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?

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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.

Biotrust Low Carb Protein Powder Review

biotrust protein reviews

Before I get to my Biotrust Low Carb Protein Powder reviews, I want to tell you a quick story.

Back in the mid-90’s, I was a skinny punk teenager with aspirations of “bulking up.” I bought the cheapest protein powder I could find, which at the time meant I alternated between three brands: Optimum Nutrition, Designer Protein, and EAS.

I didn’t care what was in them … I just wanted more protein while I listened to GNR on my Discman and did nothing but bench presses and curls.

Thankfully today I’m just a little more discerning in how I choose protein powders and workout regimens.

Anyways, there’s a point to my story …

One of the founders of Biotrust worked for EAS before starting his own company. As a fellow entrepreneur, I admire how he’s been able to grow his brand. Heck, I’ve read stuff from almost every one of the people on Biotrust’s “Fitness Team,” so these guys clearly have great networking skills.

However …

Despite their boasts of top-notch quality assurance and science-backed nutrition, some of the ingredients Biotrust uses in its protein powders may have some side effects, according to research studies I’ll point out below.

In this review, I’m going to analyze the ingredients Biotrust puts in its products along with their nutrition facts labels. I’ll share some clinical studies about these ingredients.

First a disclaimer: This review is my opinion and based on my interpretation of Biotrust’s nutrition facts and ingredients list. 

Biotrust Low Carb Protein Powder Reviews

Biotrust sells 6 flavors of its low carb protein: chocolate, vanilla, cafe mocha, strawberry banana, peach mango, and chocolate peanut butter.

They have an impressive network of people promoting their product, a fully staffed Science Team, and lots of high quality marketing materials.

However, I have concerns about some of their ingredients …

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

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

Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

First, here’s a look at the nutrition facts panels and ingredient lists for all Biotrust protein powders. Below I’ll tell you which ingredients are red flags (hint: it’s most of them).

Biotrust Low Carb Protein Powder Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

Red Flag Ingredients in BioTrust Proteins

Sunflower Creamer and Lecithin

Lecithins are gummy substances left behind as a byproduct of the oil extraction of certain plants (usually soybeans or sunflowers).

The problem with these, aside from the heavy processing they undergo from their natural food state, is they’re high in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. A diet high in Omega-6 fatty acids and low in Omega-3 fatty acids can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Natural Flavors

Here’s what scientists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) say about so-called “natural” flavors:

Flavors are used almost exclusively in junk foods. Their use indicates that the real thing (often fruit) has been left out. Companies keep the identity of artificial (and natural) flavorings a deep secret and are not required to list them on food labels. That secrecy is unfortunate, because some people may be sensitive to certain flavoring ingredients, such as MSG or HVP, and vegetarians and others may not want to consume flavors that are derived from animals.

These “natural” flavors can contain hundreds of different chemicals and preservatives … and large food companies like BioTrust don’t have to reveal any of them. It’s no wonder flavors are now the 4th most common ingredient on processed food labels, behind water, salt, and sugar.

Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are types of carbohydrate that are widely used as sweeteners.

Biotrust uses a lab-made product marketed as “all natural” called Swerve, which is a combination of the sugar alcohol erythritol and oligosaccharides.

While the makers of Swerve cite one small study that showed erythritol didn’t cause as many GI issues as another popular sugar alcohol, xylitol, the fact of the matter is your body cannot break down any sugar alcohols.

Researchers have also found that erythritol is a potent insecticide.

For those reasons, if you have any GI issues whatsoever, I recommend avoiding products with sugar alcohols.

Gums

Gums are additives used to thicken foods. BioTrust uses several different types (inulin, xanthan, arabic, guar).

The problem with many gums is that your body can’t absorb and digest them, which may lead to gut health issues.

Xanthan gum, in particular, can cause unpleasant side effects like gas and bloating. People who are exposed to xanthan gum powder might also experience flu-like symptoms, nose and throat irritation, and lung problems.

Proteins

Biotrust likes to tout the superiority of its dairy-based protein blend:

And while we still include whey protein concentrate at a 25% ratio due to a number of its unique properties, we also include the more expensive, exotic proteins in our blend like slow-digesting Micellar Casein (the cream of the crop of all proteins), Whey Protein Isolate, and Milk Protein Concentrate at the same 25% ratio, to give you exactly what we’re telling you we’re giving you.

