Gluten Free Fitness

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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!

FitFluential product review: The Chia Co Chia Seeds, found at GNC stores!

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My first vlog product review! Going forward, you will be seeing more vlog product reviews.  They give a much better feel for the actual product, I think.  However, I am a newbie to the whole video thing and am still getting the hang of volume, where to put the camera, etc. so bear with me.  They will get better, I promise!  This video is about 6-7 minutes long.  I am trying to keep them fairly short. 🙂

This review is part of my work with my Fitfluential family and our partnership with GNC.  The Chia Co chia seeds can be found at GNC online and also at your local store.  Chia seeds are naturally gluten free (be aware of any cross contamination issues-these are free of any possible contamination from gluten, but are processed in a facility with other nuts and seeds, so be aware of that if you have any sensitivities.)

In the video I talk a bit about the benefits and uses of chia, and also about this product specifically.  Let me know your thoughts, and I’d also love to hear your favorite way to use chia seeds.  Feel free to post a link to a recipe in the comments!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

Enjoy your Omega 3 goodness!

Now, these recipes are delicious and healthy, but they all have calories.  Calories count.  Gluten Free and Fit 101 gives you some more information on fitting treats like this into a healthy diet.

What’s your favorite way to eat (or grow 😉 ) chia?

Ridiculously High Protein High Fiber Gluten Free Muffin Recipe

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I’m a tweaker.

Not a tweeker, a tweaker.  Meaning I have difficulty leaving something well enough alone, even when it’s good.  To adjust, to fine tune.  Yup, that’s me.

A few months back I posted a recipe for Gluten Free Protein Blueberry Muffins.  These were really tasty.  But, if you’ve been around these parts you know I’m also a fan of baking with beans.  No, not baked beans like the maple syrupy and bacon baked beans.  Bean puree instead of flour.  Dessert hummus style, or as Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs stated so correctly…bean butter.  Doesn’t that sound better?

Anyhow, I personally prefer to soak and cook my own beans from dried rather than use cans.  Yes, it takes a little longer, but it’s essentially no actual hands on time, is much less expensive, and I know the beans have been prepared to minimize any digestive gurgling.  I prefer white navy or cannellini beans for baking.  I find that they give a smoother batter than garbanzo beans, but that’s just my opinion.  I have used black beans (and will continue to do so) for brownies for the color.

So, tweaker that I am, I took my previous incarnation of protein muffins and combined it with my love of baking with beans, to create this ridiculously high protein, high fiber, gluten free muffin recipe.

I’m not designating it as “blueberry” or “chocolate chip” or whatever kind of muffin, ’cause truth be told, you just go ahead and add in anything your little heart desires.

Gluten Free for the Holidays

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Gluten Free for the Holidays, and we conjugate our own verbs around here – Glutened

How is it almost Thanksgiving?!?  Really?!

I am the chief cook and bottle washer for Thanksgiving, so fortunately I have the POWER!!

(If you are approximately my age, you will get the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe reference.  If not, enjoy the kitteh at least.)

There is a metric ton of great information being shared out there in the gluten free world about staying safe this holiday season, and making some kick ass recipes while you’re at it.

So here’s a quick and dirty low down on some of the info.

There is definitely more out there that I am not hitting, so be sure to click the links at each of these resources for some more great stuff.

 

You’ll get them at Home for the Holidays, Gluten Free Style.  Be sure to check in over at gfe for the details!

That’s it for now!  Go forth and be healthy, happy, and as wise as you need to be, but cut loose from time to time.

Gluten Free Protein Powder Review: NeoCell Whey Isolate Collagen Sport

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I was very, very skeptical when I first read about this product.  After trying it, reading more, and reading some more, my skepticism is still there, but has been suspended a bit.  Quite a bit.

To explain, let’s talk about protein.

My go-to source for all information protein related is Lyle McDonald.  He has a great website, Body Recomposition, with tons of articles, and he also is the author of several books.  Of which I think I own all of them.  When it came time for me to do some research on the type of protein in NeoCell Whey Isolate Complex Collagen Sport (which I’m getting to) one of the first places I went was to my bookshelf, pulled off The Protein Book and started reading.

I didn’t find what I was looking for.  I had remembered learning in the past that collagen protein was used in a weight loss research study, and that collagen protein was essentially worthless when it came to sparing lean body mass during periods of caloric restriction.  I finally found it, kind of, in Lyle’s Rapid Fat Loss Handbook.

The last chance diet

In the book, Lyle touches on something that was called the Last Chance Diet, which was centered around a liquid collagen protein product only.  Yes, essentially a liquid diet.  This was not the best for health, as Lyle stated, providing “…essentially zero nutrition to the body.”  Collagen is considered an “incomplete” protein, meaning it does not contain all the amino acids, which are considered the building blocks (ie: raw material) with which to repair and build tissue.  It does not contain tryptophan.  However, there are many anecdotal reports of people using collagen supplementation who report improvement in joint pain and skin, hair, and nail condition.

