“Thank you” reviews for birthday pressies from The Protein Works, Monkey Nutrition, Muscle Mousse & Meridian Foods!

July 6, 2014

What a lucky lady I am! My generous industry pals at The Protein Works, Monkey Nutrition, Muscle Mousse and Meridian (the nut butter people) heard it’s my birthday soon (…21 again) (and again) and very generously sent me some pressies. Thank you all! When you’re old and live by yourself like me, you don’t get a lot of surprise presents (unless you develop amnesia after a late-night internet shopping spree). This was a lovely treat.

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Let me tell you what they sent, and what I thought of the various products (I’ve sampled them all – they arrived some time ago 😉 )

The Protein Works
Huge box of goodies from The Protein Works, online sports supplement people renowned for their crazy (and crazy-good) protein powder flavours, huge range of supplements, and innovative things like zero-cal syrups. I’m kind of embarrassed by how much they sent but hey I guess you only celebrate your 18th birthday once 😉

What’s in the box?

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CLA Do you take CLA? I know some bodybuilders absolutely swear by it, some have tried it but don’t think it does anything for them, and others haven’t ever used it. I’ve used it on and off in the past, but am big on using healthy fats particularly during a prep diet, so I was really pleased to received a good quality CLA.

Whey protein in banana smooth flavour. I’d never choose banana whey for myself (just not a favourite) but it worked out well for The Protein Works to send me a flavour I don’t usually choose – cos it’s lovely! This is their whey protein concentrate 80, with added “Aminogen” (an enzyme system which helps the body digest the product better and absorb the aminos). And TPW’s whey protein concentrate 80 is tested by HFL, which is an added bonus for athletes tested against the WADA banned substance list. Anyway – this banana whey is very yum and might just have converted me to the flavour!

Greens powders Greens powders are another product which people either use and swear by, or disregard. Personally I think greens powders are a great thing to include whether you’re dieting down or not. They’re just such a quick and easy way to pack tons of raw nutrients into your daily diet (and far better than a multivit IMO). This one is flavoured and quite sweet but does also come in an unflavoured option. You may prefer an unflavoured greens powder, particularly if you like adding it to savoury dishes or mixing it with oils to make salad dressings.

Milk protein aka casein in chocolate smooth flavour. I have casein/milk protein most nights as a before-bed snack – I tend to blend it with a ton of ice and a bit of xantham gum to make a sort of icecream. The Protein Works’s milk protein is really nice, blends up well and tastes rich and creamy without being too sweet.

Creatine I’ll be honest – I haven’t actually started on this creatine monohydrate from The Protein Works, because I’ve still got some on the go. But I’m confident it’s great quality, and I do think creatine is a very useful supplement particularly for bodybuilders and particularly during a diet, to help maintain strength.

The Protein Works’s preworkout “Raze”. I love a preworkout, and this one is great! Check out the ingredients: AAKG (Arginine Alpha-Ketogluarate, Beta Alanine, Creapure® (the best type of creatine mono available), l-tyrosine, citrulline malate, taurine, caffeine and instantised BCAAs amongst other things. Totally safe for drug-tested athletes, tastes great – and works! I’m pretty resistant to caffeine (I drink a lot of coffee) but Raze still gave me a little boost when I needed it (for instance when I had a big squat session to do on the hottest day of the year… ) No jitters, no crash or energy slump afterwards. Good stuff!

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Monkey Nutrition

I’ve reviewed a lot of Monkey Nutrition products on the blog before (all reviews are on this page) and I really rate the quality of their supplements. They sent me their new whey protein concentrate – Primal24 whey protein. It’s Monkey Nutrition’s more affordable whey but still has 24g protein per serving (and a full amino acid profile). It’s 80% protein by weight even after being flavoured, so you know exactly what you’re getting. It’s a lovely vanilla flavour, not too sweet (as some can be) and I’ve been enjoying it mixed with a (cooled) espresso and a bit of ice in the mornings. Yum!

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Muscle Mousse
Muscle Mousse probably needs little introduction, but in case you’ve somehow missed the buzz: it’s an amazing casein-type protein which mixes up very quickly to make a super-thick mousse which is really like a certain Delightfully Angelic dessert you may have enjoyed as a child. There are loads of flavours, but I was sent the peanut-choc caramel flavour – very tasty! Muscle Mousse is a combination of micellar casein/milk casein, whey protein concentrate and egg protein which gives it its unique moussey texture, and the casein and whey are from grass-fed cattle. The latest formulation has a higher level of BCAAs than previously and more probiotics. It’s 100% gluten and soy free – and HFL tested. I’ve been loving this as a treat!

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Meridian Foods new nut butters

Oh, this was a wonderful but dangerous birthday present for a dieting bodybuilder! Happily I seem to be able to exercise more self-control around nut butter this year than in any previous diet/prep. The little jar size helps. I was sent the new cashew butter, smooth almond butter and crunchy almond butter – all are fantastic but the crunchy almond is my favourite by far. Meridian’s nut butters are 100% nuts – no palm oil, no nasties. Just nuts.

