Ritual is one of the most popular direct-to-consumer companies that specializes in multivitamin subscriptions for women, men, and kids. It’s also incredibly transparent and provides its customers with everything they need to know about the ingredients its uses in each product as well as how and where these ingredients are sourced.
Ritual’s multivitamins provide adults, teens, and children with optimal forms of essential nutrients that are appropriate for their age and biological sex. There’s no fluff when it comes to Ritual – it provides exactly what you need and nothing more.
The company recently decided to launch its own protein powder line and offers 3 versions of its Essential Protein: Daily Shake 18+, Daily Shake 50+, and Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum. Here, I’ll take a closer look at what differentiates Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum from the other two versions and also provide insight into my own experience trying out Essential Protein 18+.
TL;DR: What Is Essential Protein By Ritual?
- Essential Protein by Ritual is sourced from organic yellow pea peas.
- Unlike other yellow pea proteins, Essential Protein is complemented with 493mg of L-methionine to make it a source of complete protein.
- Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum is complemented with 250mg of choline, which is an essential nutrient for pregnancy that most women, especially plant-based dieters, are deficient in
- Each serving of Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum contains 115 calories and provides the following macronutrients: 20g protein, 4g carbs (3g fiber and 0g sugar), 2g fat
- All Essential Protein versions are available in a naturally-derived vanilla flavor that’s sourced from the following ingredients: vanilla bean extract, fermented sugarcane (Reb-M), organic monk fruit extract
History Of Ritual Vitamins
Ritual’s CEO, Katerina Schneider, actually created the company after failing to find a prenatal multivitamin for herself that she could trust to provide adequate concentrations of the nutrients she needed the most and that was also fully transparent of the types of ingredients and sourcing it used. As a handful of women know all too well, many of the prenatal and postnatal multivitamins that flood the market shelves today contain incredibly low concentrations of essential vitamins for pregnancy and postpartum support and also use suboptimal forms of these key nutrients. Thus, Katerina decided it was time to make a change and worked together with her team to create a product that actually enhanced the health of women, especially those who struggled to obtain the right nutrients their bodies need to support a healthy pregnancy, lactation, and postpartum healing.
Currently, Ritual offers 9 different multivitamins for women, men, teens, and kids 4+ that provide anywhere from 9-15 traceable ingredients. However, the company recently launched its own protein line as well which has become a big hit among plant-based dieters as well as people who are looking for alternatives for protein power or want to have other options for protein sources.
Ritual Protein Powder Nutrition Facts
Ritual’s Essential Protein is sourced from organic yellow pea peas which is one of the most popular plant-based sources of protein powder. Its popularity is due to several factors including being free of most major allergens, having greater solubility than other protein sources, like seeds or nuts, and also because it has a stronger amino acid profile compared to most other plant-based protein sources.
Daily Shake 18+, Daily Shake 50+, and Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum are the three versions of protein powder available from Ritual. While each of these protein powders is quite similar in regards to ingredients used and their micronutrient and macronutrient compositions, the main differences between each version are as follows:
- Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+: 150 mg choline, 120 mg calcium, 290 mg sodium
- Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum: 250 mg choline, 120 mg calcium, 220 mg sodium
- Essential Protein Daily Shake 50+: 200 mg choline, 370 mg calcium, 220 mg sodium, 1.5g Calcium HMB
While these differences may seem insignificant, the most important difference between these three formulations is the concentration of choline as it has tremendous impacts on pregnancy and birth outcomes. Lily Nichols, author of Real Food for Pregnancy, states the following about choline in her book:
“Choline is required for fetal brain development, placental function, helps prevent neural tube defects, and shares many of the same nutritional benefits of folate…If you eat a vegetarian diet that includes eggs, you may be able to obtain enough choline, but a woman who eats a vegan diet may not…During pregnancy, you need a minimum of 450 mg of choline per day…Keep in mind that while 450mg is the current target for choline, newer research notes that ‘choline intakes that exceed dietary recommendations during pregnancy may improve maternal and child health outcomes…For women who have the common genetic mutation known as MTHFR…choline needs may be substantially higher than the current recommended levels.”
She also includes a comparison of foods that vary in their choline concentration just to show how difficult it is to consume choline through diet alone if you are primarily a plant-based dieter. Here are a few examples she included in her book of how choline differs in animal vs. plant-based sources:
- 1 egg – 115 mg
- 1 oz of beef liver – 119 mg
- ½ cup broccoli – 30 mg
- ½ cup quinoa – 20 mg
- 2 TBSP peanut butter – 20 mg
- ¼ cup almonds – 18 mg
As you can see, plant-based dieters would need to combine excessive amounts of certain foods in order to meet their minimum choline needs from diet alone and it’s even difficult for meat-eaters and lacto-ovo vegetarians to consume optimal amounts each day, especially considering that most pregnant women do not eat enough of these foods or may experience certain food aversions which prevent them from wanting to eat these nutrient-dense foods.
Despite their differences in choline, the one major unifying factor between all formulations is that they’re each complemented with 493 mg of L-methionine per serving. Why is this important? Yellow pea protein, although an incredible source of plant-based protein, is deficient in L-methionine on its own, which makes it an incomplete source of protein.
Contrary to what many companies may tell you, just because a protein powder (i.e. this applies to plant-based protein powders) has all 9 amino acids doesn’t mean it’s classified as a complete protein. In fact, when certain sources of protein fail to contain adequate concentrations of all essential amino acids, it ends up reducing the overall anabolic potential of the protein source.