I have a few things to say about that …

First, if dairy works for you, great. For many people though, using milk-based proteins like whey can do more harm than good.

Second, casein is not “exotic” and is definitely not the “cream of the crop” of proteins.

A research review published by the University of Michigan had this to say:

Some, though not all, preliminary research has suggested that diets high in milk products, and therefore high in casein, might be associated with increased risk of type 1 diabetes and heart disease.

And this:

Animal and preliminary human research has also suggested that some types of casein protein might be associated with increased risk or severity of autism.

And this:

Animal research has suggested that a diet high in casein protein (but not a diet with similar amounts of plant proteins) might increase cancer risk.

Non-Organic Ingredients in BioTrust Low Carb

All of the non-organic ingredients in BioTrust proteins concern me because non-organic ingredients may be sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals.

If want to read more about why I recommend choosing a protein powder with all organic ingredients, check out this study.

Review Summary: Can You Trust BioTrust Protein Powders for Quality Ingredients?

BioTrust talks a big game:

We’re much more concerned about delivering only the highest-quality product to you as a consumer than we are about profiting from “cheap” production methods that don’t serve you and your best interest.

BioTrust Low Carb is made with natural ingredients. That means you won’t find any artificial colors, flavors, and most importantly artificial sweeteners in our protein… ever.

And as a former marketer myself, I’ll be the first to admit BioTrust has great marketing and an impressive team of ambassadors and advisers that no doubt have helped propel their success.

However …

I think they’re missing the most important part: a great product.

Low Carb Protein Powder has”natural” flavors, fillers, and gums.

Plus, they use zero organic ingredients, so there’s a chance your BioTrust shakes may include a steady dose of pesticides and other chemicals.

Hiring expensive scientists to produce and promote your product doesn’t make your product better.

In my (obviously biased) opinion, you can get an organic protein powder with none of the additives, fillers, gums, and “flavors” for the same price.

LifeTime VeganMax & Life’s Basics Plant Protein Reviews

lifetime plant protein powderLifetime Life’s Basics sells a protein called VeganMax.

Most of the reviews for this protein powder brand I found online were pretty good.

However …

This was surprising after I analyzed their ingredients and discovered some of the junk they put in their products!

In this article, I will share those findings with you.

*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. The facts don’t lie, 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.

Lifetime Life’s Basics and VeganMax Plant-Based Protein Powders

Lifetime sells several different types of vegan protein powders:

  1. Peak Performance VeganMax Protein (available in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Chocolate Mint)
  2. Life’s Basics Plant Protein (available in Vanilla, Chocolate, Greens, and Unsweetened)
  3. Life’s Basics Organic Plant Protein (available in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Unsweetened)
  4. Life’s Basics Pea Protein (available in Vanilla and Chocolate)
  5. Life’s Basics Lean Plantein
  6. Life’s Basics 5-Fruit Blend Plant Protein
  7. Life’s Basics Meal Replacement

Let’s look at nutrition information and ingredients lists for each …

Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

Quick Tip: You’ll see I noted “red flag” ingredients for each product below. There’s a detailed explanation of why I flagged the ingredient if you scroll down past the images to the section called “Red Flag Ingredients in Lifetime Plant Proteins”.

Here goes …

VeganMax Protein

Vanilla

Life Time Fitness Peak Performance VeganMax Protein (Vanilla)
“Flavors” is the #3 ingredient! If they’re not organic, they’re most likely full of chemicals and preservatives, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Sunflower flower is high in inflammation-promoting Omega-6 fatty acids.

Chocolate

vegan max chocolate protein
The chocolate version also has added cane sugar.

Chocolate Mint

veganmax chocolate mint
More flavors, sugars, and junk oil.

Life’s Basics Plant Protein

Vanilla

lifetime life's basics vanilla protein
Fructose = added sugar. “Natural” flavors are anything but natural. And xylitol is a sugar alcohol that may cause major gas and bloating. Read more about each in the Red Flag Ingredients section below.

Chocolate

Same as the vanilla: added sugar from fructose, sugar alcohols, and mystery “flavors.”

Greens

life basics greens ingredients
Notice something missing here? Where are the greens?! I don’t see any listed on label. Plus they add 4 grams of cane sugar … yikes.

Unsweetened

life basic unsweetened nutrition
Even the unsweetened version has natural flavors … more on this below!

