Gluten Free Fitness

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Contamination in Naturally Gluten Free Grains

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Contamination in Naturally Gluten Free Grains – but Don’t Panic

Previously, Aaron posted about the proposed FDA guidelines for labeling an item gluten free.  These guidelines would allow products with less than 20 ppm (parts per million) to be labeled gluten free.  My thoughts were that if you eat one item that contains 20 ppm of gluten, there may be no issue.  However, if you have multiple items, does that gluten have an additive effect?  It is like eating something with a considerably larger amount of gluten?

We don’t know.

My thoughts are to focus on naturally gluten free foods and eliminate the worry.  In the proposed rule, single ingredient foods that are considered inherently gluten free (think rice, millet, amaranth) can be considered misbranded if they are labeled gluten free.  They would have to be labeled gluten free and also state that all foods of that type are gluten free.  (Like labeling an apple low fat.  It would have to say-“all apples are low fat.”)

Or not.

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, and well known in the celiac community, was recently involved in a research study that examined naturally gluten free grains, and tested them for gluten.    Their findings indicate that naturally gluten free grains can be, and are, contaminated with gluten.

So much for sticking to naturally gluten free foods to avoid the 20 ppm of gluten, eh?

Cross contamination with gluten?!? WAH!

Photo credit waggg

They tested 22 types of naturally gluten free grains that were not labeled gluten free.  7 of the 22 included a voluntary allergen statement for wheat.  (I’m assuming that this is the “processed in a facility which also processes wheat” statement.)  From Tricia’s write up on the study “products included white rice and flour, brown rice, corn meal, polenta, buckwheat and buckwheat flour, amaranth seed and flour, flax seed, millet grain and flour, sorghum flour, and soy flour.”

The results:

Let’s look first at the ones that had the allergy advisory for wheat.  Out of those 7, 4 tested had above 5 ppm (5 ppm was considered the threshold for gluten with the testing they used-this is less than the proposed FDA guideline) and 3 had less than 5 ppm.  Seems a bit of a crap shoot, doesn’t it?

For the remaining 15 that did not have the wheat allergen advisory, 5 items were over the 5 ppm of gluten.  10 were below.

The conclusion from Tricia’s write up:

Results of this study confirm that a certain percentage of inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours are NOT gluten-free when they are purchased by consumers. Co-mingling of grain and seed can occur anywhere along the line from the field to the packaging plant.

Results also suggest that consumers can not rely on voluntary allergen advisory statements for wheat to make decisions about which products are more or less likely to be contaminated. Four of seven products containing greater than or equal to 20 ppm gluten did not contain an allergen statement for wheat while three of the products that contained below the limit of quantification for gluten did contain an allergen advisory statement.

While we can infer from this study that some degree of contamination exists in naturally gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours sampling was not large enough to make any assessment on the overall percentage of contaminated product.

Sampling also was not large enough to make any inferences on the specific grains, flours, and seeds more or less likely to be contaminated.”

  • To note: This study was funded in part by Schar USA, a manufacturer of prepared gluten-free foods.  It’s always good to look and see who funds any research you may be interested in.  In this particular case, I certainly don’t think that Schar framed the study by intentionally contaminating anything, and the testing procedures seem very cut and dry.  It does not appear that the funding would have had any impact on this study.

So what’s the take home from all this?

Well, don’t panic.  As noted above, the sample size (number of products and grains tested) was not large enough to make any sweeping conclusions.  It does certainly warrant additional testing, as well as continued tweaking to the proposed gluten free labeling guidelines.

For me, it reinforces what I  tend to do anyway-utilize white and sweet potato, rice, and gluten free oats for the majority of my carbohydrate sources.  There could still be contamination in the rice, but for now, that’s what I’m going to do.

After all, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.  You just never know.

What are your thoughts?

FYI-I’ve added a new free downloadable “tips” PDF to Gluten Free and Fit 101-go check it out!

Addendum: Tricia has now added a Part 2

Leave comments below-are you going to change anything you currently eat based on this information?


Ignite Naturals Gel Review for the Gluten Free Endurance Athlete

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Gluten-Free endurance athlete

As a cyclist, I eat my fair share of portable, hopefully non-meltable food.

In my post on fueling the gluten free endurance athlete, I outlined some options that I have tried myself.  I have a new gel that I’ve used since, and also a DIY energy gel recipe that you can use to refill a flask and save yourself some $$.

First, Ignite Naturals Reload Energy Gel.