Thank you, friends! What a lovely load of birthday surprises 🙂 The (protein) drinks are on me 😀

“Thank you” reviews for birthday pressies from The Protein Works, Monkey Nutrition, Muscle Mousse & Meridian Foods! is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Giveaway winners – Kinetica Sports protein

March 25, 2013

Just a quick one to announce the two winners of the Kinetica Sports protein giveaway. Thank you to all of you who entered, I wish I had enough samples to send something to you all! Sadly only two people can win and they are:

colm bourke and Mattay Dunn

(I used an online random number generator thingy this time – Frankie says he is too tired to select the winners this time)

You both win a sample of the Complete and the Oat Gain.

Congratulations Colm and Mattay, please email me (there’s a contact me box top right on the blog home page) to give me your postal address.

Thanks to everyone for taking part 🙂

Giveaway winners – Kinetica Sports protein is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Giveaway! Kinetica Sports protein

March 22, 2013

It’s cold, it’s dark and it’s Friday. Perfect excuse for a little giveaway!

The folk at Kinetica Sports recently launched a few new products and sent them over for me to try. Trouble is, a couple of them don’t quite “fit my macros” (as the cool kids say) so I thought you guys should have them instead. Simple!

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The new products include:
– Pro-Release (a really smooth-tasting blend of whey isolate,milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate and egg albumin protein for fast, medium and slow digesting proteins) – I tried this in both strawberry sundae and chocolate brownie flavour and loved it. It’s a very smooth and rich casein blend, perfect for bedtime.
– a new banana flavour whey protein – I also tried this and wasn’t too keen on the idea, as I don’t usually like banana whey at all, but this was actually very nice, not overly sweet and a great flavour. Nice and thick too.
Complete in banana smoothie flavour – this is a high-quality whey protein with organic virgin coconut oil, Creapure® (99.99% pure creatine monohydrate), a high-and low-GI carbohydrate blend and a digestive enzyme (Aminogen®)
Oat Gain in orange and mango flavour – as the name suggests, this is more of a “mass gain” product, with plenty of carbs and cals from ground oats, MCTs (from organic virgin coconut oil) as well as a protein blend and Aminogen® digestive enzymes.

Giveaway

I wasn’t able to try the Complete or the Oat Gain myself but I’d love you to try them! Click through to the links to check that they suit your particularly goals at the moment. I have two sample sachets of each, so will send two readers one of both the Complete in banana flavour (30g), and the Oat Gain orange and mango (80g). You lucky devils!

To enter, follow Kinetics Sports on Twitter, tweet something like “I’ve just entered @thefitwriter blog giveaway to win @kineticasports samples” and include a link to this blog post. Then head back here to leave a comment letting me know you’ve done that, so I know to put your name into the hat.

That’s it! I’ll pick a winner at random on Monday 25th March at 9pm.

Giveaway! Kinetica Sports protein is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Bio Synergy and Melanie Sykes launch new sport supplement range for women

June 22, 2012

Last week, I was at the press launch of a new range of protein powders and sport supplements aimed firmly at all my ladies. So, I thought I’d tell you about it.

Bio Synergy Active Woman range

I’ve tested and reviewed lots of Bio Synergy supplements before (check my reviews page) but this lot is a little different.

Their new Active Woman range, fronted by Melanie Sykes, has been developed for women. What does that mean, anyway? Haven’t we all got the same nutritional needs? Well, yes and no. For instance, the Active Woman range includes ingredients like folic acid and calcium, which are important for us. And the range has been built from the ground up for its female consumers, rather than being the standard (ie men’s!) range which has been given the “shrink it and pink it” approach.

Why women? 59% of gym goers are female, but only 5% of the British public use any kind of sport supplements. Active Woman is a range of quality nutrition supplements to help women who are serious about training – whether that’s in the gym, running, doing CrossFit or just keeping active.

Take Mel as an example. A 41 year old (yes really, she told us so herself!) Mum of two (!), she loves the gym and trains 3-5 times a week despite a totally hectic schedule. She never used to take any supplements, although she suspected they’d help her energy levels, because she was put off by the branding. “Since taking the Active Woman range, I can see and feel the difference in my body, especially during and after training” she said at the launch. “I can’t imagine not taking them now!”

And I can report that Mel looks great. The legs! The delts! Girlfriend should compete (I did tell her so, but she said she’d be too shy to get on stage).

“I used to mainly do cardio – like a lot of women – but now I love weight training,” she said. “I love it, I’m so into it! It makes me so happy and it’s a massive part of my life.

“I’m really happy with my physique now. I feel I’ve “got it right”, so for me it’s now a case of maintaining it. When I take supplements, I feel I can do more in the gym. I still take the protein powders even on non-training days. They’re a godsend when I’m rushing about with barely any time to sit down.

