Product Review: Progenex

About 10 or so weeks ago I bought two “Pro Packs” from Progenex, which included 2 bags of Recovery and 2 bags of More Muscle. Combined that would be 60 servings of each, enough for 12 weeks of 5 servings a week, one for each workout day. All of this cost about $210 or $3.50 a serving. Ridiculously expensive by just about any standard, but given all the reviews and write-ups and sponsorships I wanted to see what I was missing. Here’s the problem – I don’t want to say that Progenex is garbage, but with a little knowledge and the right sourcing you can get the same thing much cheaper.

Let’s look at what’s in Progenex.

Recovery
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate
Fructose
Natural Flavors
Sucralose

More Muscle
Whey Growth Factor Enriched Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate
Fructose
Natural Cocoa Powder
L-Leucine
L-Isoleucine
L-Valine
Natural Flavors
Sucralose

Let’s address the common areas, first, hydrolyzed whey protein isolate. When cheese is produced from milk there are two parts, curds which make the cheese and whey which is normally discarded. The whey can be dried, filtered, and processed into whey protein. This is the most basic form, usually called whey protein concentrate. Further filtration and purification gets you the next step of purity, whey protein isolate. The difference between concentrate and isolate is the purity. Isolate removes more of the sugars and fats from the milk, leaving a purer protein with no bi-products including things like lactose. The next step in the process is the kicker. Hydrolysate, or the process of hydrolysis which uses enzymes to process the protein and cleave the larger protein molecules into much smaller peptide chains. The end result is a protein which is higher in di and tri-peptides which are said to absorb more quickly and act more efficiently in the muscle protein synthesis process. Companies vary the process by which they undergo hydrolysis, and usually call it a proprietary process meaning they don’t have to tell you anything about it. And most won’t even report the end products either.

Clearly “Recovery” also contains fructose as a carb source, which is not ideal, my guess is they chose fructose because it would please “Paleo” or “Primal” enthusiasts above something like maltodextrin or d-glucose which might actually work better from an anabolic standpoint. Then there’s natural flavors and sucralose, the sweetener found in Splenda.

That leaves us the Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, more commonly known in the fitness community as BCAA or branch chain amino acids. While they are also present in the hydrolyzed whey isolate, adding them in free form confers additional benefit in the muscle protein synthesis department. Most importantly Leucine which is pretty widely recognized as a trigger for protein synthesis and anabolism. Usually these mixes come in some form of ration between the three, 2:1:1 is the most common, 4:1:1 also appears as well as 3:1:2. Really you can find it in whatever mix you want, but since Leucine is the most important 2:1:1 seems to fair the best.

Now that we have all the pieces, let’s get back to Progenex. I have two major complaints, first, the phrase “whey growth factor enriched” is hokey at best. I can’t find a single scientific article that sites these, nor does anything on the ingredient list hint at what they might be. What are whey growth factors? Growth factors in milk are destroyed when its homogenized and pasteurized, so unless they’re adding enzymes back in I cannot for the life of me imagine what these might be. Second, they don’t release the actual grams of their Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Meaning they could be as low as 1g each, far under what many would consider an effective amount. Nor can you determine the ratio they are provided. So this begs the question – what’s the extra cost, it’s certainly not the Sucralose and natural flavoring.

This leads me to the alternatives, the hydrolyzed whey isolate market is pretty sparse, from what I could find there are three main sources outside of Progenex. The first is Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey, not a bad option, considerably cheaper per serving but loaded with a lot of extra stuff that makes me suspicious. The second is Dymatize Iso-100 again much cheaper, but again containing soybean oil and Sucralose. The final option was TrueNutrition.com’s Hydrolyzed Whey Protein. The TrueNutrition brand stood out for two reasons, first I could choose the amount by the pound perfectly. Second, I can choose the sweetner, opting for Stevia over Sucralose, minor to some but important to me. Ten pounds of this hydrolysate costs $111 for 75 servings at 46g per serving (the same as 3 scoops of “More Muscle”, 60 servings of which would cost $209).

This brings me to the second part of my replacement, the BCAA additives. TrueNutrition also sells this, in instantized form (meaning it mixes very easily), 100g makes for 10 10g servings at a 2:1:1 ratio which is 5g leucine, 2.5g isoleucine and 2.5g valine. A hefty dose by any standard. 800g of instantized BCAA is about $48.00, combine in with the 75 servings of protein that’s 80 servings of BCAA – if you just combine both jugs it works pretty perfectly. So now we have homemade “More Muscle” for $184.00 shipped enough to last for 15 weeks at 5 servings a week, 46g of pure hydrolyzed whey protein, naturally flavored and sweetened with stevia, and a full 10g of BCAA per serving. Compared to 60 servings with 45g of hydrolyzed whey, Sucralose, and unknown amounts of BCAA at a $209 price tag. Those keeping score at home would notice that that is 15 more servings for roughly $30 less, shipped.

Now let me say this, Progenex isn’t bad. It tastes great, mixes easily, and contains what it says it does. In the right quantities hydrolyzed whey protein and BCAA along with some carbohydrates. As the average exerciser, you’re probably reading this thinking you eat enough and sleep enough and want something more. First I’d say, write down how much you eat, if you aren’t getting at least 1g protein per pound of bodyweight, you aren’t eating enough. If you aren’t getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, you aren’t sleeping enough. Those are your edges, those will make you better. That being said, the extra 30-50g protein Progenex can provide, could easily produce a noticeable increase in recovery. My qualm is not this. My qualm is the price to label measurement. Nowhere can I find a statement that justify’s the cost of Progenex above the TrueNutrition or any other alternative. It makes it especially difficult when they hide being their label and proprietary blends.

Update

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!

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 9.31.59 PM

My rant is done for now, I tried Progenex, it works, it’s expensive, it’s not the nectar of God’s – my squat did not increase 30# overnight, my muscles didn’t surge with newfound nutrition. From now on I prefer to know exactly what is in my protein.

