Monthly Archives: June 2017

Level Thrive Protein Shake Review

le vel reviews

Live more, be more, experience more, THRIVE for more …

This is one of the first things that caught my eye when doing research for my Thrive Protein Shake reviews.

You’ll see why in a minute.

First, a little background …

Thrive, in case you don’t know, is a self-described “premium lifestyle brand” owned by a company called Le-Vel.

As a fellow small business owner that also sells a protein powder, I admire their product design and branding.

However …

I don’t admire some of the stuff they put in their Thrive Mix protein shakes.

In this review, I’ll share some ingredients I found while analyzing the nutrition facts you might want to take a second look at if you care about your health.

Check it out …

What Is Thrive?

According to its website,

The THRIVE Experience is a combination of our THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Capsules, THRIVE Ultra Micronized Lifestyle Shake Mix, and our Premium Lifestyle DFT (Derma Fusion Technology). Our premium naturopathic and synergistic formula of Vitamins, Minerals, Plant Extracts, Anti-Oxidants, Enzymes, Pro-Biotics, and Amino Acids is like nothing your body has ever experienced! It’s Ultra Premium at its finest. What’s even better is that the experience is gender specific for Men & Women.

Le Vel Thrive Mix Protein Shake Reviews

level thrive reviewsSo as you’ve seen, Thrive sells several different supplement products …

My analysis will only focus on their protein supplements called Le-Vel Thrive Lifestyle Mix Protein Powders.

They’re available in four different flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, and Apple Pie.

Here’s how all my reviews work:

First I’ll show you the nutrition facts labels and ingredients for each Thrive Mix flavor. In the images below I’ve noted some “red flags”. I’ll explain what each of these means and why it should concern you further down the page.

If you want to read more Level Thrive reviews and see how their other supplements are rated, there’s a site called SiteJabber that grabs contains hundreds of consumers reviews. Here’s their conclusion:

LeVel has a consumer rating of 2.82 stars from 325 reviews indicating that most customers are generally dissatisfied with their purchases. Consumers complaining about LeVel most frequently mention customer service, auto ship and credit card problems.

Here’s what’s in each of Thrive’s protein shakes

Le Vel Thrive Mix Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

Chocolate

thrive nutrition reviews

Vanilla

thrive vanilla protein powder nutrition facts

Strawberry

thrive nutritional supplement

Apple Pie

le vel thrive ingredients shakes

Lots of red flags here! Here’s why I flagged each:

  1. Protein sources: All Thrive protein shakes use three sources: whey, soy, and pea. This is an interesting combination, I must admit. Whey and soy protein work for some people. For others (such as those with dairy sensitivities), they can lead to inflammation or worse.
  2. Maltodextrin / Corn Starch: Maltodextrin and corn starch are thickeners used in all types of processed foods. They’re a complete junk ingredient that can spike your blood sugar, suppress the growth of probiotics, cause allergic reactions, and negatively affect several of your body’s organs and systems. I recommend avoiding any product that has this crap.
  3. Cellulose: Cellulose is powdered wood pulp. It has zero nutritional value. Its long-term effects on your microbiome and overall health have not been studied.
  4. Gums/Thickeners: Gums are food additives that are commonly used as stabilizers, thickeners, or emulsifiers. Le Vel uses several different types of gums in its Thrive Mixes, many of which can be disruptive to gut health. For example, xanthan gum has been shown to cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
  5. Sucralose: Sucralose is a popular artificial sweetener (you may recognize it as “Splenda”). According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, sucralose has been shown to cause leukemia and related blood cancers in animal studies and negatively impacts the gut by changing your microbiome and enzymes.
  6. Magnasweet: Magnasweet is a sweetener made from licorice root; however, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s “natural.” According to Magnasweet’s website: “The Magnasweet® product line consists of the base products as well as compounded flavors consisting of the base products compounded with other artificial and/or natural flavors.” While we’re on the topic of “natural” flavors …
  7. Natural Flavors: Natural flavors are now the 4th most common ingredient on food labels. But they’re definitely not natural. David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), had this to say about natural flavors:
    [Natural flavors] will often have some solvent and preservatives—and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.

Thrive Mix Shakes Nutrition Facts Summary

Calories 110-125
Grams of Protein 15
Protein Source(s) Whey protein concentrate, soy protein, pea protein
Grams of Sugar 1-2
Free of “Natural” Flavors No
Free of Gums & Thickeners No
Organic No
Plant-based No
Cost Per Gram $.08

Bottom Line: Is Thrive Protein Powder Good for You?

Thrive says this on its website:

The saying “not all shakes are created equal” is proven true by our ultra micronized Premium Lifestyle Mix, which is in a category all by itself.

