Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Product Review: Nutribiotic Rice Protein

This is a review of two rice protein products from Nutribiotic.

One big selling point to these products is that they are vegan and soy-free. If you have religious or ethical objections to milk products, or allergies to milk or soy, or other reasons to avoid milk or soy, these products are a potential alternative. But how do they stack up?

Nutribiotic Rice Protein Vanilla

The Vanilla protein has 12g of protein, 2g of carbs (1g sugar, >1g fiber), 0g fat, and only 10mg sodium per serving. It also has a fair amount of iron - 2mg (11% of RDA) - per heaping tablespoon (15g). "Heaping" tablespoons are an annoyance, though, because it's never quite clear how much you need to heap to count. "Level" tablespoons are easier, but if you use such you'll get less than the label dosage. It contains nothing but "Enzymatically processed rice protein from whole grain, sprouted brown rice" and "natural vanilla flavor." It doesn't list the amino acid profile of the protein, so it's not clear how much, say, L-Leucine you get in each scoop. Not critical for most drinkers, but for some people it's a serious consideration and the information is not easily available.

The vanilla has a very flat taste - not quite tasteless, but close. It doesn't add much to mixed shakes, so don't expect this to act like flavored whey protein does - it's not going to give you a sweet vanilla taste at all. It's not sweet.

The protein doesn't mix well at all. It has a very sandy texture and it separates almost immediately. Mix it with water, shake it up, and let it settle - in minutes you'll have slightly cloudy water over a thick silty base of vanilla protein. Very disappointing.

If you can't use a different protein and/or insist on minimal ingredients and vegan protein, this is good enough. But for me, it compares very poorly to the milk-based and soy-based proteins I've used in the past.

Taste: 2 out of 5. A flat, bland vanilla taste means you need to flavor it with something else. Combined with the sandy texture, this means you need to really load it up to make it palatable.
Mixability: 1 out of 5. Seriously, it doesn't want to dissolve in water, and it separates out almost immediately.

Nutribiotic Rice Protein Chocolate

The Chocolate is very similar to the Vanilla protein above. It has the same nutrition breakdown, but the ingredients also include "rice syrup solids" and "natural chocolate and vanilla flavors."

Like the vanilla, the taste is a bit flat, but it's much more palatable than its counterpart. Still, don't expect a creamy chocolately shake out of this. The mouth feel is gritty and sandy, although less so than the vanilla.

The mixability is also a step up, but still, expect some silt on the bottom of your drink. Even a blender doesn't result in full mixing, so it doesn't matter much if you shake or blend it.

Taste: 3 out of 5. The taste is a bit flat, but it doesn't overwhelm anything you mix with it. The texture is a bit sandy, though, so that affects the mouth feel of your drink.
Mixability: 3 out of 5. Some separation after mixing, so shake it right before you drink it each time. But most of it dissolves in sufficient water.

For both of these, they are an acceptable substitute for milk or soy proteins. But neither is anything exciting, and I'm keeping my eye out for different rice proteins to try. It's not clear yet to me if this is a limitation of this brand's products, or of rice protein in general.

Full disclosure: I got my protein through Vitamin Shoppe, not through the Nutribiotic website. I can't vouch in any way for their shipping, customer service, and so on. I linked to them for your convenience if you choose to try these for yourself.

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