Protein Taster

Protein shakeAthletes of any persuasion need to ensure there is adequate protein in their diet. Protein contains the raw material that muscles use to repair and grow. It is also a valuable fuel for muscles, providing them with energy and even helps maintain an optimal state of metabolism.

Foods including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and nuts, to name a few, are all protein dense. A varied diet rich in these foods will definitely help the retention and growth of muscle mass and increase strength. Eating six high protein meals a day at regular intervals is generally recommended. However, even then it may be difficult for an athlete to meet their needs from these whole foods alone.

That is where protein supplements come in.

Proteins are comprised of individual amino acids which are linked together to form chains called polypeptides. When protein enters the body and is digested it is broken down into its individual amino acids. They are then used as building blocks to create new proteins as necessary.

Of the 20 standard amino acids, 9 are known as “essential” because the body cannot synthesize them on its own. The only source for them is food, and all 9 of them are necessary for the synthesis of new proteins. Protein sources that contain all of the essential amino acids are referred to as complete proteins. Though complete proteins are the most desired, incomplete protein supplements have their place and can of course be combined with others to form a complete profile.

Essential Amino Acids

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Non-essential Amino Acids

note: the designation “non-essential” does not mean the body does not need them – just that the body can synthesize them itself. Non-essential amino acids can become essential in certain circumstances, e.g. intense physical training.

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartic acid
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamic acid
  • Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

From the above list of essential amino acids, three of them are known as branched chain amino acids. They are:

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

Named due to their physical structure which differs from the other amino acids, BCAAs have a large presence in skeletal muscle tissue; about 16% of its amino acid makeup give or take a few percent. BCAAs are therefore key to muscle protein synthesis.

BCAAs demonstrate another very important behaviour: they are metabolized differently to the other amino acids and can be oxidized directly in the muscle tissue during training to provide energy. They also improve carbohydrate availability and can spare muscles some of the detrimental protein breakdown brought on by exercise.

Using BCAAs as a supplement can only help increase muscle size and strength and of course provide much needed energy during a workout.

Quantity of Protein

An individual’s protein needs is dependant on a figurative sliding scale of activity level, diet and training objectives.

To give you a benchmark to go by, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein in the U.S is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. That’s about 65 grams of protein a day for someone weighing 180 pounds.

Of course, the RDA was not calculated with athletic individuals in mind. Strength and weight lifting athletes may require up to as much as 2 grams per kilogram body weight if they are in an intense bulking phase. Any amount in excess of that may just be a waste of protein and numbers equal to or higher than around 3 grams per kg bodyweight could be on the verge of impairing kidney function.

Carbohydrate Supplementation Before, During and After Exercise

BEFORE Exercise

Supplementing with carbohydrates before exercise will have its greatest effect and is really only needed if muscle glycogen stores are low as you begin exercising. Pre-exercise supplementation may not even be necessary if the workout is to last less than around 30 minutes. Similarly, if you have eaten carb rich food leading up to exercise, you may not need to supplement at this point.

Remember: supplementing is to add to our diet when that alone is insufficient. Try not to start replacing food with supplements.

A half-hour to an hour before training, consume around 45 grams of carbohydrates (more like 30 grams for someone weighing 160 lbs and more like 60 grams for someone weighing 230 lbs).

It appears that high, moderate or low glycemic index sugars are fine as long as the levels remain stable. Once you have started on high GI carbs you have to keep consuming them to avoid the infamous “crash” during your workout. Therefore, it is our opinion that moderate GI carbs are more suitable for this initial pre-workout phase.

DURING Exercise

Carbs During ExerciseDepending on the length of your workout, you may need to supplement as you go. A high intensity session, or one lasting over an hour may not be fuelled sufficiently by the pre-workout carbs you took. Furthermore, if you opted to go without a pre-workout supplement then it might be more important to get some in as you go. Eating food is not impossible during exercise but a carbohydrate drink is much more accessible, not to mention less messy!

This is where high-GI carbs are useful for fast replenishment of your glycogen stores. A drink containing maltodextrin should do fine here. Again somewhere either side of 45 grams per hour of exercise will work. Too much and you could get an upset stomach.

A little protein or branched chain amino acid powder in the same drink mix will go a long way to reducing your exercise induced catabolism as well. We say 5 grams of BCAAs or 10-15 grams whey protein isolate should do the trick.

AFTER Exercise

The post-workout window is critical for replenishing nutrients. If ever there were serious gains to be made from training, it’s in the recovery period.

During the first 30 minutes to an hour after a workout our bodies are primed for the replenishment of glycogen stores and it is absolutely key to get it right during this period of time to be able to bounce back fully the next day. If this window is missed, it will take much longer to recover completely enough to exercise at full potential again.

After exercise, the muscles are also ready to synthesize protein and the mechanisms for amino acid transport and nutrient partitioning (insulin sensitivity) are intensified. A combination of protein and carbohydrates will work synergistically to improve muscle repair, decrease catabolism (muscle breakdown) and replenish glycogen stores.

