In this review, I’m going to tell you why you may want to think twice about buying Usana protein shakes and powders.
While I do sell a protein powder of my own, my reviews of Usana proteins are as unbiased as possible because I evaluated all their protein products using two objective criteria: 1.) Ingredients, 2.) Nutrition Facts Labels.
No company can hide behind these two pieces of information.
Long story short, for Usana they revealed some pretty shady stuff.
Let’s get started …
What Is Usana?
According to their website:
USANA manufactures the highest-rated, most effective nutritional supplements and health care products in the world. Our products are the best money can buy.
Usana sells their products through a process they call “direct selling.” It’s also known as MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) or a “pyramid scheme.” This is the same model companies like Beachbody (who sells Shakeology), Isagenix, Arbonne, and Herbalife use. You sign up as a rep and then get a commission for selling Usana protein powders and other products to your family and friends.
The reason I bring this up is not to knock on MLM companies (there are some decent ones out there) but to point out that most Usana protein reviews you see online have a vested interest in selling Usana products.
In this analysis I’ll be focusing on Usana protein powder products.
These include Usana NutriMeal and MySmart Shakes. Usana sells a lot of other products. Some of them look perfectly fine from a nutrition standpoint.
Unfortunately I can’t say the same about their proteins, as you’re about to see …
Usana NutriMeal and MySmart Protein Shakes Review
Here’s how my reviews work …
First I’ll show you the nutrition facts labels and ingredients for each product. You’ll see “red flags” highlighted for each.
Then I’ll go into detail about each of these ingredients below the images.
Let’s have a look …
Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis
NutriMeal Nutrition Facts / Ingredients
MySmart Shakes Nutrition Facts / Ingredients
MySmart Plant-based Shake
MySmart Soy Protein
MySmart Whey Protein
MySmart Dark Strawberry Flavor Optimizer
MySmart Dark Chocolate Flavor Optimizer
MySmart Milk Chocolate Flavor Optimizer
MySmart Whey Protein Plus
Red Flag Ingredients
- Protein sources: Most of Usana’s protein products contain whey protein and/or soy protein. Dairy-based protein powders have been shown to have negative side effects for many people. If you can tolerate whey, great. Soy protein may have some beneficial properties for older women. It’s not a good choice for men, however, because it’s high in phytoestrogens, plant compounds that have estrogen-like structures. Soy is also one of the “Big 8” allergens, so it may cause inflammation, a precursor to most diseases, if you’re sensitive to soy. And it’s almost always sourced from GMO soybeans unless it’s organic.
- Sugars and sugar alcohols: NutriMeal has between 17 and 18 grams of sugar, depending on the flavor. This is 75% of the amount of added sugar most people are supposed to eat in an entire day. Two of the MySmart Flavor Enhancers I reviewed use the sugar alcohol erythritol. The problems with sugar alcohols are 1.) your body cannot absorb them and 2.) they can cause major gas and bloating and other GI issues.
- Natural flavors: Like most flavored protein powders, Usana uses “natural” flavors. Natural flavors are made of 80-90% solvents and preservatives, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Despite their innocent-sounding name, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says natural flavors “may trigger an acute, allergic reaction, intolerance, or other problems.”
- Gums/Fillers/Thickeners: Usana uses a lot of different additives and fillers in its products, many of which can be disruptive to gut health. These include soy or sunflower lecithin, guar gum, xanthan gum, gum arabic, and cellulose gum (aka wood pulp).
Bottom Line: Are Usana Protein Powders Good for You?
Despite Usana’s claims of selling “the best products money can buy,” the fact is Usana’s protein products are:
- Not organic, which means most of their ingredients are likely sprayed with chemical pesticides and herbicides.
- Have too much sugar (some, not all).
- Are loaded with additives, fillers, and “natural” flavors, which are definitely not real food.
There are definitely worse protein powders you can buy, but based on my reviews and ingredients and nutrition analysis for NutriMeal and MySmart proteins, I recommend sticking with a product with 100% real food, organic ingredients instead.