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      News — education

      Stevia or Sucralose to Sweeten Your Whey Protein…

      Stevia or Sucralose to Sweeten Your Whey Protein…

      clean sugars: stevia vs sucralose in whey protein powderThe word "clean" appears a lot in conversations surrounding protein. Clean can mean a lean ingredient list, no chemicals, no fats, no heavy metals, minimal cholesterol, no fillers, or even Made in the USA. Sometimes "clean" refers to no sugars. It is important for you to understand what is sweetening your daily protein supplement when it does not contain sugar.

      The Backstory

      As the health and wellness boom sweeps across the globe, athletes in particular are beginning to pay more attention when exploring new supplements or proteins. If you are focused on making gains and consuming a protein powder without consuming tons of unnecessary calories, your natural tendency may be to stay away from simple sugars (i.e., fructose, sucrose, and lactose).  Let's be clear, our market is the fitness community.  We don't believe sugar in moderation is bad, and as a matter of fact our latest product launches "Core" and "Tactical Recovery" both contain Organic Coconut Sugar (comparable to 2 apple slices) in place of a artificial sweeteners. 

      Despite the FDA regulations on nutrition facts panels (NFPs), many protein brands forgo disclosing that their product contains “simple sugars," especially in the form of lactose*. These same brands display warning statements in bold that read, “If you are Lactose Intolerant do not use this product." By putting two and two together, you can begin to understand these common practices in nondisclosure. The NFP does not list sugar; yet, the manufacturer warns the consumer that the product is loaded with lactose. Another way to determine when sugar is not disclosed on the NFP is to look at the number of carbohydrates in grams and subtract everything else in the sub-heading (for example, fiber). The remainder can indicate the undisclosed sugar. Keep in mind, "Supplement Facts" are designed to look like a traditional regulated NFP, but below is a good example of why we suggest to stay away any protein products that are classified as "Dietary Supplements".

      *Lactose is a milk sugar (made up of glucose and galactose units) that remains along with the whey protein once water is removed in the process of creating whey protein concentrate (WPC) from wet whey.

       

      examples of Nutrition Facts disclosing and non-disclosing sugars

       

      Not disclosing the sugar content is one thing, but listing 0 grams of sugar is where the need for sugar alternatives comes into play, especially when talking about whey protein isolate (WPI) or whey protein hydrolysate (WPH), which each contain minimal natural sugar (lactose) when compared to whey protein concentrate (WPC). The most common sweeteners to compensate for the lack of lactose are sucralose or stevia.

      What is Sucralose?

      Sucralose is the only type of artificial sweetener derived from real sugar molecules. It is created by substituting one part of a sugar molecule with chlorine to create a substance that is about 600 times sweeter than sucrose; this is why so little is needed to sweeten even the most bitter protein powders. This is great because when talking about clean and lean protein powders, a protein utilizing sucralose essentially has 0 grams of the daily serving attributed to the sweetener, which leaves each serving loaded with what the consumer wants and is paying for — protein. Sucralose also differs from other artificial sweeteners in that it passes through the digestive system without being metabolized, which is why it contains no calories. It is made right here in the USA. The taste profile is immediate, and in your face sweet, it's often used to mask undesired flavors by tying the pallet up with intense sweetness. 

      What is Stevia?

      Stevia is obtained from an herb known as yerba dulce, which is grown in Paraguay, Brazil, Southeast Asia and other places (tropical climates, not made in the USA). When stevia was first introduced to the U.S. market, it was only available as a dietary supplement but quickly gained popularity as it can be marketed as "Natural". Stevia contains different chemical compounds that make it sweet, including its principal sweetening agent, rebaudioside A. These compounds make stevia anywhere from 40-300 times sweeter than table sugar. Thus, one teaspoon of stevia extract has about the same sweetening potency as an entire cup of sugar.

      Are they FDA approved Sweeteners?

      Sucralose

      Yes. Sucralose has an excellent safety profile. More than 100 safety studies, representing over 20 years of research, have shown sucralose to be safe. Sucralose was FDA approved as an all-purpose sweetener in 1998 in the USA, and further recognized and approved by numerous global FDA equivalents:

      • European Union Scientific Committee on Food (SCF)
      • Food Standards Australia/New Zealand (FSANZ)
      • Health Protection Branch of Health and Welfare Canada
      • (Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization) Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
      • Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare

      Stevia

      In the United States, high-purity stevia glycoside extracts are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and are allowed as non-nutritive ingredients in food products without a formal "approval".  GRAS is different than "approved by the FDA".  The FDA has simply put, not questioned the GRAS notice of stevia glycosides as a high intensity sweetener.  So unlike Sucralose, Stevia does not have "Approved" status as food additive.

