularity with their line of low-carb protein bars. Since then, they have gone on to expand into a variety of shakes, protein powders, and protein chips. We tried their chocolate shake which we found to have a mild sweetness and creaminess, with a solid 30 grams of protein per shake. Some of the drawbacks were that it lacked the depth of chocolate flavor we hoped for and it was slightly on the pricier side compared to other shakes with a similar nutritional profile.

#7 Ensure Max Protein Shake

4 pack, $11.49 @ Kroger ($$) $2.87 per shake

Also available at: Walmart, Walgreens, online

Ensure Max Protein comes in at #7 with their French Vanilla flavor. Ensure is popular among many and is readily available at many grocery stores with a wide range of nutritional shakes. Ensure Max has more protein and less carbs than some of their other line of products, which may be helpful in managing hunger and stabilizing blood sugar. Taste-wise, this shake has a pleasant vanilla flavor and silky mouthfeel, almost reminiscent of rice pudding or vanilla custard. We think this shake can be enjoyable for those who are looking for something a little more indulgent but still within a reasonable budget.

#6 Pure Protein Shake

4 pack, $7.99 @ Kroger ($) $2.00 per shake

Also available at: Walmart, online

Pure Protein shakes come in at #6 with a profile that’s very similar to Ensure Max Protein both in taste and nutritional value, but almost a dollar cheaper at $2.00 per carton. If you’re looking for a flavorful drink that’s similar to Ensure but lighter on your wallet, this might be a better bargain for you.

#5 Muscle Milk Zero Protein Shake

4 pack, $12.99 @ Walmart ($$) $3.25 per shake

Also available at: online

In the fifth spot we have Muscle Milk Zero. We tried their Vanilla Creme flavor and were pleasantly surprised by its unique taste. At first comes the vanilla flavor, but then you are suddenly hit with a tropical-like flavor, almost like a pina colada. This shake contains a little less protein compared to the others at 20 grams per shake, but we felt that the unique flavor profile was the main draw that could potentially make for an interesting pick for some.

#4 Premier Protein Shake

4 pack, $11.49 @ Walgreens ($$) $2.87 per shake

Also available at: CVS, Meijer, Kroger, Walmart, Target, online

We have heard that Premier Protein shakes are a fan favorite and we can see why. They offer many interesting flavors to choose from outside of your usual fare (e.g. Cookies and Cream, Cake Batter, Cafe Latte, Chocolate Peanut Butter etc.). For this taste test, we tried their Cinnamon Roll flavor which had good notes of cinnamon and vanilla without being overly sweet. Some folks have shared that they enjoy adding a splash of Vanilla Premier Protein to their morning coffee in place of creamer.

#3 Atkin’s Protein Rich Shake

4 pack, $12.49 @ Walmart ($$) $3.12 per shake

Also available at: Kroger, Meijer, online

In third place we have the Atkin’s Protein Rich shake. Their strawberry shake reminded us of strawberry milk or a milkshake you might get from a creamery. It was delightfully creamy without tasting too artificial or overly sweet. One drawback was that it had the least amount of protein (15 grams) out of all the shakes we tried, but we felt that it made up for it in flavor and price.

#2 Boost Glucose Control Max Protein Shake

4 pack, $9.99 @ CVS ($) $2.50 per shake

Also available at: Meijer, Walmart, online

Boost Glucose Control Max Protein comes in at #2. This shake was a close second and almost made it to first place. It was significantly more creamy and thick compared to the other vanilla shakes we tried, without a hint of chalkiness. Because of its thicker texture, it felt like we were sipping on a cup of vanilla pudding and we agreed that this shake would likely help us feel satisfied if we drank it all.

#1 Fairlife Core Power Elite Shake

1 carton, $4.29 @ Meijer ($$$) $4.29 per shake

Also available at: Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, online

In first place *drumroll* is Fairlife Core Power Elite. Fairlife is well known for their range of milk products that are produced through the process of “ultra-filtration” making them higher in protein and lower in carbs. What blew us away was the taste, which reminded us of chocolate milk from our childhood. It was creamy, chocolate-y, and sweet without leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. The only downside is the higher price point, at $4.29 per shake. It is worth noting that this shake also had more protein than the rest, at 42 grams per shake. They have a sister option called Fairlife Core Power, with similar nutritional value and better availability in stores.

Bonus Feature: Favorite Protein Powder from MCT2D’s Informatics Design Lead, Noa Kim!

Isopure Low Carb Protein Powder - Dutch Chocolate

3 lb container, $79.99 (42 servings) @ GNC online ($) $1.90/serving

If you love chocolate, then Isopure’s Dutch Chocolate protein powder may be the one for you. It’s sold in bulk containers which usually means a bigger bang for your buck! Mix it with a liquid of choice, swirl it into some cottage cheese or yogurt, or add it to oatmeal to give your breakfast a chocolate-y protein boost. You can also combine it with almond flour and natural peanut butter to make some quick protein bites!