Can Magnesium Spray Enhance Your Recovery?

Can Magnesium Spray Enhance Your Recovery?

I’ve tried out a lot of products in the past that are said to aid muscle recovery and reduce soreness, from bath soaks to arnica creams. None of them were noticeably effective at all, and in any instances where I detected a negligible difference in my recovery, I could never say with any kind of certainty that my recovery was down to a single product; it could just as likely have been due to eating better or getting more sleep.

Except for one.

But first, here's what you need to know about transdermal supplementation....

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Healthy Things To Do In Rio De Janeiro

Healthy Things To Do In Rio De Janeiro

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Rio de Janeiro with Swisse - the official vitamin choice of Team GB - soaking up Brazilian culture and the excitement of the 2016 Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games represent health, fitness and dedication like nothing else and it was incredible to feel a part of them when in Rio.

Of course, the Olympics only last a couple of weeks in August, and the Paralympics a couple of weeks in September 2016, so not everyone will have the opportunity to experience them when visiting Rio de Janiero. Thankfully, there are lots of other things you can do if you want to experience a fit, healthy and inspiring trip to Rio...

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Guide to Collagen for Women

Guide to Collagen for Women

There are a lot of collagen products appearing on the market within joint supplement formulations as well as supplements that come with the promise of younger looking skin. The latter especially appears in many perfectly-packaged forms from drinks to jellies.

I was intrigued as to whether there was any difference between the supplements on offer, in format, dosage and price. Most importantly though, I wanted to look into the evidence base to find out whether I could expect them to really work.

So, here's everything that I think you should know about collagen, plus reviews of some of your best supplement options

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Supplement Trend: Convenient Concepts For Getting Started with Supplements

Convenient-Nutritional-Supplement-Trend

The health and sports supplement market is booming. New brands and products are emerging by the day and, unless you know exactly what supplements you're looking for, sorting through the myriad on offer can seem like a total minefield.

There are a few brands seeking to simplify the nutritional supplementation process for you, condensing what they believe to be your best nutrition and supplement options into one convenient format.

This article looks at a few of the brands leading the trend for convenient supplement concepts, to help you decide whether they could play a role in improving your health and fitness.

Inner-Me-Essential-Three-Convenient-Supplement-Strips

Inner Me

Of all the products that I've chosen to include in this rundown, the one that I personally made most use of was the Essential Three from Inner Me. Within this, tablets and capsules are packaged in blister packs, separated into tear-off strips marked with days of the week.

The Essential Three* consists of:
Vitamin D3 (2500iu)
Probiotic Lactospore® (15 billion complex)
High Strength Omega 3 (DHA 220mg + EPA 330mg)


These are all supplements that I already take individually and often recommend that others consider taking on a regular basis.

Vitamin D and Omega 3s are nutrients that you are probably understand the importance of already. However, the probiotic capsule in the Essential Three is particularly unique.

The total list of nutrients within the capsule are:
Psyllium Husk, Artichoke Extract 2.5% Cynarin, Marshmallow Root Powder, Lactospore 15 Billion, Ginger Root Extract, Licorice Root Extract, Nettle Leaf Extract, Chlorella, Spirulina, Alfafa, Aloe Vera.

I was interested as to how these nutrients were selected for inclusion in the supplement. Inner Me Founder, Nikki, told me,

"We wanted to ensure that the capsule had a good dose of psyllium husk being a high soluble source of fibre which helps improve the health of your digestive system. As we do not use binders and fillers in our capsules we then listed our favourite nutrients that help boost gut/digestive health, which can be taken together safely, so extracts of artichoke, licorice, ginger, aloe vera and nettle leaf were used in particular."

What I especially like about the Inner Me brand is how involved Nikki is in the process of creating and sourcing the supplement blends. When I spoke to her, she could tell me everything from the details of size and type of capsule casing used to the specific PH that the probiotic spores can survive up to.

Because of this, and knowing Nikki's background and motive for founding Inner Me (if you aren't familiar, read Nikki's story), I really trust the quality of the product.

The Essential Three 28 day packs are £15, and you can save on postage when committing to a subscription.

VITL-Nutritional-Supplement-Pack

VITL

As it is very similar in the way that it utilises a strip format, I also really like VITL's product.

