Intense workouts cause damage to our muscles and we need to repair that damage to preserve muscle mass. This is where the easily consumable, quick digesting whey protein comes into play.
Whey protein is a dairy product with a high proportion of amino acids and is considered a very high quality protein. Whey protein can also be digested very quickly, making it a great supplement choice for those wanting to gain muscle and recover faster.
There are three categories of whey: whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate. Whey protein isolate is easy to obtain from a reputable supplement company, and is very pure being 90% protein, low in fat and carbs. If you are sensitive to dairy or GI upset, you may want to invest in whey hydrolysate but be prepared to pay a higher price.
One company I buy whey protein from is True Nutrition because I enjoy their unique business model featuring seemingly endless supplement customization options.
Whether you want pea protein or New Zealand grass-fed whey, strong or subtle flavor, a vitamin “boost” added in, or you want to create your own crazy concoction of oatmeal, they can make it happen. True Nutrition is also one of the best places to get pure HBCD to add to your post-workout shake.
I buy from True Nutrition frequently and, in full disclosure, am a brand ambassador with them. But until recently I hadn’t explored much of their extensive inventory of protein flavors. Since I frequently get asked which flavor is best, I thought it was time to branch out of my chocolate all-day-every-day shell and try as many as I could!
Now I can say that I’ve tried over ten whey protein isolate flavors from True Nutrition. All of the flavors I tried were “TrueFlavors” which, according to their website, only contain Natural Flavoring Extracts, non-GMO Rice Powder, Gum Acacia, and Stevia as ingredients. True Nutrition does have other standard flavor options, but those contain artificial colors and flavorings so I typically avoid them.
Here is my ranking of all the “TrueFlavors” that I’ve tested out, from least favorite to fav:
Strawberry Banana Shake
This was my least favorite and also the strongest smelling flavor. I knew this flavor was not going to be near the top of my list once I opened the packet and got a whiff. There was a hint of sugary bubblegum (is that the strawberry trying to come out??) and such a strong, overly sweet banana flavor. It has that super intense artificial-tasting banana flavor, almost like banana laffy taffy but more chalky. If you’ve ever tried FlapJacked mighty muffins in the banana caramel flavor then you know what I mean… I would not recommend this one, barely drinkable.
If I learned anything from all this taste-testing, it’s that I can’t stand the banana flavor. These TrueFlavors are all natural flavorings but something about the banana tastes so artificial. This banana smoothie flavor is 100% banana comin atcha, so I would only recommend it to someone who really loves banana flavored everything or maybe someone who wants to make a protein piña colada as their post-workout shake.
With a pink color, intense odor, and very sweet flavor, this one’s also going near the bottom of my list. Strawberry Sorbet actually tastes quite similarly to Strawberry Banana Shake, without the banana. It is slightly refreshing, but the fake-tasting strawberry flavor (even though it is natural flavoring) is overwhelming. On the other hand, if you’re the type of person that likes a strong fruit flavor, this one might be for you.
Chocolate Covered Banana
Thank goodness for the chocolate in this one because otherwise the banana would be way too overwhelming. Similar to the Strawberry Banana Shake flavor, the pseudo-laffy taffy artificial banana taste is so strong! But in my opinion the chocolate tames it down way more than the strawberry, putting this flavor higher on my list. If you just have to have banana, or maybe you dream about yellow laffy taffy, go for this one as it’s the best of all the banana flavors.
This one tastes less like a cinnamon roll/bun and more like a cinnamon red hot or a stick of big red gum. Definitely a strong cinnamon flavor, but not much creaminess like the lemon cake flavor. It’s a pretty straightforward flavor, nothing crazy going on here. I think I would enjoy this one around the holidays.
To me, this flavor tastes more like a french vanilla cappuccino that you get out of a machine at a gas station and nothing like a chocolatey espresso beverage. Mocha flavored protein is a nice way to change it up if you’re a chocolate & coffee lover like me (it does have a faint coffee flavor), but it’s not quite a tasty mocha. Proceed with caution…
I am now writing this blog on a beach in the tropics! Haha – kidding, but this flavor does seem to send you into vacation mode with it’s smooth, creamy, coconut flavor. I was afraid it would taste like sunscreen or have a really intense odor, but that was not the case! I would normally shy away from a tropical flavoring like this, but they knocked it out of the park with Toasted Coconut. If you want to branch out from your typical chocolate/vanilla routine, I’d recommend giving Toasted Coconut a try.
Chocolate Coconut Bar
Smooth and chocolatey with a hint of coconut – I really enjoyed this flavor! I thought this one might taste like an almond joy, but it doesn’t have that strong almond extract flavor. This is definitely one of the less sweet flavors and very creamy tasting. Overall pretty tame and worth a try!
I was nervous to try this flavor, thinking it would be sour or overpowering, but it was actually pretty delicious. It tastes like a lemon poppyseed muffin or some other yummy lemon baked good. Not too sour, not too in your face, just a subtle and creamy lemon flavor. The creaminess (maybe what makes them call this lemon “cake”?) is a nice touch. I’d call this the perfect summer protein flavor!
Chocolate Fudge Brownie
It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate protein, right? This flavor has your standard chocolate whey taste. Not chalky, mixes well, and a nice thick flavor. When you’re looking for a solid daily, pairs-well-with-anything whey protein flavor, this is it!
Those are my top ten whey protein flavors, but there were also some flavors that deserved their own special shout out as ones you might want to avoid. Here are two flavors that don’t quite live up to their very appealing name:
Cinnamon Toast Swirl
Have these guys ever actually had cinnamon toast crunch? I don’t think so… That’s the flavor I was hoping for based on the name, but this flavor actually tasted like bubblegum. And not the sweet, light pink, reminds-me-of-being-a-kid kind of bubblegum. There was really no cinnamon flavor so overall I was just confused by this one and didn’t enjoy the taste.
**I tried this as a casein flavor and not whey, so there’s a chance the whey version could be great.
Frosted Carrot Cake
I have it on good authority (heard from a friend) that frosted carrot cake is another flavor to avoid. Is it even possible to transfer the delicious and complex flavor of a well made carrot cake with cream cheese frosting into a protein powder? Apparently not…
So there you have it – my review of various whey protein isolate “TrueFlavors” from True Nutrition. If you want to try any for yourself, use the code “CCO” at check out 🙂
Once you get the flavor of your dreams, mix about 25g protein plus 25g HBCD (one serving protein and carbs) in your post-workout shake. This will help kick start the recovery process after your workout by repairing/building muscle and calming the stress response from training.
For related content, check out:
(and stay tuned for The Protein Guide Blog that teaches you all about ‘the best sources’ of protein)
This is a blog written by Caroline Ofenstein. Caroline is Certified With Precision Nutrition, NCI, CrossFit, and is also a Boom-Boom Performance Nutrition Coach. Caroline is our go-to source for CrossFit Nutrition AND bridging the gap between Aesthetics and Performance, which is where she has recently pushes a lot of her focus in order to help people understand how they can achieve both performance and the lean physique we all strive for.