“I want women like me – busy, always on the run – to get on this, because it works.”

From my point of view, I think this is a great range for a few reasons (well made, well researched, made with the target market in mind and full of extra ingredients which really work – like the konjac in the Define fat burner, the CLA in Refine and the green tea and BCAAs in the Activate pre-workout protein powder). But the biggest thing for me is the fact that all the Active Woman products have gone through HFL’s Informed Sport programme (and Bio Synergy use their own manufacturing facility, which is also tested and audited by Informed Sport). I wrote about what the Informed Sport programme means for the safety of sports supplements in this month’s Muscle and Fitness but, essentially, it’s a thorough testing programme which tests products, ingredients and facilities for compliance for banned ingredients, using the WADA (anti-doping) list. In short: hugely important to people like me who compete in a sport and get tested for banned substances. The fact that Bio Synergy’s Active Woman range comes with the Informed Sport seal of approval is worth a huge amount as far as I’m concerned.

The range currently:

Activate: a protein powder to have as a shake before training (protein but also calcium, green tea, vit B6). I tried the strawberry and actually liked it, which is saying something since I don’t usually like strawberry protein. It’s very “light”.

Refuel: a protein powder to have after training, heavier in carbs and lighter on the protein. In fact, a bit too light on the protein for me, but it may suit you (follow the link to check out the macros and ingredients). Includes vitamins, creatine, BCAAs and electrolytes. Again, I tried the strawberry but both are available in chocolate too.

Refuel: an electrolyte drink for during or after training. I admit I haven’t tried this one yet, since I don’t have much call for it. It would be great for those of you who run, bike, do triathlon training, hot & sweaty classes like Spinning etc. It’s got carbs, vitamins and electrolytes (no protein, no fat).

Define: a blend of green tea, konjac and caffeine to boost metabolism and help burn fat, and chromium to help with cravings. I take this every day and whilst I can’t say for sure that it’s helped (in that I haven’t done a scientific trial!), I was just saying yesterday to some friends that I feel I’ve really (finally!) started to tighten up and lose fat this week. Coincidence? I don’t know.

Refine: containing yerba mate, CLA (an ingredient I rate very highly) and l-carnitine, all of which help boost metabolism, control cravings and encourage the body to use fat for energy. Again, I’ve been taking these daily and do feel my physique has changed in the past week.

I think this line of products would be a great choice for any female who trains hard and wants to recover better between workouts and feel able to train harder. The products are well researched, well made and carefully tested. And, as far as I can tell in the short time I’ve had them, they’re effective.

Thanks for the samples, Bio Synergy people, and Melanie it was lovely to meet you!

You can find Bio Synergy on Facebook and Twitter and follow Melanie on Twitter (if you can keep up!)

Bio Synergy and Melanie Sykes launch new sport supplement range for women is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Bio Synergy Skinny Protein Shake, Acai Berry capsules

January 19, 2012

Hello from a very rainy fitwriter central. The dog is not impressed. Here is the latest Fitness kit I’ve tested this week post.

I was recently sent a couple of items from Bio Synergy. For the past 10 years, the brand has been creating high quality nutritional supplements, ranging from sports performance to slimming products. Their latest range – Body Perfect supplements – use various natural extracts like green tea, resveratrol and acai berry, to boost results.


First up, I tried the Skinny Protein Shake in the strawberry flavour. This whey powder (which also has soya extract) contains extra ingredients to help control appetite and encourage fat loss: green tea, guarana, chromium (which can reduce sugar cravings) and l-carnitine. It also packs a hefty protein punch, as you’d expect. I like the sound of those extra ingredients, and indeed most of them are supplements I already take. What about the taste and mixability of the powder? It mixed very well and was pretty sweet (sweetened with sucralose) and light tasting, quite like a milkshake I guess. I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of berry protein shakes, but if you like strawberry milkshakes, then you’ll probably like this.

With that in mind, I gave my sister some of this to try, and this is what she had to say: “The Bio Synergy Skinny Shake is actually really nice, it mixes together with water really quickly and is very smooth (unlike some protein powders that I’ve found I have to blend, and even then they’re still a bit grainy). I only have to mix this one in the flask thingy you gave me and only have to give it a little shake. The flavour is just right, not sickly or heavy. It’s refreshing and easy to drink quickly! Yum yum, I am looking forward to drinking a lot more of this!”

If you’re interested in introducing the chromium, l-carnitine etc into your nutrition regime, this is certainly a convenient way of doing it, particularly if you’re not confident about adding bits and bobs to your water bottle or taking various pills during the day.