Actually, it’s in a category that’s quite familiar in the protein powder industry: corn-based fillers, gums, thickeners, and artificial sweeteners.

In my humble opinion, Le-Vel Thrive Protein Shakes are simply just another protein powder filled with the same old junk everybody else uses. 

The facts are Thrive a) is not organic; b) contains an artificial sweetener that has been shown to cause cancer in animal studies; and c) contains other additives, fillers, and emulsifiers.

My $0.10: Stick with a protein powder that has all-natural, organic ingredients instead.






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Optifast Shakes Reviews

Optifast 800 Shake Mix Ingredients

optifast reviewsThe Optifast Program, according to their website, is:

A medically supervised weight management program that closely monitors and assesses progress towards better health and emotional well-being. The program, which usually lasts 26 weeks, utilizes a full meal replacement plan that transitions to self-prepared ‘everyday’ meals, in conjunction with comprehensive patient education and support.

The program includes medical supervision, counseling, personalized support, and of course various Optifast meal replacement shakes.

Optifast’s parent company, the infamous candy bar maker Nestle, commissioned a study that found using the Optifast Program before weight loss surgery can help patients lose enough weight to significantly reduce health risks associated with various procedures.

I could’ve saved the Nestle team several million dollars by sharing this well-known fact in nutrition science:

Any program that creates a calorie deficit and offers medical supervision and support is going to result in weight loss.

So if weight loss is your key goal (not necessarily fat loss), and you don’t care about the ingredients and sugar content in the products you buy, then Optifast may work just fine for you.

However …

If you want to lose fat … or if you’re looking for a nutritious, all-natural protein powder / meal replacement, then Optifast is not your best bet.

In my Optifast reviews, I’ll analyze all their meal replacement shakes and protein powders by looking at two objective pieces of information:

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts Label

Let’s dig in …

Optifast Reviews

Optifast sells 5 types of protein powders and meal replacement shakes:

  1. Optifast 800 Ready to Drink
  2. Optifast 800 Shake Mix
  3. Optifast HP Shake Mix
  4. Optisource Very High Protein Drink
  5. BeneProtein Instant Protein Powder

Let’s look at the nutrition facts information labels and ingredients for each …

Optifast 800 Ready to Drink Optifast 800 Ready to Drink Nutrition Facts optifast 800 read to drink ingredients

Optifast 800 Shake Mix Optifast 800 Shake Mix Nutrition Facts Optifast 800 Shake Mix Ingredients

Optifast HP Shake Mix

Optifast HP Shake Mix Nutrition Ingredients

Optisource Very High Protein Drink

Optisource Very High Protein Drink Ingredient list

optisource very high protein ingredients

BeneProtein Instant Protein Powder

beneprotein ingredients nutrition labelOk, that’s a lot of information to digest. Let’s sum up the highlights and lowlights … I flagged the things that concern me in red and will further explain each below.

Summary of Optifast Shakes Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Product Optifast 800 Ready to Drink Optifast 800 Shake Mix Optifast HP Shake Mix Optisource Very High Protein Drink BeneProtein Instant Protein Powder
Calories 160 160 200  200 25
Grams of Protein 16 16 26 24  6
Protein Source(s) Milk protein concentrate, soy protein isolate Milk protein concentrate, soy protein isolate Whey protein concentrate

Milk protein isolate

Milk protein isolate Whey protein isolate
Grams of Sugar 4 4 10  12 0
Free of “Natural” and Artificial Flavors No No No  No Yes
Free of Gums & Thickeners No No No  No No
Organic No No No  No No 
Plant-based No No  No  No No

Lots of red flags here, you guys!

