For the last three months I’ve been working with nutrition coach Ben Tormey to get in better shape before I get married later this year. I’m also trying to cut a weight class to allow me to compete in the 83kg class in the IPF-affiliated Great Britain Powerlifting Federation 83kg unequipped class and potentially the 85kg weightlifting class. When I started out with Ben, I weighed in at around 92.5kg. Today when I stepped on the scale I was 87.3kg. Not bad for 3 months work, especially when you consider that I’ve added strength in this time with volume PBs in every lift.
I’m roughly half way through my weight loss plan (I want to get down to 82kg) so I’m looking at another three months of cutting to get to where I want to be. So when Chris from MyProtein USA got in touch asking if I wanted to test some of their products, I was keen to see what they had to offer. I chose a few products that I thought would help me with my twin goals of losing bodyfat while retaining – or better yet increasing – lean body mass. I avoided any supplements that contained a lot of stimulants, since these tend to disrupt my sleep.
I received three products to try – Impact Diet Whey, Zinc and Magnesium and BCAAs – plus a nice little unexpected extra. My review of each is below:
Impact Diet Whey Protein – Cookies & Cream Flavour
MyProtein’s Impact Diet Whey is a blend of whey protein and milk protein concentrate with some low GI carbs thrown in in the form of oats. It also contains small amounts of various compounds to assist weight loss including green tea extract. This makes it a bit different to other protein products that I’ve used in the past – the ones I’ve tried usually just contain straight protein and have very low carbs and fat.
This differing nutritional profile meant that I needed to readjust my meal plans a bit. Impact Diet Whey is more of a meal replacement than a basic protein supplement and so I skipped my usual breakfast – two eggs, two small pieces of soda bread toast and a little butter (510 calories, 38g carbs, 18g fat, 53g protein) – and had two scoops of the Impact Diet Whey instead (424 calories, 16g carbs, 8g fat, 70g protein). This gave me a little bit more freedom to eat more carbs and fats later in the day and I needed to worry less about hitting my protein target. I also saved time in the morning before work due to not having to prepare breakfast – extra time to sleep!
The flavour I tried – cookies & cream – was quite nice but I would probably try something different next time around. I usually buy vanilla chocolate chip or mint chocolate flavour protein and this tasted quite a bit sweeter than either of those. Don’t get me wrong, the cookies & cream wasn;t unpleasant, but these things usually come down to personal preference. One thing I did notice is that the mixture was a bit thick with two scoops so I would recommend using a larger shaker and mixing vigorously to get a better consistency.
BCAA – Blue Raspberry Flavour
BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) are essential amino acids that are the building blocks for your body laying down muscle. Most BCAA solutions – including this one – contain leucine, isoleucine and valine. The body can’t produce these amino acidsitself and so they must be assimilated through food or supplements. While the science around BCAAs is arguably a little sketchy, many bodybuilders swear by BCAAs, claiming that they speed up recovery after training and help to prevent muscle loss during a cut.
I hadn’t used BCAAs before so I was curious to try them out. I settled on two servings of 5mg a day, one in the morning and one during or immediately after training, mixed with water in a shaker cup. The flavour I received was ‘blue raspberry’, which strongly reminded me of the blue Slush Puppy flavour I used to love as a kid and also a little bit of Powerade. I found that I needed to use a pretty large shaker of water or else the resulting drink was a bit too concentrated and strong for my liking but once I got the mix right, it became a nice, cool refreshing drink.
I happened to try out the BCAAs during the final week of a heavy training block that saw me hit volume PBs in every lift. Usually after a week like this, it takes me a good 3-4 days to recover fully from squats and deadlifts because I’m cutting weight. This time around, I felt recovered from squats after 2 days and from deadlifts after 3 days. My nutrition coach and I have been dialling things in of late so that may well be a key factor but the BCAAs can’t have done any harm. I’m planning to keep taking them over the next few weeks.
Zinc and Magnesium
Zinc and Magnesium is one of my favourite supplements and I’ve used it on and off for the last couple of years. It’s a powder made up of zinc methionine, magnesium citrate and vitamin B6 in a hard, transparent capsule. The body needs zinc and magnesium to maintain and repair bones, teeth and the nervous system and the elements also support various processes associated with tissue and neural recovery. The supplement is often associated with improved sleep quality and faster recovery from training.
MyProtein’s version of Zinc and Magnesium is just as good as the significantly more expensive branded ZMA that many companies sell. One thing I noted was that the recommended dosage on the bottle I received was one capsule per night before bed. When I’ve used this supplement in the past, the recommended dosage has usually been 3 capsules, so this version is a lot more friendly on the pocket. I did wonder briefly if the recommendation was correct but I found I got the same benefits as previous times using zinc and magnesium.
Speaking of which… I immediately noticed a small improvement in my sleep and that I woke up feeling more refreshed. I also found that I dreamed a bit more vividly, something that some people experience when using zinc & magnesium.
Bonus Review – MyProtein Liquid Chalk
Note – this is not me.
Okay, so not actually a supplement but MyProtein included a little surprise in the package of products they sent for review – a bottle of their liquid chalk. For those who aren’t familiar with this stuff, it’s essentially powdered chalk in an alcohol solution which you squeeze from the bottle on to your hands, rub it around and after a few seconds, it dries and coats your hands in a thin layer of chalk which makes it easier to hang on to the bar for deadlifts, cleans, rows and the like.
Some gyms – especially ones that brand themselves as ‘fitness clubs’ – aren’t very keen on blocks or lumps of chalk that you rub directly on to your hands because they tend to leave an almighty mess. Liquid chalk is a great option in this situation and I’ve been using it over the last week or two in one of the commercial gyms I occasionally train in during my lunch break. Many people will also find it a more convenient choice than carrying solid chalk around in a bag or tupperware container in their gym bag.
The products covered in this post were supplied for review by MyProtein USA.