Protein Bar Analysis: Which brand will work best for me?

The new era of marketing that has entered the fitness industry driven by social media has led to a nuch higher intrigue and uptake into the market. Men and Women are much more inclined to “get in shape” and improve themselves. Whilst on the whole this is a great thing, the more healthy people the better our society should be. But as with all things, there is a darker side which allows inflamed insecurity to be preyed on and make people more susceptible to clever marketing schemes and subtle social media ploys for business – for the record all of which I have fallen into at some point or another. An example of this is protein based products, supplements, bars, and foods are a relatively new and popular thing – you will notice that alot of things coupled with added protein appended to it costing a fraction more in price and alot of it, does not constitute the price or the degradation in taste or texture, in my opinion.

I use protein bars to mediate sweet cravings, and to use as a snack throughout the day or before training, I supplement between 1-2 of these per day, and on weekends I generally dont use them. I also use them to keep sugars to a minimum in my diet, as alot of protein bars use either more natural sweeteners like Stevia instead of processed sugars, and offset other sugars and carbs into fibers.

When I was looking at using protein bars, of course the largest brands I started with were the fitness giants like MyProtein, BulkPowders etc. When I decided to take responsibility for planning a serious diet and making a real change I wanted to know which of these were the best to invest in, consume and which would add the most benefit to my diet and goals. Therefore I have done some research on various protein bar brands and their nutritional values, prices and for the ones that I have tried, some notes on taste and texture.

With all nutrition, a scientific method of testing should be taken to see what works for each of us the best. So take a look and let me know which you go with, and how you get on with them:

Protein Bar Analysis

Summary

At the moment, I am using a mixture of Quest and Grenade bars, as these are low in calories, ~190 and ~215kcal per 60g respectively. But post competition I will be looking further outward and will be trying some more of the brands I have listed in the document above.

Feel free to comment, or send me any thoughts to either @The5thRoundMMA or @HarryPowellMMA over on Twitter.

App Review: MyFitnessPal

First of all, this post is not intended to be a run of the mill, diet and nutrition post. I am sure I will say this many times on this blog, but I really dislike the current trend of people/businesses in the fitness industry who claim to have the one answer, the one diet that will fit you/everyone (usually laden with overused, replicated diet plans and supplements). Yes, this is a business market, but it is also directly correlated to peoples mental and physical health. Therefore advice given should have a far superior lean on good science, rather than the current domination of good marketing, branding and psychological tools.

I believe there is an increasing problem when people recognise that a change in their dietary life is needed, and want a one-stop shop for the magic diet, magic training routine and protocol to get you in shape, right off the shelf. Categorically, I believe that this is impossible.

It is, however, entirely possible that someone can offer you some principals grounded in good science to build your diet from, and a good nutritionist/PT will work with you individually to get you to where you want to be. But, this is a lonely journey and must be accomplished widely on your own, so you should take responsibility for your progress, for your actions and your choices.

Diet is a mixture of the sciences and it is a real minefield; What type of diet do you follow? How do you portion meals? What times should you eat? Should you implement intermittent fasting? Are Carbs bad? Are the new trends or the old philosophies right? The list not only goes on, but the answer is all of them can work.

I recently listened to a podcast with Dr Andy Galpin and this was not only very informative, but also so refreshing to hear someone openly speak on the complexities of diet, the various nuances and how it is imperative to approach diet and training in a logical manner. I recommend everyone listens to this.

The purpose of this blog is to talk about MyFitnessPal (MFP). I have tried multiple times to use this app in the past and have failed to do so, but now i have tangible goals (also seemingly necessary to successful application of diet) I have found it easier to use. I have some pro’s and con’s which I breakdown below:

Pro’s:

