Orgain Protein Powder Review
Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition
This in-depth Orgain protein powder review covers the ingredients, Nutrition Facts, and much, much more. Find out whether or not Orgain protein powder is right for you.
An in-depth review of Orgain Protein Powder.
Orgain Nutrition Facts
Orgain makes several different types and flavors of protein powder. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to review their best-selling Organic Sweet Vanilla Bean Protein Powder.
Orgain is a nutritional supplement, so I am going to start my review with the Nutrition Facts. 1 serving of Organic Sweet Vanilla Bean Protein Powder contains 150 calories, 4g of total fat, 15g of total carbohydrates, 0g of sugar, and 21g of protein.
From a nutritional standpoint, Orgain protein powder looks like a great source of vegan protein. 1 serving has a lot of protein per calorie, and 0 grams of sugar. Like all plant-based protein powders, it does contain carbohydrates, but that is by no means a bad thing. Plants create carbohydrates using energy from the sun (during the process of photosynthesis), and store them in the form of complex carbohydrates.
When proteins are extracted from plants to make protein powder, they still contain varying amounts of carbohydrates depending on how they are processed. Orgain, which is made with pea protein, contains fewer carbohydrates than the split peas from which it was made, but still contains some starch and fiber.
1 serving of Organic Sweet Vanilla Bean Protein Powder contains 150 milligrams of sodium, which may seem like a lot for something made from plants. Most pea proteins are actually high in sodium, however. As you just learned, pea proteins contain pea protein isolates, which are made by extracting protein from green or yellow split peas. This is often done using a dilute salt solution as the extracting agent. Sodium from the salt solution stays with the extracted protein, hence the high sodium content.
Overall, Orgain Organic Sweet Vanilla Bean Protein Powder, despite containing more carbohydrates and sodium than other protein powders, is still a great way to boost your protein intake, especially for vegans and those who cannot eat dairy-based proteins like whey and casein. To fully understand whether or not Orgain is a good protein powder, however, we have to take a look at the ingredients.
The ingredients list is by far the most important indication of whether or not a protein powder is good for you. Generally speaking, you want a short list of simple ingredients, the fewer the better. Unfortunately, there are over 15 ingredients in Organic Sweet Vanilla Bean Protein Powder, so we are not off to a good start. Keep in mind that Orgain is Certified Organic, which is great, but just because something is organic does not mean that it is good for you.
Orgain Organic Protein Blend
Orgain uses a blend of plant proteins in its vegan protein powders: pea protein, brown rice protein, and chia seed protein. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, so the primary source of protein is pea protein, a common ingredient in plant-based foods. Pea protein, or pea protein isolate, is made by extracting proteins from green and yellow split peas. This process involves several steps, including:
1. Cleaning and soaking: The peas are cleaned to remove any dirt or debris. They are then soaked in water to soften them and make them easier to process.
2. Grinding and separation: The soaked peas are ground into a paste, and then the protein is separated from the starch and fiber using a centrifuge.
3. Acid or alkaline extraction: The pea protein is then extracted from the liquid using either an acid or an alkaline solution. The solution changes the pH of the liquid, causing the protein to separate from the water. This step is repeated several times to extract as much protein as possible.
4. Filtration and drying: The pea protein is finally filtered to remove any remaining dirt and debris and dried to create a powder. The drying process can be done using a spray dryer, which sprays the protein solution into a hot chamber, evaporating the water and leaving behind a fine powder.
Although it is made from plants, pea protein is a heavily-processed derivative of real food. Whereas a pea can be found in nature, a pea protein isolate cannot. The same can be said about brown rice protein chia seed protein.
If you think about it, your gut was designed to digest naturally occurring foods, not laboratory formulated imitations, so if you feed it anything but real food, it might get upset. The long term implications of eating processed foods like protein isolates are still not well understood, but more and more research is finding that it can alter the composition of your gut microbiota, and lead to permanent damage to your gut microbiome.
Your gut does more than just help you to digest food; it protects against pathogens, educates your immune system, and affects directly or indirectly most of your physiologic functions. Disruptions to the gut microbiome have therefore been linked to the development of many chronic diseases. It follows that it is in your best interest to avoid protein powders made with protein concentrates and isolates.
Orgain contains four thickeners: acacia gum (which appears twice), guar gum, inulin, and xanthan gum. Thickeners are bad news for your gut, and known to cause uncomfortable side effects. Basically, because they look nothing like real food, thickeners are hard to digest. They therefore sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria more time to eat. As they eat, these bacteria produce gas, causing bloating and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon), which can lead to constipation.
Over time, food additives like thickeners can add up (especially if you drink a protein shake every day), and disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine. Eventually, this can lead to the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.
