Quick and Easy

Times have changed. You know it, I know it. We have less time for many things due to the pressures we all face day in and day out. We live at a faster pace, skipping meals or eating them on the go oftentimes. The true mark of a good entrepreneur is to create solutions to problems or challenges and I believe Ample has done just that! While there have been other "meal in a bottle" concepts that have hit the market, I do not believe any of them have embraced the true nature of blending quality ingredients while optimizing the control of blood sugar with a decent taste.

In my opinion, Ample has done just that. Read on for my review of their product.

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Upon my initial exposure to Ample, I was quite shocked really. I thought, “why didn’t I think of that?”. Mostly because I am a smoothie-a-holic and this is a creation that would easily come out of my kitchen!

When I first got my hands on the Ample meal shake, I immediately turned to the label to see what ingredients were waiting for me. Grass-fed, a mixture of protein sources, fiber, resistant starch, omega-3’s, and probiotics topped off the list and are all ingredients that I myself would include if I had come up with this idea. It doesn’t appear that this company has skimped on any of the inclusions and that is something that I, as a Sport Dietitian, athlete, and parent, appreciate.

After the list of ingredients passed with flying colors, it was time to review the nutrition facts because sometimes no matter how great the ingredients are, some companies just don’t know how to put them together to stimulate positive physiological responses in the body. Ample gets it. Now, before I continue let me make it clear that this is a meal shake, not a snack. It provides a whopping 400 calories (they have 600 calorie options also) and I personally used this to replace my lunch one day. Many people will shy away from the 400 calorie sticker shock but remember, it’s a meal and you must approach it with this mindset. Calories aren’t really my biggest focal point so I moved onto the macronutrients. I am always concerned with the blood sugar controlling response of products and always look at protein first. At 27 grams, this falls right into correct amount needed for most individuals for a meal. I then moved to the carbohydrate content to make sure it is a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein as these ratios best control blood sugar (good for health and performance reasons). At only 21 grams of carbohydrate per bottle, this definitely achieves that goal! If you are an athlete, this may be too low of a ratio and a bit more carbohydrates may be necessary, depending on your training load. In this case, grab a handful of blueberries and/or mix Ample with milk of your choice for some extra carbohydrates to fuel exercise that is longer duration or higher intensity. The fat content comes in at 24 grams with zero trans fats.

Overall, the ingredients and nutrition facts of Ample support blood sugar control extremely well and will improve the body’s fat burning ability. But of course, who cares if it doesn’t taste good? After reading the ingredients, I was a bit weary and thought this would be the equivalent of picking up a handful of dirt and eating it. Not so! While Ample does have an “earthy” taste, I was pleasantly surprised how they made all of the super nutritious ingredients blend for a great taste that is smooth, creamy, and one that does not leave an ill aftertaste.

As I mentioned, I substituted Ample for a lunch and after mixing it with water, took about 10 minutes to drink it. What I noticed almost immediately afterwards was a comfortable sense of fullness. I was curious how long this would last and wasn’t too optimistic as I have tried other similar products and haven’t gone more than 90 minutes without eating something else afterwards. Ample provided a super high satiety (feeling of fullness) rating and I didn’t end up eating for 4 hours (yes, 4 hours) after drinking it.

Of course, there is an initial sticker shock that any consumer will have at first. Depending on the quantity purchased and the type (they have regular, Vegan, and Ketogenic), the price per bottle will range from $5.52 - $8.00. That may seem like a big chunk of change but remember, as I stated previously, this is a meal shake. It will replace a meal. Think of how much it costs to eat out then compare the nutrients in Ample versus a fast food meal. Ample doesn’t seem like much more than some powder in a bottle but dollar to dollar, I believe it will be a much more nutritious option that will help you optimize your blood sugar control, assisting in any health and athletic performance related goals.