Life’s Basics Organic Plant Protein

Vanilla

lifetime organic vanilla protein
More “flavors”. And the gums they add (which may cause digestive distress) aren’t organic, meaning they could be derived from a sugar-containing medium (usually GMO corn).

Chocolate

life's basics organic chocolate review
“Cocoa” is not the same as raw cacao. It’s processed using high temperature methods that destroy many of the vital nutrients.

Unsweetened

organic unsweetened protein lifes basics
Lifetime even managed to find a way to add an unnecessary filler (guar gum) to its organic, unsweetened product!

Life’s Basics Pea Protein

Vanilla

lifetime pea protein
More cane sugar, flavors, and sugar alcohols. Your gut says no thanks.

Chocolate

life basic pea powder
Again, “natural Dutch cocoa” is a fancy way of saying that they use the highly processed, heat treated version of the superfood raw cacao.

 

Life’s Basics Lean Plantein

Life's Basics Lean Plantein 
More added sugar. More flavors. More sugar alcohols. When will it stop?!

Life’s Basics 5-Fruit Blend Plant Protein

Life's Basics 5-Fruit Blend Plant Protein
Hey, I actually like the 5-fruit blend. But then there’s those pesky sugars again and a new “flavor” (natural berry).

Life’s Basics Meal Replacement

Life’s Basics Meal Replacement nutrition ingredients
160 calories is not a meal. Not sure why this product is marketed as a meal replacement. 2 scoops would be a little better … but that also gets you 10 grams of added sugar–half a day’s worth!

Red Flag Ingredients in Lifetime Vegan Protein

Now I’ll tell you why you should care about each of those red flag ingredients.

Natural Flavors

Here’s what scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) say about these so-called “natural” flavors:

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. 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.

Added Sugars (Fructose, Cane Sugar, Cane Juice)

Lifetime seems to be a big fan of adding sugar to its protein powders (fructose, cane sugar, and cane juice).

And it’s true your body needs sugar before and after a tough workout.

However, the average American consumes almost 20 teaspoons (82 grams!) of added sugar every day. The World Health Organization recommends less than 25 grams, to put this number in perspective.

In other words, there’s no need for extra sugar in your protein shake, other than to make it taste better.

That extra sugar may be doing you more harm than good though, because most people get more than enough added sugar from their daily diet already.

Get your sugar from real food like fruits and vegetables instead.

Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are types of carbohydrate that are widely used as sweeteners. Most are produced industrially, where they are processed from other sugars (usually corn sugar).

Lifetime uses a popular sugar alcohol called xylitol in many of its plant proteins. Xylitol can have a laxative effect and has been shown to alter the gut flora in animal studies.

If you have any GI issues, avoid products with sugar alcohols.

Gums

Lifetime uses guar and xanthan gums, which are popular food additives used to thicken processed foods.

Xanthan gum, in particular, can cause some side effects such as gas and bloating. People who are exposed to xanthan gum powder might also experience flu-like symptoms, nose and throat irritation, and lung problems.

One Final Red Flag to Note

All of the non-organic Lifetime plant proteins concern me because there’s a high likelihood all of those ingredients are sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals.

If want to read what scientists have to say about how these can impact your health, check out this study.

Bottom Line: Are VeganMax and Life’s Basic Protein Shakes Worth the Cost?

That’s up to you to decide.

But in my (slightly biased) opinion, you can get an organic plant protein powder with probiotics and none of the added sugars, fillers, gums, and “flavors” for the same price.

best plant-based protein powders

Almased Wellness Protein Powder Reviews

almased reviewsIn this article, I’m going to give you my (mostly*) unbiased review of Almased Wellness Protein Powder.

I’ll tell you what Almased is, analyze the ingredients and nutrition facts in it, and show you some potential side effects of those ingredients so you can determine for yourself if it’s right for your health needs.

Let’s get started …

*Disclaimer: I sell a protein powder. But I keep my reviews as unbiased as possible by focusing on two objective pieces of info in every review I write: the nutrition facts and ingredients list.

Compare 20+ protein shakes by ingredients, nutrition, cost, and more.

What is the Almased Diet Plan?