      In more detail, these stevia glycocides are what can be found sweetening many protein powders.  This said, its important to know, both stevia leaf and crude extracts do not have GRAS notices or Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in food.  To see how these glycosides are extracted here is the best video we found. Link to Real Stevia Extraction process (American Gainz Nutrition Disclaimer - We had zero choice in the music selection on this video, lol). 

      Although stevia is assumed safe by many due to its status as a natural sweetener, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) notes that being natural does not guarantee safety. Both Canadian and U.S. regulatory agencies have rejected stevia in the past. In addition, a European Community scientific panel made the decision that stevia was not an acceptable food additive. 

      The Take-Away

      If you are the type of health-conscious athlete who relies on nutrition in order to achieve peak performance, at American GAINZ Nutrition we strongly recommend always going with a lean & clean protein powder with minimal ingredients regardless of your preference of sweetener, as long as you understand all the ingredients and they are all openly disclosed on the packaging.  We encourage you to avoid the calories from excess simple sugars and any brands that do not disclose their sugars in the nutritional fact or supplement fact panels. Our latest launch of both "Core" & "Tactical Recovery" proteins utilizes the latest and greatest FDA Nutrition Facts Panel which fully discloses "Added Sugars" as a component of the total sugar.  If you prefer a pure, unflavored option, check out AGN Roots Grass-fed Whey, no sweeteners at all, just the worlds best certified Grass-fed Whey. 

      What's the best unflavored grassfed Whey?

      Stay Strong America!!

      Ingredients vs. Claims Vol. 2: Casein

      Ingredients vs. Claims Vol. 2:  Casein

      Ingredients vs. Claims Vol. 2: Casein
      Written by American Gainz Nutrition

      At American Gainz Nutrition, we believe Casein proteins are the keystones to achieving GAINZ, and thus created a short Q&A to best share the information.

       

      1.  What is the role Casein plays in milk’s nutritional value?

      A two-month old calf will drink an average of eight liters of milk per day.   In less than 15 months, this cow will tip the scale at ~ 2,400 lbs. Likewise, a human baby will have tripled his/her body weight in the first six months just by drinking milk. So the purpose of milk seems clear - growth & development.

      But what is it about milk that promotes this type of growth? Most athletes are under the impression that the whey protein in milk is what contributes to growth, when in fact, cow milk protein is nearly 80% Casein and only 20% Whey. The majority of Gainz from milk comes from casein protein.  

      2.  Why aren’t there more Casein Protein powders marketed to Athletes?

      The easiest answer is money. It costs more. Extracting Micellar Casein protein can only occur at the sacrifice of the cheese making process as it involves extracting protein directly from the milk. Whey protein, on the other hand, is separated from the curds and drained as part of the cheese manufacturing process, leaving the cheese unaffected. It’s often described as a byproduct of cheese manufacturing.

      Whey protein is also naturally sweeter. This is because the lactose (simple sugar) stays with the whey when it is separated from the curds which explains why it is very difficult to find a whey protein concentrate that does not contain lactose and Casein is often labeled as 100% lactose free.

      3.  Why is Casein considered a slower digesting protein relative to whey?

      Casein is incredibly sticky. It is slower digesting because of its gel forming properties, which literally slows down intestinal motility.  Casein protein is also highly digestible relative to whey protein. This is why whey protein can sometimes stimulate a localized intestinal response often attributed to “milk allergies” when really, it’s due to an inability of a portion of the protein to be broken down.

      As performance athletes, we need slow amino acid release as numerous studies have proven this pattern to be the most powerful at promoting an anti-catabolic environment for muscle growth. The fact is, you grow and recover the most while sleeping.

      4.  What does “Micellar” mean when referring to Casein?

      Micellar casein refers to the molecular structure of the protein being intact and therefore containing the peptides in their natural form (undenatured). To retain an abundance of micellar protein during processing, a specialized treatment of the milk has to be performed which sacrifices the ability to make cheese, thereby making the process very expensive.

      Because the casein micelle is in suspension, it can be separated from the rest of the milk through centrifugation at a very high speed. Utilizing ultrafiltration or microfiltration along with avoiding exposure to heat, acid or other chemicals, the micellar casein structure will remain intact. Thus, more bioactive peptides, with immuno- and growth-modulating effects, are present in the protein. Gainz!!!

