Protein Powder Reviews

289 comments

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My Naturopath recently suggested that I increase my protein intake at breakfast after looking at my daily food log and finding that I was coming up short on occasion. Breakfast is usually my meal that’s lowest in protein (lunch and dinner are fine) and he thought that an increase in breakfast protein could help with my energy levels and workout recovery. Knowing that I’m a vegan, he suggested using protein powder as an easy way to sneak in more protein.

I’ve tried all kinds of protein powders and tend to go through phases with them. Sometimes I use them every day for a week and other times I fall off the wagon or just forget to buy it when I run out. I think part of the problem is that I’ve never been able to find one that meets all of my needs. I’m really picky with protein powders! Sometimes they have sneaky artificial sweeteners, too much sugar, taste like dirt, or they just don’t have as much protein per serving as I’m looking for. If I’m going to fork money over for powder, it better be high in protein!

I said I would give his protein-boosting breakfast challenge a try and set out to find the perfect protein powder once again. I remembered Ashley saying that she was really happy with the Garden of Life Raw Protein Powder, so I thought I would give it a try since she gave it rave reviews.

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The specs of this protein powder:

  • 17 grams of protein per serving (per 1/4 cup scoop)
  • Only 80 calories per serving
  • Less than 1 gram of sugar per serving
  • No fillers, artificial flavours, or synthetics
  • USDA Organic
  • Probiotic and enzyme blend
  • Recyclable container

 

That is a lot of protein per serving for very few calories!

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Ingredient list:

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The nutritional profile:

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One thing I really like about this protein powder is that there’s no added sugar. I like to be able to control my own sweetener in my smoothies (hello, frozen bananas), so this is a nice change.

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What about the taste?

Well, let me just say that it’s pretty earthy, but certainly not the worst protein powder I have tasted (hemp, I’m looking at you).

Don’t expect to add this protein powder into a smoothie without any fruit/sweetener and enjoy the taste. That’s to be expected because there’s no sugar to cover up the taste like in other powders. I would say it’s quite easy to mask the taste with a frozen banana or other fun ingredients. Once I added my normal smoothie ingredients, it was fine!

What I don’t like about this protein powder:

  • I’m sure there is iron in this powder, but they don’t report it. As a vegan, this is crucial info for me to know.
  • It’s expensive to buy from a natural food store ($40-45), but I found it online from Iherb for $27.97 and you can probably find it cheaper.
  • Very slightly chalky and earthy tasting, but again, I don’t think this is a deal breaker for me. It’s much less chalky than some powders I have tried.

 

I also picked up this Heartland Gold Brown Rice Protein Powder to compare it to the Garden of Life Brand. Compared to Garden of Life, this gives me much more bang for my buck. It has 40 servings per container vs. Garden Of Life’s 28 servings. It’s also about $8 cheaper too.

At less than $1 per 16 grams of protein, I’d say this is a cheap source of protein!

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This protein powder has just one ingredient: Organic Compliant, Sprouted, Non-GMO, Brown Rice Protein Concentrate! It’s vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free. I think this would be comparable to the popular Sun Warrior Protein Powder as it’s 100% sprouted brown rice.

It’s 80 calories per scoop and 16 grams of protein. It also has 40% of the RDA for iron which is good for me to know as a vegan.

I also love that it’s a Canadian company based out of Toronto. I was not able to find a website for them though! Suspicious…

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The cons?

It’s a bit more chalky than the Garden of Life protein powder, but only slightly more chalky. This was me comparing them side by side, mind you. The flavour is still earthy (remember- it’s unsweetened), but it’s less earthy tasting than the Garden Of Life powder. Unlike GOL, it’s not a complete protein source, but as long as I get a balance of protein sources over the day, it shouldn’t be an issue.

I still have yet to find my perfect protein powder, but I think these are two decent options weighing the pros and cons. I will definitely buy them again.

