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Protein Powder Pods Are Like K-Cups For Wasteful Bodybuilders

Landfills getting big gains.

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PODlife aims to do for protein drinks what K-cups did for coffee–introduce unnecessary extra packaging, while greenwashing this waste with a few buzzwords. Unlike Keurig, though, which has at least raised the quality of the average coffee in the U.S by replacing percolator machines with foolproof espresso-style coffee, the PODlife appears to offer little advantage over just using a teaspoon to measure your protein powder.

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It works like this. You take a protein-powder-filled pod and shove it into the waiting hole on the bottom of the plastic shaker, then screw it into place. Next, fill it with water and shake. That’s it. You have now successfully mixed a protein shake. Compare this with the old way of doing things, which entails adding a scoop of powder to any old bottle of water and giving it a shake. Clearly the PODlife, which is compatible only with its own non-reusable pods, is the shake-maker of the future.

The pods themselves are biodegradable, which means they’re designed to be tossed in a landfill. Keurig used aluminum for its coffee pods, which lets users whisper the incantation “recyclable,” as if no resources were used to collect and recycle the metal. plastic for its pods, and the company wants to be clear that three out of four of the types of K-Cups that exist now are recyclable and by 2020–five years and countless unrecyclable K-Cups from now–they plan for them all to be. “Biodegradable” should perform a similar conscience-insulating act of greenwashing for PODlife buyers.

And those buyers, according to the Kickstarter video hawking the PODlife, are a sensitive lot. Or at least vain enough to know that they deserve the very best snake oil money can buy. “One of the benefits of putting ingredients into pods is that you maximize freshness, you maximize efficacy, and therefore the muscles get maximal potency from the product when you consume it,” says David Sandler, a “sports nutrition expert.”

Now, I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure that when you ingest anything, it has to go through your digestive system before it gets to your muscles. And protein is no different. It is first broken down into “amino acids in the gastrointestinal tract. Amino acid metabolism then takes place in the liver once transferred via blood from the intestine,” says Sweety Mehta of the PharmaXChange. Livestrong says the same thing: “The amino acids absorb through the small intestine into the blood and are then carried throughout other areas of the body.”

Then, some of those amino acids are recycled by the body into new proteins.

Still, we’re not looking at the efficacy of protein powder here, however maximized it might be. We’re looking at the delivery mechanism, which appears to offer nothing over the simple sprinkle-and-shake you might do right now. The Kickstarter campaign stresses the added convenience of a pod for travelers, which sounds good until you run out of pods, and realize you can’t just buy replacements from any health food store. “The PODs themselves are strictly single use and not designed to be refilled after use,” says the FAQ.

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Should you still wish to participate, you can pitch in on Kickstarter until September 21, where you can get a saving on the eventual retail price of $30 for one shaker and 12 pods.

About the author

Previously found writing at Wired.com, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.

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