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Garden of Life Raw Meal and Protein Powder Review

garden of life plant protein powder review

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

But …

When you analyze the ingredients and nutrition facts in their protein powders, you discover some things that raise a few red flags.

In this article, I’m going to share those 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:

Garden of Life Protein Powder Review (Condensed Version)

garden of life protein 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 sourced from the U.S. and Canada whenever possible
  • 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 protein powders:

  • Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Organic, sprouted grains and seeds
  • Probiotics
  • At $.04/gram, their price point is very affordable
  • The Unflavored version contains no sugar, stevia, gums, or other additives

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 protein raw organic protein garden of life raw meal protein garden of life Raw Fit raw protein and greens SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein

Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein

Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein

Garden of Life Raw Meal

Garden of Life Raw Fit

Garden of Life Raw Protein and Greens

SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein
Calories 90 110 120 170 130 85
Grams of Protein 15  22  20  28 20 15
Protein Source(s) Organic pea, organic chia, organic flax, organic cranberry seed Organic pea, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, chia, flax, garbanzo bean, lentil, pumpkin seed, sesame seed, sunflower seed Organic pea, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, chia, flax, garbanzo bean, lentil, pumpkin seed, sesame seed, sunflower seed Organic 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, garbanzo Organic pea, navy bean, lentil, garbanzo bean, cranberry seed
Grams of Sugar  0  0 0-6 (depending on flavor … see below)  0 6 <1
Free of “Natural” Flavors No No No  No No No
Free of Gums & Thickeners No No No Yes  Yes Yes
Organic Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vegan Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
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.

But

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

Let’s start with this one …

1. Most Garden of Life Protein Powders Have “Natural 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 Protein Powder Controversy

Garden of Life was in hot water a few years ago 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.

4. 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 would be no plans to change anything, many consumers were concerned based on Nestle’s track record of selling junk food and fighting to thwart GMO labeling efforts.

When small companies get bought by big companies, they generally do everything possible to decrease costs, and the first thing they look at is, “How can we reduce the costs of our ingredients.” This often leads to more ingredient sourcing from questionable sources overseas. Not saying Garden of Life is guilty of this, but it’s worth asking them where they source their ingredients from and seeing if you get a straight answer.

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 with no sugar added and their commitment to organic, real food ingredients … but can’t give their flavored ones my stamp of approval.

Check Out Our Garden of Life Alternatives Here

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:

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 Protein Plant Head Chocolate Flavor Protein Powder PlantHead Strawberry Plant Head Banana plant head protein
Plant Head Protein Powder – Vanilla Plant Head Protein Powder – Chocolate Plant Head Protein Powder – Strawberry Plant Head Protein Powder – Banana Plant Head Protein Powder – Unflavored
Calories 110 110 110 110 90
Grams of Protein 15 15 15 15 15
Protein Source(s) Pea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry protein Pea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry protein Pea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry protein Pea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry protein Pea protein isolate, brown rice protein, algalin protein, hemp protein, cranberry protein
Grams of Sugar 5 5 5 5 1
Free of “Natural” Flavors No No No No No
Free of Gums & Thickeners No No No No No
100% Organic No No No No No
Vegan Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cost Per Gram $.03  $.03 $.03 $.03 $.03
Nutrition/Ingredients (click each image to enlarge) plant head protein reviews plant head chocolate protein powder nutrition facts information planthead strawberry nutrition plant head banana ingredients plant head protein nutrition facts

Plant Head Protein Powder Review (Full Version)

There are four key issues with the ingredients in PlantHead’s protein powders:

1. None of Plant Head’s Protein Powder Ingredients Are Organic

This means their ingredients are contaminated with chemical pesticides and herbicides.

2. Plant Head Uses So-called “Natural” Flavors

“Natural” flavors are now the fourth most common ingredient in food. Problem is, food companies don’t have to tell you what’s in them. And researchers say those “natural” flavors–even the organic ones–often contain hundreds of chemical ingredients. Read my What Are Natural Flavors? if you want to learn more about this hidden junk ingredient.

3. Plant Head Protein Powders Are Loaded with Highly Processed “Gums”

Plant Head uses lots of cheap, processed fillers called gums in their protein powders. They dupe unknowing consumers into thinking these are healthy by calling them a “Healthy Gum Complex” on their ingredients panel.

Here’s the truth about each type of gum they use:

  • Cellulose gum is an anti-baking agent that’s actually ground wood pulp. It has zero nutritional benefit for your body.
  • Xanthan gum can be disruptive to your gut, and usually is produced with a GMO medium like corn.
  • Carrageenan: a common food additive that caused harmful GI effects and insulin resistance in animal studies. It’s probably not cancer-causing, as some food bloggers have sensationalized. But if you have a history of digestive problems, it’s probably best to avoid it.

4. Plant Head Sweetens Its Powders With 5 Grams of Cane Sugar Per Serving

Sugar is sugar … “cane sugar” isn’t any better for you than other types.

5 grams in every serving of Plant Head Protein Powder is way too much.

It pretty much cancels out any benefit you get from a protein powder when you see a bunch of added sugar (Shakeology Protein Powder is guilty of this too).

Plant Head Protein Reviews Summary

I rate Plant Head’s protein powders a 2/10. 

All Plant Head Protein Powders proteins are loaded with highly processed fillers. They’re not organic, which means they most likely have chemical pesticides. Their powders are cheap at $.03/gram … but are these junk ingredients worth it to you?

My biased advice: pay a few bucks more for real food, organic ingredients.