Here are the biggest ones …

  1. Protein sources: Most Optifast meal replacement shakes contain milk protein concentrate or soy protein. Dairy-based protein powders are associated with many negative health effects. Whey can certainly work if you can tolerate it and you’re trying to build lean body mass (there’s plenty of evidence to support it in that regard). However, if you any type of gut sensitivities, you should avoid whey because it can promote inflammation. Same goes for soy.
  2. Sugar: As you can see, Optifast “nutritional” shakes contain anywhere from 4 to 12 grams of sugar, depending on the product. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a mountain of evidence that shows eating sugar that doesn’t come from fruit makes you fat and is correlated with a wide range of other health issues.
  3. Natural flavors: Like nearly all protein powders and shakes, Optifast uses the innocuous-sounding “natural” flavors. The Environmental Working Group, in an article titled “The FDA Failed Us,” had this to say about natural flavors:  The term “natural flavor” finds its way into more than a quarter of EWG’s roster of 80,000 foods in the Food Scores database, with only salt, water and sugar mentioned more frequently on food labels. “Artificial flavors” are also very common food additives, appearing on one of every seven labels. What do these terms really mean? Good question. The truth is that when you see the word “flavor” on a food label, you have almost no clue what chemicals may have been added to the food under the umbrella of this vague term. For people who have uncommon food allergies or are on restricted diets, this can be a serious concern. In addition to the flavor-adding chemicals themselves, flavor mixtures often contain natural or artificial emulsifiers, solvents and preservatives that are called “incidental additives,” which means the manufacturer does not have to disclose their presence on food labels. Flavoring mixtures added to food are complex and can contain more than 100 distinct substances. The non-flavor chemicals that have other functional properties often make up 80 to 90 percent of the mixture.
  4. Corn- and soy-based fillers, additives, and gums: All Optifast products contain a lot of additives and gums, many of which can be disruptive to gut health. Maltodextrin, a corn-based thickener/filler, is the second or third ingredient for most of their shakes. While research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism shows maltodextrin to be safe for healthy young athletes who use it for post-exercise glycogen resynthesis, other studies show it causes insulin spikes, may suppress the growth of probiotics, can cause allergic reactions and side effects, and is almost always made from pesticide-ridden, GMO corn.
  5. Organic: There are zero organic ingredients in Optifast’s meal replacement drinks and protein powders. This means you’re getting a healthy dose of pesticides and herbicides with that protein shake.

Bottom Line: Are Optifast Shakes and Powders Good for You?

The facts are Optifast shakes a) are not organic; b) have a lot of sugar; c) contain lots on corn- and soy-based additives, fillers, and other junk ingredients.

I recommend sticking with a product with plant-based, all-natural, organic ingredients instead.






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Isagenix Protein Powder Reviews and Nutrition/Ingredients Analysis

isagenix protein powder reviews

isagenix review protein powdersIsagenix is a MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) company just like Beachbody (the manufacturer of Shakeology) and Herbalife.

This means the way they sell stuff is to hire independent reps that sell their products for them.

The reason we bring this up is not to knock on MLM companies (there are plenty of fine ones out there) but to point out that most Isagenix reviews you see online are from websites that have a vested interest in selling Isagenix products (aka, they get commission!).

Full disclosure: While we do sell plant protein powders of our own, this review of Isagenix protein powders is based on two objective criteria: 1.) Ingredients and 2.) Nutrition.

Here’s what our analysis revealed …

Isagenix Reviews: Methodology

Similar to our other plant-based protein powder reviews, we’re analyzing Isagenix protein powders based on health and nutrition … NOT taste. If you want to read reviews about how it tastes, check their website and Amazon.

Let’s get started …

Isagenix sells two main types of protein powder:

  1. IsaPro Whey (90 calories, 1 gram of sugar, and 18 grams of protein per serving)
  2. IsaPro Plant (90 calories, 4-5 grams of carbs, 1-2 gram of sugar, and 18 grams of protein per serving)

IsaPro is marketed toward people trying to lose weight. The latter two target more active people who are looking for more calories and protein per serving.

Next, let’s review what’s in them.

Here are complete nutrition facts information labels and ingredient list analyses for each product and flavor …

Isagenix Ingredients and Nutrition Facts Reviews

IsaPro Chocolate Whey Protein Shake

Ingredients: Whey protein concentrate (undenatured), natural Dutch cocoa powder, natural flavors, stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) leaf extract, Ionic Alfalfa™ (Medicago sativa) leaf extract, lactase, protease. Contains milk ingredients.

isapro chocolate nutrition facts

IsaPro Vanilla Whey Protein Shake

Ingredients: Whey protein concentrate (undenatured), natural vanilla flavor, Ionic Alfalfa™ (Medicago sativa), stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) leaf extract, lactase. Contains milk ingredients.

isagenix ingredients

IsaPro Vanilla Plant Protein Shake

Ingredients: Protein Complex (pea protein concentrate, brown rice protein concentrate), medium-chain triglyceride oil powder, fructose, natural flavors, xanthan gum, sea salt, stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) leaf extract, cinnamon

isagenix isapro plant protein powder vanilla

 

IsaPro Chocolate Plant Protein Shake

Ingredients: Protein Complex (pea protein concentrate, brown rice protein concentrate), cocoa powder, medium-chain triglyceride oil powder, fructose, natural flavors, xanthan gum, sea salt, stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) leaf extract, cinnamon

isagenix isapro plant based protein review

4 Reasons I Don’t Love Isagenix Protein Powders

  1. Natural flavors: Like most flavored protein powders, Isagenix uses “natural” flavors. Despite their innocent-sounding name, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says natural flavors “may trigger an acute, allergic reaction, intolerance, or other problems.” I personally avoid products that have them, because you really have no idea what’s in them (and food companies aren’t required to tell you).
  2. Gums/Thickeners: Isagenix uses several different types of gums, some of which may be disruptive to gut health. For example, xanthan gum may lead to GI bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
  3. Not Organic: Isagenix’s products are not organic, which means their ingredients could be exposed to chemical pesticides and herbicides. Also, the country of origin is unclear, and their customer service would not reveal this information when asked.
  4. Cost: At $.07-.08/gram, Isagenix is expensive compared to similar powders. (Note: I use cost per gram to account for different serving sizes).

