(The true story of how I found my new favorite, totally killer protein powder.)
I drink protein shakes. Lots of them. I need them. I love them. In a five or six-meal-per-day nutrition plan, they’re essential for a quick and easy way to get a lot of high quality protein fast, without a lot of effort.
Because I’m trying to get extremely lean right now, I also am interested in keeping my calories for the day on the low side (1500-1800). This means that I can’t afford to be chuggin’ away on a protein drink that is 300-350 calories. I prefer to get the bulk of my calories from real, whole foods.
When I first started doing protein shakes I used MyoPlex Lite, ala the Body For Life program. At 180 calories, 25 grams of protein, 19 carbohydrates, and 1.5g of fat, they put up some decent numbers. However, I found them to be a little too thick, particularly when made with nonfat milk. I drank them religiously but never truly enjoyed them.
About 2 months ago my friend and former co-worker, Beefcake (bodybuilder, former trainer, all-around-fitness nut), told me about a new line of products from BSN called Lean Dessert. First of all, can you say marketing!? The flavors are all named after desserts like, “Banana Creme Pie”, “Chocolate Fudge Brownie”, and “Fresh Cinammon Roll”.
Not only am I a marketer, I am also a sucker. A sucker, specifically, for good marketing.
I ignored the fact that I was whole-heartedly turned off by the “Girls of BSN” section of the website (please, show me some athletic women for chrissakes!) and bought all three of the above-mentioned flavors and brought them home for sampling. The numbers looked good to me: 130 calories, 2o grams of protein, 3g sugar, 2.5g fat, and 7g carbohydrates.
I immediately discovered that BSN Lean Dessert must be made with milk. Seriously. When made with milk the Banana Creme Pie flavor actually tastes exactly like banana creme pie. So good it made me want to weep. Same flavor with water? Cardboard-o-rama. Ick.
No problem. Making BSN Lean Dessert with milk only means that you’re adding 90 calories, 13g carbs and 8g protein. Because it’s already so low calorie, adding the extra calories and carbs isn’t too big of a deal and the extra protein is a total bonus.
So, you basically have this absolutely insanely amazing tasting protein shake that truly tastes like dessert, and you get these great numbers to boot! I was in love! I proclaimed my love from every mountain top. I sang it in the hills. I made people’s ears bleed with my obnoxious Lean Dessert lovin’.
There has to be a catch, right?
Right. Only I didn’t realize it until one day I was thinking, “Hmmm… I’ve never actually read the ingredient list on this thing.” So I pulled it down off my shelf and read it.
All in all it wasn’t terrible but I did run into one little word that I really did not like to see: sucralose. Sucralose is basically Splenda and is fairly widely used. However, you may or may not know that when Sucralose was discovered it was being studied as a very viable potential insecticide:
The substance in the flask seemed to have all the makings of an excellent insecticide. It was a fine crystalline powder, easy to imagine spraying over a field, and its molecules were full of chlorine atoms, like DDT. To make it, Shashikant Phadnis, a young Indian chemist at Queen Elizabeth College, in London, and his adviser, Leslie Hough, had begun by taking an eyedropper full of sulfuryl chloride — a highly toxic chemical– and adding it to a sugar solution, one drop at a time. In the violent reaction that followed, a wholly new compound was born: 1‘, 4, 6, 6‘- tetrachloro – 1‘, 4, 6, 6’ – tetra-deoxygalactosucrose.
On that late-summer day in 1975, Phadnis was told to test the powder, but he misunderstood; he thought that he needed to taste it. And so, using a small spatula, he put a little of it on the tip of his tongue. It was sweet — achingly sweet. “When I reported my findings to Les, he asked if I was crazy, “ Phadnis remembers. “ How could I taste compounds without knowing anything about their toxicity?” Before long, though, Hough was so delighted with the substance that he dubbed it Serendipitose and tried putting some in his coffee. “Oh forget it, “ he said, when Phadnis reminded him that it might be toxic. “We’ll survive!”
Source: A New Yorker article reprinted here.
In conclusion, I am extremely wary of Sucralose in all its many forms. Further, I try as much as possible to eat whole, real, healthy foods. Sucralose does not pass muster with me.
I was sad. No more Banana Creme Pie! No more Chocolate Fudge Brownie!! No more Fresh Cinnamon Roll!! I wept. I had come to live for those sweet, nutritious treats that happily punctuated my days.
I told Sal morosely that we would finish off the rest of our “powdered insecticide” and then buy no more. Sal also wept.
After The Great Weeping I set about the task of finding the next great protein shake. “Nothing can be as good as Lean Dessert,” I told myself, with a tear sneaking out of the corner of my eye, “It will never be the same.”
I turned to Daniel the Boot Camp Guy for salvation. What was he drinking? He knew what I wanted to accomplish. He wouldn’t lead me astray! He also likes great taste and has high standards for quality. Daniel will know the answer!
In fact, he did.
He’d been trying to tell me for months but my ears had been closed by the Great Power of Lean Dessert. When I finally started listening I heard “Jay Robb” and high-tailed it to their online store to see what I would uncover.
When I got there I was astounded by what I found.
Can this be true? Can this possibly be true!? This cannot possibly be true!
Jay Robb‘s whey isolate protein delivers 25 grams of protein (more than Lean Dessert!) in an astoundingly low 110 calories (less than Lean Dessert!) with ZERO grams of fat (less than Lean Dessert again!) and ONE gram carbs (less than Lean Dessert again!).
First thought: This must taste like crap!
Nope. It’s delicious. I mean, it’s honestly amazingly delicious. AND Jay Robb uses Stevia as his sweetener, which comes from a plant that I can grow in my yard for cripes sake. If that ain’t natural enough for me then nothing is.
I make ’em and shake ’em with nonfat milk but you can add the powder to just about anything… it is seriously amazing stuff.
So consider this my e-shout-out to Mr. Jay Robb. Although I am typically inclined to distrust people with two first names, he’s won me over.