  • Food Diary – You can portion out your daily intake into meals, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks and Water intake.
  • Goal Setting – You can set your goal weight, goal addition/loss of weight per week and you can determine your calories or macro distribution. After completion of each diary day, the app will give an estimate on your weight over a 5 week period should every day follow a similar protocol.
  • Meal Tracking – I personally find it useful to prepare my lunchtime meals on a Sunday evening, you can program and build into the apps your “Meals” and “Recipes”, that will give you a calorie and macro breakdown for each of your meals based on your portion.
  • A database of foods – One of my favourite parts of the app, probably its USP (Unique Selling Point) is the bar scanner. You purchase a product and scan it into the app, it will then tell you the macro’s/calorie breakdown and you can add it to your diary. If like me, you eat similar foods regularly, MFP will also cache your frequently used foods for faster adding. If not, every food scanned and added to your diary will be searchable again.
  • Weight Tracking – At your leisure you can update your current weight, and you can see a graph of your loss or gain over a variable period of time.
  • Self-Honesty – I think one of the huge things that I experienced in the past and during this current weight cut is being honest. A handful of nuts here, or an extra bit of bread or chicken or whatever it is, and you trick yourself to not think that it is meaningful at the time, but the app allows you to weigh and portion properly so you can keep yourself honest. (not sure this is right, want to add more to this)
  • Meal Planning – In order to keep myself in check, I like to plan my meals in a week or so advance. This allows me to reference what I have left to eat for the day, to stop myself from overeating.
  • Friends List – You can add friends, and share diaries. Therefore you can check up on your friends and vice versa, to either keep them adding to their diary or ensure that they are sticking to their own goals.
  • Step Count – An integration into your inbuilt Android/iPhone step counter, or you can add supported external devices you have.

Con’s:

  • Instagram type promotion – One of my problems with the fitness industry is the unrealistic imagery that is framed or photo-shopped to ensure the model looks at their optimal peak, leading people to believe that something potentially digitally altered is attainable. When you update your weight you are encouraged to add a photo, whilst this could be beneficial to you to see your own progress, the app will prompt you to share it socially.
  • Annoying ads – The free app has adverts, and like most services now the adverts are annoying at times.
  • Varying relevancy to blogs – The home page of the app offers a blog roll, including nutrition and fitness related posts. Some of these are typical “fitness industry” type articles, lacking in good science citations and based in this semi-motivational, upper hierarchy tone which isnt helpful. Of course, there are useful ones too.
  • Expensive Premium service – As always with free apps, there are services that are locked down to Premium customers: ad free app, deeper diagnostics of progress and some further tracking capabilities. You can sign up to a 1 month free trial you then pay $9.99 a month which for me, is a crazy price.
  • Tendency to crash – The app at times, does have a tendency to crash and can be sluggish when you’re entering in lots of data, or planning days in advance.

Feel free to comment, or send me any thoughts to either @The5thRoundMMA or @HarryPowellMMA over on Twitter.

Monday 12th March 2018 – Food & Nutrition

So i thought that i would begin an ad-hoc segment whereby i note down some things that i dont think are spoken about within the Martial Arts/training worlds often – whether that be good or bad. These (probably weekly) posts will be centred around things I have either struggled with, or found that there isnt alot of information on, and i will speak on my own experiences. Feel free to leave any fellow experiences and feedback, either here or tweet me at either @The5thRoundMMA or @HarryPowellMMA over on Twitter.

This post is mostly going to be how i set up my week from a nutrition perspective. I think that nutrition is really important, but is such a minefield when it comes to picking whats good for you, your sport and for your overall health the new era of fitness, whether that be Instagram celebrities pushing fad diets and supplements online, or the circus of diets from Paleo, Vegan, Caveman, Ketogenic, IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) etc. I listen to alot of Joe Rogan podcasts, who is an avid Ketogenic fan, but has podcasts concerning nutrition all over the place:

  • Dr Rhonda Patrick
  • Dom D’Agistino
  • Dr Andy Gaplin
  • Gary Taubes
  • Chris Kresser

So i am currently 3 weeks out from the NAGA 2018 tournament, in which i am aiming to compete in the Adult Male category of 59.9kg, therefore i had to put together a diet that was able to sustain me during my training (outside of my day job) but also allowed me to drop weight in a sustainable manner, and all being well will result in me not having to water cut at all.

The general rule of thumb that i take when it comes to my diet is the following:

  • Processed sugars are not good. There is so much research recently that shows that its not Fats/Saturated Fats that are the killers but sugars so should be reduced as much as possible.
  • Complex carbs are included, brown rices, sweet potatoes, quinoa etc.
  • Processed foods should be stayed away from unless necessary. I read a quote from SBG Ireland Head Coach John Kavanagh once: “If it had a face or if it grew then it’s pretty much okay”.
  • Try to stay away from a plethora of supplements, simply because i dont really enjoy taking them so if i can take my macro-nutrients from food then i would prefer too.
  • Eat foods that i enjoy.

As a result, below is what i eat daily in the week, and an example of what i eat on a weekend:

WEEKDAY:

Breakfast (~87 Kcals)

Snack (~190 Kcals):

  • Quest Protein Bar (usually Blueberry muffin, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie, Raspberry Cheesecake or Cookie Dough)* (Purchased in bulk from Amazon)

Lunch (~471 Kcals):

  • Mexican Chicken – This is pre-prepped on a Sunday night, you can find the recipe here.
  • 2 boiled eggs (Tesco)

Snack (~215 Kcals):

  • Grenade Protein Bar (usually Caramel Chaos, Jaffa Quake, White Chocolate Cookie)* (Purchased in bulk from Amazon)

Dinner (~327 Kcals):

Water Intake – roughly 4.4 litres.