Update Sept. 24 2013

As of a week or so ago, True Nutrition removed the BCAA option from it’s supplements section, you can no longer buy that in 100g increments from them. Originally this bummed me out, but it turns out they have added the same BCAA Peptides to their “Mix It” feature, which means no more hand mixing your order. So in actuality it’s a very good thing. The math is a little strange, but it goes something like this…In hydrolyzed whey, every 70cc scoop is 32.3g, we were adding to that 5g of BCAA, which is a ratio of roughly 15.5:1, meaning for every 70cc scoop about 15.5% of it was BCAA. Thus we can carry that right into the “Mix It” option. We simply tell them we want a mix of 85% Hydrolyzed Whey Super Grade, and 15% BCAA Peptides. Boom – you’re done. I highly recommend doing “heavy” flavoring, but other than that – everything is the same as above.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 3.58.40 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 3.58.45 PM

The cost comes out to $21.25/lb. meaning the same 10 lbs. I’ve been ordering is now $212.5 minus the 5% discount from my discount code “GRIZZLY”, that leaves us at about $202.5 shipped. So the cost and product didn’t change – just the way we’re ordering it. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

  1. Did you buy the hydroisolate pure on TN? I’ve heard it can be wicked bitter in a % higher than 15-20. I’d be curious what your experience has been! Great write up.

    • Yes its 100% Hydrolyzed Whey – same ingredient as Progenex, Dymatize and Optimum Nutrition. We’ll see how it goes.

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  3. So does this replace, both the Recovery and Muscle? It seems they are quite similar, with regards to their ingredients, or am I way out of the ballpark?

    • That’s a very good question. They are extremely similar and for most practical people their results will be identical. The one small difference is the Fructose in “Recovery” which I have made no attempt to replace. I put regular old d-glucose in my shakes that avoids the need for including extra here.

      • Thanks for the reply. Can you add the glucose and the Stevia together? Or will that defeat the purpose? I am going to be ordering some protein and what not and just want to make sure.

        Cheers

        • The stevia is mixed directly in with the whey or whatever blend you order when they ship it. The body doesn’t react to it the same way it reacts to straight glucose so the combination is not a problem. The purpose of the glucose is partially to replace diminished glycogen in the muscle and liver tissues and partially to trigger an anabolic response – stevia does neither of these. The stevia is only there to make the protein bearable as “raw” whey protein is rather disgusting.

  4. I needed this (still have to google some of it to understand it 100% haha). I’m trying to figure out how to better my nutrition and make sure I’m getting everythign I need with my training. SO much to learn!

  5. Last question, promise. Would I be able to use Dextrose in my protein, would that work, as it is Glucose? Appreciate you answering my questions, Im new to this whole protein, pre and post workout mumbo jumbo. I was always a meat and potatoes kind of guy, never worried about supplements and what not.

    Cheers

    • Yup d-glucose and dextrose are synonyms – it’s the same chemical structure and thus you’ll get the same biological effect.

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  7. Good write up you just saved me about 350 dollars. I do crossfit in SD and had bought progenex before, but I wasn’t entirely convinced that I was getting the most bang for my buck. I’m going to peruse the True Nutrition site, and see what I can find there. Thanks

  8. nice post – would you use the TN as a meal replacement and post-workout shake? I’ve heard nothing but good things about TN.

    • As a rule I never rely on powders as meal replacement. In this case I wouldn’t recommend this as a meal replacement, meal replacements should have some fat and a higher level of undigested protein. Micellar casein, beef isolate, or just regular whey isolate make more sense as a meal replacement.

  9. This was very informative! I just bought More Muscle and Recovery from Progenex and while I think it’s helping me get back into Crossfit (just had a baby), I don’t want to drop that much money if it’s not REALLY going to be worth it. But I do feel like I need *something* as I basically start from scratch

  10. so are you saying to also purchase d-glucose and add it to the TN isolated whey to mimic the progenex recovery?

    • My D-Glucose (dextrose) comes from a company called First Phorm, that I buy from a local supplement store on the advice of my coach (http://1stphorm.com/shop/ignition). I do not get that from TN, though they do sell dextrose (http://www.truenutrition.com/p-950-dextrose-1lb.aspx) but I cannot speak to it’s quality personally. I can’t imagine it’s terribly different.

      In regards to your second question, TN does allow for custom blends, but that only allows you to blend proteins, carbs and fats, the BCAA we use for this mix are actually listed as a supplement, not a protein type, so it doesn’t allow you to mix those in that fashion, hence all the math and shopping cart screenshots.

  11. one other question: I noticed that TN has a custom mix option so that you could have it all pre-mixed and packaged for you. If I wanted to do that how would I work out the ratios and a serving size??? I just started CrossFit about 3 months ago and have had amazing progress just looking for ways to improve!!! Thanks!

    • would love to know this as well. we can try to make our own custom protein like at Protein Factory as well….I just don’t know what percentage to put in.

      • Chris – I already answered Ryan’s question. I don’t know about protein factory, but BCAA are not a ‘mixable’ option at TN, thus it’s just 100% Whey Protein Hydrolysate – that’s it. If you want to mix more in that’s fine, but that’s up to you. My ‘formula’ to replicate “More Muscle” was simply 100% Whey Protein Hydrolysate mixed with 10g/serving or roughly 800g of pure BCAA.

  12. Dan,

    Thanks for the reply. Well I realize that the BCAA is a supplement to the protein which is totally fine. But from what I hear, if you just buy the Hydrolyzed protein and you take that directly, doesn’t it take like $h!t? It’s super bitter isn’t it? That’s why when I tried to customize it they recommend only using 25% of the hydrolyzed protein.

    What are your thoughts on this since you’ve already been taking hydrolyzed protein straight up?

