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

Vitamin D Awareness Week

This is Vitamin D Awareness Week, a good time, I thought, to give you an update on this vital vitamin.

As you know, I’m a big believer that if you regularly engage in physical activity it’s important to take care of your body with the right nutrition. As well as increasing our wellbeing and energy levels, vitamins and minerals have the ability to help protect against injury and ensure good muscle recovery.  Recent research has revealed that 50% of UK adults are now deficient in vitamin D.

How much do you know about vitamin D? According to a health survey, 46 per cent of people think they get enough of this vitamin from vegetables. In fact, 90 per cent should be obtained from strong sunlight, this is why many of us become deficient during the winter months.

The highest rates of deficiency are in Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland. Due to limited sun exposure between October and March, it is almost impossible to get the UV rays needed to reach the daily requirement of this essential vitamin.

Low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased likelihood of illness, fatigue and a higher risk of suffering stress fractures. As we age, and during the winter months, our body’s ability to produce vitamin D reduces, so it’s important to think about topping up with a supplement.

Research has linked good levels of vitamin D to reduced inflammation and pain within joints, as well as improved exercise capacity and better protein synthesis within the muscles.

Vitamin D is vitally important for bone health. Without it, calcium cannot be effectively absorbed by your body. A deficiency in vitamin D can result in bone and muscle pain, poor bone mineralisation (softer bones) and a greater risk of osteoporosis and fractures as we age – a prime concern for all you fantastic quintastics!

It’s especially important to look after your bone and muscle health if you engage in regular physical activity, doing so can reduce your risk of injury. Weak bones alongside repetitive loading can result in painful and debilitating stress fractures.

Finally, everyone hates the dreaded colds and flu that seem to come along during the winter months. Vitamin D is known for its high anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, which means it can strengthen our immune system and help protect against colds and flu. Some studies even suggest that vitamin D may offer more powerful cold and flu protection than vitamin C.

Suppliers of vitamin D supplementation include Pharma Nord – here is a direct link to their site:

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!