Collagen and vitamin C

Collagen is actually the main component of the connective tissue in our body (ligaments, tendons, etc.) and makes up 25-35% of total body protein content.  You also need adequate Vitamin C in order to synthesize collagen properly.  Let’s remember, the Last Chance folks were getting no supplemental nutrition, and therefore were definitely not getting enough Vitamin C, nor any of the other nutrients necessary to sustain life.

OK, enough on collagen for the moment.  Let’s talk about whey, baby.

Whey protein is likely the most commonly used and favored in sports supplement products.  It is highly bioavailable with all essential amino acids, and in it’s isolate form also has little to no lactose.

In the last installment of his articles on protein quality, Lyle gives the below chart:

FoodProtein ContentDigestibilitySpeedQualityImportant AA*Micro-nutrientsFat ContentFatty Acids
BeefHighHighSlowHighN/AIron, Zinc, B12VariableN/A
ChickenHighHighSlowHighN/AIron, Zinc, B12VariableN/A
PorkHighHighSlowHighN/AN/AVariableN/A
FishHighHighSlowHighTaurine?B12VariableW-3 fish oils
Whole EggModerateHighSlowHighN/AIron, Zinc, B12
If you eat a lot
ModerateN/A
Egg WhiteHighMediumSlowModerateN/AN/ALowN/A
BeansModerateMediumSlow?ModerateN/AN/ALowN/A
Soy BeansModerateMediumSlow?ModerateN/APhytoestrogensModeratePolyunsaturated
NutsModerateMediumSlow?ModerateN/AN/AModeratePolyunsaturated
Whey powderHighHighFastHigh23-25% BCAACalciumLowN/A
Casein PowderHighHighSlowHigh20% BCAACalciumLowN/A
Soy IsolateHighHighFastHighBCAA/GlutaminePhytoestrogensLowN/A
Grains/FruitVery lowLowSlow?LowN/AN/ALowN/A

(reproduced from Bodyrecomposition.com, home of Lyle McDonald.)

 

As you can see, whey protein is pretty much the bees knees all around.  I touched on whey protein very briefly in Gluten and Dairy Free Protein Powder 101.  The interesting thing about whey protein isolate (WARNING!! SPECULATION, EDUCATED GUESSING, AND THEORECTICAL WANKING AHEAD!! This is my opinion only, and you should consult your doctor and registered dietitian about your own personal needs.)  is that the lactose has been removed, so theoretically those with lactose intolerance *should* be able to tolerate it, and there is no casein protein, so theoretically those with casein sensitivity *should* be able to tolerate it, so MAYBE dairy intolerant folks would be able to use a pure, high quality protein isolate.  I’m just sayin’.  Your mileage may vary, and we are all biochemical snowflakes.  Unique, that is.

Anyway.

Neocell whey protein

NeoCell Collagen Sport Whey Isolate ComplexNeocell Whey Protein Isolate Collagen Sport is a combination of hydrolyzed collagen  and whey isolate.

It also contains 1,000 mg of L-glutamine.  As I mentioned in my Supplements for the Gluten Free Athlete-Glutamine Edition article, glutamine can assist in healing the gut, which can then absorb nutrition better all the way around.

Jean at Neocell was very kind and sent me samples of the French Vanilla and Belgian Chocolate Powders to try.  Before I get to the taste review though, let’s talk a little more about the ingredients and why this sets this product apart from the collagen protein in the Last Chance group.

Neocell’s big selling point is that this is a “4 in1” product.  It contains whey protein isolate, hydrolyzed collagen peptides, L-glutamine and amino acids, and vitamins and minerals.

From Neocell’s website:

The 4 in 1 Breakdown:

1 – Refuel

Whey Protein Isolate is THE preferred and superior form of protein for athletes. It’s rich in essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), necessary especially after strenuous workouts. BCAAs also play a role in the body’s levels of glutathione, an important antioxidant in the immune system. NeoCell’s whey protein isolate is developed using selective ion-exchange technology, which selects the primary functional and nutritional proteins alpha- and beta- lactoglobulins and other protein fractions for a highly effective and bio-active protein.

2 – Recover

Athletes all too often do not supplement their connective tissues in tendons and ligaments until deterioration sets in, resulting in the typical aches and pains of exercise. Super Collagen® 1&3 undergoes an absorption-enhancing process that uses enzyme hydrolyzation. This process yields low molecular weight collagen peptides for maximum bioavailability. Super Collagen® 1&3 is particularly rich in the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, and supports recovery, strength, and flexibility of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

3 – Regenerate

L-Glutamine & Exogenous Amino Acids – Strenuous activity burns through your body’s glutamine supplies, which can push the body to rip glutamine from your muscles if it isn’t coming from your diet. L-glutamine is the most abundant free-form amino acid in skeletal muscle and is crucial in the muscle recovery process. The special chemical structure of L-glutamine makes it the primary amino acid that drives nitrogen into muscle cells for muscle synthesis. Exogenous amino acids overall are important for increase of net muscle protein synthesis.

