Syntha-6 is the flagship protein from BSN, an Illinois-based supplement company that sponsors a wide variety of elite athletes, most notably UFC champion Connor McGregor.
BSN (that stands for Bio-engineered Supplements & Nutrition) sells six kinds of protein powder, plus protein bars and pre-made protein shakes, but their best-known supplement is Syntha-6, which is labeled “an ultra premium lean muscle protein powder.”
The product doesn’t have the best reputation online, partly due to the fact that it includes many artificial ingredients. But does this actually make it an inferior product? I took a closer look.
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BSN Syntha-6 Nutrition Facts
One scoop contains 200 calories: 22 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbohydrates (5 of which are fiber), 6 grams of fat, and 2 grams of saturated fat.
What’s unusual is that this shake isn’t low-carb, but it’s not high-carb either. A lot of post workout protein shakes usually have at least twice the carbs as protein, but this has 15 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fiber, so around 10 grams of net carbohydrates.
Some nice bonuses: one serving also has 15 percent of your daily calcium, 8 percent of your daily iron, and 6 percent of your magnesium.
Then there are more questionable qualities: a scoop has 220 milligrams of sodium (that’s 9 percent of your RDI) and 70mg of cholesterol, which is 23 percent of your RDI. Since some folks like to find new sources of sodium and cholesterol (the body does need them, after all) so I’m not going to say these are negative qualities, but they are components you might want to pay attention to.
BSN Syntha-6 Nutrition Ingredients
What’s in this protein powder? Well, there are a ton of ingredients. I rarely see a protein powder with this many ingredients, but let’s start with the first: protein.
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This isn’t a whey protein powder. It contains whey (two kinds: concentrate and isolate) but the “Protein Matrix” also has calcium caseinate, micellar casein, milk protein isolate, egg albumen (that’s egg white), and glutamine peptides. All of this means the protein is complete and will absorb slowly relative to, say, a pure hydrolyzed whey powder.
The rest of the ingredients are a cavalcade of synthetic compounds: thickeners and stabilizers like disodium phosphate, artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda®) and acesulfame potassium, colors like FD&C Yellow #5, and ingredients to help mixability like soy lecithin.
There are also ingredients that are probably included for their healthful properties, like tricalcium phosphate (a kind of calcium), bromelain (an enzyme linked to decreased muscle soreness and inflammation), papain (an enzyme to improve digestion), and medium-chain triglyceride fats, as well as ingredients that are kind of in-between, like polydextrose. That’s a type of synthetic fiber, but the jury is out as to whether it has the same benefits as the stuff you’ll find in oats and beans.
As far as allergens go, this contains dairy, soy, wheat, egg, and corn (from corn syrup solids).
It would be irresponsible to say that just because an ingredient is synthetic, it’s bad for you. That said, a lot of these additives are controversial among health-conscious folks, so depending on your dietary restrictions (self-imposed or otherwise), the ingredients label may give you pause.
BSN Syntha-6 Benefits and Effectiveness
I covered the pros and cons of the ingredients above, but to summarize: the artificial sweeteners, thickeners, and stabilizers and the presence of wheat, soy, and corn may alienate some buyers.
But are they bad for you? Unless you have allergies or you drink several of these shakes every day, probably not. And if these sorts of ingredients tend to produce indigestion, you may be comforted by the presence of bromelain and papain, enzymes that may improve digestion and lactose issues. Of course, whether or not this will help depends on the severity of your reaction. (At this point I should emphasize that this review does not constitute medical advice.)
The good news is that in addition to improving digestion, a lot of the ingredients have healthful effects: there’s a surprisingly high amount of fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, and enzymes that have been linked to reduced inflammation.
On the other hand, the macro balance is a little strange: 22 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of fat. (Third party tests have shown an average of between 20 and 26 grams of protein per scoop, so the labeling is pretty accurate in that regard.)
It doesn’t quite fit into a protein and carb shake (which is typically much higher in carbs than protein) or a protein and fat shake, though there’s an argument to be made that it’s could constitute a decent meal replacement. The fat, fiber, and various kinds of protein should result in a shake that doesn’t spike blood sugar too much.
If the carbs are an issue, consider BSN’s lower-carb protein powders Syntha-6 Edge or Syntha-6 Isolate, which have closer to 6 grams of carbs per 23 grams of protein.
BSN Syntha-6 Price
The 5-pound tub is $38, which means it’s 79 cents a serving or 3.6 cents per gram of protein.
That’s super cheap. Per serving, it’s about as cheap as Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard and cheaper than popular rivals BPI Sports Whey HD ($1.09 per serving), Cellucor Cor-Performance (93 cents per serving), and Dymatize Elite (87 cents per serving).
Owing to all the synthetic thickeners, stabilizers, and mixability-enhancers (like soy lecithin), this mixes exceedingly well. Shake it for ten seconds and enjoy.
BSN Syntha-6 Taste
I tried “Chocolate Milkshake” flavor and the taste was nothing short of fantastic. I expected it to taste good with milk (adding cream and sugar will make almost anything taste good), but this is the first time I’ve tried a protein shake that actually tastes awesome with water. If a Syntha-6-and-water shake was given to me and I was told it had been mixed with milk, I’d believe it.
It’s no small feat for a protein powder to taste great with water, and it’s a big upside to all of the additives that made it happen.
This is a delicious protein powder with a good combination of fast- and slow-digesting proteins. If you follow a diet that restricts artificial ingredients, carbohydrates, or cholesterol, this isn’t the protein powder for you. If you want a protein shake that will spike insulin, you might prefer something like Ultimate Nutrition’s Whey. But if your system can digest almost anything and you’re looking for an inexpensive source of protein, Syntha-6 might just fit the bill.