OWYN Review: Overpriced Plant Protein?

OWYN Review: Overpriced Plant Protein?


| |
| |

OWYN, which is an acronym for “Only What You Need,” is a protein shake brand that’s available in-person and online. The brand claims to use “plant protein,” “superfood greens” and “omega-3s.”

But is OWYN actually healthy? Does it contain effective doses of its active ingredients? Does it have any questionable additive ingredients? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of this protein shake?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in OWYN based on medical studies to give our take on whether the brand is healthy or not.

We’ll feature unsponsored customer reviews, and provide a price comparison to show which retailer sells OWYN for the best price.

Ingredient Analysis

OWYN Dark Chocolate ingredients

The ingredients in the Dark Chocolate flavor of OWYN are shown above.

Pea protein and organic pumpkin seed protein serve as the primary plant protein sources, and this shake provides 20 grams (g) of protein per serving, which is a dose clinically shown to be effective for muscle building after exercise.

Organic flax oil is a vegan omega-3 fatty acid source, and a nutritious one, although it’s worth noting that vegan sources of omega-3 are not nearly as well-absorbed as animal sources, according to a 2022 medical review.

Soluble fiber is a healthy choice for an additional active ingredient, as fiber intake has been associated with weight loss in overweight and obese individuals in a medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Broccoli, spinach and kale are included as part of a “Greens Blend,” but these ingredients are included at an equal or lower dose than salt, since ingredients on a Nutrition Facts label must be listed in order of relative concentration.

Since one serving of OWYN Dark Chocolate provides 350 milligrams (mg) of sodium, this suggests that there is 350 mg or less of these vegetables, and we haven’t come across any clinical research suggesting such a low dose of vegetables provides any health benefits.

We urge OWYN to publish the individual doses of these veggies, in the interest of transparency, given that the brand uses them in marketing materials.

The good news is that this is a substantially healthier formulation than commercial protein shakes like Muscle Milk that contain artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors.

OWYN’s protein shake does contain two inactive ingredients that may be questionable from a health perspective.

Added sugar is positively associated with increased mortality and increased cardiovascular disease risk, according to a 2014 medical review.

There is only 4 g of added sugar in OWYN, but health-conscious consumers may benefit from limiting added, refined sugar intake as much as possible.

Natural flavor may have toxic effects depending on the flavoring additives used, according to at least one medical review, as we discussed in our High Impact Protein reviews article on another protein shake brand that contains this ingredient.

Overall, we consider OWYN likely to support muscle growth and to be a healthier alternative to most commercial protein shakes, but we don’t currently recommend the brand due to the use of added sugar and flavoring additives.

We Tried OWYN – Our Take

OWYN UGC

As the author of this article, I wanted to purchase and try OWYN myself to share my thoughts on the taste and overall product experience.

I purchased a 4-pack of OWYN Vanilla flavor from my local Whole Foods.

It's somewhat annoying that this brand seems to only be sold in 4-packs, because the option to purchase individually would be more convenient.

I liked the taste. This drink tastes like a vanilla milkshake, but isn't as sickly sweet as some of the other ready-to-drink protein shakes (Premier Protein comes to mind).

I like how convenient this product is. I took one on my way to the gym a few mornings in a row, and getting some calories and protein in seemed to improve my gym performance.

I wouldn't purchase this brand on a regular basis, but could see myself getting it while traveling because it's a healthier option than other ready-to-drink protein brands.

Overall, I'd rate OWYN 7/10.

Why Was OWYN Sued?

In 2020, OWYN was sued over allegations of misleading marketing.

The company marketed vanilla as the only flavoring ingredient, but natural flavors were also included in their formulations at the time, according to Truth in Advertising.

At the time of publishing this article, it's unclear if this lawsuit is ongoing, settled or was dropped.

We consider this to be a red flag of brand quality, but we do not consider this to be a serious risk to consumers, given that there are no allegations that the brand failed to list all of the ingredients on the Nutrition Facts label.

We recommend consumers read all of the ingredients in any food or health product they plan on using, rather than relying on marketing messages to make a purchase decision.

