By Phil Kaplan
beginning to understand the virtues of what's termed Supportive
Nutrition which asks them to put nutrient complete meals into their
mouths every 3 - 3 ½ hours. Gone are the days when I faced the "you're
crazy" accusation on a daily basis. The word is spreading. Supportive
nutrition "works." Now there are some new challenges.
concept of frequent eating becomes ingrained, the question of "how"
arises. "Yes, I understand I should eat every three hours . . . but
how?!?!?" For most people, the answer is, "you probably can't," which is
why the idea of the meal replacement becomes so valuable. Of course,
with each realization comes yet a new question, and once it's clear
there's a place for meal replacements in the life of anyone seeking
positive physical change, the question of "which is better, bars or
powders" is inevitable. We'll address that and put it to rest right now.
Can those delicious sports bars replace meals?
Sure, but they're far from optimal. Labelers use tricks, deception, and
labeling loopholes to promote bars as "sugar free" or "low carb," but
the reality is, without some sugar a bar is not a bar. There's also a
bit of a trade-off. As you lessen the sugar content, you have to
increase fat content to maintain consistency and mouth feel. Some use
words such as corn syrup solids or high fructose corn syrup which
plainly translates into "sugar." Scan the labels on the low carb bars,
and you'll find malitol, glycerine, or glycerol. These are sugar
alcohols that can impact blood sugar and stimulate an insulin response
that is antagonistic to fat release. If the goal, at any level, involves
leanness or fat reduction, bars will not be ideal. They can act as a
substitute for a meal when they are in fact the best substitute
available, but there is a hierarchy of supportive nutrition and today's
line of sports bars is not at the top. The rule of thumb is as follows.
A supportive meal (food) is better than a powder. A supportive meal
replacement powder is better than a bar.
powders are not concerned with maintaining a solid consistency, they can
be produced without fat or sugar. Before I get into what to look for in
a powder, let's first understand why a meal is best. Aside from the fact
that many protein foods are high in vital minerals and essential fats,
and many of the supportive carbohydrate foods are loaded with vitamins,
minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, anti-carcinogens, and other
wonderful micronutrients, the fiber in fiber-rich foods aids in
efficiently moving food through the digestive tract. In addition, there
is a scientific concept nutrition experts refer to as TEF, the Thermic
Effect of Food. Meals actually require your body to perform work in the
act of digestion, thus when more activity is required, the thermic or
calorie-burning effect is enhanced. In plain English, that means meals
burn more calories.
could all spend our days cooking, preparing, and eating, six meals per
day would be a simple task, but few of us have that option. In the event
that a supportive meal is not accessible or convenient, a meal
replacement powder can be an ideal substitute. Here's where a new
challenge emerges. How do we know which one to choose?
developed my own, not from any desire to be in the supplement business,
but out of frustration. As I came to understand more about the
supplement industry, and as I explored some of the "behind the scenes"
goings-on among the biggest players in the field, I decided it best to
create a product I can stand behind without any apprehension. I went
through quite an education in developing my EAT! formula. My intention
was never to develop a mass market product, but rather to come up with a
reliable formula I felt 100% comfortable recommending to my personal
begin exploring the labels of all of the "hottest new" meal replacement
formulas, and move beyond the CP3's, the andro-stacks, and all of the
other trendy nonsensical throw-ins making the formulas more saleable,
explore the primary ingredients. Typically, ingredients are listed in
descending order of abundance, meaning whatever a product contains the
most of is listed first. It would be nice if this "rule" were really
observed, but as in the case of most label laws, there are ways around
Be wary of
ingredient labels that give a trademarked name to a "proprietary blend"
of ingredients. This allows the manufacturer to group the ingredients
together within parenthesis and make it appear that this blend is in
fact superior. In reality this allows them to take an ingredient within
the blend that might be included only in token amounts and list it first
on the label, creating the illusion that this is the most abundant
ingredient within the package. In this way, products can be built around
inexpensive and inferior proteins and the "blend" can put "whey protein"
first on the label. As a hypothetical example, if I were to trademark a
scientific sounding blend that was 90% cattle carcass, 8% ash, 1% soy
protein, ½ of 1% whey protein, and ½ of 1% casein, I could get away with
listing whey protein first on the ingredient list.
TM (whey protein, casein, soy protein, hydrolyzed gelatin, cattle
area in which product sellers have little actual regulation is in the
carbohydrate source they use. Most meal replacement powders use
Here's a good question. What is maltodextrin? Being that maltose and
dextrose are both sugars, perhaps it should be suspect? Allow me to
clear up the mystery.
Maltodextrin is a mild sweetening agent, a nutritional additive with
four calories per gram, and a texture building agent made from natural
corn starch. The corn starch is cooked and then in a process using
enzymes or acidic compounds, broken down into chains of sugar (glucose
polymers). The more expensive grades of maltodextrin act much like a
starchy carbohydrate, but the less expensive grades are not very
different than ingesting plain old ordinary simple sugar. Maltodextrin
grades can be measured by their Dextrose Equivalent (DE). The great
opportunity for supplement sellers to save money lies in the fact that
regardless of the grade used, the label reads the same. "Maltodextrin."
