Arbonne Protein Powder and Shakes Reviews

While doing research for this article and looking at Arbonne protein powder reviews online, I had some reservations.

I’m friends with people who sell it, and they’re generally very passionate about Arbonne’s shakes and other products. And I sell a plant-based protein powder of my own, so this opens the door for potential bias.

So first off, let me say I have always thought of Arbonne as a good company that has helped a lot of people lead healthier lives.

But the goal of every review post I write is to present the facts based on my analysis of the nutrition label and ingredients list.

Read on to learn what I discovered about Arbonne protein powder and shakes.

Researching Plant Protein Powders Like Arbonne?

CLICK HERE to get our FREE Google Sheet comparing 30+ brands by nutrition, ingredients, and cost.

Arbonne Protein Powder Review

Similar to my other reviews, I am reviewing Arbonne protein powders based on health and nutrition … NOT taste.

This is what I look for in a healthy protein powder:

The ingredients Arbonne uses in its protein powders may not be as clean as you might think.

Here’s proof …

arbonne protein powder review arbonne essentials daily protein boost
Arbonne Feel Fit Pea Protein Shake Mix Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost
Calories 160 50
Grams of Protein  20  10
Protein Source(s)  Pea protein, rice protein, cranberry protein  Pea protein, rice protein, cranberry protein
Grams of Sugar  7  0
Free of “Natural” Flavors No Yes
Free of Gums & Thickeners No Yes
Organic No No
Vegan Yes  Yes
Cost Per Gram  $.06  $.06

The Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost actually looks like a decent product and I like the protein blend. It’s unflavored though and not organic.

Arbonne also has an “Ingredients Policy” page that states:

Being Certified Arbonne Clean  begins with the ingredients that we use, taking the best from nature, and embracing the idea that healthy living starts from the inside out — what we choose to include in a product is just as important as what we choose to put on our skin or in our bodies. We choose carefully, so you can feel safe in the knowledge that we’ve done the research.

arbonne protein reviews

After reviewing the ingredients in Arbonne’s protein powders and shakes, my problem is not what they formulate without, as stated above … it’s what they formulate their protein powders with.

If you dig into the ingredients list on Arbonne’s flavored protein powders and shakes, there are some things clean eaters should be very concerned about:

1. Some Arbonne Protein Powders Have 7 Grams of Sugar

Cane sugar is the #2 ingredient after the protein blend in Arbonne Essential Protein Powder (now called FeelFit Pea Protein Shake). Huge red flag. Might as well drink a milkshake.

2. Arbonne Essentials Protein Powder Has “Natural” Flavors

Natural flavors are chemical-filled junk and they’re definitely NOT natural. Read my article “What Are Natural Flavors?” if you want to know more about this mystery ingredient.

Bottom line: “natural” flavors can contain hundreds of different ingredients that food companies don’t have to disclose to you. Many of these are chemicals in standard “flavors.” Not saying Arbonne uses them but it’s worth asking them where their flavors come from and how they’re made.

3. Arbonne’s Proteins Have Gums, Fillers, and Other Highly Processed, Artificial Ingredients

Arbonne Protein Powders (and most others on the market) contain processed thickeners, fillers, gums that can cause gut health issues.

​Arbonne FeelFit Protein Powder Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

arbonne feelfit pea protein powder nutritionn
Ingredients: Arbonne Protein Matrix Blend (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), cane sugar, cocoa, natural flavors, gum arabic, sunflower oil, chicory root, stevia leaf extract, xanthan gum, flax seed, guar gum, modified tapioca starch, dicalcium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate, rice hulls, water, sodium ascorbate, tocopherol, silicon dioxide.

​Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost Nutrition

Let’s wrap this up …

Arbonne Protein Powder Reviews Summed Up

Based on my nutrition and ingredients analysis, I recommend avoiding Arbonne FeelFit Protein Shake Mix (formerly Arbonne Essentials Protein Shake Mix). Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost is a decent product because it contains no sugar or other additives … just wish they used organic ingredients.

No Bake Chocolate Protein Balls (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free)

no bake protein bar

Creating this no-bake chocolate protein balls recipe (that will please both vegan and paleo palettes, by the way) stirred up some hilarious mental images of the classic SNL Schweddy Balls skit.

All jokes aside, these protein balls are made for clean eaters. They contain 100% real food ingredients, no added sugar, and are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and paleo-friendly.

Best of all, there’s no baking required. You just mix all the ingredients together, roll the dough into balls, and refrigerate it.

My Schweddy balls (sorry, couldn’t resist) are a guilt-free dessert too. One ball will only set you back 122 calories, while delivering a healthy balance of carbs, good fats, and protein.

No Bake Chocolate Protein Balls Recipe (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

What’s In ‘Em:

  • paleo protein balls ingredients3 scoops Pure Food Raw Cacao protein powder
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup organic dried dates (chopped into small pieces)
  • 1.5 cups organic coconut cream + 1/4 cup water (or .5 cups organic coconut milk powder and 3/4 cup warm water)
  • 1 oz. organic dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao … here’s a good list of bars if you’re dairy free)
  • 2 T slivered almonds


How to Make ‘Em:

  1. Put the dates in a food processor and turn on for about a minute.
  2. Add pecans and pulse 8-10 times.
  3. Stir in the almond flour, protein powder, and coconut milk powder. Turn on food processor for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Use a sharp knife to chop up dark chocolate into fine shavings and combine with slivered almonds in a bowl.
  5. Roll the dough from the food processor into balls. Roll each chocolate protein ball in the bowl of slivered almonds/dark chocolate shavings.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread your protein balls into 5 rows of 3 (or however many you want).
  7. Refrigerate overnight. They’ll be ready to eat the next day. They should keep in a tupperware in the fridge for about a week.
vegan protein balls
Here’s what the batter looks like.

Nutrition Facts (per ball … this recipes makes 15 balls):

  • 122 calories
  • 9 g fat
  • 9 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar)
  • 5 g protein

Here’s the final product:

These chocolate protein balls would be a hit at any holiday party (and gives you a funny ice-breaker starter because someone is sure to mention the Schweddy balls skit). Or just make them as a healthy snack like I did. Either way, you’ll be happy you tried this awesome recipe.

See more recipes like this every day when you follow me on Instagram:

Instagram did not return a 200.

Orgain Review: The Truth About Their Protein Powders & Shakes

Finally, the long-awaited, much requested Orgain protein powder review.

Just like my other reviews, in this article I’ll show you exactly why clean eaters should avoid Orgain organic protein powders (and shakes). 

I’ve broken this into two versions: a short version for those who have a limited attention span like me, and the full version for those who want to explore Orgain’s ingredients and nutrition facts a little deeper.

(Disclaimer: I sell a protein powder. This admittedly creates some potential bias. That’s why my reviews focus on Orgain’s nutrition facts and ingredients. At the end of the day, this is just one person’s opinion).

Click here to get instant access to my FREE Google spreadsheet comparing 20 of the best plant protein powders (including Orgain) by ingredients, nutrition, and cost.

Orgain Protein Powder Review

First, let’s get this out of the way: I evaluate protein powders based on health and nutrition … NOT taste. If taste is your number one priority when choosing a protein powder, then this article probably isn’t for you. I’ve tasted most of Orgain’s products and they taste quite good.

Anyways …

When I analyze whether a protein powder is “healthy” or not, I look at the only two objective pieces of information you will see on any protein powder package:

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts

The ingredients and nutrition facts label will help you answer these important questions:

  • Do they use organic, real food ingredients?
  • Any allergens or inflammation-causing soy, dairy, or gluten?
  • What about fillers, natural flavors, and gums? (these are all warning signs of a cheap, highly processed protein powder)
  • How much protein does it have per serving?
  • What are the protein sources?
  • How much sugar is added?
  • What other sweeteners (real or artificial) do they use?

