Monthly Archives: June 2017

Thrive Protein Shake Review

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 marketing positioning and product design.

However …

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

In this review, I’ll share some really alarming ingredients I found while analyzing the nutrition facts and ingredients.

Check it out …

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

CLICK HERE to get our FREE Google Sheet comparing 25+ brands by nutrition, ingredients, and cost.

Le Vel Thrive Mix Protein Shake Review

Thrive sells a lot of different products …

le vel reviews

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

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.

Let’s jump in …

What Is Thrive Lifestyle Mix Protein Powder?

According to its website,

THRIVE by Le-Vel is something that’s hard to explain, and challenging to describe… it’s something that can only be experienced.

That’s deep.

But I don’t care much for marketing speak.

I care about what’s in the foods I eat.

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

Le Vel Thrive Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis


thrive nutrition reviews


thrive vanilla protein powder nutrition facts


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

Grams of Protein15
Protein Source(s)Whey protein concentrate, soy protein, pea protein
Grams of Sugar1-2
Free of “Natural” FlavorsNo
Free of Gums & ThickenersNo
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: chemical additives, corn-based fillers, gums, thickeners, and artificial sweeteners.

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) is loaded with additives, fillers, and emulsifiers.

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


Optifast Shakes Reviews

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 …

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

CLICK HERE to get our FREE Google Sheet comparing 25+ brands by nutrition, ingredients, and cost.

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

ProductOptifast 800 Ready to DrinkOptifast 800 Shake MixOptifast HP Shake MixOptisource Very High Protein DrinkBeneProtein Instant Protein Powder
Calories160160200 20025
Grams of Protein16162624 6
Protein Source(s)Milk protein concentrate, soy protein isolateMilk protein concentrate, soy protein isolateWhey protein concentrate

Milk protein isolate

Milk protein isolateWhey protein isolate
Grams of Sugar4410 120
Free of “Natural” and Artificial FlavorsNoNoNo NoYes
Free of Gums & ThickenersNoNoNo NoNo
OrganicNoNoNo NoNo 
Plant-basedNoNo No NoNo

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.

Click here to get instant access to my FREE Google spreadsheet comparing 20+ protein powders by ingredients, nutrition, cost, and more.

Isagenix Protein Powder Reviews and Nutrition/Ingredients Analysis

isagenix protein powder products review Isagenix is a MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) company just like Beachbody (who sells Shakeology) and Herbalife.

This means the way they sell stuff is to hire “reps” that push Isagenix products on family and friends.

The reason I bring this up is not to knock on MLM companies (there are plenty of good ones out there) but to point out that most Isagenix reviews you see online have a vested interest in selling Isagenix products.

While I do sell a plant protein powder of my own, my review of Isagenix protein powders are as unbiased as possible. I evaluated their products based on three objective criteria: 1.) Ingredients, 2.) Nutrition, and 3.) Cost.

Here’s what my analysis revealed …

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

CLICK HERE to get our FREE Google Sheet comparing 25+ brands by nutrition, ingredients, and cost.

Isagenix Reviews: Methodology

Similar to my other plant-based protein powder reviews, I am analyzing Isagenix protein powders based on health and nutrition … NOT taste.

So here’s how this works:

First I’ll show the nutrition facts labels and ingredients for each Isagenix Protein Powder. Then I’ll show you my “red flags” for each.

Let’s get started …

Isagenix sells three types of protein powder:

  1. IsaPro (90 calories and 18 grams of protein per serving)
  2. IsaLean Shake (240 calories and 24 grams of protein per serving)
  3. IsaLean Pro Shake (280 calories and 36 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 Analysis


isapro chocolate nutrition facts
Ingredients to avoid: natural flavors, whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).
isagenix ingredients
Ingredients to avoid: natural flavors, whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).

IsaLean Shake

isalean shake chocolate
Ingredients to avoid: fructose, natural flavors, xanthan gum, milk/whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).
isalean vanilla nutrition
Ingredients to avoid: fructose, natural flavors, xanthan gum, milk/whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).
isagenix strawberry protein powder
Ingredients to avoid: fructose, natural flavors, xanthan gum, milk/whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).
Isagenix reviews
Ingredients to avoid: fructose, natural flavors, xanthan gum, milk/whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).

Isalean Pro Shake

isalean pro shake chocolate nutrition
Ingredients to avoid: fructose, natural flavors, sunflower oil powder, xanthan gum, milk/whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).
isagenix ingredient pro shakes review
Ingredients to avoid: fructose, natural flavors, sunflower oil powder, xanthan gum, milk/whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).
isalean french vanilla protein
Ingredients to avoid: fructose, natural flavors, sunflower oil powder, xanthan gum, milk/whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).

(note: I have no idea why they sell IsaLean Pro Protein Powder in “Vanilla” and “French Vanilla” flavors)

isagenix pro shake
Ingredients to avoid: fructose, natural flavors, sunflower oil powder, xanthan gum, milk/whey protein (if you have dairy sensitivities).

