Gainful Protein is a personalized protein formula that supplies healthy protein necessary for muscle building.
Gainful offers a protein powder subscription customized to diet, activity level, and overall objective(s) and ships you a 28-serving bag every 4, 6, or 8 weeks. The subscription also includes online access to a registered dietitian for advice about nutrition and fitness.
All of this sounds great. However, how do you know that Gainful is worth the buy? How does Gainful stack up against other popular protein powders out on the market, like Orgain Protein and Ghost Whey Protein?
Our Gainful review covers the ins and outs of this supplement and answers questions you may have regarding Gainful’s ingredients, benefits, efficacy, cost, etc. We’ve done all the hard work for you, so read on and enjoy.
Why Take a Protein Supplement?
Protein is the building block of your cells. By lifting heavy weights, you’re tearing muscle fibers intending to build them back stronger. Feeding them enough protein is essential for this. Protein can also promote weight loss and lean muscle mass building as it’s more satiating than carbohydrates or fat.
Is Supplemental Protein Necessary?
Supplementing is essential if you’re not getting enough protein in your diet. The recommended daily intake to maximize muscle protein synthesis is 0.7 to 1 gram per pound of body weight.
For a guy weighing 195 pounds, this number ranges from 136 to 195 grams daily, with the higher end being more appropriate for heavy lifting and the lower for just cardio. That’s a lot of protein to get through food, especially if you have dietary restrictions. That’s where protein powder comes to the rescue.
Is the Timing of Supplemental Protein Important?
People who chug protein shakes right after their workout believe it optimizes recovery. Some particularly like whey protein because it mixes well, has a good amino acid profile, and is rapidly absorbed.
If you work out in the morning or afternoon, timing doesn’t matter, and taking a scoop of whey protein right after your workout won’t make a difference. If you work out in the evening, however, take a scoop of whey (or pea/brown rice protein if you’re avoiding dairy) right after you finish (to help with overnight recovery) and another one when you wake up.
This varies based on specifications. I wanted a powder without gluten, lactose, or soy (I’m not allergic, but I didn’t want them in my powder). My fitness goal was to cut and become more toned and muscular. Gainful recommended a blend with 91% whey protein isolate, 7.4% flavor stick, 1.5% green tea extract, and a negligible amount of sunflower lecithin to prevent clumping.
Amino Acid Breakdown (for the Above Blend)
- Alanine 1327 mg
- Arginine 590 mg
- Aspartic Acid 2655 mg
- Cystine 708 mg
- Glutamic Acid 4248 mg
- Glycine 383 mg
- Histidine 413 mg
- Isoleucine 1563 mg
- Leucine 2625 mg
- Lysine 2566 mg
- Methionine 560 mg
- Phenylalanine 796 mg
- Proline 1504 mg
- Serine 1298 mg
- Threonine 1622 mg
- Tryptophan 472 mg
- Tyrosine 855 mg
- Valine 1445 mg
The amino acid profile also varies based on the type of protein you get and how much is in your blend.
The combination of pea and brown rice protein makes Gainful’s dairy-free option a complete protein. Both whey and pea proteins are similar in terms of their impact on muscle growth and exercise capacity. The drawback of the pea and brown rice protein blend is although it mixes decently enough, it has a chalkier consistency than whey.
Gainful’s Ingredients and their Potential Benefits
- Whey protein isolate (more protein than concentrate – 90%, better for cutting, less lactose)
- Whey protein concentrate (tastes better/creamier, more carbs and fat/better for bulking than isolate – 70-80% protein)
- Organic pea protein (vegan, contains all nine essential amino acids)
- Organic brown rice protein (vegan, complete protein when combined with pea protein)
- Micellar casein (slow-releasing protein source, suitable for overnight recovery)
- Organic tapioca maltodextrin (quick-digesting carb source, good for bulking and energy during and after workouts)
- Organic tapioca dextrose (another fast-digesting carb source, good in moderation for restoring glycogen faster/muscle repair and hydration post-workout)
- Green tea extract (EGCG has been proven to help burn fat but might cause liver damage)
- Sunflower lecithin (anti-caking agent, better alternative in case you’re allergic, sensitive to, or want to avoid soy altogether)
The flavor sticks are sweetened with organic stevia leaf extract and monk fruit extract. These are both safe, natural, and zero-calorie sweeteners.
Gainful ships 28 flavor sticks with each package (one for every scoop). Their flavors are:
- Sea Salt Caramel
- Cookies & Cream
- Cafe Mocha
- Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Strawberry Cream
- Matcha Green Tea
Gainful only allows you to choose four flavor sticks per shipment, which is a slight drawback, but by the second shipment, you should know your favorites and have them on rotation.
The main advantage of Gainful is the personalization aspect. They use some organic ingredients and say their whey is non-GMO even though it’s not Non-GMO Project Verified. They also have a backup option in case you don’t like the recommended blend or would prefer something a little different. For me, their secondary option switches the green tea extract out for organic tapioca maltodextrin (8%) and organic tapioca dextrose (4.6%), the combination of which cuts the amount of whey protein isolate down to 80%. They will also let you switch out individual ingredients so you can take part (or all) of the customization into your own hands. You can even get answers to specific questions from one of their dietitians before buying.
