Buckle in. This one is not going to be pretty. My feathers have been ruffled. Now if you know me – which you probably don’t, or maybe you do, this probably doesn’t surprise you because I’m always up in arms about something these days. This one really got me agitated though. First, let me say I love Barbell Shrugged and the information they generally provide is top notch, well informed, funny, and absent the typical bullshit. Obviously on a live interview show you can’t really control what happens, and I’m not trying to make any judgements here, obviously Kendrick Ferris is a freak athlete. Here’s what happened – Kendrick is sponsored by Progenex and plugged their latest product “Cocoon” without any real knowledge or support for his claims. So basically at best it was anecdotal.
To catch you up – I already tried 12 weeks of Progenex “Recovery” and “More Muscle” mostly just to see what I was missing. The review can be found here.
So let’s break down “Cocoon.” It’s $69.95 without shipping, so we’ll say $70.00 so the math is easier, and that gives you 30 servings at 23g of protein each. That breaks down to a staggering $2.33 per serving. Then there’s the ingredients…
Micellar Casein, L-Tryptophan, Cocoa Powder, Dextrose, Coconut Oil, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Sucralose, & Soy Lecithin.
For the purpose of this rant everything beyond L-Tryptophan can be considered “filler” and irrelevant, and I also commented on these things in my first Progenex post. Micellar Casein has been around for a long time, it’s pretty popular in the bodybuilding community as “slow digesting” protein that will release amino acids throughout the night while you sleep, so you don’t break down muscle overnight. There’s a lot of debate on whether or not real food has the same effect and if this really does very much. My point here is that its not special at all. It’s just a different kind of milk protein that forms large globs when exposed to the acid in the stomach which reduces surface area and forces a slower breakdown.
Then there’s this new bit, L-Tryptophan, which is an amino acid, just like BCAA I mention in my first Progenex post. Most commonly you’ll find L-Leucine, it’s widely touted as the muscle building amino acid. L-Tryptophan is just another of the 20 that make up every protein you consume, its in any meat, all meats really. What’s unique about L-Tryptophan is that it’s metabolized into 5-HTP which is then converted into Serotonin by the liver. Serotonin, in turn, is credited with a feeling of well-being and happiness. SSRI’s are a major category of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds; selective Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, leave more Serotonin in the synapses, artificially raising levels. Anyways – there’s not any good evidence that dietary increases in Tryptophan has any effect on either Serotonin levels or mood and sleep quality. So while the idea is sound that more Tryptophan would lead to more 5-HTP and then more 5-HT (Serotonin) – its not well researched and poorly supported in literature.
So now let’s look at what the other options are. First there’s pre-made Complete Casein mixes like the one from Cytosport which is 29 servings for $29.00, less than half the price. Then there’s my preference, truenutriton.com Micellar Casein which comes in 1 lb. increments, a 30g serving is 27g of protein, which is 15 servings per pound. 5 Pounds is $60.95 which gets you 75 servings, or 2.5 times more. Then there’s the extra $10, I would spend that on some ZMA which is a well studied sleep and recovery aide, the Magnesium alone would do the trick, but the mix of Zinc, Magnesium and B6 seems to have additional benefits. So you can nab all of that for $75.84, or you can drop off 15 servings of Casein so you get 60 servings of both, that’s $63.65.
As of July 10, I have a discount code for TrueNutrition.com!! How sweet is that?? So now you can take 5% off your entire TN order, making it an even better deal for high quality products. The code is “GRIZZLY”. Enjoy!
Why is my option better? Well you get 60 servings instead of 30, you spend $6 less, and you know 100% what you’re getting, and all of the ingredients are supported by real research. Plus, TrueNutrition let’s you use Stevia based flavoring and sweeteners so there’s no AceK or Sucralose. Let me be clear here – ZMA does not increase anabolic response, decrease catabolism, or bear any significance on training adaptation; but I’ll be damned if you don’t get some of the best sleep of your life. L-Tryptophan doesn’t really do any of that either, at best it increases Serotonin which might make you slightly euphoric.
Of note: Zinc and Calcium share the same uptake sites in the gut, so never take ZMA within 30-45 minutes of Casein. I’d drink the Casein about an hour before bed, then right before bed pop the ZMA’s.
More on Serotonin.
More on Tryptophan.
While this is all well and good, and you’re free to read this and accept it, or better yet read it and do some digging of your own, or simply read it and shrug it off entirely – that’s your choice. The real question is why does this bother me so much? Well it bothers me because “Cocoon” is already sold out, which means probably thousands of people have ordered it without an hour of internet research on what they’re buying. That’s the kind of ignorance or blissful unawareness that Progenex wants. Without the feedback from well educated consumers, demanding a better researched or better put together product, they’ll just keep going on this path. Don’t even get me started on “Force”.
I welcome all comments, agree or disagree – let me know.
Update: Aug 02 2013
A couple people have asked for the recipe I would use to replicate Cocoon on TrueNutrition.com – so I’ve gone in and done it. Here we go. Use “GRIZZLY” at checkout for 5% off.
Just the protein I did an 80% mix of Micellar Casein and 20% Medium Chain Triglycerides, which provides 21g of protein and 4g of fat per scoop, at 5lbs ordered, its 75 servings for a little under $70.00. For that same $70.00 you get only 30 servings (less than half!) of cocoon. So how much is a little free form Tryptophan worth to you? I also threw in 60 servings of ZMA, which I take and love, and would recommend to anyone. So if you order only 2.5 lbs of protein, you can use the money you save (which is a lot) to buy some grassfed beef and some ZMA and love your life. You can also modify the protein/fat ratio a bit to more closely replicate the protein/fat ratio in Cocoon, but I think I prefer a bit higher fat, as it’ll further slow the protein uptake.