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Unbiased Herbalife Protein Powder and Shakes Reviews

I’ve analyzed and reviewed dozens of protein powders, and here’s the truth about what my Herbalife reviews revealed:

Herbalife protein powder and shakes have some ingredients you might want to take a second look at.

In this Herbalife protein powder analysis, I used three objective criteria: 1.) Ingredients, 2.) Nutrition, and 3.) Cost.

Let’s see how they stack up …

What Is Herbalife?

Herbalife Protein Powder has a sales model similar to Shakeology: they pay other people to sell and promote their products (this is called MLM, or Multi-Level Marketing). Former employees have accused Herbalife of running a “pyramid scheme”.

Herbalife has been in hot water several times in the past because of their “Multi-Level Marketing Scheme” (the FTCs words, not mine).

Herbalife Reviews: Is Herbalife Protein Powder Healthy?

The biggest problem I have with most Herbalife reviews you’ll come across online is that they are quite biased because the site owners have a vested interest in selling Herbalife products.

Similar to my other plant protein powder analyses, I am reviewing Herbalife protein powder and shakes based on health and nutrition … NOT taste. If you want to know how it tastes, read the Herbalife reviews on Amazon.

Overall, there are 5 things that I think could be improved with Herbalife protein powders:

1. Their ingredients are not organic, which means they may have been sprayed with chemical pesticides and herbicides.

2. The sugar content in many of their products is high (more on this below).

3. At $.05/gram, Herbalife is not cheap. You can get protein powder with organic ingredients for about the same price.

4. Similar to 99.9% of protein powders on the market, Herbalife protein powders have “natural” flavors. Natural flavors may be filled with chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says natural flavors “may trigger an acute, allergic reaction, intolerance, or other problems.”

5. The protein sources for most Herbalife shakes are the two I recommend least: whey and soy.

Ninety percent of genetically modified soy is resistant to glyphosate, the pesticide found in Round Up. A concern raised about eating products with soy protein isolate is that you will consume excessive amounts of this chemical.

The data is shaky at best about soy protein. Some studies say it’s safe and effective for older women. Others like the one above suggest it may be harmful. I’ll cite this one published in the Journal of Nutrition:

Overall, existing data are inconsistent or inadequate in supporting most of the suggested health benefits of consuming soy protein.

Next we’ll look at the nutrition facts and ingredients for each of Herbalife’s protein powders and shakes. I’ve listed the nutrition label for all products below, along with red flags under each set of images.

Herbalife Protein Powder Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix

herbalife shakes

Click/tap to enlarge:

herbalife nutrition facts

Red Flags–Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix:

10 grams of sugar

Contains gums, fillers, flavors, and additives

Contains corn- and soy-based ingredients

Protein Drink Mix Chocolate

herbalife protein ingredients

Click/tap to enlarge:

herbalife reviews

Red Flags–Protein Drink Mix Chocolate:

Contains “natural” flavors

Contains gums, fillers, and additives

Contains corn- and soy-based ingredients

Protein Drink Mix Vanilla

herbalife vanilla shakes

Click/tap to enlarge:

herbalife protein vanilla nutrition

Red Flags–Protein Drink Mix Vanilla:

Contains “natural” flavors

Contains gums, fillers, and additives

Contains corn- and soy-based ingredients

Protein Drink Mix Peanut Butter Cookie

herbalife protein powder drink mix

Click/tap to enlarge:

herbalife peanut butter protein nutrition facts

Red Flags–Peanut Butter Cookie:

Contains “natural” flavors

Contains gums, fillers, and additives

Contains corn- and soy-based ingredients

Personalized Protein Powder

herbalife personalized protein

Click/tap to enlarge:

herbalife personalized nutrition

Red Flags–Personalized Protein Powder:

Contains “natural” flavors

Contains gums, fillers, and additives

Contains dairy- and soy-based ingredients

Formula 1 + PDM Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix

herbalife formula 1 pdm on the go

Click/tap to enlarge:

herbalife pdm nutrition facts label

 

Red Flags–Herbalife Formula 1 Nutritional Shake Mix:

6 grams of sugar

Contains “natural” flavors

Contains a looooong list of high processed gums, fillers, and additives

Contains corn- and soy-based ingredients

Other Herbalife Reviews

Herbalife as a company is rated 2.5 out of 5 stars (out of 294 reviews) on ConsumerAffairs.com.

On TrustPilot, they’re rated 4.2 out of 5 stars.

On Amazon, here are the top positive and negative reviews for two of their protein products:

Top Positive Review: Herbalife Formula 1 Shake Mix

Would definitely buy again.

Started taking this one week ago. Using it twice a day along with the Herbalife tea and the Herbalife active fiber and the Herbalife aloe. I am feeling so much better. Eating a salad with grilled chicken at night. My bloating has gone down some but still no weight loss. Will continue until it is all gone. Not giving up on it yet. Flavor is fine. Taste like birthday cake to me. Weight 153lbs

Update:Been using for 3 weeks. Twice a day, along with the Herbalife herbal tea, Herbalife fiber and Herbalife Aloe. With no exercising lost 5 pounds. Just ordered a new one and a new flavor. Started exercising today and will continue to exercise and take the Herbalife and will come back in a few weeks and update if there has been any change. I eat one meal at night usually a salad, fish or chicken. I am going to continue for 90 days before saying it does or doesn’t work.Hopefully when I get back on here it’ll be to say I lost another 5 and that it’s working. Weight 148lbs

Top Negative Review: Herbalife Formula 1 Shake Mix

CONTAINS NEURO TOXIN (BLACK MOLD) listed in Ingredients.