I had wanted to try the Reload gels as they are made from “real food” ingredients.  The main ingredient is fig paste.  Yup, the stuff that is the inside of a Fig Newton.  The gels come in 3 different fruit flavors (which honestly all tasted very similar to me, but I am not focusing on any flavor complexities when I’m shoving gel in my mouth with one hand on the handlebars and trying to breathe.)

Each gel is about 100 calories and provides 25 grams of carbohydrate.  I found the packaging fairly easy to open with my teeth.  The gel itself is a bit thicker than I would prefer, I felt like I almost had to chew it.  When I reach for an energy gel, I do not necessarily want to chew.  It still went down fairly easily, with a swig of water to wash it all down. Overall, a great option and one I will continue to use.

Ignite Naturals also has a few other products that I am looking into, one I am particularly interested in in their Adrenal ReBoot.  As an endurance athlete training 8-15 hours a week, and with a history of autoimmune disease and hormonal imbalance, I am especially concerned with adrenal support.  Ignite Naturals is a company I will be doing additional work with in the future, as I am especially impressed with their dedication to natural ingredients and their company philosophy.

Now it’s my turn…

Here is my recipe for a DIY energy gel.

Live purely: I am a purely elizabeth Ambassador

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Purely Elizabeth Ambassador

That’s right, kids… I am a Purely Elizabeth Ambassador

Way back in 2009, the year I started GFF, I reviewed a muffin mix from a new company called purely elizabeth.  At that time, purely was brand new to the scene, the gluten free food “trend” was just starting to take off, and there were very few companies that were attempting to use whole grains that were gluten free and also had some sort of nutritional value.  It was all starches, all the time.  Elizabeth was doing something groundbreaking by offering better for you muffin and pancake mixes.  I had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth at a gluten free expo here in South Florida in March of 2010.  She is truly a special lady with a huge heart.  She and I definitely have the “generally healthy eater with weakness for baked goods” thing in common too.

Fast forward to 2012, and purely elizabeth has grown immensely.  They have expanded their product offerings, and are now available in Whole Foods (!) but all the while have maintained the dedication to good taste, good ingredients, and good nutrition.

The products are certified gluten free and vegan, non-GMO, and the cookie mixes are certified organic.  The ingredients are all top notch, and ones I would use if I were baking from scratch.

It’s not just about the food, though.  Purely elizabeth also promotes living purely, which we all may define differently.  For me, it’s moving my body, fueling it well, resting adequately, and choosing the positive perspective whenever possible.  And living purely also incorporates some tasty, nutritious treats of chocolate chip cookies after a long bike ride.

Purely elizabeth is a company whose products and values align very well with my own.  I am honored and pleased to have been chosen as an ambassador.  

If you’ve not checked out purely elizabeth yet, go to their website and read about how awesome they are.  Then, go to Whole Foods (they’re on sale!) and get you some.  OR, you can always order online.

Aside from awesome baking mixes and granola, if you need some more info for generally eating a healthier gluten free menu, check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for lots of articles to get you started.

Fueling options for the gluten free endurance athlete

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Fueling options for the gluten free endurance athlete

As many of you know, I’ve gone back to my endurance athlete ways.

I played around with being a figure athlete for a while, when I wasn’t “allowed” to ride due to the complexity and fragility of the surgical repairs to my knees, but when I was cleared by my orthopedist to return to road cycling last fall, I jumped back in.

Since then, I’ve progressed significantly and am learning to get my head and preconceived notions out of the way of what my body is capable of.  

Training for endurance athletics versus training for aesthetics and strength require very different types of fueling, specifically during exercise.  I definitely run well on carbohydrate (yes, I know it’s not “necessary” to life, and some people do fine on low carb diets, even endurance athletes, but I am not one of them.  Trial and error and experience have taught me that I do just fine with carbs.)  In general, when training for strength and aesthetics, your actual exercise time is not very long, usually less than an hour.  There’s no real need for “during exercise” fueling.  On the other hand, I can easily be out for 2-4 hours training on the bike, on a generally 5 day per week basis.  That requires some fuel.

As an endurance athlete with celiac disease, I have to be very aware and careful with what fuel I choose.  I always carry enough food to sustain me, as I do not like to be dependent upon finding appropriate food while at a ride or race.  (The only exception is a banana-I feel very safe peeling one of those myself and eating it, and pretty much every convenience store/gas station has bananas these days.)

As always when it comes to specific brands and foods, if it is a packaged/labeled/manufactured item, always check labels and double check with the companies if you are not sure.  Although these items were safe and gluten free at the time this was written, formulations and ingredients change and it is always better to be careful.