Period. No mention of grade. No mention of DE.
back to food for a moment, while I do, for the most part, advocate meals
that are pretty equally balanced in terms of a mix of proteins and carbs,
when you do opt for that meal replacement shake you might want to choose
one that is significantly higher in protein than in carbs. Protein is
the most thermic of the nutrients, thus what you miss out on by
sacrificing the digestive caloric burn of a meal for a powder mixed with
water, you can re-gain by shifting to a bit of a shift in nutrient
we are analyzing the majority of the sports nutrition powders that are
in fact high in protein, we'd have to put on our boots and wade deep
into the mysteries and wonders of whey. When I ask in seminar what the
best type of protein is, there's always agreement. WHEY! Then I ask a
simple question. What's whey? Few people have a clue. Little Miss Muffet
comes to mind. Whey is the left-over stuff from the manufacture of
cheese, and both the dairy industry and the protein sellers have done an
A-1 marketing job in leading people to believe it is in fact miraculous.
It's protein. Good protein, but in the real world, certainly not
miraculous. As a matter of fact, if whey protein is consumed by itself,
due to its rapid gastric emptying properties it leaves the stomach
extremely quickly causing a quick release of amino acids into the
bloodstream. A spike in serum amino acid levels causes the liver to
spike enzyme production in order to metabolize many of the amino acids
that could have been used for cell growth or repair. To offset the rapid
gastric emptying properties of whey, in my
EAT! formula I opted to mix whey
protein with egg protein. The two highly bioavailable proteins
complement each other to move slowly and efficiently through the
digestive tract for optimal protein absorption.
concern for protein usage? Well, if muscle's a concern, and it should
be, we must not only take in, but must take in and use enough of the
amino acids to preserve muscle tissue, and if desired, to add some. Some
amino acids will be metabolized to meet energy demand so we want to
ensure we get as much of the protein we ingest into the bloodstream as
possible at a gradual enough pace to ensure optimal usage. I know many
mainstream nutritionists have downplayed the value of protein for those
seeking lean bodies, but the research seems to back up the theory that
muscle activating athletes have greater protein needs as a result of
their enhanced activity.
confusing? Of course it is, and in that lies the challenge! Over hyped
marketing, deceptive labeling, and manufacturing shortcuts have made
supplement selection a project fit for a detective. My intention is not
to put down any of the products on the market. There are some very good
ones, although to be sold commercially there is always a concern for
saving dollars in the process of manufacture. You see, manufacturers
sell to wholesalers. Wholesalers tack on their profits and then they
sell to distributors. Distributors jack up the prices and they sell to
retailers. Retailers add in their profit and sell to the consumer. In
order to be profitable, commercial sellers of these products are almost
forced to cut corners.
stands up against anything on the market, and although I don't
manufacture it in massive volume, I also don't have any of the
distribution costs. It goes right from my warehouse to the consumer.
That allows me to use the highest quality proteins, the highest grades
of maltodextrin, and to add in some valuable compounds such as added
L-glutamine, phosphatidylserine, and L-tyrosine. It allows me to test
each batch to make sure the ingredients meet label claims. Best of all,
it allows me the confidence to sell my EAT Pro! Formula with a guarantee
of satisfaction. Are there other products I use? Sure. For variety I
often use Labrada's Lean Body formula, some of AST's products, and some
powders produced by Pinnacle. As a reliable meal replacement, however,
the staple remains EAT! It works for me and for hundreds of my customers
then there's the issue of taste. It tastes great! This started out to be
a short explanation of how to select a meal replacement formula, but you
know me, once I get going, I get going, and since I'm come this far, I
might as well make this article complete by clearing up some of the
protein jargon that confuses and intrigues those who read the "hot new
Biological Value (BV)
- BV is probably the most relied upon way to judge a protein's value in
terms of its cellular activity potential. It answers the question, how
much of the nitrogen (a component of protein) ingested is actually
retained. A BV of 100 would indicate that all of the protein consumed
has been utilized. Eggs have a perfect BV score. The ads for protein
products sometimes quote BV's greater than 100, but that is based on an
exaggeration of the science or a twisted variation of the formula.
Because you can't possibly retain more of something than you've
ingested, 100 would be the highest possible biological value.
- this refers to a protein that has gone through a process where an
enzyme acts to break the amino acid chains into smaller chains which
make for greater immediately availability.
- a protein hydrolysate is a complete protein which, through the act of
being hyodrolyzed, is included in a formula, not in its complete form
but in assemblages of dipeptides and tripeptides, amino acid chains that
are ready to be transported through the wall of the digestive tract and
into the bloodstream.
- the Branched Chain Amino Acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are
important amino acid structures metabolized in muscle. They can be
converted into glucose and burned as fuel and when ingested can play a
role in preventing muscle loss if the body opts to turn to protein as a
- in order to build muscle you want to be in a state referred to as a
positive nitrogen balance which simply means you are storing and
retaining more nitrogen than you are excreting. Microfiltration -
microfiltration is a process of removing fat from raw whey in
formulating a high quality whey protein concentrate
aside, here's the bottom line. You need protein. In order to preserve or
build muscle you quite likely need far more than the standard RDA's. You
also need energy substrates which would be complex carbs and essential
fats, both of which are protein sparing. You can get all of these
nutrients from food, but in the real world, supportive nutrition isn't
always easy. If you understand your options, you can make the best
possible choices and be certain your body remains nutritionally primed
More information about the 2 nutritional lines of meal replacement
shakes recommended by dieticians can be found by
© 1999 - 2006 HealthStyle Fitness, Inc -