I had a severe allergic reaction which led me to reading the Ingredients thoroughly and am Highly Disappointed and Disgusted that Herbalife products contain 2 Black Molds Aspergillus Niger and Aspergillus oryzae. Its beyond my understanding why a company would put a NEURO TOXIN which is BLACK MOLD in a health supplement! People actually pay top $ to get trested for Neuro Toxins which make individuals very unhealthy. Herbalife list my business completely. Shame on them for purposefully putting a Neuro Toxin in a health supplement. This is far beyond Illegal !

Top Positive Review: Herbalife Protein Drink Mix PBM – Vanilla

I use this and the Herbalife Meal Replacement Powder.

I really like this powder in conjunction with the Meal Replacement Powder, and some powdered peanut butter for taste. My trainer recommended it for 2 meals a day when I’m trying to shed some weight, and it does work. It’s just hard for my to only have shakes for 2 meals a day every day **blushes** so I’m not consistent with it, but as far as protein powders go, this stuff tastes the BEST of any out there, and Amazon has the best prices for this brand.

Top Negative Review: Herbalife Protein Drink Mix PBM – Vanilla

There’s holes poked in it.

I just purchased this the other day and i got it in the mail this morning. I went to go open it and i noticed that there are holes poked in it. The holes are really small as if they used like a needle or something to put the holes in but I’m scared to use it.

Bottom Line: Is Herbalife Protein Healthy?

Herbalife shakes and protein powders leave something to be desired.

Unfortunately, all of them:

a) Are not organic.

b) Contain sugar or artificial sweeteners

c) Contain fillers, additives, and/or “flavors”

d) Have a premium price of $.05 – .06/gram (you can get a good organic raw vegan protein powder without the fillers and other junk for only $.06/gram)






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Beachbody Shakeology Reviews: An Unbiased Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

beachbody shakology shakes

Most Shakeology reviews have one thing in common: a vested interest in selling Beachbody (the parent company of Shakeology) products. 

That’s because all these reviews are written by Beachbody “Coaches.” [side note: I was a Coach for a short stint at one point, so I’m very familiar with their marketing methods.]

While we do sell a plant protein powder of our own, this analysis and review of Shakeology products is unbiased because we use three objective criteria when evaluating their protein powders: 1.) Ingredients, 2.) Nutrition, and 3.) Cost.

Here’s the thing …

Shakeology actually has a lot of good stuff in it.

And, it’s one of the best tasting plant-based protein powders I’ve ever tried.

Unfortunately, there’s a reason for that, as you’re about to see.

Scroll below to see our Shakeology review …

What Is Shakeology?

According to the Beachbody website, Shakeology is:

a nutrient-dense superfood nutrition shake that’s formulated with globally harvested ingredients that supply phytonutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics, fiber, adaptogens, vitamins, and minerals.

Shakeology Reviews: Methodology

Similar to my other plant-based protein powder analyses, I am reviewing Beachbody’s Shakeology protein powders based on health and nutrition … NOT taste. It tastes freakin’ great, as I’ve already mentioned. If taste is your only criteria when choosing protein powders, then this one’s a winner.

But if you also care about what’s in it then read on, because in the next section I’ll provide an analysis of Shakeology’s products as a whole and tell you the 5 things that concern me most about it.

Then we’ll look at the complete nutrition facts and ingredients for each product separately.

Let’s jump in …

Shakeology Nutrition Summary: All Products

Calories 160-170
Grams of Protein 16-17
Protein Source(s) Regular Shakeology: Whey protein isolate, pea protein, sacha inchi, flax, chia, quinoa

Shakeology Vegan Protein: Pea protein, oat protein, rice protein, chia, flax, quinoa

Grams of Sugar 6-8
Free of “Natural” Flavors No
Free of Gums & Thickeners No
Organic No
Vegan Yes
Cost Per Gram $.10

 

Here are 5 things I wish Shakeology would improve:

  1. Shakeology’s products are not organic.
  2. Shakeology shakes have an average of 6-8 grams of sugar per shake.
  3. At $.10/gram, Shakeology is one of the more expensive protein powders on the market. (Note: I use cost per gram to account for different serving sizes).
  4. Most of Shakeology’s non-vegan shakes contain whey protein isolate. Whey protein may do more harm than good for many people with dairy sensitivities or allergies.
  5. Shakeology has “natural” flavors. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has an awesome web resource that evaluates the safety of the most common food additives. In its “Safety Ratings,” CSPI says natural flavors “may trigger an acute, allergic reaction, intolerance, or other problems.”
is shakeology bad for you
source: https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/chemical-cuisine

Next we’ll break down the nutrition facts and ingredients for each of Shakeology’s products/flavors separately.

Shakeology Protein Shakes Nutrition and Ingredients

Alrighty, let’s start with the good. I actually love a lot of the ingredients in Shakelogy:

  • Seeds: chia, flax, and quinoa
  • Greens: moringa, chlorella, kale, spinach, and spirulina
  • Probiotics/digestive enzymes
  • “Adaptogenic blend”: ashwagandha, maca, etc.