Orgain’s ingredients and nutrition facts information for their protein powder and shakes reveal a lot:

orgain organic protein review orgain organic protein powder Orgain Nutritional Shake Orgain Vegan Nutritional Shake Healthy Kids Shake Orgain Slim Protein Powder review
Orgain Organic Protein Powder Orgain Meal Powder Orgain Nutritional Shake Orgain Vegan Nutritional Shake Healthy Kids Shake Slim Protein Powder
Calories 150 220 250 220 200 150
Grams of Protein  21  20  16  16  8  20
Protein Source(s) Organic brown rice protein, organic pea protein, organic chia seed, organic hemp protein Organic brown rice protein, organic pea protein, organic chia seed  Organic milk protein concentrate, organic whey protein concentrate  Organic brown rice protein concentrate, organic chia seeds, organic flax powder, organic hemp protein concentrate Organic milk protein concentrate, organic whey protein concentrate  Organic pea protein, organic brown rice protein, organic chia seed
Grams of Sugar  1  1  12  9  13  1
Free of Natural Flavors No No No No No  No
Free of Gums & Thickeners No No No No No No
Organic  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vegan  Yes Yes  No Yes  No  Yes
Amazon Review Rating  4.3  4.3  4.2  4.1  4.2  4.4
Cost Per Gram  $.02  $.04  $.10  $.08  $.09  $.05

Let’s start with what I like about Orgain …

  1. Orgain only uses Organic ingredients.
  2. The plant-based protein sources in Orgain vegan products are solid.
  3. Orgain was developed by a medical doctor and cancer survivor.

However, when I analyzed the ingredients list on many of Orgain’s products, there were some things that concerned me:

1. Sugar content

The sugar content in many Orgain Shakes is quite high:

  • Orgain Original Shakes: 12 grams
  • Orgain Plant-based Shakes: 9 grams
  • Orgain “Healthy” Kids Shakes: 13 grams

Orgain uses LOTS of different sweeteners. Tap/click the following links to learn about some of the negative health effects of each:

2. “Natural flavors

The Environmental Working Group says natural flavors are:

Unspecified mixtures of as many as 100 flavoring substances and solvents, emulsifiers, and preservatives.

Food manufacturers are only required to list “flavors” on their ingredients lists, without revealing the original sources or chemical mixtures of these flavors.

Long story short:

[bctt tweet=”Your natural flavors may not be natural at all” username=”nutritionguy”]

To learn more about this mystery ingredient, read my article “What Are Natural Flavors?“.

 

So let’s look at the big picture view of all the junk ingredients in Orgain’s products … I’ve highlighted ingredients that I personally avoid:

orgain protein review Orgain Meal Powder Orgain Nutritional Shake Orgain Vegan Nutritional Shake Healthy Kids Shake Orgain Slim Protein Powder review
Product Orgain Organic Protein Powder Orgain Meal Powder Orgain Nutritional Shake Orgain Vegan Nutritional Shake Healthy Kids Shake Slim Protein Powder
Nutrition orgain vegan protein powder nutrition facts orgain meal nutrition facts orgain nutritional shake nutrition facts orgain vegan shake nutrition facts orgain kids nutrition facts orgain slim nutrition facts
Ingredients orgain ingredients - organic protein blend orgain meal replacement ingredients orgain original shake nutrition facts orgain ingredients - vegan shake  orgain kids shake ingredients orgain slim ingredients

Phew, that’s a lot of red flags! Let’s sum up this review …

Orgain Reviews: The Final Verdict

Orgain’s sugar-free products are cost-effective and contain all organic ingredients. 

However, many of their products contain 10 grams or more of sugar per serving. The average American already gets plenty of sugar (82 grams per day).

I recommend sticking with one of their sugar free products or looking for a plant-based protein powder instead.

Click here to get instant access to my FREE Google spreadsheet comparing 20 of the best plant protein powders (including Orgain) by ingredients, nutrition, and cost.

Vega Protein Powder Reviews: Nutrition & Ingredients Analysis

When I started looking at the Vega protein powder reviews scattered across the Internet, I noticed they were all missing one hugely important thing: a fair analysis of the stuff that Vega actually puts in their products.

First, a disclaimer: I sell a protein powder. So that naturally invites some bias into the equation. That’s why when I review whether a protein powder is nutritious or not, I look at two objective criteria:

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts

They reveal the answers to these important questions:

  • Are the ingredients all organic and made from real food?
  • Any allergens or inflammation-causing soy, dairy, or gluten?
  • Do they contains gums, fillers, and/or natural flavors?
  • How much protein per serving?
  • What are the protein sources?
  • How much sugar is added?
  • What other sweeteners (real or artificial) do they use?

With that said, let’s dig in!

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

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

Vega Protein Powder Reviews (Summary Version)

Vega is one of the biggest plant based protein powder brands on earth. WhiteWave–the gargantuan corporation that makes soy-based products Silk and So Delicious–acquired Vega for $550 million in 2015. (side note: Dannon, the huge yogurt maker, acquired WhiteWave in 2016 for $10 billion!)

Here’s what I found out by looking at Vega’s ingredients and nutrition facts information:​

Vega Protein Smoothie Review

Vega Protein and Greens Review

Vega Sport Protein Powder Review

Vega One Review

Vegan Clean Protein Reviews

vega protein reviews vega protein and greens review vega sport protein powder review vega one reviews vega clean protein review
Calories 90 110 160 170 130
Grams of Protein  15  20  30  20  25
Protein Source(s) Pea protein, saviseed protein, hemp seed protein, brown rice protein Pea protein, brown rice protein, hemp seed protein, sacha inchi protein Pea protein, pumpkin seed protein, organic sunflower seed protein Pea protein, hemp protein, sacha inchi protein Pea protein, hemp protein, pumpkin seed protein
Grams of Sugar  2  2  1  1  1
Free of “Natural” Flavors No No No No No
Free of Gums & Thickeners No No No No No
Organic  No No No No No
Vegan  Yes Yes  No Yes  No
Amazon Reviews  3.9 3.9  4.0  4.0  3.5
Cost Per Gram  $.05  $.04  $.05  $.06  $.05
Nutrition Facts (click/tap to enlarge) vega protein smoothie nutrition label vega protein & greens nutrition  vega sport nutrition  vega all in one nutrition facts information vega clean nutrition label
Ingredients (click/tap to enlarge) vega protein smoothie ingredients protein greens ingredients vega sport ingredients vega all-in-one shake ingredients vega clean ingredients

I noted a few red flags here, as you may have noticed in the ingredient images above.

Here’s why …

Vega Review (Extended Version)

There are several things I wish Vega would improve with its line of protein powders:

  1. They’re not organic.
  2. They contain “flavors”.
  3. They use gums, fillers, and other highly processed ingredients.
  4. Some of their processing methods involve heat treating, which kills essential nutrients and means their products are not raw.

Let’s explore each of these…

Issue #1: Not Organic

Here’s the deal:

[bctt tweet=”Non-organic ingredients means there could be chemical pesticides and herbicides in your protein shake.” username=”nutritionguy”]

If there’s one reason to spend a few more dollars on an organic product, this is it.

Eating foods contaminated with pesticides increases the odds you will get cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and many other diseases. See this video from Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org:

This is Vega’s explanation for why they don’t use more organic ingredients (you can find this on the FAQs page of their website):

As demand for organic ingredients grows, it’s getting easier every year to find reliable sources of organic ingredients, but the cost of certification remains prohibitive for smaller-scale farmers.

C’mon Vega, you guys were acquired for half a billion dollars! You’re telling me you can’t find reliable sources of organic ingredients?

I run a protein powder business that’s 1/5000 of the size of yours and I have had no problems.

They’re right–it does cost more to produce organic ingredients. A lot more.

But when you’re owned by Big Food, unfortunately you often need to put shareholder profits first.

In my humble opinion, and according to the latest and greatest research, paying more for products with organic ingredients is worth every penny for your long-term health and wellbeing.

[bctt tweet=”Vega’s use of non-organic ingredients is the #1 reason why I recommend avoiding their products.” username=”nutritionguy”]

Problem #2: Natural Flavors

David Andrews, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, said:

“[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.”

Andrews go on to point out that adding any type of “flavoring,” both natural and artificial, means you may be ingesting anywhere from 50 to 100 ingredients.

All of Vega protein powders–Vega One, Sport, Clean, Protein and Greens, and Protein Smoothie–contain natural flavors. Even their newest product, “Clean Protein,” has two types of natural flavors:

vega protein powder reviews
These heavily processed ingredients are not “clean!”

When I wrote the first version of this review in November, 2016, Vega All-in-One Nutritional Shake listed 4 types of natural flavors on its ingredients label:

is vega protein healthy

Now they only list “natural flavors” once.

At least they’re making progress. But the problem is, we still don’t know what’s in those flavors.

I contacted Vega and asked.

It’s a question many others must have asked, because their quick response–while friendly–sounded well-rehearsed:

Natural flavors include a variety of compounds obtained from the natural essence or extracts of plants to produce the characteristic flavor and aromatic sensation of the intended (and labeled) flavor. The essences and extracts can be from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, but always exclusively plant-based, and never artificial. These natural flavor blends are proprietary.

Here’s the bottom line, gang:

Unless you know exactly what those “variety of compounds” are, I recommend avoiding products that have them.