The access to a dietician, while cool to have, isn’t necessary and shouldn’t be built into the price for people who aren’t looking for advice. A lot of this information is available online, and although having a registered dietitian at your fingertips can be helpful, it’s not worth the price if you’re not going to use it. If you are, then it’s worth it initially. Still, at some point, you’ll get most of your questions answered, and it becomes an unnecessary expense automatically rolled into the cost. It would be better if Gainful charged a separate fee for access to the dietitian and kept that part of the subscription optional.
Switching up the flavor of every shake is a huge advantage. Drinking the same shake day after day can get boring. Gainful offers nine fantastic flavors to choose from, with the hope that at least a few of them will make your taste buds happy.
Many people blend up their smoothies and add protein powder. In these cases, the flavor sticks can be left out if they mess with the flavor profile (of course, they might enhance it as well, depending on what else is being added in).
Gainful also prints your name on the outside of their packet, which isn’t necessary, but indeed a nice touch.
Who is Gainful Best For?
Gainful is best for people who’ve had issues with protein powders, don’t have the time and/or interest to research which one’s the best for them, would like to switch up flavors, and don’t mind paying the price.
It may also be better for people who don’t blend their own protein smoothies because Gainful’s flavor sticks may not work with the fruit, vegetables, or other supplements you throw in the blender. Or they might. Again, you could always leave out the flavor stick, but they’re one of Gainful’s major selling points, so if you’re not using them, it becomes harder to justify the price.
Gainful tailors your powder based on dietary restrictions (if any) and fitness goals, which sounds pretty cool. The thing is, it’s not as involved or complicated as they’re making it out to be. There aren’t that many different blends. They’ll typically include whey protein concentrate in your mix unless you’re trying to cut or limit lactose, in which case(s) they’ll include whey protein isolate.
They’ll swap out the whey for organic pea and brown rice protein if you’re dairy-free. If you want to lose weight, they’ll add green tea extract (which has 5 milligrams of caffeine, so you might want to manually remove it from your mix, especially if you’re taking it before bed). In either case, because of the uncertainty around the safety of green tea extract, it’s best to avoid it. They’ll add organic tapioca maltodextrin and dextrose to your mix if you want to bulk. There aren’t that many different combinations of ingredients, so with a bit of research, you can find a powder that works for you at a fraction of the price.
When I said I wanted to gain weight, they took out the green tea extract, reduced the whey isolate to 80%, and added organic tapioca maltodextrin at 8% and organic tapioca dextrose at 4.6%. When I said I didn’t have dietary restrictions, they replaced 33.8% of the whey protein isolate with whey protein concentrate. When I said I had all the dietary restrictions, it switched the whey protein isolate out for 65% organic pea protein and 26% organic brown rice protein.
Interestingly, they recommended the same blend regardless of body type or activity level, demonstrating that their customization isn’t all involved and is primarily based on dietary preferences. That’s why it would be more cost-effective to figure out what you’re looking for in a protein powder and shop around for the best price.
Your mix will contain 20-30 grams of protein per serving, depending on your selections. You can also increase the amount of protein in your blend by emailing Gainful.
Gainful Customer Reviews
Although Gainful isn’t available on Amazon now, they have over 900 reviews on Trustpilot as of this writing with an average rating 4.5 out of 5 stars. Most people reviewed the flavors as good, although a few didn’t like them.
One person actually wrote that they weren’t distinguishable from each other, and the coffee flavor lacked the kick one would expect. A few people had issues with customer service and canceling their subscriptions. A few also said it didn’t mix well.
That said, the reviews are positive overall.
Where to Buy Gainful
You can buy Gainful off their website for $49 for 28 servings, which comes to $1.75 per serving with free shipping.
How Does Gainful Compare?
Here’s how Gainful compares to similar protein supplements.
Muscle Feast’s whey protein isolate powder is grass-fed and 71 cents per serving (less than half the cost for a potentially better powder). The Muscle Feast powder comes in chocolate, vanilla, and plain, so although the flavor options aren’t enticing, most people should be satisfied with one of them.
Orgain also makes an organic, vegan, complete protein powder that ranges from $1.25 to $1.41 per serving (depending on flavor) on Amazon, where you get a better deal than their website. They have green matcha, vanilla, and plain on Amazon.
True Nutrition also offers customized protein powder; you just have to specify what you want in your mix. They also have several pre-formulated blends to choose from. I constructed a mixture of 90% whey protein isolate, 5% non-GMO dextrose, and 5% non-GMO maltodextrin with stevia-sweetened cinnamon toast swirl flavoring for $1.16 per serving (including $3.99 for shipping).
Is Gainful Worth It?
Personalized protein powder is a cool concept. If cost isn’t a huge factor, you can give Gainful’s subscription a shot for the convenience and ability to switch up the flavor and blend and cancel anytime.
However, you can get a grass-fed whey protein isolate powder for less than half the price of Gainful, so you can spend without sacrificing quality for personalization. Competitors’ vegan protein powders are also significantly cheaper than Gainful, as is True Nutrition’s customized powder.
Overall, Gainful is best for those who like the specificity and don’t mind shelling out the extra cash for it.