However, like I said above, there are 5 major issues I have with Shakeology’s products:

  1. They’re not organic. Any “superfood” that’s not organic may be sprayed with cancer-causing pesticides and other chemicals. The only way to find out if a protein manufacturer’s ingredients contain these chemicals is to ask if they’ve done independent testing.
  2. Sugar content. 6-8 grams of added sugar is just too much for a 160-170-calorie protein shake for non-athletes. If your body isn’t using that sugar during exercise, it will get converted into fat.
  3. Price. At $.10/gram, Shakeology is one of the more expensive protein powders on the market. It retails at $130 for 30 servings.
  4. Whey protein. For people sensitive to dairy, whey is not a good protein choice. Read my article Whey Vs Plant Protein. Shakeology does make several vegan proteins, as you’ll see below … but they all have 6-8 grams of sugar, depending on the flavor.
  5. “Natural” flavors. Natural flavors can contain hundreds of different substances–many of them chemicals–and still be called “natural.” Here’s what the EWG has to say about them:

Consumers may be surprised to learn that so-called “natural flavors” can actually contain synthetic chemicals such as the solvent propylene glycol or the preservative BHA.  Flavor extracts derived from genetically engineered crops may also be labeled “natural,” because the FDA has not fully defined what that term means.

Shakeology has four different flavors that are available in both whey and plant-based options: chocolate, vanilla, cafe latte, and strawberry.

shakeology review

Let’s have a look at the nutrition facts and ingredients for each, starting with the vegan ones, which I recommend over the whey protein based shakes.

I highlighted areas of concern in red below …

Beachbody Shakeology Nutrition Facts Labels

Vanilla Vegan Protein

beachbody shakeology vanilla vegan protein powder
7 grams of sugar in a protein shake is way too much unless you’re a hardcore exerciser! It doesn’t matter is it’s “organic cane sugar” or high fructose corn syrup … your body processes these the same way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Shakeology Vegan Protein Powder

beachbody shakeology chocolate vegan protein shake
Added sugars, gums, “natural” flavors…these are all questionable ingredients.

Vegan Tropical Strawberry Protein Powder

shakology plant based protein shakes
This one has 8 grams of sugar per scoop. That’s 16 grams per standard 2-scoop serving…over half a day’s worth of sugar!

Cafe Latte Plant Based Shakelogy Shake

beachbody shakology

Chocolate Protein Powder (Whey)

shakeology chocolate nutrition facts

Vanilla Protein Powder (Whey)

shakeology vanilla nutrition

Strawberry Protein Powder (Whey)

beachbody shakeology nutrition label

Cafe Latte Protein Powder (Whey)

shakeology ingredients

Shakeology Reviews on Amazon

Shakeology’s Chocolate flavor is rated 3.1 out of 5 stars by reviewers on Amazon.

Here are the most helpful positive and negative reviews:

Most Helpful Positive Review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Some people love it, some hate it. We Love it!

I had been wanting to try shakeology for a long time. But the price was just too high for my budget. I have a few friends who are “coaches” and have tried to sell to me. But again, it’s just been too expensive. My financial situation has improved a little and I was encouraged by a friend to at least give it a try. The sample box is $29.95 +shipping and tax. I live in a state that doesn’t have sales tax, luckily, so that saved me a few bucks.

5 days passed and I got my package in the mail. At this point I was really excited to try it and see how it tasted and how it affected my eating habits throughout the day. Let me share with you that I love food. I’m over-weight, but I’m not terribly over weight. I’m 5’5″ and weigh about 160lbs. My ideal weight is around 135-140.

The first day, I tossed a packet of the regular Chocolate flavor in my blender bottle with 16oz water and 4oz 1% (cows) milk and about 5 ice cubes and blended the holy hell out of it. I had read some reviews prior to purchasing about how it smelled better than it tasted. This kinda worried me when I smelled the powder and it smelled gross. Uh-oh, I thought, this is going to be a bust.

BUT IT WASN’T! For a meal replacement shake, it was pretty good! I took a couple drinks to really get a feel for the shake. This is something I could stand to drink everyday. I had my boyfriend try it, he really enjoyed it as well, which is surprising because he is relatively picky AND doesn’t like many healthy foods. So the fact that Mr. Picky also stated he could stand to drink a shake everyday, says something.

The only thing we both noticed was the artificial sugar after taste. It’s not terrible, but you notice it.

I have also tried the Strawberry, Vanilla and Vegan Chocolate. They’re all good. I haven’t tried any of the fancy recipes that you can find on the Beachbody website or Pinterest, I’ve blended them all plain.

As far as food cravings and my food intake throughout the day. I used to eat upwards of 2100-2200 calories per day. I’m a avid snacker and again, I love food. Since starting Shakeo, I’ve been able to keep my calories around 1400-1500 each day. It hasn’t done much in the way of energy, but that could be due to the fact that I’m trying to cut down on my coffee intake and replace it with Shakeo. I will try to come back in the end of June and post an update on if I’ve had any significant help with losing weight from Shakeology.

Most Helpful Negative Review:

1.0 out of 5 stars New formula ruined it
I drank Shakeology for years. I stuck with either the regular chocolate or vegan chocolate. I realize it was very pricey; but, it offered a good amount of nutrition and did a great job curbing cravings so I was willing to pay. I loved it for a long time. In fact, I looked forward to drinking a shake each day. It took care of any cravings for sweets that I had and filled me up. It was a fantastic meal replacement when I was on the go. However, a few months back, I noticed a much different taste to the shakes. I called to see if I had gotten a bad bag or something. I was informed that there was a new formula and that is why it tasted different. The new formula makes the taste so bad that I can’t stomach a couple of sips of it (that is why I cannot give this product more than 1 star). I can’t even describe it, it is just horrible. I am so disappointed in this change. I have yet to find something else that take care of my cravings and fill me up like Shakeology used to.

Bottom Line: Is Shakeology Good for You?

