Protein, a comparative review
pig skin blender
I have a serious chronic pressure sore. It’s been active since January 2015 and it’s an absolute beast. Without going into the saga now, suffice to say, one of the most important tools in tackling pressure sores is nutrition [WARNING: GRIM PICTURES], and particularly protein. I’m not able to eat enough food to get all the protein I need, particularly when the HCPs enforce bed rest (to try to heal the sore). This is because I am an incomplete C-Spine Quad and so without regularly holding my head up in sitting/driving my chair, my neck muscle tone degrades and I can’t chew or swallow very well. I’ve talked my way out of the bed now, but I am still supplementing my protein.
The NHS prescribes protein supplements for this situation, and it is all absolutely disgusting. It’s beyond disgusting. It’s a penance. It’s a punishment. I suspect it of being a secret clinical trial to see how unpleasant a food can be made before people literally starve to death rather than eat it. They make it in “shot” form (either a pouch like a Frube or a jelly shot) to try to encourage you to just knock it back as fast as possible. It’s hydrosylate porcine collagen (ground up dried pig skin) that they then flavour, bewilderingly, with a sort of orange-like toothpaste-medicine combo. I have eaten more of this stuff than can be humanly imagined. When I was eating my prescribed amount of this, I completely lost my appetite, to the point that it became the only sustenance I could force down in a grim trudge towards extreme malnutrition. My compliance, let me show you it.
The BNF does have unflavoured protein (Protifar) but I have never got it on prescription. For some reason I am stuck with the grimmest, most depressing, jelly shots ever conceived by man. But… other protein is available!
If you think about it, body-builders are really doing the same thing I am doing. They are trying to create the best anabolic state for the body to build muscle. This is also protein synthesis, and it’s what my body needs to do to heal my wound (build more of itself). The advantage is that you can get all kinds of different products, not just the dreaded orange pig shots, and you can get them a lot cheaper than the medical stuff. In my pursuit of protein, I drank a ton of shakes and the best, cheapest ones we have found are from myprotein. They do samples so you don’t have to commit to months of something intolerable.
I tried a lot of shakes, in various flavours (chocolate, strawberry…) from a lot of places (supermarkets, local gym etc), and I found that the best and best value ones are the vanilla flavour whey protein shakes from myprotein. They were tolerable, and I managed them for about a year, but eventually they made me sick to my stomach and I had to stop drinking them. I also stopped eating, so they ended up being a bit counterproductive. Whey protein is the best quality affordable protein you can supplement with, probably, but the best protein in the world is useless if it just sits in the cupboard. However, as an acute protein loading solution (say for the first 2 weeks of an acute wound) Impact Whey Protein is a good option. I mixed mine with Nesquik and Jersey Milk for the most palatable shake.
Protein Pancake Mix. Horrible. Lumpy! Not palatable food.
Disgusting. Avoid. Ewww, srsly. Really sickly. Breakfast Smoothie
This is a different amino acid: Creatine on examine.com that I add in to my food after physio. When I start my standing frame physio (weight bearing) I will supplement with this regularly again. But it’s quite good value from myprotein, so I add it in here: Creatine on MyProtein
Made me throw up. Not even linking them. Grim.
I actually tried a lot of protein bars but I’ve repressed the taste and memory of all the others. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Quest is actually okay! The trick is to put it in the microwave for 15 seconds on high and eat it straight away, before it goes cold. The chocolate chunks are real so they are pretty nice. They are definitely nice compared to all other protein bars, but this may be a vegan cheese comparison, tbh.
You can get these bars at most of the online protein shops: proteinpickandmix, discountsupplements, PostedProtein and also some high street places like HollandandBarret, but they’re more expensive there, obviously. Amazon comes in at around £20 for 12 and the high street around £30, and all the other shops are in the middle.
hognuts protein butters
I got the Missisippi Mud Pie kind from the Protein Pick and Mix and I feel like I should have liked it better. It tasted quite good - a little weird texture but the flavour was good and I eat peanut butter a lot – a peanut butter and cheese toastie is the food of the gods, and with a glass of milk that’s 39g protein in one meal. But these… I bought it, I ate some once or twice, and then I left it in the fridge until they went off. Just couldn’t stomach it, somehow. So… that’s all I have to say about those, except that they exist and you probably will have better luck.
Incidentally, Snickers are about the highest protein (5.5g) normal chocolate bar available. At one point I lived on these (with the full support of my dietician haha). They are quite hard to chew, though, and there’s a lot of refined sugar. But CHEAP. You can get a box for about £15 at Costco or they are on multipack special offer ALL the time at supermarkets. You can check mysupermarket to find out where they are on offer atm. Don’t buy these from Amazon - it’s never the best price on there.
But Sally has actually found the Holy Grail of protein supplementation, and it’s not a body builder product. She found this through reading around the bone broth craze - she likes to check out these crazes in case there’s anything in it we can use, though mainly it’s just nonsense for the worried well in her opinion; anyway, this was linked on some site as an alternative to bone broth for people who didn’t like bone broth. It’s Collagen Hydrosylate and it’s AWESOME. It’s totally unflavoured and you can add it to HOT and cold drinks. Once it’s stirred in, it’s totally imperceptible. I have it stirred into my coffee (upcoming March 3 2017). It’s expensive, though - I WISH you could get such a thing on the NHS as I spend hundreds of pounds on this a year and it’s not clinically reviewed- but it is what it is. It’s the best I can do.
Note: I’m not taking this for joint pain or whatever, I’m using this for basic dietary protein as I have trouble eating enough food. The fact that it is collagen instead of wheat isolate is not especially material beyond the fact that they are all proteins and break down into the amino acids I need, more or less.
The important thing about this stuff is that you can’t taste it and you can add it to something tasty like a milky coffee, or even just plain water, or any food you eat, so there’s no struggle to consume it. No struggles whatsoever!! ALL protein products say they are tasty or easy to eat or you can just stir them into your meals etc etc but they all lie, except this one. It’s my top recommendation. Can’t praise it enough! Pretty much the only downside is it makes your wee smell like oxtail soup, which is weird, but ultimately liveable with.
The price fluctuates pretty wildly, so I advise you check it on The Camel before you buy. Don’t pay more than £25. If it’s below £20, buy two!