The strips* contain:
Multivitamin
Krill Oil (500mg)
CoQ10 (100mg)
Supergreens

The ingredients within the supergreens capsule add up to 989mg. To make a brief but crude comparison, Total Nutri Greens from MyProtein that I would otherwise use would be consumed in larger quantities. They recommend taking 7.5mg, 2 or 3 times a day (although I couldn't stomach that amount).

However, it's hard to make comparisons as not all companies disclose the potency of their extracts (VITL do; for example, their grape seed is provided from a 10:1 Extract), and VITL's product is not so much a greens powder as a superfood concentrate, given that it also contains nutrients from green tea and turmeric.

Similarly, while a direct comparison can't be made between Krill Oil and omega 3s from fish oil, the recommended daily dosage is up to 3g, so I would still have to supplement my omega 3 intake on top of this.

Co-enzyme Q10 is something that I was surprised to see in this pack as I wouldn't consider it an essential supplement. However, it is important in processing oxygen in cells to generate energy.

I personally didn't make as much use of it as I would have liked because I already take a multi-vitamin complex more medically suited to my needs. But, for someone not already dedicated to particular supplements, this is a great go-to.

VITL packs are £39.95 for a 28 day supply, although this price is reduced when committing to a subscription.

Vitamyn-Convenient-Supplement-Format

Biodose from Vitamyn

Vitamyn.co.uk is an online supplement shop. Their offering, Biodose, is a unique packaging system.

Pharmacist and director of Vitamyn, Farooq, explained to me:

"The idea is that because we make it much simpler for a person to be consistent with their supplements, they'll eventually get better results. I'm a firm believer that the best and longest lasting results come from daily repetition over a sustained period of time."

In theory, Biodose is a great idea. Vitamyn aim to offer supplements in Biodose in three forms:
1. Standardised packs
2. Customised packs
3. For professionals

The pack that I have is a standardised pack, soon to appear on the website alongside the fat-loss programme. The brand are currently developing more supplement programmes related to common sporting and fitness objectives.

My daily health pack* contained:
Omega 3 1000mg x 2
Vitamin C 1000mg
Vitamin D 600iu
Multivitamin

I like this concept and the fact that the Biodose pods can also hold liquid and powder if need be, giving flexibility to future plans and to customised packs, if and when this option launches.

What really set the company apart, I think, is their work with sports profesionals. The product has real application for strength and conditioning coaches, dieticians or nutritionists who manage supplements for sports teams and athletes and want to simplify the regime. Vitamyn have already worked with football teams and I'm interested to see how this expands!

The current Vitamyn Fat-Loss Standardised Supplement Plan is available at £34.99 for a 28 day supply.

Staks-Convenient-Supplement-Pouch

Staks

Staks have taken the concept of supplement stacking (or 'Stak'ing - get it?!) and made it more commerical, with a range of goal options, one of which will mostly likely apply to you.

It is the delivery format of the supplements that sets the brand apart. Each day's supplement 'Stak' is contained in a single pouch. Within that pouch, each supplement is individually portioned so that you can take them as and when you need them, even slipping them into a bag or a pocket to take on the go.

What I like about this brand is the 'luxe' feel; the pouches have a really sleek aesthetic and are super discreet.

The full Staks range includes:
Staks of Muscle
Staks of Lean
Staks of Wellbeing
Staks of Slimmer
Staks of Energy
Staks of Wow

The content of each 'Stak' differs, as you would expect. For example, Staks of Wellbeing contains everyday essentials such as a multivitamin, krill oil, iron + B12, supergreens and a protein powder. Staks of Muscle, meanwhile, contains a more typical bodybuilding stack, including a pre-workout, protein powder, testosterone booster, ZMA, a multivitamin, and krill oil.

While some of the Staks don't contain the exact supplements that I would personally select for specific goals (for example, I'd take biotin if my goal was to improve skin, hair and nails as per Staks of Wow), but these are great to get you started!

Pouches are £7.95 when bought individually from Harvey Nichols or 1Rebel, but can be bought at a cheaper price per pouch when ordering a weekly, monthly, or subsciption supply online.

Huel-Food-Future-Nutrition-Convenience

Huel

Huel isn't technically designed to be a supplement. However, it has definitely wiggled it's way into the convenience category.

According to the brand,

"Huel is a nutritionally complete powdered food.

