Monkey Nutrition Ape testosterone Booster - Reviewed By A Girl

Monkey-Nutrition-APE-Testosterone-Booster-Supplement

If you've read my previous posts on Hormones and on Testosterone in Women, you'll know that keeping hormone levels healthy is really important.

I always thought that I had healthy testosterone levels. My body responds well to strength training and my body composition is pretty stable, to name just a couple of indicators.

However, with a growing market for nutritional supplements, there is a growing number of testosterone boosters emerging and I'm pretty interested to know what they can do.

So, armed with APE from Monkey Nutrition, and a couple of testosterone level test kits from MediChecks, I embarked on a month-long trial of a testosterone booster.

The Brand - Monkey Nutrition

Monkey Nutrition is a relatively new brand to the supplement world and, to me at least, they really stand out. Not only are they uniquely branded (although slightly masculine - not that it really matters), they offer products that are really high quality and very obviously well-researched by a passionate team.

The Product - APE Testosterone Booster

First thing’s first: this supplement does not contain testosterone. The supplements aren’t hormones in themselves and absolutely do not contain steroids.

APE is marketed as a testosterone booster. A tub includes 30 days of individual daily packs, containing 4 capsules, 2 tablets, and 2 softgels. I found the way that this was packaged really useful, as I could drop the packets into my handbag or leave them discreetly on my desk at work.

Here’s what Monkey say about the product:

“Monkey APE is a potent fusion of natural testosterone boosters and nutrients essential to hormone synthesis and regulation. The matrix and support systems within APE are designed to boost growth, development and libido, whilst inhibiting aromatisation [the process by which the body converts testosterone to estrogen] and preventing the biosynthesis of estrogen.

Increased testosterone levels encourage the growth and development of muscle tissues, assist fat loss, improve immune function and are key to maintaining positive sexual health and energy levels.”

The Ingredients

This stack is packed full of vital nutrients to support your body’s functions. There are lots of ingredients that are highly recognisable (hopefully from your own supplement supply) such as vitamin D3, zinc, essential fatty acids, and lots of fruit extracts. Not too scary, hey?

Zinc, vitamin D and fatty acids are the nutrients that appear to have the most research behind them in this area.

Other ingredients may appear a little less familiar.

Fenugreek is commonly used in testosterone boosting supplements. While it's used as a herb and spice, it also plays a role in improving milk production when breast feeding. The research on it's ability to increase testosterone has been debated.

This is also the case with tribulus terrstris; while it's inclusion in testosterone boosters is popular, the evidence behind it is inconclusive.

Other ingredients in the testosterone amplification matrix also lack concrete evidence behind them when it comes to enhancing testosterone, such as Maca Powder and Horny Goat Weed Extract.

However, what all of these ingredients have in common is that they are typically linked to an increase in libido. This is associated with healthy testosterone levels, but the ingredients don't appear to be proven to have a strong correlation with increased testosterone levels.

Monkey-Nutrition-APE-Ingredients-Nutrition

Does it Work?

Before I started taking this supplement, I suspected that I already had healthy testosterone levels, for a few reasons.

As I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading about the topic lately, I decided (in the interest of curiousity, as always), to use a MediChecks Testosterone Test to see if this was the case.

My results came back normal, at 1.5 nmol/L (nanomoles per litre). While what is considered the normal range can vary between labs, a guide for women is 0.52–2.4 nmol/L (to put this into perspective, a normal range for men is 9–38 nmol/L).

Given that I had already done this test, I decided to follow up with another test after completing a 30 day period of supplementation with APE.

My second test result came back, also normal, at 1.3 nmol/L. This shows a slight drop after taking APE. Of course, I’m not suggesting at all that this is due to the supplement itself, but it’s a great example of how variable hormone levels can be!

Testosterone levels are higher in women in the morning than later in the day, and this could explain this difference. Levels also fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle. I’d love to see MediChecks provide this information, to allow people to better plan their testing. Instructions such as to take a testosterone test blood sample between 8am - 10am would be useful. I took my levels at different times of day, because the chaos of life just didn’t allow for consistency here!

I don’t consider this a reliable ‘experiment’ that can draw a conclusion on whether APE works for the above reasons.

In terms of what differences I noticed when taking APE, there were a few, albeit subtle.

Firstly, I seem to have noticeably better definition in my arms; less fat, more muscle.

Secondly, I’ve had more energy. During the 30 days, I started a full-time job, have still been trying to fit in adequate training, as well as a lot of other activities and projects, and have been getting up earlier but still functioning really well with plenty of energy.

Thirdly, my recovery from training has been quicker and less painful. Possibly due to improved sleep, as above.

Price

The price of APE £28.99 for 30 packs. To me at least, that can seem like a lot to spend for a single tub of stuff. Realistically though, under £1 a day for all of those quality ingredients, is pretty good!

The Verdict

The results that I saw were quite subjective and could have been down to any number of variables.

However, I’ve definitely been feeling good and had no symptoms that are commonly associated with low testosterone.

I personally don’t think that these tablets can do any harm, and regardless of whether they do or do not effectively boost testosterone from one person to another, there’s no denying that some of the nutrients in this stack are really important to be taking.

I probably wouldn't buy a testosterone booster supplement stack in the future because I have healthy levels and tend to build my own 'stack' based on my more individual needs.

If you don't know what individual supplements to take, or if you feel that you would benefit from boosting your testosterone levels, I would recommend APE.

What is your perception of testosterone boosters? Has it changed since reading about my experience? Would you try it for yourself?

