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TESTING SUMMARY

ANALYSES PERFORMED

450 analytical chemistry and molecular biology assays on 50 best-selling protein supplements.

MUST-SEE STATISTIC

Actual sodium content was found to be 91.7% higher on average vs. the fifty products' Nutrition Facts label claims.

UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM

The single most common ingredient in the protein supplements tested was Sucralose (41/50), not whey protein (40/50).

LabDoor analyzed 50 best-selling protein supplements in the United States. Our analysis quantified protein, fat, sugar, cholesterol, calcium, sodium, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury content and recorded presence/absence data for 63 inactive ingredients.

Our scientists recorded 13 variations of protein sources, featuring the fast-digesting whey varieties (indicated for exercise recovery), protein blends (indicated for meal replacement), and soy and casein sources (indicated for sustained protein supplementation).

All protein powders tested in this batch passed our heavy metals screens for arsenic, lead, cadmium, bismuth, antimony, and silver (below 1 part per million). However, controversial artificial sweeteners, including Aspartame and Acesulfame Potassium, preservatives (Benzoic Acid), and artificial colors (FD&C Yellow 5, FD&C Blue 1, and FD&C Red 40) were commonly found in tested protein supplements.


RANKINGS

   
   

PROTEIN | HIGHEST QUALITY LABDOOR’S QUALITY RANKING Compares products based on their label accuracy, manufacturing purity, nutritional value, ingredient safety, and projected efficacy.

PROTEIN | BEST VALUE LABDOOR’S VALUE RANKING Compares products based on their quality score and average price.

