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Raw Protein (Garden of Life) Review- UPDATED with Chocolate & Vanilla Flavors

Raw Protein (Garden of Life) Review- UPDATED with Chocolate & Vanilla Flavors

Protein powder supplements are everywhere and can usually be broken down into two basic categories: Animal based (whey, egg) and plant based (pea, brown rice, hemp). Some are good, some are bad and some are just basement level powdered animal feed infused with junk. It’s tough to know what you’re getting in your protein powder of choice thanks to proprietary ingredients and the fact that as a supplement, a product is only required to display 80%-ish of its ingredient list.

While that sounds more terrifying than it actually may be, I do tend to be choosy with my protein supplements. I won’t touch non-fermented soy and have stuck to whey for the last few years, narrowing down to Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Natural Gold Standard Whey. After reviewing my nutrition over the last few years, I’ve made the personal choice to shave a bit of dairy out of my diet and was looking for a plant based protein alternative that wouldn’t break the bank. I came across Garden of Life’s Raw Protein after my Lady-Friend picked some up at the local health joint. Thanks to a pretty hefty nutritional profile in addition to simply providing protein, I decided to give it a shot.

How does it shake out? Read on:

Raw Protein Review

Spot It:

Plain: Garden of Life’s Raw Protein can be found in the 622g tub with the earthy, brown plastic sleeve. Barring the “Raw”, “Organic” and “Garden of Life Logo”, the tub looks like it could have been plucked straight from the fields. Makes you feel calm and serene just looking at it.

Vanilla: Same general design but with a blue logo and triangle with a blue-ringed lid. Click here for image.

Chocolate: Same general design but with a dark brown logo and triangle and a brown-ringed lid with “Chocolate Cacoa” labeled across it. Click here for image.

What’s In It:

At 28 servings per tub, Raw Protein Unflavored is only 80 nutritionally dense calories while the Chocolate and Vanilla flavors check in at 90 (plus probiotics not found in whey). For comparison, 100% Natural Whey has 130 calories per serving. That’s a 40-50 calorie difference. It does have only 17g of protein compared to the 24ish of most whey products but where I mix mine with Shakeology which already has protein in it, that 7g difference doesn’t bother me. Raw Protein Regular has 3g carbs, Raw Protein Vanilla contains 4g carbs and Raw Protein Chocolate contains 7g carbs– all of which come entirely from fiber. Raw Protein contains no sugar while Vanilla and Chocolate are sweetened with Stevia.

And what about those valued BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) whey and egg proteins have in spades? Many plant protein powders don’t have  a full complement of BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) which are critical to muscle performance and human function. Raw Protein has a BCAA profile comparable to whey-based proteins (check it out here). In short, it’s got everything a whey protein does but without the use of animal protein. It’s a very well rounded protein for those looking to get straight protein without filler.

 

Defining Raw/Organic:

These are pretty big selling points on the product so as a quick definition, Raw means the Raw Protein wasn’t subjected to heat that would break down nutrients or kill probiotics. The sources used have been extracted with care and have all the nutritional profile of a food without any kind of treatment. Organic in this case means the sprouts used for protein weren’t grown with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically modified.

Mixability:

Raw Protein is an incredibly fine powder that mixes pretty well in water. Of course, with the powder being so fine, it’s “clingy” and there’s a tendency for the stuff to get very “poofy” and messy across all flavors. After opening a new tub, I’ve had a few powdery messes to clean up. That said, the mixture is pretty chalky in texture across all flavors once it’s added to my shake. “Regular”, Vanilla and Chocolate flavors mix well with water but you’ll still find they’re very “chalky” . Added to Shakeology, Raw Protein definitely adds some texture but I tend to like it that way. I don’t mind the grainy addition at all but there’s no doubt once you add it, you know it’s in there– especially, as mentioned, if mixed with straight water.

Taste:

Regular: Garden of Life’s Raw Protein is a natural product– and I don’t mean natural in the commercial sense of the word. I mean this stuff has no flavoring, comes from raw sources (sprouted grains) and is untreated to retain its nutritional strength. This means in its “regular” form, it’s not something a lot of people will drink plain. Personally, I don’t think it tastes nearly as awful as some people have described it. I found it to have a “raw grain earthy” tone. It’s mostly flavorless but there is a hint of taste. It is a little chalky but honestly, I wasn’t expecting to-die-for flavor and I can definitely get it down the hatch.If you’re “raw taste” averse, there’s now two additional flavors as covered below:

Vanilla: Completely changes the taste of Raw protein. It’s actually pretty sweet but not overpoweringly so. It’s really tasty but you’re still going to run into that very chalky texture. Still, the new vanilla flavor makes getting it down very easy.