Orgain sweetens its protein powders with erythritol, a controversial sugar alcohol. First of all, erythritol is known to cause diarrhea because it draws water into the gut like a laxative. Now you may finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom!
Erythritol is also associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. When present in blood, erythritol makes it easier for clotting to occur, which might contribute to risk. For this reason, many people, especailly those with heart problems, are choosing to avoid erythritol.
Did you know that while food manufacturers are required to disclose their ingredients, flavor manufacturers are not. They can add solvents, preservatives, emulsifiers, carriers and other additives to a flavor that qualifies as “natural” under current regulations. This means that the Natural Flavors in Orgain could just be a catch-all term for everything that Orgain would rather not spell out on the ingredient list.
Stevia is an inexpensive zero calorie sweetener derived from the stevia rebaudiana plant. It is over 100 times sweeter than table sugar, and is considered by many to be a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners like sucralose. Stevia is not nearly as “natural” as many people make it out to be, however.
Stevia is often extracted from the stevia rebaudiana plant using chemicals like ethanol and methyl alcohol. This, one could argue, makes it barely more natural than the artificial sweeteners that it seeks to replace. In fact, a recent class action lawsuit filed in California reached a $6.1 million settlement because it was ruled that the company in question falsely labeled and advertised its stevia sweeteners as natural.
Overall, the ingredients in Orgain protein powder hardly look like real food. For this reason, they may upset your stomach and damage your gut.
Orgain taste and texture
Taste is so subjective that I hesitate to include it in this Orgain protein powder review. A protein powder that one person loves might make another person gag, so if you read product reviews on Amazon, you will find both 5 star reviews and 1 star reviews of the same exact recipe. For the sake of this Orgain plant-based protein powder review, however, I will share my thoughts on how Orgain tastes and mixes.
Orgain mixes really well. I mixed it in a shaker bottle, and did not notice any clumps or grit. It also has a nice creamy texture, and if you follow the serving suggestion, makes a thick shake. The flavor, on the other hand, is not my favorite. It is way too sweet, and has the chalky aftertaste characteristic of most protein powders. In order to stomach a full serving, I had to blend it with other ingredients.
Again, plenty of people seem to like Orgain, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I did not care for the taste, but taste is terribly subjective. Who knows, you may love it.
Orgain vs drink wholesome
Orgain is a popular protein powder intended to help people achieve their wellness goals. It is cheap, widely available, and comes in a number of different flavors. As you just learned, however, it is not good for you. Its biggest weakness, which is a weakness for most protein powders, is that it is so processed that it hardly resembles real food.
This is the point in the article where I shamelessly pitch my own protein powder company, not because I just want to sell you something, but because it is hands down a better-for-you alternative to Orgain. Hi! My name is Jack, and I am the founder of drink wholesome. A few years ago, I was sick and tired of protein supplements that upset my stomach, so I made my own with simple, real food ingredients.
Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, I use egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried before becoming protein powder. Almonds are just roasted, pressed, and ground. Minimally-processed ingredients like these are a gut-friendly, natural alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.
Moreover, unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to eggs, egg white protein is the best protein for your gut. Egg whites are low in fiber, low-FODMAP, and naturally alkaline. Our customers have experienced fewer digestive issues with egg white protein than with any other type of protein. If you cannot eat eggs, our almond protein powder is easy to digest too, and a great option for vegans.
Organic Sweet Vanilla Bean Protein Powder ingredients:
Orgain Organic Protein Blend (Organic Pea Protein, Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic Chia Seed), Orgain Organic Creamer Base (Organic Acacia Gum, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Inulin, Organic Rice Dextrins, Organic Rice Bran Extract, Organic Rosemary Extract), Organic Erythritol, Organic Natural Flavors, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, Organic Acacia Gum, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Stevia, Xanthan Gum
drink wholesome is also additive-free and dairy-free, which is great news for your gut. The “gut,” also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) system, is made up of several organs including the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and colon. The term “gut microbiome” refers to the microorganisms living in your intestines, and the term “gut health” describes the function and balance of these organisms. You may not have known that the gut does much more than just help you to digest food. It also protects against pathogens, educates the immune system, and affects directly or indirectly most of our physiologic functions.
Several recent studies have examined the role of the gut in diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of a variety of diseases, and have concluded that it plays an integral role in overall health. Given the importance of gut health, you should consider the ways in which the foods you eat affect it. You should also consider the potentially enormous impact that protein powder can have on your gut microbiome. Protein powder is not just any food, it is a food that you probably consume regularly, if not daily.
“I’ve had Crohn’s disease for 20+ years and it’s always been hard to find a protein powder my stomach can handle. I’ve had no problem digesting drink wholesome AND it tastes great. I highly recommend this protein powder if you have IBS or Crohn’s.” – Jesse
Orgain Organic Protein Powder review.