"Huel provides at least 100% of the UK Government's 'Reference Nutrient Intakes' and the European Union's 'Daily Recommended Amount'.

"Huel contains: No added sugar, no meat or animal products, no dairy, no soy, no eggs, making it suitable for those with even the most complex dietary requirements."

When I first heard the brand's bold claims of being "The future of food" and "Everything your body needs. Nothing more.", Huel seemed so ridiculously extreme that I thought it must have been some kind of PR stunt that would lead onto a whole other concept somehow. Not the case.

Huel is in fact very similar to the successful U.S. product, Soylent which also claims to provide "maximum nutrition with minimum effort".

The ingredients in Huel* are:
Vegan protein (rice + pea)
Oats
Flaxseed
Sunflower lecithin
MCT from coconut
Vitamin + mineral blend

Ordinarily, I couldn't be less interested in meal replacements, but I quite like Huel's branding and the fact that the concept behind it has more substance and practicality than the usual weight-loss claims.

I wouldn't ever use this as a replacement for every meal as Huel suggests can be done. I didn't even attempt this for the sake of a 'project'. I love eating far too much, and I think that variety is important.

I replaced a meal with Huel on one occasion; one night that I was late home having attended an event after a long day in the office. I was too tired for a trip to the supermarket and to contemplate cooking. I was quite grateful that I could have an instant 'meal' without feeling guilty that my body was physiologically 'missing out'. I didn't enjoy consuming the shake, but at least the unpleasantness was shortlived, given its liquid form.

I actually think that Huel is a really practical nutrition solution in certain circumstances: when travelling, when unwell and unable to eat entire meals, when in hospital (I'm certain this is more nutritious than the meals I've experienced from the NHS), or to ensure adequate nutrient intake of lower-income or impoverished individuals. In essence, when you don't have access to healthy food, Huel is the better option.

Huel is £45 for a 1 week supply, which contains 14,000 calories (2000 per day). Discounts are applied when purchasing 2 or 4 week supplies.

My Verdict

I fully admit that these products are not ones that I would consistently use myself.

Why?

Because I have spent a lot of time researching nutrition, supplements, and have a good awareness of exactly what my body requires. I'm in a place where it is worthwhile tackling the minefield to build a supplement stack tailored to my body's needs.

Essentially, I would have to supplement most of these supplements!

For myself, I select what I believe to be the best quality or best value supplements, mixing and matching across brands. I also tweak my dosages quite often, depending on my nutritional intake from food (I always take a food-first approach) and current needs in terms of health and training.

However, there are certain scenarios I would find the handy format of these products really useful, such as for convenience when travelling.

Most importantly though, I would definitely recommend some of these products to people who just don't know where to start with nutritional supplementation, but know that they need a boost.

These brands have done the research, sourcing, dosing and packaging of your nutrition essentials for you, saving you time, and probably a bit of a headache.

I haven't gone massively in to depth reviewing each of these supplement concepts as looking at the content and quality of each ingredient used by each brand would be a long (and perhaps impossible) process. Really, this article is to show you that if you don't know where to start searching in the mammoth supplement market, there is something out there to make it easier.

I can't give a verdict on which of these supplement formats I rate most highly because they are all quite different. There is no best or worst. It's simply a case of choosing something that is most convenient for your lifestyle.

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?

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

Love-Life-Supplements-Primal-Ingredients

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.

Vanilla-Primal-Power-Protein-Love-Life-Supplements

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!

Protein for Women: The Essential Guide

Protein-Guide-Women

It’s Essential to Understand + Consume Protein, Whether You’re into Fitness or Not

I’ve found that the role of protein is misunderstood by a range of both women and men. From my parents, to friends, to people I’ve met while working out, I’ve experienced resistance from people in understanding the role of protein, and it is having a detrimental impact on their health.

Since I upped my protein intake to an optimal level, my weight has been more stable, I’ve had more energy, and I’ve been thrilled at the improvements that I’ve made in my training and body composition.

Protein occurs naturally and you will consume it (hopefully!) every day, several times a day, for your entire life, so it is worth understanding what it is and what affect it has on your body. Please take the time to educate yourself on the importance of protein so that you can see some benefits too...

Why is Protein Important? What Does Protein Do?