Even though I have strong opinions about protein powders, I tried to remain as unbiased as possible in my Shakeology reviews.

From a nutrition standpoint, there are some really nice ingredients in Shakeology: quality protein sources in their plant-based ones along with a nice mix of adaptogenic herbs, mushroom powders, and other superfoods.

However, the problems I have with Beachbody’s Shakeology shakes is they a) are not organic; b) have 6-8 grams of sugar per serving, c) contain flavors, and d) are not cheap.

There are definitely worse protein powders you can buy, and the Chocolate Vegan flavor is the “cleanest” of the bunch when it comes to ingredients, based on my analysis.

But for the money, I recommend sticking with an organic, plant-based protein with 100% real food ingredients instead.






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Aria Protein Powder Review

Fair warning: I don’t hold back any punches in my Aria Protein Powder review. I call ’em as I see ’em, and out of all the other protein reviews I’ve done (Vega, Orgain, Arbonne, and PlantFusion), Aria has some of the most questionable ingredients.

For those who don’t know, Aria is a top-selling protein powder marketed to women. It’s sold at Walmart and at their online store, Jet. Aria is owned by Designer Protein (which I used as a teenager back in the 90s!).

Before we get to my Aria protein review, it’s important to note that all my protein powder reviews are based on the nutrition, ingredients, and overall value for the money of each product. I don’t review products based on taste, because I don’t care to taste most of the products I review because of what’s in them. If you want a great tasting protein powder with a bunch of crappy ingredients in it, then this is not the review for you.

However, if you are (or aspire to be) a clean eater, then I’ll show you some facts about what’s in Aria’s proteins that may make you think twice about buying it (to that end, check out Pure Food if you’re looking for a clean protein powder alternative).

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

Aria Protein Powder Review (Short Version)

There are three main things I look at when reviewing protein powders:

  1. Ingredients: are there organic, real food ingredients that you can pronounce? Any inflammation-causing soy, dairy, or gluten? How about fillers, flavors, or gums?
  2. Nutrition Facts: What do the key nutritionals looks like (carbs, fat, protein, fiber, sugar)?
  3. Cost: What’s the cost per gram and overall value of the product given the other two pieces of information above?

Aria fails miserably in each of these areas.

Here’s a quick breakdown … if you scroll down further after the chart, I’ll explain which of these concern me most.

aira chocolate protein powder aria vanilla protein powder aria vegan chocolate protein aria vegan vanilla protein
Aria Women’s Wellness Protein Powder – Chocolate Aria Women’s Wellness Protein Powder – Vanilla Aria Women’s Wellness Vegan Protein Powder – Chocolate Aria Women’s Wellness Vegan Protein Powder – Vanilla
Calories 90 90 95 95
Grams of Protein 15 15 15 15
Protein Source(s) Soy protein isolate, whey protein Soy protein isolate, whey protein concentrate Pea protein concentrate, organic rice protein Pea protein concentrate, organic rice protein
Grams of Sugar 1 1 1 1
Free of “Natural” Flavors No No No No
Free of Gums & Thickeners No No No No
100% Organic No No No No
Vegan No No Yes Yes
Cost Per Gram $.04  $.04 $.04 $.04
Nutrition/Ingredients (click each image to enlarge) aria chocolate protein nutrition aria womens wellness nutrition aria vegan chocolate nutrition facts aria vegan vanilla nutrition

 

Aria Protein Powder Review (Long Version)

When I browsed through various Aria Protein Powder reviews online, they all had one thing in common: a vested interest in selling Aria! In other words, bloggers create “review posts” in which they get incentivized for every time someone clicks on a link and buys Aria. On Amazon, my most trusted source for reviews, Aria has a 3.9 rating (out of 5 stars).

On Aria’s website, it’s abundantly clear their products are marketed toward women.

aria protein powder review
Look at those fit women doing yoga … if that’s what artificial chemicals and fillers can do to my body, sign me up!

Behind the pretty packaging and stock imagery of “aspirational” women doing yoga (that’s a term marketers use … it means they think you should aspire to be like the women in this happy photo), I have some major issues with the ingredients in Aria’s protein powders.

Here we go …

1. None of Aria’s Protein Powders Are Organic

This means their ingredients are likely contaminated with pesticides and herbicides. Yuck.

2. Aria Uses “Natural” Flavors

Natural flavors are NOT natural. They can contain hundreds of chemical ingredients that food companies may disguise under the name “natural” flavors. See this CNN article for a good explanation or check out my article about natural flavors if you want to learn more.

3. Aria’s Protein Powders Are Loaded with Highly Processed Fillers, Gums, and Additives

Aria uses lots of cheap, processed fillers in their protein powders. Here are a just a few:

  • Lecithin: a processed thickener that’s usually extracted from GMO soybeans using harsh, chemical-based methods.
  • Prebiotic Vegetable Fibers: While protein powder companies like Aria will tout their “beneficial prebiotic fiber”, the truth is these prebiotics are not always beneficial … especially for those with sensitive stomach. Prebiotics can actually lead to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or worsen existing digestive issues. If you have had any type of food sensitivities before, these prebiotics will likely ferment and create more gas that will cause your symptoms to worsen. Get your fiber from vegetables, fruits, whole grains and seeds instead. The good bacteria in your gut will thank you.
  • Gums: Aria uses guar gum and xanthan gum, which can be disruptive to your gut as well.

4. Aria Sweetens Its Protein Powders With Stevia Extract and Monk Fruit

Stevia extract is often derived using chemicals or alcohol. It’s certainly not the worst sweetener in the world but it doesn’t have the same health benefits as actual ground stevia leaves.

