Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
Premier Protein Shake is one of the most popular sports nutrition products on Amazon, so we wanted to analyze the formulation and provide consumers with a research-based analysis of whether this product is healthy, and whether it may confer optimal performance benefits compared with other sports nutrition products.
The main source of protein in Premier Protein Shake is milk protein concentrate, which is typically about an 80/20 split between casein and whey protein. Casein is much slower-digesting compared to whey. This suggests that it’s more optimal for muscle recovery post-exercise, though research to this effect is limited.
Surprisingly, the marketing of the product accurately reflects the protein type and benefits. The Amazon listing states clearly that the product may be used “for post workout recovery” with no mention of pre-workout or performance benefits. For pre-workout performance benefits, especially in regards to NO synthesis, you'd want something like citrulline malate.
Many supplement and nutraceutical companies totally misrepresent their product benefits based on the available research, like we evidenced in our GF9 review, so this is a good sign that Premier Protein Shakes takes health claims seriously.
The body breaks down muscle tissue during intense exercise, and it’s important to consume an adequate amount of protein post-workout to optimize for recovery and hypertrophy. There have been several studies on protein intake after exercise, and the consensus seems to be that protein at or above 20g post-workout is optimal for muscle recovery and regrowth.
Premier Protein Shake has 30g of protein which is a safe and effective dosage for a post-workout beverage.
Other Active Ingredients - Natural and Artificial Flavors
“Natural” is an unregulated term in the U.S., meaning that a company can label anything “natural” without proof of safety or efficacy of the ingredient.
Artificial flavors are synthetically-derived food additives. Because manufacturers don’t have to list the specific flavorings used, consumers have no information to assess the safety of the product.
Just three years ago the FDA removed 7 artificial flavorings from the approved food additives list, after they were associated with carcinogenicity (cancer-causing effect).
We recommend that health-conscious consumers avoid products which contain natural and artificial flavorings, due to the ambiguity and health risk surrounding these terms.
Other Active Ingredients - Artificial Sweeteners
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener included in Premier Protein Shake that has been associated with inflammation in some medical research. A 2017 study found that sucralose consumption increased pro-inflammatory gene expression in the livers of mice.
A meta-study from 2017 concluded that sucralose was safe in humans.
There’s another artificial sweetener in this product called acesulfame potassium, which is 200 times sweeter than table sugar. It’s been found to have negative effects on the microbiome in animal studies, as well as negative effects on cognitive function.
Generally we believe it’s best to avoid artificial sweeteners if you’re concerned about your health, as these are still relatively experimental compounds without significant long-term research.
Synthetic Vitamin and Mineral Blend
Premier Protein Shake contains a blend of vitamins and minerals. Food companies often do this to “beef up” the nutrition label on their product. This is especially common in the alternative milk industry. Consumers will think their almond milk is significantly more nutritious than whole milk because the almond milk manufacturer added a bunch of synthetic vitamins so the Supplement Facts label looks impressive.
There is no benefit to taking synthetic vitamins if you’re not deficient, and supplementation should only be used to correct a deficiency or maintain optimal levels based on testing.
It’s evident based on some of the vitamin choices that Premier Protein was looking to use the cheapest rather than the most effective compounds for this blend. Vitamin K1 is used instead of Vitamin K2 (ideally MK-7) which is about 10x better absorbed. Vitamin K1 is also easy to get through diet while K2 isn’t.
For Vitamin B9, Premier Protein Shake chooses folic acid rather than the superior methylated form of folate, which is much better absorbed and arguably safer. As we discussed in our review of the wildly popular Goli ACV Gummies, folic acid is synthetic and has a weak association with cancer because it can be hard for the body to clear unlike dietary folate.
Premier Protein Shake has an ideal protein type and dosage for a post-workout sports nutrition drink. The brand makes accurate and research-based claims on their Amazon listing which we commend them for. However, the drink also contains artificial sweeteners and a synthetic vitamin blend which are both wholly unnecessary and potentially detrimental.
We recommend that consumers who are seeking a workout recovery drink just mix milk protein concentrate with water for 30g total protein intake. There’s nothing special about the proprietary formulation in Premier Protein Shake that confers additional performance benefits beyond the protein type and dosage. You can get the same muscle recovery effect much cheaper without all of the unnecessary additives.
Many people are sensitive to lactose, so if you respond poorly to milk protein concentrate you may want to switch to whey isolate, which is also very safe and well-studied for sports performance, and is 100% lactose-free.