Is chocolate or vanilla protein powder better?

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I use whey protein powder almost every day and have done for over a decade. I like it because it’s super EASY to consume, makes it EASY to hit my macros and is pretty CHEAP per gram of protein. 

BUT the real question today is whether chocolate or vanilla is the best flavour of protein powder – here are my thoughts on it…

Is chocolate or vanilla protein powder better?

At a glance…

  • Vanilla protein powder is better as it can be used in both sweet and savoury applications
  • Check out the best value vanilla whey on Amazon right here!
  • Chocolate is a close second – particularly if you have a sweet tooth (like me!) or mix it with milk regularly (extra creamy!)
  • Protein powder can be made to taste better by mixing it with different flavours – you can even try chocolate AND vanilla!
  • Bulk is my favourite brand of protein as I find it mixes the best
  • MyProtein is a great alternative that can undercut Bulk on price, BUT I find it harder to mix

Vanilla protein powder is more versatile than chocolate

Versatility is a key trait for any protein powder. In my early days of training I would knock back simple protein shakes regularly however these days I prefer to consume it in more diverse ways, including:

  • Mixing with greek yogurt and having with fruit and/or granola
  • As a milk substitute in cereal
  • Homemade protein bars
  • Mixed in with oatmeal

I find – particularly when watching my calories – that consuming powder as a solid foodstuff is FAR more satisfying than drinking it straight from the shaker.

This means that protein which tastes GOOD in these situations is important! Having tried an absolute TON of flavours I can safely say that vanilla is the MOST versatile and therefore the MOST suited to mixing with actual food. 

Why is vanilla the best at this? It’s because the vanilla flavour is quite soft and not overpowering. It also lends itself to both savoury AND sweet applications. For example a simple water and vanilla protein shake can replace milk in a bowl of cereal turning a savoury snack into something a little more interesting, and most homemade protein bar recipes, typically more of a sweet snack, recommend vanilla protein.

Chocolate protein powder by comparison tends to be stronger flavoured and less suited to savoury applications. 

Do you want a protein coffee? Stick to vanilla!

Vanilla adds a really nice sweetness to a coffee making it to a macro-friendly sugar substitute! It reminds me of a frappuccino but without the guilt. To avoid the powder clumping make your coffee first then mix up a protein shake (with water or milk) separately. Once both are ready pour the pre-made protein shake in to the coffee. If you put the whey powder directly in to the hot coffee it will clump!

Baking with protein? Vanilla more versatile, but chocolate can work

Vanilla whey can be used in more baking recipes as it can be incorporated in both sweet and savoury dishes. Chocolate lends itself more to deserts or “protein ball” style snacks. I’ve had success baking with both.

For my protein baking I tend to use chocolate simply because I prefer desert-style protein snacks (I have a sweet tooth), but if you are more adventurous a baker than I am then vanilla whey is prevalent in far more recipes than chocolate powder is.

Does chocolate or vanilla whey taste better?

Flavour is a personal thing – but a vanilla protein has a more palatable taste in my experience. It’s typically not as strong as chocolate which can be overpowering and some can find it overly sweet. 

Don’t get me wrong – I love chocolate – but sometimes the watery texture with the chocolate flavour can be a weird combination. Chocolate should have a luxurious texture – not just be flavoured water! Mixing with milk can be game changer here, but if you’re mixing with water to keep your calories under control it is something to consider.

How can I make vanilla protein powder taste better?

So you’ve bought some protein powder and you don’t like the taste… What do?!

If you don’t like the protein flavour you can adjust it by mixing it with some cinnamon, or another neat trick is to go 50/50 between vanilla and chocolate which creates a really nice desert-flavoured shake! One of the best things about vanilla is it is ridiculously easy to mix with other flavours as it compliments almost any other flavour – from chocolate to raspberry!

Another option is to add some vanilla extract to counter the sweetness of the protein if you find it is a bit too much for your personal taste (depending on brand and your palette). Some powder brands have far sweeter flavours than others so it may take a bit of trial and error.

Finally if you decide vanilla isn’t for you don’t despair – mix in some cocoa powder and the taste will pivot from vanilla to an almost-but-not-quite chocolate shake. The best of both worlds, perhaps?

How can I make chocolate whey taste better?

Chocolate whey is harder to adjust due to the stronger flavour but one option, similar to above, is to mix with another flavour such as banana (or vanilla!). Chocolate and banana is awesome! 

Something else to consider, more than most flavours, chocolate whey I find changes when mixed with milk – so if you’ve not tried it then treat yourself to a milk-based chocolate shake. The thicker more luxurious texture feels a better fit with the chocolate flavour.

If you’re finding your chocolate protein too sweet (each brand has a different formula, but some sweeten more than others) then try adding some dark cocoa powder. The dark chocolate will bring a natural bitterness to reduce the sweetness of the shake overall. Just a little is needed though – don’t go crazy! You will need to mix it vigorously or in a blender to get the smoothest drink as it tends to sit at the bottom of the shake if not properly mixed.

