How I Chose My Protein Powder

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

I swear there are some mornings that my iced coffee tastes better than others. Today was one of those days. Holy yum! Cold, creamy goodness in a glass. Hey, sometimes, it’s the little things in life…

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Along with my iced coffee, I enjoyed a Coconut Protein Pancake, which I made using this recipe, but I added one teaspoon of coconut extract instead of the vanilla extract. I topped my Protein Pancake with banana slices, a drizzle of honey, and shredded coconut.

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A few hours later, my stomach started to grumble, so I made my favorite protein shake and paired it with a serving of walnuts as a snack. (Apparently, a shot glass holds a serving of nuts. Who knew?)

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Recently, I’ve received a lot of questions about the kind of protein powder that I use, so I thought a post about why I like it and how I chose it would be helpful to you guys.

Picking a protein powder is all about personal taste, and it took me awhile to find one that I liked. For the past couple of years, I’ve used (and loved!) FoodScience of Vermont Vanilla Whey Protein Powder. It has a delicious vanilla flavor, but it doesn’t totally dominate the other flavors that you mix with it. So, if I make a protein shake with ground ginger, it comes through or if I make a smoothie with peanut butter, I can actually taste it. Flavor was a big decision-maker for me since I hadn’t liked any of the protein powders I’d previously tried.

The next thing I considered was the Supplement Facts:

Serving Size: 1 Scoop (34 g)

Amount Per Serving:
Calories 120
Calories from Fat 15
Total Fat 2 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 55 mg
Sodium 30 mg
Total Carbohydrates 6 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Vitamin A (from whey) 26 IU
Calcium (from whey) 108 mg
Iron (from whey) 0.23 mg
Protein 21 g

One scoop provided 21g of protein for just 120 calories, plus lots of other good stuff, so it looked like a good option to me. (FYI: Some protein powders have fewer calories per serving, but not as much protein, so make sure you check out the Supplement Facts before you buy.)

The final thing I looked for was whether or not the protein powder contained soy isolate. Studies suggest that isoflavones found in soy can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance, so I decided to avoid those kinds of protein powders. I already consume a good amount of soy in my diet, so I figured I didn’t need anymore, especially if I planned to use it on a regular basis. However, if you deal with dairy allergies or a sensitive stomach, soy protein is a great alternative.

And that’s how I chose my favorite protein powder!

Do you use protein powder in your diet? What’s your favorite kind/brand?



  1. Protein powder is really great… especially for protein pancakes 😉 but since I discovered my soy allergy (along with 45 other food allergies) I just can’t do protein powder right now. There are too many mystery ingredients…

  2. I’ve never used protein powder because I’ve always felt overwhelmed by the number of options. This was an awesome breakdown and explanation though and makes it all feel way less intimidating!

  3. First off, love ur new photo under the “More From Tina” on the top left. That green dress is hot!

    I do not do the protein shakes but would like to try them out. I will have to look out for that brand!

    And I know what you mean by the coffee, mine tasted way better than normal this morning.

  4. This is great, thanks so much for sharing! I was actually going to contact you today about what type you would suggest/use. Thanks and I just LOVE reading your blog! Every time I see a Pug picture it reminds me of Murphy! 🙂

  5. Hey Tina! I am not sure if you have recently answered this question, but I am wondering how CrossFit is going and if you are seeing any changes in your body, strength, health, etc? My gym offers CrossFit in CHicago and I have been toying with the idea of giving it a try but since it is extra $ on top of my gym membership, I am interested to find out if you think it is worth it? It sure looks like a great jump start to new and fun workouts but have you noticed any changes in your weight, appetite, overall toning, etc?



    1. @Renee C.: I’ve only been doing CrossFit for a few weeks now, so I haven’t seen too many changes, but I definitely think it’s worth it. I’m always pushing myself and trying new things each class, so I get a better workout than I would normally at the gym. I also really enjoy working out with other people, so that’s been a huge benefit for me.