As an aside, I had my teenage son, a highly competitive triathlete who trains upwards of 14 hours per week, try an Ample in between a swim and bike session. Two hours separated the sessions and he consumed an Ample immediately after his 4000 yard swim. He told me that he felt full, but not overly full, and his energy level was high all the way through his 1 hour and 15 minute interval bike session. Even after the bike, he said he wasn’t as hungry as usual. Success!

All in all, I will say that I will continue to use Ample and will always have a few bottles in my pantry for those times where I fall victim to the regular busy schedule of being a business owner, sport dietitian, father, husband, and coach. I would definitely recommend trying it as I believe you will be pleasantly surprised, not only by the super nutritious list of ingredients and pleasant taste, but also the ability it has on your body to stabilize your blood sugar and improve your energy level.

Want to try Ample for yourself? I would definitely recommend it to see how it works for you within you busy lifestyle. Click HERE or use the code ENRG15 to get 15% off your first order at the Ample website.

To carb or not to carb...that is the question

As I was enjoying one of my breakfast "rotations" of 2 fried eggs (cooked in butter) and a healthy topping of avocado (mashed with pepper, and garlic salt), it made me reflect a bit about why I chose this specific combination of food to start off my day. Of course, this led into analyzing a few of the current nutrition problems that athletes are faced with each day.

#1: First and foremost, I ate this breakfast because I really, really enjoy the taste of all of the food. Seriously, besides putting peanut butter on fried eggs (a blog post for the future), my taste buds are extremely tantalized when eating fried eggs with mashed avocado on top.

#2: This is a very low carbohydrate breakfast chock full of protein and fat. I am an athlete and train almost daily so what gives? Why am I not eating more carbohydrates? Well, put very simply, I didn't need many carbohydrates that day because my training load was due to be on the low side. In 2004, I published the first ever book on Nutrition Periodization (look it up, it's a good one). The concept describes the need to account for your training load when devising your daily eating program. In short, my mantra has always been, "eat to train, don't train to eat". I was eating to train for the day and since I didn't have much training on the plan, I didn't have the need for many carbohydrates. Plain and simple.

#3: There's a huge argument that many individuals (athletes and health professionals) are having these days and each seem to be taking a side on the low carb/high fat or high carb/low fat "diets". Listen up people, it's not about taking sides or choosing a diet. The body will require different amounts of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) each day according to your exercise/training plan (remember Nutrition Periodization?). You don't have to choose. Rather, you have to periodize.

#4: This breakfast was very metabolically efficient but not many people realize that 1) there are at least 5 different dietary methods that I have identified that improves metabolic efficiency and thus a "diet" does not have to be followed, and 2) there is not one single way to improve the body's ability to burn fat or carbohydrate. Unless specific disease states are present, it is quite easy to teach the body to use carbs or fat more efficiently. More about this in the white paper I am currently writing that will help to end the confusion on this topic.

At the end of the day (or the beginning in this breakfast example), here was my train of thought for making this breakfast:

  • Am I hungry?
  • What type and duration of training do I have today?
  • Are my taste buds geared more toward sweet or savory?
  • What do I have in my fridge?

There you have it. Don't think you need a PhD to make your daily nutrition choices.

Until next time...and probably a smoothie with more carbohydrates tomorrow morning since I am doing a double training session.

 

Bob

 

 

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Knee Pain

Throughout my athletic career, I have certainly had my share of aches and pains. The newest member of this "family" is chondromalacia (sometimes referred to as runner's knee). This wonderful (yes, that is sarcasm) condition is basically due to the protective cartilage covering the kneecap (patella) wearing down a bit, likely due to overuse and/or repetitive stress. So, my kneecap isn't getting its groove on any longer. No, seriously, my patella is not sitting properly in its groove right now!

For those who have experienced this before, it's not fun. If you catch it early and actually do something about it, consider yourself lucky. Mine got pretty bad. It hurt going up and down stairs, I couldn't squat, do lunges, steps-ups, or really any lower body exercise. Ugh. The pain during running fluctuated depending on the terrain (worse on hills and trails) and cycling was out of the question initially because I could hardly put any force to the pedals without that stabbing feeling in my knee.

