Purely Inspired Protein Powder Review

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

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

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

In this review, I will reveal why.

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Purely Inspired Protein Powders are sold at these stores:

Purely Inspired Protein Powder Review

Hats off to them for their retail success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purely Inspired Protein Powder Reviews

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

They offer two types of protein powder:

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

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

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

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts

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

Purely Inspired Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Plant-based Protein Powder

purely inspired protein powder nutrition facts ingredients

Whey Protein and Greens

whey protein and greens nutrition

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

 purely inspired organic protein powder whey protein & greens

Organic Protein

Whey Protein & Greens

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

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

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

Purely Inspired uses lots of “filler” ingredients. Each can have a major impact on your health (particularly your gut).

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

  • Natural flavors (may be made of hundreds of chemical ingredients)
  • Carrageenan and other gums like cellulose, xanthan, guar, acacia (gums are serious gut disrupters)
  • Maltodextrin (a corn-based derivative used as a thickener that can spike your blood sugar and negate the benefits of probiotics)
  • Whey protein (may do more harm than good if you’re sensitive to dairy products)

2. Cane Sugar

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

Sugar is sugar, my friends. 

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

Purely Inspired Protein Powder Review: The Final Verdict

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

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

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

best plant-based protein powders

Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder Review

If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know I’m not a fan of Orgain, Vega, PlantFusion, Garden of Life … pretty much every major protein powder company on the market.


Because I base my protein powder reviews on two objective criteria: the ingredients and nutrition facts label.

And if you look at the ingredients and nutrition facts label for every single one of those companies above, you’ll see they use gut-disrupting additives, emulsifiers, “flavors,” and/or sugars.

Yet they market their products as “natural,” “clean,” etc.

And it works … ‘cuz people buy lots of their products.

However …

Sprout Living is one of two companies (out of hundreds) whose protein powders I actually recommend, aside from Pure Food

In this review, I’ll tell you what I like so much about this company and its products after doing an in-depth analysis of its nutrition facts and ingredients lists.

Let’s get into it …

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Who Is Sprout Living?

Sprout Living was started by a couple of brothers who have a similar mission to me (bonus points for that).

They sell the following products:

sprout living epic protein powders
source: sproutliving.com

Now, as I mentioned above, the way I do my reviews is by analyzing the Ingredients and Nutrition Facts. 

Let’s take a look at them for each of Sprout Living’s products …

Epic Protein Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

Sprout Living has this to say about the Epic Protein product line:

Epic Protein is an organic plant protein powder made from four vegan protein sources handpicked for their balanced and complete protein, natural bioavailability and rich nutritional synergies. Exotic whole superfoods add an array of nutrients and a burst of real flavors, resulting in a harmonious blend of silky smooth and delicious protein powder.

And here are the nutritionals/ingredients …

epic protein powder nutrition facts

Simple Protein Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

Here’s how Sprout describes their Simple Protein Powder:

Crafted for the purists at heart, Simple Protein is our line of 100% single ingredient protein powders made from unique whole food ingredients that contain high quality, ultra-clean, hypoallergenic and bioavailable protein as well as other inherent nutritional benefits.

That description is pretty accurate. Just one ingredient each …

sprout living simple protein nutrition facts

Sproutein Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

And finally, there’s Sproutein…

Sproutein is a nutrient-dense protein superfood that combines ten carefully selected, sprouted seeds including Amaranth, Sunflower, Quinoa, Millet, Sesame, Chia, Fenugreek, Radish, Kale and Broccoli, which have been freshly freeze-dried in order to preserve their nutrients, including bioavailable proteins, vitamins, minerals and powerful chlorophyll. Cold-pressed whole Pumpkin Seeds and Yellow Peas provide complete, multi-source protein, and exotic superfoods such as Lucuma Fruit, Goji Berries, Maca Root and Baobab Fruit increase the nutritional profiles while adding subtle notes of real flavor. The unique blend of highly-diverse ingredients provides superior plant-based protein that is empowered by an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, resulting in an ultra-clean and powerful whole food source of nutrition – the perfect boost to your healthy, active and fit lifestyle.

Here are the nutritionals …

sproutein nutrition ingredients

FD Powder Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

From Sprout Living:

FD Sprout Mixes are derived through a unique process that starts by sprouting the finest, certified organic, non-GMO seeds in mineral-rich water and then freeze-drying them in order to lock in their essential nutrients and enzymes. The dried sprouts are then gently milled into a shelf-stable powder that can be conveniently consumed in a variety of ways.

