One of the easiest products to find in the fitness world is protein powder. In fact, it's maybe a little too easy to find - there are hundreds of powders (and other protein products) available, and it's hard to tell which products are actually worth the expense. Not only is there a concern for the content and benefits of the product, but many protein powders are severely lacking in an appealing taste, making it difficult to choke them down even IF they're providing what you need.
In my eternal search for the perfect protein powder, I encountered Extend Nutrition, a company that provides a variety of products for fitness, weight loss, and even diabetes control. The "Extend" comes from product design: unlike other products that typically metabolize quickly over just a couple hours, Extend products were created to last much longer. By metabolizing over six to nine hours, Extend Nutrition helps regulate blood sugar without causing a short-term spike that quickly crashes. I had the opportunity to try not only their protein shake mixes, but a couple of their protein bars as well. Crisps and drizzles are also available, though I did not sample any of those items.
Disclaimer: I was provided Extend Nutrition products free of charge in exchange for my review. I have not received any other compensation, nor am I affiliated wtih Extend Nutrition. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Extend carries three flavors of protein powder: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I originally tried each flavor mixed with ONLY water and ice, to gauge the raw flavor profiles of each. Chocolate quickly pulled out in front as the tastiest, by a long shot, when mixed with only water! Creamy and thick, it was the smoothest protein powder I'd ever consumed. I typically drank the chocolate powder immediately after running, when I am most hungry, and found the shake to be very filling each time, carrying me through the rest of the evening post-run without needing another snack.
The vanilla and strawberry powders didn't fare so well in plain water! In fact, the vanilla tasted a little sour, and the strawberry was borderline gross. Neither mixed as smoothly as the chocolate, so I had to deal with little powder lumps that added nothing to the appeal of those flavors. Perhaps it was because I drank them more slowly (reluctantly?) but neither flavor filled me up like the chocolate shakes did, either. I'll admit, I was pretty disappointed, but was determined to find another way to enjoy at least the strawberry, as I happen to LOVE strawberry shakes!
I mixed the rest of the vanilla and strawberry packets in milk instead of water. Though I have been cutting back on my dairy consumption, the addition of 1% milk and ice to the powder turned the whole flavor profile completely around! The vanilla was much creamier mixed with milk, and tasted like melted ice cream instead of bland lumpy powder. The strawberry went from worst to first as far as my preferences among the three flavors! Thanks to the milk, my strawberry powder had a chance to really shine: it was creamy, thick, bursting with berry flavor, and I drank it WAY too fast! If you're going to try Extend protein shakes, give strawberry a try for sure!
I also received a few "anytime bars" which became my breakfast and book-reading treats last week. Not usually one for protein or other nutrition bars, I was skeptical about how much I'd actually like these bars. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the chocolate peanut butter flavor! Peanut butter protein bars are tough to get right, but this one was fantastic. And very filling! More so than the shakes, the anytime bars really helped keep me satisfied over a long span of time. This was especially helpful when I had a dinner engagement last week and wanted to EAT, but was hungry a few hours before. Instead of snacking mindlessly the whole time, I had an Extend bar, which held me over perfectly, leaving me hungry only just in time for an amazing Indian dinner! The cookies and cream bars were equally reliable as a meal replacement, but weren't nearly as tasty. It was more chocolate mush than cookies and creamy, but again, still served their purpose.
I definitely would recommend Extend Nutrition for protein powder! You may need to experiment with how you mix the powder to suit your own tastes, but once you find your sweet spot, you'll love the taste! Each single-serve packet has 15 grams of protein and only 12 grams of carbohydrates, and at 110 calories, it's a pretty guilt-free post-workout treat; however, while it does keep you satisfied for a good few hours, you'll have to consider your overall calorie intake before using these shakes as meal replacement. Same with the bars, which have 130 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 22 grams of carbohydrates. I ate the bars as meal replacements, and didn't feel hungry for a while, but I'm not sure 130 calories is enough for me to consider an actual meal. Ensure you're getting enough fuel throughout the day!
Of course, you don't have to take MY word for it! Extend Nutrition is offering one lucky reader a $25 gift card to try any of their products! Enter using the Rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
When do you use protein enhanced beverages - pre or post workout? As a meal replacement? Just as a snack? What's your go-to brand and flavor?