Premier Protein Shake Review: Better Than Regular Protein?

Premier Protein Shake Review: Better Than Regular Protein?

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Illuminate Labs Premier Protein Shakes Review header image

Premier Protein Shake is one of the most popular sports nutrition products in the U.S., so we wanted to analyze its formulation and provide consumers with a research-based analysis of whether this product is healthy, and whether it can provide optimal performance benefits compared with other sports nutrition products.

We compare Premier Protein Shake to taking whey protein alone.

Protein Source and Dosage

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 may be more optimal for muscle recovery post-exercise, though research to this effect is limited.

For the most part, you just want to ensure adequate intake of a complete protein (containing all 9 amino acids) for post-workout recovery and muscle growth, and the protein type doesn't matter much. We can conclude that Premier Protein shakes contain an appropriate type of protein.

The body breaks down muscle tissue during intense exercise, and it’s important to consume a high enough dose of protein post-workout to optimize for hypertrophy (increase in muscle size). There have been several studies on protein intake after exercise, and the consensus seems to be that protein at or above 20 grams (g) 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.

We can conclude that Premier Protein contains both an appropriate type of protein and an appropriate dosage for building muscle.

Natural and Artificial Flavors Included

 Premier Protein Shake Caramel ingredients

The above ingredients list is from Premier Protein Shake Caramel flavor. It lists natural and artificial flavors as an ingredient, and this is a category of ingredients we recommend avoiding for health reasons.

Research shows that there are toxicity concerns with some natural flavoring agents, and without the actual chemicals being disclosed, consumers have no way to determine whether the flavoring agents used by a company are safe or not.

Artificial flavors are synthetically-derived food additives. Similar to "natural flavors," the manufacturer doesn't have to disclose the actual artificial flavorings used.

In 2018, 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.

Artificial Sweeteners Included

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 (gut) 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 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.

Regular multivitamin use has been conclusively proven to provide no benefit in medical research, and may slightly increase risk of cancer.

It’s evident to us 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 included instead of Vitamin K2 (ideally MK-7) which is about 10x better absorbed. Vitamin K1 is also easy to obtain 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.

Better Alternative

We would recommend use of whey protein over Premier Protein Shake. Whey protein is proven in medical research to enhance the effects of resistance exercise.

Look for a whey protein product with no additive ingredients, and one sourced from grass-fed animals. The only ingredient should be grass-fed (or "pastured") whey protein.

We don't believe this product will be more effective for muscle building than Premier Protein Shake, because as we discussed in the intro section, pretty much any complete protein will cause hypertrophy at an appropriate dose.

We believe this would be a healthier option overall because of the elimination of all of the questionable additive ingredients in Premier Protein Shake. 

Is Premier Protein Shake Effective for Weight Loss?

Many consumers ask us whether we'd recommend Premier Protein Shake as a weight loss aid.

Medical research does show that higher-protein calorie restricted diets are more effective for weight loss than lower-protein calorie restricted diets. The linked review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, recommended meal-specific protein quantities of at least 25 g, which Premier Protein Shake provides.

Relatively high protein intakes are effective for weight loss because they increase satiation (the sense of "fullness"), thus reducing cravings for high-carb foods.

However since the weight loss benefit of Premier Protein Shake comes from the protein content alone and nothing unique to the product, we believe that whey protein use would be a superior alternative.

Premier Protein Shake Pricing

Premier Protein Shake is available for purchase on their website, on Amazon and on Walmart, amongst other online retailers.

The prices are significantly cheaper on third-party retailers at the time of updating this article. Here are the prices for their most popular products on the largest retailer sites:

Premier Protein Shake Chocolate 12-Count

Amazon: $23.74

Walmart: $20.97

Premier Protein Website: $41.08

Premier Protein Shake Vanilla

Amazon: $32.75

Walmart: $21.47

Premier Protein Website: $37.57

Clearly Walmart seems to be the most cost-effective place to buy Premier Protein Shake. The severe price discrepancy shows how important it is to price shop across various channels. Purchasing from Premier Protein Shake's website would cost nearly twice as much.

Premier Protein Shake Pros and Cons

Below are some benefits and downsides to using Premier Protein Shake.


  • Effective protein type
  • Effective protein dose
  • Convenient
  • Should help build muscle


  • Unhealthy additive ingredients
  • More expensive than whey alone
  • Packaged in plastic

Premier Protein Shake User Reviews

Premier Protein Shake has mostly positive reviews on Amazon of their most popular products. Their chocolate shake has been reviews over 165,000 times total, and has received 130,000 5-star reviews. These reviews appear to be legitimate, and this brand doesn't appear to pay for reviews, based on FakeSpot analysis. FakeSpot's algorithm scans for fraudulent reviews on Amazon, and they give Premier Protein a B grade, which is a good score.

One of the most popular positive reviews comes from a verified purchaser named Glen Barratt and calls Premier Protein Shake the best ready-to-drink protein product for people seeking low-carb and soy-free options:

"The Premier Protein "Café Latte" Protein RTD is perhaps the best option that has a very good nutrition profile (having high protein and low carbs), and tastes good."

The most popular negative review, from a verified purchaser named Courtney, recommends purchasing the products in store rather than online due to consistency issues:

"I decided to order online to get a case for a better price. Almost every bottle from my order is full of nasty stringy parts. Imagine drinking your morning coffee to get a mouthful of something nasty."

Premier Protein Shake FAQs

Are Premier Protein Shakes healthy?

Healthy is relative. Due to the protein content, they're likely healthier than the average American meal, but we don't consider these shakes healthy overall because of the artificial flavors and sweeteners.

Are Premier Protein Shakes lactose free?

Premier Protein Shakes are not lactose free. They contain milk protein, which contains lactose. We would recommend that consumers who are lactose-intolerant avoid Premier Protein Shakes.

Are Premier Protein Shakes keto friendly?

Premier Protein Shakes contain only 5 grams of carbs, so they can be incorporated into a keto diet. Most keto diets allow for up to 50 grams of carbs per day.

100% whey protein will contain slightly less carbs per 30 g protein serving according to USDA data, and we believe whey protein is a better option for keto dieters.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


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.

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