    • Yes – the basics of it are the greater the amount of hydrolysis, the greater the bitterness factor, pure BCAA taste like complete butthole, highly hydrolyzed whey, tastes similarly crappy. The solace I’ve found is that a) mixing with whole milk cuts this significantly, b) you adapt from a taste perspective over the course of about a week c) it’s literally max 10 minutes of your day, then you can go on living – so if you’re shopping by taste this might not be the best option for you.

      If you insist on only mixing 25% hydrolyzed whey, I would do the other 75% in the form of an isolate, which is still purer than just standard whey but won’t come with the bitterness because it’s still “whole” protein.

      TN or Protein Factory, will always post warnings on hydrolyzed products so that they don’t get angry e-mails from Crossfit Mom’s bitching about how they didn’t warn them that their protein tastes like shit. I still take it 100% hydrolyzed and probably will for the foreseeable future. This is also the reason that I’m suspicious of “More Muscle” because it tastes so good, the degree of hydrolysis must be so low that it’s probably not worth the cost…

      If you’re made of money, there is a hydrolyzed Casein product that should yield similar results to the hydrolyzed whey without the bitterness – it’s called PeptoPro (http://www.truenutrition.com/p-978-peptopro-hydrolyzed-caseinate-1lb-milk.aspx) and will literally bankrupt you if you let it.

      • Dan,

        Your point on Recovery and More Muscle tasting so good is exactly what I was thinking. I mainly take Recovery and when I read that the main ingredient was Hydrolyzed Protein Isolate, I thought to myself, “Well I guess this is why Progenex is so expensive compared to ON or BSN since all those other brands use Whey Protein Concentrate.”

        But then the more I read about Hydrolyzed protein, the more I realized how gross it tastes and how maybe Progenex isn’t using 100% Hydrolyzed protein. Maybe there’s a reason they call it Hydrolyzed Protein Isolate?

        In any case Dan, thanks for the answers. You feel any different after taking Hydrolyzed?

        • Protein isn’t really something you will “feel” in my mind unless you’re very deficient to begin with. If you’re not getting 1g/lb of bodyweight at bare minimum, you’ll feel the change in recovery and strength as you get closer to that bar. Once you’re at that bar, it’s more about maintaining your recovery and strength. At the end of the day I train 9 times a week and things like a quality protein supplement help me keep up with that. The higher the quality the the harder you can push.

    • Bob – I’m afraid without a little more clarity I don’t know what you’re talking about. LiftBigEatBig runs a discount code with TrueNutrition – that is LBEB5 at checkout, but thats only 5%, which for this protein is at best about a $10 savings. Progenex runs various discount codes through select retailers, I haven’t followed them in so long I’m afraid I don’t know of any off the top of my head.

      • Thanks Dan. Your screenshot of the order indicates that you got $40 discounted on the BCAA line item. Just wondering whether that factored into your comparison on price?

  13. The BCAA from True Nutrition that you have listed is no longer available on their website. I had a order placed and they cancelled it stating that they didn’t know when/if they were getting more in stock. Can you recommend another BCAA to add to the mix? Thanks.

    • Wow. I have no clue why they would discontinue that…that’s really surprising to me – guess I ordered just in time. There are of course many other flavored and unflavored alternatives. For the money, for an incredibly comparable product the NOW Sports 12oz. version is your best bet. One 12 oz bottle is $23 on Amazon, and that should net you about 32 servings. So two of those bottles per 10 lbs. of Whey Hydrolysate, should run about $50 shipped.

    • John. Take another look at the TN site – they stopped carrying raw BCAA that you can buy in 100g increments, but they’ve added it to the “Mix It” tool – which actually should make things easier in the end. I’ll update my post to cover the changes.

      • I am trying 85% hydrolyzed casein and 15% BCAA for “muscle” and 85% hydrolyzed casein and 15% dextrose for “recovery”. Does this sound right to you? I follow paleo so am avoiding soy.

        • Not quite. The first thing is the hydrolyzed casein, it’s going to be very bitter unless you go with the debitterized PeptoPro, which is I think around $26/lb. far more expensive than anything I recommended – but that’s your choice as a consumer. I don’t see a reason to avoid just the hydrolyzed whey product for the “Muscle” as I have outlined. The same can be said for the “recovery” product, the hydrolyzed casein step is really above and beyond. Likewise, 15% dextrose isn’t all that much, if you’re going to mimic “recovery” you should shoot more like 75% – 25% protein to carb. Also, all TN products contain trace amounts of soy as an emulsifier in the flavoring, so you’re pretty much SOL on that one. I haven’t found that small amount to really bother me, it should be negligible if you’re diet is otherwise free of lectin’s.

          • Dan, thank you so much for your insight. I’m going to try the regular hydrolyzed whey with the mixtures of BCAA and dextrose as you recommended. Thanks again for your help!!

  14. Great write up, you really helped with alot of questions I had. Thank you! I went to TN and tried to make the More/recovery you suggested (85%protein 15%bcaa). They no longer have the Whey Protein Concentrate – High Grade [Milk] what do you suggest instead? I see Eric used Devitterized hydrolysate but boy is that a jump in price! I am also going to make your cocoon suggestion (i love this stuff cause it really helps me sleep, but dont love the price) Again thank you so much!

    • The True Nutrition website doesn’t usually list servings, I had to do the math myself, but basically 1 lb. of protein yields 15 (1 scoop servings); thus a 10 lb. order is 75 (2 scoop servings). 2 Scoops more accurately replicates the Progenex products.

  15. I think Progenex whacks you on shipping too. i was going to order a bag of the Recovery, but as i was checking out, shipping ground UPS was calculated to be almost $16. For a 3lb bag this seemed ridiculous. i called the company and they said whatever is calculated on the website is correct, so i ask where is it being shipped from and they said it would either be shipping from Virginia or Reno, is there anything else we can help you with? no thanks, i can hang up all by myself!