Nutrition/ingredients are as-follows …

rd sprout mix ingredients

Normally by this point in the review, I’d be pointing out all the red flags (see my Shakeology review for a good example).

But Sprout Living uses only clean, natural, real food ingredients (just like we do).

You won’t see any flavors, gums, fillers, additives, or added sugars that the big guys all use.

And at a price point of $.06/gram, the price is on par with other (alleged) premium powders on the market.

Dare I say I’m actually impressed?

Sprout Living Protein Powders: The Final Verdict

Sprout Living is one of the VERY RARE protein powders I recommend other than my own.*

The only thing it lacks is a good probiotic (Pure Food has you covered there though).

If you’re looking for a worthy Pure Food alternative, all of Sprout Living’s products: Epic Protein, Simple Protein, Sproutein, and Sprout FD Powders, get my (incredibly selective) stamp of approval.

Click here to get instant access to my FREE Google spreadsheet comparing 20+ plant-based protein powders (including Epic Protein) by ingredients, nutrition, and cost.

*P.S. A few of you have asked me why I would recommend a competitor’s product. The reason is simple: If you decide Pure Food isn’t for you, that’s fine … but I’d much rather help people discover other good products from small businesses like Sprout Living than buy the junk that Orgain, Vega, PlantFusion, Arbonne, and all the other guys sell.

Skoop Protein Powder Review

Skoop is the brain child of James Rouse, a naturopathic doctor, and friends Greg Stroh and Alex Bogusky, a former partner with advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

They sell several cleverly-named products:

  • A-Game Greens Blend
  • Endurance Beet Blend
  • Super Skoop Breakfast Protein
  • B-Strong Plant-Based Protein
  • Sleep Protein

While I admire their marketing and positioning as a former ad agency copywriter myself, I do have some concerns about what’s actually in their protein powders, in particular.

You’re about to find out why.

I’ve broken this review into two versions: a quick-and-dirty version for those who have a short attention span like me, and the full version.

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Skoop Protein Powder Review (Short Version)

First, let’s talk about what I like about Skoop …

  • Two of Skoop’s protein powders (Breakfast Protein and Plant-based Protein) have 100% organic ingredients.
  • They contribute 3 percent of every purchase to Project Produce, an initiative they co-founded to help kids eat more fruits and veggies. Very cool.
  • Their marketing materials that come with the product are pretty awesome (yes, I order all my competitors products).

Now, onto what I don’t like …

In case you haven’t read any of my other reviews, I evaluate protein powders based on health and nutrition.

The way I do this is by analyzing the only objective information you will see on any packaged food:

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts

Skoop’s ingredients and nutrition facts information for their three protein powders reveal some concerns that I flagged in red:

B-Strong Plant Based Protein Organic Formulaskoop Breakfast Protein powderskoop sleep protein

B-Strong Plant Based Protein Organic Formula

Super Skoop All-In-One Breakfast Protein

Skoop Sleep Protein Powder
Grams of Protein 16 20 8
Protein Source(s)Organic pea protein concentrate, organic flax seed, organic rice protein concentrateOrganic pea protein, organic rice protein, organic hemp protein Organic pea protein, organic rice protein
Grams of Sugar 3 1 4
Free of “Natural” FlavorsNoNoNo
Free of Gums & ThickenersYesNoNo
Organic YesYesNo
Vegan YesYes Yes
Cost Per Gram $.08 $.12 $.09

So that’s the short and sweet version. Now let’s break down exactly why I flagged these …

Skoop Protein Powder Review (Full Version)

When reviewing Skoop’s nutrition facts labels and ingredients lists, a few things really stood out:

1. Sugar Content in B-Strong and Sleep Protein Powder

Skoop adds 3 grams of sugar to B-Strong and 4 grams of sugar to its Sleep formula, which is puzzling. The last thing you want to do before bed is eat sugary foods/drinks because they raise your blood sugar, which can block your body’s ability to burn fat (among other health concerns).

Skoop uses coconut sugar in both of these products, which I’d classify as “slightly less bad” than table sugar or HFCS.

Sugar is sugar, folks. Just because it comes from coconuts doesn’t magically make it good for you.

2. “Natural flavors

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says “natural” flavors are “Unspecified mixtures of as many as 100 flavoring substances and solvents, emulsifiers, and preservatives.”

