Best Protein Powder for Weight Gain Without Side Effects 2021

Last Updated on February 18, 2021 by Monica Nelson

How many times have you downed a protein shake only to feel bloated and uncomfortable after? I know I have, and more often than not, nutritional supplement powders will do that to you.

Many of the products I see (and have tried) are loaded with ingredients that can cause some pretty nasty and uncomfortable side effects—and who wants that?

So, if you’re tired of trying to gain weight and just ending up feeling bloated and puffy, it’s time you take a new route and look for a better alternative.

Lucky for you, after all of my trials and testing protein powders, I’ve finally found one that offers the best quality protein and the best benefits for weight gain with none of the discomfort or other side effects typically seen with protein powders.

So, with no further ado, let’s dive in!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Then head straight to to get your hands on the best protein powder for weight gain without side effects.

Benefits Of Protein Powder For Weight Gain

There’s no denying that having a good, clean protein powder in your stack is super beneficial towards your overall health and athletic performance.

Here are the three main reasons it’s good to have one:

1. Enhances Strength, Muscle Growth, and Performance

Weight gain can come in two forms: muscle or fat. The former is what we all strive for, but if you’re not trying to gain weight healthily, the latter is what’s going to happen.

So, if you want to increase weight by putting on muscle mass, adding an effective protein powder into your diet is the way to go.

Protein is a non-negotiable macronutrient for anyone, regardless of your goals, but if you’re training daily, it becomes that much more critical.

Skeletal muscle is continually breaking down and synthesizing new proteins, and if you’re looking to maintain muscle mass, the net level of protein balance must equal zero [1]. If muscle gain is your goal, muscle protein synthesis (MPS) must exceed breakdown.

And while most people think that resistance training is a stimulus for MPS, it’s also a potent stimulus for muscle breakdown.

Research has shown that resistance training can increase muscle net protein balance for 24–48 hours post-exercise.

And while anabolism and catabolism are increased after exercise, anabolism is more prominent, causing the net balance to become positive [2].

As both protein anabolism and catabolism occur after resistance training, post-workout nutrition can be the make or break for the extent of MPS that arises.

If proper nutrition post-workout is absent, MPS will decrease. But studies show that just 6 grams of mixed amino acids are enough to elevate protein synthesis following exercise [3] and keep you in a positive net balance.

Another researcher found that 10 grams of essential amino acids—the equivalent to eating 6 oz. of animal protein—maximally stimulated protein synthesis [4].

Have you ever seen gym-goers that will down a protein shake before they even exit the gym?

Well, that’s because timing your protein around a training session helps to facilitate muscle repair and remodeling, which enhances post-exercise strength- and hypertrophy-related adaptations [5]. Greater strength = more muscle mass = better weight gain. It’s a simple principle.

But like I alluded to before, for muscle protein synthesis to happen, the correct balance of amino acids (the building blocks of muscles) is required.

There are 20 amino acids, 9 of which are essential and 11 of which are non-essential or conditionally essential; essential means that the body cannot produce them, and they must come from dietary protein.

Non-essential, on the other hand, means that these can be produced within the body by combining other amino acids.

So, when you have a good protein powder that supplies all the essentials in the correct ratios, your body can get working on synthesizing new muscle proteins immediately.

2. Accelerates Recovery

It’s not just muscle growth that protein is vital for—it’s also required to repair muscles and speed up recovery from strenuous exercise.

Resistance training causes muscle damage, especially in the initial phase of exercise if you’re performing eccentric actions without warming up correctly or are unaccustomed to the movement patterns [6].

Muscle damage is characterized by a loss of muscle strength, poor range of motion, and usually delayed onset muscle soreness. However, DOMS does not necessarily reflect the extent of muscle damage.

Muscle damage appears to be induced to a greater degree in eccentric muscle actions as opposed to isometric or concentric, and it is suggested that this damage is necessary for size and strength gains. But in order to repair those muscles, your body needs protein.

Without adequate protein intake, you cannot stimulate the MPS action, and your body will break down existing muscle tissue. When protein synthesis exceeds protein breakdown, there are increases in both muscle mass and strength.

But when breakdown exceeds synthesis because of poor nutrition, mass and strength are both compromised, which unfortunately means gaining weight is going to be challenging.

More importantly, the overall net protein balance in muscle is thought to be determined by nutrient supply [7]; inadequate dietary protein intake results in a negative net balance, whereas adequate intake results in a positive net balance.