Monk fruit is a healthy sweetener in its natural state. But if the other aforementioned ingredients are any indication, my guess is Aria uses the cheap, processed version of monk fruit that’s extracted using GMOs (or contains thesugar alcohol erythritol).

Summary: Is Aria Protein Good for You?

I rate Aria Protein Whey/Soy Protein a 1/10 and Aria Vegan Protein Powder a 2/10.

Aria’s proteins are loaded with highly processed fillers. They’re not organic, which means they most likely have chemical pesticides. And at $.04/gram, you can pay a couple cents extra and get an organic protein powder with probiotiocs instead.

They’re sold at Walmart and marketed to women … but ladies, please make sure you give that ingredients and nutrition panel a second look and really understand what you’re getting.






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Plant Fusion Protein Reviews: Nutrition and Ingredients Analysis

Plant Fusion sells a lot of protein powder. But based on the Plant Fusion reviews on Amazon, it’s clear many people are awfully confused about what constitutes a “healthy” protein powder.

Not to worry, because I’m here to clear up the confusion with my typical sardonic wit and wisdom. 🙂

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

Plant Fusion Protein Powder Review (Short Version)

Similar to my other protein powder reviews, I am evaluating Plant Fusion’s protein powders based on health and nutrition … NOT taste.

There are four key criteria I use to determine the “healthiness” of a protein powder in my reviews:

  1. Organic, whole food ingredients.
  2. No allergens or inflammation-causing soy, dairy, or gluten.
  3. No fillers, flavors, or gums.
  4. No added sugar or artificial/highly processed sweeteners used.

On its website, PlantFusion says:

Let’s stick to the facts … the “supplement facts”

Clever marketing talk, but here’s a fact they’re not telling you:

Plant Fusion uses the same processed junk as every other popular plant protein powder!

Here’s a quick breakdown of their ingredients and nutrition facts:

PlantFusion Organic Protein Powder PlantFusion Complete Protein Powder Plant Fusion Phood Review PlantFusion Lean Protein PlantFusion Ready to Drink
PlantFusion Organic Plant Based Protein Powder PlantFusion Complete Protein Powder PlantFusion Phood PlantFusion Lean PlantFusion Ready-to-Drink
Calories 120 120 200 170 150
Grams of Protein  20  21  18 21  19
Protein Source(s)  Organic pea protein, organic amaranth, organic quinoa, organic flax seed  Pea protein isolate, artichoke protein, organic sprouted amaranth powder, organic sprouted quinoa powder Pea protein isolate, artichoke protein, organic sprouted amaranth powder, organic sprouted quinoa powder, algalin Pea protein isolate, artichoke protein, algae protein, fermented & sprouted organic millet, organic lentil, organic flax, organic chia  Pea protein isolate, artichoke, organic sprouted amaranth, organic sprouted quinoa
Grams of Sugar  0 4  1 2 7
Free of “Natural” Flavors No No No No No
Free of Gums & Thickeners No No No No No
100% Organic Yes No No No  No
Vegan Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cost Per Gram  $.07  $.04  $.03 $.05 $.01
Nutrition/Ingredients (click each image to enlarge) PlantFusion Organic Protein Powder Nutrition Facts PlantFusion Complete Protein Powder Nutrition Facts Phood nutrition ingredients PlantFusion Lean Nutrition Facts Plant Fusion Ready to Drink Nutrition Label

The “facts” speak volumes about the quality of PlantFusion’s protein powders and shakes. So my reviews of all their products are summed up as-follows:

PlantFusion makes yet another very average line of plant-based protein powders and shakes. If you’re a clean eater who avoids processed ingredients like flavors, fillers, and sweeteners, you may want to choose something with organic, whole food ingredients instead. 

If you’re interested in taking a little deeper dive and learning more about PlantFusion’s ingredients and nutrition facts, keep reading.

Plant Fusion Protein Powder Review (Full Version)

Let’s switch gears for a brief moment and talk about what I like about Plant Fusion. As a company, I admire their commitment to plant-based nutrition and sustainable, eco-friendly products. I also really like most of the plant protein sources they use (pea protein, amaranth powder, chia powder, flax powder).

And their fermented, sprouted foods blend in the organic product is great:

sprouted food blend protein

On its website, you can read about Plant Fusion’s story. Here’s an excerpt:

Plant Fusion Reviews
Ironic they mention “inferior ingredients” …

The second part I highlighted in red is what really concerns me … and what should concern you too if you follow a clean, plant-focused diet.

Allow me to elaborate:

1. “Natural” flavors are NOT natural.

Natural flavors aren’t real food … they’re science experiments. All the big protein powder companies, PlantFusion included, claim that they make “proprietary natural flavor blends”.

This means nothing.

Ask them exactly what ingredients and how many ingredients go into those “natural” flavors and you won’t get a straight answer (if they answer at all … I emailed them and didn’t get a response).

Natural flavors are often chemical-filled junk. Check out our article “What Are Natural Flavors?” to learn more.

2. Inulin

PlantFusion (along with many other protein powder manufacturers) contains inulin, which is a starchy carbohydrate that’s not absorbed by your upper GI tract (and is thus considered a type of fiber).

While protein powder companies will tout inulin’s benefits as a “beneficial prebiotic fiber”, what they don’t tell you is that these prebiotics are not always beneficial … particularly for those with GI sensitivities. Prebiotics can actually lead to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or worsen existing digestive ailments. If you have SIBO, certain prebiotics will ferment and create more gas that will cause your symptoms to worsen.

