Monthly Archives: September 2017

Womens Best Protein Powder Review

With a name like Women’s Best Protein Powder, you can bet my expectations were quite high when reviewing this product.

First, I’m going to assume your definition of “best” is similar to mine: high quality ingredients and superior nutrition.

One thing I can tell you with 100% certainty is this:

The ingredients in Women’s Best Proteins are definitely not the highest quality.

In fact, some may be quite detrimental to your health.

I’ll explain why in this review …

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

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What Is Women’s Best?

Here’s the first red flag: I couldn’t find any information about this company. 

Their website is registered in Austria and they claim “Fast Shipping to USA” on their site … so it doesn’t appear as if Women’s Best is a U.S. company (which I don’t have a problem with, for the record … just pointing it out because I found it odd there wasn’t any information about the company available on the site).

Anyways, Women’s Best sells a whole bunch of products. I’m going to focus my reviews on their protein powders, including:

  1. Vegan Protein
  2. Slim Body Shake
  3. Superfood Smoothies,
  4. Whey Protein

Let’s get to it …

Women’s Best Protein Powder Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

1. Vegan Protein

Vanilla

women's best vegan protein powder nutrition facts
Nice protein blend … but then they add “natural” flavors and the artificial sweetener sucralose. Find out why you should avoid these below …

Chocolate

womens best chocolate protein review
Same junk as the vanilla vegan product.

Strawberry

strawberry protein women best
I’m starting to sound like a broken record …

Banana

womens best banana ingredients

Cookies N Cream

cookies and cream protein plant-based

Latte Macchiato

latte macchiato nutrition facts label

Salted Caramel

salted caramel protein reviews
This one also has “caramel powder,” which you can be sure has some additives Women’s Best isn’t listing on the label.

Raspberry Vanilla

womens raspberry vanilla protien

Unflavored

woman best vegan unflavored nutrition ingredients
Heck, even the “Unflavored” has sucralose and stevia? Why??

2. Slim Body Shake

Vanilla

slim body shake nutrition
The “Slim Body” formula is garbage. It’s loaded with corn- and soy-based fillers and additives.

3. Superfood Smoothies

All Green Superfood Smoothie

all green everything superfood smoothie
Lot of good ingredients but unfortunately, they’re not organic. Plus you have gums/synthetic fibers as the #2 ingredient and sucralose!

All Red Superfood Smoothie

red superfood smoothie nutrition
More of the same for the Red Superfood Smoothie.

All Black Superfood Smoothie

all black smoothie ingredients
Same junk as the other smoothie products. Coconut milk powder always contains excipients (fillers) because of its high fat content (or else it clumps together). If it’s not listed on the label, it’s usually GMO corn-based maltodextrin!

4. Whey Protein

womens best whey protein powder
I’m not even going to waste your time reviewing all the whey flavors. They ALL contain junk-filled “aromas” (aka, natural flavors), thickening agents, fillers (lecithin) and the artificial sweetener sucralose. 

Red Flag Ingredients

Here’s a little deeper dive into some of those ingredients I flagged above …

Natural Flavors

Other than salt, water, and sugar, natural flavors are the fourth most common ingredient on food labels today.

The FDA allows food companies to use the term “natural flavors” to describe any food additive that originated in nature. However, it’s not the source ingredient I have a problem with … it’s all the other junk they’re allowed to add.

According to David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group:

[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.

The EWG goes on to say:

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.

Sucralose

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is the cause of much controversy. Several researchers contend that sucralose negatively impacts the gut. Studies have showed it can induce negative changes in the microbiome and enzymes. And some animal studies have shown that it may cause cancer.

Although the cancer study has been challenged by the European Food Safety Agency (a group that has strong food industry ties), I will side with the unbiased Center for Science in the Public Interest on this one. They say:

Our bottom-line advice to consumers, especially children and pregnant women, is that they continue to avoid sucralose and aspartame, as well as the artificial sweeteners acesulfame-potassium and saccharin.  The potential cancer risk to humans is small, but there is no reason to accept any cancer risk from these products.