Studies show that increasing availability of amino acids via dietary protein intake enhances net protein balance at rest, but even more so if it occurs immediately following strength training [8].

3. Foundational Support

Aside from being an essential part of muscle protein synthesis and muscle recovery, amino acids are also required for various other important functions in the body that provide overall foundational support, which include [9-12]:

  • Digestive enzymes—pancreatic enzymes
  • Transport molecules
  • Structural proteins—collagen, elastin
  • Hormones—namely proteins and peptides like insulin, glucagon, hGH, ADH, ACTH
  • Immune defense molecules
  • Contractile proteins
  • Storage molecules
  • Fluid and pH balance—albumin, globulin

The Problems With Some Protein Powders

One of the number one issues I find with most protein powders on the market is digestibility. The powders contain ingredients that are harsh on the GI tract and have poor digestibility.

This is especially true for many plant-based proteins, which tend to cause upset stomachs, gas, bloating, and other digestive concerns.

Whey protein and other dairy-based powders are also a huge concern because of lactose concentrations (less so with pure isolates, but they can still be an issue), or vegan blends that contain plant-based proteins that have low bioavailability and tend to cause gas and bloating.

Part of the reason plant-based proteins are more difficult to digest is because of specific compounds inherently present in plant foods, such as phytates and tannins.

These compounds bind to minerals that are central to your biochemistry, but they also bind to protein and reduce the amount of protein that you actually absorb from your food.

Trypsin inhibitors, as well, partially block the enzyme trypsin, which is released in the small intestine and is required to digest protein. These combine to reduce the overall digestibility of the protein or how well your body can break down and use the protein you get from plant foods.

If you find yourself sensitive to some plant proteins and whey-based supplements, it’s best to avoid them at all costs or find alternatives like fermented plant-proteins that are easier on the digestive tract. After all, all they’re doing is creating inflammation and permeability in the gut, which leads to a whole host of other issues.

Clean labels are also another concern when it comes to powdered supplements. Is what’s on the label actually what you’re getting? Or are there questionable ingredients added that aren’t mandated and therefore aren’t required to be listed on the label? Honestly, you never know.

You’d probably be surprised by how often products contain trace amounts of things like BPA, cadmium, and other heavy metals and toxic contaminants. These build up over time and contribute to things like endocrine disorders, neurological damage, and cancer, among others.

A study conducted by the Clean Label Project analyzed over 130 of the best-selling protein powders and found that over 75% of them contained detectible levels of heavy metals, BPA, pesticides, and other contaminants [13]!

But it’s essential to keep in mind that while protein powders are great, and I totally advocate having them as part of your stack, they’re not a replacement for wholefood-based protein sources.

Whole food animal-based or plant-based protein sources also offer other important vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain overall health and improve performance, so ensure you’re consuming adequate amounts of those daily.

What To Avoid In A Protein Powder

The reality of many supplements is that they’re loaded with ‘filler’ ingredients that can sometimes cause issues within the body. Avoid these when looking for a protein powder:

1. Artificial Flavors & Sweeteners

People love artificial sweeteners because they can get all the goodness that sugar offers with no calories or adverse health effects associated with sugar.

But you should always avoid anything artificial; if it’s created in a lab, leave it alone because the body doesn’t recognize it.

Artificial sweeteners are especially bad because they elicit much the same effect as regular sugar does—the body releases insulin to help shuttle the glucose into cells.

And because there is no actual sugar, there’s no glucose to push into cells. As such, you’re left with high levels of insulin floating around the bloodstream and nothing for it to do.

See the problem?

The chronic circulation of insulin during a ‘false alarm’ leads to decreased sensitivity of insulin receptors and the development of insulin resistance [14]. And insulin resistance is one of the underlying factors associated with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions.

2. Incomplete Protein Sources

This is one you’ll find with plant-based protein sources only, as animal-based sources offer complete proteins. As I said earlier, you must have all 9 essential amino acids present for MPS to occur.

But with most plant-based proteins, they’re either lacking all the essentials, or if they have them, they lack them in the appropriate quantity.

Therefore, you’ll often see vegan blends containing more than one type of plant-based protein; the combination of proteins helps ensure balanced amino acid coverage.

So if you’re going to opt for a plant-based protein powder, ensure it’s a complete source.

What To Look For

Protein is an essential building block for muscle strength, growth, and performance, but the problem is that most supplements fall short when it comes to cleanliness and quality.