Bottom Line: Are Isagenix IsaPro Protein Shakes and Powders Worth It?

In my personal opinion, the only Isagenix shakes I recommend are the IsaPro Plant Based shakes because they’re low in sugar (1-2 grams) and have a solid blend of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and probiotics.

There are definitely worse protein powders you can buy, but based on my reviews of all Isagenix products and ingredient / nutrition analysis, I recommend sticking with a product with 100% real food, organic ingredients instead.






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Purely Inspired Organic Protein Powder Review

purely inspired protein powder nutrition facts ingredients

In case you’re new here, all our reviews, including this one for Purely Inspired organic protein powder, use objective criteria like nutrition facts, ingredient lists, and costs to evaluate the so-called best products out there.

In full disclosure, we also sell our own line of organic proteins.

So long story short, the goal of this review is to provide you with information to help you understand the difference between Purely Inspired and our products so you can decide for yourself which is best for you.

Introduction

Purely Inspired is a nutritional supplement company owned by Iovate, the corporation behind popular brands MuscleTech and Six Star supplements.

Purely Inspired sells organic protein powders, collagen powders, greens / superfood formulas, and several other products for weight management.

And they’re a BIG brand, considering they claim to be the #1 selling organic plant protein brand and their Protein Powders and Shakes are sold at these stores:

Purely Inspired Protein Powder Review!

Purely Inspired Organic Protein Powder Reviews

As mentioned, Purely Inspired sells weight loss supplements and organic protein powders. This review will focus on the latter.

PI offers several types of protein powder:

  1. Organic Protein (Plant-Based)
  2. Organic All In One (Meal Replacement)
  3. Collagen Powder
  4. Organic Protein Shakes (liquid)

Again, we review protein powders based on what’s in them … not how they taste.

So let’s analyze the only objective information you’ll find on the food label:

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts

First, here’s a look at the complete nutrition facts and ingredients for each of Purely Inspired’s protein powders:

Purely Inspired Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Organic Protein Plant-based Nutritional Shake

purely inspired protein powder nutrition facts ingredients

Organic All-in-One Nutritional Supplement Shake

Decadent Chocolate:

French Vanilla: 

These nutrition/ingredients labels reveal a few concerns … I’ve highlighted the biggest ones in red:

 purely inspired organic protein powder purely inspired organic all in one shake chocolate
 Product

Organic Protein

Organic All-in-One Shake

Calories 140 140
Grams of Protein  20  20
Protein Source(s) Organic pea protein, organic rice protein Organic pea protein
Grams of Sugar  2 2
Free of “Natural” Flavors No No
Free of Gums & Thickeners like Maltodextrin No No
Organic  Yes Yes
Vegan  Yes Yes
Cost Per Gram  $.03  $.03

Now let’s break down exactly why we flagged these …

1. “Natural” Flavors, Gums, Thickeners, Additives, and Fillers

Purely Inspired uses “filler” ingredients. Each can have negative health implications (particularly your gut).

Here’s a partial list of junk ingredients in their products (click on each to learn why you should avoid it, according to scientific sources more credible than me):

  • Natural flavors (may be made of hundreds of chemical ingredients)
  • Gums like cellulose, xanthan, guar, acacia (gums are serious gut disruptors)
  • Maltodextrin (a corn-based derivative used as a thickener that can spike your blood sugar and negate the benefits of probiotics)

2. Cane Sugar

Purely Inspired adds 2 grams of cane sugar to every serving of all of their protein powders.

Just because it comes from “cane sugar” doesn’t make it any better for you.

Sugar consumption leads to weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. Adding sugar to a protein powder marketed as healthy defeats the purpose.

3. Ingredient Sources

Another thing to be wary about with some of the cheaper proteins like Purely Inspired is ingredient countries of origin.

Most protein powder manufacturers source their pea and rice proteins from China in an effort to drive down the cost of the product.

Not saying PI is guilty of this but it’s worth asking them where their ingredients are sourced from before you buy. Because in my experience, most products at this price point come from China.

Purely Inspired Organic Protein Powder Review: The Final Verdict

The gist of this review is pretty simple, you guys:

Purely Inspired has a really attractive price and they sell a lot of products, so clearly they’re doing something right.

But to me, some of the “other” ingredients they use, like gums, fillers, and added sugar, just aren’t worth it.






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