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My Search for the Best Protein Powder


I read a lot of health and fitness blogs.  I’m definitely a fan, but one of the things that sometimes irks me is that their lives don’t seem real to me in the sense that many of my favorite blogs are run by full-time bloggers.  They work from home, and have a schedule where they can work out at a variety of different times and can prepare their meals just before eating them since they’re at home.  In that sense, I can’t really relate.  My breakfasts don’t normally look like this:

pancakebreakfast

Ok so they don’t have breakfasts like that everyday either, but doesn’t it seem like it sometimes?

During the week I don’t really have time to make elaborate breakfasts.  Most days sleep and convincing myself to get my butt to the gym are more important.  Consequently, most mornings are a little bit like this:

Rushing out the door with a smoothie in a jar, my purse and my lunch bag.  A smoothie for breakfast is great, because I can drink it in the car or at my desk when I get to the office.  Lately, I’ve been trying to add protein to my morning smoothies to help keep me fuller longer.  I’ve had a container of protein powder sitting in my cupboard for over a year and honestly, I hated the taste.

I decided to go on a mission: to find the perfect protein powder.

My criteria are pretty limited: calories and taste.  I don’t want something too high in calories or sugar, but I definitely want it to taste good and keep me full til lunch.  So I went to the store and found as many single serving protein packets as possible.  Let me tell you about some of the ones I tried.

As a control, I mixed all of these protein powders with: 1/2 banana, mango chunks, spinach, kale, water, ice.  I figured that’s what I normally would want to have it with, so if it tastes good with that, I’d be pleased.

Just a note: I bought all of these protein powders on my own, I was not compensated for any of this.  This is just my opinion based on my palate.  I’m not a nutritionist or any type of expert on protein powder, I’m just a consumer sharing an opinion.

1. Garden of Life: Raw Protein

gardenoflife

Flavor: Real Raw Vanilla (they also have a chocolate and vanilla chai, I believe)

Taste:  Good.  A little on the sweet side.  It’s sweetened with stevia, which isn’t terrible.  I guess if you just mixed this with water or almond milk it might be the perfect sweetness (since mango and banana I mixed it with are sweet also)

Texture:  A tiny bit gritty, but not too bad.

Price: the small packet I got was $2.79, which is kind of expensive for a single serving.  On Amazon, a 22oz (approx. 28 servings) container costs $25.83.  That comes out to about $0.92/serving.  Not too bad, price wise.

Calories: 90 Calories for 17g of protein.  Keeps the smoothie pretty low cal, which for me is great.

Overall: I really like this one.  The flavor is great.  It was a little grittier than the others but I didn’t mind it.  I definitely like that it’s vegan, raw and plant-based.  I’m considering buying the large container of this one.

2. Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake

vegaone

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Super tasty!  It reminded me of a milk shake, but that makes sense.  This isn’t actually protein powder.  It’s like an all-in-one nutrition shake, that said it had 15g of protein so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Texture: Super smooth.  I was definitely a fan of this.

Price: Probably the most expensive one.  Roughly 22 servings for $55.99 on Amazon.  That comes out to about $2.55 per serving.  Priceyyyyy…

Calories: 135 calories for 15g of protein.   BONUS: 6g of fiber! 50% of your daily vitamins and minerals.

Overall:  This was really good.  Loved the flavor and the texture.  It kept me full for a long time, but honestly, the deal breaker for me is the price. Woh woh.

3. 100% Whey Gold Standard

Flavor: Chocolate. I’m not really a fan of chocolate protein powder but I gave it a try anyway. My Co-worker gave me a serving of this to try.

Taste: Ok, not too chocolatey when mixed with the fruit and greens.   My complaint is that it has that whey protein after taste that I’m not a big fan of, but that’s subjective and also sorta just the nature of the beast.  I found myself guzzling this as quickly as possible just to get it over with… womp.

Texture: Very smooth!  Not gritty at all.  Definitely a bonus.  If you like frothy (which I hate), this (like other whey powders) gets frothy in the blender (even just mixed with water).

Price: On Amazon, it costs $53.99 for 73 servings.  That comes out to about $0.73 per serving.  Can’t beat that.

Calories: 120 calories for 24g of protein, pretty darn good.

Overall: Not bad.  Don’t think I’ll get it just because of the after taste but I’d be curious to try the other flavors like banana or vanilla.

4. Designer Whey

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Ok so this is the protein powder that started the search.  I bought this one at Trader Joe’s and at the risk of sound harsh.  I hate the taste of this protein powder.  I don’t like the after taste at all.  It’s really hard for me to even finish a smoothie with it, and I am definitely not a picky eater.  A lot of times I found myself adding scoops of unsweetened cocoa powder to my smoothies to cover up the taste.  No bueno.

Texture: Smooth, frothy, not chalky.

Price: On Amazon, 4lbs for $45.19.  Not bad in terms of price.  Comes out to roughly $0.72 per serving.

Calories: 100 Calories for 18g of protein.  Not bad.  I think I’ll take Garden of Life over this one any day…

Overall:  I just can’t stand this one.  I’m pretty much convince I just don’t like the taste of any whey protein powder.  If you mix it with water and chug it, it’s fine, but if you’re going to sip over the course of half an hour (like I do with my morning smoothies), it’s not pleasant.  This one is a no-go for me.

