MaxiNutrition Promax Lean

maxinutrition-promax-leanI was pleased to receive a supply of  Promax Lean Bars from MaxiNutrition recently and I’m keen to give you my thoughts on them, both from a nutrition point of view and as a snack food.

The ones I have are the Dark Chocolate flavour, they are also available as Chocolate Orange or Chocolate Mint – I prefer the 100% chocolate flavour hit of the Dark Chocolate ones. Whichever flavour you choose, the nutrition information is the same – so flavour choice is purely down to taste preference. The bars are supplied individually as a 60g bar or in a box of 12.

Let’s look at the nutrition first. Each bar provides 206 calories of energy. The macronutrient breakdown is that these calories are sourced 44% from protein, 36% from carbs and 20% from fat. For me, that is pretty close to ideal as I like to have a 40:40:20 ratio. Of course, that is a target ratio for me across the whole of day, not per individual food item, but it’s excellent that this one item already hits the ratios pretty much on the nail.

The 23g of protein is a combination of whey protein concentrate and milk protein isolate (MPI). Whey protein concentrate is in fact the largest single ingredient of the bar – representing 17% of the weight of the bar – and is a variant of whey from which not all fat is removed. It’s a dairy product of course, as is the less commonly seen MPI, which forms the second largest ingredient. MPI is the dried substance once lactose and minerals are removed from skimmed (de-fatted) milk. I’m not a big fan of milk in its natural state, but I don’t have a problem with MPI. That 23g is a good chunk of the daily protein amount I’ve selected to help in my muscle-build and muscle-maintenance goals.

The 18.8g of carbs represent 36% of the calories, and a surprisingly large amount of that is sugar – 10.9g which provide 21% of the total calories. The sugars come from a few sources – including actual dark chocolate, which represents 14% of the 60g bar weight. It’s interesting to see real chocolate included, as many bars have synthetic choc-like substances as their coating and flavour. That’s not to say this is a fully additive-free product – for one thing, the degree of sweetness that makes it enjoyable to taste can’t come just from that chocolate – there’s several added sweeteners in there too which promote the sweet taste while adding fewer calories than extra sugar would.

I wondered what made this bar particularly identifiable as ‘Lean’ in its title. This would be the added ingredients which aren’t often found in bars of this type – such as caffeine and L-Carnitine. The caffeine content is quite high – at 125mg its not far off the amount you get in a large can of fizzy stimulant drink. The effects of caffeine are well known – increased focus, up-regulated heartbeat, and release of bodyfat to the bloodstream for use. The amino acid derivative L-Carnitine is less well known, but is seen by many as a bodyfat metabolizer over continued use; and the 2g provided in each bar is typical of the recommended daily dose in the supplement world.

So much for the ingredients and the nutrient numbers. When do I have a bar and why?
My daily diet includes a mid-morning snack and a mid-afternoon snack – the two smallest meals of my six meals a day – the others being a larger breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a post-workout protein and natural fast carb meal. And I like those two small snacks to be around 200-250 calories, with around 20-25g of protein. So these bars fit that perfectly. I usually have one of these bars, or something similar, for one of those two snacks per day. They are also my ‘emergency’ go-to snack food if I have an irresistible craving for breaking my daily calorie target of 2250.

MaxiNutrition recommend no more than two Promax Lean bars a day, and I agree with that. I like to keep my diet varied within my target numbers, so I wouldn’t exceed that anyway.

How do I think the product’s claims stack up with my own thoughts? On the box MaxiNutrition claims the product assists in lean muscle definition, energy metabolism and alertness. From my study of it, I reckon those are very fair claims – provided the bar is taken as part of diet that focusses on clean, healthy nutrition that maintains the macronutrient ratios along with undertaking significant resistance training and cardio-based exercise.

Thanks to the guys there – check out their full range on

Easy Nutrition

I’ve spent a few years following various nutrition approaches – from very precise all the way down to totally random!  These experiences have led me to devise an approach to nutrition for fitness which is flexible, enjoyable and workable in daily life.  It does require a bit of understanding, and there are rules to be – well, if not obeyed, then ‘observed’.  And there is a bit of maths involved too – not too much, but counting and multiplying do come into it.

The approach is designed for those who want to increase their fitness levels, decrease their fatness levels and – probably for most – a bit of both.  It assumes you are already pretty active and undertake exercise most days of the week.

To save ploughing through some big articles, I’ve put my recommended approach down into two videos; the first describes how the numbers work – calculating calories, grams of macronutrients and timing.  The second then takes those ideas further and translates them into real life eating – real meals on a real day on a real test subject (that’s me, of course).