Chocolate: Tastes like sweet chocolate. As with vanilla, it’s sweet but not TOO sweet. Mixes with Shakeology like gangbusters and adds texture and a sweeter, less “cocoa-ey” taste. As with all Raw Protein powders, it’s very chalky.

Performance:

Performance is a tough one to judge with protein as it’s synthesized by the body and when combined with a clean nutritional diet will work in tandem to build and repair muscle. In my experience so far, I’ve noticed no difference in performance or recovery in the switch from whey to Raw Protein but have noticed when I use it I tend to see more vascularity.

The Verdict:

I’m a fan– and with the two new flavors of chocolate and vanilla, even more so. Nutrition is a critical component of any fitness lifestyle and transformational body change. And not just nutrition but nutrition with substance. Raw Protein uses the same methodology and care I give so much credit to Shakeology for. Not only am I getting protein my body can use… it’s also getting an added shot in the arm with nutrients and probiotics beyond a simple dose of “protein”. I now plan on completely replacing my whey with Raw Protein in both chocolate and vanilla.

Still, this may not be for everyone as it does taste bad and has a chalky texture when mixed. Here’s an unedited comment from their Amazon page:

“I cannot get past the horrible, chalky taste of this protein powder. I have tried mixing this into smoothies and oatmeal to try and disquise the flavor but the taste overpowers the rest of the dish every time. While I appreciate all of the good ingredients in there, it is simply not fun to eat (and i am not at all picky)! I have tried A LOT of protein powders and this is the worst!”

So hey, there’s two sides to the story but I’m choosing thumbs up. Weigh your options, check out the video below for a bit more information and give Raw Protein a shot if you’re looking for a non-animal protein that isn’t afraid to compete on the same level and then some.

Questions? Feel free to email me here or at coachdan74@gmail.com. Better yet, let’s get you the support you need to line up your nutrition goals right now. Make me your (free) Beachbody Coach right here and we’ll get crackin’! 

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8 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Garden of Life says:

    Got some different and important plant-based ideas from your review.

  2. Ashley says:

    Thanks for the review! I have been reading up on Raw Meal :) Question though – why would you need to add it to your Shakeology? Shouldn’t that drink be covering all the basics and more in and of itself, — from everything I have read on Shakeology.

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Hey Ashley. Thanks for stopping in!

      Raw meal is nutritionally good stuff. Now taste… eeeeh. :)

      As for your question about Shakeology, you’re right– Shakeology does cover the basics and is a whole meal unto itself with a pretty much equal serving of carbs and proteins plus its additionally dense nutritional profile. Still, a 180 calorie shake may cover your micronutrients for the day and fill in gaps left from an otherwise decent meal plan, but you’ll still need at least another 1000 calories to fuel your body. And if you’re on any kind of specialized nutrition plan (like Fat Shredder from P90X) which requires more protein than carbs, punching up Shakeology with additional protein to meet those macro (and caloric) requirements is a quick and easy way to do it as opposed to cooking up a truck load of lean meat protein for the day.

      Adding protein to my Shakeology is just one way I personally meet the macro requirements of the nutrition plan I’m following for my fitness program. You could certainly drink it straight without the protein (it is a stand-alone meal replacement shake after all)- it’s just convenient for me to add protein, which then allows me to keep an additional serving of meat out of my day.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Brandon Fairbanks says:

    Great review! I just have one quick question. I have read a lot of negative things about soy over the years and I noticed this product has “fermented soy” which I have read is not quite as bad. What are your thoughts on this? And, is the amount of fermented soy in this product safe to consume regularly in your opinion? Thanks in advance for any insight you may have!

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Thanks, Brandon!

      I’m no Doc or nutritionist, so I can only relate my experience. Fermented soy is generally thought of a little more highly. I don’t have an issue with soy here and there and where garden of life’s protein is organic, from what I understand you lose a lot of the refined, manufactured and GMO stuff that’s usually associated with soy. Being that its fermented is even better in my opinion so I certainly haven’t had an issue using this product pretty regularly.

  4. frank says:

    I use raw fit and throw a banana in the blender with it tastes great.

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