  6. I used to use whey protein from Optimum Nutrition, but I just couldn’t stomach the taste sometimes. I rarely ever made protein shakes mixed with other foods, but rather just the protein powder and water. I have tried Vega and if I decide to begin supplementing protein in my diet again it will most likely be with that. I like Vega products because the ingredients are top notch and they go better with my “real food” approach to diet. Great post! Usually people go for the cheapest product or the one with the least amount of calories, and there’s so much more to think about like taste, ingredients, and the soy issue as well. 🙂

  7. I’m going to have to check this one out. The one I have been using has over 300 calories a serving! Not the biggest deal, but I would rather get my calories from yummy real food instead of liquid, powdered food. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Great post!! Protein powders can be so confusing even if you just limit it to the ones without junk in them. Thanks, Tina!!

  9. Thanks for sharing about the protein powder. That’s definitely something I’ve been curious about!! I like your new picture in the sidebar!! That green dress is gorgeous!

  10. I am in the market for some good protein powder so thanks for the review! I’ve tried the vanilla chai vega protein powder and really like it but the vanilla flavor does overpower any other flavors so I’m looking for something a little less intense. Mama Pea from Peas and Thank you did a review a while back and suggested True Protein where you can make your own mix and control what you put in it – It also seems more reasonably priced compared to some others out there!

  11. I interned at foodscience vermont this past semester!! I got to try out a bunch of products while I was there but never the protein powder, wish I had.
    I don’t supplement with protein personally. I don’t really love smoothies so I’m not sure when or how I would use it!

  12. I found out in October that I’m intolerant to soy and gluten, so I ended up having to go with Sunwarrior because it’s one of few I’ve found that contains neither. I like it pretty well though, although it’s a bit pricy!

  13. I have a really hard time with protein powder because of taste and ingredients. I have used EAS powder before I decided to do all natural foods. My hubs still uses that because he likes the taste (and we use it sparingly) but I was still stumped. I have eyed this one on your list before. Is it all natural? From what I can read on Open Sky, it seems like it is. I am fine with Stevia so that is good!

    And I agree with you on the soy. There is too much added to too many foods so I try to avoid it where I can even though I don’t eat tofu or other soy based products too often. This way though, if I do have some, its ok because its not everywhere else in my diet!

    Thanks for the great info as always!

  14. I used to use protein powder but it just doesnt agree with me no matter what kinds I try. The best is Sun Warrior vegan brown rice in Chocolate but even that is not really…the best. I don’t know. I’d rather just eat another handful of edamame or nuts or something than use the powders. I wish I could but they just make my tummy get a little funny. Or a lot funny.

  15. Dymatize Elite Whey is the best I’ve used, by a long shot. 117 calories, 24 grams of primarily whey isolate (with some pre-digested whey concentrate for quicker uptake). And the flavors are good; not just “good for a protein shake,” but legitimately good.

    Can get a 5-pound bottle (72 servings) for about $39 dollars at

  16. I have used Protein Powder before. It was a homemade version that was pretty tasty. I could never find a brand that I liked so I searched for a ‘DIY’ version and modified it to my own tastes.

  17. Thanks for this post! I am always nervous about buying protein powder since it’s do expensive and I may not like it. I gave Jay Robb vanilla flavor a shot but I wasn’t a huge fan. I may have to use your suggestions and try and find something I like more. Hopefully the brand you suggested has a trial size so u can give it a shot!

  18. Yours looks tasty! I actually love chocolate protein powder–and I make sure it is whey protein (or whey protein isolate) as this has been shown to aid in muscle recovery and muscle rebuilding processes.

    Love the protein pancake idea!