Obviously, specific needs will depend on the person but the below indicators might help when you have your scoops ready to fill your shaker cup. This is for within the 2 hours immediately after exercise.

Exercise Intensity | Low to med | Med to high | High | Bodybuilding
Protein (g)                      5-20            20-30        30-40        40-50
Carbs (g)                       30-40          40-60         60-80       80-100

NOTE: The above quantities of protein and carbohydrate supplements would ideally be consumed as soon after training as possible.

 

 

 

 

SunWarrior Blend Raw Protein

SunWarrior Warrior Blend Protein Powder Pros & Cons at a Glance

The Pros 

  • Natural ingredients
  • Contains all essential amino acids
  • Well tolerated
  • Assists fat burning
  • Suitable for most user groups (including vegans)
  • Should produce noticeable muscle gains
  • Plentiful customer feedback (mostly positive)
  • Choice of flavors
  • Side effects are extremely unlikely
  • Readily available
  • Reasonably priced

The Cons 

  • A few customers complain about the texture/taste
  • No inclusion rates provided

Warrior Blend Raw Protein powder is manufactured in the USA by SunWarrior. The company produces several other health supplements and all SunWarrior products are made from non-genetically modified plant-based ingredients and are designed to be suitable for use by the majority of people, including vegans  and vegetarians.

SunWarrior products are:

  • Gluten free
  • Soy free
  • Dairy free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Non GMO

The Warrior Blend

Customers have three Warrior Blend flavor choices. The main blend ingredients are the same, but the use of different flavor-providing ingredients has resulted in each flavor containing a slightly different amount of protein.

  • Natural: 1 (25g) scoop provides 20g protein
  • Chocolate: 1 (25g) scoop provides 19g protein
  • Vanilla: 1 (25g) scoop provides 18g protein

The manufacturers state the real power of their blend can be attributed to ‘synergy’. Not everyone will be familiar with the word, but in a nutshell SunWarrior are saying their chosen ingredients enhance each other’s benefits to create a blend that is more powerful than any of the individual ingredients would is used alone or combined with less compatible ingredients.

Recommended Usage

One scoop should be mixed with water, coconut milk, or any preferred beverage.

Proposed Benefits

  • Complete protein contains all essential amino acids
  • Increased metabolism and fat burning while building muscle
  • Promotes liver and kidney health
  • Creates a feeling of satiety (fullness)
  • Promotes muscle function
  • Idea for healthy weight loss
  • Improved mental clarity
  • Easy to digest
  • Increases energy
  • No cholesterol
  • Heart Healthy

Ingredients

The SunWarrior Warrior Blend uses a proprietary blend, so no inclusion rates are specified. Each flavor requires a slightly different blend of ingredients (vanilla extract, organic chocolate extract etc.) but the key ingredients appear to be:

  • Raw Organic Pea Protein: Peas are naturally high in fiber, crammed full of nutrients, and a valuable source of protein that contains all essential amino acids and more branch chained amino acids than any other vegetable protein.
  • Raw Cranberry Protein:  Cranberries also contain a full spectrum of all essential amino acids. Each berry contains a muscle-pumping 25% protein and these somewhat understated berries are also credited with the power to boost the immune system, regulate cholesterol levels, alleviate stress and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
  • Raw Organic Hemp Seed Protein: Hempseed is high in protein and so rich in nutrition that it could be used as sole food source without ill effect. All the necessary amino acids are present and its genetic makeup is very similar to proteins found in the body. This allows hempseed protein to be absorbed more quickly than any other protein form
  • Medium Chain Triglycerides from Coconut:  A rich source of essential fatty acids that are reputed to encourage fat burning rather than fat storing and can speed up recover times (particularly useful after hard training sessions).

Although SunWarrior do not list it among the ingredients for their ‘natural’ flavored blend, Konjac is listed as an ingredient in the chocolate and vanilla flavor options. Konjac is a natural fiber that has the ability to absorb large quantities of moisture. This causes the fibers to swell inside the stomach to promote a feeling of fullness that naturally suppresses the appetite.

Health Considerations

SunWarrior Warrior blend protein powder is such a natural and well-tolerated product that side effects or other issues are extremely unlikely, but it is always good practice to consult a medical practitioner before beginning any form of supplementation. This is doubly true in the case of pregnant or nursing mothers.

Customer Feedback

Independent feedback is readily available and it’s hard to find anyone who has a bad word to say about the product. A little digging unearthed a customer who failed to be impressed by the blend and stated:

“I was excited to try this but was very disappointed. It’s gritty and the flavor was not very good. “

But the majority of customers appear to be happy customers and more typical responses to the product read:

“I absolutely love this!! I of all the vegan options this is by far the best in my opinion.”
“I love this product. I am not a vegan, but is an excellent vegan protein powder. A little grainy, but in a good way.”

Pricing & Availability

Customers in the US and Canada may be able to find a local retailer who stocks the product. Customers elsewhere in the world will probably have to buy online, but will be spoilt for choice when searching for a supplier. Prices vary from site to site, but a 500g pack costs $29.97 from the SunWarrior online store.