Protein powder can make it much easier to gain your first 20-lbs of lean muscle.
But you need to know what to look for.
At best, using a bad brand can yield disappointing results.
And at worst, it can cause you to become fat rather than muscular, and even cause digestive issues.
Having tested over 15 different protein powder brands, I know which ones I’d recommend to family and friends, and which ones to avoid (won’t name shame so I don’t get in trouble!).
For the average skinny guy who is over 12% body fat, I would choose the MyProtein Impact Whey (link for cheapest price). Each serving contains 21g of protein and just 100 calories. It’s extremely affordable, there’s a ton of flavors to choose from, and it’s easy to mix. The clean nutrient profile also makes this ideal for building maximum muscle and storing minimum fat. I would highly recommend this powder for a lean bulk!
The MyVegan Pea Protein is a good plant alternative to the Impact Whey.
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- What If You’re Very Skinny?
- Add Creatine To Supercharge Your Protein!
- Why MP Is My Go-To Protein Powder Brand.
- Why I Chose The MP Weight Gainer Blend As A Skinny Beginner:
- Why I Switched To The MP Impact Whey:
- What Size Bag Should You Buy?
- Other Great Protein Powder Brands:
- Different Types Of Protein Powders Explained.
- Choosing A Protein Powder: Things To Be Careful About.
What If You’re Very Skinny?
If you’re very skinny and under 12% body fat, I would instead recommend the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass. Each serving contains 50g of protein and 1200 calories. It’s also affordable, relatively clean for a mass gainer, and the chocolate flavor tastes great. I would highly recommend this powder for a clean dirty bulk.
Here’s what I did as a skinny beginner:
Start with the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass first.
After you’ve gained your first 10-pounds, you can then move on to the cleaner MP Impact Whey.
That way you can rapidly bring you’re weight up to baseline, and then take your “foot off the throttle” for leaner gains there onwards.
Add Creatine To Supercharge Your Protein!
I would also advise you to choose a creatine powder as well.
The MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate (link for cheapest price) is the one I’ve been using for the last 3 years.
What is creatine?
It’s a naturally occurring molecule found in all of our muscles.
The role of creatine in the body is to help the muscles utilize energy.
As a result, you’ll be able to generate more power, complete more reps, and have more energy for extra sets.
Our bodies get creatine from foods such as meat and fish.
But creatine levels in food are so low that many people supplement it with powders.
Is it essential?
Whilst it’s not essential to building muscle, it’s highly recommended (and popular).
Not only is it cheap, but also easy to consume and a great way to increase training efficacy.
I like to mix it together with my protein powder!
As a skinny beginner, it can be frustrating when even the lightest of weights are challenging.
Creatine will help your muscles generate more power for longer.
And the best thing about it?
It’s a natural substance, so you’re not doing anything dodgy. You know what I mean…
It’s not a stimulant either. So don’t go thinking it will mess with you’re sleep.
Note on other supplements: in my opinion, protein and creatine are the only 2 essential supplements. Multivits and omega-3 (see my recommendations here) can also benefit if you have a poor diet. But supplements like testosterone, etc are a waste of money.
Why MP Is My Go-To Protein Powder Brand.
I originally tried the MyProtein powders after a friend recommended them to me.
And I haven’t changed brands since.
Generally speaking, their products get fantastic reviews.
And having personally used the MP powders for 3 years, I can definitely advocate the products I’ve tested.
Here’s what I love about MP as a brand:
- Great value for money. Their products are extremely well priced compared to their competitors. This means you can spend the cash you save, elsewhere!
- They do freebies. They will occasionally give freebies to new and return customers who spend over a certain limit (you’ll see the offer at the checkout if it’s available). I’ve received a shaker bottle and a bottle of 100 multi-vits from my last two orders, and this has saved me about $30. Not much, but hey it’s free.
- Ethical marketing. They promote their products for what they are (supplements to help build muscle). They don’t make outlandish claims that promise you a jacked physique from drinking one shake. These ethics are reflected in the products they produce.
- Clean ingredients. Their products are generally very clean. This means their powders mostly contain protein and maybe some binder. As a result, you know that the risk to digestive side-effects is minimal.
- Optimised macronutrient profile. Their products are well balanced. The shakes mostly contain protein with very little added carbs and lipids (except in their weight gainer blend). This helps to ensure you build a six-pack and not a fat-pack.
- Great flavours. You won’t be able to stick with a disgusting shake for more than a month (trust me). Most of the MP flavours are delicious, and this will help you maintain consistency in consuming your daily protein hits. I say mostly. Always check the reviews before buying.
