Where to Buy Protein Powder in Korea?

Infographic for Protein Powder in Korea

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If fitness, weightlifting, and a healthy diet are important to you, then moving to Korea poses a major challenge to finding where to buy protein in Korea. Proper protein intake is not easy to come by either, and it’s essential to building muscle mass and overall muscle growth.

*This post is current as of January 2023

How to Buy Protein Powder in Korea

There are a few main factors you should consider when trying to find where to buy protein powder in Korea:

  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Availability

Let’s review all three of these and then look over some of my personal recommendations.

Infographic on Protein Powder in Korea
Where to Buy Protein Powder in Korea Infographic

Types of Protein Powder in Korea

When I first came to Korea, there literally was no whey protein or any high-quality protein concentrate here. You had to buy it and pay for international shipping and customs fees. Finding affordable whey protein in Korea was like beating an ajumma to a subway seat.

No more. Korea has progressed rapidly and you can find any type of protein concentrate here, including whey concentrate, whey isolate, caesin, soy protein, vegetable protein, and even insect protein. Yummy!

There are many Korean brands, which I will detail below, and of course popular Western brands you have heard of like Optimum Nutrition.

By far the most available and cheapest is whey protein concentrate. Cheap, fast, effective. Due to the fact that Asian populations are more lactose intolerant than others, there’s an abundance of soy-based protein powders as well.

On a side note, Koreans still drink a ton of milk. However, “A2” milk in Korea has much less caesin content.

Quality of Protein Powder in South Korea

Korean brands are lower quality than Western brands. In my experience, they also don’t taste as good. However, I always tell people who don’t know much about protein powder to not think of it as something to taste anyway.

One thing to note: It is common for foods and supplements in Korea to be slightly changed to meet the Korean Food Administration’s laws. For example, any foreigner living in Korea can attest to how different potato chips and Cheetos taste.

If you care, take note that some popular Western protein brands will substitute soy protein for whey.

Cost of Protein Powder in Korea

Cost is probably the biggest determining factor to consider when buying protein powder in Korea. If you’re a casual weightlifter or only looking for a cheap whey protein powder supplement, then you are not going to be loyal to one brand.

On the other hand, if you are a serious lifter and really care about taste, be prepared to pay a little bit extra to find your particular brand of protein supplement.

Brand Name Versus General Protein Powders

Nowadays, you can easily go to an E-mart, Homeplus, or Costco to buy protein powder. These generic brands are actually not too expensive. It’s also convenient since you can pick it up. However, in my experience, generic Walmart-type protein supplements tend to be bad tasting in a protein shake.

Personally, I like Optimum Nutrition, as stated above. However, these may be more expensive than your cheapest Costco bottles of protein powder.

Where to Buy Protein Powder in Korea – Availability

Do not buy from a brick and mortar store. In addition to the protein probably sitting on the shelf for longer (as most buy online), it will be more expensive.

On the other hand, buying protein supplements online will make sure you get the highest quality and lowest cost, and it’s much easier.

Best Protein Powder in Korea

I’m now going to recommend you some protein powders that I have personally bought myself and some I haven’t bought but seem to be super popular online. I will fully disclose which ones I’ve used.

I will be listing for your convenience:

  • Serving size: Manufacturers will fudge their protein per serving often by increasing the serving size.
  • Protein per serving: This is the most important one, but it must be considered in the context of serving size.
  • Calories per serving: For those calorie counting.
  • Servings per container: You must consider this along with price.
  • Price: The other most important for many people.

Foreign protein powders will actually have a purple-colored 로켓직구 symbol on it, which stands for Rocket Global Delivery. Basically, this means they don’t keep those products in stock in Korea; they import them upon your order. You don’t have to sign up for this.

If you do decide to get a Korean protein powder, I highly recommend signing up for their popular Rocket Wow Delivery service. It offers “free” (i.e. no extra charge) for shipping on most items plus same-day delivery for groceries and next-day delivery for almost everything else.

Best Whey Protein Powder Concentrate in Korea

Optimum Nutrition GOLD STANDARD Whey

Protein powder comes down to three main things for me: Protein gram content, price & taste.

