Many protein options for endurance athletes have flooded the market. PlantFusion uses a no-sugar, no-gluten, fermented process in its powders and drinks.
By Henry Howard
Endurance athletes need protein. That’s the simple part.
How to get that protein varies by individuals and their diets — everyone from those on a Paleo diet to vegans will consume protein differently.
Those who eat meat get their protein fairly easily while those who favor a plant-based diet focus on nuts and seeds, peanut or almond butter, eggs, soy and beans.
As more runners, triathletes and other endurance sports athletes seek out new ways of getting protein into their systems, there has been a dramatic increase in the products available. Whey protein. Protein shakes. Protein supplements.
PlantFusion is made with real food, nothing artificial
Among the options available are PlantFusion products, which include plant-based protein powders for shakes and smoothies, as well as some ready-to-drink options. All of the products contain no dairy, soy, gluten or anything artificial. The products are also non-GMO.
For full disclosure, I did receive a sample in exchange for this review. I have tried the Organic Plant Protein vanilla chai flavor (also comes in chocolate), mixing it with water or coconut water after a workout. It’s hard for me to tell the actual affect of the product, but I do know — and enjoy — the fact that I am refueling my body with healthy, natural protein.
The taste is nondescript, which is a positive because I can remember other protein supplements that leave a chalky taste. I have not experience any digestive or other issues with PlantFusion. I would suggest, however, using a half scoop instead of the full scoop recommended by the manufacturer. I have found that a full scoop makes the mixture to thick for my liking.
I wanted to learn more about the company and its products, so I interviewed Chris Young, who oversees the design and development of PlantFusion products. Here are the highlights from our email conversation:
Eight questions with PlantFusion
Question: There is a lot of talk about protein among runners and other athletes these days. What separates Plant Fusion from similar protein shake products?
Answer: There’s definitely a lot of focus on protein these days. I think, until now, the conversation has largely been about “how much” protein. More grams are better, etc. We believe that “how much” protein isn’t nearly as important as your body’s ability to digest and absorb the protein. This is often completely overlooked. PlantFusion Organic is the only complete protein shake that contains a fermented foods blend. Fermented foods like Kombucha and Greek Yogurt have gained huge popularity in recent years for their ability to boost healthy flora in the digestive tract. Essentially improving “digestive efficiency.” Fermented foods give your body the tools to, not only make better use of the protein supplements, but all of your nutrition from food as well. There is huge value here for runners or anyone who wants increased metabolic efficiency of their nutrition allowing for faster and more complete recovery from physical exercise. No other protein shake currently has this fermented food component.
Q: The label says “organic,” which has a variety of meanings on food labels these days. What does organic mean on your label?
A: Organic PlantFusion is USDA organic certified. Only products with at least 95 percent organic ingredients may be labeled with this seal.
Q: Talk to me about the fermented process. What is it and why is it important for athletes?
A: In simplest terms, fermentation is nature’s process of breaking down food. During fermentation, key nutrients are unlocked and become more bioavailable. This is particularly valuable for athletes who are trying to maximize their intake and absorption of key nutrients like protein, complex carbs and other food based nutrients. There’s nothing worse than eating a big healthy meal but then feeling sluggish or bloated afterward because your body is burdened with processing all of that nutrition at once. The organic fermented food portion of the formula consists of organic, sprouted lentil, millet, chia and flax. These ingredients are fermented with natural living starter cultures (the same ones used to create probiotics). During this proprietary fermentation process many different strains of probiotics and enzymes are cultivated in their natural whole food state. The active cultures in our unique fermented food blend help to break down the protein and other foods for faster digestion and more complete absorption.
Q: The website mentions prebiotics. Explain that concept to me and how it is used in PlantFusion.
A: Prebiotics are carbohydrates that are not easily digested by the human body. Their main function is to help support the growth of probiotics that are naturally occurring in the fermented food blend.
Q: How does PlantFusion help athletes — whether they are endurance athletes, age groupers, weekend warriors or whatever?
A: PlantFusion helps to maximize recovery from exercise or daily stress. PlantFusion Organic offers 20 grams of complete protein blend with naturally occurring amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for greater strength and endurance. The fermented blend actively breaks down the proteins into shorter peptides and amino acids that can be efficiently utilized by the body.
Q: What are the recommendations for using PlantFusion? Can an athlete take it daily? Is it best before, during or after a workout?
A: Organic PlantFusion can be taken anytime, day or night. It can be used in the morning as a great way to start the day or after exercise to replenish and recover lost nutrients. Because of its high protein content it can also be used in between meals for appetite control or to maximize recovery from exercise or daily stress.
Q: Your products include the shake mixes, ready-to-drink bottles and supplements. What else can we expect from PlantFusion?
A: PlantFusion’s mission is to take complex plant-based nutrition and make it delicious and easy to use. We see huge opportunities to improve the greens category, energy and endurance products, and healthy on-the-go snack foods.
Q: Anything that I didn’t ask that you would like to share with me?
A: Most supplement brands are “virtual products companies” meaning they don’t actually design and manufacture the products themselves. They generally focus their time and energy on marketing and then outsource the product development to third-party companies. PlantFusion is a true research and development company with deep roots (pardon the pun) in nutritional product manufacturing. Our parent, Reliance Vitamin, has been doing this for more than 30 years and is well respected in the natural products industry. All of our products are produced here in the U.S. in our own GMP, Organic, NPA, NSF, certified manufacturing facility.
Full name: Christopher Young
Residence: Basking Ridge, New Jersey
Title: Brand manager/director of product innovation
What do you do at PlantFusion? Oversee the design and development of all PlantFusion products.
What drew you to this field? A personal mission to give people the tools to improve their health and fitness.
Are you an athlete? I’ve been a personal trainer, amateur competitive weightlifter and was very active during my four years in the U.S. Marine Corps.