Gums and Lecithin

WB uses gums and lecithins, which are popular food additives used to thicken processed foods.

These ingredients can cause major side effects for anyone who suffers from GI issues. Plus, if they’re not organic, they’re usually sourced from GMO soy and/or corn.

Non-Organic Ingredients

All Women’s Best protein powders contain ingredients that are not organic. While there are certainly products with organic ingredients that are bad for you, non-organic ingredients means there’s a good chance you’re ingesting pesticides and other chemicals with your protein shake.

Women’s Best Reviews Summed Up

Because of ingredients like sucralose, “natural” flavors, and gums/fillers, I recommend avoiding all Women’s Best protein powder products.

If you’re looking for a clean, plant-based protein with no additives, fillers, and artificial sweeteners, try Pure Food Protein instead.

best plant-based protein powders

Usana Protein Shake Product Reviews: MySmart & Nutrimeal Nutrition/Ingredients Analysis

In this review, I’m going to tell you why you may want to think twice about buying Usana protein shakes and powders.

While I do sell a protein powder of my own, my reviews of Usana proteins are as unbiased as possible because I evaluated all their protein products using two objective criteria: 1.) Ingredients, 2.) Nutrition Facts Labels.

No company can hide behind these two pieces of information.

Long story short, for Usana they revealed some pretty shady stuff.

Let’s get started …

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What Is Usana?

According to their website:

USANA manufactures the highest-rated, most effective nutritional supplements and health care products in the worldOur products are the best money can buy.

Usana sells their products through a process they call “direct selling.” It’s also known as MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) or a “pyramid scheme.” This is the same model companies like Beachbody (who sells Shakeology), Isagenix, Arbonne, and Herbalife use. You sign up as a rep and then get a commission for selling Usana protein powders and other products to your family and friends.

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

In this analysis I’ll be focusing on Usana protein powder products.

These include Usana NutriMeal and MySmart Shakes. Usana sells a lot of other products. Some of them look perfectly fine from a nutrition standpoint.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same about their proteins, as you’re about to see …

Usana NutriMeal and MySmart Protein Shakes Review

Here’s how my reviews work …

First I’ll show you the nutrition facts labels and ingredients for each product. You’ll see “red flags” highlighted for each.

Then I’ll go into detail about each of these ingredients below the images.

Let’s have a look …

Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

NutriMeal Nutrition Facts / Ingredients

Chocolate

usana chocolate nutrimeal nutrition facts review
17 grams of sugar per serving plus all types of gut-disrupting fillers, “flavors”, and additives. More on this below…

Vanilla

vanilla nutrimeal ingredients
More sugar, more junk.

Strawberryusana meal replacement shake

MySmart Shakes Nutrition Facts / Ingredients

MySmart Plant-based Shake

usana mysmart protein nutrition facts
More gums, fillers, and flavors. Don’t let the “plant-based” moniker fool you.

MySmart Soy Protein

usana shakes reviews
Soy protein has some major flaws … more on this below.

MySmart Whey Protein

usana whey protein
More additives, thickeners, and fillers.

MySmart Dark Strawberry Flavor Optimizer

mysmart strawberry nutrition
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that can cause severe GI distress. Usana adds 7 grams of the stuff to two of their “flavor optimizers”.

MySmart Dark Chocolate Flavor Optimizer

mysmart dark chocolate flavor optimizer

MySmart Milk Chocolate Flavor Optimizer

usana flavor optimizer ingredients
The Milk Chocolate flavor optimizer skips the sugar alcohols and just adds plain ‘ole sugar in the form of evaporated cane juice.

MySmart Whey Protein Plus

usana protein powder reviews
Even Usana’s “pure” whey protein has a highly processed filler ingredient (sunflower lecithin).