  16. Would you mind emailing me?
    I would like to ask your opinion on another product in comparison to this one! I appreciate your take on both sides and would like your expertise on another! Thanks!

    • Emir, there are currently two options – the first is in the “Mix It” category, 85% Whey Protein Hydryolysate, 15% Leucine Peptides. The second option is to mix your own BCAA in – they sell 500g packages of instantized BCAA in the “Supplements” category (Link). For every pound of protein you want about 100g of BCAA, if you’re doing 2 scoop servings.

      • Which is the best option? If i buy the 500g BCAA to mix it myself , I will need how many pounds of protein for the 85% / 15% ?

        • I think you’ve got it confused, if you do the 85/15 option – you don’t need to buy any BCAA. That will come pre-mixed. If you buy the 500g of BCAA, that’s 100 5g, servings. 5g/Scoop. 1lb of Protein is 15 scoops, so 100/15 is 6+2/3 lbs of protein, so you could buy either 6 or 7 and get the ratios more or less okay.

          • Sorry to bother you so much… I feel stupid doing so many questions…. So you recommend me the leucine r the bcaa or are the same?
            Actually I use the iso 100 and I want, more or less, the same ..intake of 25g – 30g of protein. I should make an especific combination of protein and aminos or 1 scoop will be fine? ( i hope you understand my question) have you try Vitargo? A friend it was recommeded by a friend

          • In practice they’ll be very close, I prefer the BCAA though because they are much more clearly labeled than the Luecine peptides. For every scoop of regular whey protein I would add 5g of the BCAA. I haven’t tried Vitargo no.

  17. I bought the TN Whey Protein Concentrate – Super Grade & BCAA’s – Branched Chain Amino Acids – Instantized (500 Grams) but the BCAA doesn’t have a scooper, how much & when should i be taking BCAA?

    • 10g of BCAA for every 2 scoops of Whey Protein. 10g is about 2 Tbsp. Post training should be sufficient, you can start it about 1/2 through the session and sip it through the end if you do some longer sessions. For the average 1 hr crossfit class though, just the 1 shake after should be sufficient.

    • Hey robert, sorry with all the computer problems I totally forgot to respond to your e-mail. If you want to stick to TrueNutrition – they have a pre-workout product I like. BCAA Boost which I like for its simplicity. Just caffeine and BCAA, both solidly backed by research science and less likely to mess with you during workouts than something with a ton of nootropics in it. It also depends, if you’re doing regular crossfit workouts, you likely won’t need more than that. If you do longer sessions, a more bodybuilding community type pre-workout might be more what you’re looking for, but don’t try to down it and go into a hard metcon, that’s how you end up with heart palpitations. Lots of people like MusclePharm Assault, I’m a fan of Driven Sports Craze, Cellucor C4 also has a decent following, the list is really extensive, I suggest you try and find some samples and test a few out before you invest. That being said they’re usually only about $30 so the cost of trying a few out should be minimal. Again – nothing wrong with the BCAA Boost option, cost effective and simple.

  18. Thanks for providing this info first off. So I am also looking for the alternative to Progenix I think its a tinkering process with a little research of what they have to offer at TN. For recovery I was thinking something like this what do you think.
    70% Hydrolyzed Super Grade whey
    15% Dextrose
    15% Cylic Dextrin

    • Sorry I edited your comment to remove a lot of that copy/paste information; seemed a bit extraneous to me. I really can’t comment on the merits of “cyclic dextrin” over just regular dextrose. It sounds very similar to “Vitargo” which is a modified potato starch which is marketed along similar lines of high molecular weight and fast absorption. It certainly won’t hurt you, the real question is will it benefit you over straight dextrose. Vitargo’s real marketing capacity is speed, faster absorption means faster recovery and quicker glycogen replenishment with a higher conversion of starch to glycogen, but in the real world when you have 24+ hours between workouts, I’m not sure that speed is going to be worth it. The speed should technically carryover to better protein uptake as well, but since that will have to be digested, there’s a rate limit there beyond just absorption. Secondly, I don’t see the merits of mixing the two, I would go with one or the other since their purpose is the same, I would do straight 30% of whatever you decide is best for your recovery needs.

      • Since you brought up Vitargo what are your thoughts on it? I have been hearing allot about it in the box. I do crossfit but also allot of weight training as well 5 days a week. If you like do you have a cheaper alternative?

        • I really know nothing about it beyond the marketing. Obviously the Cyclic Dextrin from TN is a good alternative, seems fairly similar. Like I mentioned to Ray, the benefits are really only going to be seen from a ‘refueling’ perspective beyond any other carb source. Given enough time, your body will turn everything into either glycogen or fat. I think Vitargo is pretty expensive, I’d be quicker to try the TN version before going for the full priced thing.

  19. Hi Dan,
    Now that my 5lb is over with I went back onto tn and the mix option has changed. I am unsure of what to create now that the Leucine peptides isnt available. Could you suggest anything else to still get this ratio.

    Happy New Year!

    • Yes, Dan, any help here would be appreciated. Your post was fantastic and I value your insight into the best blend options available for my money. TN sounded great, but the mix option is no longer available.

      • Yes TN likes to change things on me, every time I post a new recipe or link they seem to like to remove something… In any case – see the answers I’ve given previously, there are new links to BCAA that you’ll need to mix with the Hydrolyzed Whey.

    • Happy New Year to you as well! The replacements for Progenex are really quite simple, it’s 100% Hydrolyzed Whey Protein, Super Grade; and then you go to the Supplements section and pick up 500g increments of BCAA to mix in with it. I put 5g of BCAA for every scoop of the whey protein. The BCAA are found here. And the hydrolyzed whey is in the same spot it’s always been in. No custom mixing necessary.

  20. Dan, Thank you for the information. I really appreciate it. It’s going to save me a ton of money. I am new to Crossfit and want to improve. I have been using Mike’s Mix as a recovery with some extra Protein thrown in.