      5.  What is the general process difference for Whey Protein vs. Micellar Casein Protein?

      Whey

      1. Milk – Collected from cows
      2. Standardization – The milk is pasteurized
      3. Culture & Coagulant – Bacteria used to trigger coagulation
      4. Cutting – Liquid whey & curds are separated
      5. Whey Draining – Whey is drained, leaving the solids behind called curds
      6. Whey is dehydrated and considered WPC (Whey protein concentrate) 20% Fat & Lactose

      Micellar Casein (undenatured)

      1. Milk – Collected from cows
      2. Standardization – The milk is pasteurized
      3. Centrifugation – The intact Casein Micellar structures are extracted and dehydrated

      In closing, both casein and whey proteins, if utilized correctly, are an amazing performance combo added to any fitness regime - whey to spike the blood with instant amino acids and casein to keep the BCAAs flowing!!! For questions regarding general industry information or our products, contact us at CustomerService@AmericanGainz.com.

      When Did Eating Become So Complicated? - Written by Jenn Jones

      When Did Eating Become So Complicated? - Written by Jenn Jones

      When Did Eating Become So Complicated?
      Written by: Jenn Jones
      Photo Credit: Robert Gonda

       

      Trends seem to come and go and over the last decade we have seen several dieting trends - being solely calorie focused, not allowing carbohydrates, fats, dairy, processed foods, and pretty much any combination you can think of.  If the given diet is then supported by a large enough marketing campaign, there you have it, the next best fad.

       

      CrossFitters typically promote two diets, Paleo and Zone, while, the newest meal planning guides are pushing for Macro Counting.  What does all of this mean?

       

      What we know:  Your body is a vastly complex system within systems that helps you break down what you put into your mouth, change it into components that your body can use and conversely excrete the components you don’t need.  Your body recognizes fats, carbohydrates, and proteins as true molecules that can be broken down, absorbed, and then used by the body for many different processes that happen automatically in order to keep you alive.

       

      Carbohydrates are used for energy.  They promote healthy brain activity, functioning muscles, which includes your intestinal lining as well as your heart beating.  For the avid exerciser, the carbohydrates you eat serve as the energy sources to keep you feeling spunky through your workout and giving you enough energy for the day.   If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, your body has a natural ability to store them so they can be utilized later as needed.

       

      Proteins are the building blocks of your body. Your cells are made of them.  Your hair and nails are made of them.  Your muscles are made of them.  Proteins build and repair tissues as well as make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.  The body DOES NOT have the ability to store protein in a similar fashion to that of carbohydrates, therefore there is no reserve to draw from when your body needs to recover. This is why it’s so important to make sure to eat enough protein each day. If you’re like most athletes, in order to provide our bodies with adequate protein, we rely heavily on convenient whey protein sources, preferably lean (nothing excess – gums, fillers, added carbs), clean (made in the USA – no heavy metals), and fortified with added BCAAS (the amino acids that promote muscle tissue repair and growth.

       

      Fats are a common word that the general population tries to steer clear from.  Not all fats are created equal, and you NEED some fat in your diet in order to sustain life.   Your body is INCAPABLE of producing essential fatty acids.  Fats in a nut shell, store energy, insulate us, and protect our vital organs. They act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism.

       

      Each of these (carbs, protein, fats) are considered Macro-nutrients.  You need relatively a lot of them in order to be adequately nourished and function properly; however, anything in excess is not a good thing.

      Too much fat, specifically triglycerides, in your bloodstream raise the risk of clogged arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.  Too much protein will simply convert most of those calories to sugars and then store them as fats.  Excess protein, gets converted to nitrogen waste, has to be excreted out of the body by the kidneys, which is more taxing on them, and coupled with dehydration can lead to kidney damage over time. Carbohydrates are the most well-known macronutrient to be detrimental to your health if eating too many.  They have the most drastic effect on your blood sugar, as they get broken down into sugars in the body to be used, or stored.

       

      Most any of the new age meal plans are taking into account keeping all things in balance.  “Zone” accounts for body type and energy expenditure to what you are eating. “Paleo” focuses more on sticking with eating natural, unaltered food (meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar or dairy) to ensure that you are getting the quality macros to have optimal health and function.  I know I don’t want my eating to be too complicated, so I just try to stick to unprocessed foods that I cook myself.  There are a lot of factors that contribute to the perfect diet plan, but if you are looking for a place to start, balancing your meals is a good stepping stone. As far as my favorite whey protein source, you are on the website (AmericanGainz.com).