Per 40g serving:
162kcals
30.7g protein
3g carbs (from sugar)
3g fat (2.4g from saturates)


I also tried the Acai Berry capsules. You take two caps a day (2x2000mg) of this extract of acai berry, apparently used by Brazilian aboriginal communities for fat-loss and to combat obesity. The extracts of the purple acai berry, they say, containing anti-oxidants, anti-carcinogens and anti-ageing agents, boosting immunity and metabolism. Acai berry contains EFAs (essential fatty acids), amino acids, phytosterols and antioxidants, as well as fibre and digestive enzymes.

Now, the problem here is this: it’s very difficult for me to say whether one supplement or other truly helps me, unless the results are going to be something very obvious. I’m not obese, I exercise regularly, I eat for fat-loss and I already supplement with lots of other things. So it’s very difficult for me to say whether or not these capsules had an effect. I’m sorry, Bio Synergy people! I can say that they were very easy to take, completely tasteless and gave me nothing in the way of side-effects.

Have you taken Acai supplements? What do you think of them?

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Bio Synergy Skinny Protein Shake, Acai Berry capsules is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: myprotein Pulse, myprotein Elle True Diet

January 13, 2012

Here we are with another Fitness kit I’ve tested this week review post, although I really need to rename the series “Fitness kit I reviewed at some point over the past month”. Both products are from myprotein who, incidentally, recently launched a new type of packaging for some of their products which is proving to be really great. MP’s new MP MAX® range of pouches is made from thicker, more durable material and has a good re-sealable opening, both of which mean your protein will stay better protected from light, oxygen, warmth and moisture. Of course, you could get tubs, but (as anyone with lots of supplements will tell you), tubs take up plenty of space. You can roll these pouches down as you use the product, so they end up taking up hardly any space at all (they’ve got stand-up, slim bases).

There are six products available in the new pouches: MAX® True Whey, MAX® Hurricane Evo
, MAX® Total Gainer
, MAX® Total Peptide, MAX® Creastorm and MAX® Recovery Evo.


There’s also MAX® Elle True Diet, which I tested out. I really liked this product, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m trying to stick to non-whey protein powders this year, I’d order it in a flash. Here’s why:

– it tasted great (I tried the chocolate flavour) and mixed up really smoothly. I made it as a kind of pudding, just by adding a little water and mixing thoroughly. It was lovely
– it’s full of extra ingredients which are there to support weight gain and give you a boost in the gym, and which I think would make it a great option for taking before morning cardio (Green Tea extract, Guarana, Chromium, CLA, EFAs)
– it’s also got fibre (something we all need more of) and carbohydrates, from low GI sources
– it really seemed to zap my sweet tooth, even though it was sweet and chocolatey. I guess that’s the fibre and caffeine? Or perhaps the Bioperine®, which helps the absorption of nutrients.

A word of warning: I didn’t do my research, and picked up the sample pack to take with me to a late-night appointment. I then wondered why I had real trouble sleeping that night. Not one to take late in the day, particularly if you’re sensitive to caffeine.

The verdict on MAX® Elle True Diet? All good! It’s just a shame I’m avoiding whey. Sorry, MP! If I change my mind, I’ll be ordering a (foil!) pouch of this.


The other product I tried was MP’s pre-workout, Pulse® . This is full of whizzy things to give you a big boost before you hit the gym, great for days when you’re feeling a bit tired or know you need a lot of focus. Let’s see, it’s got Tyrosine, Glucuronolactone, Guarana and Chocamine® Plus (this stuff is potent! you can buy it by itself from the MP website and a little goes a very long way). There’s also CEE (Creatine Ethyl Ester HCl) in there, and a dose of Beta Alanine: two performance boosting supplements which have been shown to promote power output and ward off fatigue.

I can’t say for sure whether Pulse® gave me a boost, because I tried it whilst training with my new friend Amie, and we were both over-excited to the point of hysteria, but what I can say is that I ought to have been very tired for our training sessions (late nights the night before!) and I wasn’t. And I seem to remember we trained for a very long time, actually! Tastewise – two thumbs up. Berry-ish. (It’s called Berry Blast, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise).

Myprotein recently announced price cuts of up to 50% on over 100 products – these are long term price reductions across some of the most popular products. As most bodybuilders will agree, this can be an expensive sport, so moves like this are appreciated: thanks, MP!

Thanks for the samples, myprotein people!

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: myprotein Pulse, myprotein Elle True Diet is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Tesco Nutri1st Advanced protein products

January 4, 2012

Did you know Tesco have launched a range of protein products? No, nor did I, until I was sent some to test. Welcome to this week’s installment of fitness kit I’ve tested this week. I actually tested all of these things some time ago but never mind! Christmas got in the way of this blog post.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t think to head to Tesco (other supermarkets are available 😉 ) for a protein hit. Other than, perhaps, rotisserie chicken. Even so, that’s a bit tricky to eat whilst driving out of the carpark.

Obviously it’s best not to be in a position where you need to buy anything from the supermarket on which to snack, but life isn’t perfect. So, Tesco’s Nutri1st Advanced products – a new range of protein shakes and bars – could come in handy.