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With one scoop of powder you now have a high protein smoothie base of 17 grams of protein. Add some chia seeds and other smoothie ingredients and you have yourself a smoothie that’s 24-25 grams of protein per serving.

As for my energy levels? I’ve noticed that I don’t get as hungry before lunch as I used to and I seem to be more focused and alert in the morning. I think it’s probably a better balance of carbs/protein/fat for my body’s needs.

Are you a protein powder fan? Which ones have you tried and loved or tried and hated?

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{ 289 comments… read them below or add one }

Caitlin @ Vegetarian in the City October 26, 2011

to be honest, i am not a big powder fan. i’d rather eat real food :)

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Angela November 1, 2011

“Sun Warrior -Chocolate” is definitely my go-to powder, after trying about 6 different brands I always pick that one up consistently.

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Candace October 26, 2011

I have tried many different powders and my favorite has to be the “Alive!” brand. Its not overwhelmingly sweet, and there are lots of great add in’s besides just the normal protein. I normally get the pea and rice apple cinnamon flavor :)

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Eileen October 26, 2011

If you can get Now TruVegan Protein powder you might want to give that one a try. It was modeled after the Vega protein powder line, but much easier on the wallet. It is a complete meal with organic greens, fruits, veggies, probiotics, and enzymes. The natural flavor is sweetened with stevia so that might be a deal breaker for you. The flavor is a little earthy, but good and not too gritty. I do have to say it is sweet on it’s own, but isn’t overpowering with berries. (haven’t tried it with bananas.)

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Nicolaas October 30, 2011

How is the taste compared to Vega? I tried Vega and it is the nastiest tasting protein powder that I have ever tried. I have used a lot of different protein powders and Vega is the first one that I could not stomach.

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Deb November 1, 2011

My husband and I recently started using Vega. I love all the good stuff that is in it for us, but you are right the taste, blaaaahhhk. Anyway I have finally found that the chai latte, mixed with Silk Chocolate Almond milk is yummy.

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Christina October 26, 2011

My favorite is USANA’s chocolate whey which is free of gluten and soy protein. It is $27.50 for a bag. They also have dutch chocolate, strawberry, and french vanilla. I like their products because they are also low glycemic so I don’t have to worry about them spiking my blood sugar and they are high fiber.

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Erica October 26, 2011

Hi there! I am always on your site and on your facebook page. Your blog inspired me to start loving myself & food again. I am now a Certified Nutrition Coach and a consultant for Arbonne. One reason is I became a consultant is b/c their protein powder is simply AMAZING! I get a great discount, so I thought- might as well make Arbonne apart of my coaching if possible. I wanted to give you the info. Usually I’m a vanilla fan, but I LOVE their chocolate. Here’s the link….http://parteecofiles.com/2011/Arbonne%20Protein%20Shakes.pdf hope you will make the switch. Contact me if you want additional info :)

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Amy October 26, 2011

Have you checked out homemade protien powders? I have been tempted to make to one on Daily Garnish. You would have a great recipe I’m sure.

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LibbyD October 27, 2011

Hemp Protein Powders are really good for you. I know that EartFare sells a really good one in the wellness center. :) Happy Protein Search

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Eselpee October 27, 2011

I have most recently been using Lifetime Life’s Basics. I can’t remember what I paid for it (a quick google search priced it under $20), but it has 22 g protein in 31.8 g serving (44% of daily value). It is made from pea, hemp, rich & chia seed. It is unsweetened vanilla, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

I must have been focused on price when I was shopping and neglected to notice it is not entirely organic (just the hemp is organic). I think I will pay attention to this next time I am perusing the selves for protein powder.

I eat a breakfast of oatmeal with nondairy milk, work out, and then put 1/2 serving in a green smoothie. I don’t think a full 22 g protein serving is needed and too much protein is hard on one’s kidneys.

PS isn’t whey is an animal product?