CNS Food Print 200+: My Food Intolerance Testing Experience 2.0

CNS-Food-Print-200-Intolerance-Test-Review

The Most Advanced + Comprehensive Food Intolerance Test from CNS

I make no secret of my fascination for health monitoring, and that includes food intolerance testing. It’s also no secret that I was a left a little confused and dissatisfied by my first food intolerance testing experience.

After a little (a lot, actually) of research, I discovered the FoodPrint® 200+ test from Cambridge Nutritional Sciences.*

The test is incredibly comprehensive, testing for reactions to over 200 ingredients. One of the reasons that I chose this test was the inclusion of four types of milk (cow’s, sheep’s, goat’s and buffalo) and the independent proteins within the milk: alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin (whey proteins) and casein.

If you’ve read my posts on my food intolerance journey so far, you’ll know of my distress when it came to compromising my whey protein intake, and why having this breakdown is so important to me!

CNS offer a range of other FoodPrint® tests including an indicator test, FoodPrint® 40, FoodPrint® 60, FoodPrint® 120, FoodPrint® Vegetarian, FoodPrint® Vegan and FoodPrint® Herbs & Spices.

The FoodPrint Testing Process

After receiving your test pack, it’s simply a case of using the lancets provided to prick your finger and take a very small blood sample before returning the pack in the pre-paid envelope.

Your results report and guidebook arrive with you via email very quickly. The quality and comprehensiveness of both of these is brilliant, so I’ll go into a little more detail below.

Interestingly, CNS also offer a Food Detective self-test, which, although a little less comprehensive, will provide you with immediate results. The short video on the website showing how this is carried out is definitely worth a watch!

CNS-Food-Print-Review-Food-Intolerance-Test

The FoodPrint® 200+ Report

I love the report format provided by CNS. In fact, there are two different formats within the test report that you receive.

As well as listing the tested foods by order of reactivity (as was done in my YorkTest results), foods are also listed according to their respective food groups.

This really helped to put into perspective where my greatest problem areas are, and to help me to quickly identify alternative foods.

As well as a traffic light colour coding system for the ingredients tested, CNS provide the numerical values of the antibody levels detected in the test. This is something that is hugely important and was completely neglected by YorkTest.

The higher the assigned value, the stronger your body’s immune response to that particular food. Elevated results are over 30 U/ml, borderline is 24-29 U/ml, and anything under 23 U/ml is considered normal.

Knowing this really helps to put your results into perspective. By seeing that my reaction to cow’s milk was 117 U/ml, for example, it was immediately clear that my priority was to remove that from my diet before anything else.

Especially when dealing with a high number of reactions as I am, knowing that some are vastly stronger than others helps you to focus your attention on the foods that will have a bigger impact, and know which you can afford to treat with a little less caution in order to make the process manageable.

This is a concept that was reinforced by CNS’ nutritionist, Nicky, who was keen to speak to me over the phone following my results. It was great to speak to someone so mindful of the differences between individuals and how to make results seem manageable.

The guidebook provided by CNS also suggests that when reintroducing foods after carrying out an elimination diet, the numerical values good to refer to as reintroducing the least reactive foods first is a good idea.

This kind of guidance is something that I felt was neglected a little with the YorkTest FoodScan that I did. While YorkTest are definitely stronger on their branding, sending out both the test kit and the results in well-presented packages, I’ve come to realise that they lack some attention to detail where it matters.

CNS-Food-Print-Intolerance-Results

My FoodPrint® 200+ Results

Suffice to say, I have a lot of elevated results. But, recognising how overwhelming this can seem, one of the first things that CNS Nutritionist Nicky said to me was this:

“Stress in itself can be worse than eating the food that you’re intolerant to”

If you’ve read my post Dealing with Food Intolerance + Elimination Diets: What Noone Tells You, you’ll understand why this was music to my ears.

She also reiterated that, as with any test, these results are not concrete and definitive. However, they definitely give a brilliant starting point for improving my diet. The sheer volume of elevated values that I have could indicate leaky gut, and so as well as removing trigger foods, I would benefit from working with a nutritionist to speak further about digestive support.

Dairy + Eggs

As with my previous results, dairy and eggs showed a definitely reaction. My milk reaction was especially high given that I’ve almost entirely cut out dairy from my diet, so it’s reassuring to know that I’m doing the right thing by steering clear.

Of course, my biggest relief was to see that my reaction to whey proteins (alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin) were normal. Hooray! While Nicky would generally recommend avoiding whey for the 3-month elimination period when all other dairy results are highly elevated as mine are, she advised that for my lifestyle, the benefits of taking whey most likely outweighs this concern.

So, I’ll be sticking to high-quality whey isolate supplements, and I’ll continue to search for some good vegan protein supplements to ensure that I get variety, too.

Gluten-Containing Grains

As anticipated, my scores for gluten-containing grains are elevated. As with dairy, I already avoid gluten because of the symptoms that I get when consuming food such as bread, so I’ll continue to do this.

Generally, I opt for rice, corn or potato in place of gluten-containing grains. This was reflected in the slightly raised levels on the tests for these foods, so I will look into getting more variety by trying things like buckwheat and millet.

Yeast

Yet again, this was a high reaction for me. I really struggled to cut out yeast before, but the guidebook provided by CNS contains a whole section on yeast, including which foods to avoid, ingredients to avoid and alternative foods.

The list includes the obvious, such as bread, yeast extract and fermented food and drink including alcohol. Of course, dried fruits are on the list too, which I feel I may struggle with as they make a great alternative to processed sweeteners like sugar when satisfying a sweet tooth or choosing a snack bar. The list also includes less obvious products such as hydrolysed protein and Quorn, which require yeast to be used as part of their processing.

