This is the story of how I, along with La Petite Diva (my youngest daughter, henceforth “LPD”), my boyfriend and a random neighbor guy down the street got drunk off of protein shakes.
Yes you read that right. Let me explain.
Really if I start at the beginning, this is the story of how Nikki’s crazy life led her to believe she could review a gamillionty seven protein products in the course of two days.
I was very, very wrong.
At the end of the day I am, and always will be, a post-op. There are limits to what my stomach can do. So while I very much wanted to bring you one epic product review of AmBari Nutrition products…that’s just not going to happen.
But I think it’s a blessing in disguise. (Maybe?) Because when I agreed to do this review and was told I’d be getting a sampler, I expected 2-3 products. What I got was enough protein goodies to sustain me well into the zombie apocalypse.
Seriously. This is a lot of protein.
So what I decided to do instead is to do four epic posts on AmBari Nutrition products. This one will cover the protein shakes. Later this week we’ll run down the protein snacks. Then we’ll cover the bars and finally we’ll do the meal replacements. Because…good Lord…if I’d tried to consume all that in one weekend…well…it would not have ended well.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Who the hell is AmBari Nutrition?
If I were you I imagine that’s what I’d want to know (although maybe not asked as colorfully but…hey, I’m me).
AmBari Nutrition is a small, Ohio-based company that specializes in protein-enhanced products for medical and surgical weight loss patients. That sounded techy. I promise that was not a cut/paste from their website.
When they contacted me about doing a review, I checked out the site and found it to be pretty easily navigable. They sell a plethora of products, including protein shakes, protein bars, protein snacks, meal replacements, vitamins and more.
As I said in my introduction, I remember being told I’d get a sampler, but after double-checking Kevin, my friendly AmBari rep, actually said Starter Kit. Capitalized. Which, yes, does imply something different than a sampler. Had I paid attention to that nuance I might not have been surprised to get a huge box of stuff! I’m actually not presenting this to you in the same order I tried it. I tried the snacks first (and I’ll share more about those later this week). A full three weeks after that is when I tried these shakes. This is only important because I told Kevin (my friendly AmBari rep) that I’d have the review done by September 15. Those of you who know me personally know I will stop at nothing to meet a deadline. I’m a professional writer by trade. We live and die by deadlines!
This is why I attempted to consume a gamillionty-seven protein products in the course of a weekend. But none of that has to do with who AmBari is, does it? Let’s move on.
The Ambari Protein Shake Variety Pack
At the risk of sounding redundant I just want to point out that this is the protein shake variety pack, which is one component in a larger starter kit (that also contained protein bars, protein snacks and meal replacements, which will be reviewed separately). We still on the same page? Lovely! Let’s forge ahead.
This variety pack contained 7 flavors (making my plan of trying them all in two days, all the more implausible):
- Chocolate Brownie
- Hazelnut Cocoa
- Milk Chocolate
- French Vanilla
- Chocolate Chill
- Berry Fusion
- Strawberry Blast
Stats (Nutrition Information)
All the shakes have the same stats, which are:
- 100 calories
- 1g fat
- 7g carbs
- 0g fiber (wait…a few of them say <1g, so I guess they aren’t all the same)
- 5g sugar
- 15g protein
All in all not a bad start! You all know my rule on calorie-to-protein ratios. Protein supplements should have one gram of protein for every 10 calories, and it needs to have more protein grams than net carbs. This falls within that. The carbs are reasonable as are the sugars.
So let’s migrate down to that oft-neglected nether region of the nutrition label: The ingredients list.
Here are the most important things I think you should know about the ingredients list, which you can look at for yourself here:
- The protein is Calcium Caseinate, a milk-based protein. Folks who drink CLICK should be familiar with this type of protein.
- The 5g of sugar comes from fructose, a naturally occurring sugar
- They are sweetened with sucralose (the main ingredient in Splenda)
- The chocolate flavors do contain real cocoa (yay!)
- They do not contain any aspartame
- They do contain 24 vitamins and minerals, including: Vitamins C, E, and K, Biotin and B12
I hate to spoiler my own review but I will say I was pleasantly surprised by this product. But let me not get ahead of myself.
Anytime I review a shake, I prep it in the way that the instructions say to do it. Because that’s often how you guys do it. That is, until you learn to play with your shakes! Still, it’s good to know how a shake mixes up at the base level. Kevin (the friendly AmBari rep) was nice enough to include a Blender Bottle in my Starter Kit to use. Sidenote: I covet Blender Bottles. I do not let anyone borrow them. Ever.
The directions said mix it with water. I, of course, was skeptical. Water-based shakes can be a mixed bag. Sometimes they are really good. And sometimes they are really, really bland and decidedly not creamy. (Nik = #TeamCreamy…ew…that didn’t sound right.)
So anyway, onward.
The directions said to simply add the powder to the shaker cup, add 8 oz. water and the blender ball and shake vigorously. Keep in mind, I was still skeptical. But then, something interesting happened.
I got pudding.
Granted they said that could happen. (It is, after all, called pudding and shake.) The directions say to only add four ounces of liquid for pudding, so I’m guessing that would be totally set pudding. As it were this was the consistency of pudding before it sets, which is just a bit thicker than I want my shake to be. So after adding two more ounces of liquid, I got this.