There are quite a few options out there, so I’m just going to focus on the ones I’ve personally tried.  Let’s split it up into fluids, gels, and real food (aka food that requires chewing.)  Just for grins.  Let’s remember that sugars are OK when you’re exercising for a long period of time, and for the sake of this discussion that means > 90 minutes of a moderate intensity.

Fluids

  • Good old water.  If your training session is 90 minutes or less of moderate or easy intensity, you’re good with just water or perhaps a low calorie electrolyte providing beverage, such as…
  • ZYM. I like ZYM Catapult because it has a little caffeine (a performance enhancer) but not too much, and I like the Berry flavor.  It has a little fizz to it but it goes away quickly.  I’ve also tried the lemon lime flavor which was quite good as well.  The flavoring is subtle.  These are handy because you can toss the tube into your pocket and take it with you, which saves me having to use Gatorade on the road to refill out of desperation.  (The osmolality in Gatorade is not my friend, tummy discomfort galore.)  I’ve heard Nuun tabs are similar, but I’ve not tried those.
  • Generation UCAN.  This is technically a pre-training drink, but it is a fluid, so here you go.  I did extensive testing and reviews of Gen UCAN, and still use it.  I alternate UCAN with a mixture of honey and coconut oil as my pre-ride fuel.  (I ride very early in the morning.)  UCAN is a carbohydrate and electrolyte drink, designed for use pre-workout.  Read my reviews here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
  • First Endurance Electrolyte Fuel System Drink Mix.  This is my drink of choice for providing carbohydrate and electrolytes in fluid form while training.  I’ve tried another brand (Hammer’s HEED) which I did not like the taste of and did not have as good of an electrolyte profile as the EFS does.  I like the Fruit Punch flavor.

 Gels (’cause when I’m riding hard, ain’t no way I’m chewing.)

  •  Honey Stinger Energy Gel.  This is my current favorite.  The packets are easy to open, and the consistency of the honey is slightly watered down so it is easy to swallow.  I like the chocolate and Ginsting (which is a regular honey flavor with a little caffeine) flavors.  I especially appreciate the limited ingredient list.  Honey is a really good carbohydrate source for athletes, by the way.  Check it out.  The research was funded by the Honey Board, but still.  It’s also good for lots of other stuff.  (As an aside, that is why on the days I do not use Gen UCAN as my pre training drink, I use a mix of coconut oil or coconut butter and honey.  The medium chain triglycerides in the coconut oil get used for fuel, and the honey is a great carb source.  I started using this on the suggestion of Kelli Jennings at Apex Nutrition.  As Kelli says “These are fast-acting, quick-metabolizing energy foods.  The honey provides moderately fast carbs that act similarly to maltodextrin (moderately fast and longer lasting than glucose), natural enzymes to improve digestion, and antioxidants.  The organic coconut oil provides fast-acting medium chain triglycerides which are used directly by the mitochondria of cells (energy producers) without the need for bile or slow digestion.”  I am working on a DIY energy gel using these and salt, but haven’t got it yet.) The packaging for these gels is easy to open, yet is sturdy enough for a full packet to make it through the washing machine without breaking open.  I speak with first hand knowledge.  Got to check those jersey pockets.
  • Chocolate #9.  Like Honey Stinger Gels, these have a lovely ingredient list.    These were VERY chocolatey, and had a considerably thicker texture than the Honey Stinger.  They were like brownie batter, which would be lovely under different circumstances, but trying to swallow it as quickly as possible lessened my enjoyment.  Plus, it made it harder to get out of the package with your teeth.  (Keep in mind, this is while I’m riding, so teeth and one hand.)  These have less carbohydrate than the Honey Stingers as well.  These were good, but for my purposes and taste I prefer the Honey Stinger gels.

Real Food aka you have to chew it.

(For me, these are used for a ride > 2.5 hours.)