My Verdict + Next Steps

I’d love to find a great nutritionist who can advise me a little more going forward. I pride myself on the knowledge that I have on nutrition, and certainly by normal standards my diet is really healthy. However, I’m at the point now where I really need to refine it further and enlist someone who can take some of the hard work off my hands!

It would be great to find an experienced nutritionist who can guide me with a tailored food and supplement plan, taking a holistic approach that also considers my lifestyle and training goals alongside medical history, too. I welcome all recommendations!

Overall, I’ll be aiming for moderation and variety in my diet. Unsurprisingly, (and perhaps a little boringly!) that’s what it always comes down to.* Whether you suffer with food intolerances or want to prevent them, this is undoubtedly the way forward*.

I highly recommend the CNS FoodPrint 200+ test. I always strive for the best quality and to gather as much information as possible, and this test has definitely ticked those boxes for me. The large number of proteins that were tested for, the way the results were reported, and the advice that I received from CNS was exactly what I hoped for, and more!

The test costs £291.00, which is definitely a bit of an investment, but an investment in the best possible thing; your health.

Have you had any experience of food intolerance testing or dealing with an elimination diet protocol?

Dealing with Food Intolerance + Elimination Diets: What Noone Tells You

Food-Intolerance-Elimination-Diet-Tips

Dealing with Food Intolerance + Elimination Diets: What Noone Tells You

I’ve recently spent a lot of time researching the negative impact of food intolerance and decided to take some tests myself. My first set of food intolerance test results from YorkTest revealed a whopping 25 reactions and borderline reactions and I was advised by YorkTest advisors to immediately deploy an elimination diet protocol.

I was really keen to give the elimination diet a good go. I know that I suffer from symptoms that are caused by inflammation and that chronic low-grade inflammation is a killer. As food intolerance is an inflammatory response, I wanted to use my test results to improve my overall health.

I carried out a strict elimination diet for two weeks before making adjustments. I wouldn’t call those two weeks successful by any means. However, I did learn a few things.

What is an Elimination Diet?

An elimination diet is the process of removing foods that are common ‘triggers’ from your diet for a certain period of time. These foods are then reintroduced one at a time. If any symptoms reappear alongside the reintroduction of a certain food, this is indicative of an intolerance.

The best elimination diets are the most restrictive. Cutting out more foods means that you’re likely to get a more comprehensive profile of results by the end of the process.

However, the more foods you cut out, the harder the process is to execute. And of course, as it is impossible to cut out everything, there is always a chance that one of your intolerances could be overlooked.

Unlike with allergies, symptoms of food intolerance don’t manifest immediately. So, eliminating and reintroducing foods is a slow process and the results can be hard to identify.

Food intolerance testing simplifies this process initially by providing you with a list of reactive ingredients that should be your primary focus.

Preparation

I tried to start the elimination diet as soon as possible after receiving my YorkTest results.

However, I would have been better off writing a date in my diary that allowed myself a couple of weeks to prepare.

The preparation phase should include:
* Researching ingredients that are good alternatives to the ones that you will be cutting out
* Stocking up on those ingredients
* Finding and creating recipes and meals that allow you to use the alternative ingredients in the most fulfilling way

My reaction to the proteins in cow’s milk meant that I was advised to cut out whey and casein protein shakes from my diet. This made a huge impact given that I drank them up to three times a day. Yet, I cut them out before I had chance to research, buy, receive and taste-test an alternative. This made a big impact on my protein intake, but it also affected my mindset as I felt unable to train as well without fuelling my body in the way that it needed.

Because I was in the process of finishing my degree, finding a full-time job, and relocating to a new city at the same time that I received my results, being well prepared was near impossible.

In relation to this, I would recommend selecting a date to start the elimination diet that is going to avoid clashing with other stressful occasions. There is never a perfect time to start, so don’t keep putting it off. But if you’re dealing with an obviously exceptional situation like I was, it’s okay to push back your start date a little.

Losing Perspective

I realise that when I started to cut out foods, it was like I was wearing food intolerance blinkers.

When assessing whether food was good for me to eat, or not, the only criteria that I was applying to it was whether it was on my intolerance chart or not. This meant that I was probably eating more processed ‘junk’ food than usual.

For example, despite avoiding wheat-based foods for years (my intolerance was pretty obvious without the need for a test), I suddenly found myself seeking out biscuits and cakes under the guise of wheat-free and gluten-free labels. I hardly ever ate biscuits and cakes to begin with! Yet, I’d find myself munching away with complete disregard for the sugar content.

This is especially ironic given that sugar is also inflammation causing and my motivation behind this whole process was to reduce inflammation!

Perhaps it is because I had a high number of reactions that I just didn’t have the brain-power for any other items on my checklist, but this is something to bear in mind.

Food-Intolerance-Elimination-Diet-Tips

Guilt + Anxiety

I’ve always had a really healthy relationship with food. I’ve always wanted to nourish my body by eating foods that are genuinely nutritious, but I’ve never denied my sweet tooth either.

For the first time ever, during my elimination diet, I really started to sense feelings of anxiety and guilt over what foods I was consuming.

To take the protein shake situation as an example again, I was feeling incredibly anxious having cut out a supplement that was critical in helping me to achieve the best body composition and overall fitness level of my life. I felt like my hard work was going to be lost and that my progress was going to slow.

