Gluten Free Fitness

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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?

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:

A Tale of 3 Gluten Free Protein Bars: 22 Days Nutrition, Luna Protein, and Quest

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If you’ve been here at all, you know I’m a fan of real food, real, whole, naturally gluten free food. In fact, I think it’s the easiest way to eat a gluten free diet.

I also am a fan of making my own protein bars.   And there’s a plethora of naturally gluten free easy snacks you can eat.

But sometimes, you need or want a shelf stable, premade, small meal or snack.  That’s when a store bought protein bar can come in handy.

Gluten free protein bars

I’ve eaten a lot of protein bars in my time, both prior to learning I had celiac disease and after.  After celiac (AC) the challenge has  been to find a true gluten free protein bar.  There really were very few up until recently.  I’ve already reviewed several here, my favorites being VixiBars and ZingBars.  And now, we have 3 more contenders.  And my new hands down favorite.   (Full disclosure: The 22 Days and Luna bars were provided to me free of charge for review purposes.  As always, this in no way influenced my review.)

A general comment about protein/snack bars: if you are keeping one in your bag or car for “emergencies” remember that a chocolate/yogurt coated bar WILL MELT and make a damn mess!!  (Yes, this is experience talking 😉

First, 22 Days Nutrition Bars:
  • 22 Days bars are vegetarian/vegan, and the protein they use is is hemp and rice.  This is a bonus to the dairy sensitive, and obviously to vegans.
  • I like the idea of 22 Days, I like that they are gluten, HFCS, and soy free.
  • I like that I can read and understand the short ingredient list.
  • I did not like that the protein content was a bit low in my opinion, at 10-11 grams per bar.
  • I did not like that the texture was very dry, in my opinion.
  • Out of the 3 flavors I tried, the only one I remotely liked was the Daily Mocha Mantra.  Again, everyone’s tastebuds are different, so your mileage may vary.
22 Days Daily Mocha Mantra Nutrition Facts label

22 Days Daily Mocha Mantra Nutrition Facts label

Next, Luna Bars new line of gluten free Protein Bars:
  • As some of you may know, Luna Bars were NOT gluten free in the past.  Here is the information that is on Luna’s website:

    At the beginning of 2011 we started to transition all LUNA Protein flavors to be gluten free. To do this, Clif Bar & Company has looked at all aspects of making our bars. Our ingredient suppliers have confirmed that all ingredients are gluten free, so they contain no gluten from wheat, rye or barley. The location where we make our food is capable of making a gluten free food and we test our finished products to confirm that they are gluten free.  Our newest flavors, Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate, are all labeled gluten free.  As of March 2011, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookie Dough, and Chocolate Cherry Almond transitioned to be gluten free, as well. You can tell if your LUNA Protein bar is gluten free by looking at the packaging.

  • Luna Bars use soy as their protein source.  For me, this is a downer.  I prefer to not use soy protein.  These bars also had the longest ingredient list of these 3 bar brands.
  • I tried 3 flavors.  I liked only one, the Chocolate Peanut Butter.  The others tasted very artificially flavored and had a funny aftertaste to me.  I expected to love the Cookie Dough and was really disappointed in that one.
  • Again, in my opinion these were skinny on protein at 12 grams.  This all depends on what you shoot for as your daily protein intake.  For me, as an active, weight training athlete, I generally shoot for at least 1 gram per pound of body weight.
Last, but certainly not least, and my new favorite: Quest Bars:

  • Quest now has 5 flavors in their line up.  I had tried the Peanut Butter and Vanilla Almond in the past, and they were good but not great.  They have just added 3 new flavors, and now they are great.  In fact, the Chocolate Brownie is on auto-ship to my house.  Not lying.  My husband and I both really enjoy them, and a bar is now my “dessert” on a regular basis.
  • According my taste buds, here’s my listing from most to least favorite (although I thought they were all good) Chocolate Brownie, Apple Pie, Peanut Butter, Mixed Berry, Vanilla Almond.  I did hear there is a Chocolate Peanut Butter coming soon…
  • Ingredient list for the Chocolate Brownie: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Isomalto-Oligosaccharide* (100% Natural Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Cocoa, Water, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Lo Han Guo, Sucralose.
  • Here’s the low down on the ingredients that may look unfamiliar:
    • Isomalto-Oligosaccharide: In order for Quest Bars to be usable as a complete meal, we wanted to ensure that they contained enough fiber to really matter. Almost every ounce of carbohydrate in our bars comes from fiber, which will keep your insulin levels low and your stomach satisfied. Fiber has been shown to do many things such as controlling hunger, improving digestive health and preventing certain diseases. IMO is a 100% natural fiber derived from plant sources that is very similar to the better known chicory root fiber. The two fiber sources are almost identical in taste, feel and texture but with one minor exception: IMO does not cause any intestinal upset whatsoever even for people with very sensitive stomachs. We use it to make sure that Quest bars can be complete meals for use whenever you want something convenient.
    • Lo Han Guo: A natural herb that’s been used as a sweetener in China for over 1,000 years. It only takes a TINY amount as it’s 300 times sweeter than sugar.
  • They do use some sucralose, which is the one thing I would change if I could.  I have heard that they are working on removing this as well.
  • Quest Bars all have 20 grams of protein.  That’s what I’m talking about.
There you go!  Have you tried any of these?  What is your favorite/least favorite brand/flavor?