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Hayley October 27, 2011

I like to rotate my protein powders to ensure diversity, however, pumpkin seed protein powder is my favorite, by Omega Nutrition. Neutral taste, however probably not the best to dissolve in smoothies. It works really well mixed into breakfast cereals, or as a flour in recipes, similar to almond flour. Nice in cacao recipes :)

Benefits of Pumpkin Seed Powder and Pumpkin Seeds:
• Pumpkin seeds are higher in protein (29%) than many other seeds and nuts, and they are a valuable source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamin A.
• Great for prostate maintenance.
• Helps keep your bladder healthy.
• Works as a hormone balance.
• Anti-parasitic.
• Rich in phosphorus, magnesium and manganese and is also a good source of other minerals including zinc, iron and copper.
• A good source of favorable plant sterols which directly benefit male and female reproductive health.
• It is also a good source of omega-6 EFA and omega-9.
• May prevent Kidney stones.
• Considered medicinal for the liver, colon, and the spleen-pancreas, and are balancing for all body types.

Cheers!

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Beth November 2, 2011

Hey Haley,

Pumpkin seed protein sounds like an excellent protein powder! I’ve been trying to find a less flavourful protein!! Where can I buy it?? I’m from Toronto and I can’t find it at the larger health/organic stores!

thanks!! :)
- Beth

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Hayley November 6, 2011

Hi Beth! The best way to get this is to ask a manager at the health food store that you go to, to order it in. Most health food stores order ‘omega nutrition’ foods, so I’m sure they will be able to order it in for you, ‘customers first!’. Fortunately two health food stores where I live carry it! :) Good luck!
Hayley

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Sera October 27, 2011

SUNWARRIOR! It’s light, vegan and even raw. I love the vanilla flavor while my nutritionist swears by the chocolate one. She actually takes their Super greens too which is a whole load of great greens. However I felt that for Super greens, the peppermint taste came out a little too enthusiastically. Hehe.

All the best with your protein search!

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Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count October 27, 2011

Maybe you should go about the process of developing your own protein powder. Not kidding, maybe you could perfect it!

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Allison October 27, 2011

Good to know! Have you tried any of the Vega brand powders? I’ve heard great things. I’m going to check into ordering some on Amazon I think. It seems pricy but could be good on occasion. I’m on the hunt for a morning protein boost, too. My running coach just reviewed my food journal in prep for my first half marathon in December. Anyway, he suggested outside of powders, adding some quinoa to my steel cut oatmeal (1:1 ratio) which i thought was brilliant and pretty easy. Also I’ve been enjoying sprouted grain English muffins which have some additional protein with almond butter. Keep us posted if you find the perfect protein!

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Ashley October 27, 2011

What about Greek yogurt added to your smoothies for breakfast? I’m not sure about sweeteners or anything, but I know that the Fage brand has a ton of protein per 8 oz serving (about 20 g). It can also be eaten plain and changed so many different ways!

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Natasha October 31, 2011

Yogurt is not vegan ;-P

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Heather J October 28, 2011

Have you tried Genuine Health’s Vegan Protein+? It is really great tasty, disolves pretty well, it’s chalky and It comes in 3 flavours (chocolate, vanilla & strawberry). Vega also has a new line of sports supplements. Their new chocolate protein powder is awesome.

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Ashley October 28, 2011

My favorite vegan protein powder is called PlantFusion in vanilla bean, it is by far the best one I have tried. It is sweet but not too sweet and it has no dairy, no soy, is gluten free, and is easy to digest. I love it with vanilla almond milk and fruit or with chocolate almond milk and a scoop of coconut flour to get in some fiber and nutrients (or half a frozen banana and a scoop of pb2 to make chocolatey-banana-peanut butter deliciousness.)