Learn more by downloading my FREE report about natural flavors here

Problem #3: Gums, Fillers, and Other Processed Ingredients

Beyond Vega’s “natural flavors,” there are a handful of other ingredients in most Vega protein powders I don’t like. These are called “gums,” which are thickening agents/fillers. Some of them can cause digestive distress for many people.

Problem #4: High Heat Processing Destroys Vital Nutrients

I also asked Vega about how they process the ingredients in their protein powders.

Here’s what they said:

There are certain ingredients that are heated. For example our SaviSeed protein is heated in order to make it easier on the body to digest. Our products are not considered raw.

While it’s true heating makes certain ingredients easier to digest, it also can destroy many vital nutrients in the plant. All protein powders (and all foods, for that matter) are “processed” to some extant. But clearly Vega more so than others.

Summary: Is Vega Protein Good for You?

While I admire what Vega has done for plant-based nutrition as a whole and I respect them for politely answering all my questions, I’d like to see them make a line of all organic products and stop using flavors, fillers, and gums.

As you can see from my reviews above, Vega Protein and Greens, Vega One, Smoothie, Vega Sport, and even Vega Clean protein powder products all have at least one of these ingredients.

Problem is, if they’re not organic, they may contain additives, preservatives, gums and fillers that may cause intestinal distress and bloating, and exacerbate existing GI conditions.

For those reasons, I recommend choosing another powder if healthy, clean ingredients is your top priority.

best plant-based protein powders

The Effect of Sleep on Muscle Growth, According to Science

How many hours would you say you sleep in an average night? If you answered 7-9, the National Sleep Foundation says you’re doing pretty well.

Around 40 percent of us get less than 7 hours though.

If building lean muscle mass is important to you, your lack of shut-eye may be a bigger problem than you think. Let’s dig a bit deeper into what the science says about the effect of sleep on muscle growth.

effect of sleep on muscle growth
This is exactly what I look like when I sleep.

Not getting enough sleep inhibits your ability to grow muscle

Research shows that being sleep-deprived can actually encourage loss of muscle mass and hinder muscle recovery after a tough workout. Sleep deprivation can have major effects on athletic performance too, especially for endurance athletes.

Lack of sleep affects your ability to grow and repair muscle regardless of your age.

One study showed that a week of sleep deprivation in otherwise healthy young men resulted in decreased testosterone levels and increased spikes of cortisol, a stress hormone. Furthermore, cortisol levels may stay elevated until the following evening when you don’t get enough sleep.

Another study found that from ages 30 to 40, the total amount of growth hormone secreted during a 24-hour span decreases by two-to-three times. So for all you thirty-somethings, you already have biology working against you … don’t compound it by thinking you can get by on 4-6 hours per night (a common range among my more ambitious friends).

Finally, there’s a connection between shorter periods of sleep and weight gain leading to obesity. So even if you’re healthy now, as you age, not getting enough sleep can catch up with you.

If you’re having trouble falling asleep, check out this step-by-step guide to falling asleep. If you have trouble staying asleep (like me), here’s a helpful resource.

There’s a silver lining in all this though …

Getting ample sleep encourages muscle growth

While it’s clear that being under that 7-9 hour threshold may negatively impact your muscle gains, getting some extra rest is a proven way to encourage more muscle growth.

In one sleep extension study, a group of researchers instructed six basketball players to get as much extra sleep as possible following two weeks of “normal sleep”. The researchers found that these athletes exhibited faster sprint times and increased free-throw accuracy at the end of the sleep extension period (as well as decreased fatigue and improved mood).

The same group of researchers conducted another study in which swimmers increased their sleep time to 10 hours per night for 6–7 weeks. These athletes showed improvements in 15 m sprint time, reaction time, turn time, and overall mood.

But you don’t need to sleep for 10 hours a night to see improvements. Getting in that 7-9 hour range is what’s most important.

During those weeks where 7+ hours just isn’t going to happen because of other circumstances going on in your life, there are a couple things you can do, according to science:

  1. Take a nap. Athletes suffering from some degree of sleep loss may benefit from a brief nap, which can decrease your likelihood of muscle loss.
  2. Eat some protein (or drink a protein shake) before bed. Eating protein before bed may help your body recover from a workout faster.
Here’s the bottom line about the effect of sleep on muscle growth: if you focus on getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night, you will build more lean muscle and decrease muscle deterioration after age 30.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep!

How to Find the Best Probiotics for YOU, According to Science

In this guide, we’ll help you navigate the fascinating yet complex world of probiotics.

We’ll talk about the benefits and risks of probiotics. The best food sources of probiotics. The myths and misconceptions. And what to look for if you decide to take a probiotic supplement.

Away we go …

Download Our FREE Gut Health Guide Here

What Are Probiotics and Why Are They So Popular Right Now?

best vegan probiotics

There are 40 trillion bacterial cells in your body at any given moment (compared to around 30 trillion human cells).

Many of these bacterial organisms live in your gut, part of a stunningly complex network of neurons known as your “microbiome”.

The densest part of your microbiome is in your gut, where about 1,000 species of bacteria feast on complex carbohydrates and fibers you eat.

The microbiome plays an important role in your body …

Scientists have discovered that 70-80 percent of your immune system is controlled by your microbiome and 95 percent of your body’s serotonin—the neurotransmitter that’s the main contributor to your well-being and happiness—is made in your gut, not your brain.

The gut microbiome is largely shaped by what we eat and drink. And the Western diet, with its heavy use of heavily processed foods like refined flour and sugar, actually starves your microbiota, leading to a plethora of health conditions.

That’s why probiotics, these “good”, “friendly” or “healthy” bacteria you can take in supplement form, are so popular now.

The Best Food and Drink Sources of Naturally-Occurring Probiotics

1. Fermented vegetables 

Sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi are among the most popular natural sources of vegan probiotics. But most of the store brands contain vinegar and preservatives, which kill the beneficial bacteria.

So look for pickled vegetables that are naturally fermented using salt.

Or just make your own.

Personal note: I was inspired to start fermenting vegetables after reading Michael Pollan’s fantastic book, Cooked. All you need is vegetables/fruit, salt, and a fermentation vessel. This is the crock I use if you get serious but when you’re first starting out, any large container will work).

Also, the cellular structure of certain foods makes them act as “superfoods” for good microbes to feed on. These include onions, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, dandelion greens, jicama, and peas.

2. Fermented tea 
Kombucha is black tea that’s fermented with sugar. Some store-bought brands also add sugar, which can strengthen harmful microbes like E. coli.

Personal note: I got this kombucha kit and use it to make a fermented tea called Jun that uses green tea and honey instead of black tea and sugar. Here’s how to make it.

3. Sourdough bread

There is not a more delicious way to enjoy the benefits of probiotics than eating a warm, crusty slice of sourdough bread (assuming you don’t have a gluten sensitivity).

Personal note: I also start making sourdough bread after reading Cooked. Seriously, read the book! Then pick up a sourdough starter and some flour and make this no-knead Cast Iron Sourdough Bread recipe. from the New York Times.

4. Fermented soy

Soy has gotten a bad rap because it’s used so much in processed foods and is one of the top 8 allergens. However, fermented soy products like organic miso, tofu, and soy sauce may actually have some health benefits.

5. Plants … lots of plants

Simple sugars cause conflict between our microbes and cells, but eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains encourages cooperation between them. Gregory Plotnifkoff, MD, coauthor of Trust Your Gut recommends adhering to the old Japanese adage of eating at least 30 different whole foods per day!

6. Supplements

Eating 30 different foods can be a challenge for time-strapped folks though. That’s where probiotic supplements may help.

