True Nutrition is a unique company that sells protein powder and other supplements direct to people.
It helps them offer a few unique features, and keep the price down.
The main draw of True Nutrition is that you can create your own custom blends of proteins. They have all the popular vegan ingredients like pea protein, brown rice protein, etc.
For most people, myself included, it’s easier to pick a pre-made protein powder, rather than make one for ourselves.
The Vegan Protein Optimizer formula is one of the most popular pre-made options, so I ordered a bag so that I could do this review.
There are 4 parts to this review.
Each section gets a score out of 25, according to my testing methodology.
You can see how this formula compares to other True Nutrition blends, and all the other powders I’ve reviewed, on my page of the best vegan protein powders.
The nutrition score for a protein powder gives you an idea of how high the protein content is, compared to other vegan protein powders.
It’s calculated using this simple formula:
The details behind how it was made is on the methodology page I linked above.
If 80% or more of the calories in a serving come from protein, the protein powder gets a perfect score.
Very few protein powders that I’ve reviewed get a perfect score.
If the score is closer to 0, that means that it still probably has a decent bit of protein, but it has less than all other vegan protein powders.
We can get the information we need for that formula from the nutrition label:
Plugging in the values from the label, we get a score of 22.
In other words, it has more protein on a per calorie basis than almost all other vegan protein powders.
The reason why is pretty clear when we look at the ingredients list:
- Gemma Pea Protein, Rice Protein Concentrate, Hemp Protein.
No filler ingredients, just a blend of vegan protein sources. Having a diverse protein profile can help with some common vegan stomach problems.
Depending on if you add a flavor to it, the nutritional values might change slightly, but it won’t have a huge effect.
On top of that, while not included in my score, there’s 25% of the DV for iron, which is great. There’s also a whopping 1% of calcium (okay, so maybe not the best vegan source of calcium).
The pricing is reasonable simple.
True Nutrition sells all their protein powders, including this one, in increments of 1 lb.
If you order 3 lbs, you get 3 bags that are 1 lb each. If you order over 5 lbs, you can get 5 lb bags as well.
If you go to the store page, you will see a range in the price, which had me confused for a while.
The red price is the “bulk” discount price, that you get if you order 16 lbs or over. It’s equivalent to 5% off.
Otherwise, the Vegan Protein Optimizer formula has a base price of $9.99 per lb.
What do I mean base price?
Since it’s customizable, you can add flavors and “boosts”, which cost extra.
Adding a “light” intensity of a flavor costs an extra $0.30 per lb, “normal” costs $0.60, and so on.
I’m assuming that most people are like me and will add flavors. I added a “normal” amount of TrueFlavor chocolate fudge to mine, and will use that as a typical price point to score this protein on.
|Size||Cost (USD)||Cost per 100 gram|
|454 g / 1 lb||10.59||2.33|
But before we can calculate the price score, we need to factor in shipping.
- $3.99 flat rate in the U.S.
- About $30 to Canada (ouch)
If you’re in Canada, this is probably going to be prohibitive unless you’re going to be buying in bulk.
As for U.S. vegans, that’s a pretty decent shipping price.
When I calculate a pricing score, as I do for all the vegan protein powders I try, I use the price per 100 grams, of the size closest to 2.2 lbs (1 kg), since that’s the most common size.
In this case, that would be ordering 2-1 lb bags.
After factoring in the shipping cost, we get a price per 100 grams of 2.77.
That gets plugged into this formula:
And this gives us a price score of 19.7 out of 25.
This means that the price is relatively cheap compared to other powders (25 would be the cheapest).
So if price is a significant concern, this protein powder could be a good choice for you.
You can also save 5% off your order, by using our coupon code, which is “VPLAB”.
When you go to checkout, there’s a section for coupon codes, type it in there.
After you type it in, click the “ADD” button, and the order page should update to reflect your discount.
The mixability score basically tells you how many “clumps” will be in your protein shake under realistic conditions.
I follow this standardized process for each protein powder:
- Measure out 450 mL of unsweetened almond milk, add to shaker bottle
- Add 35 grams of the protein powder being tested
- Shake for 45 seconds
- Pour shake through strainer, weigh the clumps filtered out (also called “remnants”).
The amount of remnants (in grams) is plugged into this formula:
Before I tried this protein powder, I reviewed True Nutrition’s Vegan Lean Formula, which mixed really well.
I had high hopes for this one because that, but was really disappointed.
You can see from my strainer picture below that there were tons of clumps.
They weighed out to be 4 grams (I replicated this multiple times).
That results in a mixability score of 12.5.
You will definitely notice the clumps unless you’re always using a blender. It’s still drinkable with the clumps, but 4 grams is where it starts to get a lot less enjoyable.
My biggest remaining question is why does this one mix so poorly? It’s got very similar ingredients to the Vegan Lean formula, so it’s strange.
It’s possible that it’s the different source of pea protein (gemma pea protein vs pea protein isolate), or the addition of hemp protein. The other possibility is that it’s the flavoring ingredients (chocolate fudge here vs cinnamon bun for the other one).
To evaluate taste as objectively as possible, I rate protein powders according to this taste table:
|25||Amazing, would drink for enjoyment alone.|
|15||Drinkable, not really good or bad.|
|10||A bit of a struggle to get down|
It lets me give justifications for my ratings and you can decide if you generally like or dislike those things personally.
Here, I assigned a taste rating of 18, for my chocolate fudge protein optimizer powder (“normal” intensity of flavor).
There were a few things that stood out:
- It’s quite thick
- It’s got almost a jello-y texture (like soaked chia seeds, but not as pronounced)
- There’s very little chalkiness or aftertaste
- The flavor is there, but not too strong, and it’s a bit off
Personally I’m fine with the thickness, but I’m not a fan of the texture, and the flavor was on the weak side.
The nice thing is that with True Nutrition, you could just get a higher flavor intensity.
It’s easily drinkable, so it’s definitely over 15, but the combination of the texture and flavor are enough where I don’t think it was very good (a 20).
Based on that, I thought it was fair to assign a taste score of 18 for this protein powder.
Summary and Overall Review Impressions
Adding those 4 scores together gives True Nutrition’s Vegan Protein Optimizer formula an overall score of 74.
Above average, but not quite that top tier of vegan protein powders that I’ve tried so far.
The prices are relatively cheap in the United States, especially if you order in bulk, and the protein content (nutrition score) is about as good as you can get.
But there are significant weaknesses also. It doesn’t mix well, and while the taste isn’t bad, it’s not great either.
Regarding the flavor, remember that True Nutrition offers several flavors, so maybe it was just this one. I’ll be trying others in the future when I get the chance and updating this review.
If you do like True Nutrition, I highly recommend checking out my review of True Nutrition’s Vegan Lean formula. At the time of writing this review, Vegan Lean is my top overall protein (out of 20 that I’ve reviewed).