According to the press release, the Tesco bods have crafted this range with the bamboozled in mind. The products have been designed to make it easier to select a protein product to support your sporting goals. Additionally, the decision was made to have packaging which doesn’t feature muscly models, the idea being that these products might appeal to people who have just started out on their fitness quest.

There are six types of products, all of which are clearly labelled with their intended purpose: muscle definition and strength, lean muscle growth, maximum muscle growth, increasing size and strength, early morning workouts and non workout days and bedtime. I’m not sure there’s a distinct difference between all six, but I can see the value in assisting people new to protein supplementation. The products include only natural colours and flavours across the entire range.

Nutri-Whey Extra – for supporting muscle definition and strength
These high-protein, low-carb shakes and bars contain a triple combination of whey proteins (isolate, concentrate and hydrolysate). I sampled two flavours of the shakes (at around 130 cals, 24g protein, 3g carbs and 2g fat per 34g serving) – strawberries and cream, and chocolate. Both £22 for a 1kg tub. They were perfectly nice tasting, but I’m more interested in what’s in them. As well as the triple hit of wheys, you get amino acids and an enzyme complex, to make the shake more easily digestable. You also get sucralose, unfortunately. In terms of taste, I wasn’t hugely keen on the strawberry (but it’s never my favourite flavour) and thought it was very sweet, but the chocolate was good.

I also tried one of the Nutri-whey extra bars (strawberry again) which was nice, but coated in a chocolate-flavoured layer so, essentially, a protein-rich candy bar. £1.25 for the 60g bar. At 190 cals, 18g protein, 20.3g carbs and 4.7g fat per 60g bar, it’s a decent protein hit for sure, and a better choice than a chocolate bar, but I’d suggest there are better bars out there (or better things to munch on from the supermarket) than a bar covered in sucralose and palm kernel oil. Mind you, I munched my way through it perfectly happily so who am I to tell you what to eat! On the plus side, this bar is bigger than a lot of protein bars out there. In texture, it was chewy rather than crispy or crunchy.

Nutri-Lean Extra – for lean muscle growth
The shakes and bars in this range contain metabolism-boosting ingredients as well as whey protein. I was sent one of the bars in the range, a chocolate/mint concoction. £1.25 for a 40g bar. At 144kcals, 18.7g protein, 11.8g carbs and 3.3g fat per 40g bar, it’s a good chunk of protein but I have to say I wasn’t a fan of the texture. It was a little chalky. The ingredients of note here are good old CLA (1097mg per 100g – the bar is 40g), green tea extract (430mg per 100g), and l-carnitine. To be honest I’m not sure that the thermogenic ingredients would offset the fact that, again, you’re eating the bar’s coating, with ingredients like sugar and glucose syrup. Although the bar is surely a better choice than a Twix or something like that, and undeniably delivers a good hit of protein.

Nutri-Power Complete – help support maximum muscle growth as part of your exercise plan
The shakes and bars in this range are branded as all-rounders, with whey and soya protein, plenty of carbohydrates and supplements including creatine, l-glutamine and HMB. I tried the raspberry and honey flapjack bar which was tasty and carby, but pretty sweet (as you’d expect from something called a honey flapjack). £1.25 for the bar. Per 60g bar (again, it’s a decent size), you’re getting 215kcals, 20.6g protein, 25.8g carbs and 4.7g fat. Not one to choose whilst dieting or trying to having a low-carb day, and I’m not sure that I’d choose a bar with this many sweeteners if there were other options available.

In summary, I think these products are a good entry-level range for people who don’t know about sports supplements and would feel confused or intimidated by some of the existing brands. The packaging does explain in simple terms what the ingredients are useful for. However, for me, the amount of sugar and sweeteners, and vegetable oils, mean I’m unlikely to choose the bars over products from other ranges (in truth I’d rather bake my own!) But I appreciate that a lot of people simply don’t know where to start when it comes to supplementing with quick-grab protein before or after training, and wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to mixing up creatine, l-glutamine, etc for themselves.

The range also includes Nutri-Gain Extra – for increasing size and strength, Nutri1st Advanced Breakfast Shakes – ideal for early morning gym goers and Nutri1st Advanced Staged Release Shake – ideal for non-workout days and bedtime. The range is available in store or from Tesco Direct.

Have you tried anything from Tesco’s Nutri1st Advanced range? What did you think?

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Tesco Nutri1st Advanced protein products is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Optimum Nutrition Whey Crisp and Wholly Oats! bars

November 16, 2011

Hello! What better on a dark November night than a few sport supplement reviews? Well, you’re in luck, cos here is my latest “fitness kit I’ve tested this week” post.