The first video is and when you are ready to move on from the numbers to the meals, it is

I’ve kept both the detail of the maths and the full calorie and macronutrient breakdown away from the videos – but you can see this, if your geek-level is high enough, on my web site – then choose Easy Nutrition on the Nutrition tab.

I hope that all works for you and you pick up an approach to healthy eating that can see you through to your fitness goals. Drop me an email if anything needs a chat through!

Review of SCI-MX Recover 2:1 Isolate

The nice guys over at SCI-MX sent me over a box of goodies and I thought I would share my thoughts of one of their products in the box – the Recover 2:1 Isolate.

I chose this product as this isn’t a nutrition style I normally take. It is designed for post-workout recovery – and for this function, I normally take a combination of a low carb whey protein isolate shake plus some fast natural carbs – usually a banana or perhaps some slices of pineapple, both consumed 15-30 minutes after the workout. So I normally get my amino acids for muscle building from the shake, and my fast carbs for glycogen replenishment from the fruit.

This product combines both functions into one drink. It has both the protein and fast carbs needed in one go – and is a great orange flavour (and rather stunning orange colour) too! A serving of the product is 80g – which is more than my typical protein shake, which is already a large portion at 60g. That is due to the extra ingredients – specifically the fast carbs.

I want to look at the product in more depth – and as always with me – it starts with the numbers. The first numbers on the label are those in the ratio 2:1 – which refers to the ratio of carbs to protein in the product; 51g of carbs go with the 24g of protein in that 80g portion.

Overall, the calorie per portion of SCI-MX Recover 2:1 Isolate comes to 300 per serving – which compares with around 220 in my usual whey shake. However, if I add that medium-sized banana or the pineapple rings – which roughly work out to 80 calories each – then these numbers are nice and close – which makes comparisons easier.

Let’s look at the protein. That 300 calories portion of Recover delivers 24g of protein including 2.5g of the all-important BCAA’s. My usual shake gives a whopping 48g of protein including 5.5g of BCAAs – in just 220 calories – so on the face of it, the Recover isn’t the winner here. But remember that with Recover, purely protein delivery isn’t the object here; its carbs too.

So let’s look now at the carbs, just as important for the body post-workout as the protein but for different reasons. In that single portion, Recover provides 51g of carbs, including 25g of dextrose-based sugar, compared to 23g of carbs with 14g of sugar in a typical banana – and zero in the whey isolate, of course. So Recover is great for getting a generous serving of fast-acting sugars, delivered just when the glycogen levels are depleted.

What about the third macronutrient – fat? Well, there’s zero in Recover – that’s absolutely zero by the way, not close to zero as some zero products claim – which compares to a few grams in the usual whey and banana combo. But not enough for me to worry about.

Also interesting are the micronutrients. Recover provides substantial chunks of vitamin C (must be the orange colour – joke), calcium and phosphorous and magnesium. You’d find most of these in the whey + banana combination too – but in different amounts. For example, the 170mg of calcium in a recommended serving of Recover compares with 280mg in my normal whey + banana treat; however, in the opposite direction, a single serving of Recover provides three times as much fatigue-reducing magnesium as in the whey + banana approach.

A couple of things I didn’t find in Recover are the potassium which bananas are famous for, and the dietary fibre that comes from consuming the fruit. In the opposite direction a serving of Recover provides nearly 5g of creatine monohydrate, a compound well-loved by those seeking muscular rebuild and growth. And this creatine is the final 5g to bring the 51g of carbs and 24g of protein up to the serving size of 80g.
So, in summary on the macro nutrients, and rounded for ease of comparison, this product gives 50g of carbs and 25g of protein per serving. And my usual whey protein isolate plus banana switches the numbers the other way round – 25g of carbs and 50g of protein.

That’s 2:1 fast carbs to protein. And my usual whey protein shake plus fruit is 1:2, with the bulk being protein with the ration this way round – that’s a big difference. The 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein is favoured by many as a post-recovery drink – so this product is perfect to get that ratio.

So what is my conclusion? I like to keep my carbs lower than most – even after a resistance workout – so for body recovery and muscle growth + maintenance, then I’m probably going to stick to the low-carb combination of whey protein isolate and the fruit after most of my workouts. But if I feel I need more fast carbs than the banana or slices of pineapple can provide, maybe after a particularly tough session, or a long run, then I would reach for the SCI-MX Recover 2:1 Isolate to really up the carbs, even at the expense of some protein.

I’ve also done a video review of the product – take a look here.

