While I don’t recommend a reliance on bottled shakes, now and then they can come in handy for a grab ‘n go, backup snack at the office, or as a “Shucks!, I’m running late to meet my training buddy for a 2-hour run and forgot to pack a post-run snack!” type of scenario.
If you cruise the nutrition bar aisle or the shelf-stable non-dairy milk aisle at your local grocery store or food market, you’re likely to find a number of ready-to-drink shakes. I don’t buy these type of products often, but because I had been asked for my opinion recently, I thought I’d give a quick Nutrition Mechanic taste test and assessment on the Iconic and Evolve shakes.
On a side note, if you practice strict plant-based vegan eating patterns, this really can’t be a head to head, apples to apples type of comparison because the Iconic drink contains dairy and the Evolve drink is plant-based. For those of you who dabble in dairy and plant-based eating, you can absorb more of my comments as a comparison.
First up: Iconic Chocolate Truffle
This variety of the Iconic protein drink provides 20 grams of protein from milk isolate (a blend of casein and whey proteins without the lactose) and is low in fat (2 grams) and relatively low carbohydrate (8 grams total carbohydrate with 3 grams of sugar and 4 grams of fiber). The sweetness primarily comes from the agave, monkfruit, and stevia leaf extract.
the flavor is quite chocolatey and rich
a quality protein source from grass-fed cows (all the way from Ireland)
low in sugar for those watching added sugars
lactose-free in case lactose gives you bloating, gas, or other uncomfortable symptoms
GMO-free, BPA-free, and gluten/soy free
the 220 milligrams of sodium can be a useful dose of sodium after a sweaty workout to help with rehydration
there is an aftertaste
even though there aren’t artificial ingredients added per se, there are a number of stabilizers and gums added that *may* contribute to some gas, especially for those of you with sensitive stomachs
Next: Evolve Chocolate
The Evolve company is no stranger to ready-to-drink shakes as its parent company is Cytosport, the makers of MuscleMilk. The chocolate Evolve contains 20 grams of protein from pea protein, is low in fat (1 gram) and moderate in carbohydrate content (20 grams of total carbohydrate with 7 grams of sugar and 10 grams of fiber). The sweetness is from cane sugar and organic stevia extract, although there is the vague “natural flavors” ingredient that possibly contributes to its sweetness.
the flavor is richer and more chocolatey compared to the Iconic shake
a good amount of plant protein for vegan followers
while some individuals may need the extra carbohydrate, this drink still provides a good ratio of carbohydrate to protein (as opposed to classic chocolate milks that have a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein due to gobs of added sugar)
the inulin fiber is generally accepted as a quality prebiotic source of fiber
fewer overall ingredients (especially compared to the Iconic drink)
the 260 milligrams of sodium can be a useful dose of sodium after a sweaty workout to help with rehydration
the 10 grams of fiber does not make this a good option to drink before exercise for most individuals
while pea protein is a great option for plant-based protein, it does not match gram for gram the essential amino acids provided in milk protein. However, so long as you are eating a variety of mixed protein sources throughout the day AND eating adequate protein amounts to meet your needs, you are generally okay in this area
Neither drink is intended to be a meal replacement, however, an occasional complement to a snack, a bedtime protein dose, or a quick and convenient option for post-exercise nutrition make both of these products an option to consider.
The price for these bottled shakes can be cost-prohibitive for some individuals. At my local Sprouts food market in Boulder, Colorado, the 11.5 oz Iconic shake was priced at $3.79 ($0.33 per ounce) and the 12 oz Evolve shake was comparable at $3.99 ($0.33 per ounce). Of course, if you buy in bulk, you can save between $0.40 and $1.00 per bottle depending on website and shipping methods.
Can you make your own at home for cheaper? Why, yes indeed. MUCH CHEAPER. But will you do it is the question…
Thanks for reading and let me know if you try these!