  • Bananas.  Self explanatory.  Really, any fruit, but none have the comic potential that bananas do.  Cyclists are a funny group.  Bananas are one of the few chew-requiring foods that I can eat on the bike.
  • Jovial Fig Fruit Filled Gluten Free Organic Cookies .  Fig Newtons are kind of a staple in the endurance world.  I was feeling nostalgic, so went looking for a gluten free alternative and came across these.  They are handily packaged in 2’s, which is perfect for tossing in a jersey pocket.  Tasty, too.
  • Raisins or any dried fruit.
  • LÄRABAR .  I like the Cherry Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Carrot Cake flavors.  You may be different.  A friend of mine bought the Peanut Butter Cookie and hated it, while I like it.  The combo of nuts and dried fruit gives a little bit of faster carb and the longer lasting fat fuel.
  • Coconutz Fuel Energy Balls.  Check out my review of the awesome balls here.
  • Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews.  These are nice because they don’t require too much chewing, in a pinch you can even just swallow them.  My only gripe is that they leave your fingers sticky, so try to shoot them into your mouth from the package.
  • Sweet potatoes.  Kelli Jennings of Apex Nutrition gives some awesome recipes here.  I’ve not tried these yet but they sound great, although potentially messy.
  • Potato wedges with sea salt
  • Fig and Honey Rice Cakes from The Feed Zone Cookbook (great book, very gluten free friendly.)

More ideas

My friends Kim at Gluten Free is Life and Pete at No Gluten, No Problem are endurance runners.  Check out their blogs for some more ideas.  Also, Pete was co-author with my sister from another mother Melissa, the genius behind Gluten Free for Good of the eagerly anticipated book, The Gluten-Free Edge: A Nutrition and Training Guide for Peak Athletic Performance and an Active Gluten-Free Life. It will be released on July 3rd, so go pre-order it.  It’s going to be awesome.  And that’s not even because I was one of the gluten free athletes interviewed for the book, I promise.

Hopefully this gives all you endurance athletes some ideas!  Like I said, this is by no means an all inclusive list, these are just the items I’ve tried and used.  Please leave a comment if there is something else you use and like!

If you need some more info for generally eating a healthier gluten free menu, not just for sports nutrition, check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for lots of articles to get you started.

How to get your husband to eat more veggies

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How to get your husband to eat more veggies

I have waxed philosophic about how awesome my husband is on multiple occasions.

He is truly an incredible individual and the perfect partner for me.  Now, neither of us are perfect, but we are perfect partners.

Having said that, he does not eat nearly enough vegetables.  Recently, a colleague of his was telling him that he started juicing.  He offered Jeff a glass of juice, which he actually drank.  When I heard about this, I jumped on it.

“You mean you’ll actually drink that?!?!”  Never in a million years had I thought he would consider drinking a green smoothie or juice.  Bingo, I thought.  I can fit a whole day’s worth of veggies in a smoothie.  Plus, I’d been itching for an excuse to buy a Blendtec for a year.

I had been looking over the high powered blenders, the Vitamixes, the Blendtec, OmniBlend etc, and had decided a while back that I wanted a Blendtec.  (Lexie’s Kitchen has posted a great overview and comparison, if you need a place to start.)  The online shopping fest began, and I was actually very fortunate to find a new one for a very reasonable price on ebay.

Can you see all the nutrients in there?

We’re doing a green smoothie every weekday now.  Sometimes on weekends, but not nearly as consistently.  I’ve also used the Blendtec to make cookie, muffin, and quick bread batters, protein shakes, all kinds of stuff.  It really is versatile and super easy to clean.  I’m happy with the purchase for sure.  More happy, though, that I am finally able to get the nutrition from veggies into my husband on a regular basis.  I like him and I’d like to keep him around for a while 😉

I could have tried to make the smoothie look all nice, in a glass, with a garnish or something but let’s be honest.  You’re not here for the food photography.  This is how we roll in the GFF household.  BlenderBottle for the win. Those things are genius.

Check out the green smoothie recipe here.

All in all, I’m really happy with the Blendtec.  It fits well under my cabinets on the countertop, is super easy to clean, is no louder than my cheap blender was, and gets my husband to ingest vegetable matter.  Truly a win.

If you’d like some more gluten free stuff, go check out Gluten Free and Fit 101.  Lots of info there to read while you sip on your smoothie.

Generation UCAN: Gluten Free Sports Supplement: Part 2

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In my previous post I rambled a little bit about Generation UCAN, both the product and the company.

This post will discuss a bit more in depth about athletes and reactive hypoglycemia, and my personal experiences with reactive hypoglycemia and with UCAN products so far.  The next post will be after I have had a chance to complete additional testing with the UCAN product line.  UCAN has been very kind to supply the product for testing free of charge.  My opinions were and are not influenced by anything or anyone.

Hypoglycemia

Reactive hypoglycemia is not fun.  In a nutshell, it’s when your blood sugar drops after ingesting carbohydrate.  When you are hypoglycemic, you can feel dizzy, clammy, break out in cold sweats, get confused, and potentially more fun stuff.  Really not fun at all if you happen to be moving at the time, particularly if you are out on your bike.