Thanks again to the guys at SCI-MX for sending the products and the invitation to review.

My nutrition approach – yours too?

People often ask me about my nutrition, so here’s a typical day.  The pic is meals 1-3 of the six I’ll be having.

Meal 1 is the power breakfast of oats, nuts, seeds, berries, cinnamon, and whey shake with water – with some of the shake poured on the oats to turn them into a great chocolatey taste.

Breakfast pic 22 is mid morning Quest Bar in pumpkin pie flavour.

Meal 3 is grilled chicken breast chunks plus green beans and sweet potato – with some oil to keep the potato getting dry over the day.  This is prepared in advance and packed to take for a day away from home.

That lot comes to 1100 calories of my daily target of 2500 – and provides 100g of my daily target 250g  of protein, 95g of my daily target 250g of carbs, and 35g of my daily target 60g of fat.

Later meals will be:

Meal 4 – mid afternoon – cold roast chicken slices dunked into rhubarb yogurt (from M&S)

Meal 5 – post-workout – another whey shake plus a banana

Meal 6 – dinner with friends at a restaurant – I’ll probably go for steak with veg and share some red wine – this is a sociable occasion rather than diet-focussed, so I’ll make good choices but I’m not going to be a diet bore over dinner.

That 2500 daily calories is made up of 250g of each of protein and carbs and 60g of fat, which is a 40/40/20 percent split on macros.  That’s a ratio that has always worked well for me and I recommend it to all my fatness-down and fitness-up clients.  It’s also easy to calculate!

I hope that helps and answers the questions… but get in touch if you’ve any questions or comments.

I want to tell you a story…

Well, its not any story, its actually my story.

I’ve created a article for a Los Angeles-based web site called MyFitTribe, as they were keen to tell the world about an obscure 57 year old Englishman that they know.

Depending on how well you know me, and how many of those nearly three-score years  I’ve spent in your company, you may already know some of the info in the article.  Whether its all new or not, I hope its of interest.

My thanks, of course, to MyFItTribe for asking me to do this.

Enjoy the article, any questions or comments as always, please, to

I’ll be back with more blogging next Friday (probably…).  And, as usual, have a healthy and fit sunny weekend!


Its the final countdown…

My blogs usually take the form of advice or suggestions, based on something I’ve discovered, or answering a question, or another form which I believe is of general interest.  It’s not usually about me, but this one is an exception, its all about me – but I still hope its of interest to others.
The reason for this self-centredness is that its just four weeks to go until my World Championships Fitness Model appearance on stage at the Miami Pro.  As a result, training and nutrition are both stepped a notch from this week.  I came 2nd in my age group in the same World Championship contest last year, and – guess what – I’d like to do one better in 2014!
So here are the key things I’m changing to my fitness routine.  And if you’re looking to step up your performance for a big event too, then maybe this could be of value to you.
Firstly, on exercise.  yes, morning aerobic system exercise every day, if possible.
And afternoon/evening resistance training is now ideally 7 days a week from now on, rather than the 5 days up to this point.  Cycling around Arms, Back, Chest, Delts and Elevators, then back to Arms again.  Elevators?  My word for ‘Legs’ in my alphabet-obsessed brain.
When is a weights rest day, I hear you say?  None are actually scheduled as such: but the upper body gets a rest when I do Elevators!  And the legs get a rest when I do an A-D bodypart.
On the nutrition side, trying to keep the sugars and fast carbs to twice a day – after training and at breakfast.  Overall calories are down, but within that, protein and unsaturated fats are up – can’t go wrong with grilled meat from the table-top grill and green veg!  I’ve not swung totally pro-saturated fats like many have in the fitness field – I still think they make you fat, so I keep off them (as I do sugar) but not to the extent it harms the protein input.
I knew you’d ask about beer and wine – well red wine is good for a couple of glasses a week, and I won’t be restricting that.  Beer is tough, I’ll cut it down some, but an exception is always made if it is of truly superb quality or exceptionally rare… – and combined with a social occasion that really merits it.
As I said, four weeks to go, and bodyfat to come down from 12% to 9% if I’m going to do well on stage on April 6th.  I hope the above steps will all contribute to that.  Wish me well for the final run-in…

The story of Anne and Eric

It’s Valentine’s Day as I write this, so I thought I would tell you about two good friends of mine, Anne and Eric. Very much in love with each other, they’ve also been just a little bit too much in love with fattening foods over recent years.

