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MRM Reload – 100% Natural BCAA powder

Brand: MRM

Cost: £18.98 from www.etalsports.co.uk

Rating: 6/10

Servings: 22 fifteen gram servings (3 scoops per dose)

Review:

BCAA drinks are nothing new, and there is an abundance of them out there with very similar profiles.  What attracted me to this product, was that it is flavoured entirely from natural ingredients.  I’ve recently begun to question the amount of artificial sweeteners I consume via protein shakes, pre work out drinks etc, and while the research on sucralose isn’t as bad as all the others, such as acesulfame K that you would find in diet coke, there still remains the question on whether concrete evidence will point to sucralose being detrimental in the coming years.

BCAAs are branched chain amino acids.  They are available from foods, but with my current training protocol, which aims to reduced food consumption and train on an empty stomach, I feel BCAAs are a convenient way to ensure the body is not in a catabolic state while lifting.  Catabolism = your muscle being used for fuel. Not ideal when you are lifting to gain muscle, or at least hold onto it while you shed fat for summer like me.

IMAG0244MRM reload contains the usual 2:1:1 ratio of L-Leucine, L-Valine, and L-Isoleucine.  A total of 7.5 grams.  It also provides a genourous dose of L-Glutamine, at 3g.  L-Gluatmine is the most abundant amino acid and becomes depleted in times of hard training.  Finally, there is 500mg of Carnosyn Beta-Alanine.  Research shows Beta Alanine can delay the onset of fatigue during intense training.  500mg is a small dose, however higher doses do produce  paraesthesia so i’m glad this isn’t much higher.  Paraesthesia is a sensation of tingling, which can be quite annoying, and is more suited to a pre-workout supplement.  I like that a small dose is provided to top up your stores.  It also contains vitamin B6, which is involved in all kinds of energy pathways and neurotransmitter regulation.

The powder mixes quite easily,  I prefer to use a shaker.  Froth forms on the top but this quickly dissipates.  There are no clumps, and while some contents will settle, in general just a quick shake then a gulp is all you need to do.  The instructions are to mix with 10-14oz of water, this is about 300ml.  I prefer to drink the whole thing pre-workout in one go, although you can sip it.  The reason for this is, the flavour is not amazing.  Stevia and Xylitol are the natural sweeteners used here.  They are no where near as sweet as sucralose, and stevia dose have a bitter note, as well as a sweetness intensity that builds.  The water melon flavour is quite weak in my opinion, and I think they could have used more citric acid or other acids to get more of an authentic fruit flavour.  However, no one ever said going all natural was going to be free of any downsides.

I think as a drink you consume quickly, the flavour is tolerable, but even for an all natural beverage, I think they could have done better here.Its hard to comment on the direct training benefits of BCAAs, as its not really something you feel, its more a case of reading the research and the anecdotes and deciding for yourself if you can benefit.  For me, this product is a viable all natural option.  I may try the lemon flavour next, to decide whether or not the stevia is the main problem with the taste.  I also intend to add other ingredients I see fit, as this could make a good all natural base for a pre-workout drink.
 
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Banoffee Whey Protein Isolate

Brand : The Protein Works (UK)

Cost:  £23.99 for a 1kg bag giving forty 25g servings

Rating: 5/10

Review:

I like the Protein Works, as a UK company they are really pushing the innovation on what may be considered a stable product for many.  While there are dozens of protein manufacturers out there, this company really pushes for competitive price, clean label ingredients and most of all, interesting flavours.

IMAG0173 I tend to prefer whey isolates, as it has reduced lactose content and the most protein per gram; one 25g scoop provides 21.9g of protein.   The protein works offer 500g, 1kg, 2kg, 4kg and 6kg sizes.  Larger sizes give better value as you would expect.  I find the 1kg sizes offer good value, balanced with the opportunity to regularly  try different flavours, which is important to me when a post workout shake is a daily staple, things can lose their appeal fast.

This whey mixes smoothly with coconut milk which is my preference, so I expect it will also mix fine with water or milk too.  The packaging suggests 150ml-200ml liquid per single 25g scoop; I tend to have 2 scoops mixed with 50g dextrose and 300ml coconut milk as a post workout recovery shake.

It is flavoured with natural banana and toffee flavourings and sweetened with sucralose.  Sucralose is the sole sweetener used on all products by the protein works, this is in my opinion the best artificial sweetener, it tastes great and research indicates it is not metabolised by the body and doesn’t carry the negative aspects that some of the other sweeteners can bring.  This is hugely important to me in my protein purchases.

As for the Banoffee Pie flavour?  This is where I feel this product fails.  I perceive a dominant banana flavour ,the toffee is very weak and I dont think the balance is quite right.  The protein works offer a Banana only flavour option and i’d be curious as to how much it actually differs from this Banoffee Pie flavour.  For this reason I would likely not buy this flavour again, however as a Whey Isolate, this is my go to product from now on, I’ve tasted some of the other flavours and they are fantastic, and I expect they will continue to offer new flavour options as time goes on.