top of page

A Deep Dive into the Best Protein Powders for Adults 40 and Beyond By Emma Mattison

by Emma Mattison – NASM, CPT, CNC and Functional Aging Specialist

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full privacy policy here.

Selection of top-rated protein powders including Sunwarrior, Garden of Life, Optimum Nutrition, and Vega, ideal for adults 40 and beyond, helping to support muscle health and recovery.

Achieving optimal protein intake is a cornerstone of healthy aging, especially for maintaining muscle mass. While food should always be your primary source of nutrients, protein powders can be a valuable addition to your diet when your daily intake needs a boost. Today, we're examining four high-quality protein powder brands - Sunwarrior, Garden of Life, Optimum Nutrition, and Vega. Let's explore their nutritional profiles, allergen information, and the research behind them.

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend

Firstly, let's look at the Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend. This plant-based protein powder offers 16-19 grams of protein per serving from a blend of pea, hemp, and goji berry proteins (Joy et al., 2013). This product is a good fit for those following a vegan diet or have allergies as it's free from common allergens such as soy, gluten, and dairy (Vanga & Raghavan, 2018). If you're interested in Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend, click the link to learn more.

This is one of my personal favorites. I appreciate the wide variety of flavors, including "Maple French Toast," "Mocha," and "Berry," among other classics like "Chocolate" and "Vanilla." Of course, there is also "unflavored," in case you want to mix that in a savory meal. I also commend the fact that this brand is allergen-friendly. Always read the label before deciding, in case you have an uncommon allergy.

Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein

Next is Garden of Life Organic Vegan Sport Protein, providing 30 grams of protein per serving from organic plant sources (Joy et al., 2013). It's a grain-free, vegan, and gluten-free option, making it suitable for those with specific dietary preferences or allergies. To top it off, it is also certified Kosher! To learn more about Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein, click the link.

This is also one of my personal favorite choices considering its leucine content. Leucine is a core amino acid necessary for muscle protein synthesis (Pasiakos et al., 2013; Symons et al., 2009; Katsanos et al., 2006). If our diet is not leucine-rich, we could sacrifice significant muscle growth and retention. This is crucial for the prevention of age-related muscle loss – a condition known as sarcopenia.

To add, this protein is enriched with 2 billion CFU of healthy probiotic bacteria (Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04). This probiotic strain has research supporting its immune supporting and gut health effects (Engelbrektson et al., 2009)! This is one of the reasons I appreciate this brand, personally, more than the others.

I choose this one over others because of its reletively low sodiu

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey

For those who prefer whey protein, the Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein offers a substantial 24 grams of protein per serving (Hulmi et al., 2015). This product contains dairy and soy, so it might not be suitable for those with related allergies. It's renowned for its mixability, wide range of flavors, and high protein content. One note: if you have a soy or coconut allergy, the whey protein blend (depending on flavor) contains soy and coconut. To explore Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard Whey Protein, click the link.

Optimum Nutrition also has a vegan version, called Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard 100% Plant Based Protein Powder, also containing 24 grams of protein per serving. It is vegan, and states it is gluten-free although it does not appear certified gluten-free. For other allergens, it does contain fava beans. Please read the full list of ingredients! You can check it out HERE.

Vega Sport Premium Protein

Last, but not least, Vega Sport Premium Protein is a plant-based protein powder geared towards performance. It delivers an impressive 30 grams of protein per serving, supplemented with BCAAs and glutamine to aid muscle recovery (Joy et al., 2013).

To top it off, it actually includes 2 Billion CFUs of Probiotics (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086). The reason that probiotic bacteria is exciting is that research shows B. coagulans GBI-30, 6086, improves protein absorption (Stecker et al., 2020; Jäger et al., 2018). An earlier article from the same lab found evidence that probiotic supplementation in combination with protein tended to reduce indices of muscle damage, improve recovery, and maintain physical performance after damaging exercise (Jäger et al., 2016). That's a great companion to a protein powder! I also like the leucine content of this protein powder, furthering its assistance in improving muscle protein synthesis.

To conclude, it's vegan, Non-GMO, and gluten-free, but it's worth noting that it may contain coconut, depending on the flavor. For more details on Vega Sport Premium Protein, click the link.

My own two cents? This one is possibly my favorite because of the creative integration of probiotics that "supplement the supplement!" However, it is essential to note that not all "guts" respond equally to a probiotic "strain" (which is the term used to describe a particular bacterial species and sub-species). Therefore, you must try it to see if it "sits well" in your gut. For some individuals who have never taken probiotics, however, there may be an adjustment phase that your digestive system will go through as it repopulates your "microbiome" with healthy natural flora.

Conclusion for the Best Protein Powders

Remember, while protein powders can be convenient and help supplement your diet, they shouldn't replace whole foods. When choosing a protein powder, consider your dietary needs, preferences, and potential allergens. Stay tuned for a blog article and YouTube video for my personal take on the subject of protein supplements with a twist of cricket protein powder! Ensure you're on my email list so you don't miss it! 🏏📧

I don't believe in ranking products because everyone is so unique with dietary requirements, allergies, and preferences! So please, consider all the information I have provided, and try them for yourself to find the best choice for your health journey.