Red Flag Ingredients

  1. Protein sources: Most of Usana’s protein products contain whey protein and/or soy protein. Dairy-based protein powders have been shown to have negative side effects for many people. If you can tolerate whey, great. Soy protein may have some beneficial properties for older women. It’s not a good choice for men, however, because it’s high in phytoestrogens, plant compounds that have estrogen-like structures. Soy is also one of the “Big 8” allergens, so it may cause inflammation, a precursor to most diseases, if you’re sensitive to soy. And it’s almost always sourced from GMO soybeans unless it’s organic.
  2. Sugars and sugar alcohols: NutriMeal has between 17 and 18 grams of sugar, depending on the flavor. This is 75% of the amount of added sugar most people are supposed to eat in an entire day. Two of the MySmart Flavor Enhancers I reviewed use the sugar alcohol erythritol. The problems with sugar alcohols are 1.) your body cannot absorb them and 2.) they can cause major gas and bloating and other GI issues.
  3. Natural flavors: Like most flavored protein powders, Usana uses “natural” flavors. Natural flavors are made of 80-90% solvents and preservatives, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 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.”
  4. Gums/Fillers/Thickeners: Usana uses a lot of different additives and fillers in its products, many of which can be disruptive to gut health. These include soy or sunflower lecithin, guar gum, xanthan gum, gum arabic, and cellulose gum (aka wood pulp).

Bottom Line: Are Usana Protein Powders Good for You?

Despite Usana’s claims of selling “the best products money can buy,” the fact is Usana’s protein products are:

  1. Not organic, which means most of their ingredients are likely sprayed with chemical pesticides and herbicides.
  2. Have too much sugar (some, not all).
  3. Are loaded with additives, fillers, and “natural” flavors, which are definitely not real food.

There are definitely worse protein powders you can buy, but based on my reviews and ingredients and nutrition analysis for NutriMeal and MySmart proteins, I recommend sticking with a product with 100% real food, organic ingredients instead.

best plant-based protein powders

Progenex Protein Nutrition Label / Ingredients Review

The makers of Progenex protein powders talk a big game on their website…

Where most companies’ proteins end, ours is just beginning. Most companies only concentrate their protein to a lower-grade concentrate; we isolate ours, and then we keep going. Our whey protein isolates are then enzymatically hydrolyzed. This hydrolyzation process breaks the isolated proteins down into peptides, including di- and tri-peptides, which are more rapidly digested and absorbed. Before we get to a finished product, the previously isolated growth factors are reintroduced into our whey protein.

In this review, you’ll find out why most of their “superior science” claims like this are just overhyped marketing. I’m also going to analyze the nutrition facts and ingredients lists (the real sources of truth) in the following Progenex protein powders: Recovery, More Muscle, and Cocoon.

To find out more, read on …

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

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

Progenex Lawsuits, and Fraudulent Labels Claims

Progenex is pretty popular among CrossFitters. However, in 2015, CrossFit swiftly yanked its affiliation and sponsorship deal they had in place with Progenex and made a clear move to distance its brand from the supplement company. 

So what happened?

Some pretty shady stuff, as it turns out …

This Reddit thread sums it up:

Based on verified sources, including lab tests and legal documents:

  1. Progenex contains the same exact protein as many other brands. Optimum Nutrition and BSN, for example, are owned by the company who sells protein to Progenex. No argument can be made that Progenex contains anything not available from either of those two companies.
  2. Based on #1, Progenex is charging 2-3x more, for the same protein as we can find in other products. Also based on #1, their advertising claim that the product contains a “proprietary whey” is false.
  3. The company has a background and history that most of us do not wish to support, including but not limited to a criminal background for most of the executives (fraud, etc…) and a currently ongoing lawsuit for fraud and another for patent infringement, plus a lawsuit by the original founder against one of their lawyers.
  4. We’ve seen documents indicating that the “support” they had at their first Crossfit Games was as a direct result of paying off SMEs behind the scenes to wear their shirt and endorse their products.
  5. It is still somewhat unsettled to some, but generally there is a belief that they don’t respect us or our community.
  6. Similar or better products can be had through other vendors.
  7. The study we saw passed around the community when Progenex first came on the scene, was based on a whey protein hydrolysate that is no longer found in the product. When Dr. Scott Connelly left the company, that protein went with him, and they replaced it with a generic whey hydrolysate.