On the other hand, whenever I thought about allowing myself a protein shake, I felt really guilty that I would be knowingly causing my body damage.

Overall, I decided that the mental anguish wasn’t worth it, especially at a time when I had other important things to think of. So, I ate a Quest bar. And another. And the tension was gone.

I continued to stick with everything else, but without relaxing the rules a little, I don’t think that would have been possible.

My Thoughts Overall - Why I Still Recommend Food Intolerance Testing

I still think that food intolerance tests are brilliant, fascinating things that allow you to invest in your health. You just have to approach them in the right way.

Food intolerance test reports should not be treated as gospel. Instead, the results simply provide a great starting point to carry out a planned and realistic elimination diet.

I’m lucky that because of my curiosity and previous experiences, I have a pretty strong sense of self-awareness and could take a step back to reassess how this diet process was affecting me.

However, if you have ever struggled with an emotional relationship with food, disordered eating, or don’t have a great knowledge of nutrition yourself, I would advise finding a nutritionist or nutrition coach who can guide and reassure you a little through the process.

I still recommend food intolerance testing and I’m still pursuing food intolerance testing. I think that actively deciding to invest in a food intolerance test heightens your awareness to the impact that foods are having on your body every single day.

I’m keen to take a more in depth look at my food intolerances and to find a way to apply my results in a more manageable way. I’m determined to find ways to improve my health and food plays a massive role.

Are Fruit Snacks Actually Good For You?

Fruit-Snacks-Urban-Fruit-BEAR

We all know the abundant dangers of sugar. There’s plenty of information circulating the internet that I don’t need to regurgitate it here. Suffice to say, the negative impacts that sugar can have on your health are abundant.

Lately, the media has warned that fruit snacks ‘contain more sugar than Haribo’.

I love Haribo as much as the next person, and on the rare occasion that I choose to indulge, I know what I’m letting myself in for.

When it comes to ‘real fruit’ snacks, however, it’s a different story. Many fruit-based snacks are actually processed and high-sugar, sneaking into your shopping basket under the guise of having ‘natural’ or ‘real’ ingredients that contribute to your five-a-day.

Fruit

Fruit as it occurs naturally is great for you. It contains natural fruit sugars but also a high amount of vitamins and minerals that are really beneficial to your overall health.

Here’s how the sugar content in some different fruit compares (per 100g):

Banana - 12g

Apple - 10g

Pineapple - 10g

Cantaloupe melon - 8g

Strawberries - 4.9g

Fruit-Snacks-Healthy-Urban-Fruit-BEAR

Natural Fruit Snacks

Fruit snacks have to be processed to some extent, but my favourite ones are processed very minimally through processes such as drying or ‘squishing’.

The important thing here, is that they don’t have other ingredients added.

As they are fruit, they do of course contain natural fruit sugars. While this is preferable to processed, added sugar, it’s worth being a little mindful of the quantity that you consume.

These fruit snacks have a higher percentage of sugar per 100g compared to fruit in its original state as they are dried or pressed, removing the water content that would otherwise make up a large proportion of the weight.

When I’m on-the-go and need a satisfying and convenient snack, my favourite fruity go-tos are Urban Fruit snackpacks, BEAR paws, nibbles and yoyos (these are usually the ‘cleanest’ snack available in coffee shops) and Fruit Bowl school bars (mainly because I’ve often found them available for £1 a box!).

Fruit-Snacks-Nutritional-Information-Sugar

Fruit Snacks To Avoid

It’s important to recognise that it’s more highly processed fruit snacks, with other added ingredients that are the problem.

To determine what you should avoid, it’s as simple as checking ingredients labels.

The worst culprits are:

Yogurt Coated Fruit Snacks

Prime example are the yogurt coated fruit flakes offered by Fruit Bowl, which contain added sugar and more processed ingredients in the yogurt-like coating.

Fruit Gummies

These include snacks such as fruit strings, fruit stars and fruit hearts from The Fruit Factory, which contain added sugar, glucose syrup and fructose syrup.

Dried Fruits Sold at Health Food Stores

What appears to be little more than dried fruit are actually ‘sugar-infused’. The worst (but, unfortunately, most delicious) nibbles of this nature are tropical fruit chunks, such as pineapple and papaya.

Some of these contain a whopping 74g of sugar per 100g!

The Verdict

What it always comes back to is balance. Whatever you eat, eat in moderation, especially if it isn’t in its most natural form.

There are some fruit snacks that are certainly better than others. However, it’s still not a great idea to eat packet after packet of them every day. They aren’t a substitute for whole fruits.

Essentially, if I’m on-the-go and need a snack, I will always opt for the least processed and most nutritious option.

While natural fruit snacks may have just as much sugar as sweets, I think it’s important to recognise that those sugars are natural and come hand in hand with micronutrients that, despite how delicious they are, gummy bears just don’t deliver.

What’re your thoughts on fruit-based snacks? Do you have a favourite?

Monitoring Protein Intake with MyFitnessPal

Protein Intake MyFitnessPal

Monitoring Your Protein Intake with MyFitnessPal

I highlighted in my previous post on Essential Guide to Protein For Women the importance of consuming enough protein. However, monitoring how much protein you realistically consume each day can be a tricky task.

For friends and family that need a helping hand, the app that I find myself recommending time and time again is MyFitnessPal.

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a pretty popular app. When I ‘explored’ the apple app store, MyFitnessPal was right at the top of the health and fitness section. For this reason, I kind of assumed that most people had heard of it already.

However, when I’ve recently been talking to friends about nutrition and suggesting they ‘track that on MyFitnessPal’, I’ve been met with a few blank stares.