01 Product Image

MET-Rx Protein Plus

A-
02 Product Image

Nature's Best Zero Carb Isopure

A-
03 Product Image

Shakeology

A-
04 Product Image

MuscleTech NITRO-TECH

B+
05 Product Image

NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate

B+
06 Product Image

Jay Robb's Whey Protein

B+
07 Product Image

CytoSport Monster Milk

B+
08 Product Image

Optimum Pro Complex

B+
09 Product Image

MusclePharm MuscleGel Shot

B+
10 Product Image

Nature's Best Zero Carb Isopure Drink

B+
• • •
11 Product Image

Pure Protein 100% Natural Whey Protein

B+
12 Product Image

Dymatize ISO-100

B+
13 Product Image

Optimum Gold Standard Natural 100% Whey

B+
14 Product Image

EAS Myoplex Original RTD

B+
15 Product Image

MRM 100% All Natural Whey

B
16 Product Image

Optimum Gold Standard 100% Casein

B
17 Product Image

Spiru-Tein

B
18 Product Image

GNC Pro Performance AMP Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60

B
19 Product Image

CytoSport Whey Isolate Protein Drink

B
20 Product Image

Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein Powder

B
21 Product Image

Cellucor COR-Performance Whey

B
22 Product Image

Ensure High Protein

B
23 Product Image

MusclePharm Casein

B
24 Product Image

Optimum Platinum Hydro Whey

B
25 Product Image

Dymatize Elite Whey Protein Isolate

B-
26 Product Image

Optimum Gold Standard 100% Whey

B-
27 Product Image

Optimum Serious Mass

B-
28 Product Image

CytoSport Monster Milk RTD

B-
29 Product Image

CytoSport Cyto Gainer

B-
30 Product Image

MHP Up Your Mass

B-
31 Product Image

GNC Total Lean Lean Shake

C+
32 Product Image

MusclePharm Combat Powder

C+
33 Product Image

Gaspari Nutrition MyoFusion Elite Protein Series

C+
34 Product Image

Pure Protein Whey Protein

C+
35 Product Image

GNC Pro Performance 100% Casein

C+
36 Product Image

EAS 100% Whey Protein

C
37 Product Image

Twinlab 100% Whey Protein Fuel

C
38 Product Image

EAS AdvantEdge Carb Control RTD

C
39 Product Image

MuscleTech Phase8

C
40 Product Image

Universal Nutrition Real Gains

C
41 Product Image

BSN Syntha-6 RTD

C
42 Product Image

Gaspari Nutrition MyoFusion Probiotic Series

C-
43 Product Image

CytoSport Muscle Milk

C-
44 Product Image

BSN Syntha-6 Isolate

C-
45 Product Image

SlimFast RTD

C-
46 Product Image

GNC Pro Performance AMP Amplified 100% Whey Protein

C-
47 Product Image

GNC Pro Performance AMP Amplified Mass XXX

C-
48 Product Image

CytoSport Muscle Milk RTD

D+
49 Product Image

BSN Syntha-6

D+
50 Product Image

BSN True-Mass

D-
01 Product Image

Pure Protein 100% Natural Whey Protein

 
02 Product Image

MRM 100% All Natural Whey

 
03 Product Image

Optimum Gold Standard Natural 100% Whey

 
04 Product Image

MET-Rx Protein Plus

 
05 Product Image

MuscleTech NITRO-TECH

 
06 Product Image

Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein Powder

 
07 Product Image

Dymatize ISO-100

 
08 Product Image

Dymatize Elite Whey Protein Isolate

 
09 Product Image

Nature's Best Zero Carb Isopure

 
10 Product Image

Spiru-Tein

 
• • •
11 Product Image

MusclePharm Casein

 
12 Product Image

Jay Robb's Whey Protein

 
13 Product Image

Optimum Gold Standard 100% Casein

 
14 Product Image

Optimum Gold Standard 100% Whey

 
15 Product Image

MusclePharm Combat Powder

 
16 Product Image

Cellucor COR-Performance Whey

 
17 Product Image

NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate

 
18 Product Image

Pure Protein Whey Protein

 
19 Product Image

MusclePharm MuscleGel Shot

 
20 Product Image

Optimum Pro Complex

 
21 Product Image

CytoSport Monster Milk

 
22 Product Image

CytoSport Muscle Milk

 
23 Product Image

Twinlab 100% Whey Protein Fuel

 
24 Product Image

Gaspari Nutrition MyoFusion Elite Protein Series

 
25 Product Image

EAS 100% Whey Protein

 
26 Product Image

Optimum Platinum Hydro Whey

 
27 Product Image

CytoSport Cyto Gainer

 
28 Product Image

Shakeology

 
29 Product Image

Gaspari Nutrition MyoFusion Probiotic Series

 
30 Product Image

Nature's Best Zero Carb Isopure Drink

 
31 Product Image

MuscleTech Phase8

 
32 Product Image

Ensure High Protein

 
33 Product Image

MHP Up Your Mass

 
34 Product Image

EAS Myoplex Original RTD

 
35 Product Image

CytoSport Whey Isolate Protein Drink

 
36 Product Image

BSN Syntha-6

 
37 Product Image

GNC Pro Performance AMP Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60

 
38 Product Image

SlimFast RTD

 
39 Product Image

BSN Syntha-6 Isolate

 
40 Product Image

EAS AdvantEdge Carb Control RTD

 
41 Product Image

GNC Total Lean Lean Shake

 
42 Product Image

Optimum Serious Mass

 
43 Product Image

GNC Pro Performance 100% Casein

 
44 Product Image

Universal Nutrition Real Gains

 
45 Product Image

GNC Pro Performance AMP Amplified 100% Whey Protein

 
46 Product Image

CytoSport Monster Milk RTD

 
47 Product Image

BSN Syntha-6 RTD

 
48 Product Image

CytoSport Muscle Milk RTD

 
49 Product Image

BSN True-Mass

 
50 Product Image

GNC Pro Performance AMP Amplified Mass XXX

 

SCIENTIFIC TESTING RESULTS

PROTEIN | LABEL ACCURACY

  • These products' protein content ranged from -4.5g to +6.0g vs. their Supplement Facts claims, with an average variance of 1.55g. Average absolute variance in fat and sugar content was relatively low, at 0.58g and 0.25g respectively. 8 of 50 products had calcium content below their label claims (-2.5% to -37.7%).
  • For all 50 products, cholesterol levels were found to be at below claimed levels. However, actual sodium content was found to be 91.7% higher on average vs. their Nutrition Facts label claims. Worst offender - Cytosport's Muscle Milk RTD (358.7% over its claims). Sodium's bloating effects could be the cause for consistent manufacturer deviations here - protein brands sell quick muscle/size gains, and rapid water retention can fake that look quickly.