    I was wondering what you would recommend as a mixture for a combination of recovery and more muscle. As I said I am just getting into this but it seems like I could just add the BCAA to a recovery type drink.

    So if I did the Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Super Grade + Maltodextrin(?) what percentages would be ideal for Recovery? Then if I add the BCAA after since they took it out of the mix option. It seems that I would have a Recovery/More muscle in one. I just don’t know what the ideal protein to sugar ratio is.

    Thank you again for your time. I really appreciate it.

    • Josh,

      I would actually argue for Dextrose over Maltodextrin. As far as percentages that depends on the training – which is why I keep my carbs and protein separate until I actually mix the shake, it leaves me the freedom to say “that was a lot of training today, better go extra on the carbs” or “today was pretty light so I’ll keep it toned down” rather than being constrained to some pre-mixed option that I always get the same amount. If your training volume is more or less identical day to day, then obviously this changes.

      Personally I do the Hydrolyzed Whey Super Grade + 500g of BCAA/5lbs of protein, and then I use First Phorm Ignition on the side for my carbs, which is more or less just Dextrose, it’s actually a fancy form called d-glucose, but it all just breaks down to simple sugars for quick replenishment. The protein to sugar ratio is a tougher question, under high volume it shouldn’t be lower than 1:1, sometimes carbs creeping higher than protein, you sort of reach a diminishing returns point with protein once you’ve gotten to the 1.5-2g/bodyweight mark. (300-400g a day for a guy my size).

      If you want to pre-mix, I would say something like 60% protein to 40% dextrose would strike a fair balance between the two that gives you freedom to add more carbs if you desire. That should be a nice combination of the “More Muscle” and “Recovery” blends.

    • I did that with my first 10lbs, it worked fine. Now I just leave the 500g BCAA bag separate and leave a 1 tbsp measure in there for when I make my shakes. Either way works.

  21. Not sure if you have researched it at all, but next to our box is a HerbaLife lady that has been hounding us about their 24 Rebuild Strength Protein Shake. I looked at the cost its expensive but she keeps throwing out things like Scientist testing blah blah blah. Was wondering if you could enlighten me on it ? Thanks so much…I am a trainer and my members have been bugging me to research it, and Progenix has been hounding us to join their affiliate program.

    thanks
    Dustin

    • Dustin, I should start off by saying I’m not a fan of companies like herbalife and advocare, so grain of salt this if you must. But; I found the product label on their website and there are more than a few red flags. First, 2 scoops is 50g of product, and only 24g is protein and theres another 14g of sugars, even though it’s sweetened with stevia, not sure what the story is there, that’s still about 12g unaccounted for, likely filler. There is BCAA in it which I like, but the “Tri-Core Amino Blend” is hidden under a proprietary label so you have no clue how much of which ones you’re getting. I’m also not a huge fan of Casein in post-workout nutrition, it’s slow and cumbersome, Whey is usually much better as far as getting amino acids into muscle. Though it is marketed as “Nutrition for the 24 hour athlete” so I get why it’s in there, it’s not a post-workout nutrition product like Progenex is supposed to be. The only cost I could find was on Amazon, which was $70 for 20 servings, which is $3.50 a serving, which is very high, higher than even Progenex. I don’t think I would ever recommend this to anyone. For what’s in it, you could do much better cost/serving for the same or better on True Nutrition or even Progenex. And Progenex is hardly ever the better deal!

      As to your second question – I have nothing against Progenex. As I said in my review, if what they say is in their product truly is, then it looks fine. Though they won’t disclose their BCAA mixture or what “Whey Growth Factor” is. So theres some question marks there. My point with Progenex is that you can go to True Nutrition, know exactly what you’re getting, and its likely within 90% of what Progenex is. So my argument there is mostly a cost/benefit analysis. I know plenty of people who are Progenex affiliates, and if I could get Progenex at cost I would probably take that instead too. But for me it makes much more sense to go the True Nutrition route and I’m guessing for the average consumer that will make most sense to them as well.

  22. Dan-

    Thanks SO much for your response this lady has been on my case for a while now about how much better herba life is than anything else “clean” “Pure” etc. Its hard to know what to put into your body, and as much as I am starting to train it means too much to me to throw garbage in to just “pee” it down the drain or to pay way to much for a bunch of ????? unknown products. I enjoy your honest and educated answers to my questions. Since I Have you on here could you enlighten me a little on any creatine products or pre-workout that you found to actually be helpful or your thoughts on them as a whole. I would like to get a good base going and I checked out True Nutrition and want to order, but I see the mixes keep changing. Any help on the Protien “mix” I should order as well as the pre-workout/creatine ? Finally again sorry for all the q’s but is there a Omega (fish/krill) supplement you favor?

    thanks again so much for your time!!

    • I take regulare Creatine Monohydrate. They are trademarked just like HMB and other such formulated supplements, so anything labeled “Creapure” is identical, as such I just look for sales on the like, I don’t have a particular brand I’m loyal to. I’m sure the TN version is pretty solid though I haven’t checked it out personally. Pre-workout I usually just go for coffee or 200mg caffeine pills, no frills there. And I take SFH Omega + D3 liquid concentrate. 2 tbsp a day.

    • Just as a random aside, Hebalife is under investigation in Canada for being a possible Pyramid scheme so I would steer clear.

  23. Dan thanks so much for your expertise! I’m curious now that TN has changed up there lineup since your initial post what would your concoction look like now? Also, where do you get your carbs post-workout?

  24. Hi dan

    I want to know if you can give me some help. Truenitrition.com has a new form for us to make our one protein mix using the amount of grams you want in each dose, but my math are terrible and i dont understand well. I want to imitate the iso 100 or the progenex. (You can make your recommendations too.) i was trying to do it my self, but i get lost when I realize that i forgot to consider the grams of the flavors…. Your help will be appreciate!