So, for the uninitiated of you, MyFitnessPal is an online ‘Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker’.

It can be accessed through an app or an internet browser, is available for apple and android, and is free!

What does MyFitnessPal do?

Nutrition

MyFitnessPal essentially allows you to monitor all of you calories-in, nutrients and macros.

You simply search for the product that you have consumed and select from the results displayed for you.

There is a massive database of products, which means that you can more than likely find your exact ingredient, whether it’s a Waitrose organic chicken breast, or a specific brand of protein powder.

From this, MyFitnessPal can calculate and provide a breakdown of your calories, nutrients and macronutrients which are visible in simple tables and pie charts, put in perspective of your goals.

So, if you’ve worked out how many grams, calories, or percent of your diet should be protein, you can see how what you’re really eating compares.

Because MyFitnessPal breaks down each day by meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, supplements), it’s also easy to see whether you’re successfully spreading your protein intake over the course of the day.

Exercise

MyFitnessPal has an exercise diary function that may also be useful. I know that MyFitnessPal is compatible with a number of wearable fitness trackers, but I personally haven’t used this feature.

I wouldn’t recommend using MyFitnessPal to track exercise in terms of calories burned as there are so many variables involved in calculating calorie expenditure that this is likely to be massively inaccurate and misleading. Especially if your goal is weightloss, it’s nutrition that will make the greatest impact and should be your main focus.

MyFitnessPal-ScreenShots

Who is MyFitnessPal useful for?

MyFitnessPal is great for people who simply don’t know how much of what they are consuming. For my friends and family who I think aren’t consuming enough protein or who are eating unhealthily for other reasons, I suggest MyFitnessPal to increase awareness and drive motivation for improvement.

It’s also perfect for people who already know what they need to be consuming and require something to help them stay on track. It’s ideal for tracking calories consumed and macronutrient splits. This is where it comes in handy for making sure that you reach your protein goal!

Tips for using MyFitnessPal

In order to get the most out of MyFitnessPal and to become as aware as possible about what you’re putting in your body, and to make the process as simple as possible, there are a few things that I’d recommend:

Invest in some digital scales

I have an electronic kitchen scale that I used to measure out food when I started to use MyFitnessPal.

Even now, I’m pretty terrible at estimating the weights of foods, whether it’s a handful of nuts or a fillet of fish, but I’m definitely better than I was.

Weighing foods for a few days, or even a few meals, can be really eye opening and ensures that you’re getting the most accurate results from the effort that you’re putting into tracking your macronutrients and calories.

Take Photos

By taking photos of meals that you are logging on MyFitnessPal, you have a visual representation of what a certain number of calories, number of grams of protein, or quantity of sugar looks like for future reference.

It’s really useful to develop the ability to estimate the weight of ingredients or the number of calories in a meal by eye.

Create Recipes

The recipe feature on MyFitnessPal is really handy. It’s good for calculating the number of calories and the macronutrient content of dishes that would be otherwise near impossible to estimate; things like casseroles, meatloaf, pancakes, or really anything that combines multiple ingredients.

As well as providing nutritional information for your recipes that otherwise would not have a nutrition label, it’s a simple shortcut to logging frequently eaten foods.

For example, if you frequently meal prep in bulk and will be eating the same thing several days in a row, and probably again in the future, by creating a recipe you only have to input each item once.

MyFitnessPal-Monitoring

How I use MyFitnessPal

There are lots of diet and exercise trackers available, I’m sure. But I have to admit I’m unfamiliar with them. I use MyFitnessPal because it’s simple, has the biggest database of foods available, and it’s free!

I don’t use MyFitnessPal to track what I eat every day. Occasionally I’ll monitor a few days in a row, perhaps once a month, to check whether my eating patterns are sitting where they should be.

I also track when I’m eating in a way that is out of the ordinary for me, such as when I’m on-the-go a lot and grabbing convenience food, or when I’m settling into new habits such as when starting a new job or a new training regime.

I wish that MyFitnessPal had a month-to-view calendar that highlights on which days the food diary has been completed, so that I can easily refer back without scrolling through day-by-day. (If you know that this can be done, please let me know how!)

I’d never want to be completely reliant on, or obsessed with, tracking everything that I eat. But I think MyFitnessPal provides the perfect conditions for you to increase your knowledge of what you put in your body and highlight room for improvement.

If you already use MyFitnessPal, I’d love to know how you find it useful?

If you don’t already use it, I challenge you to track what you eat for a week. Where there any surprises? Did you find any ways to improve your nutrition?

Profile Protein Whey Protein Shot Review

Profile Protein Whey Protein Shot Review

Update: Profile Protein no longer appear to be trading.

The Concept

Profile Protein launched last year with a really unique concept: a protein shot, not shake. This is something that I’ve never seen done before, but it makes so much sense!

Essentially, Profile Protein want to make it as convenient as possible for people to recover from exercise. Sometimes gulping down 400ml of other products after an intense training session isn’t the easiest on the stomach and can leave you feeling full and uncomfortable, so I think that this concept is amazing.

The shaker is really lovely too. It looks gorgeous, feels great to hold, and is obviously super-convenient to pop in a bag given its size.

Profile Protein Whey Protein Shot Nutritional Information

Nutritional Information + Ingredients

Profile Protein try to keep ingredients to a minimum and their protein shots contain a maximum of five ingredients:
Whey protein concentrate (incl. Soya Lecithin), Flavouring, Sucralose, Natural Colour (Strawberry & Raspberry Blend).

