After a few months of polite disagreement with my trainer, I agreed to start protein supplementation in hopes of reducing my recovery time between workouts. My only stipulation was that the protein had to be vegan and free from soy.
Her supplier recommended Raw Fusion, saying it was the cleanest, best-tasting hypoallergenic protein on the market. With an endorsement like that, I didn’t hesitate to order a 1-pound canister for $24. Distributed by SAN, Raw Fusion comes in two flavors: chocolate and vanilla. When trying new protein powders, I always go for vanilla. It’s the most versatile and in my opinion, if a company can’t get vanilla right, there isn’t much hope for the other flavors they produce.
Raw Fusion offers 21 grams of protein per scoop in the form of pea protein, brown rice and artichoke protein concentrate with just 116 calories and less than a gram of fat. Its only listed sweetener is stevia.
According to the SAN website, Raw Fusion’s amino acid profile is comparable to that of whey, rich in glutamine, leucine, isoleucine and valine. The site also claims the product sets a new industry standard for performance and taste. The product packaging also claims it performs well when cooked and recommends using it to fortify baked goods.
It sounded exciting and my hopes were high. High enough that my first trial of Raw Fusion was to experience it in its purest form. I added one scoop of vanilla protein powder to my blender and mixed it with 4 ounces of water and a cup of ice cubes.
The odor was the first sign my experiment would not go well. The shake, though thick, smelled bitter and chemical. I held my breath and took a sip. It took everything in my power not to retch into the sink. The stevia made the shake bitter, and the texture was unpalatably chalky. I couldn’t taste vanilla or even the protein itself. The stevia was too much of an assault on my senses.
I dumped the shake back into the blender and added a packet of Starbucks VIA (instant coffee granules). My experience has taught me that the taste of coffee can mask even the most unpleasant protein powders. I ran the shake back through the blender and sampled it again. It wasn’t worse but it definitely wasn’t better. Now I had coffee-flavored dreck.
My last-ditch effort was to pull out sugar-free Torani syrup in caramel to see if that would help. I was hoping the Spenda-sweetened syrup could offset the stevia that I found so offensive. That took the shake from bad to worse. In the end, I managed to drink about an ounce before dumping the whole thing down the sink.
I try to give every protein powder three chances, knowing that each tends to have its own strengths and weaknesses. I have not been able to do that with Raw Fusion, simply because I can’t stop my stomach from lurching every time I look at the container.
I’m not giving up yet, though. I am saving it with the hope of mixing it with other tastier vegan proteins to see if I can make use of it that way. But until then, Raw Fusion is not a product I can recommend.