Interestingly, reactive hypoglycemia appears to happen in up to 30% of endurance athletes (or more).  (Granted, these were small sample sizes to be sure, but interesting nonetheless.)  Additional reviews show that some athletes have the feelings of hypoglycemic episodes without actual hypoglycemia by definition (blood glucose levels < 70 mg/dl with symptoms of hypoglycemia that are alleviated by ingestion of food.)

Bonking

I have had episodes of feeling hypoglycemic (“bonking” in the cycling world) as has my husband.  I also have had an oral glucose tolerance test (for which the importance of when diagnosing reactive hypoglycemia has been questioned) and during this test my blood sugar (after drinking a sickly sweet orange flavored nasty drink-on an empty stomach) went from 80 fasted, to 113 30 minutes after drinking the gross stuff, then dropped to 57 mg/dl at an hour after drinking the nasty orange drink like substance and was still at 54 mg/dl 2 hours post drink.

Yuckers.  Thankfully I was only sitting in a crappy plastic chair at the lab and didn’t have to pedal or avoid obstacles.

Sports drinks and sugars

So, obviously something is up and the potential to feel crappy after ingesting a bunch of sugar is there.  Fortunately, given that I believe in the easiest way to eat a healthy gluten free diet, I don’t eat a bunch of sugar on a regular basis.  But, many sports drinks on the market are essentially simple sugars.  And when you have the potential to see a blood sugar drop like that, simple sugar is something you generally want to be very cautious about.  Even when you are out for a long bike ride or other endurance event.

Since I generally ride for 3-4 hours on weekend mornings, and get in 7-10 hours a week on the bike, having other options is important.  I always have a mix of protein, carb, and fat for “real” meals.  When riding, I stick to fruits and nuts to provide a slower digesting source of sugars, and look for drink products that supply electrolytes without carbohydrate.  (Then I got stuck out on a ride, ran out of food/fluid, and bought a Gatorade G2, figuring that was the least of the evils.  I promptly had a stomachache from the osmolality and barely made it home.  Good times.)

SuperStarch

Which made the idea of Generation UCAN and SuperStarch even more appealing to me personally.  SuperStarch provides carbohydrate without simple sugar and the reactive hypoglycemia that can go along with it.  As some of you may know, I dislocated my left elbow the day after Thanksgiving, which took me off the bike for a while.  I did some testing of Gen UCAN with my lifting activity and cardio (intervals) in the gym while I was off the bike.

I’ve informally compiled a combination of how I felt along with some glucometer readings, just for grins.  This is in no way truly scientific, but gives a pretty good snapshot of how my body reacts, anyhow.

On mornings when I went to the gym and lifted weights, pre workout I drank half a packet of UCAN protein enhanced sport drink, which is a blend of whey protein and SuperStarch.   The chocolate was quite good, the vanilla…not so much.  Vanilla is very chalky.  You expect UCAN to taste somewhat chalky considering the SuperStarch, but the vanilla was VERY chalky.

This is something they are working on reformulating strictly for taste.  (Just to recap from my previous post, UCAN’s products have been independently tested and found to be free from gluten.  They are also pursuing gluten free certification.)

An improvement in blood glucose level

Subjectively, I felt “good” and had energy to get through my workout without feeling over sugared and jittery.  As an example, my fasting blood glucose level was 88 mg/dl.  I had my drink, went to the gym and lifted for 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of high intensity intervals on the elliptical.  An hour after my 2nd half of UCAN (with another .5 scoop of protein added in) my glucose reading was 84.  Those numbers held in that same region for all exercise of that nature.

As a reference, I experimented by eating a lot of simple carbohydrate one day after lifting (to the tune of over 100 grams of carb from kettle corn and Chex) and an hour later my glucose reading was 123 mg/dl.  That’s the highest I’ve ever seen it.  I’ve not yet tried the same amount of carb from SuperStarch to see the difference in blood glucose levels, (honestly, it’s just not as much fun but I will do it in the name of science) and plan on trying it sometime in the next couple of weeks.

This past weekend I went out for a 2 hour bike ride.  Fasting blood glucose level was 88.  Drank UCAN and protein, went for my ride, (only drank water while out) and after the ride blood sugar was 87.  Pretty darn stable.  Had I ridden any longer I would have had some additional nutrition.  Definitely no sense of bonking while I was out.  This was a steady endurance/tempo ride, so low-moderate intensity.  For higher intensity riding I would likely have needed additional calories sooner.  This is just my experience, so remember that your mileage may vary.