Here’s another good post that talks about some of the lawsuits and illegal activities the company and its founders have engaged in.

Seems the so-called “superior science” claims behind Progenex Protein Powders are complete b.s.!

And we haven’t even gotten to my review of what’s actually in the product yet …

Progenex Protein Powder and Meal Replacement Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

Like I say in all my reviews, we have access to two pieces of information that help us determine if these Progenex marketing claims are really true: the nutrition facts and ingredients.

I’ll be analyzing each of these for Progenex More Muscle, Recovery, and Cocoon.

Let’s get to it …

progenex more muscleMore Muscle

According to Progenex:

More Muscle is one of the most advanced and unique whey protein supplements on the market today. It is specifically formulated for fast absorption and maximum uptake. It is manufactured in a two-stage process. The first stage isolates growth factors that can be found in early-stage cow’s milk, extracting and concentrating them using a unique proprietary process. The second stage microfilters and ultrafilters the cold-processed whey into high quality whey protein isolate.

The other ingredients in the product tell quite a different story though …

progenex more muscle chocolate protein nutrition facts
2nd ingredient added sugar, “natural” flavors, and the artificial sweetener sucralose? Not starting out so well here.
more muscle peanut butter nutrition facts label
This flavor also has GMO soy-based lecithin, a cheap, processed, highly inflammatory filler.

more muscle loco mocha

Recovery

Recovery is Progenex’s post-workout powder. Here’s a look at the ingredients/nutrition for each flavor…

progenex recovery chocolate protein nutrition
Same crap as the More Muscle powders …

recovery belgian chocolate ingredientsrecovery protein chocolate bananaprogenex chocolate peanut butter protien

progenex tropical protein nutrition label

Cocoon

Cocoon is their “nighttime” protein powder that supposedly helps you sleep better.

progenex cocoon chocolate nutrition ingredients
More of the same … except Cocoon has dextrose, along with corn-based maltodextrin. Don’t think those ingredients are a recipe for a good night’s sleep!

progenex cinnamon cocoon protein label

Now let’s a take a deeper dive into those ingredients I flagged…

Red Flag Ingredients

Added Sugar (“Natural” and Artificial)

Most Progenex proteins have between 5 and 9 grams of sugar per serving, from various sources (fructose, dextrose, and table sugar, or sucrose).

Progenex defends its addition of sugar by saying your body needs sugar after a workout.

Yes, that’s true.

But the average person eats 82 grams of it every day … so there’s no reason for it to be added to your protein powder.

Sugar, in excess, makes you fat and leads to disease, period.

Then there’s the artificial sweetener they use, sucralose, which was shown to cause cancer in animal studies …

In 2016 an independent Italian laboratory published a large study on mice. The study found that sucralose caused leukemia and related blood cancers in male mice that were exposed to it throughout their lives starting from before birth.

There are also negative gut health effects associated with sucralose:

Several researchers contend that sucralose negatively impacts the gut, including changes in the microbiome and enzymes. That could have a range of consequences, including effects on blood sugar, regulation of body weight, inflammatory bowel disease, and how drugs and other chemicals are absorbed and metabolized by the body.

If this stuff causes cancer in animals, do you really want to be eating it?

“Natural” Flavors

The FDA allows food companies to use the term “natural flavors” to describe any food additive that originated in nature.

The Environmental Working Group found in its research of 80,000 food products that only salt, water and sugar are listed more often than “natural” flavors on food labels.

According to David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

[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.

Problem is, we don’t really know the impact that years of consuming these additives could have on our bodies.