Real People Try OWYN

A TikTok creator named “branneisha” compares the taste of OWYN to Fairlife:

@branneisha the battle of the protein shakes #proteinshake #fairlifeprotein #owynproteinshake #protein #weightloss ♬ original sound - BEE • PCOS

A YouTube creator named “Crunchy Scott” compares OWYN to other vegan protein shakes:

Our Clean Protein Picks

Bulletproof Collagen Protein is our top overall protein powder pick, and costs only $1.32 per serving at the time of updating this article.

The main reason is its formulation: Bulletproof's protein powder only contains one single ingredient: collagen protein sourced from grass-fed animals.

As the core structural protein in skin, supplemental collagen is clinically shown to reduce visible signs of skin aging like wrinkles, which is a secondary benefit not offered by other types of protein like whey protein.

Promix Whey Protein is our top whey protein powder, and costs only $0.93 per serving at the time of updating this article when you purchase the 5 pound bag.

This brand uses grass-fed whey protein and no sweeteners or flavoring additives. Whey protein is a "complete" protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.

Complement Organic Protein is our top vegan protein powder.

The only ingredients in this protein powder are a blend of nutritious plant proteins: organic yellow pea protein, organic pumpkin seed protein, organic almond protein, organic sunflower seed protein and organic chia seed protein.

All three of the products mentioned in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy or unsafe.

Can You Live Off Protein Shakes?

A fascinating YouTube video from the “Brew” channel explores whether it would be possible to live entirely off protein shakes, and has over 1.7 million views:

Where to Buy OWYN for the Best Price

OWYN is sold at a variety of online retailers. Here’s a price breakdown for a 12-pack at the time of publishing this article:

Vitacost: $37.99

Walmart: $36.99 (free shipping, lower dose, link)

Brand website: $36.99 (free shipping, link)

Amazon: $36.99 (free shipping, link)

The bottles on Amazon and the brand’s website currently have a slightly larger size, which makes them a better deal than the OWYN products on Walmart.

Real Customers Review OWYN

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion.

OWYN Dark Chocolate has been reviewed over 1,700 times on Amazon at the time of publishing this article, with an average customer review rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "Corin" who gives the product a 5/5 star rating and likes the taste:

" Took it from box , shook it and put tons of ice in big cup and poured the coffee shake into it and savored it with a straw . Took me couple hours to enjoy it since I went so slow with it. Savor my caffeine and yummy coffee taste."

The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "Whitney Wilson" who gives the product a 1/5 star rating and suggests it can cause side effects in those with IBS:

"For me the issue came about an hour after I drank it. I was at work and my guts started bubbling — loudly. I have IBS so I’m well aware of what comes next and I quickly got to a bathroom. The next three days I felt like I was prepping for a colonoscopy. Every 90 minutes or so I’d have to rush to the bathroom."

OWYN currently has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Facebook.

OWYN Dark Chocolate currently has an average review rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Google.

Pros and Cons of OWYN

Here are the pros and cons of OWYN in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Effective protein dose
  • Should support muscle building
  • Positive user reviews of taste
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids
  • Contains green powders
  • Contains fiber
  • Lower sugar than competitors

Cons:

  • Contains refined sugar
  • Contains flavoring additives
  • Expensive per-serving
  • Doesn’t appear clinically tested
  • Vegan omega-3 sources may be less bioavailable
  • Questionable veggie doses
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

OWYN is a healthier option than the average ready-to-drink protein shake brand that we’ve reviewed to date on Illuminate Health like Premier Protein Shakes and Muscle Milk, because it contains fiber and veggies, provides an effective protein dose and is relatively low in added sugar.

We don’t currently recommend this brand due to the refined sugar and the natural flavor. It’s also quite expensive per-serving.

OWYN should support muscle growth in athletes and can be a convenient protein option for vegetarians and vegans, given that it provides a dose of protein that’s clinically shown to support muscle growth.

Most of the online customer reviews we came across had favorable things to say about the taste of these protein shakes.