How to Find the Best Probiotic Supplements for Your Health Needs

healthiest probiotics for vegansNot all probiotics strains are the same. Different strains offer different benefits and some probiotic strains survive manufacturing processes, shelf life and digestive transit better than others. When choosing a probiotic consider the following questions:

  1. Is it derived from dairy? 4 out of every 5 probiotic supplements contain dairy-based derivatives. This isn’t just bad news for vegans. Why Because up to 65 percent of adults are lactose intolerant, which means milk-based probiotics can make things worse for those with dairy sensitivities. On top of that, dairy-based probiotics are often only shelf stable for a few days. After this, the bacteria start to die. So, you have to take more of them to feel any effect. Choose “plant-based” or vegan probiotics instead. The product packaging or company website should tell you if the probiotic supplement you’re considering is from vegan / plant based sources.
  2. Does your probiotic survive stomach acid and/or manufacturing? As mentioned, most don’t. Certain strains fare better than others. Always ask the manufacturer of your probiotic if they have any clinical research to support their product. Just because they sell a popular strain, doesn’t mean their probiotic are live and active.
  3. Is your probiotic tested for safety and potency? The FDA doesn’t require probiotic companies to test their bacteria strains. So naturally, most don’t do it. Probiotic contamination is a big deal though. If your probiotic manufacturer doesn’t have strict quality control measures in place, your probiotic may be doing more harm than good. And, many of these beneficial bacteria die during processing because of the harsh processing methods most manufacturers use. Make sure the company you buy from tests its probiotics for safety and potency and can provide documentation to prove it.
  4. Is your probiotic backed by peer-reviewed clinical studies? Don’t trust marketing claims on product labels and websites. Even most clinical data large probiotic companies cite is funded by the companies themselves. Your probiotic should be backed by randomized, double-blind, peer-reviewed clinical studies (the gold standard in scientific research) whenever possible if the company makes any claims about its benefits.
  5. Does your probiotic contain artificial fillers, preservatives, allergens, and other junk? The answer is usually yes, but manufacturers are very good at hiding this information. The only way to know is to ask them what “excipients” are in it and what purpose those serve.
  6. Does your probiotic contain prebiotic fiber and digestive enzymes? Prebiotics are essentially “food” that probiotics feast on. They help make probiotics more effective once they reach your intestines and colon. Digestive enzymes can help you digest all foods better, so often times you’ll see supplements that contain these as well.
  7. What health challenges are you facing? Different strains of probiotics offer different types of benefits. Don’t just buy a probiotic without understanding the type or types of strains it contains—otherwise you’re very likely wasting your money. For example, I suffer from GI issues, so I make sure I take strains that help me with those.

The Number One Myth About Probiotics

If you’ve shopped for probiotics before, you’ve probably noticed one statistic that all probiotics emphasize on the bottle, the CFU count. CFUs, or colony forming units, are the number of live probiotic bacteria that are supposed to be in each serving.

Some companies pack tens or even hundreds of billions of CFUs per dose. But what they don’t tell you is that most of these bacteria are going to die before they ever reach your small intestine (where they exert  the most benefits).

Probiotic companies have pushed CFU count as the singular point of comparison for the uninformed. In a way, this makes sense because it gives buyers an easy number that they can use to compare competing products.

But more CFUs does not always mean more effective! And in some cases, more can be worse.

The National Institutes of Health states:

Many probiotic supplements contain 1 to 10 billion CFU per dose, but some products contain up to 50 billion CFU or more. However, higher CFU counts do not necessarily improve the product’s health effects.

How Many CFUs Do You Really Need?

CFU numbers on probiotic supplements can vary anywhere from several million to 50 billion, but  research has shown that effective probiotic dosage for general gut health seems to be in the range of 10 million to one billion CFUs per day in humans.

Another thing to keep in mind is that multi-strain probiotics will help you achieve better results than single-strain probiotics. Different probiotic strains excel at different mechanisms, so diversified collection of strains is ideal for overall health.

The Best Time to Take Probiotics

Research shows you can take probiotics before, during, or after meals. However, you may experience additional benefits if you take your probiotics with some form of healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, etc.).

Health Benefits of Probiotics

Let’s look at some of the strain-specific benefits of probiotics …

Sleep Benefits of Probiotics

We spend almost a third of our lives asleep. Researchers are discovering that the duration and quality of our sleep affect everything from our cognitive performance, mood, and memory to the health of our immune and endocrine systems.

It’s widely known that quality sleep can improve your memory, reduce inflammation (the pre-cursor to most disease), sharpen your mental focus, help you control your weight, and lower your stress levels.

Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) produce and regulate a number of neurotransmitters and hormones that impact our sleep:

Tryptophan and Melatonin: Probiotics can increase blood levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that converts into serotonin and then into melatonin, the hormone that regulates how sleepy you feel.

Serotonin: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood and plays a significant role in sleep quality. Researchers found that serotonin deficiency in rats led to disrupted sleep-wake cycles. Most serotonin is made in the gut.

GABA: Beneficial bacteria help produce GABA, the calming brain chemical, as well as enhance its brain receptors.

Cortisol: If temporary stress and anxiety are the cause of your sleepless nights, rest assured that probiotics may even lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that becomes elevated during times of stress.

So what probiotic strains have been shown to be effective for sleep? Not many, just yet.

A small study showed that the probiotic Streptococcus can help improve sleep outcomes.

Mental Health Benefits of Probiotics

The relationship between the microbiota and anxiety/depression has been studied mainly in animals … but preliminary research is promising.

Your gut microbiota plays a major role in the communication between the gut and the brain.

A review of several research studies showed that certain probiotics have antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. The researchers concluded:

Regulation of the gut microbiota using diet, probiotics and FMT (fecal microbiota transplantation) may have important benefits for preventing and treating depression.

Weight Loss Benefits of Probiotics

In a metaanalysis of over 800 studies, researchers found that:

Administration of probiotics resulted in a significantly larger reduction in body weight and fat percentage compared with placebo; however, the effect sizes were small.

Immunity Benefits

Research is still emerging in this area but it appears probiotics may be able to help you keep your immune system functioning at a higher level.

New research has shown that certain strains can activate health immune cells and decrease inflammation.

Gut Health Benefits

Several probiotic strains have been shown to help those suffering from GI issues like diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), irritable bowl disease (IBD), and food allergies.

Safety and Side Effects of Probiotics

According to the National Institutes of Health, the safety of probiotics depends on the state of your health and the strain you’re using.

In people who are generally healthy, probiotics have a solid safety record. Side effects, if they occur at all, usually consist only of mild digestive symptoms such as gas.

On the other hand, there have been reports linking some probiotics to severe side effects, such as dangerous infections, in people with serious underlying medical problems. The people who are most at risk of severe side effects include critically ill patients, those who have had surgery, very sick infants, and people with weakened immune systems.

Do your homework and ask your doctor about any certain strains so she/he can tell you whether it’s safe for you.

Bottom Line About Probiotics

the best probioticsFrom the day you were born, your digestive tract has been exposed to a steady stream of bacteria–some helpful, some harmful. One key to gastrointestinal (GI) health is maintaining a balance of these “good” and “bad” bacteria.

Over time, diet, aging, antibiotic use, travel, medications, illness, stress, and hormonal changes can disrupt your intestinal balance.

Keeping a healthy level of these “good” bacteria is key to maintaining your digestive and immune health.

To help level the playing field of good and bad bacteria, many people find it helpful to add a daily supplement or eat more probiotic fortified foods and beverages.

Like most industries, the market for probiotics is ripe with crappy products. The only way to know if your probiotic is legit is to answer the 7 questions above. If a manufacturer is hesitant to provide any information you ask for, that’s a big red flag for an inferior product that could do more harm than good.

10 minutes of research makes a world of difference when it comes to choosing the right probiotic supplement for you.

Learn More About Pure Food DIGEST (Probiotics + Prebiotics + Digestive Enzymes

Sources Not Linked to Above/Further Reading:

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-HealthProfessional/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-humans-carry-more-bacterial-cells-than-human-ones/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10564096

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204468004577164732944974356

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

https://www.the-rheumatologist.org/details/article/1386089/The_Microbiome.html

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/gut-week-do-probiotics-work-are-they-good-for-me/ 

https://experiencelife.com/article/how-to-heal-a-leaky-gut/

Healthy DIY Soylent Recipes with Organic, Real Food Ingredients

Soylent runs a website with thousands of DIY recipes.

I spent over an hour searching for one with 100% real food ingredients (no gums, fillers, additives, sugars, etc.).

I couldn’t find a single one.

So naturally (pun intended), I decided to make my own.

In my Soylent review, I answered the question, “Is Soylent good for you?” (spoiler alert: the answer was no).

In this post, I’ll show you how you can create your own healthy DIY Soylent recipes.

Let’s get started …

Bonus: Download 3 Soylent DIY printable recipe cards

My 4 Criteria for “Healthy”

1. 100% organic, plant-based, real food ingredients.

2. No added sugar.

3. A balanced macronutrient profile (carbs, fat, protein). 

4. 400-500 calorie range. 

Quite the challenge to pull off, right?

Here’s how I did it … and how my DIY recipes compare to Soylent.

INGREDIENTS

soylent ingredients
Red Flag #1: when you can’t pronounce 95% of the ingredients. (click to enlarge)

For carbs, I used oat flour, maca, real fruits and fruit powders, and other high fiber, real food sources.