We are all biochemical snowflakes, and what is working for me may not work for you.  The best thing to do is try to track your intake as well as your response as best you can so you can see what is or is not working and make changes accordingly.

Yes you can.

Next post about Gen UCAN will be after I do some more testing.   Until then, and ss always, if you need more info on living a healthier Gluten Free and Fit life, there’s lots of resources on Gluten Free and Fit 101 that can help.  Have at it.

Gluten Free Granola, Paleo People Style: Video Review

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Granola can be delicious, there is no question about it.  Granola is a concern to those of us who are gluten free, as very often granolas contain unsafe ingredients, especially for those with celiac disease.  Oats are often included, and to be in a gluten free granola those oats must be certified gluten free due to cross contamination risks.

Paleo People granola just side step that problem completely, by creating a completely grain and gluten free granola.  They are also certified gluten free, for just another YAY!!!

Beware though, as delicious and “clean” as this granola is, it still has calories.  Quite a few, in fact, as do most granolas.  So be aware of portion sizes, my friends.  (Calories DO count.  Read these articles.)

Laura at Paleo People (formerly known as PaleoWomen, and you can find my review of that version here) is kindly extending a discount to GFF readers.  When you enter “paleochallenge” at checkout you will get 10% off your order.

Thanks Laura for sending samples, and also for providing a safe, gluten free option for those of us with celiac disease and gluten intolerance!

Remember, Gluten Free and Fit 101 has a TON of resources.  Hard to believe I’ve been writing on this blog for over 2 years already! So go read up, chances are I’ve already written an article on it.  If not, feel free to ask me on Twitter, Facebook, or shoot me an email.

UPDATED 2/10/2012: WARNING!! Some Flavors of Muscle Gauge Protein Powder MAY Contain Gluten

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Please scroll down for the latest info.

I have not yet received confirmation from the company themselves, but as this has been an issue that I have been trying to get a straight answer on since 12/28/11, and today is 1/11/12, I felt it time to alert you all.

Previously, (10/6/2010) I had written a review of Muscle Gauge Nutrition protein powder.

At the time that was written, I was advised by the company in an email that:

not only is our facility gluten free and we test the products but on  top of that we make sure that any facilities we work in conjunction with send us full certificates of analysis for their products. ALL PRODUCTS ARE GLUTEN FREE AND ALL FLAVORS.

This email was dated 9/22/10.

I am not sure if something has changed in the formulation and/or manufacturing in the meanwhile, as the packaging of the Ice Cream Sandwich flavor of American Isolate which I had purchased still states “gluten free” and the ingredient profile does not indicate any gluten containing items.  I had never used this particular flavor in the past.

HOWEVER, when I opened the package I spotted what appeared to be cookie pieces.

Cookie pieces?

Alarmed, I sent a contact form on the company website asking about the “pieces” in the Ice Cream Sandwich flavor.  This was on 12/28/11.  I received a call from one of their customer service representatives that same morning.  I asked about the “pieces”, and he stated that yes, they were cookie pieces in order to mimic the ice cream sandwich flavor.

I asked about the ingredients in the cookie pieces, because obviously if these cookies are made with any type of gluten the product is in fact, NOT gluten free.  It seemed unlikely to me that they were using gluten free cookies in the product.  The rep assured me that he felt certain that the product was gluten free, and that he would send me the full ingredient list and certificate of analysis for that particular flavor.

Still waiting…

Well, I’ve yet to receive anything.  Granted, we have had the holidays, so perhaps that is the delay.  I did follow up with a repeat email to info@musclegauge.com on 1/4/12, and have not received any response at all to that inquiry, a week later.

I have also NOT “tested” it to see if I have a reaction.  Sorry guys, not putting myself into intentionally glutening for the sake of review.  I have to draw the line somewhere.  I did however, want to post this so the information is out there for others to be aware of.

This situation brings up several great points.

  1. Formulations change.
    As of this point I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps in fact it is still gluten free, but I am not banking on it.  A good reason to always recheck and double check ingredients and labels.
  2. The fact that there is no FDA guideline for the “gluten free” label.
    If there was, the product would not be able to be labeled gluten free unless it truly was tested at <20ppm.  At this point gluten free labeling in and of itself is a free for all, which is even a better reason to look for products with a gluten free certification.
  3. Vote with your dollars.
    At this point, I will not purchase any other products from Muscle Gauge and cannot recommend them.  I have told all the sports supplement companies that I have had contact with about the importance of maintaining a gluten free product that is not just gluten free but safe for celiacs, the benefits of GF certification, and the buying power and loyalty of the celiac and gluten intolerant community.  If companies step up and meet these requirements, they will be rewarded with the business of the huge, vocal, and growing gluten free market.  If not, then we will take our business elsewhere.