Today we have a few bars which were sent to me by the kind folk at Optimum Nutrition (ON). They sent me their Whey Crisp bar in Marshmallow Treat (anyone would think they know my tastes…) and in Double Rich Chocolate. They also sent through some Wholly Oats! bars in Strawberries and Cream flavour and Chocolate Peanut Butter flavour. Marshmallow. Peanut butter. Optimum Nutrition, are you stalking me? 😉

I have to own up to not testing the Wholly Oats! bars myself, at least not fully. Even in an off-season non-diet, they’re just not my thing. Too….wholly oaty, I guess. However I am married to an endurance athlete for whom oats (wholly or otherwise) are a good thing. I did “sample” a bit (I’m such a nice wife, I prepare my husband’s packed lunch every morning and have taken to chopping the Wholly Oats! bars into bits to add into homemade trail mix) and this is what I have to say:

– Chocolate Peanut Butter – not as peanut buttery as I’d hoped, but this is actually a good thing otherwise my husband’s packed lunch would have been lighter that day. It was a nice flavour but not outstanding. Mainly chocolatey. My husband said they were very good. “Chocolatey and peanutty, but not very peanut buttery,” were his exact words.

– Strawberries and Cream – as the name would suggest, this is very sweet. The top layer represents the cream and is a bit like white chocolate. Right up my husband’s street (although he did report a taste of “marzipan”?!), but not mine. Horses for courses – you may love this bar and I’d certainly say give it a go. It’s nice, just not very me. The ON website says these bars represent a replacement/alternative to a bowl of porridge (translation for my US readers: “oatmeal” 😉 ) and a protein shake, and certainly that’s a typical breakfast for many a bodybuilder, so don’t think they’re only for endurance athletes.

The Wholly Oats! bars stats are: 21g protein (from casein, whey and egg), 42g carbs and 5g fat per bar

The Whey Crisp bars were mine and mine alone to sample! Husband didn’t get a look in, in fact I suspect he doesn’t even know I ever had them to review. Here’s what I thought:

– Marshmallow Treat. A treat indeed! Marshmallowy in taste but not texture, this was crispy (like a rice crispy cereal bar thing) and a bit sticky but not as sticky as an actual marshmallow. I… erm… may have dipped it in a cup of tea, and it held up admirably to that rigorous stage in the review process. I thought I might find this too sickly but I didn’t. I am proud of myself.

– Double Rich Chocolate – again, I thought this might be too sweet for me but it wasn’t (just). The bars aren’t huge, but I think this would have been too sweet if they’d been any larger. The tea-dunking test worked well for this bar, too.

The Whey Crisp bar stats are 16g protein (from whey). 25g carbs, less than 1g sugar and less than 2g fat. So, hardly a low-carb bar but then again I’d suggest that if you were in a low-carb stage of dieting you wouldn’t be using bars anyway. 😉 A tasty treat which was a welcome tea-dunking experiment in this more relaxed stage of bodybuilding eating!

Like most commercial energy/recovery/meal replacement (etc) bars, these aren’t the ideal solution when you need a snack, but they’re better than a lot of choices (chocolate bars, crisps, biscuits) and help you meet your protein requirements.

The flavours and sweetness are very much a personal thing. But here you have two different types of bars from a well-respected sports nutrition brand, worth trying if you like bars and certainly worth keeping in your bag in case you’re caught short without food. Thanks for the samples, Optimum Nutrition people!

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Optimum Nutrition Whey Crisp and Wholly Oats! bars is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


myprotein.com savoury protein powder reviews, guest blogger recipes

August 7, 2011

In my “what do you want to know” post, one of the options was to ask about recipes, and one (!) person did click that option. So, whoever you were, this is your lucky day. 😉 The rest of you – of which there are thousands I’m sure – can either look away now or read on if you’re interested in some high-protein, highly-creative, super-tasty eats.

This post is sort of a review of the savoury protein powders you can get from myprotein.com. A long time ago, they sent me some of their goat’s whey to sample (the review is here) and, since then, they’ve kindly sent me some pea protein too. Thank you, myprotein.com, I do appreciate your support.

I love to experiment in the kitchen as part of my contest prep. Yes, I eat a lot of grilled chicken, steamed, raw or roasted veg, omelettes and stir fries when I’m in a time-pinch. However, I also love little more than pottering in the kitchen to come up with prep-worthy versions of “normal” foods (and typically I’ll honestly rather have my versions than the real thing). It’s so satisfying to experiment with ingredients and come up with something delicious and healthy.

Most protein powders are sweet – wheys and caseins. But you can get savoury protein powders – hemp, pea, brown rice and goat’s whey amongst them. This post is a collection of recipes giving you some idea of how to use them. I’ve asked a couple of notable health and fitness bloggers to join me. (Hint: theirs are the recipes with the really great-looking photos 😉 )

First of all, here are the powders we’ll be using:

Goat’s whey
I love goat’s whey. It’s unflavoured but does taste mildly cheesy, like goat’s cheese really. Funny, that! So if you like goat’s cheese – which I do – try it! I use it for savoury dishes like pancakes and breads (see below) but also make it into a thin sauce with water to drizzle over poached eggs and grilled asparagus. Delish! It’s quite sticky but doesn’t seem to weigh baked goods down, in fact they puff up quite spectacularly. I’ve tried my recipe (below) with pea and hemp and it doesn’t turn out remotely the same. Goat’s whey is the only savoury powder I’ve tried which creates a bun puffy enough to slice.