5. Plant Fusion

Plantfusion

Flavor: Vanilla Bean

Taste: The package says “Amazing Taste.”  It’s good but I’m not sure I’d call it amazing.  It was a little sweet for my taste (sweetened with stevia).  To be honest, the taste was sorta “meh” for me.  Maybe I’m raising my protein powder flavor standards?

Texture: Smooth, not chalky or gritty when blended up.  I was a little concerned because there seemed to be a lot of powder in the packet, but it all smoothed out.

Price: On Amazon, it’s $30.31 for 2lbs, that’s about 30 servings.  So about $1 per serving.  Price isn’t terrible.

Calories: 120 calories for 21g of protein.  That’s pretty good in my opinion.  Up there with the 100% Gold Standard Whey, which probably had the best calorie to protein ratio, but I will say I much prefer the taste of this one.

Overall: This one is not bad.  It’s probably my second choice in terms of protein and price.  This one is a blend of pea protein, artichoke protein, amaranth powder and quinoa powder.  I’m definitely a fan of the fact that it’s plant-based.

I think so far, Garden of Life Raw Protein is the winner for me.  I love that it’s plant-based (we love the Earth, right?) and it tastes pretty darn good.  The fact that it’s low calorie just sort of sweetens the deal.

I’m going to keep trying more to find what I like but this was a good set I tried so far.  I’m really interested to try egg white protein powder.  I think I just need to stay away from whey.

Do you use protein powder? If so, what’s your favorite kind?  Suggest away because the search continues for me (maybe)!

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19 responses to “My Search for the Best Protein Powder”

  1. Anna says :

    I like Jay Robb Protein powder. We also use the Earth Fare brand and like it pretty well. I’ve used that Vega powder too, and I agree with you– super tasty, but super pricey!

    I like it that your bag and your smoothie are coordinated. :-)

    • Karla @ Foodologie says :

      I feel like Jay Robb is the cool kid in town when it comes to protein powder. I’ve never tried it, but every seems to love it. I know Jay Robb makes an egg white protein powder that i’d like to try.

      As for the bag and smoothie, it was a green day. I was also wearing a green sweater :D

  2. allie@sweetpotatobites says :

    I have actually tried the trader joe’s hemp protein powder and it’s pretty decent! since I can’t have any soy my protein powder choices are limited, but this one is good if you can get past the murky green color.

    • Karla @ Foodologie says :

      I think I can definitely get past murky green. I’ll look out for TJ’s hemp protein. I’m super scared to buy a big container of any type of protein for fear I might hate it. I don’t like throwing away anything (which is why the Designer Whey is hanging out in my cupboard still)

  3. Jillian Tyre says :

    My mom and step-dad started using protein powder way back in the late 80′s. They had a smoothie bar inside a famous gym. Fast forward to now, I like to use it, but I can only afford the cheap ones sold at Walmart. My mom, since before I was born, was a health-minded person, and still is even more so. She reads, researches, and is very informed. She follows the work of Dr. Mercola. He advocates all sorts of health ideas, some of which are controversial. He has been on Dr. Oz a few times. In any event, she buys his protein powder, vitamins, etc. You can be sure his products do not contain ANYTHING you don’t want in your body. Mercola.com. Expensive, but worth it to know there’s nothing in there that will cause adverse affects, contains no GMO, etc.

  4. Sara/matchboxkitchen (@MatchboxKitchen) says :

    I use Garden of Life Raw protein, but I haven’t tested many others because I have no complaints. It is a bit gritty but it doesn’t bother me. I prefer the unflavored one the best, but right now I’m using chocolate because I got it on sale for $20 during Whole Foods’ supplement sale. Can’t really beat that price! I also thought Plant Fusion was too sweet. Next time I want to try Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder. I’ve heard hemp is the best source non animal protein, something about our bodies absorbing it better than just brown rice protein. Not really sure where I read that though, ha!

    • Karla @ Foodologie says :

      Wow $20 is a great price. I’ll have to look into hemp protein powder. I’ve heard it’s great, but haven’t actually seen any in stores. I’ll need to hit up WF or something. I’m really wanting to use non-animal proteins. As a former vegetarian, sometimes I still feel guilty eating meat. I’ll look out for Manitoba Harvest! Thanks!

  5. balancejoyanddelicias says :

    i saw that protein power in WF the other day and was tempted to try it but it is expensive. Now I might get one to try. Funny that you didn’t like whey design, a lot of bloggers seem to like it.

    • Karla @ Foodologie says :

      What’s weird is I remember liking it in the past, but all of a sudden I can’t stand the flavor of any whey proteins. My palate must have changed! I haven’t looked to see how much it costs at Whole Foods. I went to a local health food store here at it was about $5 more expensive than on Amazon.

  6. Jamie says :

    Thank you for this post. I want to start trying new powders too. I’ve only tired one (Designer Whey’s Aria Protein Powder). Where did you get the samples?

  7. Lisa says :

    Ive used the ON Gold Whey before, and whilte it is very good, it is expensive don’t think think?

  8. The Protein Reviewer says :

    Awesome list. I haven’t tried a few of the natural ones, but I can attest for the others.

    Check out theproteinreviewer.com for ratings and reviews on all kinds of flavors and brands of protein supps!

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