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Need Protein Powder with Fewer Calories? Here’s What to Look For

Low-Calorie Chocolate Protein Powder with Blue/Pink Backdrop

Low-calorie protein powder has its place for many reasons, from weight loss to specific dietary needs. 

For those trying to lose weight, it’s all about calories in, calories out. And a lot of protein powders contain excess calories in fat and carbohydrates. So opting for a low-calorie high-protein powder is a sensible choice.

Others seek a lower-calorie protein powder because it often means less sugar, fewer carbs, and cleaner ingredients. While this isn’t always the case, some of the cleanest protein powders are also low in calories.

Whatever the reason, many great-tasting, low-calorie protein powders fit the bill. Here I explain what to look for, including some of my favorite products in the low-cal category.

How to Identify Protein Powder That’s Truly Low-Calorie

PBFit Nutritional Facts Putting Calories Into Perspective
Based on the nutritional facts above, PBFit Protein Powder might look like a low-calorie option, but the serving size is only 2 tablespoons and 6g of protein. You’d need over three servings to match most other protein powders.

Just because a protein powder’s serving size has only 70 calories doesn’t necessarily mean it’s comparatively a low-cal choice. 

That’s because serving sizes vary from product to product, so it’s important to look at the complete nutritional profile (and ingredients) to identify the best low-calorie protein powder. To help, here are some easy rules to remember.

Learn the Caloric Density of Macros

Nutrition Facts to articulate how macronutrients determine the calories of protein powder

Macronutrients, or simply ‘macros’, are your protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Unlike micronutrients like specific vitamins and minerals, these three macros determine the caloric density of the food you eat. 

This might be a 101-level reminder for some, but here is the general rule of thumb worth knowing:

  • 1g of protein = 4 calories
  • 1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories
  • 1g of fat = 9 calories

It may be no surprise that fat is the most calorically dense macronutrient, while protein and carbs equate to 4 calories per gram. So, even a few extra grams of fat and carbs can increase the overall calorie count in a serving of protein powder.

Know How Much Protein per Serving

A chocolate scoop of one best low calorie high protein powder

Just because a label shows less than 100 calories per serving doesn’t mean it’s “low-calorie.” Beyond mere calories per serving, check to see how much protein you’re getting per serving. 

Here’s a common scenario to put this into perspective: Product A has 80 calories per serving and only 10g of protein. Meanwhile, Product B has 120 calories per serving with 20g of protein. Which protein powder has fewer calories? 

Based on the amount of protein, the answer is Product B. You would need two servings of Product A (totaling 160 calories) to match the 20g of protein in Product B with 120 calories.

Low-Carb and Low-Fat ≈ Low-Calorie

Another common denominator with the least caloric protein powders is it’s typically low in carbohydrates and fat. Products often contain added vegetable oils, fibers, texturizers, and sweeteners–all of which add calories.

By definition, a low-calorie protein powder contains mainly protein macros and minimal carbs or fat (especially fat, as it’s the most calorically dense macro.)

Unflavored Protein Powder Has Lower Calories

Truvani Flavored (130) vs Unflavored (100) Protein Powder Calorie Comparison

It’s almost a golden rule that unflavored protein powders contain relatively lower calories per serving. Less flavoring ingredients–like sugar, creamers, natural flavors, and other sweeteners–often mean fewer calories.

For example, one of my favorite products is Truvani Plant-Based Protein. The unflavored option has 100 calories per serving while the other flavors have between 130 and 150 calories, all with 20g of protein per serving.

Best Low-Calorie Protein Powders Worth Trying

A Vanilla Scoop of Low Calorie Protein Powder with Pink Backdrop

Now that we know how to identify protein powders that are genuinely low in calories, which products are the best? Below are some of the best low-calorie protein powders that I recommend trying. Note that some products below have affiliate links (see my affiliate disclaimer).

Birdman Falcon Organic Plant Protein

Container of Birdman Falcon Organic Protein Powder is Low-Calorie with only 120 calories Per scoop

Falcon Organic Plant Protein from the brand Birdman is a zero-sugar, low-carb option with 120 calories and 24g of protein per single serving scoop. It’s a pea-based protein, so it’s complete with all essential amino acids.

It’s a low-calorie high-protein powder sweetened with monk fruit extract and flavored with a touch of cinnamon and natural chocolate or vanilla, depending on the flavor.

Made using only six ingredients, Falcon Organic Plant Protein contains no fillers, gums, or artificial ingredients. It’s also a great value providing 40 servings in a 2-pound tub.

Find it on Amazon

Form Performance Vegan Protein Powder

Package of Form Performance, a Low-Calorie High Protein Powder

At a glance, Form Performance Protein may not seem like a low-cal protein powder with 150 calories per serving. But given that it packs a whopping 30g of protein in a serving, most calories are predominantly protein.

Form Performance Protein has a simple ingredients list, with organic pea protein, brown rice protein, and pumpkin seed protein providing the nourishment. This legume, grain, and seed combination provides an abundant 5g of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) to aid muscle recovery.