      No Double Standards for Your Food & Supplements

      No Double Standards for Your Food & Supplements

      Tactical Recovery crossfit whey protein by American GAINZ Nutrition

      For the health conscious and performance driven, achieving clean GAINZ requires a full understanding of every whole food and supplement ingredient that’s consumed.  Truly supporting your greatest health demands that you not consume any product without full disclosure around the origin of the supplement. Can you imagine if all whole foods and dietary supplements offered this kind of transparency?  If you intend to eat or drink it, is it too much to ask to know what you are buying or where it originates?  Would uncertainty be acceptable with any of the foods you provide your loved ones? Well, uncertainty might be okay when reaching into a jar of lollipops and pulling out the one with the “question marks” on the wrapper, but in virtually no other case should it be okay to ingest a mystery.

      In the case of the lollipop, the unknown is not going to cause long-term health concerns; however, in the case of nutritional supplements, the unknown is a much bigger gamble.  What lies beneath the label may be ingredients that even the company representatives have a hard time tracing to the source (or identifying for that matter!). This is the disturbing truth that should be unacceptable to anyone who takes health, fitness, and clean living seriously. Consuming tubs of cheap ingredients with more than just traces of lead, arsenic, mercury, copper, cadmium, and other heavy metals and fillers is a risk that shouldn’t be tolerated.

      At American GAINZ Nutrition, the standard is transparency and 100% American ingredients.  Quality and environmental controls that can be trusted and should be demanded are the daily norm—as it should be! There are no vague “proprietary blend” declarations or complex ingredient lists to hide the unknowns.  Each gram is accounted for, always. To meet the standards we all have for our families, accredited 3rd party testing is used to ensure clean, lean proteins and ingredients from American sources are of the highest quality.

       

      American GAINZ Nutrition hereby certifies that:

      Tactical Recovery's Certificate of Origin contains the following information:
      • Originates from and is manufactured in the country: United States of America.
      • Is derived from healthy bovines; meets all applicable state, USDA, and FDA regulations for the manufacture of Dairy Products.
      • The product is produced in a cGMP certified facility where no animals, animal by-products, veterinary vaccines, or animal pathogens are maintained.
      • The product is packed in packaging that can be identified as to the nature of the product and the country of origin.

      Taking supplements with ingredients of unknown origins, with little-to-no concern for quality, does not have your greatest health in mind.  We deeply encourage you to commit to the expectation of full disclosure and transparency around your nutritional supplements—your health and Gainz demand it.

      Any questions? Please contact us at questions@americangainz.com

      The Grass Fed Claim — Whey Protein

      The Grass Fed Claim — Whey Protein

      The Grass Fed claim for Whey Protein

      We’ve all heard it before, “Our protein is the best and here’s why….” What typically follows may be a barrage of phrases which include the infamous “Grass Fed” buzzword. This commonly pitched catchword is often abused by brands that buy whey from China or New Zealand along with other poorly regulated sources (see our blog: Unregulated Sources & Blind Spots).

      How often have you seen the phrase “Year Round Grass Fed”? This particular phrase happens to be a reliable indication that the product is, in fact, sourced abroad. This holds true in almost all cases, excluding very few products sourced from select farms located in a small region of northern California.

      Why should you question the “Year Round Grass Fed” claim? The logic is that American farmers like foreign farmers share large incentives for producing milk—the more milk the better. In the winter months, with demand for milk production unwavering, feeding cows nutrient-rich grain is the solution most widely used to meet demand. Therefore, it pays to be skeptical of all “grass fed” claims if the geographical origin of your whey is impacted by the four seasons.  

      Not only does New Zealand have snowy winters, but the majority of milk produced in the country is exposed to high temp short time pasteurization processes rendering all micro nutrients associated with a "grass-fed" claim useless.  Save your money, If you're paying premium prices for "grass-fed" products, make sure they are certified by an accredited association.  If the protein is "grass-fed" certified, believe us when we tell you, the certification will be on the packaging as a proud symbol of quality. 

      A quick, simple tip for weeding out the misleading grass fed claims (aside from relying on blind faith) is to look for any of these 3 certifications on the packaging:

      American Grassfed Association.
      This label is verified and the standards require 100% grass-based diet and continuous access to pasture.

      Grassfed + USDA Process Verified.
      When the “grass fed” claim is accompanied by the “USDA Process Verified” seal, it means that the USDA has verified that its definition of “grass fed” (100% grass-based feed over the lifetime of the animal) has been met. Cattle can be confined during the non-growing season, but must be fed non-grain feed stuffs such as grass, hay, and silage.

      Food Alliance Grassfed.
      This label is verified, and requires that cattle must be on pasture or range for their entire lives. Grain feeding is prohibited.

      Bottom line: If you see this "grass fed" claim with little to support it, especially if the claim includes "New Zealand grass-fed Whey"… walk away, "no certification" means "no good". Don’t settle; you deserve peace of mind. Paying premium prices for uncertainty is a mistake. Any questions please contact us directly.