KEY FINDING

The average variance for protein content was 5.6%. The average variance for sodium content was 91.7%.


PROTEIN | PRODUCT PURITY

  • LabDoor performed audits on the heavy metals content of each product in this category, requiring analysis by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Bulk samples of each product passed the six mineral assays, indicating presence of under 1PPM (part per million) of arsenic, lead, cadmium, bismuth, antimony, and silver compounds.

KEY FINDING

All fifty protein powders tested in this batch passed heavy metals screens for arsenic, lead, cadmium, bismuth, antimony, and silver (below 1 part per million).


PROTEIN | NUTRITIONAL VALUE

  • Each product's Nutrition Facts label was algorithmically analyzed to compare the values of nine major categories, including calories/serving, total fat, total carbohydrate, and total protein content. This is similar to popular points-based nutrition score systems, but bases the algorithmic calculations on actual data rather than Nutrition Facts claims.
  • Overall, products received between 17-97% of their calories from protein content (Mean = 69%, Standard Deviation = 22%). Sodium content was a major concern, with the average product containing 436mg (Median = 260mg). 17 of the 50 products were major sources of vitamin and mineral content in addition to their protein content.
  • Products in the "Gainer" category (indicated for mass gain) varied widely in the source of their calorie content, ranging 2.5g - 20.2g of total fat in the six products. Products labeled RTD, or ready-to-drink, were found to contain significantly different, and worse, nutritional content versus their powder equivalents.

KEY FINDING

RTD (Ready-To-Drink) products ranked significantly worse than their powdered forms, due to increased fat, sodium, and preservative content.


PROTEIN | INGREDIENT SAFETY

  • While all 50 products passed LabDoor's manufacturing purity assays for heavy metals content, we did identify other major ingredients of concern.
  • FD&C Yellow 5, found in Cytosport Whey Isolate Protein Drink, is a legal but highly controversial ingredient linked to hyperactivity in children and some forms of cancer in all humans.
  • Acesulfame Potassium, found in 70% of products in this category, is another potentially harmful ingredient. Current scientific research, largely limited to rodent testing, has identified negative (but inconclusive) results such as prenatal development effects and reduced cognitive function.
  • Other ingredients of concern include artificial colors like FD&C Blue 1 and FD&C Red 40, preservatives such as Sodium Benzoate, and the vague "Natural Flavors" and "Artificial Flavors", present in over 90% of products in this category.

KEY FINDING

63 inactive ingredients and 147 active ingredients were identified in at least one protein supplement analyzed.


PROTEIN | PROJECTED EFFICACY

  • There is good scientific evidence to suggest that whey protein, the major active ingredient in 40 of the 50 products tested, is effective when used to support muscle mass gains and overall weight loss (as an appetite suppressant). Research studies also suggest that the digestion rate of protein sources affects the uptake of amino acids.
  • In a surprising finding, MuscleTech NITRO-TECH contained over 1000mg of taurine, or more than 2x the taurine content in a Red Bull. In known clinical trials, Taurine content of 1000-9000mg has been analyzed for energy; early data is positive but inconclusive.
  • LabDoor scored MET-Rx Protein Plus as #1-ranked in overall quality. BSN True-Mass ranked #50 in this category.

KEY FINDING

13 forms of protein were utilized in these 50 products, lead by whey protein isolate (35/50) and whey protein concentrate (29/50).

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