- Vegan friendly. They offer an affordable vegan range. It’s nice to know you’re helping to save the planet whilst making gains!
The one gripe…
Obviously, like most products, you’ll see a few negative reviews.
There’s only one negative about the MP range, that I agree with:
Most of their powders come in re-sealable bags.
So you need to make sure the bag is properly locked to prevent moisture from getting in and ruining your powder.
This choice of packaging is probably a reason why they can sell their products for so cheap.
In my opinion, it’s a relatively minor issue considering all the benefits of using their products.
Why I Chose The MP Weight Gainer Blend As A Skinny Beginner:
- Didn’t want to overpay on my first batch of protein. This was important to me as a beginner because I didn’t want to be spending hundreds of dollars in one go, just in case it was the wrong choice. You won’t have this problem anyway since I’ve recommended you two solid choices.
- Wanted to avoid dirty powders. As someone with a sensitive stomach, I needed to make sure my protein was as unadulterated as possible. A lot of the other brands provide calories through sugars, fats, cholesterol, and other bad stuff. The MP Weight Gainer Blend provides most of it’s calories from a natural oat powder.
- Struggled to eat enough calories from foods. As a beginner, I needed a way to quickly and easily consume clean calories. The 27g protein and 365 calories in each scoop helped me do just that! All the while, I was slowly upping my calorie intake from foods as my stomach expanded.
- I hate clumpy shakes. There’s nothing worse than a protein clump stuck in your throat. Reviews said that this powder mixes smoothly. And they weren’t wrong. It’s easy to mix this with both water and milk.
- Didn’t want to turn into a farting machine. This isn’t a joke. Dirty weight gainers can wreak havoc on your digestive system. My very first weight gainer made me fart like a cow. It was only a few months later that I found out it was due to the adulterants in the weight gainer. The MP weight gain blend is clean and minimises the issue with farts.
- Unflavoured options available This is extremely beneficial for those with a sensitive palette. Some protein powders are notoriously “unflavoursome”. The MP Weight Gainer Blend can come unflavoured. You can then add your own flavouring with fruits, honey, etc.
Why I Switched To The MP Impact Whey:
The MP Impact Whey shares all the benefits of MP Weight Gainer Blend (clean, mixable, delicious, and balanced protein and calories).
But it’s not ideal for lean gains.
Here’s why I switched to the MP Impact Whey after I gained my first 10-lbs:
- I was spending too much money on the weight gainer. Although the MP Weight Gainer Blend is relatively cheap compared to competitor brands, it’s still not the cheapest of the MP products. After some research, I realised that the MP Impact Whey costs less per serving than the MP Weight Gainer Blend.
- Didn’t want to get fat. The MP Weight Gainer blend worked wonders to help me quickly gain my first 10-lbs. But I noticed that this was not all lean muscle. Some of it ended up as belly fat (due to all those extra calories). So I switched to the MP Impact Whey which only contains 100 calories per serving and still packs 21g of protein.
- I was getting bored of the same flavours. And as a result, this made it hard to stick to my protein schedule. Unlike the MP Weight Gainer Blend, the MP Impact Whey has a ton of flavours to choose from. And this variety is great for motivation. Salted caramel, cookies & cream, and vanilla are my personal favourite. Most of the other flavours also get positive reviews, but I’ve seen that strawberries & cream isn’t a hit with everyone…
What Size Bag Should You Buy?
You want to buy in a large enough batch to benefit from the associated discounts.
But you don’t want to buy so much that it sits in the cupboard unused until it eventually starts going off.
Here’s how much weight I recommend you buy as a beginner:
|Item||Recommended Beginners Weight:||Estimated duration of use:|
|MP Impact Whey||5.5lbs (2.5kg)||2-3 months|
|Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass||16lbs (7kg)||1 month.|
|MP Creatine Monohydrate||1.1lbs / (500g)||Half a year.|
Other Great Protein Powder Brands:
I’ve been using the MP powders for 3 years and I can’t recommend them enough.
But they aren’t the only awesome protein brand out there.
Here are some of my favorite protein brands:
- Legion. Premium boutique brand by Legion Athletics. Excellent quality protein with a complete profile of amino acids and no dirty fillers. It’s expensive, but they taste great and it’s very clean!
- Optimum Nutrition. Mid-range brand. They have variety of powder-types and flavours that are highly mixable, taste great, provide good quality protein.