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!


Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Review

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Have you noticed I’ve done a few chocolate chip cookie recipes?

Well, even if you haven’t noticed, I have.  I seem to have a bit of an obsession with chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies are just such a soothing, all-American treat.  When I was a kid pre-celiac diagnosis, I had a chocolate chip cookie obsession then too.  Soft Batch cookies, remember them?  Oh, yeah.  Heated up for just a few seconds until the chips were all mice and melty…heaven in a bite.

Now that I’m a bit older, gluten free, and aware of nutrition, I try to have some redeeming qualities in my treats for the most part.

As a part of designing my diet to provide maximal quality and nutrients, I try to use coconut products on a regular basis.  Coconut is not a miracle cure for anything, and please run screaming from anyone who tries to tell you so.  However, it is a food that has some very interesting and unique properties.  And, it tastes pretty darn yummy.

Funny random fact about me: I like coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut flour, and coconut flavor in general.  However, I don’t like actual coconut.  Like, the shredded kind.  I hate macaroons.  I think it’s a texture thing.  But I digress.

Coconut oil is also not the devil as opponents to saturated fat may try to state.  Actually, saturated fat itself is not the devil.  Saturated fat in combination with refined carbohydrate may in fact, be the devil.  But again, I digress.

I feel compelled to say that coconut products contain calories.
Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate

Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate

This seems obvious, but I have heard stories of people adding large amounts of calorie dense coconut products to their diet and expecting the laws of thermodynamics to no longer apply.  As much as that would be fabulous, it is in fact false.  If you add calories in, you have to take some out from somewhere, or you will gain weight.

Tropical Traditions is where I get my coconut flour and coconut oil.  I saw they had a product called coconut cream concentrate, which I had never heard of/tried before.  They very kindly supplied me with a complimentary sample to try.

Coconut Cream Concentrate is pretty cool stuff.

From the Tropical Traditions website:

Coconut Cream Concentrate is certified organic whole coconut meat in concentrated form. It contains no additives* (not even water). The dried coconut meat is ground very finely, giving it a creamy consistency due to its high fat content. Since it is 70% fat, it is a rich source of pure coconut oil. Note: this is a food, not a cooking oil.

It reminded me a lot of natural nut butter, how the oil separates and comes to the top?  Same gig.

I highly recommend watching the video provided by Tropical Traditions on how to prepare your concentrate to use.  Me being me, I skipped that part thinking I could stir it like nut butter.  No, you can’t.  Warm it first.  What’s really cool about this product in my opinion, is that you could theoretically pour off the top coconut oil and use that, and then use the meat part to make coconut milk (they recommend a couple teaspoons per 16 ounces of water, and it will be “grainy” due to the fiber in the coconut.)  It’s pretty darn versatile.  I mixed up a couple tablespoons in a quart jar with water and use it in my coffee.

Here is my coconut cream chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Have you used coconut cream concentrate?  What’s your favorite way to use coconut?  Hit it up in the comments!

“Want” to Lose Weight but “Can’t?” Read This Book…

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I recently had to travel for work, and pulled out this little book that had been sitting on my bookshelf.  I had bought it from Amazon.  It was on my “recommended for you” list, and it looked good.  (They do a pretty good job with those, don’t they?  I don’t know what the algorithm is, but it’s pretty impressive.)  I’m writing it up now, before months go by like they did for my review of Generation Gluten Free.

The book was my plane reading, and it kept me both engrossed and entertained.

It will do the same for you, whether you are celiac and on a gluten free diet, living gluten free for other reasons, (like gluten intolerance, or avoidance of lectins-which by the way I will be touching on in a post next week) or not gluten free at all.  It really doesn’t matter.

If you are human, and you eat food, and you wonder if your eating is spurred by more than just physical hunger, you need to read this book.

It’s called Hungry: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Fat to Thin by Allen Zadoff.

The longer I’m in this game of nutrition and fitness the more I see that weight issues are very rarely just about the physical aspect of eating.

Eating is so tied into emotions for us.  Eating is celebration, eating is family, eating is love, eating is sorrow.

I’ve learned through my experiences in both the fitness industry and in “real life” that sometimes those individuals who look like they have the perfect body, the perfect life, are sometimes the most messed up of all.

In “Hungry,” Allen explores his journey in losing, regaining, and finally losing again, weight over a 28 year period.  In his journey he finds that life is not perfect when you are thin, and that there so many issues to deal with when it comes to food.  Although we all have our own personal journey, his story is very relateable.

He shares his discoveries of what helped him lose, and helps him maintain, his weight.  Here’s a hint-it’s not necessarily about counting calories.  You’ll have to read the book.

