Thursday, 17 March 2016

MyHi Protein Review: Good intentions, but definitely not "healthy"

When a company with the tag line "deliciously high protein" sent me some free samples to try, I thought: great, a food company focused on delivering healthy, protein-rich food to the masses.  I appreciate this is a sweeping generalisation, but most people don't get enough protein in their diet and so I thought it can surely only be a good thing that a food company is trying to improve that.

Unfortunately I was wrong . . . 

I really do believe MyHi have good intentions.  The problem is how they've executed those intentions.  In my opinion, what they've delivered is processed food, albeit with extra protein added, but it's still processed food.  As an athlete, I can't possibly recommend this to any of my readers on this blog.

Some of it tastes good, some not so good.  Some of it is convenient.  But therein lies the problem - convenience.  I have a busy day job.  A busy training schedule.  A wife.  A family.  Friends.  A social life.  You get the point - I'm busy!  But I still find the time to make nutritious clean unprocessed food, from scratch.  There really is no excuse to not obtain all your nutrients from natural sources, so I was surprised to read in the MyHi press release included with their samples that "the team found that on a macro nutritional level, it was incredibly hard to find nutritious snacks or easy-to-prepare foods on the current market with a high enough protein content for those on a fitness regime". 

Really?  An egg?  Chicken?  Almonds?  Cottage cheese?  A simple scoop of whey protein powder in a shake, in a yoghurt, added to your porridge?  They couldn't find these?

Those who know me know that I can't give a biased review just because I was sent some free samples, so what you'll find below is my honest view on the MyHi products I've tried.  It's a real shame as I had such high hopes for this, but I personally think they are at risk of misleading and confusing the general public further.  We're now going to have people thinking they are consuming "healthy" nutritious food from a packet full of processed items and additives when they could have just made themselves a bowl of porridge or scrambled some eggs.

While there are a couple of items below that tasted fine and might be handy as an occasional convenience, I really don't think there's a place for most of these foods in a modern healthy diet.  In each case, I'll give an alternative to show why.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not an angel - I do sometimes "pig out".  I do sometimes eat things I shouldn't.  I do sometimes have processed food.  But I'm afraid I won't be considering MyHi's products on any of those occasions.

Porridge

I have to start here.  I'm rather evangelical about porridge.  I love it.  I'd eat it 3 times a day if I could (but that clearly wouldn't be a very balanced diet!).  I absolutely never ever eat "ready made" packets or pots of porridge.  Why?  Because they are a con!  £1.20 gets you a 1kg bag of natural oats from a well-known supermarket.  Add milk or water, bang it in the microwave for 3 minutes and you're good to go!  If you don't think it has enough protein, just pop in a scoop of whey protein powder or have an egg with your breakfast too!  (and before you tell me whey powder is really expensive, it's far cheaper in the long run than buying sachets of ready made porridge that just have it added in the factory!).

I tried to get over my hatred of packaged porridge just to give MyHi's golden syrup flavour "instant oat cereal" a try.  I thought . . . maybe it'll be a nice treat after a training ride.  A quick and convenient way to get some carbs and protein back into my body.



Well, it lived up to my expectations!  I followed the instructions exactly and was presented with a partly lumpy, partly runny, undercooked, not very satisfying, tiny portion of not very tasty porridge.  In roughly the same time, I could have made a larger portion of oats with milk, with roughly the same calories, and felt more satisfied.  If I wanted a quick sweet fix with this I could have added some maple syrup or honey.  I usually have just milk and banana with my porridge, sometimes flax and chia seeds.  All perfectly natural sources of fantastic nutrients and it tastes great.

I really have no idea why there is a place for such products in our society when you can buy a bag of porridge oats for less than £2.  What MyHi have produced is no different to the other sachets of ready-made porridge in the supermarkets, with just some added whey protein.  On reading the ingredients list, I found sweeteners, corn starch, flavouring, salt . . . Why?  

I'll stick to my bowl of cheap oats from the supermarket with skimmed milk and I'll pop a scoop of whey protein in if I need an extra dose of protein in the morning!

Rating: 0/10 (yes, it really was that bad)

Granola

I come across many people who eat muesli or granola for breakfast and think they are having a "healthy" breakfast.  What they are actually having is a nice bowl of sugar, causing a blood sugar spike, making them gain fat in the long run and leaving them hungry an hour or two later.

