It’s no secret that in recent years, conversations amongst health conscious and fitness circles have started to revolve around protein. While research shows that Americans eat well over their daily protein requirements, protein still remains one of the main areas of interest when people are looking to better their wellbeing, after all, protein keeps you full, nourishes muscles, and provides long-lasting energy. This consumer demand has singlehandedly fueled the high-protein beverage market, a sector that for the last decade has been largely dominated by whey protein. One of the largest players in this space was the company Cytosport who created the product Muscle Milk, a dairy-based protein beverage that doesn’t require any blenders or messy powders, but instead comes ready-to-consume straight from the bottle.
Well, with new, cleaner, plant-based protein powders coming to the forefront of the market, Cytosport has decided to hop on the bandwagon with the plant-based protein beverage, (also conveniently mixed in a bottle like Muscle Milk) and aptly named Evolve. The beverage debuted in 2013, and recently at Expo East, the natural and organic foods trade show, the company revealed two new flavors: Mellow Mocha and Toasted Almond.
Cytosport’s decision to add a plant-based protein beverage to their repertoire is not that surprising when you look at the trajectory of consumer demand and opinion of this sector. Protein-packed beverages were celebrated when they first arrived on the scene as a wonderfully convenient and nutritious product whether you just wanted some extra energy, were looking to get buff, or were looking for a meal replacement. However, several tests on protein powders and beverages revealed that these products contained a slew of less-than-ideal ingredients, specifically heavy metals. Not exactly the kind of stuff you’d expect in a product that boasts about bettering your health.
After these tests were released, the scrutiny of protein powders and beverages understandably increased. Now, in addition to prominently displaying how many grams of protein their products provided, companies like Cyotosport, had to assure consumers that their products were in fact “clean.” What better way to do that than with a plant-based protein beverage? And better yet, with pea protein, one of the newest protein isolates to hit the mainstream, that is now being infused in all sorts of things, from snacks and powders to meat alternatives and non-dairy cheeses. One serving of pea protein isolate provides 15 grams of protein, a figure that is four times more protein than 15 almonds, two times more than one large egg, and two times the amount of one cup of dairy milk. In fact, pea protein isolate, made from yellow split peas, also has a complete array of amino acids, with arginine, lysine, and phenylalanine levels actually surpassing that of whey protein.
Considering these figures, Cytosport’s decision to use pea protein as the base for Evolve makes total sense. In addition to using a cleaner protein source, Evolve is also soy protein-free, gluten-free, tree nut-free, and does not contain any artificial colors or sweeteners. Instead, the beverage is made primarily with water, pea protein, soluble vegetable fiber, organic cane sugar, and alkalized cocoa powder (or other ingredients depending on the flavor). Each 12 fluid ounce bottle provides 20 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, 480 milligrams of potassium, 20 vitamins and minerals, and has only three grams of fat and 160 calories. Pretty impressive!
Evolve is appealing to a growing sector of consumers: those who want clean nutrition and protein. With consumer concerns of antibiotic use, hormones, and the negative health repercussions of meat protein, plant-based protein has never been more poised to take over. And considering that meat and dairy is destroying the quality of our water, air, and land, isn’t that good for our bodies, is harmful to animals, and can barely feed the world’s population, we’d say the timing for a plant-based takeover has never been more crucial. Together with companies like Cytosport who are seeing that the future of food is plant-based and creating products that align with this ideology, we will be able to rebuild our food system for the better.
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