Sweetened with stevia, it comes in a variety of flavors like Tiramisu, Vanilla, Chocolate Peanut, and Chocolate Hazelnut. Overall, it’s one of the best-tasting, low-calorie, high-protein powders that’s very well-priced.

Find it on Amazon

Complement Organic Protein Powder

Complement Chocolate Organic Protein Powder

The poster child among the cleanest protein powders, Complement Organic Protein is a product that’s third-party purity tested and uses simple ingredients. 

It’s a top-tier protein blend sourced from yellow pea, pumpkin seed, almond, sunflower seed, and chia seed, collectively providing a diverse amino acid profile to facilitate recovery.

Available in Unflavored and Chocolate, Complement Organic Plant Protein has about 85 calories per 3-tablespoon serving, providing 15g of protein. You can easily add a fourth tablespoon for 20g of protein, and still be under 120 calories.

Find it on Amazon

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Protein

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend is one of the Best Low-Calorie Protein Powder

As one of my favorite protein powders for its delicious taste and solid nutritional profile, Sunwarrior Warrior Blend is a top-tier protein powder that comes in many flavors, ranging from Vanilla, Peanut Butter, Maple Toast, and Mocha, among others.

While the nutrition varies on the flavor, the Vanilla provides 17g of protein and 90 calories per serving. The protein blend comes from pea protein, goji berry, and hemp seed protein. The product is entirely organic and it’s third-party tested.

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend has no sugar and is very low carb, making it a keto protein powder that offers a powerful amino acid profile for the most demanding athletes. Given its quality, taste, and price, I can’t recommend it enough.

Find it on Amazon

Ora So Lean & So Clean Protein

Ora So Lean and So Clean Unfavlored Protein Powder

Ora So Lean & So Clean is another organic protein powder that’s nutritionally dense with a variety of superfoods and protein sources. Depending on the flavor, one serving provides 21-23g of protein and 110-130 calories per serving.

It comes in Vanilla, Vanilla Chia, Chocolate, and Unflavored; the latter being the lowest-calorie high protein powder with 23g of protein in just 110 calories. All flavors are sugar-free and contain a superfood and greens blend with foods like broccoli, kale, strawberry, and turmeric. 

As the name implies, Ora So Lean & So Clean also ranks near the top as one of the cleanest protein powders you can buy. It’s also free from gums, fillers, and other additives, making it a bloat-free protein powder that’s easy on the gut.

Find it on Amazon

Naked Pea Protein Powder

Green label Naked Pea is one Low-Calorie Protein Powder with just 120 Calories per scoop

It doesn’t get more minimal than Naked Pea, particularly the Unflavored option, a single-ingredient protein powder made from yellow pea protein isolate. It packs 27g of protein in just 120 calories, making it a low-calorie high-protein powder that speaks for itself.

The other flavors–Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Double Chocolate, and Vanilla–contain a bit more sugar/carbs and fat, so they’re not quite as low in calories. But they still offer quality protein at a great value.

Naked Pea is one of the best bangs for the buck, providing over 76 servings in a 5-pound tub (for the Unflavored choice). You also get an impressive amino acid profile, with 5.6g of BCAAs per serving.

Find it on Amazon

Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+

Ritual Essential Daily Shake 18 Protein Powder

The Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+ from Ritual provides 20g of pea-based protein in 115 calories per serving. It’s sugar-free and has zero net carbs with 3g of fiber.

Made from carefully sourced ingredients, Ritual is a Clean Label Project award winner and certified Informed Choice for Sport. These accolades make it one of the best protein powder products that’s highly underrated and low in calories.

The produce contains added choline for nutrient support as well as l-methionine for a more complete vegan amino acid profile. All in all, it’s a mindfully crafted protein powder that provides ample protein in fewer calories.

Find it on Amazon

PlantFusion Complete Protein Powder

PlantFusion Rich Chocolate Protein Powder

Another one of my favorites is PlantFusion Complete Protein. Providing 21g of protein in 120-calorie servings, this protein powder provides a high value with 30 servings in a 2-pound tub.

Sweetened with stevia (except for the Natural-No Stevia option) and devoid of sugar, PlantFusion Complete Protein comes in Creamy Vanilla Bean, Rich Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, and Red Velvet Cake.

PlantFusion prides itself on offering a high-potency product that has no artificial sweeteners, additives, fillers, synthetic flavors, and colors. It’s third-party tested for purity and tastes incredible.

Find it on Amazon

What’s Your Favorite Low-Cal Protein Powder?

Scoop of Vegan Low-Calorie High Protein Powder with Blue Backdrop

Do you have a favorite vegan (or non-vegan) protein powder that’s low in calories? If so, I’d like to know about it. Leave a comment below or reach out directly.

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About the Author

tyler tafelsky vegan protein powder review editor

This article is by Tyler Tafelsky, the lead editor at the Vegan Protein Powder Review. Endurance athlete and experienced health writer in the nutrition space, Tyler has tried hundreds of plant-based nutritional products and writes about his favorites here on this blog. View Tyler’s author bio or follow him on LinkedInTwitterFacebookPinterest, or Instagram. You can also visit his site TylerTafelsky.com to see what he’s up to.