These flavors are now the 4th most common ingredient on food labels (behind water, sugar, and salt).

You know why?

Because food companies don’t have to disclose what’s in them (and none of them do … trust me, I’ve asked).

So they exploit this loophole for all its worth.

Long story short:

Natural flavors aren’t so natural.

Skoop B-Strong’s second ingredient is vanilla flavor. That means this mystery ingredient loaded with cheap fillers and additives comprises a healthy percentage of the powder you’re ingesting.

To learn more, check out my report, “What Are Natural Flavors?“.

3. Gums, fillers, and thickeners

Here’s the problem with gums: they disrupt sensitive guts and may cause nausea, abdominal bloating and excessive gas.

All-In-One has acacia gum and Sleep has gum arabic, xanthan gum, and guar gum.

Between the sugar and gums, I don’t know how anyone is sleeping well taking this product (it’s gotta be the L-Tryptophan they add … the same chemical that makes you tired when you eat certain foods, like turkey at Thanksgiving for all you carnivores).

4. Cost

I calculate cost per gram because it takes into account different serving sizes of protein powders.

Skoop is really dang expensive!

All-in-One Breakfast protein has the steepest price point of $.11/gram, followed by Sleep Protein at $.09/gram and B-Strong at $.08/gram. To be fair, Skoop does offer a subscription option on its site where you can save 15%.

Here’s a look at the complete nutrition facts and ingredients for each Skoop protein powder:


B-Strong Plant Based Protein Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Super Skoop All-In-One Breakfast Protein Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Skoop Sleep Protein Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Nutrition Facts / Ingredients (click/tap to enlarge)skoop b strong protein powder nutrition factsall in one breakfast protein powder nutrition factsskoop sleep nutrition facts ingredients

Skoop Reviews: The Final Verdict

Great marketing.

Clever positioning.

Not the best ingredients and nutrition profiles.

Too much sugar, too many gums, flavors, and other cheap fillers. At that price point, I would expect more.

Click here to get instant access to my FREE Google spreadsheet comparing 20+ plant-based protein powders (including Skoop) by ingredients, nutrition, and cost.

Sun Warrior Protein Powder Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Review

After reviewing the ingredients and nutrition facts for Sun Warrior protein powder, I have good news and some not-so-good news for all you clean eaters out there.

First, let’s talk about what I do like about Sun Warrior products:

  1. SunWarrior Classic Plus, Warrior Blend and Illumin8 (their newest protein powder) all contain 100% organic ingredients. I give the unflavored “Natural” blends for Classic Plus and Warrior Blend a big thumbs up.
  2. Several SunWarrior protein powders contain probiotics, which may be good for your gut health.
  3. I’m a fan of the organic, sprouted whole food ingredients they use.
  4. The price is right with Sun Warrior too … their most expensive protein (Illumin8) costs around $.05/gram, which is less than other premium plant protein powders.

However …

There are also some red flag ingredients (cue dramatic music) in many of Sun Warrior’s powders you may want to think twice about if you have digestive issues or if nutrition/ingredients are your top priority when choosing a protein powder.

Find out more in this SunWarrior protein review …

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SunWarrior Protein Powder Review (Summary Version)

Like my other protein powder reviews (Vega, PlantFusion, Garden of Life, etc.), my analysis is based on the health and nutrition of Sun Warrior protein powder blends … NOT their taste.

I sell a protein powder so I am clearly biased … but this is a short checklist I use when buying most packaged products:

  • Organic, clean, plant-based, real food ingredients
  • No added sugars or other artificial sweeteners used
  • None of these junk ingredients:
    • Soy
    • Corn
    • Dairy
    • Gluten
    • Flavors
    • Gums

SunWarrior meets most of these criteria … but not all. 

Here’s a summary of what’s in each of their 4 main protein powders (I noted my red flags and will tell you more about each below the chart):

sunwarrior protein classicclassic plus protein powderwarrior blend powderillumin8

Classic Protein (Vanilla)

Classic Plus (Vanilla)

Warrior Blend (Chocolate)

Illumin8 (Vanilla)

Grams of Protein15 18 16 20
Protein Source(s)Rice proteinOrganic pea, organic rice, organic quinoa, organic chia, organic amaranthOrganic pea, organic hempOrganic pea, organic rice, organic flax, organic chia
Grams of Sugar 1 00 5
Free of “Natural” FlavorsNoNoNo No
Free of Gums & ThickenersNoNoNoNo
VeganYes YesYesYes
Cost Per Gram $.03 $.04 $.04$.05
Nutrition Facts / Ingredients (click/tap to enlarge)sunwarrior protein powder nutrition factsclassic plug vanilla ingredients warrior blend chocolate nutrition ingredientsillumin8 nutrition facts information label

There’s a reason I highlighted the things above in red …

It’s because these “gums” and “flavors” are often not as “natural” as food companies would have you believe … and some can even disrupt your gut health.