With Optimum Nutrition GOLD STANDARD Whey concentrate, you get all three important factors. There is 20-25 g protein per serving (make sure serving is 1 scoop, not 2), which is standard for all protein powders, which makes Optimum Nutrition GOLD STANDARD on the higher end.

  • Serving Size: 30 g
  • Protein per serving: 24 g
  • Calories per serving: 120
  • Servings per container: 74

Where to Buy Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein?

Buy Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Chocolate

Buy Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Vanilla

Optimum Nutrition GOLD STANDARD Natural

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard NATURAL

I must throw in my old favorite to give you the full picture about protein powders in Korea. That title belongs to Optimum Nutrition GOLD STANDARD Natural.

Simply put, this is the BEST protein powder you’ll ever taste, in my opinion. Gone is the overly sweet Splenda taste, as this protein powder has no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. It tastes like real chocolate and is a dream to drink, even with water. With milk, don’t even get me started.

However, since I wrote this blog post in 2020, the price for this has become prohibitively expensive. I no longer recommend you buy this protein powder in Korea simply due to the price, which is over 100,000 KRW as of January 2023.

  • Serving Size: 32 g
  • Protein per serving: 24 g
  • Calories per serving: 130
  • Servings per container: 68

Best Whey Isolate Protein Powder in Korea

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Hydro Whey

Whey isolate is a bit different from whey concentrate. It absorbs faster into your system and dissolves easier into water. In my opinion, I tried it and the only thing I really noticed was the larger hole in my wallet.

The standard size for a bottle of whey isolate is going to be much smaller: 1.58 kg vs 2.17 kg. Or 3.5 lbs vs 5 lbs. If you have the budget and are very focused on optimizing performance, this is an option.

As of January 2023, the price of Hydro Whey is the same as the Gold Standard above. Keep in mind the size is smaller

  • Serving Size: 39 g
  • Protein per serving: 30 g
  • Calories per serving: 140
  • Servings per container: 40

Best Vegan Protein Powder in Korea

Vega Protein & Greens

Plant-based protein products and vegetable protein powders are becoming more popular in Korea as dietary supplements, weight loss, vegan meals, and for their flavor.

Vega Protein & Greens is a perfect choice. It tastes a bit more “granular” than pure whey protein, but it is definitely more healthy. It is made from pea protein and has lots of other vitamins/minerals, if that’s your thing.

Update: When I originally wrote this blog post in 2020, vegan products were only available online. Now, there are tons of vegan products, expos, startups, and marketing in Korea.

  • Serving Size: 33 g
  • Protein per serving: 20 g
  • Calories per serving: 120
  • Servings per container: 25

Best Cheap Protein Powder in Korea

There are some quality budget options, and I have tried a few. The fact is that Korean protein powders are so much cheaper than foreign brands that they’re worth it if cost is your number one priority.

Ener-up Protein powder

Ener-up ( 에너업) is a cheap, affordable Korean protein powder. This protein powder averages about 30,000 KRW for one jar and about 50,000 KRW for two. That’s all you need to know if you’re looking for a cheap protein powder to buy in Korea.

  • Serving Size: 33 g
  • Protein per serving: 20 g
  • Calories per serving: 120
  • Servings per container: 25

Two Bottles

One Bottle

Best Protein Shaker Bottle in Korea

Naturally, you will need a bottle to make protein shakes. Protein shaker bottles differ from regular bottles in that they are wider, have large openings, and have a plastic insert to help dissolve protein powder.

Check out some of the options below. These are all the best reviewed and most popular protein shaker bottles in Korea, and they benefit from 1-day delivery!

코멧 블랜딩 쉐이커 보틀, 블랙, 600ml 베네틴 쉐이커 2종 x 600ml, 블랙, 화이트 프로쉐이커 락앤락 보틀 600ml + 컨테이너 140ml, 매트그레이 스마트쉐이크 슬림 쉐이커, 건스모크 블랙, 500ml 스마트쉐이크 오리지널 투고 쉐이커, 600ml, 핑크 블랜더보틀 클래식 프로스텍, 20온스 블랙, 590ml GNC 프로틴 쉐이커 음료수병 28 온스 Blender Bottle 28oz 락앤락 프로쉐이커, 클리어화이트, 690ml

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