Soylent uses maltodextrin, a GMO corn-based thickener and other processed starches you can barely pronounce. Just look at their ingredients label, you guys: Soylent is a science experiment gone horribly wrong … not real food.

I used higher quality, healthier sources of fat like olive, coconut, and avocado oils in my recipes. Soylent uses sunflower, canola, and algal oil powder. These oils are high in Omega-6 fatty acids (the kind that promote inflammation).

For protein, Soylent uses soy protein, which has some pros and many cons. All 3 DIY recipes use Pure Food Protein. Yes, it’s (obviously) the protein I sell. Yes, I think it’s the best plant based protein powder on the market for many reasons.

But use whatever protein powder you want, especially if cost is your biggest concern (more on this below). The type of protein powder type doesn’t make or break the recipe … just watch out for the ones that use chemicals and cheap additives though.

COST

At $1.54/serving, Soylent is cheap. Like, so cheap I have no idea how they make money. So if you’re looking for a cheap meal replacement and don’t care about ingredients/nutrition, Soylent is a great deal at least!

These healthy Soylent alternative recipes are much more expensive at $3-6/meal. Couple things to note about that though:

1. I used all organic ingredients, so you can probably save a couple bucks if you don’t buy organic if cost is a concern.

2. To knock the price down even more, buy whole fruits and seeds instead of the powders I mention below (for example, in DIY Soylent recipe #1 I wanted to create a full powdered version so I used banana powder but in recipe #4 I used a whole banana, which was much cheaper).

I recommend a high-powered blender like a BlendTec or Vitamix if you go that route. This is the Vitamix I have. It’s a couple years old but saves you a few hundred dollars compared to the new models.

Although I’ve included links to ingredients that are the best deals I found on Amazon, Costco is another great place to get deals on many of this stuff (except Pure Food … we’re only available on Amazon and here on our website … for 20% cheaper if you Subscribe & Save, I might add, which decreases the cost/serving substantially).

So long story short, if you don’t have time to cook a full meal, scoop up the awesome ingredients below and try my homemade Soylent recipes.

Healthy Soylent Recipe #1

DIY soylent recipe
My meager phone photography skills don’t do it justice, but this recipe was the best tasting, in my opinion.

Ingredients:

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 496
  • Fat: 34 grams
  • Carbs: 33 grams (7 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar)
  • Protein: 20.5 grams

Price:

$5.32/meal (496 calories)

Healthy Soylent Recipe #2

homemade soylent
This recipe has just 2 grams of sugar (plus 17 grams of fiber)!

Ingredients:

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 522
  • Fat: 25 grams
  • Carbs: 52 grams (17 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar)
  • Protein: 25 grams

Price:

$5.28/meal (522 calories)

Healthy Soylent Recipe #3

healthy soylent alternative

 Ingredients:

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 494
  • Fat: 33 grams
  • Carbs: 30 grams (12 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar)
  • Protein: 24 grams

Price:

$5.40/meal (494 calories)

Healthy Soylent Recipe #4

homemade soylent recipe

Ingredients:

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 506
  • Fat: 20 grams
  • Carbs: 60 grams (10 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar)
  • Protein: 26 grams

Price:

$3.13/meal (506 calories)

Final Thoughts

I think Soylent is a brilliant idea. I love the concept of a meal replacement drink that meets all your nutritional requirements. But Soylent’s ingredients and nutrition facts are garbage. Their last batch of powder actually got recalled because a bunch of people experienced vomiting and diarrhea (yikes!).

I’ll be updating this post in the coming weeks with more DIY Soylent recipes as I work on my new real food meal replacement product … join my email list if you’re interested in getting new recipe updates or getting a free sample of the new product when it’s ready. I’m experimenting with many of the ingredients you see in this post!



(This is the 2nd of a 2-part series. Read the first post for my full Soylent review.)

Soylent Ingredients and Nutrition Facts Review and Analysis

Before I get into my ingredients and nutrition facts reviews and analyses for Soylent’s protein products, let me say this …
I love the idea of Soylent: a convenient, inexpensive way to get a full meal.
If you take a closer look at the ingredients and nutrition panel though, there are a few red flags you need to be aware of if you care about the foods you put in your body.

In this Soylent review, you’ll find out exactly why.

Click/tap the links below to jump to each section …

Get Instant Access to My 3 Healthy DIY Soylent Recipe Cards Here


What Is Soylent Made Of? Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Review

I’ve reviewed a lot of different protein powders. If there’s one single piece of advice I can offer when deciding for yourself whether a product is “healthy,” it’s this:

The nutrition facts and ingredients are the only objective sources of truth.

Let’s have a closer look at the nutrition facts for both Soylent bottle (liquid) and pouch (powder). We’ll start with Soylent Drink.

Soylent Drink 2.0 is the current version of their liquid ready-to-drink bottle, which is now available in three flavors: Original, Cacao, and Nectar. 1.8 is the current version of the powdered formula. Here are the nutrition facts labels for each:

Soylent 2.0 Drink Nutrition (Original):

soylent 2.0 nutrition

Soylent 2.0 Drink Nutrition (Cacao):

is soylent healthy

Soylent 2.0 Drink Nutrition (Nectar):

soylent nectar nutrition facts

Soylent 1.8 Powder Nutrition Facts:

soylent 1.8 powder nutrition facts

Upon first glance, you might think these are healthy.

Here’s where this review gets a little ugly though if you’re a Soylent fan.

Each “meal” has between 9 and 15 grams of added sugar. Newly proposed recommendations provided by the WHO encourage limiting added sugar to less than 5% of your total energy intake each day. That’s just 100 calories’ worth of sugar (or around 25 grams) for someone who eats 2,000 calories per day!

So 60% of the sugar you’re supposed to eat in an entire day is in a single serving of Soylent Powder!

According to Soylent’s website:

The Soylent recipe is based on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and is regulated as a food by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Uh, call me crazy, but where does the IOM (or any other respectable health organization) recommend 15 grams of added sugar in a single meal?!

But this isn’t even the worst part.

We haven’t gotten to the ingredients yet …

Soylent Ingredients

First, I’ll call your attention to this graphic from Soylent’s website:

soylent review
Thanks, Soylent, for being “transparent” about your low standards for ingredients. Source: www.soylent.com

As you can see, the ingredients in Soylent are:

  1. Not organic (which means there’s a high likelihood there are chemical pesticides and herbicides in your meal replacement shake)
  2. Not kosher-free
  3. Not GMO-free (Soylent actually says their products are “proudly made with GMOs“)
  4. Not allergen-free

Here are the complete ingredient lists for Soylent’s current releases of their Drinks and Powder:

Soylent 2.0 Drink (Original):

soylent ingredients - bottle

Soylent 2.0 Drink (Cacao):

soylent drink - cacao

Soylent 2.0 Drink (Nectar):

soylent nectar ingredient list

Soylent 1.8 Powder Ingredients:

soylent powder ingredients

These sounds more like chemistry experiments than real food.

There’s a lot of cheap fillers and additives in those ingredients lists but I want to call your attention to a few, in particular, you might want to consider avoiding …

Click on the links below to read about the potential dangers and side effects of the following Soylent ingredients. I’ve summed up each in parentheses too.

  • Soy Protein Isolate (cheap protein source usually produced from GMO and chemical-ridden soybeans; derived using petroleum-based hexane; common allergen and cause of inflammation)
  • Natural Flavors (the 4th most common ingredient on food labels; consist of a “natural” extract combined with potentially hundreds of chemical compounds that food companies don’t have to disclose, thanks to the FDA)
  • Maltodextrin (GMO corn-based starch used to thicken processed foods)
  • Soy Lecithin (GMO soy-based thickener/emulsifier that may promote inflammation)
  • Sucralose (artificial sweetener that caused cancer in animal studies; still approved by the FDA for some crazy reason)

What Does Soylent Taste Like?

I didn’t case for the taste for either Soylent bottle (2.0) or pouch (1.8). It’s kind of like a thick, malty mush. Not gag-worthy by any means but not good either. The Cacao and Nectar Drinks tastes better but that’s because they use so-called “natural” flavors (see link above).

I’ve heard that earlier versions were too sweet so they reduced the sweetness level in the latest version. It’s still too sweet for my liking.

Its grey color is a little off-putting for me but this may not be an issue for others.

I realize this is only my opinion about how Soylent tastes and not a very objective answer. If you’d like to hear what others have to say, check out the answers to this question on Quora: What does Soylent taste like?

Soylent Price

One of Soylent’s biggest draws is its cost—it’s pretty cheap. This comes as no surprise when you look at their list of unhealthy, processed junk ingredients.