On top of that, studies have shown that inulin encourages the growth of Klebsiella, a bacteria implicated in Ankylosing Spondylitis and leaky gut syndrome. Klebsiella can lead to serious infections in the urinary tract, pneumonia, and even death. So while inulin may indeed promote the growth of good bacteria, it feeds “bad” bacteria too.

If you suffer from GI sensitivities like I do, prebiotic fibers like inulin may only exacerbate your suffering.

3. Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum is another highly-processed, mostly-indigestible starch that’s used to thicken protein powders. It’s made by bacterial fermentation of a sugar-containing food. Usually that food is an allergenic and/or GMO-containing substance such as corn, soy, dairy, or wheat.

Here’s another little-known (and tragic) fact about xanthan gum. In 2013, several infants who consumed a baby formula with xanthan gum tragically passed away after developing necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease where the wall of the intestine is invaded by bacteria, causing infection and inflammation that can ultimately lead to death in infants.

Scientists reviewed the cases of xanthan gum-associated NEC, and found that the xanthan gum caused increased bacterial production of short chain fatty acids in the newborns’ intestines, and thus contributed to the development of NEC, which led to their deaths. (side note: the New York Times reported the story if you care to read about it)

On top of that, it can cause unpleasant gut symptoms in adults. No thanks.

4. Sugar

One of PlantFusion’s products, the Ready to Drink Complete Plant Protein, has 6-7 grams of sugar per serving (depending on which flavor you choose). On its website, Plant Fusion says you shouldn’t worry about this because the type of sugar they use (fructose) is lower on the glycemic index:

Plant Fusion Sugar Content

Patrick Skerrett, former Executive Editor of the Harvard Health, disagrees:

Crystalline fructose … is not fructose gently extracted from fruits or vegetables; it is crystallized high grade HFCS.

Ouch.

Physician and author Dr. Joseph Mercola also warned about the potential dangers of crystalline fructose in a HuffPost article.

Crystalline fructose (a super-potent form of fructose the food and beverage industry is now using) may contain arsenic, lead, chloride and heavy metals.

Sugar is sugar. Please Plant Fusion, do us a favor and stop trying to spin it.

PlantFusion’s other protein powders use a combination of highly-processed fructose, stevia, and erythritol. You can read about the potential dangers of these pseudo-healthy sweeteners here.

Plant Fusion Reviews Summed Up

Plant Fusion makes very average vegan protein powders that contain too much junk, in my opinion. Personally, I’d rather spend a few extra dollars on a product with organic, real food ingredients.






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Arbonne Protein Powder and Shakes Reviews

arbonne protein powder reviews

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

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

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

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

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

Arbonne Protein Powder Review

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

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

  • Organic, real food ingredients sourced from North America
  • No allergens or inflammation-causing soy, dairy, or gluten
  • No fillers, natural flavors, or gums
  • Protein per serving
  • Protein sources
  • No added sugar or other artificial sweeteners used

Here’s an analysis of the ingredients Arbonne uses in its protein powders:​

arbonne feelfit protein powder arbonne essentials daily protein boost
Arbonne Feel Fit Pea Protein Shake Mix Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost
Calories 130 50
Grams of Protein  20  10
Protein Source(s)  Pea protein, rice protein, cranberry protein  Pea protein, rice protein, cranberry protein
Grams of Sugar  1  0
Free of “Natural” Flavors No Yes
Free of Gums & Thickeners No Yes
Organic No No
Vegan Yes  Yes
Cost Per Gram  $.06  $.06

Arbonne Protein Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  1. The Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost and FeelFit Protein Powders have a unique plant-based, multi-source protein blend. The benefits of multi-source vegan blends is they provide a wider array of nutrients. 
  2. Low or no sugar in all of their protein products
  3. Arbonne also has an Ingredients Policy “Not Allowed List” page that states:

We develop each product with meaningful ingredients, continuously raising the standards to find the perfect balance between plant-based, bio-based, and scientifically derived ingredients. We set the standards for our high-quality and effective ingredient policy, and continue to back our formulations with science, clinical research, and third-party certifications.

Cons: 

  1. Unclear where Arbonne sources its protein ingredients from (most pea protein is from China).
  2. These are all unnecessary filler ingredients that have no nutritional value: natural flavors, high oleic sunflower oil, xanthan gum, dicalcium phosphate, and tricalcium phosphate
  3. Cost is on the higher end and is comparable to organic plant based proteins (even though they don’t use organic ingredients).

​Arbonne FeelFit Protein Powder Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Vanilla

arbonne feelfit vanilla protein
Ingredients: Arbonne Protein Matrix Blend (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), natural flavors, high oleic sunflower oil, xanthan gum, steviol glycosides, flax seed, dicalcium phosphate, tapioca starch, tricalcium phosphate, rice hull

Chocolate

arbonne chocolate protein powder nutrition
Ingredients: Arbonne Protein Matrix Blend (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), cocoa, natural flavors, high oleic sunflower oil, xanthan gum, steviol glycosides, flax seed, dicalcium phosphate, tapioca starch, tricalcium phosphate, rice hulls, chicory ro

​Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost Nutrition

Let’s wrap this up …

Arbonne Protein Powder Reviews Summed Up

Based on my nutrition and ingredients analysis, Arbonne FeelFit Protein Shake Mix (formerly Arbonne Essentials Protein Shake Mix) and Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost are both decent products that check most of the boxes for a healthy plant based protein. They contain zero sugar but do have some filler ingredients like natural flavors, high oleic sunflower oil, xanthan gum, dicalcium phosphate, and tricalcium phosphate.