Five months ago, they jointly decided to do something about this. 50 year old Eric, at 5 feet 10 inches, weighed in at 260lb (118kg), and had just received a health warning from his doctor. The medic had noticed increasing levels of bodyfat in Eric over the years, and had just seen the LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and triglyceride numbers all outside the recommended levels. Blood sugar indications had put Eric as pre-diabetic.

Anne had recieved no such warning, but at 203lb (92kg) for her 51-year, 5 feet 9 inch frame, she also knew that she had some weight to lose. By both having the same weight loss objectives, and following similar programmes, they knew they could be mutually supportive and increase their chances of success.

So they took on the services of a dietician, and followed the prescribed diet carefully for those five months. Weekly meetings with the dietician ensured they continues to progress, and as Eric now says, they didn’t want to let the dietician down as well as themselves by having unsuccessful weeks.

Their diets were pretty extreme. In summary, they eliminated sugar and other simple carbs from their diets, and kept fats to a low level too. Protein was kept relatively high – but only high relative to the levels of carbs and fats, not high in absolute terms.

The key principle behind the diet uses a body process called ketosis, and here’s a simplified version of the theory. The body employs energy from three reserves created from the food eaten: carbohydrate – stored in the form of glycogen – protein and fats. In activity, first the body uses its glycogen reserves as fuel. Once this supply is exhausted, It turns to using fat and some protein as the fuel source following on from the depleted glycogen. Looked at another way, once there’s no fuel in the normal tank, the body turns to the backup full source to keep the engine running.

If simple carbs, sugar, are consumed again, then all fat burning stops – because you’ve put fuel back in the glycogen tank, and the emergency back-up supply (mainly bodyfat) is no longer needed. This state of depleted glycogen reserves, in order to compel the body into consuming its fat and some protein reserve to provide calories, is known as ketosis.

The majority of people rarely enter this ketogenic state – they eat sufficient simple carbs and sugar so that the body doesn’t need to turn to the fat reserve for fuel. In fact, they usually eat more than sufficient sugar and simple carbs so that their weight increases.

Following ketogenic diets requires a big change in mind-set. You have to start thinking of ketosis not as being the emergency, carb-depleted, short-term back-up plan, but as being the regular and normal state of bodily function. This wouldn’t have been a huge shift for the humans of between 10,000 and 200,000 years ago (who hadn’t discovered sugar), but it is for those of today. This idea that ketosis is the correct state to be in, rather than an emergency back-up, is – as I said – a massive mind-shift.

Away from the glance at science, and back to my chums Anne and Eric. Their prescribed ketogenic diets provided 800 calories per day on average. This was a protein-supplement based breakfast, a small protein bar at mid-morning, then a lunch consisting of green salad items, and a single portion of grilled meat or fish, with green vegetables, for dinner. Most green veg and salad items are high in nutrients, low in calories and zero in sugar – so they could be consumed in big quantities on this diet, including the substantial 7 ounces of lettuce they each had for lunch.

It may not sound wonderful, but it did the trick for them. He is down to 180lb (82kg), and Anne is 158lb (72kg) – a substantial weight loss which has pleased Eric’s doctor and has moved all Eric’s parameters back to the normal zone. Both are massively happy with the results, Eric has now reached his target weight and Anne wants to lose a further 13lb to take her to 145lb (66kg).

And they achieved this without exercise. That’s right, Anne and Eric didn’t do any exercise during the last five months. They discussed it with their dietician, who said any exercise beyond the normal activities in daily living was not part of the plan. Anne even cut down the activity of her twice weekly spinning session, in order to comply. The reason for this given by the dietician is that the low caloric input didn’t allow them enough energy for exercise, so therefore they shouldn’t do any.

What do I think? Well, in a perfect world, I would have made some changes. Both Eric and Anne say they have lost strength on this diet, which doesn’t surprise me – for they have lost weight (being fat and muscle), rather than fat alone. If I’d been advising, I’d have added some exercise, a daily session of light cardio and a progressive weight training programme to add back at least some part of the muscle lost, just a few sets of the key compound weight movements with regular, incremental increases in resistance based in improving performance. To fuel this, I would have upped the calories by adding more protein and introducing good fats, increasing the daily calorific value to probably somewhere around double the amount they consumed, changing the exact amounts over the months depending on progress, and with perhaps more food for Eric than Anne.

Away from my thoughts, and back to reality. Eric and Anne are now committed to maintaining their new slimline selves for the future. Eric is happy at a weight of 180lb, and Anne wants to lose a further 13lb to take her down to 145lb. And seeing the results first hand, I’m not going to criticise Anne and Eric’s resolve, commitment and health gains. They’ve done massively well. And, for this Valentine’s Day, they have just as much love for each other as before but less body mass on each of them, resulting in more love per cubic inch, and that has to be a good thing – as well as a corny way to end this week’s blog.