Here’s how much Soylent costs:

Soylent Drink 2.0 Original Price: 

$34 for 12 bottles ($2.83 per 400 kcal serving) or $32.30 for 12 bottles with a monthly subscription ($2.42 per 400 kcal serving)

Soylent Drink 2.0 Cacao Price:

$39 for 12 bottles ($3.25 per 400 kcal serving) or $37.05 for 12 bottles with a monthly subscription ($3.09 per 400 kcal serving)

Soylent Drink 2.0 Nectar Price: 

$39 for 12 bottles ($3.25 per 400 kcal serving) or $37.05 for 12 bottles with a monthly subscription ($3.09 per 400 kcal serving)

Soylent Powder 1.8 Price:

$64 for 35 meals ($1.83 per 400 kcal serving) or $154 for 35 meals with a monthly subscription ($1.54 per 400 kcal serving).

Soylent Recall

It seems like every time I blink, there’s another Soylent recall …

Soylent recalled their 1.6 Powder in late 2016 after it made a lot of people sick.

Then 1.7 was released after a messy dispute with one of their ingredient suppliers.

Just a month later, they released version 1.8, adding “soluble corn fiber,” which they claim is a “truer source of fiber to the consumer,” whatever that means.

Then 1.8 was recalled due to “undeclared allergens.”

Mistakes happen in the food industry, I get it. But that’s a lot of recalls in a short amount of time.

Soylent Review: The Final Verdict

My Soylent review can be summed up in three words:

Not. Real. Food.

Sure, it satisfies your daily calorie requirements—but it may do your body more harm than good because of all the artificial, processed, junk ingredients.

Look for a meal replacement powder with ingredients sourced from organic whole foods instead.

This is the first of a two-part series. Check out the next post: Healthy DIY Soylent Recipes with Organic, Real Food Ingredients

Best Plant Based Protein Powder Reviews / Comparison Chart

The best plant based protein powder for you may be completely different than me.

Your age, activity level, health goals, pre-existing conditions, and hormones all play a part in determining the right powder for you.

Generally speaking though, there are two pieces of objective data we can use to evaluate “the best” protein powders:

1.) The ingredients, and 2.) The nutrition facts.

For this review, we analyzed the nutrition and ingredients for 20+ of the (supposedly) healthiest and best plant based / vegan protein powder brands.

If you currently use (or are looking to find) a healthy plant-based protein powder, here’s some bad news:

99 percent of plant based protein powders we analyzed (even the “best” organic protein powder brands) have chemical additives, fillers, gums, and/or sugars.

If you want to find the ideal plant protein powders for your health, our reviews will reveal:

  • Why most whey and vegan protein powder brands are not what they say they are (and 5 questions you should always ask to find the cleanest and healthiest ones). 
  • Why most vegan protein powder reviews you find online are biased. 
  • What several top health experts (including a world renowned cardiologist) look for in their protein powders. 
  • How 20+ of plant protein powders compare in terms of ingredients, nutrition, and cost.

This review is massive at 2,800+ words … so we broke it up into three sections. Scroll down or click/tap the green and grey boxes below to navigate to each section.

 

Note: We do sell our own organic plant-based protein powders, which of course means we’re biased. That’s why these reviews are NOT based on subjective criteria like taste; rather, we will look at how our products compare to the competition when it comes to: 

  1. Protein Sources
  2. Nutrition (calories, protein, and sugar per serving; sweeteners used)
  3. Ingredients (gums, flavors, fillers used; organic ingredients)
  4. Cost Per Gram of Protein

Why Most Plant Based Protein Powder Brands Are BAD for Your Health

Protein manufacturers spend lots of dough to convince you their products are “clean” and healthy. We’re talking millions of dollars on marketing and fancy packaging with bogus health claims.

But fear not, because there’s an easy way to cut through their b.s. and find out if a protein shake is actually good for you. The first step:

Read and understand the nutrition facts and ingredients in your protein powder.

It’s the only objective piece of information you have to judge whether the ingredients are “clean” and “healthy” or not. Here are 5 things to look for on the nutrition panel/ingredients list:

1. How many grams of sugar do you see?

Sugar is sugar. It all turns to fat in your body. Doesn’t matter if it’s from honey, maple syrup, molasses, or coconuts (although I do enjoy raw honey in moderation).

Bottom line: Avoid all protein powders with added sugars. 

2. Which artificial sweeteners do they use instead of real sugar?

A “clean” plant protein should definitely not contain chemical sugars like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose anymore. But protein manufacturers are notorious for sneaking so-called “all-natural” sweeteners that may not be so good for you into their products. Here are a few to be wary of:

best vegan protein powder
  • Xylitol is a cheap, processed “sugar alcohol” that can cause serious gut imbalances.
  • Monk fruit (luo han guo) is a popular sweetener many protein powder companies use. It’s commonly made using ethanol chemical resins and often contains junk fillers. Organic monkfruit extract that doesn’t contain extra fillers is a good sugar-free sweetener (the taste can be extremely bitter when companies use too much though, which is often the case). 
  • Stevia. The stevia most protein companies use is chemically-derived and loaded with fillers. Organic stevia leaf extract is the healthiest option when it comes to stevia. 

Bottom line:

The best plant based protein blends use organic, real food ingredients and all-natural (or no) sweeteners … not fillers and junk.

And again, 1 gram of total sugar should be your limit per serving.

3. What other highly-processed ingredients (flavors, gums, fillers, etc.) do they add?

Here are a few ingredients you’ll find in the majority of the so-called healthiest protein powders:

  • Natural flavors. Up to 90 percent of “natural” flavors have chemical solvents and preservatives. If you see them on the ingredients list, make sure you ask the manufacturer how they’re made and what’s in them.
  • Gums. Many so-called clean plant protein powders contain gums like carrageenan, guar, xanthan, locust bean, konjac, and acacia. Gums make vegetable protein products easier to mix and blend … but there are some reasons for concern with some of them. Many people report gut issues and certain gums have been shown in clinical studies to produce laxative effects, gas, and bloating. I recommend people with sensitive guts and GI issues avoid protein powders that have gums.
  • Lecithins. The most common way to make lecithins involves using a petroleum-based neurotoxin called hexane. Avoid powders with this cheap soy- and sunflower-based filler … or at the very least make sure it’s organic if your powder has it.
plant protein comparison chart
plant protein comparison chart This is why it’s so hard to find a healthy protein powder–you have to cut through a lot of b.s. to find the hidden junk.

Bottom line: Avoid vegan protein powder with flavors, gum, or lecithins if you have a sensitive gut.

4. What types of protein do they use?

Whey has long been considered the gold standard for packing on muscle.

And it’s true: whey has a lot of clinical evidence that shows it’s a good source for those looking to improve body composition.

However, whey protein brands like to talk up their efficacy without mentioning the possible side effects. And there are lots of them for many folks.

If whey works for you, that’s great. Regardless of whether you choose a whey or plant protein, I recommend sticking with a protein powder with organic ingredients though.

If the ingredients in your protein powder are not organic, chances are it’s sprayed with pesticides, and most of these powdered vegetable ingredients come from countries outside the U.S., where regulations may not be as strict.

Whether you choose a plant-based or animal protein like whey, pay a little more for organic. It’s worth it for the sake of your health.

Bottom line: If your protein powder isn’t organic, you’re likely drinking chemical pesticides with that protein shake.

5. How are their ingredients processed?

This is a tricky one because protein manufacturers rarely disclose this information.

Most whey protein is made using a high heat, acid-flushed process. Many companies that use plant-based / vegetable proteins also use high temperature processing methods, and some even use hexane.

These high-heat, chemical methods destroy vital nutrients in the plant and are definitely not things you want to be ingesting. 

A small handful of protein manufacturers will disclose how they make their proteins. Most won’t though. When in doubt, ask. If they don’t know or don’t tell you, this is a big red flag. 

Bottom line: Always ask the manufacturer how their proteins and other ingredients are processed.

Why Most Vegan Protein Powder Reviews You Find Online Are Unreliable

Most plant protein reviews you see online have a vested interest in selling more products.

If you visit the manufacturer websites, you’ll see a cherry-picked selection of 5-star reviews. But these don’t tell the whole story. 

Amazon used to be a good source of unbiased reviews. But companies have figured out how to manipulate these and reward consumers for buying their product and leaving a good review, so these aren’t the best source of unbiased information anymore either. 

As a consumer, it’s up to you to review the ingredients, the nutrition facts, and the company to judge for yourself if it’s worth your investment. It’s no easy feat, and most people just don’t have the time to do the level of research required to make sure you’re not getting a tub full of junk ingredients from China.