Most protein powders you’ll find on the market are:

  • Sourced from soy, dairy, or other harsh protein derivatives
  • ‘Dirty’ and require extensive processing to become palatable and safe for human consumption
  • Loaded with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, additives, and sweeteners to appeal to a broader audience and increase palatability

Performance Lab® Protein, however, puts the typical protein challenges aside and offers one of the cleanest and most effective vegan protein powders on the market.

Performance Lab Protein

Derived from certified organic brown rice protein, it’s specifically formulated for superior taste, quality, and cleanliness.

Here’s what you’re getting with Performance Lab Protein:

1. Bioavailability

With some nutritional supplements, you’re not really absorbing much of the actual product. And especially with something like protein powder, you don’t want to have that concern.

As such, ensuring the protein you’re consuming is bioavailable means that it will actually be put to use repairing and growing your muscles, thus helping you to gain weight.

Compared to whey protein concentrates that are generally 75-80% protein, Oryzatein brown rice protein is roughly 79% total amino acids (TAA) by weight, 36% essential amino acids, and 18% BCAA.

Whey protein has always been the gold standard, but brown rice may not be far behind. It has over 90% digestibility and relatively high bioavailability, meaning that what you’re consuming is being put to use.

One specific study showed that in athletes consuming whey protein or rice protein, there were minimal differences between the two test groups in terms of psychometric scores of perceived recovery, soreness, or readiness to train.

Researchers concluded that higher doses of brown rice protein (48 g) would elicit similar effects to an equally high amount of whey protein regarding body composition and exercise performance after resistance training, prompting changes in strength and body composition similar to whey protein isolate [15].

2. Digestibility

Besides having a protein powder that is highly bioavailable for the body to absorb and utilize, you also want one that’s not going to be hard on your digestive system. Plant-based proteins are notorious for being difficult to digest because of inherent fibers, anti-nutrients, and processing techniques, so finding one that isn’t hard on the GI tract can be challenging.

Performance Lab Protein is a nutritional breakthrough in the plant-based protein world. It’s derived from organic brown rice protein treated using low heat to maintain the natural enzymes that aid in protein digestion and utilization.

Protein is also enhanced with probiotic Bacillus coagulans—a strain of beneficial bacteria naturally found in the intestines that helps to maintain a balance of the microbiota and support the health of the intestinal lining. It may also help improve protein absorption and utilization.

3. Efficacy

There are a lot of manufacturers out there that claim their products will do everything you can imagine. But those claims rarely translate into actual results.

If you’re investing in a good protein powder, you want to make sure it’s actually doing what you want—i.e., helping you gain muscle and gain weight. Performance Lab Protein using Oryzatein® is the only rice protein backed by third-party research shown to:

  • Function as a complete protein source
  • Nourish muscles as effectively as whey protein powder
  • Supply leucine that absorbs 30% faster than whey’s leucine

And because of its extensive research and proprietary advantages, it is also the only rice protein that can claim athletic performance enhancements for:

  • Building muscle
  • Improving endurance
  • Increasing power
  • Supporting exercise recovery
  • Enhancing strength
  • Curbing hunger

4. Purity and Quality

What you see on the label should be all that’s in your protein powder. Free of toxic contaminants, artificial flavors and sweeteners, thickeners, and by-products, Performance Lab Protein contains only natural ingredients:

Oryzatein® organic brown rice protein concentrate plus natural flavors from cocoa powder, coconut water, Ceylon cinnamon, and vanilla bean, with all-natural sweetness from yacon syrup, monk fruit, and stevia.

And quality? They’ve got that nailed. Performance Lab® shows all ingredient dosages and forms right on the label, with no proprietary blends that hide dosages.

And with third-party validation and FDA approval, you know exactly what you’re getting and that what you’re getting is clean, pure, and effective.

Final Thoughts

With all of that said, having a protein powder in your food repertoire is great, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for improvements in performance, recovery, or simply looking to gain weight.

However, we all know that finding supplements that are effective and taste good is a challenge, but with Performance Lab Protein, you’re getting both and a whole lot more. Of all the proteins I’ve tried, I can hands-down guarantee that this is one of the best ones you’ll find.

And if you don’t follow a plant-based diet, don’t worry; I can promise you that you’ll love it just as much as your go-to whey shake.

Just promise me you won’t knock it until you try it!

Get the best price,


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