4 – Replenish

Each serving of Collagen Sport™ provides a good source of daily vitamins and minerals as well as the antioxidant power of Pomegranate extract. Increased activity results in higher oxidation in the body, requiring active individuals to counteract with high quality antioxidants. NeoCell’s pomegranate extract is standardized to 70% ellagic acid, an extraordinary antioxidant that fights cell-damaging free radicals generated during exercise.

Connective tissue and collagen

Jean also sent me some company based information which was an overview of the research on connective tissue and collagen.  I am attaching a copy of that PDF here, for any one who is interested.  Keep in mind this is compiled by The Collagen Research Institute, so they do have an interest in showing the positive results.  That doesn’t negate anything that is stated, I’m just sayin’.  Be aware.

Medline/Pubmed, extracts, and articles

I also did a little looking around on MEDLINE/Pubmed, and after getting frustrated reading articles for which I could only access the abstract and not the full text (reading the full text is important, because many times you can see that perhaps methods used were less than stellar, or the conclusion doesn’t match the actual findings, or the study was funded by a company/entity that has financial interest.  You’d be surprised, research is not near as black and white as it appears to be) I was rescued by Daniel Green (@dgrreen on Twitter) who was so nice and sent me the full text of a paper I was very interested in reading.  (Aside-Daniel is a very smart cookie at Cornell whose advisor is Brian Wansink, the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, which you really should read if you haven’t already.  Outstanding book.)

The paper that I was so jazzed to read was Effects of whey and fortified collagen hydrosalate protein supplements on nitrogen balance and body composition in older women.  You don’t have to tell me how exciting my life is, I know.

Protein requirements

One very important point I want to make from this paper first though, is that it is suggested that the current RDA of protein which is .8 grams/kg/day may be inadequate to meet the protein needs of older people.  As we grow older, maintaining muscle mass and bone health gets more difficult, so eat your protein!  Also, protein quality becomes less important if protein quantity and food quality is adequate.  For the average person, all this nit picking about the minutiae of protein is a mute point.  It’s even stated in this paper:

Because subjects in our study were provided about half of their dietary protein requirement using high-quality foods, it is possible that this combination (ie, a diet comprised of foods containing sufficient amounts of indispensible amino acids necessary to meet specific protein synthesis needs and a nitrogen-rich collagen supplement necessary to meet nonspecific nitrogen needs) was sufficient to maintain nitrogen balance despite the low PDCAAS of the supplement.

Conflict of interests?

The study was fairly well constructed, using the same small number of subjects (11 women) for both interventions.  They used the Bod Pod to measure body composition, which isn’t fantastic, but not horrible either.  Nitrogen balance is discussed, but it’s not clear if nitrogen balance has a direct relationship to lean tissue, as far as I understand.  ANYWAY-I promise there is a point here-their conclusion was that supplementing with a collagen based supplement was as effective as a whey supplement for maintaining lean body mass.  This is all good stuff.  Now, a caveat.  The study was funded by grant from Medical Nutrition, USA.  They happen to manufacture the collagen based supplement.  I’m just sayin’.

By now, I’m sure you’ve had enough of my lesson on protein.  I know I have.

So what about this Collagen Sport stuff?

There’s a lot of things to like about it.  I like that it is sweetened with xylitol (some people may not like this), obviously, that it is gluten free, and I really do like the idea of combining the protein sources.  I like the fact that the company has been so helpful in answering my questions and providing me with information.

Flavors, textures and colors

I tried the vanilla flavor first.  Whenever I review I protein powder, I use a shaker cup and mix with water only, as to get a true idea of flavor and texture.  I was a little surprised to see the vanilla (which smelled awesome when I opened the canister) turn a brown color after I shook it.  It mixed well and easily with no clumps.  I did NOT like the taste the first time I tried it.  I know that with hydrolyzed whey products, masking the bitter taste is a challenge, so I assume with the limited amount of additives and sweeteners in the NeoCell you are actually getting more of the true flavor of the protein.

I took Jean’s advice, and tried mixing it with less water and drinking it immediately after mixing the next time, and it tasted much better.  Also, I much prefer the chocolate flavor, but also will mix it with only a small amount of water (as directed on the canister, actually, of course I didn’t read the directions) and drink it immediately after mixing with very cold water.  Jean shared with me that she will often blend it with frozen bananas.