The Almased diet plan has four phases. Here’s a description of each, according to Almased’s website:

1. STARTING PHASE

You begin your Almased Diet with the Starting Phase, also known as the Fasting Phase, during which you will have three Almased shakes per day, plus home-made vegetable broth or 100% vegetable juice (ideally low in sodium). In addition, you should drink at least 64 oz of (preferably mineral-rich) water per day. You can stay on this phase from three up to fourteen days. It has been shown that a good initial weight loss at the beginning of a diet is the best prerequisite for success.

2. REDUCTION PHASE

This phase will lead to a healthy, steady weight reduction. You will have two Almased shakes per day and one solid meal, preferably for lunch. If it is more convenient to have your meal for dinner, you can, but be mindful of your carbohydrates. Please limit snacks in between meals and consume fruit in moderation, either as part of your breakfast shake or your lunch meal. This phase can be extended until you reach your desired weight loss goal.

3. STABILITY PHASE

This phase will help your body maintain its new weight long-term as you continue to lose weight at a slower pace in order to avoid the yo-yo effect. For several weeks, have two meals plus one Almased shake (ideally for breakfast or dinner to see best results).

4. LIFE PHASE

Three delicious meals plus one Almased shake (as part of your breakfast or dinner). Sustain the activity level of your metabolism after completing the three Almased weight loss phases. You will feel more motivated to be physically active, approaching your daily tasks with renewed vitality.

My Take:

The marketing team over at Almased is clearly focusing on folks who want to lose weight. Thing is though, any calorie-restricted diet will help you drop a few pounds.

In other words, it’s not the Almased that’s necessarily causing the weight loss … it’s the reduction of calories.

Anyways, I have a much larger concern than the long-term efficacy of Almased’s weight loss plan: the stuff they put in their product. 

Here’s a look at the nutrition and ingredients panels. I’ll tell you about the 3 big red flags I see here below … see if you can spot them:

Almased Protein Powder Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

 

almased shakes nutrition facts

almased ingredients

Red Flag #1: High Sugar Content

Almased has 12 grams of sugar per serving.

Now, they claim that because they use honey, which has a lower glycemic index, this high sugar content doesn’t matter.

However, sugar is sugar.

Doesn’t matter if it comes from all-natural honey or highly-processed high fructose corn syrup … they produce the same metabolic responses in your body.

Don’t get me wrong, I love indulging in a little raw honey once in a while. And I know that in its raw form, it has nutrients you can’t get from these other processed sweeteners.

But the amount of sugar from “powdered honey” in Almased protein shakes is half a day’s worth if you’re a woman and a third of a day’s worth if you’re a man.

Red Flag #2: Protein Sources

You know why Almased is so cheap?

Because they use two of the cheapest sources of protein you can find: soy protein isolate and skim milk yogurt powder.

Skim milk yogurt powder can cause digestive distress for the 65 percent of people who are lactose intolerant. 

Soy may actually have some benefits for post-menopausal women. However, soy is also one of the “Major 8” food allergens and may have inflammatory properties. And if it’s not organic (which Almased is not), you can bet it comes from GMO soybeans that have been bathed in pesticides and other chemicals. 

Which leads to my final red flag …

Red Flag #3: No Organic Ingredients

If you’re using a protein powder that doesn’t have organic ingredients, there’s a high likelihood all of those plant-based ingredients are sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals.

If you’re in the dark about how these pesticides can impact your health, read what scientists have to say.

Bottom Line: Is Almased Safe?

almased protein powder shakes

Almased shakes are cheap.

I just don’t trust these ingredients though because 1. The protein sources are highly inflammatory for too many people, 2. Not a single ingredient is organic, and 3. There’s just way too much sugar per serving.

In my opinion, the potential price you’ll pay down the road is not worth the risk when it comes to protein powders like this.

If you’re looking for a cleaner, healthier, safer alternative, then check out Pure Food instead.

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

FitMiss Delight Protein Powder / Nutritional Shake Review

fitmiss delight proteinFirst, let’s get this out of the way …

sell a protein powder.

So I may be slightly biased.

But I keep my reviews as unbiased as possible … because I focus on two objective pieces of info in every review I write: the nutrition facts and ingredients list.

The ingredients panel reveals any food product’s true colors.

MissFit Protein Powders’ ingredients are some of the worst I’ve seen.

In this article, I’m going to show you why.