- The Protein Works. UK based mid-range brand that specialises in affordable plant-based options. The chocolate soy protein blend is clean and has a subtle flavour.
- Ascent Protein. Premium brand that offers extremely clean and high quality protein. They also do gluten/soy/dairy-free options.
- Naked Nutrition. Mid-range brand offering quality whey protein from organic grass-fed cows. They also offer unflavoured powders.
- Plant Fusion. Mid-range clean plant protein thats tastes great and also very mixable. Guten/soy/dairy-free options ar available.
I’ve personally tested all of these and they all make a great alternative to MP.
But MP is still my current favorite due to its affordable quality.
Different Types Of Protein Powders Explained.
If you don’t want to go with MP as I do, that’s cool!
Here are the different types of protein explained so you can navigate the market easier:
- Mass gainer powders. These are high in calories and protein (mostly whey). Each scoop typically has 400+ calories and 25g+ protein. They are perfect for skinny guys who struggle to eat enough calories from food. But mass gainers with over 600 calories per scoop can cause you to gain excessive fat. The MP Weight Gainer Blend is an example of a mass gainer.
- Whey concentrate. These are low calorie and high in whey protein (a protein sourced from cow milk). Each scoop typically has around 100 calories and 20-25g of protein. They are an affordable source of clean protein and great for lean bulking. MP Impact Whey is an example of a whey concentrate.
- Whey isolate. These are similar to whey concentrate but more expensive. The whey has been filtered to remove bad stuff like cholesterol, lactose, and fat. Whey isolate is supposed to be absorbed quicker than whey concentrate and this is supposed to benefit muscle growth. But from my experience, it’s not worth the extra cost as a newbie.
- Casein powders. These are low calorie and high in casein protein. Each scoop typically has around 90 calories and 20-25g of protein. Along with whey, casein is the other protein found in cow’s milk. It digests slower, and this makes it great for a pre-bed protein hit. Bodybuilders are known to wake up in the middle of the night for a fix of casein to maintain blood protein levels. Give it a try if you like, but from my experience, Whey does the job perfectly fine.
- Blended powders .These are a combined blend of whey and casein. Again, I like to just stick with Whey.
- Vegan. These are low calorie and high in plant protein. Each scoop typically has around 90 calories and 20g of protein. Most of the proteins come from soy, hemp, pea, and brown rice.
90% of protein powders on the market will fit into one of the above categories.
MP does them all.
Choosing A Protein Powder: Things To Be Careful About.
- Excessive calories. Avoid anything with over 600 calories per shake for the same reason you should avoid meals that are over 700 calories per sitting. It’s because your body can only use so many calories to build muscle, and anything above this threshold is likely to be stored as fat. Additionally, the fast-digesting nature of liquid calories increases the risk of fat storage.
- Excessive and unbalanced protein content. Avoid anything with over 40g protein per shake. The body can only absorb so much protein in one go (around 30g per sitting). Anything extra goes into the toilet. Additionally, cheap brands will stuff their powders with with cheap amino acids (components of protein) to bump up the protein content per scoop. Look for protein powders with a balanced BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) and EAAs (essential amino acids).
- Excessive bad carbs and fats. Complex carbs like oat flour are great. But excessive fat, sugar, and cholesterol is a recipe for fat gains (unless you’re training like a Strongman).
- Excess fillers. Avoid anything with excessive fillers. These include chemicals like additives, dyes, and preservatives. Product reviews will reveal which powders are good and which are a no no.
- BPA in packaging. Not long ago, there was a scare regarding BPA leaking from the plastic in protein powder tubs, into the protein powder. Reputable brands have their products lab-tested. But not all budget brands do. The supplement industry is notoriously unregulated.
Go with my MP recommendations, and you don’t have to worry about these problems!
Go with the MP Weight Gainer Blend if you’re very skinny (under 12% body fat). It will give you a balanced dose of calories and protein in each scoop. This will help supplement your nutrient intake from meals.
Go with the MP Impact Whey if you’re an average skinny guy (above 12% body fat). Use this as part of a balanced diet to build lean muscle with minimal fat storage.
MP Creatine Monohydrate is highly recommended to go on top of your protein, but it’s not essential. It will help you to train harder though.
Don’t forget that drinking protein shakes alone won’t build muscle.
You also need to train hard.
Dumbbells are a great way to gain your first 20-lbs of lean mass at home.
You can go to my other page for a heavy adjustable dumbbell recommendation that’s both affordable and effective!
Good luck bros!