Read on to find out more …

SunWarrior Protein Powder Review / Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

As I mentioned, SunWarrior has some good things going for it: organic ingredients, probiotics, quality protein sources.

I actually highly recommend the following products for anyone looking for a cheap, organic, plant-based protein powder:

Classic Plus Natural Protein Powder

classic plus protein ingredients

Warrior Blend Natural Protein Powder

warrior blend natural ingredients nutrition


There are some concerns I have with SunWarrior protein powder (the flavored version, at least)

On Sun Warrior’s website, they say:

We believe that plants provide the cleanest and most powerful foods, rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phytonutrients we’re just beginning to understand. Our bodies crave real food, especially in this age where we heavily process everything we eat, stripping out all the benefits and nutrition well before we have a chance to use them.”

That’s something SunWarrior and I definitely agree on.

Here’s my I don’t think all their product meet those criteria though …

Issue #1: Most SunWarrior Protein Powders Have “Natural” Flavors

David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group, says:

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.

“Natural” flavors may contain 50 to 100 ingredients, many of which may be chemical solvents and preservatives.
Personally, I avoid products that have them because food manufacturers don’t have to disclose what’s actually in them. Read more about natural flavors here.

If you use Sun Warrior protein powder, I recommend checking with them to see what’s in their “flavor” compounds.

Issue #2: Hidden Sugar in SunWarrior Illumin8

I was surprised to see that Illumin8 has 5 grams of sugar. Check it out …

illumin8 ingredients nutrition facts

If Illumin8 were a meal replacement protein powder, I wouldn’t be as concerned.

If you’re an athlete who burns a lot of calories each day, then an extra few grams in your protein powder is not a huge deal.
But 5 grams of sugar is too much for one serving of protein powder for the average person (who consumes 3x the amount of sugar recommended in a day)!

You’re probably well aware of this already, but sugar leads to weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and a whole bunch of other bad things. There’s no reason for it in a supposed “slimming vegan nutritional shake,” which SunWarrior markets this product as.

Problem #3: Gums in All Sun Warrior Protein Powders 

Gums are common food additives used to stabilize, emulsify, and thicken the texture of processed foods.

The flavored versions of Illumin8, Classic, Classic Plus, and Warrior Blend all contain gums (either xanthan or guar … they refer to the latter as “guar fiber” in Illumin8).

Xanthan gum can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Guar gum may lead to digestive side effects like abdominal cramps and diarrhea too.

I recommend avoiding them whenever possible, especially if you suffer from GI issues.

Sun Warrior Protein Reviews Summed Up

The two SunWarrior protein powder products I recommend are:

  1. Classic Plus Natural Protein
  2. Warrior Blend Natural Protein

SunWarrior’s other protein powders all have a combination of flavors, fillers, and gums/emulsifiers. If those types of ingredients don’t matter to you and you’re just looking for a cheap organic plant-based protein, Sun Warrior is a solid choice.

But if you have a sensitive gut or are looking for the cleanest/healthiest option, you may want to try something without those ingredients.

best plant-based protein powders

Garden of Life Raw Meal and Protein Powder Review

Here’s the deal …

There are two things I really like about most of Garden of Life protein powder products: 1.) they’re cheap, and 2.) they’re organic.

However …

When I analyzed the ingredients and nutrition facts in their protein powders, I discovered some things that raised a few red flags.

In this article, I’m going to share those findings with you, so you can decide for yourself whether Garden of Life’s raw protein powders are the right choice for you.

Here are the condensed and full versions of my review:

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Garden of Life Protein Powder Review (Condensed Version)

garden of life reviews
Source: www.gardenoflife.com

Similar to my other plant protein powder reviews, I am reviewing Garden of Life protein powders based on health and nutrition … NOT taste. If you want to know what it tastes like, read the Amazon reviews.

