UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. To see the winner announcement, please click here!
The following post is sponsored by Pure Protein. I am receiving a stipend for my participation in this campaign, but all content is–as always–100% my own. Check out great ways to Eat Good and Look Great at their website.
So, protein. Admittedly, as a self-professed carb lover (addict?) for, ummmmm, my entire life, protein has never been at the top of my diet priority spectrum. I mean, sure, I always knew it was important in a “duh” kind of way. And, sure, I like to eat steak and chicken and tofu and all that good stuff. But before starting this blog (and my weight loss/health journey in general), I never really gave a lot of consideration to how much protein I was really consuming. Nor did I consider how much I SHOULD be consuming. And even now, two and a half years into my journey, I still struggle. Despite my best efforts to make my plate balanced, I find myself constantly falling back into the pattern of a VERY carb-centric diet. And that certainly isn’t conducive to my weight loss: protein is proven time and time again to be critical for weight loss–helping elongate your periods of satiety, keeping your blood sugar stable, and generally just being a good USE of your calories.
So when the opportunity presented itself to try out some of Pure Protein’s products, I had a kind of curiosity epiphany. After all, I am constantly trying to better my understanding of the nutrients my body needs, as well as what my body responds to, so I figured this would be a good way to test those waters. Now, granted, protein supplements are not, at least in my opinion, a crucially necessary thing to add to your diet. I don’t think anyone is going to make the argument that supplements, shakes, and bars are better than obtaining your macronutrients directly from your food. But there are also plenty of reasons why that’s not always going to happen. For many, it may be as simple as being too busy to think about protein when making dinner, since it’s just faster to make spaghetti. I figured, why not give these things a go and see if they would be a fitting addition to my lifestyle, especially now that I’m getting back into going to CrossFit and upping the fitness ante in general.
Enter the protein supplement. Pure Protein sent me a package including a big ol’ tub of protein powder, a few bars, and some protein shakes as well. So I spent the holiday weekend taste-testing the products and seeing if I felt they helped me stay fuller throughout the day, kept my energy up for working out, and the like. Verdict?
Mixed, definitely mixed. Pretty evenly split, actually, in terms of the good, the bad, and the meh. For the sake of ease, I’ll break this up into reviewing the three different products I was sent.
First up: the protein bars! I was sent both the peanut butter and a chocolate flavors. I actually only ended up trying the peanut butter one, because I felt like the chocolate-chocolate one might end up being a little too close to an actual chocolate bar, and I gave up sweets for Lent. The bars have 20g of protein (!) and 200 calories, and I actually thought it tasted pretty good. Chewier than your average
bear bar, but pretty good. I was actually pretty surprised that it only has 2 grams of sugar (although I’m sure it has other non-sugar sweeteners in it). In terms of satiety, the bar definitely filled me up and made it so I didn’t feel like snacking on anything else between meals. I think for someone with a serious grab-and-go lifestyle, this kind of thing could almost work as a breakfast replacement (after all, you’re getting about 20 grams of protein more than you’d find in a pop tart). They’re also gluten-free, if that sort of thing matters to you (obviously it doesn’t for me, haha).
Moving on, let’s talk about the shakes next. Pure Protein’s shakes come in different flavors and different protein amounts. I was sent the 15g of protein shakes in Vanilla Creme, which is actually the lowest protein amount (they also come in 23g and 35g). Soooo, I won’t lie, I really did not like this one. Maybe it was the flavor or the consistency, but I’m pretty sure I actually made a face when I first tasted it. It reminded me of watered down Slim Fast, which has negative connotations for me given how many of those things I drank back when I was in middle school and thought I was too fat (oh, if I’d only known then…!). Maybe this shake would be better in a different flavor, but as I was only given one flavor to sample, that’s all I’ve got. The shake is 170 calories for the whole bottle, and includes the aforementioned 15g of protein, but there’s also a LOT more sugar than in either of the other products (25g!). It was definitely the most disappointing of the three products for me.
However, I have better news when it comes to the protein powder. Now, confession, this is literally the first time I have ever used protein powder before. I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers that use it, and I’ve seen lots of smoothie recipes that include it, but I’ve just never gotten around to trying it for myself. Well, I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with my first experience! Pure Protein sent me a big ol’ honkin’ thing of Whey Protein Powder, also in Vanilla Creme. Thankfully, I enjoyed the flavor MUCH better this time (possibly because there were other flavors involved). I made myself a smoothie that included a banana, almondmilk, ice, and half a scoop of the powder, and it was really good! If I’d had some spinach laying around, I would have totally turned the thing into a green smoothie.
The protein powder is 150 calories for a full scoop, with only 2g of sugar, and adds 25g of protein to whatever you put it in. So, with my half-scoop, I ended up with a 75 calorie, 1g of sugar addition to my smoothie, which was about 120 calories with the banana and almondmilk on their own. I can definitely see myself utilizing it to add extra protein to smoothies, which I tend not to make a lot in the past because I don’t find them filling enough to warrant the A) calories or B) time spent cleaning my blender. But this concoction absolutely worked for me as a breakfast smoothie.
So, my feelings overall on the products? The powder itself is probably the only one of the three I can see myself adopting into my lifestyle, since I really enjoyed both the flavor it added to my smoothie, and the flexible utility of it. I also really like the suggestions on the back of the tub for how to use the powder other than in smoothies. They suggest adding it to oatmeal or pancake mix, and since you know I’m all about finding ways to boost the nutritional impact of foods that are otherwise not super-nutritious, I think those are both great ideas.
As for the other products, you already know how I felt about the pre-made shakes (read: not good), but depending on how much convenience food you eat anyway, or if you have a specific reason to really amp up your protein intake (are working out heavily, weight lifting, etc), I can see how the bars could be a viable option for some. And Pure Protein does produce “natural” versions of all their products, if all the fakey ingredients are a problem for you. But why take my word for all of this, when you can form your own opinion? I have a Pure Protein prize pack to giveaway to one of you, which includes several full-sized versions of all the products mentioned in this post!
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post answering the question: What role does protein play in your life? Is it something you already take care of, something you know you should have more of? Do you find it difficult to get the required amount of protein in your diet? I’d really love to know where everyone else stands!
As always, extra entries are granted for those who follow me on Twitter, Like me on Facebook, or blog/Facebook/tweet about this giveaway! Just make sure you leave separate comments for each thing you do to ensure your extra entries are all counted. The random winner will be selected on Monday, February 25th!