The makers of Progenex protein powders talk a big game on their website…
Where most companies’ proteins end, ours is just beginning. Most companies only concentrate their protein to a lower-grade concentrate; we isolate ours, and then we keep going. Our whey protein isolates are then enzymatically hydrolyzed. This hydrolyzation process breaks the isolated proteins down into peptides, including di- and tri-peptides, which are more rapidly digested and absorbed. Before we get to a finished product, the previously isolated growth factors are reintroduced into our whey protein.
In this review, you’ll find out why most of their “superior science” claims like this are just overhyped marketing. I’m also going to analyze the nutrition facts and ingredients lists (the real sources of truth) in the following Progenex protein powders: Recovery, More Muscle, and Cocoon.
To find out more, read on …
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Progenex Lawsuits, and Fraudulent Labels Claims
Progenex is pretty popular among CrossFitters. However, in 2015, CrossFit swiftly yanked its affiliation and sponsorship deal they had in place with Progenex and made a clear move to distance its brand from the supplement company.
So what happened?
Some pretty shady stuff, as it turns out …
This Reddit thread sums it up:
Based on verified sources, including lab tests and legal documents:
- Progenex contains the same exact protein as many other brands. Optimum Nutrition and BSN, for example, are owned by the company who sells protein to Progenex. No argument can be made that Progenex contains anything not available from either of those two companies.
- Based on #1, Progenex is charging 2-3x more, for the same protein as we can find in other products. Also based on #1, their advertising claim that the product contains a “proprietary whey” is false.
- The company has a background and history that most of us do not wish to support, including but not limited to a criminal background for most of the executives (fraud, etc…) and a currently ongoing lawsuit for fraud and another for patent infringement, plus a lawsuit by the original founder against one of their lawyers.
- We’ve seen documents indicating that the “support” they had at their first Crossfit Games was as a direct result of paying off SMEs behind the scenes to wear their shirt and endorse their products.
- It is still somewhat unsettled to some, but generally there is a belief that they don’t respect us or our community.
- Similar or better products can be had through other vendors.
- The study we saw passed around the community when Progenex first came on the scene, was based on a whey protein hydrolysate that is no longer found in the product. When Dr. Scott Connelly left the company, that protein went with him, and they replaced it with a generic whey hydrolysate.
Here’s another good post that talks about some of the lawsuits and illegal activities the company and its founders have engaged in.
Seems the so-called “superior science” claims behind Progenex Protein Powders are complete b.s.!
And we haven’t even gotten to my review of what’s actually in the product yet …
Progenex Protein Powder and Meal Replacement Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis
Like I say in all my reviews, we have access to two pieces of information that help us determine if these Progenex marketing claims are really true: the nutrition facts and ingredients.
I’ll be analyzing each of these for Progenex More Muscle, Recovery, and Cocoon.
Let’s get to it …
According to Progenex:
More Muscle is one of the most advanced and unique whey protein supplements on the market today. It is specifically formulated for fast absorption and maximum uptake. It is manufactured in a two-stage process. The first stage isolates growth factors that can be found in early-stage cow’s milk, extracting and concentrating them using a unique proprietary process. The second stage microfilters and ultrafilters the cold-processed whey into high quality whey protein isolate.
The other ingredients in the product tell quite a different story though …
Recovery is Progenex’s post-workout powder. Here’s a look at the ingredients/nutrition for each flavor…
Cocoon is their “nighttime” protein powder that supposedly helps you sleep better.
Now let’s a take a deeper dive into those ingredients I flagged…
Red Flag Ingredients
Added Sugar (“Natural” and Artificial)
Most Progenex proteins have between 5 and 9 grams of sugar per serving, from various sources (fructose, dextrose, and table sugar, or sucrose).
Progenex defends its addition of sugar by saying your body needs sugar after a workout.
Yes, that’s true.
But the average person eats 82 grams of it every day … so there’s no reason for it to be added to your protein powder.
Sugar, in excess, makes you fat and leads to disease, period.
Then there’s the artificial sweetener they use, sucralose, which was shown to cause cancer in animal studies …
In 2016 an independent Italian laboratory published a large study on mice. The study found that sucralose caused leukemia and related blood cancers in male mice that were exposed to it throughout their lives starting from before birth.
There are also negative gut health effects associated with sucralose:
Several researchers contend that sucralose negatively impacts the gut, including changes in the microbiome and enzymes. That could have a range of consequences, including effects on blood sugar, regulation of body weight, inflammatory bowel disease, and how drugs and other chemicals are absorbed and metabolized by the body.
If this stuff causes cancer in animals, do you really want to be eating it?
The Environmental Working Group found in its research of 80,000 food products that only salt, water and sugar are listed more often than “natural” flavors on food labels.
According to David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG):
[Natural flavors] will often have some solvent and preservatives—and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.
Problem is, we don’t really know the impact that years of consuming these additives could have on our bodies.
If you see any type of “flavors” on a food label, that’s a big warning sign.
GMO Corn- and Soy-based Fillers
Maltodextrin is a corn-based thickener/filler used in processed foods. A 2012 study found that consuming maltodextrin increased bacterial adhesion to human intestinal epithelial cells and enhanced E. coli adhesion, which is associated with autoimmune disorders and dybiosis in your gut.
Another study found that maltodextrin impairs cellular antibacterial responses and suppresses intestinal antimicrobial defense mechanisms, leading to inflammatory bowel disease and other GI conditions that arise from an inappropriate immune response to bacteria.
For people with grain allergies and intolerances, maltodextrin can exacerbate any current unpleasant symptoms you’re experiencing.
Soy lecithin is a processed thickener that’s usually extracted from GMO soybeans using chemical-based methods.
If you have any GI issues or suffer from joint pain, inflammation, and/or fatigue, avoid products with corn- and soy-based fillers like maltodextrin and soy lecithin.
If you’re one of the few people who can tolerate dairy products (2/3 of the population cannot), then an organic, grass-fed whey protein isn’t a bad option.
But I’m sick and tired of companies like Progenex citing industry-backed studies claiming whey’s superiority over plant-based protein sources. Just because hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into studies by companies trying to push more whey protein powder on unsuspecting customers, doesn’t make it “better.”
Whey actually has a lot of side effects that these guys don’t tell you about. Listen to your body. If you feel any type of gas, bloating, inflammation, or fatigue after taking whey protein, then stop immediately and try something else.
None of the ingredients in Progenex protein powders are organic. This means there’s a chance your protein shake also contains pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals.
Progenex Reviews Summed Up
On its “Science” page, Progenex says:
Many protein brands include hard-to-digest fillers and “junk” ingredients that can leave you feeling bloated.
Yet the hard-to-digest fillers and junk ingredients is exactly what they use in every protein powder I analyzed!
Progenex likes to tout their “superior science” yet cites studies like these with tiny samples sizes:
And others that are 20-30 years old:
Any protein powder manufacturer can cherry pick studies to back up their product.
Long story short, there’s a reason Progenex has been slapped with a bunch of lawsuits: their products do not work as-advertised.
My $0.02: stick with a protein powder with organic, real food ingredients instead of ones like Progenex that are loaded with sugar, processed fillers, and “flavors”.