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

  • Organic, real food ingredients
  • Amount of protein per serving
  • Protein sources
  • Added sugars or other sweeteners used
  • None of these junk ingredients:
    • Soy
    • Corn
    • Dairy
    • Gluten
    • Fillers
    • Natural flavors
    • Gums

Garden of Life meets most of these criteria …

Let’s start with what I like about Garden of Life:

  • Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Organic, sprouted grains and seeds
  • Probiotics
  • At $.04/gram, their price point is very affordable

Here’s a high-level overview of what’s in each of their 6 main protein powders (I noted my red flags and will tell you more about each below the chart):

garden of life organic plant proteinraw organic proteingarden of life raw meal proteingarden of life Raw Fitraw protein and greensSPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein
Garden of Life Organic Plant ProteinGarden of Life Raw Organic ProteinGarden of Life Raw MealGarden of Life Raw FitGarden of Life Raw Protein and GreensSPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein
Grams of Protein15 22 20 282015
Protein Source(s)Organic pea, organic chia, organic flax, organic cranberry seedOrganic pea, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, chia, flax, garbanzo bean, lentil, pumpkin seed, sesame seed, sunflower seedOrganic pea, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, chia, flax, garbanzo bean, lentil, pumpkin seed, sesame seed, sunflower seedOrganic pea, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, chia, flax, garbanzo bean, lentil, pumpkin seed, sesame seed, sunflower seed Organic rice, pea, chia, navy bean lentil, garbanzoOrganic pea, navy bean, lentil, garbanzo bean, cranberry seed
Grams of Sugar 0 00-6 (depending on flavor … see below) 06<1
Free of “Natural” FlavorsNoNoNo NoNoNo
Free of Gums & ThickenersNoNoNoYes YesYes
VeganYes YesYesYesYesYes
Cost Per Gram $.04 $.04 $.04$.04$.04$.05

Read on to find out why I highlighted the things above in red …

Garden of Life Protein Powder Reviews (Full Version)

Ok, so as we said, GOL looks pretty good at first glance. Organic ingredients, probiotics, quality protein sources.


There are a few red flags about GOL protein powders I want to tell you more about.

Let’s start with this one …

1. Most Garden of Life Protein Powders Have “Flavors”

raw fit reviews

Here’s what David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has to say about natural flavors:

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.

Vandana Sheth, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says these flavors may induce food cravings in some people too.

I emailed Garden of Life and asked, “What ingredients, specifically, do your natural flavors contain?”

Here’s what they said:

In the Organic Plant Protein and RAW Organic Meal there will be ingredients that says it’s a flavor, like Organic Vanilla Flavor, which means that the ingredients is not strictly a vanilla bean that was added to the product but an extract form. This just means it’s more concentrated so less of the ingredient can be used without altering the nutrients that are in the product. In other flavors you’ll see a combination of both like the Chocolate Cacao flavor of the RAW Organic Meal. This one will have RAW Organic Cacao which is where chocolate comes from with Organic Chocolate Flavors just to enhance the cholate taste. If you were to just have the cacao then the product will most likely not taste like what most will expect from a chocolate flavored product.

Now, I’m not saying Garden of Life’s “flavors” contain other shady ingredients like most companies add, especially since they’re organic.

However, in general I avoid products with “flavors” because they may contain other additives and preservatives.

Let’s move on and talk about red flag #2.

2. Hidden Sugar in Garden of Life Raw Protein

I was surprised to see that two of Garden of Life’s unflavored protein powder products contain 6 grams of sugar! Check it out …

Garden of Life Raw Meal

raw organic meal nutrition facts

Garden of Life Raw Protein and Greens

protein & greens nutrition ingredients

If you’re buying an unflavored protein powder, added sugar is probably the last ingredient you want in it. And “organic cane sugar” is no better than any other sugar source.

The chemical composition is exactly the same … your body will break the sugar down into glucose and fructose in the digestive tract and it will have the exact same negative effects on your metabolism.

3. Garden of Life Recall and Controversy

Garden of Life was in hot water last year when 33 people got Salmonella poisoning from their Raw Meal Organic Shake & Meal Replacement powdered mixes. The victims ranged in age from 1 year to 84 years old. I’ve had Salmonella and it was quite possibly the sickest I’ve ever felt in my life … wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Thankfully, none of the 33 people from the Garden of Life recall died.

Now, as someone who also sells an organic, plant-based protein powder I feel for GOL. These things happen in the food industry (thankfully not to Pure Food thus far).