What’s a Good Arbonne Alternative?

What sets Pure Food Protein Powder apart from Arbonne and other vegan powders is Pure Food has none of the filler ingredients … and these make up a healthy percentage of most proteins on the market.

On top of that, every ingredient we use is sourced from North America. You will not find another multi-source plant-based protein that can say the same.

Try Pure Food Protein risk-free today 






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Orgain Review: The Truth About Their Protein Powders & Shakes

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

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

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

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

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

Orgain Protein Powder Review

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

Anyways …

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

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts

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

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

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

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

Let’s start with what I like about Orgain …

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

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

1. Sugar content

The sugar content in many Orgain Shakes is quite high:

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

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

2. “Natural flavors

The Environmental Working Group says natural flavors are:

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

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

Long story short:

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

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

 

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

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

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

Orgain Reviews: The Final Verdict

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

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

I recommend sticking with one of their sugar free products or looking for a plant-based protein powder  style=”font-size: 14.4px;”>instead.

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

Vega Protein Powder Reviews: Nutrition & Ingredients Analysis

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

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

  1. The Ingredients
  2. The Nutrition Facts

They reveal the answers to these important questions:

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

With that said, let’s dig in!

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

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Vega Protein Powder Reviews (Summary Version)

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

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

Vega Protein Smoothie Review

Vega Protein and Greens Review

Vega Sport Protein Powder Review

Vega One Review

Vegan Clean Protein Reviews

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

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

Here’s why …

Vega Review (Extended Version)

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

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

Let’s explore each of these…

Issue #1: Not Organic

Here’s the deal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Problem #2: Natural Flavors

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

“[Natural flavors] will often have some solvent and preservatives — and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.”

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

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

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

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

is vega protein healthy

Now they only list “natural flavors” once.

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

I contacted Vega and asked.

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

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

Here’s the bottom line, gang:

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

Learn more by downloading my FREE report about natural flavors here

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

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

Problem #4: High Heat Processing Destroys Vital Nutrients

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

Here’s what they said:

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

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

Summary: Is Vega Protein Good for You?

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

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

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

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

best plant-based protein powders

Compare 20+ of the Best Plant Protein Powders By Ingredients, Nutrition, and Cost

protein powder benefits plant vs animal

When it comes to plant protein powders, it’s a highly individual affair.

Your age, activity level, health goals, pre-existing conditions, and budget all play a part in determining the best plant-based protein powder for you.

If you’re looking for vegan protein powders with the best ingredients/nutrition, then you’ve come to the right place. 

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

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

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

Note: We do sell our own organic plant-based protein powders. We’ll show you how our products compare to the competition when it comes to: 

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

Compare Cost, Ingredients, and Nutrition for 30+ Plant Protein Powders With Our FREE Google Sheet

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Scroll down or click/tap the green and grey boxes below to navigate to each section in the article.

 

How We Evaluate Plant Based Protein Powders 

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

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

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

It’s the only objective piece of information you have to judge whether the ingredients are “clean” and “healthy” or not.

Here are 5 objective criteria we use to evaluate protein powders: 

1. Sugar content

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

Bottom line: Avoid protein powders with added sugars. 

2. Artificial sweeteners

Many plant proteins contain chemical sugars like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose. Xylitol is a cheap, processed “sugar alcohol” that can cause serious gut imbalances.

If you see any of those sweeteners, you may want to consider another option. But protein manufacturers are notorious for sneaking so-called “all-natural” sweeteners that may not be so good for you into their products.

If you like your protein a little sweeter, stick with organic monk fruit (luo han guo) or organic stevia extract (or better yet, no added sweeteners at all). 

Bottom line:

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

 

3. Other “filler” ingredients (flavors, gums, fillers, etc.) 

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

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

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

4. Organic ingredients sourced from the U.S. or Canada

Is organic protein powder better for you?

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

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

Pure Food is one of the only plant protein powders on the market that is USA-grown and USA-produced!

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

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

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

Joel Kahn, M.D.

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

no whey

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

Michelle Davila, N.D.

Licensed Naturopathic Physician

doctor recommended protein

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

Carolyn Scott-Hamilton

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

Carolyn-Scott-Hamilton

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

Alisa Fleming

Founder, GoDairyFree

Alisa-Fleming

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

Myra Mingo

Founder, The Happy Health Freak

Myra-Mingo

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

Samantha Shorkey

Vegan Coach and WNBF Bikini Pro

vegetarian bodybuilder protein

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

Plant Protein Powder Reviews and Comparison Chart

In this section, we’ll share reviews of 20+ vegan proteins and help you compare some of the most popular plant protein brands. Let’s start with the reviews … 

Pure Food Protein Competitor Reviews

Compare 20+ Vegan Protein Brands By Nutrition, Ingredients, Protein Content, and Cost

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

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

best plant protein powder pure food

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

1

Protein Sources

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

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

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

Free of Natural Flavors & Gums/Thickeners

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

Organic Ingredients, Probiotics Added and Cost Per Gram

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Is Pure Food Protein a Good Fit for You?

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

But if you’re done settling for “average” protein powders and the junk ingredients that wreak havoc on your body and want to try a product that will actually have a positive impact on your health (and the world), then give Pure Food a try. We offer a money-back guarantee, so there’s nothing to lose!

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

Try Pure Food Protein Now Save

Compare Cost, Ingredients, and Nutrition for 30+ Plant Protein Powders With Our FREE Google Sheet

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