    • Just an FYI – you can still make mixes the old way doing %’s. But the g calculations should actually be easier than the %’s. So you can literally take the label from the progenex website and just put those values into Hydrolyzed Whey and Carb’s. The D.I.Y. kit makes you mix everything yourself, so the flavoring they calculate for you. What I did is I put in 35g of Hydrolyzed Whey, 35g of Dextrose, and 10g of BCAA Instantized. Then all you should need to do is pick a flavor and how much you want.

      • Dan, if using the % method @ TN. Because it has the flavors mixed already and more flavor options. For a post workout shake would it be 50% hydrolyzed whey super grade/ 50% dextrose ? I have a bag of BCAA from TN I can add at home. The bag of instantized BCAA are the reason you say to go heavy on the flavors?? Also for the dura workout drink, I have been using the xtend and trying the vitargoS2 to try the carbs during workout, does the First Phorm Ignition need to get used with this carb(vitargo s2) for it to have benefit? Mayo

        • Interesting questions.

          First, I don’t like to pre-mix the dextrose with the whey, because it doesn’t allow me to customize my post-workout carbs to whatever volume I’ve done. For example, if I’ve had a very “Crossfit” day, where I’ve done 2-3 strength movements, and a good 10-15 minute “hard” WOD, where I’ve expended a lot of energy and had a good volume, I want to have a good dose of carbs after that, so I might do 2:1 Carb – to – protein ratio. But if I have a mostly strength day, with small sets, say 5×3, and an “easy” or “sustainably” paced wod, I just don’t need as much post-workout carb, so I might want 1:1. If I’ve pre-mixed my protein and carbs, I can’t do that.

          Second, if you do decide to mix your carbs and protein, then yes 50:50 is perfect. I wouldn’t go in any other direction, its a pretty useful ratio.

          Third, hydrolyzed anything will become bitter, so the whey is actually why I recommend a stronger flavoring, though the BCAA will also be bitter, so the combination makes for something that really doesn’t taste all that good at a 1x flavoring, so the 2x flavoring is just safer all around.

          Fourth, for all practical purposes Vitargo and Ignition are exchangeable. Really you just want some form of carb during and after workout if your goal is performance and strength gain. I wouldn’t mix the two, it simply isn’t necessary. Go with that you like and doesn’t upset your stomach. Personally I think ignition tastes better because it’s sugar, so you get that sweet hit. Vitargo is a larger starch that doesn’t really taste that great, so I find it harder to mix.

  25. FYI – AT THE ISOLATE LEVEL ALL OF THIS STUFF IS EXACTLY THE SAME…ALL OF IT

    There are only a few sources of Hydrolyzed Whey Protein in the world. Glanbia (Irish dairy company that owns the Optimum and BSN brands) is the largest manufacturer and consumer of whey protein in the world. They also supply nearly all of the whey protein that goes into every one of the brands you cite above. You may see some other companies that “make it”, but in reality they just buy and redistribute the same stuff others have. If a company does not have a cheese plant they are not making whey.

    In general – whey protein production is a very capital intensive process and you have to have a cheese plant to make it. There are some very expensive alternatives with milk alone, but they produce high amounts of casein derivatives and the market is not larger enough to handle the volume that is produced).

    Whey protein concentrate (or WPC-80 is 80% whey protein and 20% of other stuff). Whey protein isolate is 90% protein and 10 other stuff). There are more companies that may concentrate, but very, very few that make isolate much less know how to hydrolze it with consistent quality. It is very hard concentrate whey to 90% and there are only 3 companies in the world that do it well. Glanbia produces the overwhelming majority of the isolate that is manufactured in the world. It cost a tremendous amount to convert a plant from producing concentrate to isolate. There is also more risk because it is difficult to produce it consistently.

    The point is that nearly the same isolate that goes in to all of the products and brands above. The only difference is the additive. About as different as discussing bottled water. The industry is even more incestuous than what I have described here. Some of these companies borderline manufacturer and do R&D for other companies.

    Progenex does spend more on its flavor systems (quite a bit more). More than you believe that drives a considerable difference in cost. Flavor systems in foods can run from $5010/lb to $200+/lb. It is present in small quantities, but you can imagine that if two companies are using flavors at similar levels, but one is using higher cost flavors (i.e., 10-20x higher)…you will see a significant difference in cost. Optimum and BSN would never use Progenex’s flavor compounds because you can’t sell at that price point at specialty retail. With a focused captive audience of crossfit, Progenex can do that.

  26. dude – this blog is straight sick. top-notch content/knowledge/insight, fantastic writing style, and overall a pleasure to read. keep it up!!

    sincerely,
    a secret admirer

  27. Started crossfit 4x per week in july. Ive lost 30 lbs and now i feel im ready to start working on lean muscle. Everyone at my gym does the progenex thing. I just cant get on that train! You think the whey high grade with the bcaa is a good place to start? Pre and post workout or just post?

    • High grade alone would be a great place to start. The BCAA are just extra if you feel like you need it. At 4x a week, once a day my guess is you don’t, but it won’t hurt you. Just post workout.

  28. Hi Dan,
    Ive just finished reading through the post and comments.
    Ive recently come back into crossfit after a 9 month stint out [due to a shoulder reconstruction] though ive been back for about 1 month now.

    Ive gained about 15kg’s over the last 9 months of not being able to do much and going off my diet a bit over christmas.

    Im doing 3x crossfit sessions per week as well as 4x running sessions (thats my weekend job) and get about 20 miles in my legs.