So I read a bit more about this condition and didn't listen to much of the recommendations I came across because many of them are what I consider "old school". That is, until I came about something that peaked my interest as an endurance/strength coach: functional imbalances. I'm pretty big on finding and fixing these imbalances in the athletes I work with so I am no stranger to the process. However, it is a bit difficult to assess yourself so I asked my wife to snap a few videos of me running and still photos of my legs relaxed and contracted. I don't know if I was ready to see what I did but it sure did allow me to approach my treatment in a more methodical manner. And let's remember that this is a n of 1 case. I am not a physical therapist but I am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with training in functional imbalance assessment and exercise treatment.

Let's revisit chondromalacia. Back in the days, I remember people saying that once you got it, you couldn't get rid of it and that was the end of your running career. Well, it just so happens that chondromalacia can be due to a very simple (in my mind) muscular imbalance where the hamstrings are too tight and the quadriceps are too weak.

Taking a closer look at the videos and photos, I realized that I, in fact, do have weak quads on my right leg (probably due to having broken my foot a couple of times in the past 10 years and walking around with a boot). Once I looked at the videos and photos, it was very apparent that my right patella was not tracking properly. Yes, it was that obvious and I did not require any further testing.

So, onto fixing it right? Well, kind of. You see, I couldn't do many of the exercises that are prescribed to strengthen the quads because it involved knee extension, which hurt my knee. Hmmm...isometric contractions? Sure, but not too effective in my mind. Or perhaps I didn't choose this route due to my lack of patience. Nevertheless, I turned to a piece of technology that has been around for quite a long time: electrical stimulation. I researched "e-stim" years ago and have always kept up with the players in the market and the research but it wasn't until now that I became much more interested.

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I turned to arguably the most reputable electrical stimulation device company on the market: Compex. Armed with their Wireless 2.0, I wondered if I could make a more significant impact on improving my quad strength and thus ridding myself of this nagging "visitor". Honestly, I wasn't expecting much because I know it can take months or even years to address functional imbalances. Surprisingly though, I saw benefits within the first 9 days of using Compex. Pretty spectacular if you ask me.

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Prior to using Compex, I would struggle to run 3 miles without hobbling. My pain was usually a 8/9 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being pretty bad). Today, as I write this, I have done 6 mile runs pain free and even more importantly, I can squat, do step-ups, and walk up and down stairs with hardly any pain. Every so often, I do feel a bit of a chondromalacia reminder but the pain is mostly a 1-2 on the 10 point scale. This usually happens more in the morning before I begin my Compex routine.

Of course, you will want to know what I actually did with the Compex. It was a bit of self experimentation (remember n=1) but for the first 6 days, I was religious in using the resistance, strength, and active recovery programs for at least 90 minutes. Pretty easy, especially with the wireless unit, as I would just let it run while I was doing computer work. I then took a day off, then repeated this process for another 2 days. Today marks my 10th day of using it and I will continue to cycle through this methodology.

One thing to note is that I have been using the Compex mostly without training, meaning, I just sit there and let it do its job. Since my knee is feeling 100% better, I will begin using it during exercise this week to maximize the benefits of targeting the specific muscle fibers to seek even more improvement. One of the best ways to use this technology is during training (warm-ups, on the bike, pre-exercise potentiation, and during certain strength exercises). I think far too many people pick up a great device like Compex but do not utilize it to its full potential. If you are just using for active recovery, so be it, but you are really not experiencing the true firepower of this device.

To say I am elated would be an understatement. I firmly believe all athletes should be using this technology under the proper supervision of a professional in order to guide them through the different programs and periodize these programs into their overall training plan development.

I will post more updates as I utilize the Compex more during exercise throughout this month. Until then, Happy Holidays!

Bob