Pea protein
Great for sweet or savoury baking, smoothies, or mashing into veg. I love pea protein! It’s lighter than hemp (in weight) and tastes quite sweet although it is definitely a savoury whey. It doesn’t taste like peas. Like hemp, it’s a great choice for vegans or anyone avoiding lactose. It’s particularly high in BCAAs and arginine.

Hemp protein
None of the recipes here actually use this but it’s well worth a try – great taste (nutty and earthy), quite heavy so useful for baking (I often make a pancake-type thing with hemp and top it with sauteed veggies for a kind of pizza, or make it into a wrap). Great nutritional stats too because of the hemp – high in good-for-you fats (omega 3 & 6), essential amino acids (all 10 of them) and other goodies like GLA. A really great choice of protein powder.

On to the recipes!

First up is Anna from Protein Pow(d)er, a fun blog and Facebook page. Anna is incredible inventive with her protein powder recipes. I have many, many, many of them bookmarked to make some time. Do check out her blog and Facebook page. Here’s the recipe she sent me. Let me know if you try it.

High Protein Caraway Tahini Bread

Ingredients
160g liquid egg whites (also available from myprotein.com)
37g pea protein
17g brown rice protein
10g coconut flour (another awesome ingredient which I’ll probably blog about soon!)
30g tahini paste
sea salt
baking powder
caraway seeds
coconut milk (enough to bind)

Directions
– Blend the ingredients together
– Bake at 160 degrees for around 25-35 minutes

Nutritional info
Entire loaf (9 slices)=
524kcals
70g protein
11g carbs (5.4g are fiber)
21g fat

Anna says:

“I love making breads out of pea protein and brown rice protein. I find they make fantastic flour replacements and have the added advantage of giving you a super protein kick. Protein breads made with vegetable protein powders are a lot thicker, denser and heavier than regular bread. This is why I find that soaking them in olive oil or topping them with almond butter works wonders. This particular recipe is one of my favorites because it involves caraway seeds: caraway seed bread + extra virgin olive oil + eggs = mmmmm!”

Thanks Anna! Loving your work! 😉

Next up is my coach Kat who has lots of great recipes on her site (ideal for anyone in contest prep or wanting to eat more healthily) and on her nutrition Facebook page. Check both out and follow her on Facebook!

Healthy carrot cake

This makes 16 slices.

Ingredients

1 cup fine rolled oats or sifted oat or buckwheat flour 

1 scoop (about 30g) vanilla whey protein powder
1 scoop (about 30g) pea flour protein powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp stevia powder (non-bitter) or ½ tsp vanilla liquiflav

50g walnut pieces
1 medium/large carrot (approx. 230g)

8 large/250ml egg whites

100g quark

Olive oil spray


Directions
– Preheat oven to 180 degrees / gas mark 4.
– Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
– Peel carrot, chop/grate and blend with egg whites and quark in a jug blender.
– Fold this mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring gently until well combined.
– Spray olive oil around the edges of a shallow non-stick cake pan and pour batter in evenly.
– Top with extra walnut pieces if you like.
– Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

– Let it sit for 15 minutes or so then turn onto a wire rack.
– Allow to cool before cutting into 16 slices.

Nutritional info (per slice)
143
kcal
6.1g protein
15.8g
 carbs
5.7g fat

Kat says:

“If you love carrot cake but are avoiding because you’re watching your weight or you just want a healthier cake, this is a great alternative to the high fat, high sugar versions. I love cooking with protein powders and using pea flour protein is a great change from whey. I use a variety of powders to give the taste buds and the body a change and help prevent intolerances. With the huge range of powders available, I can keep my gluten intake almost zero, which makes me feel better – and I still get to do two of my favourite things – cook healthy food and eat it!”

Thanks Kat! Let me know if you try Kat’s cake.

OK, here’s my offering. Rubbish photos, tasty breakfast! I had this just this morning. It doesn’t have a fancy name, but it’s what I like to call (much to Kat’s amusement)…

Big Bun

Ingredients
For the bun:
150g egg whites
30g goat’s whey
pinch baking powder

For the filling:
5g (?) coconut oil
Veggies of your choice, chopped finely (I used shallots, courgette/zucchini, cherry tomatoes, chestnut mushrooms. I would have used spinach too if I had any)

Extras:
Poached egg (my choice this morning)
Cheese or cheese substitute (nutritional yeast)

Directions:
– Heat the oil in a small non-stick pan
– Sautee your veggies
– Remove from the pan and set aside
– Blend egg whites and goat’s whey in blender
– Add baking powder
– Add the mixture to the pan you did the veggies in
– Cook on a high heat until the edges are cooked, then put under the grill – but leave lots of room as it will puff up and you don’t want to have to remove the batter from the top of the grill (…I’d imagine…)
– Poach your egg
– Once the Big Bun is brown on the top, remove it from the pan and slice in half just like you would a bread roll
– Put your veggies, egg, cheese or whatever else you’re using inside
– Feast!