So with that in mind, let’s talk about how some health experts choose their vegan protein powders … 

How to Find the Best Protein Powders: What Health Experts Say

I asked several health and wellness gurus, “What are the top things you advise people to look for when choosing protein powders?” Here’s what they said:

Joel Kahn, M.D.

America’s Holistic Heart Doc, University Professor, Founder, The Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity

no whey

“I recommend clean plant-based protein powders to my patients and use them myself in a morning smoothie. When they ask me about whey my answer is “No Whey“!”

Michelle Crowder, N.D.

Licensed Naturopathic Physician

doctor recommended protein

“In general, I recommend that my patients look for real food ingredients in anything they purchase, and avoid ingredients like artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils. If cane sugar or another refined sweetener is listed, it should be organic and one of the last ingredients listed. Look for organic, hormone-free, non-GMO products. Casein and soy tend to be more allergenic than other proteins and should be avoided in general.”

Carolyn Scott-Hamilton

TV Host & Media Personality, Celebrity Vegan Chef, Holistic Nutritionist

Carolyn-Scott-Hamilton

“For me, it must be vegan but after that I look for powders that aren’t full of fillers, sugars and extra junk. I love pure, clean powders that are non-GMO and I know how to pronounce the ingredients ; )”

Alisa Fleming

Founder, GoDairyFree

Alisa-Fleming

“Since protein powder can be a daily food, I think it’s important to be sure you are comfortable with every single ingredient. I may not be as particular about a “once in a blue moon” treat, but if it is going to be in my daily diet rotation, I want to make sure it doesn’t have any questionable ingredients.”

Myra Mingo

Founder, The Happy Health Freak

Myra-Mingo

“I look for vegan protein powders with very few ingredients, no soy or gluten and sweetened naturally without chemicals.”

Samantha Shorkey

Vegan Coach and WNBF Bikini Pro

vegetarian bodybuilder protein

“At this point in my vegan bodybuilding career, I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of the top vegan protein powders. I’ve literally tried ‘em ALL! The ones I tend to gravitate the most towards are of course, the ones that taste good, have a nice texture that isn’t too gummy, chalky or gritty and are high in protein but low in fats and carbs. I prefer to eat my calories rather than drink ‘em so texture and consistency is super important. I want my protein “pudding” to be creamy. I also try to avoid protein powders that are chalk full (no pun intended) of added sugars or fake sugars. Usually the natural sweetness of vanilla and cinnamon is enough for me (and better for staying lean.)”

Best Vegan / Vegetarian Protein Powder Reviews: Compare 20 Brands

Use our plant protein comparison chart to see some of the best protein powder and nutritional shake brands on the market.

All of these guys make claims about being “clean, “healthy” and “natural”. When you start to peel back the curtain though, you’ll see there’s a lot of hidden junk in pretty much all of most popular brands

best plant based protein powder

Click/tap the numbers below to skip to each section or just scroll down to compare 20 vegan / vegetarian protein brands.

1

Protein Sources

pure food protein
Organic fermented pea protein Organic sprouted and fermented whole grain brown rice protein Organic hemp protein
PlantFusion Chocolate Pea protein isolate, artichoke protein, organic sprouted amaranth, organic sprouted quinoa
Vega One Pea protein, sunflower seed protein, pumpkin seed protein
Aloha Chocolate Organic pea protein, organic pumpkin seed protein, organic hemp seed protein
Skoop Chocolate Organic pea protein, organic rice protein, organic hemp protein
SunWarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate Organic pea protein, organic hemp protein
Orgain Organic Protein Powder – Chocolate Organic pea protein, organic brown rice protein, organic chia seed, organic hemp protein
Garden of Life Organic Chocolate Protein Organic sprouted brown rice protein
Sprout Living Pea protein isolate, hemp protein powder, rice protein concentrate
Lifetime Life’s Basics Pea protein concentrate, organic brown rice protein concentrate
MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha Pea protein concentrate, organic brown rice protein concentrate
Body Ecology Fermented Chocolate Protein Shake Pea protein, mushroom protein blend
Healthforce Organic sprouted brown rice protein, organic hemp protein
Kachava Organic sprouted brown rice protein, organic hemp protein
Yuve Pea protein isolate, rice protein concentrate
Philosophie Organic hemp seed protein, organic reishi mushroom
Sann Pea protein isolate, rice protein isolate, artichoke protein
22 Days Nutrition Organic pea protein, organic flax, organic sacha inchi
Growing Naturals Chocolate Power Rice Protein Organic brown rice
Boku Organic brown rice, organic cranberry
2

Calories, Protein, Sugar (g) Per Serving and Sweeteners Used

 
Calories
 
Protein
 
Sugar
 
best vegetarian powder
134
20
1
Organic stevia leaf powder
PlantFusion Chocolate
120
21
1
Monkfruit, Stevia
Vega One Chocolate
140
20
2
Stevia leaf extract
Aloha Chocolate
150
18
4
Organic coconut sugar Monk fruit extract
Skoop Chocolate
150
20
1
Organic stevia extract Organic coconut sugar
SunWarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate
100
17
0
Erythritol Organic rice dextrins Organic stevia extract
Orgain Organic Protein Powder – Chocolate
150
21
0
Organic stevia extract
Garden of Life Organic Chocolate Protein
90
17
1
Organic stevia leaf
Sprout Living
110
19
1
Organic red banana Organic baobab fruit Organic stevia leaf powder
Lifetime Life’s Basics
134
22
5
Fructose Xylitol Stevia
MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha
130
24
0
Stevia extract Monk fruit extract
Body Ecology Fermented Chocolate Protein Shake
110
15
1
Stevia extract
Healthforce
100
17
2
Organic whole stevia leaf
Kachava
220
24
8
Erythritol Oligosaccharides Stevia
Yuve
155
16
2
Stevia leaf extract
Philosophie
55
10
0
Organic mesquite
Sann
116
21
1
Fructose Stevia
22 Days Nutrition
100
16
2
Organic stevia leaf extract
Growing Naturals Chocolate Power Rice Protein
120
25
3
Organic brown rice syrup solids Organic stevia
Boku
120
18
4
Vermont maple syrup Organic lucuma fruit
3

Free of Natural Flavors & Gums/Thickeners

FREE OF NATURAL FLAVORS
FREE OF GUMS/ THICKENERS
PlantFusion Chocolate No (natural chocolate flavor) No (silica, xanthan gum)
Vega One Chocolate No (natural chocolate flavor) No (xanthan gum)
Aloha Chocolate
No (xanthan gum, organic sunflower lecithin)
Skoop Chocolate No (organic flavor, natural flavor) No (organic acacia gum)
SunWarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate No (organic chocolate flavor blend) No (organic guar gum)
Orgain Vegan Protein Powder – Chocolate No (natural flavor, organic natural flavors) No (organic guar gum, organic acacia gum, xanthan gum)
Garden of Life Organic Chocolate Protein No (natural chocolate flavor, natural vanilla flavor)
Sprout Living
Lifetime Life’s Basics No (natural chocolate flavor)
MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha No (natural chocolate mocha flavor) No (konjac gum, guar gum, tara gum)
Body Ecology Fermented Chocolate Protein Shake No (natural cocoa flavors with other natural flavors) No (natural cocoa flavors with other natural flavors)
Healthforce
Kachava No (natural chocolate flavors) No (alkalized cocoa, xanthan gum, guar gum)
Yuve No (natural flavors) No (corn starch powder, guar gum, xanthan gum)
Philosophie
Sann No (natural flavor) No (glycine, guar gum, lecithin)
22 Days Nutrition No (organic chocolate flavor) No (organic chocolate flavor)
Growing Naturals Chocolate Power Rice Protein No (organic flavor) No (organic guar gum, organic gum arabic, organic sunflower oil)
Boku
No (organic guar gum)
 
4

Organic Ingredients, Probiotics Added and Cost Per Gram

Organic Protein Sources
Probiotics Added
Cost Per Gram
protein powder review
Bacillus coagulans
0.06
Bacillus coagulans
0.06
PlantFusion Chocolate No No
0.04
Vega One Chocolate No No
0.05
Aloha Chocolate No No
0.08
Skoop Chocolate
Lactobacillus plantarum Lactobacillus bulgaricus
0.11
SunWarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate
No
0.06
Orgain Organic Protein (Chocolate)
No
0.02
Garden of Life Organic Chocolate Protein No
Bacillus subtilis Lactobacillus bulgaricus
0.04
Sprout Living
No
0.07
Lifetime Life’s Basics No No
0.04
MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha No No
0.03
Body Ecology Fermented Chocolate Protein Shake No
Lactobacillus, Saccharomy ces, Bifidobacterium longum
0.10
Healthforce
No
0.06
Kachava No
Lactobacillus rhamnosus Lactobacillus acidophilus
0.08
Yuve No No
0.08
Philosophie
No
0.11
Sann No No
0.07
22 Days Nutrition
No
0.11
Growing Naturals Chocolate Power Rice Protein
No
0.06
Boku No No
0.09

 

 

*Note: I usually update this post at least once per month. However, if you see something that looks inaccurate or you’d like me to analyze and add another product, shoot me an email (Scott@purefoodcompany.com).