My next blog post will uncover more facets of healthy aging. As always, consult a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before introducing any significant changes to your diet. Until then, stay healthy!

Book Your Free 15-Minute Phone Consultation with Emma Mattison!

If you're ready to take your fitness to the next level, schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with me, Emma Mattison. During this consultation, we can discuss your fitness goals, assess your current fitness level, and create a personalized plan to help you improve your fitness and functional health.

Image of Emma Mattison, a highly qualified online personal trainer, functional aging specialist, certified trainer and nutrition coach through NASM and FAI, and a skilled Tai Chi and Dance instructor.

But that's not all! As a special offer, I'm providing a free functional fitness course to jumpstart your journey. This course will introduce you to various exercises and training techniques to enhance your overall functional fitness and complement your aerobic base training.

Invest in yourself today and experience the transformative power of improving your aerobic base. Take the first step by scheduling your free consultation and claiming your free functional fitness course. Let's work together to achieve your fitness goals and unlock your full potential!

An older woman joyfully participating in an online fitness class from her living room. She is in mid-movement, following the instructions on her tablet screen, and her face is lit up with enthusiasm and determination, embodying the spirit of joyful movement and active aging.

Please note: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice. Consult with your healthcare provider or a certified fitness professional before starting any new exercise program.

Schedule your FREE 15-Minute Phone Consultation and claim your FREE Functional Fitness Course with Emma Mattison! Click here to book now!

You can also email me at


About the Author

Image of Emma Mattison, a highly qualified online personal trainer, functional aging specialist, certified trainer and nutrition coach through NASM and FAI, and a skilled Tai Chi and Dance instructor.

Hi! I'm Emma Mattison. I'm a NASM certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, stretch & flexibility coach, pranayama breathwork guide, holistic nerd, and lover of birds & music! I specialize in functional fitness for older adults, and those with conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Scientific literature is fun to me, and my goal is to make it understandable and fun for you!

I am driven to share knowledge I find fascinating & transformative with my clients, and the world. Everyone has the power to take their health into their own hands!

My love for fitness and true discovery of health started with helping my best friend – who I can now call my husband! Today, I couldn't do any of this as smoothly and enjoyably as I do now without him! Check out our YouTube, MyZeniverse! He literally edits and films everything. He's editing the next YouTube video next to me right now, as we speak! Check it out, and give it a like if it's helpful! 😊😊


Engelbrektson, A., Korzenik, J. R., Pittler, A., Sanders, M. E., Klaenhammer, T. R., Leyer, G., & Kitts, C. L. (2009). Probiotics to minimize the disruption of faecal microbiota in healthy subjects undergoing antibiotic therapy. Journal of medical microbiology, 58(Pt 5), 663–670.

Joy, J. M., Lowery, R. P., Wilson, J. M., Purpura, M., De Souza, E. O., Wilson, S. M., Kalman, D. S., Dudeck, J. E., & Jäger, R. (2013). The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutrition journal, 12, 86.

Hulmi, J. J., Laakso, M., Mero, A. A., Häkkinen, K., Ahtiainen, J. P., & Peltonen, H. (2015). The effects of whey protein with or without carbohydrates on resistance training adaptations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 48.

Jäger, R., Purpura, M., Farmer, S., Cash, H. A., & Keller, D. (2018). Probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 Improves Protein Absorption and Utilization. Probiotics and antimicrobial proteins, 10(4), 611–615.

Jäger, R., Shields, K. A., Lowery, R. P., De Souza, E. O., Partl, J. M., Hollmer, C., Purpura, M., & Wilson, J. M. (2016). Probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and increases recovery. PeerJ, 4, e2276.

Katsanos, C. S., Kobayashi, H., Sheffield-Moore, M., Aarsland, A., & Wolfe, R. R. (2006). A high proportion of leucine is required for optimal stimulation of the rate of muscle protein synthesis by essential amino acids in the elderly. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 291(2), E381–E387.

Pasiakos, S. M., Cao, J. J., Margolis, L. M., Sauter, E. R., Whigham, L. D., McClung, J. P., Rood, J. C., Carbone, J. W., Combs, G. F., Jr, & Young, A. J. (2013). Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 27(9), 3837–3847.

Stecker, R. A., Moon, J. M., Russo, T. J., Ratliff, K. M., Mumford, P. W., Jäger, R., Purpura, M., & Kerksick, C. M. (2020). Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 improves amino acid absorption from milk protein. Nutrition & metabolism, 17, 93.

Symons, T. B., Sheffield-Moore, M., Wolfe, R. R., & Paddon-Jones, D. (2009). A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(9), 1582–1586.

Vanga, S. K., & Raghavan, V. (2018). How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow's milk?. Journal of food science and technology, 55(1), 10–20.

17 views0 comments


bottom of page