Protein powders are the in-thing right now.
You need only have a quick surf of all the #fitspiration or @fitgirlsworldwide Instagram hashtags/handles to see that protein powder is making its way into pretty much everything and it's very much a girls territory now, instead of just for boys.
Whether these fit gals are knocking back some chocolate flavoured whey-isolate after a weights session in the gym, or knocking up some home-made cinnamon whirl protein bounce balls, they've all got the health-powders section of their cupbards well stocked.
BUT, trying to emulate these #fitspirationers can be a very challenging task, not just because they can pull off a two person stacked press up, but because the protein powders that they seem to use in all their cooking is HUGELY expensive!
You can be looking at £40 or £50 for just the one tub of it!
Well - with this in mind, the clever team over at Poundland decided to try and hop on the protein trend, by offering their own bars and shakes at a much deflated price.
Yep, you guessed it, bars and shakes are £1 each.
The question on all of our minds, once we found this out, was whether the Poundland offerings really were a healthy bargain, or whether they were a cheap sugary treat, in health-food clothing.
Protein Shakes: The Facts
The trick to getting yourself a healthy protein powder is finding one with very few ingredients AND finding the right sort of protein for your body.
There are all sorts of proteins out there: soya, whey, cassein (to name but a few) and these all come in various different forms.
Personally, my body is very sensitive to certain forms of protein and will react badly (bloating, stomach cramps) to protein that isn't particularly pure, so in my case, I always choose a cassein or a whey isolate.
And many women like to avoid soya products as there has been some controversy surrounding how well they can be digested by the body and whether or not they can affect our hormone balance.
So you need to do your research - pick the type of protein that sounds like it might be right for you and then listen to your body. If your tummy doesn't like it, ditch it for a different one.
The other thing to really watch out for is the sugar content.
Powdered whey isolate on its own doesn't taste very nice - and the protein powder people know this - so often, they'll load up their protein shakes with all sorts of sugars, sweeteners and artificial flavourings, to make them moreish.
This might be fine for men looking to bulk and for people who don't care about artificial ingredients, but if you're looking to be slim and toned or you're "eating clean", you need to pick a protein powder that either has low-to-no added sugar, or uses a natural sweetener like stevia.
As I said above, the fewer added ingredients, the better.
The Shakes - Contents
Surprisingly, when we first picked up the Poundland shakes and had a look at the ingredients, we were somewhat pleasantly surprised.
We were expecting them to be full off all kinds of awful artificical ingredients and had also imagined they would be PACKED full of refined sugars.
There are only 8 ingredients total and the first is whey protein isolate - so far so good.
However, on closer inspection of the ingredients, it's not all good news.
Disaccharides are soluble sugars, by another name - and include sugars such as sucrose and maltose. This might explain the shake's slightly higher sugar content (2.5g) than many of the other protein shakes out there made with women in mind (which usually have less than 1g per serving).
Monoglycerides are formed from animal fats and vegetable oils and they are often used to extend a product's shelf-life. Not too harmful, but not great for the clean eaters among us.
Sodium cyclamate is an artificial sweetener which, while approved for popular consumption in the UK, has experienced some bans in other countries due to potential side effects.
So the prognosis - not the best set of ingredients, but equally, not a totally awful set of ingredients either.
These shakes are not likely to kill you.
The Shakes - Taste
Sadly, the shakes were not exactly tasty.
The plastic bottle includes no seive, making it difficult to dissolve the product properly.
They tasted powdery on the tongue, too sweet to be healthy, but not flavoursome enough to make it a pleasant experience.
The Shakes - Cost
Value for money is actually very misleading.
The shakes are £1 per bottle, but they only contain one serving.
The protein powders that I buy are about £40 per tub and although they claim to only have around 26 servings, I often find myself having one per day from the tub for two months, at least.
If you bought a Poundland shake every day for the same number of days as it takes me to use up my one tub, it would set you back £60.
The Bars - Contents
At 218.5 calories, these protein bars will cost you more of your daily allowance than a big, fat chocolate bar, so already, if you're dieting, you need to approach them with caution.
The ingredients aren't great in general - soy protein, collagen hydrolisate, isoglucose....
They also contain neat sugar and hydrogenated palm oil - both of which are not really health-friendly.
Lastly, one of the bars (the orange one) is made with corn flakes?!
The Bars - Taste
These bars taste artificial. They're too sweet, but not in a natural way and it's pretty hard to imagine that any fruit has been anywhere near them.
You might like them if you have a really sweet tooth and enjoy things like jammy Nutrigrain bars.
The Bars - Cost
At £1 a pop, these are definitely more cost effective than buying individual packs of Bounce Balls or 9 Bars or any of the well-marketed healthy equivalents.
But the Poundland version aren't going to be that great for your health, so why would you?
Our tip here would be: make your own! Protein or fruit and nut bars to be eaten as snacks between meals are really not difficult to put together. In fact, they often don't involve any cooking at all!
What did you think of this article? Was it helpful? If so, let us know in the comments!