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Julz October 28, 2011

Life’s Basics Plant Protein powder is the best protein powder I’ve tried! I think you would approve :)

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Cindy October 29, 2011

Thanks for the post. I have the same issue, I need more protein especially when working out and I can’t find one that I really like. I have a hard time finding a good one that you can mix quickly in a shaker. It seems the ones that are better for you need to be mixed in a blender with some fruit to make it taste less chalky. I normally use the Vega products but would love to try some new ones like those you listed above!

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Laura October 30, 2011

I agree it is hard to find a favorite protein powder. I really love SUN Warrior though it is super expensive it is good. At this point I am making my own blends, Buying hemp protein in bulk and mixing it was chia seeds, Macca powder, bee pollen, maybe some psyllium husks if I want my digestion back on track.. and keeping it mixed in a container so i just grab and go and throw it in a smoothie or oatmeal. I love your website and keep up the great self care and learning.

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Lindsay October 30, 2011

Definitely going to try this protien powder- I’ve been looking for one with no added sugar- I think I can handle a little bit of chalkiness!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 30, 2011

Its really not *too* chalky either!

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Deb November 1, 2011

My husband and I started using Vega as a supplement for “anything and everything” that we may be missing from our diet. We were concerned for B12 and iron mostly. The guy that developed it is a triathalete and vegan and since my hubby is doing his first ironman next year and has recently started to live a veganish lifestyle we thought it was worth a try. It is hard to swallow, he just mixes his with water but I mix mine with Silk choc milk and have come to like it. If you go to their website all the info is there…
http://myvega.com/
cheers,
deb

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melissa daams October 31, 2011

i’ve tried only one and it’s very chalky, to be expected i guess. it’s 100% soy protein and not recommended for children – which sucks b/c if i add it to baked goods then I feel like maybe it’s not such a good idea for the kids to consume it. but i usually let them try it anyway. usually i just add avocado for extra protein – and that helps me feel fuller longer. i couldn’t really find a brand name on the protein powder – except for in small print Lucavitaal – a Benelux company.

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Natasha October 31, 2011

I absolutely adore Amazing Grass chocolate amazing meal. It’s 10g protein per scoop, so not as high as yours, but I’m picky and it’s the only one I truly like. It’s vegan, soy free, dairy free, raw, and chalked full of good for you ingredients! Love, love, love.

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Cathy October 31, 2011

Hi Angela
I am with you about trying to find a protein powder that doesn’t taste like dirt! I use 100 % Pumpkin Seed Protein powder, it is organic and no sugar or additives etc.
You will love it- it’s tasteless and I also add it to everything I bake for kids…pancakes, muffins etc.
Cathy

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Brigit Hartop November 1, 2011

BioChem! I know it sounds like a lab experiment but it’s a very healthy protein powder that I purchase from Sprouts. The vanilla flavor is awesome, smells like a cake, and mixes very easily. The taste blends in beautifully with any smoothie recipe and is quite delicious when just mixed with some coconut milk for a great blend of protein, essential fatty acids, and calcium. They also have a “greens and whey” version that I enjoy…its green state frightens some people, but I just mix it with water and enjoy it very much, mostly for the “superwoman” blast of energy that follows. :)

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Joanna November 1, 2011

Although there are so many brands, I personally love Vega. The company is founded in Vancouver, BC (yay, Canadian!) and it tastes delicious. They have geared their brand toward athletes, but still have varieties that are great for everyday use.

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tahna November 2, 2011

sunwarrior vanilla is amazing!!! blends really well! but don’t get the chocolate, most people i know who’ve tried the chocolate end up returning it.

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Bree November 2, 2011

Have you tried protein plus peanut flour? It is low fat, all natural (no salt or sugar added), high protein, and tastes delicious.
1/4 cup is 110 calories and 16g of protein.

http://proteinplusflour.com/

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Debbie Cray November 4, 2011

I started using Complete protein shake by Juice Plus. It’s complete vegan and taste great to me. It comes in vanilla and chocolate!

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Celeste November 7, 2011

I like the Raw Protein the best of the vegan protein powders I’ve tried. The fine texture, absence of sugar, decent taste (I even think it smells good), and quality ingredients make it worth every penny. It’s also easy to digest.

