The Worst On-The-Go Protein Shakes

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What if I told you there was a magical fairy dust that’d help you lose weight and build muscle—and it tastes great, too? And what if I said you could buy it—by the tub? Would you? Sure you would. And you wouldn’t be alone. Protein powders have cast a spell on the “Diet” industry, and smart users know that the stuff works by blasting fat in three key ways: 1) Protein boosts satiety by filling you up and by helping to slow digestion of carbs, which stabilizes blood sugar levels; 2) your body burns more calories digesting protein compared to fat or carbs; and 3) protein helps maintain muscle mass tissue, which burns more calories at rest than body fat. The trouble is that many are made with inflammatory protein sources teeming with artificial additives, tablespoons of added sugar, and nasty chemicals. 

Like protein powders, many of the labels of these shakes read like the stock list of a chemistry lab and are made with obscure protein sources, artificial sweeteners, too much sugar, chemical additives, and trans fat.


Ensure Plus

Protein shakes

Per 8 fl oz bottle: 350 calories, 11 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (0 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 13 g protein

Don’t be fooled by Ensure’s claims that this is “complete, balanced nutrition.” With more sugar than protein, this shake won’t be of much help when it comes to weight loss. That’s not even mentioning the fact that the product is full of artificial flavors, conventional nonfat milk, inflammatory vegetable oils, and carrageenan.


SlimFast Originals

Protein shakes

Per 10 fl oz bottle: 180 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (5 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 10 g protein

On top of its poor protein showing—there’s almost double the amount of sugar than there is protein—SlimFast’s downfall is also their addition of mono and diglycerides as well as hydrogenated soybean oil, which all often are sources of the artery-clogging trans fats that are linked to cardiovascular disease. Plus, the drink contains milk protein concentrate from conventional cows, which contains as many risks as it does benefits, artificial flavors, carrageenan, and artificial sweeteners Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium.


Odwalla Original Super Protein

Protein shakes

Per 15.2 fl oz bottle: 350 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 62 g carbs (1 g fiber, 56 g sugar), 19 g protein

It does have a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein, which experts recommend for post-workout recovery, but that doesn’t mean gobbling down 56 grams of sugar with only a gram of digestion-slowing fiber is good for you. The odds are stacked against your favor when it comes to minimizing hunger strikes.


Special K Protein Breakfast Shake

Protein shakes

Per 10 fl oz bottle: 180 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (5 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 10 g protein

Special K isn’t all that great. That should’ve primed you for their line of breakfast shakes as well. They’re made with conventional nonfat milk, whey protein concentrate, and GMO soy protein concentrate as well as 18 grams of sugar along with sucralose and acesulfame potassium. Besides the artificial flavors and colors and trans fats, Kellogg’s also adds an ingredient called “polydextrose.” It’s allowed to count in those 5 grams of fiber, but this functional fiber is unlike natural dietary fiber. While it is fermented into anti-inflammatory compounds, a Nutrition Review study found that polydextrose cannot help slow the rate at which food is broken down and nutrients like glucose are absorbed, meaning it won’t help you feel full.


Boost High Protein Shake

Protein shakes

Per 8 fl oz bottle, vanilla: 240 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (0 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 15 g protein

Before milk protein concentrate is even listed, both sugar and corn syrup are the first ingredients behind water. This shake is also made with artificial flavors and inflammatory vegetable oils which have a high omega 6: omega 3 ratios and can cause weight gain over time.


Bolthouse Farms Protein PLUS

Protein shakes

Per 15.2 fl oz bottle, mango: 380 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 495 mg sodium, 63 g carbs (4 g fiber, 51 g sugar), 30 g protein

Per 15.2 fl oz bottle, chocolate: 400 calories, 5.5 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 265 mg sodium, 55 g carbs (6 g fiber, 49 g sugar), 30 g protein

They might be naturally sweetened, but that doesn’t justify gulping down 50 grams of sugar in a bottle. It’ll give you a solid dose of protein along with at least 9 vitamins and minerals, but you’ll most likely start to feel hungry soon after guzzling down the 400-calorie bottle—which isn’t great news if you’re on a calorie-restricted “Diet”


Pure Protein Shake

Protein shakes

Per 11 fl oz bottle: 110-120 calories, 0-0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 230-240 mg sodium, 7-8 g carbs (5 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 23 g protein

It’s low fat and low carb, but Pure Protein is sweetened with artificial sugar, sucralose, artificially colored with carcinogen-containing caramel color, and artificially flavored with who knows what.