If you see any type of “flavors” on a food label, that’s a big warning sign.

GMO Corn- and Soy-based Fillers

Maltodextrin is a corn-based thickener/filler used in processed foods. A 2012 study found that consuming maltodextrin increased bacterial adhesion to human intestinal epithelial cells and enhanced E. coli adhesion, which is associated with autoimmune disorders and dybiosis in your gut.

Another study found that maltodextrin impairs cellular antibacterial responses and suppresses intestinal antimicrobial defense mechanisms, leading to inflammatory bowel disease and other GI conditions that arise from an inappropriate immune response to bacteria.

For people with grain allergies and intolerances, maltodextrin can exacerbate any current unpleasant symptoms you’re experiencing.

Soy lecithin is a processed thickener that’s usually extracted from GMO soybeans using chemical-based methods.

If you have any GI issues or suffer from joint pain, inflammation, and/or fatigue, avoid products with corn- and soy-based fillers like maltodextrin and soy lecithin.

Protein Sources

If you’re one of the few people who can tolerate dairy products (2/3 of the population cannot), then an organic, grass-fed whey protein isn’t a bad option.

But I’m sick and tired of companies like Progenex citing industry-backed studies claiming whey’s superiority over plant-based protein sources. Just because hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into studies by companies trying to push more whey protein powder on unsuspecting customers, doesn’t make it “better.”

Whey actually has a lot of side effects that these guys don’t tell you about. Listen to your body. If you feel any type of gas, bloating, inflammation, or fatigue after taking whey protein, then stop immediately and try something else.

Non-organic Ingredients

None of the ingredients in Progenex protein powders are organic. This means there’s a strong probability your protein shake also contains pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals.

Progenex Reviews Summed Up

On its “Science” page, Progenex says:

Many protein brands include hard-to-digest fillers and “junk” ingredients that can leave you feeling bloated.

Yet the hard-to-digest fillers and junk ingredients is exactly what they use in every protein powder I analyzed!

Progenex likes to tout their “superior science” yet cites studies like these with tiny samples sizes:

progenex protein lawsuit

And others that are 20-30 years old:

Any protein powder manufacturer can cherry pick studies to back up their product.

Long story short, there’s a reason Progenex has been slapped with a bunch of lawsuits: their products do not work as-advertised.

My $0.02: stick with a protein powder with organic, real food ingredients instead of ones like Progenex that are loaded with sugar, processed fillers, and “flavors”.

Click here to get my free spreadsheet comparing 20+ plant-based protein powders/shakes by ingredients, nutrition, cost, and more.

Vitamin Shoppe Plnt Protein Powder Reviews

Plnt is a new-ish protein powder brand created by Vitamin Shoppe. Upon first glance, it looks like a viable plant-based protein for those looking to avoid dairy and other animal proteins.

However …

When I quickly browsed Vitamin Shoppe Plnt Powder reviews on their website and Amazon, I was surprised to find that most people who have tried it are not big fans.

And in this review, I’m going to share another (totally different) reason why you might want to avoid it: the junk ingredients they put in it!

I haven’t tasted Plnt, nor do I plan to, because one glance at the nutrition facts label and ingredient list is all I needed to determine that this protein powder is complete crap.

To find out more, read on …

*Disclaimer: I sell a protein powder. So naturally, I am a bit biased. But I keep my reviews as unbiased as possible by focusing on two objective pieces of information: the nutrition facts and ingredients list. These reveal a lot about Plnt and Vitamin Shoppe as you’re about to see.

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

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

What Is Plnt?

From Vitamin Shoppe’s website:

Welcome to the world of plnt®: an array of earth-friendly herbs, supplements and whole foods independently tested to ensure purity, potency and consistent quality. The plnt line of products is gluten-free and dairy-free, with ingredients sourced in nature. That’s why we leave out the “a” in plnt, to represent the absence of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors or sweeteners. The result is nutrition that you can believe in.