Each serving contains 96 calories, including around 19g of protein, 1g fat and 1g carbs. That’s pretty impressive for a shot!

Taste + Texture

There are four available flavours: chocolate, vanilla, raspberry and strawberry. I have tried them all and can attest to their deliciousness. In flavour, they reminded me of the Petit Filous fromage frais that I used to adore. The shots were sweet, but not overly so, and the flavours tasted really natural.

Profile Protein shots require just 55ml of water to mix 25g protein powder. This may sound like a miniscule amount of water, but the mixability is incredible and I’ve always experienced a smooth texture. Using such a small amount of water with other products would leave you with nothing more than a paste.

I definitely give my seal of approval on taste + texture!

Protein Protein Shot

Price

500g bags of Profile Protein shot powder are £16.99 (or £19.99 if you want to add a shaker). With 20 servings per bag, that works out around 85p per serving - not bad at all!

The Verdict

I really like the product. Ideally, I'd love to see whey isolate instead of whey concentrate, and a natural sweetener rather than sucralose in the ingredinets list. Overall though, it’s tasty and convenient, without compromising on the all-important protein quantity.

Occasionally I’ve found the little shaker a little difficult to drink out of; it’s too tiny to have a spout like a standard protein shaker so you have to remove the whole lid. This isn’t ideal when you’re drinking on-the-go, but then, with a quick shot, this isn’t a big issue.

What I love about the company itself is that the brains behind Profile Protein are a lovely husband and wife team based in Cambridge (my hometown!) who and conscious about what ingredients go into our bodies and ensure that their products are made in small batches, with lots of care.

Definitely the kind of brand that I want to have in my supplements cupboard!

Love Life Supplements Primal Power Review

Primal-Power-Paleo-Protein-LLS

The Concept

Primal Power is a whey protein powder also containing healthy fats. It’s a really unique product within the sports nutrition industry, and one that I love.

The product was designed with a paleo diet in mind, something that LLS founder Ben Law passionately follows. However, there are lots of other people, like me, who would find massive benefits in taking it.

Like all of the Love Life Supplements products, this is produced to really high quality standards, in the UK.

Nutritional Information + Ingredients

A typical serving contains 215 calories, including 20g protein, 10g fat, 6.6g carbohydrates (only 2.5g sugar) and a brilliant 9.2g fibre.

The proteins in this drink are a standard blend used in many sports supplements. It’s the additional ingredients that make this product really unique.

Medium Chain Triglycerides

The fat content of the shake comes from the addition of MCTs, which are derived from coconuts.

MCTs are metabolised in a different way to most fats as they are sent directly to your liver where they are immediately converted into energy.

MCTs are really easily digested and are so tolerable, in fact, that they are often used in medically treating people who are unable to digest other types of fats well.

LLS also sell MCT oil, which is great for adding to smoothies or making bulletproof coffee.

Flax Seeds

As well as being a great source of fibre, flax seeds contain one of the richest sources of the plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Fructooligosaccharides

Fructooligosaccharides are considered a soluble dietary fibre, and are used in Primal Power for their prebiotic effect. Essentially, they are the food for ‘good bacteria’, which is great news for your gut!

Digestive Enzyme Complex

The digestive enzymes in Primal Power include amylase, protease, lipase and lactase for aiding digestion of carbohydrates, protein, fats and lactose.

Natural sweetener

Unlike many protein powders that are full of artificial sweeteners, typically sucralose, LLS use stevia to sweeten Primal Power for a really natural taste. Read my post on the benefits of stevia

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Taste + Texture

Primal Power is available in two flavours: chocolate and vanilla. Both taste deliciously natural and a lot like drinking ice cream.

A serving of Primal Power is 50g of the powder. This is quite a large serving size considering that the average for a regular protein shake tends to be around 25g-35g, but the mixability is brilliant and the shake is always amazingly silky smooth and easy to drink.

Price

The RRP for a 1.5kg tub of Primal Power is £39.95 on the LLS website, although it is often cheaper.

It is very hard to compare the price to other protein powders as it isn’t an ordinary whey protein powder by any means.

While I would say that it isn’t cheap, I would absolutely advocate that it offers value for money.

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My Verdict

I love this product. It’s truly unique and it’s great to know that it is made in the UK with the finest natural ingredients. As well as the use of MCTs, Primal Power contains plenty of ingredients to aid your digestive health, something that I’m really passionate about.

I think this protein is perfect to take first thing in the morning. I always have protein after waking up, with breakfast, and Primal Power has become one of my favourite options. The fats are great for giving you energy to take on the day.

To be honest though, Primal Power is great taken at any time of day, whenever you need a boost. Ordinarily, I try and avoid consuming fats immediately post-workout with my protein shake as they slow digestion, but MCTs are different in this respect and are perfectly fit for purpose here!

Despite this, I would probably only consume Primal Power once a day due to the fact that I get plenty of healthy fats elsewhere in my diet, and the fact that is isn’t incredibly affordable, although it is definitely value for money.

Protein Supplements for Women

Protein-Supplements-Women-Guide

Protein for Women doesn't Exist

Protein supplements are getting increasingly popular, but there is still some confusion over what women need in a protein supplement, and whether they need them at all!

First thing’s first. Protein for women doesn’t exist. There are many companies that try to convince women that they need a different kind of protein supplement than men, but they don’t.

Protein is a macronutrient, like carbohydrates or fats. Can you imagine if women were told that they needed to eat a different kind of chicken than men? It’s simply not the case! Protein is protein. And women need it in the same way that men do. Ignore marketing ploys and follow this simple guide.