    What can you recommend for me as a pre/post work out from TN?
    Also anything that can help with shedding those few extra kilo’s that have been put on.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Sounds like you’re on the right path. I wouldn’t worry too much about pre-workout nutrition with that training volume, the only thing you’d notice is carbs likely. Recovery wise, nothing beats standard whey, its been around for decades for a reason. Hydrolyzed whey super grade. If you really want to you can do a scoop before and a scoop after. One after should suffice though. Weight loss is a matter of energy expenditure. Only thing you could do is make sure you’re getting a healthy dose of caffeine, but most people get that anyways. Track the macros and calories and keep putting the work in and the rest should take care of itself. There’s no shortcuts unfortunately.

  29. Dan,

    Great info in all the above. I will definitely be following your blog from now on. I’m slightly confused though, when you’re talking about the ratio between protein and carbs and you say 1:1, does that mean a scoop of protein and a scoop of dextrose? And the same for 2:1 carb to protein ratio; is that literally 2 scoops of carbs and 1 of protein. In my post mix I’ll also be adding 10g of BCAA. I’m ordering everything separately. Also, I’m a 3-4 day a week crossfiter with 1 to 2 day a week 3+ mile runner, do you recommend a different ratio/mixture on run days? I’m out here in Hawaii so to save on shipping from TN I’ll be ordering everything at once and I’ll be going with hydrolyzed protein, dextrose, and BCAA.

    Thanks,
    Aaron

    • Aaron,

      Sorry for the delay, I started school this week and have let the blog slip a little as I get up to speed again.

      When I quote ratios, it’s a gram to gram comparison. So for me its usually about 23g of protein and 50g of carbs. I can’t tell you scoops exactly as it will vary by brand/scoop size so you’ll have to check the label of whatever you buy and see what grams per scoop looks like and tune it from there.

      I would consider the “run” days, as long as they aren’t also crossfit days, more of a maintenance day, as such you wouldn’t really treat it like a training session, I would stick to your normal eating, getting a solid 1:1 ratio all day, and maybe some BCAA + Electrolytes during or around the run.

      Hope this helps

  30. Hi – so math is not my strong suit, and since you wrote this article the True Nutrition site has changed. I’m trying to recreate Progenex More Muscle. I’m looking at getting the Debitterized Hydrolyzed Whey Protein (with the heavy flavor), and then simply adding the BCAAs to each shake. It appears that a 70cc scoop of the hydrolyzed whey is about the same protein amount as the Progenex nutrition label, how much BCAAs would you add to a shake? I’m a female competitive CrossFit athlete, usually do 5 sessions a week for about 2 hours each session.

    I usually mix my shakes with milk so I don’t know that I need to add any extra carbs in. Thanks in advance!

    • Yes they like to do that. Thus invalidating many of my edits and comments, luckily I’m more than happy to reply. The mixture of choice these days is actually mostly Hydrolzyed Whey Super Grade and 5-10% of the Debitterized Hydrolyzed Casein. The hydrolyzed casein gives a good hit of high quality BCAA and the super grade covers the rest of the bases. Add carbs as needed to fit your workout macros.

  31. Hi, I’m on True Nutritions web-site and I’m not seeing the BCAA Peptide option, am I missing something? Thanks

    • You’re not missing anything. They’ve changed their sit a number of times since this original post making it difficult to track. There are two courses of action, find BCAA in the “Supplements” section of their site, or use 5-10% of the Debitterized Hydrolyzed Casein instead. Hope that helps!

      • This’ll be somewhat of a self-explanatory question, but I’m not seeing the Debitterized Hydrolyzed Casein on TN’s website. Are DHC and Hydrolyzed Casein the same thing? Or is DHC the same thing as PeptoPro – Hydrolyzed Caseinate? I should probably just mix in the BCAAs myself, but it’s one less thing to remember to do when you lead such a fast-paced life.

        I’m always coming back to your blog for help with supplementation. Thanks a million for being a teacher to myself and everyone else reading this blog! Keep it up!

        • I think you’re asking about PeptoPro. You really don’t want to use the regular hydrolyzed casein, it tastes like vomit. PeptoPro is technically advanced enough to be copyrighted, so technically nothing is PeptoPro and if you’re going to use hydrolyzed casein you really want to go with that. At that point you’re spending enough anyways the differences are minimal. I get what you mean about forgetting BCAA, one less moving part is one less moving part. For the average athlete a high quality protein is sufficient and you don’t need the added BCAA. The only reason to use BCAA would be to use it alone during training, to prevent catabolism. In the presence of other proteins it’s really just icing on the cake. So forgetting BCAA every now and again won’t make or break you the way not taking any protein might. If it were me, you could do a custom mix with about 10% PeptoPro and the rest hydrolzyed whey, or just remember to mix your BCAA haha. Hope this helps!

  32. Hi Dan,
    Thank you for all of your educated responses – you’ve been a huge help. Currently I’ve been using Beverly International’s Muscle Provider for post workout and been generally satisfied but I’ve had a hard time understanding the BCAA content of their product (if there is any at all). Do you have any opinion on their products? I train 6 days a week and a typical day has 2-3 strength/olympic lifts and then 1-2 CrossFit type WODs. I think Muscle Provider is a really quality product but I feel like with the amount of training I’m doing I run out of it pretty quick and at $40/lb that can have a pretty significant impact on my wallet and if I’m not getting the amount of BCAAs that I need then it definitely isn’t worth it. I was curious about Progenex because of how big of a following they’ve gathered among the CrossFit community but couldn’t understand the hefty price which led me to your website.

    After reading your initial post and all the updates and comments I think I’ve gathered the right formula to use on True Nutrition’s site. Please correct me if I’m wrong but I was planning on getting 100% Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Super Grade with no carbs and fats and then adding a Heavy flavor of my choosing (ex: Vanilla Cake Batter). Then say if I was going to order 5 lbs. of protein I would then also purchase 500g of BCAAs from True Nutrition. Then I would simply add 5g/1tbsp of BCAA’s to my protein shake that consists of 1 70cc scoop of protein?

    Again, I appreciate all of your help – your dedication to this has definitely helped countless people dial in their nutrition in a cost effective fashion.