Once again, as I have received no clarification from the company I cannot say that the product in fact is not gluten free.

But the presence of cookie pieces and the lack of response to my inquiries makes me very nervous.  I hope that I am wrong and that they provide me with a COA showing that there is no gluten.  Meanwhile, I am assuming the worst.  I felt it my responsibility to alert you all to my experiences so you can make your own educated decisions.

If you have had any similar experiences, please do share and post them.  Together, we can make a change in awareness.


UPDATE:

After another email to the company, I received a response from the Founder and CEO Osagie Osunde.  He stated that the Ice Cream Sandwich protein flavor is in fact NOT GLUTEN FREE due to the fact that crushed Hydrox cookies are used as flavoring.

To quote his email:

The ice cream sandwich flavor is not gluten free because of the crushed Hydrox cookies that are in the product. All of our other flavors are gluten free.

I responded to his email with the below, copied and pasted:

Thank you for the response.  No COA is needed at this point. This is a huge concern because of the lack of allergen labeling.  I suggest you do a press release and voluntary recall for undeclared wheat.  I would prefer to not have to report the violation to the FDA, which can be avoided with a voluntary recall.

http://www.celiac.com/articles/22804/1/What-You-Need-to-Know-About-False-Gluten-Free-Labeling-/Page1.html

I have celiac disease.  Thankfully I saw the cookie pieces before I drank the shake, or I would have become extremely sick.  The container is labeled gluten free.  Obviously this is incorrect.  Gluten free labeling must be taken seriously.  If your other flavors are processed on the same equipment as the ice cream sandwich flavor cookies, the possibility for cross contamination is serious.

Please do keep me posted on your intentions in handling this issue.

That email was sent on 2/2/12.  I have had no response since.

I am hugely disappointed on multiple levels.  The blatant disregard for proper labeling, the lack of prompt communication, and the lack of response regarding what is obviously a gigantic liability issue.  I will be filing a complaint with the FDA.

 

Generation UCAN: Gluten Free Sports Supplement: Part 1

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Generation UCAN is a sports supplement company I recently was made aware of, and the more I’ve learned about their company philosophy, people who comprise the company, and products; the more I like them.  This is an introduction to them, and part one of a series because there is so much to share with you about the company, the product and the science behind it, and then my testing of it that it will require a few posts.  Plus I blabber.

First of all, you’ve got to love that name.  After all my talking about “do what you CAN do” of course I dig the statement that “Generation UCAN is an idea, a feeling, an attitude, a fresh perspective. We are a new generation with a ‘Today’s the Day’ mentality…We intend to empower minds and prove that “can’t” is a thing of the past. After that, we plan to host charitable fundraisers, tackle childhood obesity and stick a flag on Mars.”  Right?!?!

The main unique component in the products that UCAN makes at this point is called SuperStarch.

SuperStarch

It is a complex, slowly digesting form of a specially processed (non GMO) corn starch.  SuperStarch was formulated originally for one of the founders of the company’s son, Jonah, who was unable to process carbohydrate like most of us can.  He was requiring feedings every two hours, and his family wanted to find a way to make him less dependent on constant influxes of food.  Scientists were commissioned, and SuperStarch was formulated.

From UCAN’s website:

This complex carbohydrate provides a steady release of glucose, keeping blood-sugar levels (energy) steady much longer. This discovery is like gold for our athletes. But for Jonah, it just meant a chance to sleep through the night. It meant a chance to get out and play baseball or on the ice and play hockey in the cold Connecticut air with his parents watching proudly. It meant a chance to live.

So what does this mean to us?

Again from UCAN’s site:

Generation UCAN powered by SuperStarch puts the body in its ideal performance state, allowing for:

  • Optimized performance with energy when you need it, without the spike and crash.
  • Sustained energy with extended delivery of glucose, keeping you above baseline longer.
  • Enhanced fat burn from suppressed insulin response, tapping into your body’s fat stores.
  • Speedier recovery as your body begins rebuilding with our protein enhanced products.
  • No gastric distress, by emptying the slowly quickly and digesting slowly in the intestine.
Testing

I want to mention that Dr. Jeff Volek has been involved with the testing of SuperStarch, and if you have heard anything about Dr. Volek, you probably know that he is known as a low carb guy for sure.  The majority of his research and writings have been dealing with the benefits and usage of a low carbohydrate diet.  When UCAN wanted their product tested, they wanted a skeptic.  Someone who would truly test the product with no preconceptions of its efficacy.

