Let’s start out this week by talking about a product I’ve been using for the past 4 weeks; Optimum Nutrition’s True Mass weight gainer mix. Most people are aware that in order to lift serious weight you have to add muscle and mass. This can be a hard thing to achieve for so-called hard-gainers or those of us abiding by a Paleo-Diet as our daily calories intake just doesn’t allow for an excess of calories. Unfortunately the body needs extra calories to build muscle and while adding protein seems the most logical choice protein alone isn’t the solution. The body needs carbohydrates to build muscle as much as protein. The reason is simple if you take in carbs then the protein is released to build muscle instead of broken down into amino acids and used for fuel. Mass Gainers are a convenient way to add calories and carbs to the diet without actually having to eat all day.
True Mass, if taken according to the directions on the 6 pound tub (2 cups) provides nearly 1300 calories per serving. Unfortunately most of those calories are from maltodextrin or sugar to the non-chemists out there. One serving does also provide 52 grams of protein as well, but it’s debatable how much of that is absorbed when the most common reaction to digesting this much sugar in one hit seems to be instantaneous diarrhea. I reduced the serving to half the recommended dose and the diarrhea cleared up. Even at half a dose though it’s still a tremendous amount of sugar and I wondered what this was doing to my insulin levels. Thankfully I went through my tub in just under a month so hopefully the damage was minimal.
After a month I can say I have gained weight. Unfortunately it seems to have all been in my waistline and at the expense of a very nicely defined 8-pack. I also seem to be more lethargic and my endurance has taken a hit. I took measurements across my whole body before starting and after 4 weeks during which I worked out 5 days a week alternating heavy weight sessions with shorter met-cons and almost no cardio none of my measurements grew. I haven’t gained any measurable strength either, if anything, some of my max weights have dropped according to my workout records. So ends the experiment with Mass Gainers. Now it’s back to eating clean and getting some quality sleep. In a few weeks I plan on cutting out protein and pre-workout supplements as well and spending 6-8 weeks relying solely on diet for fuel and nutrition.
There’s another product I’ve been testing out these last few weeks I’d like to talk about quickly before wrapping this up; Rehband Knee bands. I’ve already covered Tommy Kono Knee bands in a previous article and to date I still have a high opinion of them. They’re supportive, keep my knees warm and pliable, and they’re simple and stupid proof. The downside; they’re hard to get on, work better than Nair at removing male leg hair, and though it hasn’t happened to me Gwen’s pair tore at the top after just a few weeks.
My Rehbands are nice and I feel like I’m part of the cool crowd when I wear them after all they are the choice of CrossFit champions worldwide. Then my legs start sweating and the tops keep sliding down and I get pissed off and just want to tear them off. The Mediums are too small so I settled on a large which seems too big on the thigh area. I guess my only option is to grow my quads even larger to keep them from slipping down as the calf side fits great and stays put. Like the T.K.’s they keep your knee warm and pliable and are supportive when they’re not sliding down and help my 35 year old knees tremendously. The real downside besides fitment issues is the price; $90 a pair compared to half that for the T.K.’s.
So my advice is to buy the T.K. bands. Make sure you measure and follow the sizing directions before ordering and follow the instructions included with your bands when putting them on. They may be a hassle but it’s worth the cost savings to just cowboy up and deal with it rather than buy the Rehbands. I feel like many things associated with CrossFit buying what works versus what is popular had lead many to shell out more money than necessary for merchandise that just isn’t worth it.