Let’s jump right in …

best plant-based protein powders

First, here’s what I look for in a protein powder:

  • Organic, plant-based, real food ingredients
  • No added sugars or artificial sweeteners used
  • Free of soy, corn, dairy, gluten, and wheat
  • No flavors (so-called “natural” or artificial) or gums

With that in mind, let’s take a deeper dive into the nutrition/ingredients…

FitMiss Protein Powder Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

FitMiss doesn’t appear too bad if you give a quick glance at the nutrition label. 90 calories, 16 grams of protein, and just 1 gram of sugar per serving … what’s not to like?

[cue dramatic music]
<Unfortunately, the ingredients list tells a different kind of story. Here are the full nutrition facts and ingredient panels for their three flavors (Vanilla Chai, Chocolate, and Cappucino). Let’s see if you can spot the red flags, which I’ll tell you more about below:fitmiss protein powder nutrition facts ingredients

Red Flag #1: Artificial Sweeteners

All FitMiss protein powders contain two potentially dangerous artificial sweeteners: acesulfame potassium and sucralose.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest puts both acesulfame potassium and sucralose on their Chemical Cuisine “Avoid” list. They say this about the former:

FDA should require manufacturers to conduct high-quality, modern-day studies of acesulfame potassium or withdraw its approval of it.

But that’s nothing compared to 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.

And then there’s the 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.

Long story short, probably a good idea to avoid products that have this type of stuff. There’s just no reason for it (other than corporate greed), when there are much better, safer sweetener sources available.

Red Flag #2: Artificial and “Natural” Flavors, Fillers, and Additives

David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) said this about flavors (now the fourth most common ingredient on food labels):

Natural and artificial flavors really aren’t that different. And those “natural flavors” can actually contain synthetic chemicals! You’re right to be skeptical of the word “natural” – it’s often thrown around loosely.

Read more about natural flavors here if you’re interested in learning more.

All FitMiss Delight Protein Powder flavors also contain an ingredient called cellulose gum. It’s safe for consumption … but it’s nothing more than ground wood pulp designed by food manufacturers as a cheap way to make processed foods mix better. This is just an assumption, but it seems to me ground wood pulp wouldn’t be the best thing for those with sensitive guts.

Red Flag #3: No Organic Ingredients

I actually like that FitMiss uses a fruit and vegetable blend in their powders; however, these and all of their other ingredients are not organic. This means there’s a high certainty most of them are sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals you don’t want to be ingesting.

The problem with these chemicals is that their effects haven’t been widely studied on everyday folks like us. Most studies of the health effects of pesticides have focused on occupationally exposed people, like farm workers and pesticide applicators. For these people, studies show that:

Pesticide exposure was associated with respiratory problems, memory disorders, skin conditions, depression, miscarriage, birth defects, cancer and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

It’s safe to say eating foods grown with the use of pesticides isn’t safe, despite what the industry-influenced FDA tells you.

Red Flag #5: Protein Sources

All FitMiss protein powders use a combination of several types of whey, casein, and egg protein.

While these may be effective sources for building lean body mass, they can have serious side effects for people with GI and/or dairy sensitivities.

Red Flag #6: FitMiss Warning

Then there’s this warning listed for the product:

This product is only intended for use by healthy adults over 18 years of age. Consult your physician before using this product if you are taking any prescription or over the counter medications or supplements. Do not use this product if you are pregnant, expect to become pregnant or are nursing. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.

If a protein powder isn’t safe for pregnant women and kids, that’s a huge red flag.

Red Flag #7: Weight Loss Hype

FitMiss and their manufacturer, MusclePharm, include an ingredient called Solathin, which they claim is “the newest weight-loss innovation that helps with making you feel full faster“.

This “new innovation” was actually released in 2011 and doesn’t have a single peer reviewed clinical trial to back its supposed effectiveness.

FitMiss Protein Shake Review Summed Up

fitmiss delight shakeI was looking at some FitMiss Protein reviews on Amazon and stumbled across this statement from their product description:

FitMiss Delight also delivers a full day’s essential nutrients with quality calories.

Uh, sorry. NO protein powder delivers a full day’s worth of essential nutrients and calories.

That’s absurd (and that’s coming from a guy who sells a protein powder).

To get a full day’s worth of nutrients and calories, you need to eat real food. Protein powders are supplements–not substitutes. 

This is the stuff that bothers me, you guys.

Large BroScience (or “B.S.” for short) supplement companies like MusclePharm have been selling garbage products like FitMiss Delight for too long.