Could MyHi have solved this problem with the Mixed Fruit Granola pot they sent me?



In a word . . . no.

Here's the ingredient list:

Granola (83%) [Oat flakes, Soya pieces, sweeteners (sorbitol, oligofructose, steviol glycosides, isomalt), vegetable oil (rapeseed, palm), Soya protein, emulsifier (Soya lecithin), flavouring], dried fruit (17%), [raisins, papaya (papaya, sugar, citric acid), pineapple (pineapple, sugar, citric acid), banana chips (banana, honey, sugar, coconut oil, flavouring), cranberry (cranberry, sugar, sunflower oil), apple].


So, a whole lot of
additives, things your body really doesn't need and a good old helping of sweeteners and sugar to cause havoc with your blood sugar levels.

Yes, it tasted nice.  I tried it with some natural yoghurt and it was a nice treat . . . but that's exactly what it was - a treat!  I'm not saying you should never ever eat granola or muesli, but it really shouldn't be a regular thing due to the amount of sugar.  Yes, I'll have a bowl now and again, and I quite often have muesli before a race.  But it's carefully chosen for a lower sugar content.

Again, the convenience factor just doesn't add up for me.  You can buy an entire 1kg bag of Sainsbury's granola for only slightly more than the MyHi 90g individual pot.  So, if you are going to have an occasional treat, you'd be far better off buying that larger bag and taking a tupperware of it with you to work.  That would be just as convenient but a whole lot lighter on your wallet!

As with the porridge, if you want an extra dose of protein with it, just add some whey powder and it'll still be cheaper in the long run.

Rating: 3/10 (only because it tasted nice)

Pot Noodles

What? I hear you say . . . yes, MyHi sell what is essentially a Pot Noodle but with some protein added.  They've sent me a couple of different pots, including the Beef Szechuan one.  They have remained sealed and will never be opened.  I can't provide you with a review of this as I simply refuse to put something with this ingredients list in my body:

High protein noodles (80.1%) [fortified Wheat flour (Wheat flour, calcium carbonate, iron, niacin (B3), thiamin (B1)), flour treatment agent (ascorbic acid), Wheat gluten, salt, turmeric, natural colours (paprika extract, carotenes)], texturedSoya protein (4.8%), freeze dried minced beef (4.8%) [minced beef 99.5%, Rosemary], Szechuan broth mix [salt, chicken powder (salt, lactose (Milk), flavour enhancers (monosodium glutamate, disodium phosphate, guanylic acid), modified corn starch, chicken (5.7%), palm oil, yeast extract, chicken fat (0.6%), flavourings (Egg), chicken extract (0.1%), potato starch, whey powder (Milk), colour (caramel), antioxidants (butylated hydroxyanisole, propyl gallate), flavour enhancer (monosodium glutamate) sugar, onion powder, red chillies, ground szechuan peppercorns (2%), white pepper)], modified maize starch, dehydrated minced leeks, dehydrated carrots, dehydrated mushrooms.

This
is clearly aimed solely at convenience, but there are plenty of foods out there that are just as quick to prepare, cheaper and a whole lot more nutritious.  I just can't condone this as it is so far from "healthy" or "nutritious" I wouldn't even class it as food.



As an aside, the health problems in the western world are not just because the population eats too many calories, too much sugar and doesn't exercise enough.  Plenty of "thin" supposedly healthy looking people have a lot going wrong inside because of the amount of chemicals in modern "convenience" food.  There is simply no need for most of the chemicals in the above ingredients list.  If you've stuck with me this far, please please just cook food from scratch yourself.  I don't care how busy you are, there is time!  I'll talk more about that in my next blog which will be about nutrition in general.

I can't rate these as I've not tried them, but I'm afraid I simply can't bring myself to put this in my body.