  19. I love protein powder! 😀 I use it heaps – espcially in oats, smoothies, oatmeal pancakes, and protein ice cream. Yummy! Vanilla is the best flavour 🙂 And your breakfast and snack look delicious! Have a great day! <3 xyx

  20. I use protein powder but have yet to find one I love and it’s for the exact reason you talked about, the vanilla is just too overwhelming usually and it takes away from the other flavors in the drink. I might have to give this one a try when I’m out next.

  21. I go through phases with protein powder! Lately, I’ve been using it after my workouts and have just bought the cheap stuff you can get at the grocery store (I always use whey and try to find the one with the least sugar and least added ingredients). My absolute favorite is Tera’s Whey Protein Powder!

  22. great post! i swear by nutribiotic vanilla, brown rice protein. one ingredient–brown rice. vegan, and no soy. 60 calories/12 grams of protein. if i want more protein, i just double the serving.

  23. I use protein powder for a few things, shakes obviously but also add it into my cereal, oatmeal and yogurt. I use Vega or Sunwarrior. I like both a lot, but Vega was easier to find so I started using it more but now there is a place in my city that carries Sunwarrior so its going to make a come back 🙂

  24. I actually use Pea Protein. It has one ingredient: peas. Does it taste good? Well certainly not by itself. But thankfully I can’t taste it when it’s in a smoothie. I’d much rather add my own flavorings anyway. I had to find something that was free of whey, soy, and gluten and didn’t contain any weird ingredients I couldn’t pronounce.

  25. I really love whey protein. I feel like my body does so much better on it compared to others like pea, hemp, soy, egg white… haha all of the above. When I splurge I go for Progressive Nutritional Therapies harmonized Vanilla Whey Protein. It’s supposed to be super pure. I truly feel awesome when I use it in recovery shakes (and baked goods!) On a normal basis I but the Whole Foods 365 brand vanilla whey protein. It doesn’t have crap on it and tastes great. The plant based proteins reak havoc on my digestive system :/ I wish i knew what was up because I am obsessed with the Vega Sport line now. I can handle the Vega sport protein bars (the taste incredible. HIGHLY addictive) and the pre-workout energizer but the protein powder does not sit well 🙁

    1. No, I don’t think so. I was into health and fitness before we got together, so I think I’d still try to be healthy even if he wasn’t around. Plus, I generally eat healthier than he does. But, doing things like CrossFit definitely makes it easier and more fun with him! 🙂

  26. do you have any suggestions on how to cut out mindless eating (i.e., when i am sitting at work for 8 hours and i think that i am hungry so i eat unhealthy choices) and how to eliminate some amounts of sweets? i seem to need something sweet after lunch and dinner and feel i might cut more calories and be healthier if i could cut down on this habit. i am trying to reach my healthy weight and looking for ways to modify my lifestyle. i am already training for a half marathon and incorporate exercise and eat relative healthy. i feel i may need the sum of small changes to see a difference.

    1. @abby: I’m not Tina, but I find that if you ARE prone to mindlessly munch, come supplied with things that won’t do too much damage: 100 calorie popcorn/kettle corn, crunchy veggies with a healthy dip, sugar free hard candies, etc. Also, hot tea is great to keep your mouth busy, and your tummy warm and full.

    2. @abby: What are you eating for meals? Maybe they you need to increase the quantity and quality of the foods, so you don’t mindlessly snack? I’ve found that incorporating protein, healthy fats, and whole grains (and drinking a lot of water!) helps keep my cravings and snackiness under control.

      1. @Tina: thank you for responding! i think i need to amp up my protein consumption especially in the morning. currently i am just eating yogurt but should switch to greek yogurt or try oatmeal (i haven’t liked the texture in the past but it has been awhile since i considered it). i try to eat balanced meals- a sandwich on grain bread, some sort of snack (reduced fat potato chips, pretzels, etc), at least 3 fruits, and something sweet. i do drink a ton of water. i will also consider distracting myself more and trying to pay attention more to cues rather than a time or boredom! thank you so much! i have recently become a follower of carrotsncake. it is amazing!

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