While there are many protein supplements becoming available, from protein bars to protein desserts, the focus of this guide is protein powders.

If you’d like more information on the role of protein and protein sources in general, head to my protein guide for women for a thorough overview.

Benefits of protein supplements

It’s always best to take a ‘food first’ approach to getting protein into your diet, but like many other people, I’ve found protein supplements incredibly helpful in meeting my daily requirements.

Protein powders are great to top-up your protein intake while being able to control your intake of other macronutrients.

Protein supplements are convenient (requiring almost no preparation), are easy to consume in a rush or on-the-go, and are very affordable with some coming in at as little as 30p per serving.

Protein powders are available in a range of flavours, most of which are great for satisfying a sweet tooth! However, they tend to be sugar-free, instead being sweetened using sucralose or, increasingly popularly, stevia.

Protein-Powder-Supplement-Types

Types of protein powder

There are several different types of protein powder on offer. Protein powder can be derived from different food sources, different forms can be blended, and additional ingredients can be added.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is the most popular product when it comes to protein supplements. It is regarded as the gold standard and is usually used in research as a control. Whey naturally occurs in milk and is filtered to make whey protein products.

The reason that is it so popular is that it has an excellent amino acid profile and can be digested and absorbed into muscles very quickly.

Even within the category of whey protein, there are different types.

Whey protein concentrate (WPC) is generally the cheapest option. It contains around 70-80% protein.

Whey protein isolate (WPI) is generally a little more expensive as it has undergone an additional step of purification and so contains around 90% (and up to 97% in some cases!) protein. WPI is also slightly lower in lactose than WPC.

Hydrolysed whey protein (HWP) is another option. HWP has undergone the process of enzymatic hydrolysis to break down long protein chains into small chain peptides making it quicker and easier for your body to absorb. This is a good option for people with digestive issues, however, not necessary for other people as whey is already very digestible. HWP is more expensive.

Casein Protein

Like whey, casein is derived from milk. However, unlike whey, casein is a very slow releasing protein. The slower digestion of this kind of protein means that there is a sustained release of amino acids for up to 7 hours.

Micellar casein digests very slowly and is a more expensive form of casein.

Calcium caseinate is the cheaper form of casein. It is inferior to micellar casein as it has undergone further processing to make it more soluble. While this means that the consistency of the shake is less sludgy, the treatment affects the quality of the product.

The term milk protein tends to indicate a mixture of casein and whey.

Soy protein

Soy is the most well-researched vegetable protein. In terms of absorption time, soy is the intermediate bridge between the two dairy proteins. Soy protein also contains a good amino acid profile. However, soy is a heavily genetically modified crop that tends to be treated with a lot of pesticides.

Egg protein and Beef Protein

Egg protein and beef protein are also available as non-dairy protein alternatives, and are often posed as ‘paleo’ protein options. They tend to be a little more expensive and not as tasty.

Vegan protein

Besides soy, there are plenty of other protein supplement options for vegans. Pea and rice proteins are both fairly good options, whereas hemp protein has a low protein content and is not as digestible as the other options.

With vegan proteins, it is best to opt for a blend to ensure that you benefit from a better amino acid profile, as their amino acid ratios are not as good as proteins from animal sources.

Protein Blends

Often, as mentioned with vegan protein, protein supplements will be a blend of two or more of the above forms of protein.

For example, a blend that contains whey, soy and casein may be formulated to create a product where amino acid availability is high but also sustained. In this scenario, whey protein would ensure that amino acids reached the muscles quickly, while the soy and casein would ensure prolonged release and protein synthesis.

One example of a brand that does this is MaxiNutrition, who include whey, casein and soy in their protein powders.

However, be aware that companies may also blend proteins in this way in order to make the formulation cheaper to manufacture. Therefore, if you feel that you would benefit from a blend of whey and casein protein (before bed, for example), consider mixing this yourself rather than buying a protein blend.

Added ingredients

Many protein powders have added ingredients, from vitamins and minerals, to weight loss aids.

For example, some post-workout formulas for people looking to gain muscle and strength may include carbohydrates and creatine (find my guide to creatine here). Other products contain enzymes to aid digestion, although these probably aren’t necessary for most people.

This is also the part where the idea of protein for women should be addressed. Protein supplements aimed at women tend to have added ingredients, such as green tea extract, that claim to be fat burners. In other words, protein supplements marketed to women are actually protein supplements that may (or indeed may not) aid weightloss.

I personally like to take a basic protein powder and add other powders and take other supplements as and when I need them, and in the doses that are best for me.

Protein-Supplements-Womens-Guide

When to take protein supplements

There are several times at which you would benefit from an intake of protein.

Firstly, in the morning, after your body has essential fasted for many hours. Having protein in the morning can also assist with satiety and weight management.

Most commonly, protein supplements are taken post-workout to support recovery. Here, fast-acting whey protein is beneficial.

It is also beneficial to take protein before bed. In this case, a slow-releasing protein such as casein is best for sustained release of protein throughout the night.

How to take protein supplements

Protein supplements are really easy to consume. They can be mixed into a shake with water or milk (I tend to opt for water for fewer calories and quicker digestion), blended into a smoothie.

Mixing protein powder with water will generally digest more quickly, so this is a good option post-workout. Mixing protein powder with milk will generally mean it is absorbed more slowly, making this a good bedtime option.

Alternatively, you can improve the protein content of your foods by mixing protein powder into porridge, or using it in recipes for pancakes or waffles. Protein powder can in this way improve the macronutrient profile of foods that are generally lacking in protein.