Cereal Bars



So, moving onto MyHi's cereal bars.  They sent a few flavours so I've tried Chocolate & Orange, Raspberry & Strawberry, and Peanut & Seed.  They all taste quite nice and are handy snacks to have perhaps before a cycle or as an afternoon snack in work. However, yet again the ingredients list puts me off:

Cereals (38%) (Oat flakes, corn flakes: corn, sugar, Barley malt, salt), extruded Soya, Milk chocolate cOating (16%) (cocoa butter, sugar, skimmed Milk powder, cocoa mass, emulsifier (Soya lecithin), flavouring), sweeteners (oligofructose, sorbitol, steviol glycosides, isomalt), vegetable fat (palm, rapeseed), Soya protein, orange peel paste(2%) [sugar, water, orange peel, thickener (sodium salt)], Barley malt extract, emulsifier (Soya lecithin), acidity regulator (citric acid), flavouring.

My pr
oblem with this is that they are trying to be a convenience snack bar that gives you more protein but there are plenty of other bars out there that have just as much protein but are far more natural.  Take Nakd bars for example - same or more protein and they have no additives at all.  Just natural cold-pressed ingredients.  Yes, they are a bit sugary due to the dried fruit they use, but at least it's a natural source of sugar without chemicals or sweeteners added.

Another little gripe with the cereal bars is that the wrappers are a bit fiddly to open.  That would put me off using them on the bike as I would struggle to grab one from my pocket and open it while riding.

Rating: 5/10

Waffle Crisps

Crisps, but more natural and with a good helping of protein . . . what a great idea I thought.  A nice way of having a snack that feels like a treat but still getting a good dose of protein to keep you feeling full for a long time afterwards.  I tried the Chilli Waffle Crisps:



The ingredients list isn't quite as bad as some of the other products.

But my problem with these was . . . 

They are dry and tasteless.  The only way I could eat them was to dip them in something like humus (which if home-made is actually quite good for you but it's just adding more calories to your snack!).  If I eat something chilli flavoured I expect to taste of chilli.  It was like eating cardboard.  I even took a few packs to a friend's house one night so that others could try them and the consensus was the same from everyone

If you want a healthy snack with a good dose of protein, grab some almonds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, or any other healthy nut (not roasted or salted!).  You'll get a good amount of protein, some healthy fats, and other things like vitamins or minerals (e.g. magnesium) that are very good for you.  No additives.  Just as convenient.  And cheaper when you look at the price per gram.

Or, if you want a treat and to have some crisps when watching a film on a Saturday night - just have some crisps!  Yes, they're not good for you, but as a one-off treat, you'll be more satisfied (because they taste good!) and therefore less likely to want something else after eating them.

Rating: 2/10

Savoury Squares

From a taste point of view, I've saved the best for last.  I genuinely enjoyed these Sesame & Cashew Savoury Squares.  Very "moreish" and tasty.  The ingredients list still has some stuff I don't feel they need, but also some good things like oats, flax and cashew nuts:

Wholegrain Oat flakes, flax seeds, vegetable oil (rapeseed), extruded Soya, Soya protein, Barley malt extract, glucose syrup, thickener (gum arabic), potato starch, Sesame seeds (5%), Cashew nuts (3%), dried onions, salt, flavouring.

I probably would buy these. I w
ouldn't have them regularly but they'd be a nice treat for a snack and at least you're getting some protein from them.  If I was sticking strictly to clean eating though, as I try to most of the time, I'd just have some almonds or nuts instead.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion

So, despite quite enjoying the savoury squares, I'm sure you've got the idea by now!

I really do think MyHi set out with some really good intentions but I can't possibly classify this as "healthy" food.  I think some of it is actually quite bad for you and even the stuff that's not quite as bad can be replaced with many far cheaper, healthier more nutritious alternatives that are just as convenient.

Not only can I not recommend any of the products above for someone who is training hard for any sport, but I wouldn't recommend them to the general population either.  While it's great to get more protein in people's diets, there are far more natural ways to do it and it really doesn't take that much time out of your day to do so.  I'm also genuinely surprised that the One Pro Cycling team are supported by MyHi.  I can't believe professional cyclists are fueling their bodies with processed convenience food.

I really do hope MyHi can take my feedback onboard and come up with some alternative "cleaner" more natural options.

In the meantime, check back soon for my next blog where I'll give you some more general nutrition tips.  These will be for daily meals and snacks, training and racing - and you'll hopefully see that everything I suggest is clean, natural, nutritious and really doesn't take very long to prepare.

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