Like carbohydrates and fats, protein is an essential macronutrient (‘macro’), that you cannot live without. Proteins are made up of amino acids of which there are 20 in total. Some of these amino acids are ‘essential’ as they can’t be made by the body and so must be consumed as food.

I’ve found that the word ‘protein’ tends to be immediately associated with supplementation by many people, thinking that it’s only something that only athletes and bodybuilders require. It’s true that active individuals require a larger quantity of protein, but only to aid recovery.

Protein Helps to Repair Muscles + Other Tissue

When training, muscle tissue is broken down. This muscle tissue (along with many other tissues in your body, from skin and hair, to vital organs) then needs protein to repair itself.

Protein Safeguards Against Muscle Loss

Especially if you’re on any kind of weight loss plan, or recovery from an injury or illness, it’s crucial to know that protein stops you losing muscle.

Ensuring that you are consuming enough protein, stops your body from breaking down your muscles instead of fat and, in turn, helps to maintain a healthy metabolism.

When you’re ‘dieting’, a calorie is not a calorie. The nutritional content of those calories matters.

Protein Helps you Feel Fuller + Burn Calories More Effectively

On the topic of weight maintenance, protein helps in other ways, too.

Firstly, compared to carbohydrates and fats, proteins take longer to digest, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

Secondly, protein has the highest thermogenic effect of food (TEF), which means that it requires more energy to process it in the body. Where carbohydrates and fats have a TEF of around 5-15%, protein can be from 20-35%! In theory this means that for every 100 calories of protein that you ingest, between 20 and 35 are burned in the digestion process.

Protein-Sources-Guide

Sources of protein

Eggs

Eggs are the king of protein as they have a high biological value and are complete with all 20 amino acids. They’re also very affordable and super versatile!

Meat

Meat is also a great protein source. It’s best to opt for lean meats such as chicken and turkey, or a lean cut of beef.

Fish + Seafood

Fish and other seafood also provide a good amounts of protein. Oily fish such as salmon are great sources of super-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Dairy Products

Dairy products provide protein in smaller amounts than the above, but they’re still great to include in a balanced diet. The best dairy products are greek yogurt and cottage cheese, which is relatively low in fat and high in casein, so make a great snack before bed.

Nuts

Nuts, especially almonds and cashews, make a great addition to stir-fries and are the perfect snack. They contain good levels of healthy fats and are perfect to keep in your handbag or gymbag for when you’re feeling peckish.

Beans + Pulses

Beans and pulses aren’t as high in protein as animal sources, but are a good vegetarian/vegan option. They’re also relatively inexpensive and are great for bulking out dishes.

Protein Powders

Protein supplements are becoming more commonplace, but are still largely misunderstood. They are essentially just refined versions of the protein from food sources.

Whey protein shakes are derived from milk, pea protein is from peas and egg protein shakes are from egg! It really is as simple as that. They offer a more convenient way to top up your protein intake.

Protein Intake Amounts

People should typically be consuming between 1-2g of protein per kg bodyweight every day. Obviously, the more you weigh, the more you should consume. Also, the more active you are, the more you should consume.

A typical serving of protein should contain between 20-40g protein. For example, a 100g chicken breast would contain around 20g protein.

When you need more protein

There are certain times that your body will benefit from a protein intake above that which you should normally consume.

When you are starting to exercise more frequently, or training in a more demanding way, you will benefit from upping your protein intake to aid muscle recovery.

If you are recovering from injury or any kind of illness, protein will also aid recovery, as well as minimise muscle loss.

As you age, you will need more protein to stimulate protein synthesis in order to grow, repair and maintain your muscle.

You may also require additional protein (which may be in the form of protein supplements) if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

At any time that you increase your protein intake, be sure to also consume more water as excess protein has a diuretic effect. Always keep well hydrated.

Protein Doesn’t Make Women Look Bulky

Hopefully this article has given a good overview of why protein is important for overall health. It isn’t something that is only required when leading an active lifestyle, but an active lifestyle will more than likely require a higher protein intake.

By understanding what protein is and how it affects your body, you can hopefully appreciate that the myth that protein can make women ‘bulk up’ is false. If you are looking to increase muscle size, you will need to train hard with heavy weights, and in that case, protein will help your muscles to repair and grow. Still, your muscles are only physically capable of growing to a certain extent, and will never develop in the way that men’s do because women only have a fraction of the testosterone that men do.