Be aware: Chocolate whey has less protein content

Due to the flavouring required chocolate whey protein has around 10% less protein than unflavoured powder. Vanilla has a smaller drop of around 5%.

While this can be worked around you will need more whey protein per serving (and therefore get through bags faster) using chocolate whey.

So which is the best protein flavour?

Finding a flavour of whey you like makes life better – it improves satiety and makes hitting your protein macros far more enjoyable. This is more important when you are cutting and your calories are restricted, being able to savour what calories you do consume becomes very important!

Overall vanilla is the best protein flavour as it is the most versatile, being useful in sweet and savoury applications including in coffees and a wide range of baking. The second best flavour in my opinion is chocolate, if you can find a powder that is the right level of sweetness for your taste (some brands overly sweeten their powders). I also like banana whey but I seem to be alone on that…

Best whey protein options in the UK

Best VALUE

MyProtein Impact Whey Protein

MyProtein Impact

  • Very affordable for basic Impact whey protein
  • Flavours are nice if a little sweet for some tastes
  • Vanilla & Chocolate Smooth are excellent – also check out BANANA!
  • BUT mixing needs a bit more work

Check Offers

Best on AMAZON

MyProtein Impact Whey Protein

MyProtein Amazon

  • Same great product BUT available on Amazon with Prime delivery
  • Same pros and cons as before
  • BUT great Amazon delivery & service
  • Priced VERY competitively compared to Bulk and ON alternatives from Amazon

Check Offers

Best MIXING

BULK protein powder

Bulk Whey Protein

  • Mixes VERY well
  • Vanilla & Chocolate flavours BOTH excellent
  • BUT pricing can be opaque (endless deals)
  • A regular in my cupboard, BUT I keep an eye on MyProtein first as it’s cheaper on Amazon

Check Offers

Buyers Guide: What to look out for in whey protein

While not exhaustive, it is worth keeping an eye on the following stats when picking your powder:

  • Protein source – whey protein is animal based. If you have a preference or requirement to avoid whey then you will need to look for protein powders derived from different sources such as pea protein.
  • Nutritional information – personally I review the nutrition information of any protein supplement I am buying. I want the maximum protein content per 100g and the minimum carbs, so I can save those up for other snacks 🙂
  • Cost – I’ve made the mistake of buying no-brand protein from eBay and it was absolutely horrible. My lesson? Cost is important, but not everything.

Brand matters!

I’m not usually a brand snob but in the protein powder market it is important to buy from a reputable source. Some lower quality products are packed out with fillers diluting their macros, poor tasting, over-priced or a combination of all three! 

Many smaller brands utilise a white-labelling process where they buy pre-packaged or pre-made whey protein powder from one of the bigger manufacturers then brand and resell this to consumers. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this business model (in fact Red Bull does the same with energy drinks!) but it does mean there is an extra layer of profiteering in the chain.

I’ve tried a TON of brands over the years but the stand out experiences I have:

Cheap unbranded protein from eBay

This stands out in my mind as absolutely HORRIBLE. I bought 5kg of raspberry protein powder and it mixed poorly leaving a chalky texture and the taste was disgusting. While there was a hint of raspberry and sweetness the overarching flavour was of dusty, musky chalk.

It is this experience that motivates me to warn you off of cheap, unbranded protein powder. It really is worth the extra few quid to have something that is edible.

MyProtein Whey: My Review

A household name by this point, MyProtein does what it says on the tin by offering reasonably priced whey protein to the UK market. The good news is that there is a vast range of flavours – most of which are palatable. The bad news is that the pricing structure is opaque with almost endless sales making it hard to work out a simple price per kilo.

Personally I find some of the flavours are a touch sweet for even my sweet tooth, but all are edible. Chocolate smooth, vanilla, raspberry and natural banana are my regulars. I also think the whey could mix better – even using the MyProtein branded shakers I find it tends to clump when mixed with water unless I mix really aggressively. A ‘hack’ to make your protein powder mix better is to shake it up vigorously then let is sit for a few minutes before shaking again – that’s given me the best results.

Bulk Powders: My Review

My personal favourite brand is Bulk, formerly known as Bulk Powders. Don’t let the name turn you off – they offer a decent lean whey protein powder as well as the usual array of other supplements. The flavours are the most palatable for my tastes and it’s by far the best mixing whey I’ve come across and it leaves a really nice creamy texture even when mixed with water.

The downside would be – similar to MyProtein – the endless sale loop on the website making it hard to establish a simple price per kilo.

Conclusion

Overall I think both chocolate and vanilla protein powders are nice BUT I do prefer vanilla as it is more versatile being well suited to sweet and savoury uses. Please be aware that some brands of protein over sweeten their chocolate flavours which I find too sweet for my palette. Taste is a personal thing so don’t be afraid to sample a few different brands and flavours to get a feel for what you like.

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