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Protein, Protein, Protein!

In an endeavour to build more muscle some turn to a high protein diet to stimulate muscle growth, and, if you are doing a lot of aerobic exercise you run the risk of burning off muscle if you are not consuming enough protein. The advice is that you need between one and one and a half times your body weight in grams of protein. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should eat between 150 and 225 grams of protein a day. Ideally, you would imagine, this would come from natural foods; fish, eggs, meat. But what if these aren’t to hand? Well, there are plenty of protein ‘enriched’ ‘handy’ products out there.

Danone offer a ‘high protein low fat strained yoghurt’ called Danio. It comes in a fetching pot that makes it look little different to any other yoghurt on the market. Danone claim that it’s ‘super thickness’ comes from its strained yoghurt recipe that uses more milk. And, on pulling back the lid, it does appear thicker than ‘normal’ yoghurt although on first view doesn’t look particularly appetising. Digging in the spoon and trying my first mouthful changed this view as it tasted good and did have a good ‘solid’ feel to it making it feel ‘much more’ than a normal yoghurt. Once you dig further and get to the raspberry fruit layer the flavour gets even better. It was a satisfying eat. But what about the numbers? I usually eat Actvia, also made by Danone, and wonder; how does it the protein version stack against my regular choice? Well it comes out of a comparison well! The calorie count is about the same despite the Activia being smaller. The protein yoghurt has less fat but nearly twice the amount of protein (as you’d expect). So there’s nothing to lose and muscle to gain. It seems a good and tasty choice whether or not you want the extra protein hit.

I do like a post run snack! This is not a good thing as it’s sometimes a chocolate bar! There must be a better option that’s just as tasty? Multipower makes the Power Layer a 33% Protein bar. The one I tried was a chocolate, caramel, and nuts version. A bit like a Snickers I hoped! The packaging claims muscle building and body shaping and I guess that’s fair enough – although there’s a but more to it than eating this bar I’d suggest! It didn’t fail on taste having a flavour most akin to nougat. It was chewy and tasty but didn’t match the usual Snickers for satisfaction. But, let’s see the stats and that might persuade me it is a better option. The Snickers is a slightly smaller bar by about 7 grams. I know because I checked it a few times because I didn’t believe it! The calorie count is as good as the same and there’s only two thirds of the amount of fat in the Power Layer compared to the Snickers with four times the amount of protein. That stacks up well in my head so, on balance, if I was looking to add muscle and reduce fat it seems like a good exchange. However in terms of taste it wasn’t as good as a Snickers, so, if it was the calorie count alone I was worrying about I’d stick with my Snickers.

Certainly a quick browse of the literature tells me that a high protein diet is likely to help you gain muscle and given that there doesn’t appear to be any significant calorie change then changing to these products seems reasonable. The downside? A Power Layer from the Multipower web site works out at just under £2.50 a bar while you can get a 4 pack of Snickers for £1.50 – that’s less than 40p each. You can’t tell me it costs £2.10 more to produce one of the Power Layers? The Danio is on sale at most supermarkets for about 85p. Not bad for a tasty, filling yoghurt, but still a lot more than £1.84 for a 4 pack of 125g Activia (that’s about 45 pence each). Now I know all about supply and demand and how low demand makes products expensive but really I think people wanting to look at options to improve fitness are being taken for a little bit of a ride at these prices. You can get the protein you need from more natural sources unless you need things in the handy format in which these products are delivered. If I had to pick one of these products I’d go for the Danio Yoghurt as it’s just as tasty as my regular yoghurt, more filling (there’s more of it!) and the price differential is not too bad. I’d leave the Power Layer alone purely on price.

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About Stephen Mordue

At 45 I’ve ran for all of my adult life, starting to run regularly at about 17 when I started work and met my lifetime running buddy Tony. Running has two roles for me. It’s an excellent stress buster and a great way to control my weight.

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