    Thanks!
    Cody

    • Hey Cody,

      Let’s just take it one piece at a time.

      Beverly International’s Muscle Provider is $54 for 30 servings of 25g of protein each, that breaks down to about $1.80 a serving or 7.4 cents a gram.

      TrueNutrition Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Super Grade is $15.79/lb with 15 servings a lb, thats roughly $32 for the same amount, breaking down to $1.06 a serving and about 4.3 cents a gram.

      Already we can see all other things held equal, the TrueNutrition is a much better value. Let’s look at ingredients now.

      The Beverly product label has listed ingredients “Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Calcium Caseinate, Hydrolyzed Lactalbumin, Egg White.” The largest issue here is that it’s a proprietary blend and the first ingredient is Isolate, thus we have no clue how much of what is in there. Just like Progenex, there is nothing inherently wrong with what’s in there, it’s all good stuff, just massively overpriced for what amounts to dried out and pre-digested milk. Given the label, I have no clue what the BCAA content is, other than various kinds of whey have various levels of BCAA, but there’s certainly no bulk BCAA added, whatever you’re getting is in the whey itself.

      Regarding your formulation – that’s spot on. Another thing I like to do, and have tried, is to do a 90-10 mix of the same hydrolyzed whey super grade and hydrolyzed casein. The hydrolyzed casein is a high percentage BCAA, and 10% is about 3g, I typically do 2 scoops per shake, so you’re getting roughly 40g of high quality hydrolyzed whey and 6g of high quality BCAA and short chain peptides, that are digested very quickly. The cost ends up being about the same as well.

      Hope that answers everything.

      Dan

      • Awesome! Thank you so much for such a quick response! Everything you explained about Muscle Provider is what I was concerned about – spending that much without a definitive read out on BCAA content just doesn’t cut it.

        I do have just one more question though. If I’m understanding you correctly, I would do the 90-10 mix of the hydrolyzed whey super grade and the hydrolyzed casein instead of the 100% super grade plus the 500g of BCAA’s and it would have the same effect?

        Also do you have any flavor suggestions based on what you’ve tried?

        Thanks again!
        Cody

        • It should have the same or very similar effects. Its a very fine grain difference and the research supports both for anti-catabolism and recovery. It ends up being whatever you prefer, I found it simpler given my busy schedule not to have to remember to mix one more thing.

          I mix my protein with gatorade powder for carbs, so I go straight chocolate cause it mixes well with fruit punch gatorade. Chocolate banana is pretty good, the vanilla cake batter is nice. Those are the only two I’ve tried.

          • Cody thanks for asking your question – made my calcs easier!
            Dan – I have roughly the same routine as Cody but additionally I train 2 a days in a different sport 3 nights a week. My crossfit and strength training happens early am (430-730) and I’m usually fasting – I have a hard time eating pre-workout. If I were to use the same 90-10 Whey super grade/Hydrolzyed casein + BCAA similar to Cody above, what would you recommend post 2nd workout? I was considering Progenex Cocoon but I’m not too fond of the price tag.

            Your blog is great, thanks again!
            Lydia

          • It would depend on the nature of the training and the time it takes place. Ideally, if it’s a performance cardio or second strength session, I would mix another shake just like your primary session, perhaps a little less if it’s not quite the same intensity, but only you can judge that. If it’s pretty low intensity, e.g. intramural soccer, just jogging around, light cardio, I wouldn’t do anything, I’d go home and eat. Just to give you an idea of the differences there. Casein in general is a poor post-workout protein, I wouldn’t recommend Cocoon or any casein product for that, though they make great pre-bed shakes. Say you finish around 7:30 PM and go to sleep at 9:30, I would drink a shake as you finish or possibly during the workout, so that its done right as you finish, I would try and get something solid in your stomach before bed thats primarily protein and carbs, say thats around 8:00, I would then do a pre-bed shake right before crawling into bed at 9:30. Hope that helps!

  33. The pm intensity varies depending on whether we are racing on the weekend (and thereby tapering) or not, so sometimes I skip the post-shake entirely and just go home and eat food. I can’t really eat during training as my hands are occupied the whole time (outrigger canoe paddling). My problem is timing – practice ends at 730, home at 8, cook, yada, yada – holy crap it’s 9 and i’m eating dinner! Thanks for the advice, it helps, I just have to work on my logistics!

    Thanks again!

  34. For clarification, you Talk about 90-10 Blend of Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Super Grade and Hydrolyzed Casein. Only Casein I see on TN is PeptoPro – Hydrolyzed Caseinate. Is this the same? Assuming it is correct this blend would be the same as having Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Super Grade and Hydrolyzed Casein (2 scoops) and adding the BCAA(5g or about one heaping tsp)? Then of course by adding D-glucose from First Phorm would be like the Recovery Blend. I don’t recall how much of the D-glucose to add? Thanks for all the GREAT info!

    • Yes PeptoPro is Hydrolyzed Casein, it’s just trademarked, but tastes quite poor, and it’s the “least” bitter of the hydrolyzed caseins. If you’re doing Pepto-Pro and a large volume of high quality whey you likely don’t need the extra BCAA, if you wanted you could add some Leucine but even that might be excessive. For all intents and purposes, PeptoPro and Hydrolyzed whey are analogous yes. And yes with that amount of hydrolyzed product, you need heavy flavor to have any hope of it being drinkable.

  35. Dan,
    I went over to True Nutrition to piece together the mix you advised under your update on Sept 24, 2013. Obviously the site has been updated, but what am I missing? I go to “create your own blend” and “get started” and I can see the isolate but I can’t find BCAA peptides (milk).
    Any ideas? Also, this will be a really dumb question but are the BCAA peptides the same thing as BCAA boost? The BCAA boost is fruit punch flavor so I’m guessing that isn’t what you had them mix in with your isolate. Thanks in advance for your help.