Summary of Isagenix Protein Powders

ProductIsaProIsaLean ShakeIsaLean Pro Shake
Grams of Protein182436
Protein Source(s)Whey protein concentrateWhey protein concentrateWhey protein concentrate

Milk protein concentrate

Grams of Sugar1119
Free of “Natural” FlavorsNoNoNo
Free of Gums & ThickenersNoNoNo
Plant-basedNoNo (Dairy free option available for about $7/more per bag)No
Cost Per Gram$.08$.07$.07

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

  1. Protein sources: Most of Isagenix’s products contain whey protein concentrate or milk protein. Dairy-based protein powders has been shown to have negative side effects for many people. If you have a sensitive gut, you may want to avoid whey because of its inflammatory properties.
  2. Sugar: Sugar is one of the most common ingredients in Isagenix shakes. While IsaPro only has 1 gram of sugar, IsaLean Shake and IsaLean Pro Shakes have 9 and 11 grams of sugar, respectively (from fructose). That’s just way too much added sugar for a protein shake–over 1/3 of the recommended daily intake for women!
  3. 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).
  4. Gums/Thickeners: Isagenix uses a lot of different additives and gums, some of which may be disruptive to gut health. For example, xanthan gum may lead to GI bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
  5. Organic: Isagenix’s products are not organic, which means most of their ingredients may be sprayed with chemical pesticides and herbicides.
  6. 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 Protein Shakes and Powders Good for You?

Isagenix says this on its website:

IsaLean Shake contains superior nutrition compared to other meal replacement shakes on the market. They contain exclusively sourced Myo-IsaLean Complex™, and the highest-quality whey protein from pasture-raised cows that are not treated with hormones or routine antibiotics.

“Superior nutrition” is quite the overstatement.

My Isagenix review can be summed up as-follows:

Isagenix shakes:

1.) Are not organic.

2.) Contain added sugar.

3.) Contain hidden junk ingredients and additives, fillers, and flavors.

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.

Purely Inspired Protein Powder Review

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

In my younger days, I used to use both because a) I was a wanna-be meathead and b) they were cheap.

Now that I’m older and wiser (at least that’s what I tell myself), I wouldn’t touch any Purely Inspired products, especially their protein powders.

In this review, I will reveal why.

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

CLICK HERE to get our FREE Google Sheet comparing 25+ brands by nutrition, ingredients, and cost.


Purely Inspired Protein Powders are sold at these stores:

Purely Inspired Protein Powder Review

Hats off to them for their retail success.

Now, if you’re a consumer this should raise some flags.

Here’s why … in order for your product to be “retail ready,” these large brick-and-mortar retailers and pharmacies expect companies to sell them their products at a 50-60% markdown.

Anyways, the reason I bring this is up is this:

Most of the products you see at the retailers I mentioned are forced to compromise on ingredients in order to get their margins down low enough to make a profit.

That’s why all these products have mysterious fillers, gums, thickeners, and other additives … because they’re cheap.

I learned all about this while building Pure Food. If I sold them my product at $17-20/bag, as they demanded, I would lose money. Since I refused to compromise my ingredients … I stopped talking to most of them.

Anyways, enough of my little tangent … let’s get on with the review!

Purely Inspired Protein Powder Reviews

Purely Inspired sells weight loss supplements and protein powders. My reviews will focus on the latter.

They offer two types of protein powder:

  1. Organic Protein (Plant-Based)
  2. Organic Whey Protein & Greens.

I evaluate protein powders based on what’s in them … not how they taste.

The way I do this is by analyzing the only objective information you’ll find on the food label:

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts

So 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

Plant-based Protein Powder

purely inspired protein powder nutrition facts ingredients

Whey Protein and Greens

whey protein and greens nutrition

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

 purely inspired organic protein powder whey protein & greens

Organic Protein

Whey Protein & Greens

Grams of Protein 20 20
Protein Source(s)Organic pea protein organic rice proteinWhey protein concentrate
Grams of Sugar 22
Free of “Natural” FlavorsNoNo
Free of Gums & ThickenersNoNo
Organic YesYes
Vegan YesYes
Cost Per Gram $.03 $.03

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

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

Purely Inspired uses lots of “filler” ingredients. Each can have a major impact on your health (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)
  • Carrageenan and other gums like cellulose, xanthan, guar, acacia (gums are serious gut disrupters)
  • Maltodextrin (a corn-based derivative used as a thickener that can spike your blood sugar and negate the benefits of probiotics)
  • Whey protein (may do more harm than good if you’re sensitive to dairy products)

2. Cane Sugar

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

Sugar is sugar, my friends. 

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

Purely Inspired Protein Powder Review: The Final Verdict

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

Purely Inspired has a really attractive price point (and really attractive “brand ambassadors” like Danica Patrick).

But to me, the junk ingredients they use aren’t worth the risk. 

best plant-based protein powders