Odwalla Mango Protein Shake

Protein shakes

Per 15.2 fl oz bottle: 310 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 54 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 47 g sugar), 19 g protein

It may be a mango protein shake, but mango puree isn’t even the first ingredient. That spot belongs to sugar-heavy apple and orange juice concentrates, one of the main reasons why this shake contains a whopping 47 grams of the sweet stuff. 


Glucerna Hunger Smart Shake

Protein shakes

Per 11.5 fl oz bottle: 180 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (5 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 15 g protein

I understand that diabetics would be drawn to this product, as it’s targeted to their audience—but that doesn’t mean Glucerna should be filling their customers up with fructose. This sugar molecule doesn’t spike blood glucose levels like glucose does, but experts speculate that it’s Americans’ increased intake of fructose—which our body turns into fat and inflammatory compounds more easily than it does with glucose—that is to blame for the equivalent increase in rates of metabolic disorders and obesity, not just “sugar.” 

I did a post about diabetes if you are interested in learning how to reverse diabetes you can Click Here


Muscle Milk Protein Smoothie

Protein shakes

Per 16 fl oz bottle: 260 calories, 4.5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 135 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (1 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 25 g protein

Don’t be fooled by some peoples favorite word “smoothie.” Although protein powders and smoothies go together like Brad and Angelina, I’m only talking about the homemade versions which use real yogurt. Muscle Milk claims to use Greek yogurt, but they also note that the drink is heat-treated after culturing, which kills off any live cultures that may have had probiotic benefits.

I did a post about some of the worst yogurts. If you want to know what yogurts made my bad list then you can Click Here


Naked Protein & Greens

Protein shakes

Per 15.2 fl oz bottle: 400 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 290 mg sodium, 61 g carbs (0 g fiber, 53 g sugar), 30 g protein

Just because experts recommend a carb to protein ratio of 2:1 for optimal muscle recovery doesn’t mean if a drink has a 2:1 ratio it’s good to drink. For example, this Protein & Greens by Naked, which satisfies the 2:1 ratio, but contains an astounding 53 grams of sugar in one bottle. They might not be added sugars, but all are from fruit juice concentrates, which means that most of the sugars are fructose—a sugar compound that can’t even be used by your body to replenish its glucose-based energy stores.


Premier Protein

Protein shakes

Per 11 fl oz bottle, vanilla: 160 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 30 g protein

Commonly used in over-processed breads, DATEM (DiAcetylTartaric acid Esters of Monoglycerides) is used as a shelf-stabilizing emulsifier in both dough and protein shake applications, as protein powder is notoriously difficult to mix with water. Unfortunately, this additive is often made from artery-clogging partially hydrogenated oils, which the FDA will ban from food products starting in June 2018. Premier Protein responded and said their DATEM is only made from fully-hydrogenated oil—but why use it in the first place when so many others don’t?


Nature’s Best Isopure Cocotein

Protein shakes

Per 16 fl oz bottle: 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 85 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (0 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 20 g protein

Although it boasts one of the shortest ingredients lists out of every protein drink on the market—only including water, Isopure’s whey protein isolate, coconut water concentrate, natural flavor, and phosphoric acid—I had to tick this drink off because of the addition of an artificial sweetener, sucralose. Although recent science indicates they’re not carcinogenic, as feared, artificial sweeteners have been shown to either increase or show no effect on your appetite (whereas the glucose in sugar can increase levels of the “I’m full” hormone, leptin) and can harm your gut health due to their indigestibility. 


Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed today’s post? I always aim to bring you informative information that you may have not thought was bad. When I do these types of post the best/worst of something I usually make these list so you won’t waste money on products that aren’t good for you. Normally I would say moderation with everything but when it comes to the bad list or I also call it the naughty list these are products that you should 100% stay away from because these type of products serve no real purpose and actually can do more harm than good.

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