If you still have any queries about the role of protein, please feel free to send them my way!

MaxiNutrition Cyclone Milk Review

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As I recently published a post taking a pretty in-depth look at creatine, I thought it would be the perfect time to review a creatine product. And what better than MaxiNutrition Cyclone Milk*, which boasts the world’s first patent pending creatine delivery system?!

I first learned of this product when I visited the GSK Human Performance Lab last year around the time that this product was launched, and Maximuscle rebranded to MaxiNutrition. Having now tried it for myself, I can give you a full low-down...

Nutritional Information + Ingredients

Each 330ml bottle of Cyclone Milk contains 201 calories, including 30g of protein, 3g of creatine, 16g of carbohydrate and no fat.

Firstly, the drink is a great source of protein. The Max Pro protein blend offers 30g protein, which is a good amount to consume post-training.

Secondly, the drink is fat-free, which contributes to quicker digestion and uptake of nutrients into your muscles post-training.

Thirdly, the drink is a source of carbohydrates which are important to consume after a hard workout. However, 15g of sugar is considerably more than I would usually consume when mixing my go-to whey isolate with water.

A couple of other ingredients that I’m not so excited to see in the drink are sucralose and carrageenan. Sucralose is an artificial sweetener, which I personally prefer to avoid, and carrageenan is an ingredient used in many processed foods as a stabiliser. While carrageenan is naturally occurring (it’s extracted from red seaweed), it has no nutritional value but has been associated with a variety of health issues as it is inflammation-causing.

Finally though, the star of the show: creatine. The MaxiNutrition ‘Cyclone' sub-brand is a range including creatine in its products, a supplement known to increase the body’s performance capability, giving high intensity exercisers the ability to train harder, in short successive bursts. You can read my more detailed post on creatine, here.

What’s particularly unique about Cyclone Milk is that is it the first ever ready-to-drink protein milk to boast liquid creatine.

Patent Pending Technology

Creatine is most stable in its solid form and is known to be unstable in a solution, degrading in creatinine. Because of this, liquid creatine drinks have not previously (successfully) existed in the sports supplement market. Cyclone Milk is the world’s 1st patent pending creatine milk delivering 3g creatine. Exciting stuff!

Chris Harrison, GSK Scientist and creator of Cyclone Milk said:

“This has been two years in the making and the research we have done into stabilising creatine in liquid is extensive. I managed to stabilise creatine in a milk format by using the natural protective properties of whey and milk proteins. It’s a great achievement for me and for the team at GSK who have worked on this.”
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Taste + Texture

This drink is lovely! The texture is really light and smooth, which makes it super easy to drink. The strawberry flavour that I tried is really nice and tastes quite natural, whereas a lot of ready-to-drink shakes tend to taste overpowering and artificial. The same goes for the sweetness; not overpowering or noticeably artificial tasting as I find with other drinks of this nature.

Price

The price of this drink is £3.49.

I estimate the cost of the usual whey isolate and creatine monohydrate that I pop in a tub in my gym bag to be around 58p per serving (78p if you include a scoop of glutamine and a fun size pack of Haribo for some sugar, to bring the nutritional profile more inline with that of Cyclone Milk).

So, Cyclone Milk doesn’t come cheap!

However, it’s worth considering that MaxiNutrition products are made by GSK Consumer Healthcare, so the products are absolutely backed by science. I’ve personally had a behind-the-scenes peek of some of the R+D behind Maxi’s products (check out my post on the GSK HPL lab). MaxiNutrition also strictly monitor the quality of their products.

Although this goes some way to justify the price point, it doesn’t make the product any more affordable (especially on my current student budget!), so I personally wouldn’t purchase it regularly. However, if I’m training and haven’t got my usual post-workout mix of powders with me, I would absolutely consider grabbing one of these drinks rather than going without a post-workout recovery shake.

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My Verdict

Although MaxiNutrition recommend consuming Cyclone Milk ‘as a snack’, I personally wouldn’t reach for it at any time other than post-workout.

I’d only purchase this product a bit of a treat or in an ‘emergency' when I have no other post-workout shake to hand. I wouldn’t purchase or consume this product regularly due to the price point and the fact that it contains ingredients such as carrageenan, which I would prefer to avoid. 

Overall, this drink was tasty and I really love the convenience of the shake.