I’m hungry again now! What’s for lunch?

Do you cook or bake with savoury protein powders? Are you going to try any of these recipes? Do the words “Big” and “Bun” (when said together) make you laugh?

myprotein.com savoury protein powder reviews, guest blogger recipes is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: myprotein Zest whey isolate, Optimum Nutrition gold standard casein and gold standard whey

July 27, 2011

I’m on a roll with my product reviews this week! It won’t be too long before I cut protein powders out of my diet as we get closer to the BNBF Finals, so I’m making my way through my stash of samples to bring you the latest in my “fitness kit I’ve tested this week” posts. This one’s for those of you who use protein powders (whey and casein).

Myprotein.com Whey Isolate “Zest”

myprotein.com have recently launched a new whey isolate in fruity flavours (they’ve also launched some absolutely amazing coffee-inspired whey proteins, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today). What’s different about their Whey Isolate Zest? It contains 100% whey protein isolate and over 85% protein content. The stats are pretty impressive – for each 25g serving, you’re getting 21.4g protein, 0.2g fat and just 0.1g carbs (and 85.6 kcals). To me, that means you can just have a bigger serving 😉

So, it’s a good choice for anyone watching carbs or cutting for a show/shoot. Good stuff. But really it’s the flavours which make this new product something to blog home about. Almost every other whey protein out there is some kind of chocolate, vanilla, banana, blah blah flavour. That’s all well and good but it does get a bit boring after a while. If, like me, you like to experiment with protein powders, using them for “icecream” and in baking, new flavours such as these are exciting!

Whey Isolate Zest is available in blackcurrant, apple & raspberry and orange & passionfruit. And they’re all really, really good. Mixed with water (or non-dairy milk) as I tried, they make a much fresher-tasting shake than the more traditional milky-flavours on the market. They’re very refreshing. I imagine they’d be great mixed in with yoghurt – frozen yoghurt maybe? The flavours all seem very authentic – I had orange & passionfruit this morning and it was a very thirst-quenching, refreshing start to the day.

Highly recommended if you’re tired of the same old whey protein flavours and fancy something fruity and different! Thanks for the samples, myprotein.com. By the way, if you do order from myprotein.com, pop the code MP113064 in at the checkout for a discount.

(I did consider doing something more exciting than straight-up shakes when I tested this product, but thought this would be the best way. However, head on over to my homegirl Anna’s blog if you want some crazy ideas for using this – and other – protein powders). She’s on Facebook, too.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey

Optimum Nutrition (ON) are a highly-thought of brand so I was pleased to be sent samples of their popular whey and casein products. I tested the gold standard whey in French vanilla (presumably different to English?) although it’s available in 12 flavours (rocky road, anyone?)

The stats are good: per 29.4g serving (I don’t make the serving sizes up!), you’re getting 24g protein, 1g fat and 1.6g carbs (120 kcals). I wasn’t overwhelmed by the vanilla flavour but vanilla is vanilla really. It was nice, not too strong and not too sweet which is often the case with vanilla wheys.

ON’s gold standard whey contains more than 5g of BCAAs and 4g glutamine per serving, nice extras which will help you recover from hard training and be less sore during your workouts. It’s discounted on the ON site at the moment, making this a great time to snap up what is generally considered to be a quality product, respected by many top athletes.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein

I was also sent a sample of ON’s gold standard casein product, which I’d been wanting to try for ages after hearing all sorts of people sing its praises. Casein is a slow-release protein source, ideal to take before bed (and I usually do). It digests at a rate of around 1/7 that of whey, so can supply you with amino acids during long periods without food.

I loved this product. It was delicious, and I’d definitely buy it again. I can see why I’ve heard so many good things about it. The flavour I tested was chocolate, but it’s also available in vanilla or banana. It was really smooth and creamy and tasted like a lovely treat last thing at night.

Per 32g serving, you get 24.4g protein, 0.5g fat and 3g carbs, along with 114 kcals and 10g of BCAAs, glutamine, and glutamine precursors, making this a quality product to take before going to sleep. I just wish they’d sent me more!

As with the whey, the casein is discounted on ON’s site at the moment. I might be heading over there to place an order myself! Thanks for the samples, Optimum Nutrition people!

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: myprotein Zest whey isolate, Optimum Nutrition gold standard casein and gold standard whey is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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