FitMiss is cheap now but is the potential price you’ll pay down the road really worth it?

If you’re looking for a cleaner, healthier, safer alternative, then check out Pure Food instead.

best plant-based protein powders

MRM Veggie Protein Powder Review

MRM Veggie Protein Powders appear to be a good choice for clean eaters upon first glance.

But in this review, you’ll find out why appearances can be deceiving!

First, a disclaimer: in case you’re new around these parts, I sell a protein powder.

This obviously invites potential bias.

That’s why I review protein powders based on two objective criteria: 1. nutrition facts and 2. ingredients.

In this review, I’ll share some alarming things I discovered when I analyzed the nutrition facts and ingredients in MRM Veggie, Veggie Elite, and Meal Replacement Protein Powders. (Note: I didn’t review their whey protein powder because I, along with my customers, don’t use whey protein powders for many reasons.)

Let’s get to it …

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About MRM

MRM sells a lot of different products …

mrm protein powder reviews

I actually like a bunch of them.

The organic whole food powders (red beet, baobab, and moringa) look like good, clean products according to their ingredient lists and nutrition panels. And I like the looks of their “Therapeutic Collection” products too.

But their vegan protein powders aren’t that great.

MRM sells three types:

  1. Veggie Protein
  2. Veggie Elite
  3. Veggie Meal Replacement

Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts information and ingredient labels for each …

MRM Veggie Protein Powders Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

Veggie Elite

mrm veggie elite protein powder reviewmrm veggie elite nutrition facts ingredients

Veggie Protein

mrm veggie proteinveggie protein powder nutrition

Veggie Meal Replacement

Veggie Meal Replacementmrm vegan meal replacement powder

Did you spot the red flags?

If not, I’ll break it down for you. There are 4 things that concern me about MRM’s veggie protein powders:

  1. Gums: Gums are food additives that are commonly used as stabilizers, thickeners, or emulsifiers. MRM uses several different types of gums in its proteins, many of which can cause digestive distress.
  2. Non-organic ingredients: This one’s a bit puzzling. MRM uses some organic ingredients (brown rice and hemp protein powders, for example). But most of their ingredients aren’t organic. Their “High ORAC Antioxidant Blend” looks great at first glance. But many of those superfruits are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of the most contaminated produce so they’re most likely sprayed with chemical pesticides.
  3. Monk Fruit Extract: Monk fruit extract is usually cut with maltodextrin or dextrose, which are derived from GMO corn and can cause spikes in blood sugar. This, of course, can lead to insulin resistance, which causes major issues (type 2 diabetes, obesity, etc.).
  4. Natural Flavors: Natural flavors are comprised of potentially hundreds of different chemical compounds, solvents, and preservatives. As long as the source of one of those is “natural”, food companies can call it a “natural flavor” and not disclose the other ingredient that go in it. Read more about natural flavors.

Bottom Line: Are MRM Vegetarian / Vegan Protein Powders Good for You?

MRM says this on its website:

We source quality ingredients to create innovative products that are a notch above the competition.

But when you peel back the curtain and look at the nutrition facts label and ingredients list, it’s clear that MRM is just another “me too” protein powder.

MRM Veggie Protein Powder has the same gums, flavors, fillers, and other crap in every other protein powder out there.

The facts are MRM a) is not organic; b) contains artificial “flavors” disguised as “all-natural,” and c) is loaded with gums and additives.

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

best plant-based protein powders

Introducing Pure Food 2.0!

new pure food protein powder

If you’ve read any of my emails or blog posts, you know that honesty, integrity, and improvement are the foundation upon which I built my small business.

I love the ingredients in Pure Food and I know my customers do too … but the taste left something to the imagination.

For Pure Food Cacao Protein, my biggest challenge was inconsistency. I realized this was due to oxidation of the coconut milk powder, which was reacting with the brown rice and changing the flavor over time. The product was never unsafe for consumption (my manufacturer has rigorous testing protocols before and after production). But it just didn’t taste that good after a few months on the shelf. This was unacceptable.

Pure Food Vanilla Protein wasn’t very “vanilla-y”. And many customers weren’t crazy about the smell and aftertaste. But vanilla bean powder is sooo expensive … like $200/lb expensive … so I couldn’t afford to use that much of it.