Due to this, most plant protein amino acids are actually directed towards oxidation rather than muscle protein synthesis when they’re not combined with complementary protein sources or enhanced by adding their limiting amino acids. This is why you’ll often see many plant-based proteins made with protein blends, rather than with single sources of protein – it’s to combat this major issue.
However, despite many companies’ attempts to create a complete amino acid profile by using the complementary protein method, some vegan blends still fail to provide adequate concentrations and it’s oftentimes impossible to know the exact concentration of each protein powder used. On top of this, many plant-based proteins are hard for the body to digest due to the presence of antinutrients (i.e. phytates, tannins, lectins, trypsin inhibitors).
Thus, it’s better to use a single-source plant-based protein powder that’s easy to digest and complemented with the right amount of its limiting amino acid(s) to be sure that you’re consuming a complete protein source.
Another standout feature of using Ritual over other pea protein or plant-based powders is that it provides the typical essential amino acid profile for each serving of its protein powders. Here’s the amino acid profile for one serving of Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum:
- Leucine – 1785mg
- Isoleucine – 1063mg
- Valine – 1124mg
- L-Methionine – 493mg
- Histidine – 522mg
- Lysine – 1604mg
- Phenylalanine – 1013mg
- Threonine – 801mg
- Tryptophan – 207mg
Many plant-based protein companies actually try to conceal the amino acid profiles of their products due to having deficiencies of certain amino acids, thus making their product an incomplete protein source. These companies typically cover up this fault by highlighting the macronutrient values of their products while failing to provide the amino acid profile. I have yet to find another plant-based protein powder brand that goes the extra mile like Ritual and honestly admits that plant-based proteins are incomplete sources of protein and corrects for it by complementing their product with the limiting amino acid.
Ritual Protein Powder Ingredients
As mentioned above, the only major difference between each of the three versions of Essential Protein is their concentrations of choline, calcium, and sodium. Here is the full ingredient label for Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum to see what all is inside of it:
Ritual Essential Protein Powder Review – My Experience
Disclaimer: You’ll notice that the product I tried is actually Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+. I was originally sent this version to try out for a general review, but I should receive Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum from Ritual sometime in the near future. Once I receive this version of the product, I’ll make sure to update this review and my experience accordingly. Keep in mind that the overall taste and texture should be nearly the same for both products and that the only major difference between the two is that 18+ has 150 mg of choline vs. 250 mg of choline in the prenatal/postnatal version. This difference shouldn’t affect the taste or consistency of the product.
Ritual provided me with Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+ to try out for free. Here’s my experience trying out the product along with my honest thoughts about it…
I received 1 bag of Essential Protein Daily Skate 18+ which contained 15 servings. I decided to blend 1 serving (1 scoop) of Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+ with 8oz of water, that way I could try the product in its natural state and evaluate factors like taste and consistency without them being masked by other ingredients.
I decided to blend the protein powder and water together by using my Ninja Bullet. Just so everyone knows, I tried to use a standard shaker when I first tried out this product and it was an ABSOLUTE FAIL for mixing. The inclusion of MCT and other thickeners along with the natural consistency of pea protein powder makes it extremely hard to blend this product without using an actual blender. If for any reason you don’t have a blender, the next best method of mixing is to simply use a fork or small whisk for blending, although I will say that I found the fork easier to use than the whisk since the protein powder sticks inside the middle of the whisk quite easily.
It only took a few seconds (roughly 5-10) to blend the protein powder with water. The result was a pale yellow solution.
I was excited to try out this product as I’ve tried pea protein isolates on their own and wasn’t a huge fan of their taste and consistency. Pea protein powders, in general, tend to have an earthy taste and will sink to the bottom due to the lack of thickeners if you use isolate form. There’s nothing wrong with that aspect as it’s a completely natural process, but trying to gulp down bland water with clumps is not the most pleasant experience…
Truth be told, I actually really liked this product! Now, it’s not extremely sweet, but there’s certainly a refreshing, light aftertaste to the product and I can easily see this product mixing well with other ingredients and liquids. I’ve blended it together with cashew milk before and really enjoyed the combination. I’ll definitely experiment with throwing in other ingredients, like fruit or nut butter, next time to turn it into a meal.
I have a confession to make – I totally consumed all 15 servings within 2 weeks… I enjoyed the product THAT much. That said, if you’re looking for a sweeter and thicker protein powder, then this is probably not the right product for your specific preferences, however, if you don’t mind a natural tasting product that can be blended together easily with other liquids and ingredients, then it’s certainly worth trying. I personally prefer using protein powders that are free of artificial sweeteners and prioritize natural ingredients over synthetic ones, so this product really fit up my alley.
While I’m 100% a whey protein fan and will continue to use animal products to help meet my dietary needs, I believe that this protein powder is a great supplement for women who have an aversion to meat or dairy while pregnant and is absolutely ideal for women who are plant-based dieters and want to ensure that their pregnancy is supported with the essential nutrients that their body and baby need.
While I cannot endorse a vegan diet during pregnancy due to its deficiencies in major nutrients (vitamins A, B12, K2, choline, glycine, DHA, iron, zinc) as well as its reliance on incomplete protein sources, I will say that women who choose to remain vegan or follow a vegetarian diet while pregnant or nursing should certainly consider using this protein powder over all other plant-based protein powders to help promote better child and maternal health outcomes. Additionally, if you happen to experience any food aversions during pregnancy that keep you from wanting to consume certain animal products, Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum can be extremely helpful for both supplementing choline and ensuring that your protein needs are being met.