“Hungry” is an exploration of the psychological issues with eating and overeating; the awareness, recognition, and finally success over them.

You may not go through the same exact issues as Allen did, but I’m sure you can find tidbits where you can relate.

With Allen, you travel through despair, hopelessness, resignation, determination, reflection, and finally motivation and success.

Read this book, and take from it what will help you on your journey.

Even with a better handle on the psychology of weight loss, weight gain and overeating, you still need strategies for the physical aspects.

For that, you can check out Gluten Free and Fit 101.

I’m curious to hear-what psychological issues with food have surprised you, either in yourself, or what you’ve seen in others?

Gluten Free Protein Powder Reviews

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Gluten Free Protein Powder Reviews and Recommendations (or not!)

Protein powder. It can be so useful, so tasty, so convenient! It can also be completely vile tasting, or worse, make us sick due to cross-contact or hidden gluten. This page is for us all to share our experiences with protein powders, so we can learn from each other and hopefully spare ourselves from wasting money on a product that is nasty.

Please, please be aware that reformulations do occur, so always check labels prior to ingesting any product. If in doubt, contact the company directly.

Here’s what to do
  • Leave a comment below indicating the brand of protein, flavor, and quick summary of the nutrition facts if you have the label handy. Please also indicate the gluten status-if you’ve contacted the company please include that information, if there’s a gluten free label, no gluten containing ingredients, etc. Whatever is applicable.
  • Add your review: How was the flavor, the consistency, the mixability? Would you purchase it again? Feel free to use a 1-10 scale if you would like.

Of course, taste is individual, and what one person finds delicious another may find revolting-but I’m hoping that this will give us a good starting point.

Here are a couple I’ve done

Bring the reviews! I will be adding more as well. 🙂

Zing Bars: Gluten Free Protein Bar Review

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Shockingly, the time has come…

There is actually a nutrition bar that has a quality ingredient list, positive nutritional profile, and really good taste. Did I mention how good they taste?

It’s AmaZing! (That’s actually part of the compant tagline, I can’t take credit for being that creative.)

Zing bars were created by a team of nutritionists who were unable to find a bar they liked enough to recommend to their patients. So, they created their own. I am so glad they did that!

From the Zing Bar website

We could create our own all-natural nutrition bar. Our take on the perfect snack. A bar with everything we wanted it to have, and nothing we didn’t. A healthy balance of carbs, protein and beneficial fats, but no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives. No trans fats, synthetic vitamins, or allergy-aggravating gluten, wheat or soy protein.

The Zing Bars come in 5 flavors: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cranberry Orange, Almond Blueberry, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. All flavors are gluten free, and the peanut butter chocolate chip and cranberry orange flavors are also dairy free.

Nutrition

Protein sources in the bars are rice protein, whey (in the bars which contain dairy) and a bit from nut butters and nuts.

The fats come primarily from the aforementioned nuts and nut butters. Carbohydrate sources (dependent on flavor) are from fruits (blueberry, cranberry, apples,) brown rice crisps, gluten free oats, Fruitrim, and agave or brown rice syrup.

Fruitrim (R) is a liquid, carbohydrate-based ingredient formed from fruit juice and dextrin is helps the bars retain moisture and extends shelf life. The bars also contain inulin/chicory root for a bit of added fiber.

The nutritional profile is similar for all flavors, but does vary a bit, so here’s a basic idea:

1 bar contains:

  • 210 calories
  • 25 grams of carbohydrate which includes 4 grams of fiber
  • 9 grams of fat
  • 11 grams of protein
The taste

I was admittedly floored when I tasted these. They are moist, have chunks of whatever is appropriate to the flavor (blueberries, almonds, chocolate, etc.) and are plenty sweet without being overly sweet. The Chocolate peanut butter flavor has a chocolate coating, which was a pleasant surprise. Given that, this is the one flavor that has melting potential, so keep that in mind if you leave one or two in your glove box for “emergencies.” (Yes, I do that. I get really irritated when I get hungry, and having something available is best for everyone in the state.)

I didn’t get to try the Cranberry Orange-I handed it to Jeff, because he’s big fan of that flavor combo. He tried it, said “Wow. This is really good.” And ate the whole thing. His feedback was-“really moist, and lots of flavor, lots of cranberries.” This is from a gluten-eater. I am a chocolate hound, as you guys have heard me say before, and the Almond Blueberry I liked just as much as the chocolate flavors. They are that good.

This would make a good between meal snack, something convenient to keep in a purse or backpack in case hunger strikes. (I also give some other ideas in my Top 10 portable gluten free snacks post.) It would even make for a good pre or post workout snack, although the fat is a tad high for that purpose. These would be perfect to keep on hand for your kids-a much healthier choice than a couple of cookies. I will be taking them on our road trip to Tennessee, and out with us when we go hiking-the mix of protein, carbs and fat is perfect for giving some sustained release of nutrition.

These are a great option. Thank you to Stacey for sending me each flavor to sample.

Let me know your thoughts on the bars in the comments below. Have you tried them? Favorite flavor?