Sounds great on paper.

Like I said before though, we have access to two pieces of information that help us determine if these warm and fuzzy marketing claims are really true: the nutrition facts and ingredients.

I’ll be analyzing each of these for Vitamin Shoppe’s two Plnt products:

  1. Plnt Protein (available in Vanilla and Chocolate)
  2. Plnt Protein Meal Replacement (available in Vanilla and Chocolate)

Let’s get to it …

Plnt Protein Powder and Meal Replacement Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

1. Plnt Protein

Things don’t look so bad upon first glance. Until you get to the “Other Ingredients”.

This is where things get dicey.

Scroll down to the “Red Flag Ingredients” section to learn more about the ones that are most troublesome.  

Vanilla

plnt vanilla nutrition facts
Read more below about “natural” vanilla and caramel flavors, gums, and maltodextrin.

Chocolate

Plnt Protein Powder Nutrition Facts
Same junk-filled “Other Ingredients”. And where’s the cacao? There’s no actual chocolate in the product, just “flavors.”

2. Plnt Meal Replacement

I’ll be honest: there are some really impressive ingredients here. I like the protein blend, the digestive blend (they use the same probiotic strain as we do), and the fermented whole food blend (even though there’s just a speck of it at 50 mg)

But same story for the meal replacement product … it’s those pesky “Other Ingredients” that ruin an otherwise decent product.

See what I’m talking about …

Vanilla

 plnt vanilla meal replacement nutrition

plant meal powder ingredient list

is plnt protein good for you
The Plnt Meal Replacement shake also has corn starch … not good.

Chocolate

plnt vitamin shoppe plnt chocolate meal replacement ingredients

vitamin shoppe plnt protein reviews

Red Flag Ingredients

Now we’ll take a deeper dive into some of those ingredients I flagged above …

“Natural” Vanilla, Chocolate, Caramel, and Chai Flavors

Natural flavors are far from natural. Here’s what scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) say about them:

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. 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.

If you see any type of “flavors” on a food label, that’s a big warning sign … 99% of companies won’t disclose what’s in them because they don’t have to.

Corn-based Thickeners (Maltodextrin, Corn Starch)

Maltodextrin is a corn-based thickener/filler used in processed foods. A 2012 study found that consuming maltodextrin increased bacterial adhesion to human intestinal epithelial cells and enhanced E. coli adhesion, which is associated with autoimmune disorders and dybiosis in your gut.

Another study found that maltodextrin impairs cellular antibacterial responses and suppresses intestinal antimicrobial defense mechanisms, leading to inflammatory bowel disease and other GI conditions that arise from an inappropriate immune response to bacteria.

For people with grain allergies and intolerances, maltodextrin can exacerbate any current unpleasant symptoms you’re experiencing.

If you have any GI issues or suffer from joint pain and inflammation, avoid products with corn-based fillers like maltodextrin and corn starch.

Gums

All Plnt proteins contain xanthan gums, which are popular food additives used to thicken processed foods.

Xanthan gum can cause some very unpleasant side effects though (gas, bloating, cramping, etc.). And people who are exposed to xanthan gum powder might also experience flu-like symptoms, nose and throat irritation, and lung issues.

Again, if you have any gut health or inflammation issues, it’s best to avoid gums.

Non-organic Ingredients

Most of the ingredients in both Plnt protein powder and meal replacement are not organic. The problem with any plant-based food that’s not organic is there’s a strong probability it was grown with the use of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals.

Nobody wants pesticides in their protein shake.

Vitamin Shoppe Plnt Reviews Summed Up

Vitamin Shoppe’s Plnt is a run-of-the-mill protein powder that has a lot of red flag ingredients.

Stick with an organic plant-based protein powder with real food ingredients instead of the processed thickeners, fillers, gums, and “flavors”.

Click here to get my free spreadsheet comparing 20+ plant protein powders/shakes by ingredients, nutrition, cost, and more.