Final Thoughts: What Is The Best Plant Based Protein Powder?

“Best” is subjective and depends on your unique health goals and needs. If you value ingredients and nutrition over taste, my criteria for finding the healthiest protein powder for you are pretty simple:

1. Look for ingredients that are organic and come from whole food sources you can pronounce without any additives like fillers, gums, or flavors.

2. Find out the amount of protein per serving, the protein sources, sugar content, and cost per serving in grams. 

Is Pure Food Protein a Good Fit for You?

Here’s me being (probably too) honest: if you’re looking for the best tasting plant protein powder, Pure Food isn’t it. We don’t add sugar, artificial junk, and chemical-ridden flavors to make our product taste better.

But if you’re done settling for “average” protein powders and the junk ingredients that wreak havoc on your body and want to try a product that will actually have a positive impact on your health (and the world), then try

The HEALTHIEST plant protein with 100% real food, organic, vegan ingredients +probiotics. 

Not only does Pure Food have the best ingredients, it’s the best value for the money at $.06/gram (the same price as Vega, which is NOT organic and has all types of fillers, additives, and “natural” flavors).

Find Out If Pure Food Is Right for You Save

Whey vs Plant Protein: Benefits, Side Effects, Risks, and Myths

Whey vs. plant protein: it’s a topic of much debate. In this article, I’ll break down the science and tell you about some of the pros and cons of each you may not have known about.

First, a quick story …

One of my favorite ways to exercise over the last 25 years has been resistance training. In my teens and twenties (I’m 40 now), after every workout I’d choke down a whey protein shake.

I’d always feel super bloated afterwards. And by the time I reached my thirties, my gut was a complete mess. I saw countless doctors, including several GI specialists, and spent some time in the hospital trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

In addition to discovering I had an autoimmune condition called reactive arthritis caused by a food borne pathogen (salmonella), I learned I was one of the 65% of people who can’t digest dairy properly. Yet I was exposing my gut to dairy-derived whey and casein protein powders on a daily basis for years!

Now, as someone who studies food science and reads clinical studies in his free time, I know this story is anecdotal. It’s just one example that doesn’t lend much credibility to the plant vs whey protein argument.

However, once I started digging into the science, I found that while whey may be an effective source of protein for some, for others it may be doing more harm than good.

So in this article, we’ll look at:

  1. What whey protein is and how it’s made.
  2. The potential benefits, risks, side effects of using whey and plant proteins.
  3. The criteria I recommend when choosing protein powders.

Click on each button below to navigate to each section.

 

What Is Whey Protein?

Milk contains two types of protein: casein and whey. Whey is found in the watery portion of milk. When cheese is produced, the fatty parts of the milk coagulate and the whey is separated from it as a by-product.

Q: Is Whey Protein Vegan? 

A: No, whey comes from cows so it’s therefore not vegan.

Whey Protein Benefits

Whey is a well-absorbed source of protein that’s very useful for hitting targeted daily protein goals.

Its benefits include muscle gain (in conjunction with resistance training), limiting muscle loss during low-calorie diets, and modestly limiting fat gain during periods of excessive calorie intake.

These effects aren’t exclusive to whey protein but it will likely be more effective than most other protein sources per gram.

Whey Protein Side Effects, Drug Interactions, Dangers, and Risks

plant based protein vs whey

Harvard Medical School says that one of the possible side effects of dairy-based proteins like whey is digestive distress.

People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder.

A 2020 research review published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism said:

Chronic and without professional guidance use of whey protein supplementation may cause some adverse effects specially on kidney and liver function.

Another study found that long-term high protein diets, particularly those high in meat and dairy protein, led to increased incidences of:

  • Bone and calcium homeostasis disorders.
  • Renal function and liver disorders.
  • Cancer.
  • Coronary artery disease.

As mentioned above, up to 65 percent of people are lactose intolerant, and obviously if you have a known allergy or sensitivity to milk or milk products, you should avoid whey protein powder.

Whey Protein Drug Interactions 

According to the Mayo Clinic, whey protein may interact negatively with certain drugs, including:

  • Albendazole (Albenza). Avoid using whey protein if you are taking this parasite-killing drug. The supplement might delay or hinder the drug’s effects.
  • Alendronate (Fosamax). Use of whey protein with this drug used to prevent or treat osteoporosis might decrease absorption of the drug.
  • Certain antibiotics. Use of whey protein with quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics might decrease your absorption of the drug.

Whey Protein Myths

The biggest whey protein myth you’ve probably heard often is that whey is more “bioavailable” and “complete”

“Bioavailability” is a scientific term used to describe the extent to which a substance is absorbed in your body.

Problem is, the standard measures don’t hold up too well to scientific scrutiny when it comes to measuring protein powders. A few examples:

  1. Biological Value (BV), which measures how efficiently your body uses protein, doesn’t take into account several key factors that influence digestion and interaction with other foods.
  2. Protein Efficiency Ratio Value (PER), which measures the effectiveness of protein based on animal growth, has only been demonstrated in animal studies—which means it doesn’t necessarily correlate to humans.
  3. Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAA) is a measure created by the World Health Organization (WHO) to more accurately measure protein digestibility in malnourished people. Most plant proteins have PDCAA scores far below whey’s perfect 1.0. But some can be combined to create amino acid digestibility scores just as good as whey.

Long story short, most of the evidence about bioavailability of protein powders is anecdotal.

There is NOT a significant body of evidence to support whey protein as being more effective than other protein sources.

  • A 2021 study found that whey and plant protein were equally effective in supporting lean muscle gains.
  • A 2019 study showed similar body composition improvements after taking whey and pea (plant-based) protein for 8 weeks.

Contrary to popular opinion, whey protein is not better than vegan protein for weight loss either.

Examine.com offers up this conclusion based on clinical studies:

is whey protein good for youThe influence of whey protein on weight per se is highly unreliable, and is subject to the overall context of the diet. Protein in general can aid weight loss attempts and is required to build lean mass, with whey not having any demonstrated benefit over other protein sources.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23107546

https://examine.com/supplements/whey-protein/#effect-matrix

Plant Protein Dangers

So plant protein powders like rice, hemp, pea, and soy must be better for you, right?

Not necessarily.

Some are actually worse.

Here’s why:

  1. whey protein dangersMany of the supposedly-healthy plant proteins used in foods today are processed using hexane, an explosive chemical neurotoxin that can damage your central nervous system. Using hexane is an efficient and highly profitable way for food manufacturers to remove oil from plants.
  2. Vegan protein powders that aren’t made with organic ingredients are likely to contain potentially harmful pesticides and herbicides. Since most of these plant proteins come from countries where pesticide use is not enforced, your healthy protein shake is more likely to be a chemical cocktail.
  3. Most vegan, gluten, and dairy free protein powders are made using high temperature processing methods, which destroys the healthy nutrients in the plant and makes it harder for your body to digest.
  4. Plant protein powders are higher in heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and arsenic than dairy-based proteins.

The Final Verdict: Whey Vs Plant Based Protein

Here’s my advice based on my extensive research and personal use:

Whey protein’s potential side effects may outweigh its benefits if you’re lactose intolerant.

And since an estimated 65% of people are lactose intolerant, it stands to reason that many of those should probably not be consuming dairy-based proteins like whey.

That’s why if you’re lactose intolerant or feel any ill effects from whey, we recommend trying plant-based / vegan protein powder options instead.

Choose organic plant-based protein powders that:

1) Only have all-natural ingredients you recognize as real food that are grown in the U.S, Canada, and Europe.

2) Are low in sugar, and

3) Have some dietary fiber.

When in doubt, ask the manufacturer how their proteins are made, where they come from, and if their ingredients are organic. If they won’t tell you this information, it’s time to pick another protein powder, whether you’re protein of choice is whey, plant, or something else.