But I found it a little odd that shortly after the recall, Garden of Life rebranded their product line from Garden of Life Raw Meal Organic Shake & Meal Replacement to “Raw Organic Meal Shake & Meal Replacement”.

4. None of GOL’s Products Are a True Meal Replacement

On its website, Garden of Life says:

Raw Organic Meal is a delicious organic MEAL-ON-THE-GO packed with incredible nutrition to help you satisfy hunger, manage weight and feel great!

Guys, 120-130 calories is not a meal … it’s a supplement or snack! Even 2 scoops is not enough for a meal replacement.

One of the few powdered meal replacements on the market, Soylent, has 400 calories, by comparison.

5. Garden of Life Nestle Acquisition

In December 2017 GOL’s parent company Atrium was acquired by Big Food giant Nestle for $2.3 billion.

Despite Garden of Life’s CEO Brain May assuring customers there are no “current plans” to change anything, many people are concerned based on Nestle’s track record of peddling junk food and investing money to thwart GMO labeling efforts.

The future of GOL’s ingredients remains to be seen.

Garden of Life Protein Powder Reviews Summed Up

The one Garden of Life product I really like and recommend is Organic Plant Protein (Unflavored). It’s a solid product with all organic, real food ingredients and contains probiotics. Here are the ingredients and nutrition facts:

organic plant protein unflavored ingredients nutrition facts

I’ve used Garden of Life’s Raw Fit protein in the past but I’ve since phased out all products with “flavors.”

Unfortunately, all Garden of Life protein powders other than Unflavored Organic Plant Protein (Raw Fit, Raw Organic Meal, Raw Protein and Greens, and SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein) contain flavors, gums, and/or sugars.

Long story short, I like their Unflavored products and their commitment to organic, real food ingredients … but can’t give their flavored ones my stamp of approval.

Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acid Chart

“Amino acids” is one of those buzz terms you probably hear quite often if you’re interested in health and wellness. After reading this article, you’ll understand:

  • What they are
  • Why you need them
  • The difference between essential, non-essential, and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs)

I’ll also show you an amino acid chart for both Pure Food Protein flavors, since it’s a common question I get from customers.

Let’s jump right in …

What Are Amino Acids?

If proteins are the “building blocks of muscle,” amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

Your body uses amino acids to make proteins that help you break down food, grow/repair muscle and other body tissue, and perform many other functions.

There are around 500 amino acids scientists have discovered. Since only 20 appear in human genetic code, we refer to these as the “standard 20“. Here they are, in all their chemical compound glory:

standard 20 amino acids

Types of Amino Acids

There are three main types of amino acids:

1. Non-Essential Amino Acids

Your body makes 11 out of the 20 standard amino acids. This means it’s not “essential” to eat foods that contain them, since your body creates enough.

The 11 non-essential AAs include: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.

2. Essential Amino Acids

Unlike non-essential AAs, your body can’t make essential amino acids, which means you must get them from the foods you eat. The 9 essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

essential amino acid chart

3. Conditional amino acids

Arginine has a star next to it in the image above because it’s also considered a “semi-essential”, or conditional amino acid. Your body only needs these types of AA’s in certain situations (when you’re stressed or sick, for example).

Conditional amino acids include arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.

So what happens when you don’t get enough essential amino acids in your diet?

First, a lack of essential amino acids from foods in your diet affects your body’s ability to use protein.

Protein deficiency impacts pretty much all of the body’s organs and systems.

Protein deficiency is one of the biggest public health problems in the world, accounting for about 30-40% of hospital admissions in developing countries.

However, most of you reading this don’t live in developing countries … so should protein deficiency really concern you?

Let’s find out the answer to one of the most common questions I get …

How do I determine how much protein I need?

The short answer: it depends.

The current recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram (or around 0.36 grams per pound) of body mass in generally healthy adults.

However, this protein intake recommendation is only to prevent protein deficiency and maintain nitrogen balance in the body (a negative nitrogen balance indicates that muscle is being broken down and used for energy).

It’s not necessarily optimal.

Studies show that athletes, active people, and older individuals may require even more protein (1.4 – 2.0 g/kg of body weight).

For healthy adults, low protein diets often lead to weight gain and increased fat mass.

Eating more protein can help increase levels of the hormone glucagon, which helps control body fat. It can also help strengthen bones as you age. And if you’re concerned about negative health effects of protein on kidney function, nearly all of these studies looked at animal sources of protein, not plant-based protein.

