I’ll come right out and say it up front. The reason I decided to try out Gardenia was because I’ve actually been considering, I know, becoming a Vegan. GASP. Right? It was something that two years ago, or I guess even two weeks ago, I probably never would have considered. But you know how it goes. People evolve. People change. I always assumed that I just couldn’t get into the shape that I wanted to get without my precious whey and casein and egg proteins. From a scientific standpoint it’s logical, right? I mean. Animal-sourced proteins are complete proteins that have been proven over and over again to help you recover and repair and grow and do all the thing that you need to do to be lean and muscular. But over the last few years, supplement companies have really started to advance and evolve to accommodate the growing segment of vegan dieters and those with other specialty diets that restrict or prohibit animal proteins. I won’t get into too much detail about the rationale of me giving Vegan a try…you know, the whole ‘so i met this GUY’ routine…but fact of the matter is I knew if I was going to really go for this thing I needed a Vegan Protein. And since a bunch of you have been asking me for my opinion on the best plant-based protein powder, I figured I might as well get my hand on a few of these bad Larry’s. I had been aware of an offering from Body Nutrition via a marketing email a while back, and I knew Gardenia had to be my first review. After all, their Trutein (dairy-based) is still on of my favorite supplements of all time. Not just proteins mind you. Supplements. Love the stuff. I was hoping Gardenia could match it’s magnificence. So does it? Let’s start with taste.
Gardenia Taste and Flavor Grade: 9.2
Where Trutein is a perfect 10, and the measuring stick by which all other protein powders are judged, Gardenia must be given a 9.2. It’s flavorful and very very distinctive. Before I get overly detailed you should know that Gardenia uses all natural flavorings and sweetener. I think this automatically puts it onto a different flavoring spectrum to start with. Let’s face it, nothing that uses stevia and monkfruit can hold a candle to something that can exercise the full breadth of artificial flavor-dom. Bet you’ve never heard that phrase before. LOL. That’s why you love me, right? Right. Ah, I worry about you, Allie. But yes. Gardenia uses only naturals which makes it’s taste that much more impressive. Let me break down each of the two flavors for you:
Vanilla Bean: The vanilla-flavored Gardenia is just slightly inferior to the chocolate. The taste has INCREDIBLY spirited notes of vanilla that hit you right in the mouth the second it meets your lips. I mean that in the way good writers mean it, figuratively, as if referencing a fighter getting hit in the mouth. But it’s awkward because you are putting the protein in your mouth too…oh never mind. You get the point. The flavors are BOLD! The taste is super ‘french-y’ if I had to further refine the type of vanilla that it is. The sweetness is wonderfully balanced, if just a tiny bit on the strong side for me. The quirky thing that you can taste in this, and also the chocolate flavor for that matter, is a sort of ‘alcohol-y’ taste…almost like a fume situation that you sense through your nose as you raise the glass to your lips. It’s not unpleasant, if slightly jarring initially. But you’ll get used to it that’s what he said. LOL. Let’s talk chocolate.
Chocolate Cacao: The chocolate flavor of Gardenia is also enjoyable and wholly drinkable. It’s not as over-powering of a chocolate as the vanilla is a vanilla. This take on chocolate is more mild with only slight bitterness and strong notes of fruit. I know. It sounds like I’m describing a fine wine. Nope. Just a plant-based protein. But at the moment I think it’s safe to say that this is the best-tasting vegan protein powder on the market. I still have to try some other offerings before pledging my allegiance to it, but I do think this will be a formidable contender no matter what comes my way. I will give this chocolate flavor of Gardenia an 8.9, and the vanilla a 9.5. Thus, your average Gardenia grade becomes a 9.2 out of ten- a noteworthy achievement for a plant-based, naturally-sweetened protein powder.
Body Nutrition Gardenia Formula Grade: 9.8
With any plant-based protein there is always the fear that you won’t be able to get enough protein per serving. And of course there are digestive issues sometimes too, especially with brown rice protein. But this is why Gardenia’s most valuable asset might be the formulation itself. Each serving has 20 grams of HIGH QUALITY plant protein derived from Pea, Quinoa, and Hemp. I’m so glad that it doesn’t use soy or brown rice because these are both hard for me to digest.
Another reason to LOVE this formula is the antioxidant blent that contains prickly pair, coconut juice, acai, and even ashwagandha! Like. Yes PLEASE. I’ve been on the ashwagandha train real hard lately because it makes me feel really fertile and strong in both mind and body. I don’t know why that sentence had to sound so dramatic. But it’s true. Now, do I know how much ashwagandha is in each scoop? No, and I sort of doubt it is much more than a sprinkling. But even mentally knowing that this (and all the other cool ‘goodies’) are in here makes me enjoy each serving that much more.
The cherry on top is a prebiotic fiber and digestive enzyme complex that ensures that you are getting some good quality fiber in your protein shake, but not in a way that makes you rush to the toilet five minutes after you down your shake.
Body Nutrition Gardenia Packaging Grade: 9.6
There is alot to love about how they’ve designed Gardenia cosmetically. The jar itself is that neat sort of recycled material, paper/pulp stuff that gives Gardenia an immediate aura of cleanliness and purity. It’s this continuance of product theme from inside to out that I have always loved. Some brands have the effortless skill of matching up the actual product with the packaging. Nike. Apple. You know. Not to be basic, but it’s no accident that brands that do this well also happen to be massively successful. Yes, I just compared Body Nutrition to Apple. LOL. Hey, you never know. They seem to be doing well, right?
Other things that I think Body Nutrition has done well from a design perspective is that they’ve really nailed the graphics, copy, and even color palette to go perfectly with the all-natural theme. The feature graphic is a big ‘ole tree that seems to sprout from the base of the jar and reaches out in a brilliant and proud symbol. To me it says ‘yeah I’m plant-based, and yeah I can help you recover and grow!’. I mean what else could it mean? Another thing I have to applaud on the Gardenia design is the easy to read, clear callouts right there on the front feature panel. It confirms that you’re getting plenty of essential and branch-chain amino acids. Since that was always a fear for me as I start my Vegan journey, this was super re-assuring. It also mentions how natural the product is. Ie no added sugar, non-gmo, no animal sources, etc. I really can’t speak highly enough about the label and overall product design of Gardenia. It’s incredibly well-done. My hat is off to the folks at Body Nutrition.
Body Nutrition Gardenia Review Summary:
- Gardenia Taste and Flavor Grade: 9.2
- Gardenia Taste and Formula Grade: 9.8
- Body Nutrition Gardenia Packaging Grade: 9.6
- Body Nutrition Gardenia Value Grade: 9.2
Gardenia is the best plant-based protein on the market in my opinion. It tastes fantastic, it is easy to digest, it has a really solid, high-protein formula that makes it perfect for REAL athletes, and on top of that it is fairly priced and well-designed. Can you beat that? Didn’t think so, Vega Sport.*