They found that in Dr. Volek, and an independent double blinded study SuperStarch was found to be the carbohydrate that really doesn’t act like a carbohydrate.  It gives the beneficial aspects of carbohydrate on performance, but without an insulin spike that can be detrimental.  If you are interested in the sciency stuff, there is a lot of information on UCAN’s website that you can peruse.  It’s really interesting (if you are a nutritional science nerd like me, that is.)

Gluten free

Plus, UCAN’s products have been independently tested and found to be free from gluten.

They are also pursuing gluten free certification.  They currently have 2 main lines of products, an electrolyte/SuperStarch blend sports drink mix (primarily for endurance cardio events, like cycling/running/etc) and a recovery powder (a whey protein and SuperStarch blend, can be used prior to or after activity dependent on what you are doing.)  There are additional products in the pipeline which will be coming soon.

This information was all very cool for me to learn personally.  I have reactive hypoglycemia, which means when I ingest a large amount of carbohydrate, my blood sugar tanks (as in, goes too low) afterward.  My husband has the same issue, and we both experience it primarily related to exercise.  Fueling a long bike ride of greater than 2 hours can be a challenge.

Also, I have had issues with osmolality of common commercial sports drinks (basically my stomach gets upset because the liquid doesn’t digest properly, that whole pesky sodium/potassium/sugar balance thing.)

Osmolality.com describes it well:

When eating foods with high osmolality due to high electrolytes, amino acids and simple sugars, why do people suffer discomfort?  When nutrition of high osmoticity is ingested, large amounts of water will transfer to the stomach and intestines. Large amounts of water in the gastrointestinal tract can cause distention, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and shock.  The body tries to keep the osmoticity of the contents of the stomach and intestines at approximately the same level as that of the fluid surrounding them.  There is great variation from one individual to another in sensitivity to the osmoticity of foods.

Um, yeah.  So I’m sensitive. What of it?

The upshot of all this is that there were lots of reasons that Generation UCAN products appealed to me.

(Side note: If you are doing exercise lasting less than one hour, you do not need a “sports drink” of any kind.  Yes, nutrition before and after.  But let’s not go nuts and replace all the calories you’ve expended if you are trying to lose fat, mmmkay?)

Then, there’s the company attitude and philosophy.  If you check out their Facebook page, you’ll see all sorts of inspirational quotes and pictures.

Generation UCAN is an idea, a feeling, an attitude, a fresh perspective. We are a new generation with a ‘Today’s the Day’ mentality.

You can see why I identify with this company’s perspective.  It’s like I’m talking to myself 😉

If you are interested, I highly recommend you spend some time clicking around UCAN’s website.  It’s super user friendly and intuitive with a ton of information.

See, this is why I’m splitting this stuff up.  I’m over a thousand words already, for Pete’s sake!

As always, if you need more info on living a healthier Gluten Free and Fit life, there’s lots of resources on Gluten Free and Fit 101 that can help.  Have at it.

Gaspari’s New Myofusion Probiotic: Gluten Free Protein Powder Review

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Gaspari Nutrition has been a very gluten free friendly company to deal with in the sports supplement industry.

And for that, I extend a huge thank you to the company in general and all the associates I have had contact with.

Myofusion probiotic

I first corresponded with Gaspari regarding their gluten free products back in September 2009.  They were very helpful then, and continue to be helpful.  In fact, they have recently added a new protein powder to their product line, the Myofusion Probiotic which is marketed as gluten free.  When I heard this exciting news, I contacted Gaspari directly to confirm.  Sean at Gaspari was very helpful and assured me that the product is gluten free.   They do not currently have a gluten free certification, but are moving in that direction.  (YAY!!)

The powder is not made in a dedicated gluten free facility, but the facility is SQF 2000 level 3 certified, which means that stringent controls are in place for allergen control.  (If you are interested, here is the SQF 2000 code, and the section on allergen control is 6.13.  Because I’m a nerd like that.)

Myofusion Pro has no gluten, aspartame, or artificial colors.  It has a shelf stable probiotic blend, and is amazingly very tasty.  It is a blend of different protein sources (it is NOT vegan or dairy free) but because of that it behaves nicely in baking.  And it tastes awesome just in a shaker cup with water, which is generally how I take my protein powder anyway.  (Or made like a pudding with a sliced banana-it’s like a chocolate covered banana treat, you should try it!)

Without further ado, here’s the product review video! Enjoy!