Have a loving, healthy and fit Valentine’s weekend!

Supplement time

I recently received an email from Kay, one of the readers of my regular articles in ultra-FIT magazine.

Kay asked me: I need answers to question about the role of Testosterone and Growth Hormone supplements efficacy in older people, what is your view? I am a doctor and the Internet publications on the subject are inconclusive. Would adequate protein intake and weight training be sufficient in stopping the muscle wasting of old age?

My response to Kay was:

Firstly on supplements: I’ll say up-front that that I’m not a fan of too many supplements, I believe that most people should concentrate on getting their diet right first. Supplements are only a valid supplement to a good diet. I wouldn’t touch Testosterone or Growth Hormone, ones you mention. Having said that, I do take three supplements on a regular basis. I choose the ones from True Performance Nutrition, as I am an Ambassador for the brand – I’ve found their products to be the highest quality and generate results, and I am a 100% believer in the people involved in the brand and development of their products.

I take BCAA 4:1:1 capsules which I take before and after training to supply specific proteins to help build and repair muscle. The three BCAA’s are the most fundamental amino acids used by the body for muscle repair and growth, and the numbers 4:1:1 refer to these tablets delivering a four-fold amount of Leucine compared to the amounts of the other two BCAA’s, Isoleucine and Valine. This is the ratio that I believe has found to be the best to promote delivery to muscle cells.

My second supplement is Tri-Creatine Malate which helps the body to deliver energy to the muscles, further assists muscle growth, and also helps control muscular fatigue and pain. The name here refers to the structure of three Creatine molecules linked to one molecule of Malic Acid – a combination determined by the company to be the optimum for delivering results.

Finally on supplements, I like and use the RIPPED product, and use it pretty much daily to help keep body-fat levels under control. I’ve used RIPPED since pre-launch, as I was in the trial group as the over 50′s representative back in September 2012. I now use it most days of the week as my only consumed item before morning cardio – so that’s usually 4 or 5 days per week. In the two-month run-up to my World Championship contest in April 2013, I used it every single day – and am convinced I would not have achieved my lowest ever levels of body-fat that I had at that time without my pre-cardio RIPPED. And even though I’m not heading for another contest at present, I still take it on morning cardio days – and as always come home to a great high-protein, high-carb breakfast afterwards.

I also use Whey Protein Shakes from True Performance Nutrition as part of my regular diet, including that breakfast I mentioned. I don’t really call whey protein a supplement, as such, to me it is basic nutrition, as without protein shakes I couldn’t make the levels of protein that I want to consume daily (delivering 40% of my calories). My favourite flavour is Chocolate Mint, and two scoops stirred into my 60g of breakfast oats, nuts and fruits gives me the protein I need to add to the carbs from the oats and fruits to get my preferred macronutrient split for breakfast. An extra benefit is that it turns the oats into a delicious chocolatey flavour! Another favourite of shakes is Banoffee, which is my preferred post-workout flavour and I take a couple of scoops at that time with an apple and the BCAA’s I mentioned before.

Secondly, on exercise: I’m a massive fan of stopping muscle wastage/atrophy in old age through 40 minutes of cardio and 5 minutes on an Abs:100 set pre-breakfast, then an afternoon or evening resistance training bodypart split workout – cycling around days for Arms, Back, Chest, Delts and Elevators (that’s legs!). For each of those body-parts, on the appropriate day, I do 3 sets of 6 exercises, plus a final set of a seventh exercise on more of an endurance basis. So, for example, that’s 19 sets (spread across 7 exercises) for back in workout B, the same for chest on workout C, and covering all body-parts cycling through A-E, then back to A on day six. All done on an incremental progressive overload basis, where every time I do an exercise I make it that tiniest bit harder than the previous time. Much more on all this on my website.

Thirdly, nutrition: You don’t ask about this subject, Kay, but – in one sentence, keep the protein, healthy fats, natural products and fibre up – and keep the calories down, especially those from processed food, sat fats and sugar.

In summary, I’m a massive fan of stopping muscle wastage/atrophy in old age through good nutrition, daily cardio and challenging resistance training – adding (if you like) reasonable amounts of quality supplements. This forms my recipe for keeping fit into one’s old age.

Thanks to Kay for her question, and everyone please keep those questions coming to – including if anything in the above needs a bit more detail. Have a fit and healthy weekend!