Success! As you can see it pours creamy and smooth, without lumps. There was a bit of powder left at the bottom but I think that’s mostly because I didn’t fully commit when shaking it. Usually it’s a spectacle to see me use a shaker bottle because I shake hard, smack the bottom of the bottle, turn it every which way. But today, I got lazy. Sorry.
So after all this, it was time for the pivotal moment. To start tasting the shakes. That, by the way, is when I knew I was a bit in over my head, even with LPD. After the first three shakes we were both a bit punch drunk and it sort of became this weird little drinking game (made weirder by the fact that I was playing it with my 13 year-old daughter). We didn’t drink all of every shake we made but still. We were a bit giddy there in the end.
I promise you, I am getting to how they taste. I have to tell you the rest of this story. I documented it because I knew you wouldn’t believe me if I simply told you.
So just as the kid and I were hitting a wall with the shakes (we’d tasted 4 of 7), a random neighbor guy from up the street toddles by asking what I’m doing. You have to understand a few things to get why this even happened:
- I live in Baltimore and that’s just what Baltimoreans do.
- We live in a city block so our porch is visible by dozens of people at a time.
- I have a full table and chairs set up on my porch and for this I had my DSLR camera and tripod, so we were a site to see!
Moving on. At this point I was willing to take help from wherever it came (because my pouch by then had sent the memo not to send too much more down there), so I told random neighbor guy that, yes, he could taste a shake so long as he was willing to be photographed doing so. He was happy to oblige.
The interesting part of this exchange for me is not that he asked. Not that he walked up 13 steps to get to this shake. Not that he actually took the shake. No, no. The interesting part for me was how fast the whole thing was over with. Non-ops drink fast! He literally took three gulps and then set the glass down, thanked me and was on his way. Frankly, I’m surprised I got pictures of this.
But anyhoo that leads me to what we (collectively) thought about the flavors:
- Chocolate Brownie: Both LPD and I agreed this tastes sort of like cake batter. That bugged me (I have an inexplicable mind thing about consuming cake batter) so I added a bit more water to loosen it up and it was still great.
- Hazelnut Cocoa: This was the one LPD was most looking forward to because she loves Nutella. Like…loves. Like…”will spend her allowance on it, eat only one teaspoon at a time to prolong it and I’m pretty sure she’s think about cutting you if you stole some” love. She said they got the flavor right but that it tastes more like Nutella pudding. I actually got that. There is a difference between chocolate and chocolate pudding. This did, in fact, taste like Nutella pudding.
- Milk Chocolate: Meh. We both agreed it had good chocolate flavor but it was the third chocolate we tasted. In hindsight, I think we should have tried a different kind of flavor before doing this one. But it was good.
- French Vanilla: I liked this one a lot. It didn’t have that chemical taste a lot of vanilla flavored stuff has. I also added more water to this one because it read like vanilla cake batter. Mind thing.
- Chocolate Chill: Tasted the same (to me) as the Milk Chocolate.
- Berry Fusion: This one was neat. It’s a powder but if you gave it to someone after blending, you wouldn’t know it. It blends like a smoothie, complete with berry seeds. I was pretty full after tasting this one so I gave most of this to my boyfriend who, aside from asking for a few pieces of ice to put in the drink (I’d made it with room temperature water for some reason) really liked it. He thought I’d made a smoothie from scratch.
- Strawberry Blast: This is the one random neighbor guy tried. I had a sip before he did and although I’m not a huge strawberry fan, I did note that the taste is pretty authentic. Random neighbor guy friggin’ loved it.
It’s also noteworthy that I, Nik, “Splenda Crackhead Extraordinaire” did not feel the need to add any additional sweetener to these shakes. They were flavored nicely. Not overly sweet, but just sweet enough. As I said before they were all very creamy (and not just thick…there’s a difference between thick and creamy, Foodies!) and I really enjoyed that. All in all, I was pretty pleased with the flavoring here. Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences with protein supplements made in shaker bottles. I was thankful this wasn’t one of them!
I hate math. But with protein supplements you have to do it! I’m willing to do it for you. Because friends don’t let friends do food math. The price of the variety pack I got was $11.45 for 7 servings of protein, each with 15g of protein per serving. That shakes out to:
- $1.63 per serving
- $0.1o per gram of protein
Since prices of other sources of protein vary wildly, I’ll let you determine how that compares to other protein supplements and other sources of protein like meat. I give you those numbers as a sort of “unit price” on protein. I will say that one great value in this shake is that I didn’t have to add any milk to it. It mixed perfectly fine and creamy with water, so that saves me a few pennies, which is cool.
Whew! This has been a journey! (And it’s only part one of this review!) So in the end what did I think?
I liked all the shakes. The flavors weren’t fake. They mixed super easily into smooth, creamy shakes. I think they would make especially great travel shakes (to throw in your purse or in the glove compartment of your car). I generally don’t do shakes on the go because you never know what you’ll get in terms of consistency and I refuse to drink nasty protein shakes. But this one I could roll with. Also, if you work in an environment where there isn’t a kitchen or other facilities to prep food, a shake like this works well because it mixes up well without a lot of fuss.
Now had me, LPD, my boyfriend and the random neighbor guy not drank all the shakes, I might begin rolling with them immediately. I guess I’ll have to do what I suggest you all do, which is to head to their website and check them out!