One of key indicators of the “quality” of a protein source is not whether or not it comes from a plant or animal … it’s the amount of BCAAs

What Are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and Why Do You Need Them?

Of the essential amino acids, three account for as much as 33% of muscle tissue – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are called Branched Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs.

Here’s a breakdown of each:

Leucine is arguably the most important BCAA because there’s clinical evidence that shows it helps your body synthesize protein. Aim for 2-3 grams of leucine per day for optimal protein synthesis. (Side Note: 1 serving of both Pure Food Protein flavors have 2 grams of leucine … more on this below)

leucine bcaa plant protein

Isoleucine is another BCAA. It can help your body regulate blood sugar levels and ensure your muscle cells are metabolizing sugar (instead of fat cells).

Researchers have yet to determine an “optimal” isoleucine level.

Valine is the third branched chain amino acid. Based on current research, it’s the least important BCAA for body composition. It’s also the least-studied, so I’ll report back when more clinical data becomes available.

bcaas valine

Do You Need a BCAA Supplement?


Get your BCAAs from real food instead.

You may have seen BCAA supplement peddlers state that BCAAs may lead to anabolic effects before, during, and after exercise. However, there are zero double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials that show BCAA supplementation is any more effective than getting your BCAAs from food.

If you eat the right amount of protein for your body type, composition, age, and health goals (see above), then there’s no reason to take a BCAA supplement.

Pure Food Amino Acid Chart: Essentials and BCAAs


Valine 1.362

Total BCAAs: 4.587 grams


Valine 1.279

Total BCAAs: 4.299 grams

Wrap Up

Getting the right amount of essential amino acids, and particularly BCAAs, does a body good.

However, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to choke down whey protein shakes and eat bloody steaks every day to get your BCAAs.

Protein that comes from meat is not “superior” to protein that comes from plants. Research shows that both protein from plant sources and animal sources seem to work equally well in increasing muscle protein synthesis.

You don’t need a supplement either to get your BCAAs each day. Eat plenty of whole, plant-based foods and if you need a little extra protein (remember, athletes, active people, and older individuals do), consider a clean vegan protein powder like Pure Food, which has 4 grams of BCAAs.

See What Pure Food Can Do for You


Plant Head Protein Powder Reviews

Plant Head makes the bold claim of being “Nature’s Highest Quality Plant-Based Protein“:

plant head protein powder review

If you’ve read any of my other plant protein powder reviews, you know my reviews are as unbiased as possible. I evaluate protein powders based on the nutrition, ingredients, and overall value for the money of each product (based on cost per gram).

I don’t review products based on taste. If you want to know what their powders taste like, read the Plant Head Protein reviews on Amazon (which have a pretty average 3.8 rating).

So back to Plant Head’s nutrition facts and ingredients …

Plant Head is definitely not the “highest quality” plant-based protein powder.

Not even close.

Here are the long and short versions of my Plant Head Protein Powder review:

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

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

Plant Head Protein Review (Short Version)

As mentioned, there are 3 factors I consider when I review protein powders:

1. Ingredients:

  • Organic, real food ingredients you can pronounce
  • No inflammation-causing soy, dairy, or gluten
  • How about fillers, flavors, or gums?

2. Nutrition Facts:

  • How much carbs/protein/fats per serving?
  • How much fiber?
  • Any added sugar?

3. Cost:

  • What’s the cost per gram and overall value of the product given the other two pieces of information above? Note: cost per gram allows you to account for different serving sizes when comparing protein powders.

Here’s nutrition facts and ingredients for each of Plant Head’s protein powders:

Plant Head Vanilla ProteinPlant Head Chocolate Flavor Protein PowderPlantHead StrawberryPlant Head Bananaplant head protein
Plant Head Protein Powder – VanillaPlant Head Protein Powder – ChocolatePlant Head Protein Powder – StrawberryPlant Head Protein Powder – BananaPlant Head Protein Powder – Unflavored
Grams of Protein1515151515
Protein Source(s)Pea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry proteinPea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry proteinPea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry proteinPea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry proteinPea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry protein
Grams of Sugar55551
Free of “Natural” FlavorsNoNoNoNoNo
Free of Gums & ThickenersNoNoNoNoNo
100% OrganicNoNoNoNoNo
Cost Per Gram$.03 $.03$.03$.03$.03
Nutrition/Ingredients (click each image to enlarge)