Where to buy protein supplements

I always recommend buying online. Supermarkets, pharmacies and health food stores tend to sell protein supplements for very high prices compared to online. My go-to for protein supplement shopping is MyProtein, where I buy Impact Whey Isolate. Remember to use the code BLONDEETHOS for 10% off your order1 There are also lots of protein supplements on amazon.

Sometimes I vary what brands I use products from depending on samples I pick up and what other people in my household are using. I enjoy experimenting and I sometimes use different products at different times of day for optimal nutrition.

Need a hand?

The type of protein supplement that you choose will vary depending on the time of day that you take it, your lifestyle situation, your budget, and digestive tendencies.

Get in touch if you’d like any help picking out the right protein product for you. I’d love to help!

Is Quorn Good For You? Your Need-To-Know On The Meat-Free Protein

Quorn-Mycoprotein-Mince

I don’t recall eating Quorn at any point in my life until I recently attended an event at the Underground Cookery School where Quorn recipes were on the menu. One of the reasons that Quorn had never appealed to me was because I didn’t feel like I needed an alternative to meat. Another reason is because I just didn’t know what the hell the stuff was made of. Even now that I do, I’m not sure that I’m any more convinced to introduce it to my diet…

Quorn Products

Quorn is a source of protein that is used in place of meat. There are a huge range of products available from Quorn from ready meals to deli-style options, and they tend to be named after types of meat.

As an avid meat-eater, it took me a while to come round to the fact that you can get Quorn meat-free chicken fillets, Quorn meat-free roast beef joint and Quorn meat-free turkey steaks. I didn’t like the idea that they were directly compared to meat.

However, I totally realise that without this, the product wouldn’t be so successful. The associations with specific meat produce allows you to identify with the Quorn products. It makes Quorn easy to substitute into your existing favourite meat-based recipes, with very little adaptation, should you want to.

What is Quorn made of?

Ultimately, Quorn is a processed food. Due to the nature of the protein within it, it has to be processed in order to be usable.

This also means that there are a couple of those infamous ‘hard to pronounce’ ingredients used to firm up the product into a useable state.

Here’s an example of a typical Quorn product ingredients list. This is taken from the Quorn Chicken Fillets:
Mycoprotein (89%), Rehydrated Free Range Egg White, Flavouring, Firming Agents: Calcium Chloride, Calcium Acetate; Gelling Agent: Pectin

It’s clear that due to the use of egg, which is currently an essential binding agent in the product, that Quorn is currently unsuitable for vegans. However, it sounds like their R+D team are in the process of developing something to fill this gap.

What is Mycoprotein?

Mycoprotein (‘myco’ being the word for ‘fungus’) is essentially the protein from fungi. Specifically, the mycoprotein used by Quorn is derived from Fusarium Venenatum.

It seems that making mycoprotein available from the original source is a complex process involving fermentation amongst other processes.

Quorn-Ingredients-Nutrition.JPG

Nutritional Information

100g of Quorn Meat-Free Chicken Fillets contains only 86 calories including 11.5g of protein. Compared to 100g of actual chicken, which contains around 25g of protein, that’s not great.

Quorn emphasise the fact that their mycoprotein-based products are low in salt, low in fat including saturated fat, and are high in dietary fibre. Not bad.

However, when I’m eating fairly clean, nutritious, whole foods anyway, looking out for these things doesn’t concern me. I believe that a small amount of saturated fat from fairly lean, unprocessed meat isn’t a bad thing. It’s when you’re getting it from greasy ready meals that it’s an issue.

There are definitely people that might benefit from the lower calorie content of a Quorn Meat-Free product compared to actual meat, and who need to be more aware of their salt, fat and fibre intakes, and for those individuals, this might be a great option.

Taste + Texture

Quorn products seem to be relatively flavourless. Quorn suggest marinating the products as they really absorb the flavours, but it seems to be more the case that the food would be distinctly flavourless otherwise. While this makes it quite versatile in recipes, it also makes it seem a lot less like food to me.

The hyphae, the long strands that make up the structure of the fungus, are a similar length and width to animal muscle fibres. This is why Quorn are able to create products that can mimic the texture and appearance of real meat.

Despite this, I haven’t been a big lover of the texture on the occasions that I’ve tried Quorn, although I’m sure it will grow on me. It’s much softer than animal meat and, when at the cookery school eating it in a bun, I couldn’t distinguish between the texture of the Quorn and the bread in my mouth, which was a bit strange!

It’s sustainable

One thing that I do really like about Quorn is that sustainability is at the absolute epicentre of what they do.

Mycoprotein was originally discovered growing in 1967 in an effort to find alternative sources of food to fill the protein gap caused by growing world population.

The production process of Quorn products is efficient and sustainable with what seems like substantially smaller environmental impact than the production of meat from animal sources.

Quorn production requires less agricultural land and uses less water. In fact, data currently available suggests that the water footprint of Quorn mince is 15 times less than that of beef.

Quorn products also produce fewer greenhouse gases than the production of meat as livestock alone make a massive contribution to greenhouse gas production.

My Verdict

I won’t be consuming Quorn on a regular basis. However, I would consider trying Quorn versions of processed meats, such as sausages.

Also, as Quorn doesn’t need cooking so much as heating to eat, it is quite a convenient source of protein when you want to whip up a hot and hearty meal in a nip. It also has a conveniently (albeit slightly suspiciously) long shelf life and is super affordable, too.

If you’re a Quorn eater, I’d love to know which of their products you’d recommend?