05 May 2011 ~ Comments Off on Protein Review: CytoSport Muscle Milk

Protein Review: CytoSport Muscle Milk

I admit it, I’m a protein shake junkie. (Not that it’s a bad thing—more on that later.) I must have sampled 20-30 different brands of protein over the years. I’ve got a couple of go-to brands, but when the price is right I’m not above sampling something new.

My addiction is your gain: here’s the first of a series of reviews of popular protein brands I’ve tried. We’ll begin with one of the best-selling brands, CytoSport Muscle Milk.

Overview

Muscle Milk is not a “pure protein” powder. Neither is it a meal replacement. It’s billed as a nutritional drink with “good” fats (called “lean lipids”), vitamins and minerals.

Protein: 32g/serving

The protein content in a serving of Muscle Milk looks really high. That’s because the recommended serving size is really large: two scoops, rather than one for most “pure” proteins. So ounce-for-ounce there’s less protein for the money in Muscle Milk. If you’re having trouble gaining weight, however, this might be for you.

Taste: Great

The foremost selling point for me is Muscle Milk’s flavor – most protein drinks play games with the name of their chocolate flavor, calling it “Chocolate Shake” or “Chocolate Frost” or other modifications. Muscle Milk has a “Real Chocolate” flavor that tastes like real chocolate. Add milk instead of water and it tastes like chocolate candy! It may be the first protein supplement I’ve ever drank for enjoyment.

However, in the full two-scoop serving size it’s really sweet. One scoop in milk should be a reasonable tradeoff.

Mixability: Good

I didn’t have any problems shaking up Muscle Milk, either in a regular shaker cup or my protein shaker.

Verdict

I loved the flavor of Muscle Milk, but don’t need the “extras.” I get plenty of fats and nutrients in my diet, and just need my protein drink to deliver protein and taste good. I can find more cost-effective, purer protein supplements that taste fine to me, like GNC’s Pro Performance brand.

But if you’re a hard-gainer, two scoops of this stuff in 16 ounces of milk are as many calories as a Big Mac, with a lot more nutrition and a taste not unlike a dessert. Additionally, in my favorite meal replacement shake (almond butter, banana, protein, ice and milk) the chocolate flavor harmonized perfectly with the others—not something I can say of every protein powder.

I’ve got more reviews in the pipeline for you, but let me know if there’s one you’d like me to try. And if you’ve tried Muscle Milk, you can contribute a review of your own in the comments below.

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23 February 2011 ~ Comments Off on Oatmeal: McDonald’s vs. Starbucks vs. You

Oatmeal: McDonald’s vs. Starbucks vs. You

Even the cartons are over-the-top.

Call them the “oatmeal wars.” Two major corporate titans, spending vast amounts of money to convince you the healthy, convenient answer to your breakfast problems is to stop in and buy a cup of oatmeal.

I’m currently sitting on a stack of free coupons McDonald’s and Starbucks have sent me in order to have me sample their new oatmeal offerings. Are they really healthy? Do they make it convenient to have a good breakfast?

Scratch “Healthy”

The first problem is that the oatmeal you’re getting from these food giants isn’t necessarily healthy. In fact, according to this NY Times piece, if you use the “healthy” fruit and “cream,” the McDonald’s oatmeal contains more calories than their regular hamburger! The article also points out that the “cream” has seven ingredients.

As for that fruit, it should be pointed out that dried fruit is essentially a fruit-flavored sugar lump, almost free of the fiber and nutrients that exist in non-dried fruit. All in all, this is “oatmeal” created in a lab.

The Starbucks oatmeal, on the other hand, can be had completely plain (although the “oatmeal” itself contains 13 ingredients), but who does that? To top it with the included accoutrements makes it even more carb-laden than the Mickey D’s version, despite a smaller size.

Scratch “Convenient”

Since we know these “healthy options” aren’t so healthy when fully dressed, surely the make-or-break selling point must be the incredible convenience. I mean, who has time to make a healthy breakfast at home?

Not so fast. (Pun intended.)

The time it takes to wait in line, order, pay and have it made probably total, what, 5 minutes when it’s not busy, more like 10 when it is. And if you have to drive to the joint, add a few more.

Just like the illusion of a healthy food product, these multinational corporations are selling the illusion of convenience. Here, let me show you how to get truly healthy oatmeal in a much shorter time.

Make Your Own Damn Oatmeal

Did you know that old-fashioned oatmeal cooks up in just 2 minutes in a microvave? “Quick” oats take even less time. Two minutes or less. Ronald and his peeps can’t beat that. Neither can Dr. Evil’s cash cow.

Instructions, should you need them:

  • Pour about a half-cup of oatmeal into a large microwave-safe bowl.
  • Cover the oatmeal completely with water. (You can adjust the ratio after the first time or two.)
  • Microwave it on high for 2 minutes or less. During this time you can continue getting ready for work, or just relax for a moment.
  • Remove (bowl will be hot!) and add anything you like. I recommend plain greek-style yogurt (protein!) and some water-packed fruit cocktail.

No time to actually consume it? Put it in a container to take with you, or just bring the ingredients to work and make it there. (If I really have to help you figure this out, McDonald’s might be for you after all.)

Using common sense, you can avoid unhealthy “healthy” foods and actually free up some time instead of waiting on line for “convenience.”

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