Long story short, I’ve spent the last year trying to figure out how to make both Pure Food flavors taste better without compromising the integrity of the ingredients.

I finally figured it out … 

The changes are subtle. In fact, the nutrition facts label and ingredient lists don’t look much different.

And that’s deliberate.

Obviously one of the most important things to me is I want the people who currently use and love my product to still love it.

So don’t panic … Pure Food is still real food!

I never have, and never will compromise on that promise.

But it tastes much better now, and that’s mainly because I found a small U.S. company that sells an amazing all-natural organic vanilla powder and it made a huge difference in the flavor. Such a difference, in fact, that I decided to put it in both Pure Food products.

Here’s a look at the updated ingredient lists, along with exactly what’s changing in each formula:

Old Pure Food Vanilla Ingredients List:

Organic brown rice protein, organic pea protein, organic hemp protein, organic mesquite, organic lucuma, organic vanilla, organic stevia leaf, GanedenBC30 probiotic

Old Pure Food Cacao Ingredients List:

Organic brown rice protein, organic pea protein, organic hemp protein, organic cacao, organic mesquite, organic coconut milk powder, organic stevia leaf, GanedenBC30 probiotic

New Pure Food Vanilla Ingredients List:

Organic pea protein, organic brown rice protein, organic hemp protein, organic vanilla, organic lucuma, organic mesquite, organic stevia leaf, GanedenBC30 probiotic

New Pure Food Cacao Ingredients List:

Organic pea protein, organic brown rice protein, organic hemp protein, organic cacao, organic mesquite, organic vanilla, organic stevia leaf, GanedenBC30 probiotic

What Changed and Why:

1. Improved protein blend so it’s more bioavailable + safer. More pea and less rice protein = lower in heavy metals w/ same nutritional benefits and a better BCAA profile.

2. Added new organic vanilla bean powder. Dramatically improved flavor. Increased magnesium levels.

 

What Changed and Why:

1. Improved protein blend so it’s more bioavailable + safer. More pea and less rice protein = lower in heavy metals w/ same nutritional benefits and a better BCAA profile.

2. Added new organic vanilla bean powder. Dramatically improved flavor. Increased magnesium levels.

3. Removed coconut milk. This ingredient was causing major flavor inconsistencies. Plus, I could no longer find a supplier that didn’t use corn-based maltodextrin.

New Pure Food Vanilla Nutrition Label: 

organic plant protein powder nutrition 

New Pure Food Cacao Nutrition Label: 

pure food cacao nutrition facts 

 

I’m confident you will love it. And if not, I offer a money-back guarantee. So give new Pure Food a whirl, because you have nothing to lose!

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, just leave a comment or email me at Scott@purefoodcompany.com.

Get Pure Food 2.0 Now

Thrive Protein Shake Review

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

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

You’ll see why in a minute.

First, a little background …

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

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

However …

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

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

Check it out …

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Le Vel Thrive Mix Protein Shake Review

Thrive sells a lot of different products …

le vel reviews

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

Here’s how all my reviews work:

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

Let’s jump in …

What Is Thrive Lifestyle Mix Protein Powder?

According to its website,

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

That’s deep.

But I don’t care much for marketing speak.

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

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

Le Vel Thrive Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

Chocolate

thrive nutrition reviews

Vanilla

thrive vanilla protein powder nutrition facts

Strawberry

thrive nutritional supplement

Apple Pie

le vel thrive ingredients shakes

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

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

Thrive Mix Shakes Nutrition Facts Summary

Calories110-125
Grams of Protein15
Protein Source(s)Whey protein concentrate, soy protein, pea protein
Grams of Sugar1-2
Free of “Natural” FlavorsNo
Free of Gums & ThickenersNo
OrganicNo
Plant-basedNo
Cost Per Gram$.08

Bottom Line: Is Thrive Protein Powder Good for You?

Thrive says this on its website:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Optifast Shakes Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However …

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

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

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts Label

Let’s dig in …

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Optifast Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

Optifast HP Shake Mix

Optifast HP Shake Mix Nutrition Ingredients

Optisource Very High Protein Drink

Optisource Very High Protein Drink Ingredient list

optisource very high protein ingredients

BeneProtein Instant Protein Powder

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

Summary of Optifast Shakes Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

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

Milk protein isolate

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

Lots of red flags here, you guys!

Here are the biggest ones …

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