Given the potential benefits of the protein, I’m willing to have a less than dessert like flavor.  It’s not unpleasant, just “mild” to use Jean’s adjective.  I’ve grown accustomed to some over sweetened and over flavored protein powders, so it is just a question of readjusting expectations.  Like so much in life.  But I digress.   If you are still with me, thanks for reading this massive post!  This turned out to be a monster!

If you are new here and would like to read more information about living a healthy gluten free life, start with Gluten Free and Fit 101.  There are other poorly formatted but well written articles there 😉


References:

PureFit Gluten and Dairy Free Nutrition Bars Review

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No Wheat, No Gluten, No Dairy

Such is the tagline for PureFit Nutrition Bars.  I was contacted by Robb Dorf, owner and creator of the Pure Fit line, to take a look at the bars and give them a taste.  Robb graciously provided samples of the bars for this review.

First, a bit about what is in, and not in, these bars.

PureFit definitely gets points for being aware of food sensitive consumers.  The bars are:

Kosher-certified and vegan-approved… do not contain dairy, wheat, or gluten, and will not melt in their packaging. PureFit works diligently to provide high-quality, award-winning nutrition bars without artificial ingredients, sugar alcohols or common allergens, including milk, wheat or gluten.

However, they have one big ingredient which many are sensitive to-and that is soy.

Ingredients

The ingredient list for the Berry Almond crunch Bar: Soy protein isolate, ground almonds, brown rice syrup, Energy Smart™ (fruit juice, natural grain dextrins), Energy Blend (fructose, natural extract of chicory, dextrose) soy crisp (soy protein isolate, rice flour, calcium carbonate), agave nectar, soynuts, soy flour, textured soy flour, natural raspberry flavored fruit [(sugar, raspberry juice, raspberry extract) cranberries], almonds, inulin, raspberries, natural flavors. Manufactured in a plant that ALSO processes milk, egg and peanuts.

Too much concentrated soy?

Not a horrific ingredient list, in fact, not bad at all.  However, I am concerned about the amount of concentrated soy products.  I personally am sensitive to concentrated soy.  (To complete this review I spared my stomach and simply took a couple small bites of each flavor, spreading the testing out over an extended period of time.)

However, I can tolerate naturally occurring soy (think edamame, and gluten free tamari) just fine.  The amount of actual soy ingested from those items is significantly less that what you would find in a soy milk or soy protein product.  This is definitely an area where your mileage may vary.

Concentrated soy is quite the controversial ingredient.  You can find many instances of soy lovers and soy haters.

As was indicated in the allergen statement, the bars are processed on shared equipment, but not with gluten containing items.

Let’s move on to the taste.

Robb sent me a sample kit, which is also available for purchase if you want to give the flavors a try.  The flavors are: Granola Crunch, Peanut Butter Crunch, Berry Almond Crunch, Chocolate Brownie, and Almond Crunch.  Believe it or not, the one I liked the least was Brownie Crunch.  Shocking, I know, as I am a confessed chocoholic.  All the flavors were a bit chalky in texture.  The Peanut Butter Crunch was the one I liked the most, and the Almond Crunch and Granola shared a very close second.  The Berry and Brownie just had too much of an artificial flavor for me to really get around.  They all required a hefty sip of water to chew and swallow.  They did have a nice crunch and chew texture.

Overall, I think these are a decent option.  The fact that they do not melt makes them good for “emergency” stash, like in your car glove compartment or in a natural disaster preparedness kit.  For that same reason they would be good fuel for outdoor sports.

However, for me personally these will not become part of my ordinary rotation.  Soy protein does not have a place in my diet.  It’s certainly a personal opinion, preference, and tolerance level.  My friend Kim at Gluten Free is Life also reviewed these bars, and she and her family were fans.  Just goes to show, what will work for one of us will not work for all of us, so keep an open mind whenever reading reviews of products.

Wish list

If there is a nutritional supplement company out there listening, here is my wish list for a protein bar:

  • Gluten free
  • Uses whey protein in some bars, and a gemma or rice protein in others for a dairy free option
  • Uses chicory root and/or stevia to sweeten
  • No sugar alcohols, no soy, no artificial sweeteners
  • At least 20 grams of protein per bar
  • Fat source of coconut
  • Low to moderate carbohydrate count

I know, a tall order.  So far the closest I’ve seen is in the Quest Bar. I’ll do a full review of them in the future.  I am very curious to see what their new flavor will be.  In the meantime, you can always make your own protein bars and control the ingredients and nutrition profile completely.

And if you want more, Gluten Free and Fit 101 has a lot more reading on living healthy and gluten free.

If you have tried the Pure Fit bars, I’d love to hear your feedback!  Also, if you’d like to weigh in on the soy controversy, feel free to comment below!