Below are product reviews for two of several products that were sent to me by GNC, which are part of GNC's new line that caters toward the endurance athlete. The line is called AMP, which is short of Advanced Muscle Performance. You can check out their info on each product for more technical details of how each product works to make you a better athlete. I have chosen to use these products individually, so I could best determine if there was a correlation between taking them and my performance. Once I use the other products they sent me, I will give my review of them as well in a follow up post.
Throughout this past summer (as any readers know), I have training exclusively for a half ironman race, Patriots Half, on September 12 and used these products through the peak/build phase of my schedule. My training has consisted of weekly time volume of anywhere between 6 hours and 12 hours a week of training, with a large bulk of those hours (typically 5-6 hours) committed to long workouts on the weekends. Specifically, a long bike ride (anywhere from 50 - 100 miles) and a long run (from 10 miles to 15 miles). It is following these workouts that I used these two products as a recovery source. Typically, I'd come home and within 10-15 minutes, I serve myself either one of the Muscle Meals or Whey Protein drinks. Below are my comments as they pertain to each product:
Amplified Muscle Meal:
- The logic behind this product makes complete sense - it is a product used to fuel the body following extended activity. And that is exactly what I felt like it did. Over the course of the past 2 months, I've taken this following my longest workouts and my recovery was quick, leaving me with minimal fatigue the next day.
- I also like that the product contains about 350 calories in each package, as this is an ideal amount of calories (combined with protein) to take in following endurance activity. When I come home from a long ride or run, it is always difficult to find something healthy that gives me this ideal ratio of intake. This easily solved that problem.
- The flavor of these drinks was also very good. I particularly liked the chocolate the best out of the three - strawberry and vanilla being the others. Once finished, I felt satisfied and sufficiently refueled, therefore not forcing me to ravage the rest of my kitchen to take in additional calories.
- The directions of the meal state to mix with 12-14 ounces of liquid, but there is an awful lot of powder to mix into such a small amount of liquid. I found the most effective way to take this product was to split it into 3 glasses of 10 ounces of liquid each. There was still a full flavor in each glass but the amount of powder was not overwhelming to stir in with this ratio.
- I think the naming of the product is confusing, since this is being marketed toward endurance athletes. As an endurance athlete, I wouldn't particularly seek out a "muscle meal" following long workouts. Many other competitors market their products as a "refueling formula for optimum recovery", most of which include protein like this product. I think this naming would appeal more to the endurance sports community, rather than "muscle meal", which implies bulking up, and is not something an endurance athlete seeks to typically do. While I did not experience any type of weight gain while using it (in fact, the opposite, but this was more likely a function of the increased volume of training), I think marketing it as a recovery drink may be more effective to the endurance athlete demographic.
- This product contains wheat, which as someone who is sensitive to gluten/wheat allergies because Rebecca (who has celiac disease), it would be nice to see this product be made without wheat based products. I personally have no allergic issues with these products, but I do maintain a mostly gluten free diet as a result of living with someone who must. However, many endurance athletes are moving toward unprocessed foods, many of which happen to be gluten free. This could be another area where this product could appeal to more athletes by offering a recovery product that is also gluten free. I realize the challenge this brings, as many other GNC products do contain wheat, so to have separate equipment/facilities for a gluten free product may be too costly. However, I do believe there is a market for it.
Amplified Whey Protein:
- Similar to the Amplified Muscle Meal, I used the product as a recovery drink following long endurance workouts and felt that the drink helped aid in my recovery by leaving me with minimal residual fatigue the next day.
- I also liked the flavor and consistency. Some competitor whey protein drinks that I have had can get very clumpy and can be "off" on the flavor. I enjoyed and looked forward to drinking this following my workouts.
- The serving size mixture was a little bit better in this product, but I still found that I had too much powder to mix with only 14-16 oz of water. I usually split into two 10 oz drinks to get the serving size caloric intake right.
- As I had just mentioned, I think the directions for mixing should either recommend more liquid or provide a higher concentration of powder to account for less need for drinking multiple glasses of the product. In any case, when I return from extended endurance workouts, I have no problem drinking 2-3 glasses of liquid, because I am usually somewhat dehydrated, so requiring me to do so in order to take in my calories, forces me to drink more than I may have done otherwise.
- As I stated above under the Muscle Meal, this product contains wheat and it would be nice to see this product be made without wheat based products.
Following my race on September 12, I will begin incorporating the other products into my program and will provide a follow up post regarding my thoughts on them.