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Amy November 10, 2011

Nutiva Hemp isn’t earthy at all and blends magnificently into a smoothie. I’ve been using it for years and LOVE it! Garden of Life Super Seed is excellent too. It is so mild and has a subtle sweetness but NO stevia aftertaste;-)

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kate July 6, 2012

The best protein powder I have found, sugar free, dairy, soy,gluten free is Naturade Soy Free Protein powder vegetable based Natural Flavor. aprox $.25- 32. for 32 ounces, 27 grams protein!! for 1/3 cup. no or very little after taste. Great with frozen fruit & yogart..no sugar low with this powder. It can only be found online at Naturade or Amazon. I have been using this powder for 30+ years It helps maintain my weight at a resonsable weight. I use it 2x a day and have yet to get tired of it. any questions just ask.
katie

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Vicki July 11, 2012

My husband has been diagnosed with Hemochromatosis (iron overload) as well as Candida (yeast overgrowth). If someone could recommend a protein powder which is low in both sugar and iron, it would be greatly appreciated. Oh, he’s also allergic to wheat and yeast. Poor guy!! We live in Ontario, Canada. Thanks for any suggestions and/or help.
Vicki

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Cheryl December 12, 2012

I am looking for a good rice protein powder.
I would like recipes that don’t use any milk
at all.Thank you

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james January 1, 2013

Isnt there a vegan protein powder like these that you could live off of it only?

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Kerri January 18, 2013

I have been looking for a good protein powder that is vegan- but does NOT contain stevia. I know it is a natural product, but has an artificial sweetener type taste to me. Same with monk fruit which I am finding as a sweetener in many vegan products today. My question is about Garden of Life’s source of vitamin D, which is listed only as D on the label.

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Kerri January 18, 2013

P.s. I used to use Spiritein Vanilla which I loved, but it contains bee pollen which is of concern to me ( re: the way it is obtained).

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Jamee January 19, 2013

Loving that I stumbled onto your site! I have enjoyed digging through all of your recipes. I can’t wait to try a few this week after visiting Whole Foods! I know this is kind of a “old” post, but have you ever tried Arbonne protein powder? Being the health conscious freak that I am it was only natural for me to become a consultant after researching and trying ALL of their products, LOL! Our protein powders come in chocolate or vanilla flavors and are vegan with no artificial colors, flavors, sweetners, or additives, and are gluten and lactose free along with 20 essential vitamins and minerals! Each serving is 20 grams of protein sourced from pea, cranberry, and rice. I don’t wanna be partial, but it tastes GREAT! Let me know if you’d like to try a sample. Very delicious and may become your new favorite! Keep up the AWESOME work with you blog. LOVING it!

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Suzanne Holt April 21, 2013

I’ve been looking for a protein powder to add to our daily smoothies and almost bought the hemp one yesterday (it looks like I made a good choice in skipping it and doing more research?). Thanks for the great reviews – they were really helpful in my research to find the best options!

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Missy April 26, 2013

I’m trying Warrior Food by Warrior Force. It’s vegan (made of sprouted hemp and organic, non GMO brown rice) and comes in vanilla, chocolate and natural. No artificial flavors, chocolate and vanilla options are sweetened with a little bit of stevia (which is completely healthy and natural) and everything is raw! Check it out http://www.healthforce.com/warrior-force

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Jennifer May 9, 2013

I would love for you to post some of your smoothie recipes. I have GOL Raw Vanilla.

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patrice May 24, 2013

Has anyone tried Perfect Fit Organic Brown rice protein. It is pretty good. Gluten free, non gmo, vegan. Only a few ingredients which I really like: organic sprouted whole grain brown rice protein, organic vanilla flavor, organic guar gum, organic stevia, sea salt. 3 carbs and 0 sugars…15 grams protein per serving..

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