Total: ~1290 Kcals

WEEKEND:

Breakfast (~87 Kcals)

Snack (~190 Kcals):

  • Quest Protein Bar (usually Blueberry muffin, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie, Raspberry Cheesecake or Cookie Dough)* (Purchased in bulk from Amazon)

Lunch (~346 Kcals):

  • Steak – Sirlion/Rump around ~170g
  • 2 boiled eggs (Tesco)

Snack (~215/254 Kcals):

  • Grenade Protein Bar (usually Caramel Chaos, Jaffa Quake, White Chocolate Cookie)* (Purchased in bulk from Amazon)
  • 50g of Mixed Nuts & Raisins

Dinner (~426 Kcals):

Water Intake – roughly 4 litres.

Total: ~1264/1303 Kcals

*I eat the protein bars for a couple of reasons, one because the main staple foods that i eat are lacking in a high number of carbs, so i use this as a method to bring those into my diet, equally i use these to placate my sweet tooth/as a quick energy shot before lunch and before training.

Feel free to comment, or send me any thoughts to either @The5thRoundMMA or @HarryPowellMMA over on Twitter.

Mexican Chicken and Rice Recipe

One thing that i think is missing from the internet is recipes that aspiring athletes/martial artists are using. Nutrition is a really secretive subject as it is not only the method in which fighters/athletes often use to get an edge over an opponent but also a business industry in itself. I think that this can be adverse to the people who dont have the funds to work with nutritionists to develop their own bespoke diets, so I wanted to share my experiences – whether we are competing against each other, we all have to eat, metaphorically and physically. I believe that kindness and knowledge sharing should never be held back.

I have written the below in the notion that it will be helpful to share some meals or recipes that I use with pro’s and cons of them. This is a meal that I prepare on a weekly basis, and I eat every lunch time during work.

I log all of my meals on MyFitnessPal, feel free to follow me to see my food diary: harrypowell755.

Portions – 5

Ingredients:

  • 5 x 200g Musclefood chicken breasts
  • 3 x Mixed Peppers
  • 3 x Medium white onions
  • 3 quarters of a Mug of brown rice
  • Medium/Hot Salsa Dip (Doritos or Tesco’s own)
  • Sliced Green Japaleno’s
  • 2-3 sprinkles of spice mix

Spice Mix:

  • 2tbps Ground Cinnamon
  • 2tbps Dried Oregano
  • 2tbps Hot Chilli Powder
  • 2tbps Cumin
  • 2tbps Hot Cayenne Pepper
  • 2tbps Minced Garlic
  • 2tbps Crushed Chilli flakes
  • 2tbps Onion Granules

Method:

  • Prep the oven to around 200 degrees C.
  • Prep a mixing bowl for later.
  • Boil a kettle, fill 3/4 of a medium sized pan and bring to the boil.
  • Fill a mug of rice and put into the pan, bring back to the boil and them cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • De-seed the mixed peppers, halve them and halve them again.
  • Lay them on a tray, drizzle a few drops of oil onto each and a small sprinkle of spice mix.
  • Put them in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Lay the chicken breasts onto a separate tray and rub spice mix into each side so both are covered.
  • Chicken Breasts go into the oven after the peppers have been in for 10 minutes for another 18 minutes.
  • Slice your onions into halves and then lengths, sweat them down until soft.
  • Drain your Jalapeno peppers and chop them finely.
  • When the rice is done, drain it and add it to the mixing bowl, aswell as the onions and the jalapenos. Mix well.
  • When the peppers are done chop finely and mix in with the rice.
  • Dish out the rice mix into 5 Tupperware tubs.
  • Shred the chicken, a breast at a time and add to each Tupperware tub.
  • Add 2-3 spoonfuls of Salsa to the top.

Nutrition Values (estimated):

  • 335 Kcals
  • Fat 2.3g
  • Carbs 26.2g
  • Protein 48g

Summary:

Overall this is quite a simple and easy meal to make and holds well when put in the fridge, low fats and high proteins, includes some complex carbs and a small amount of sugars.

Feel free to comment, or send me any thoughts to either @The5thRoundMMA or @HarryPowellMMA over on Twitter.