Recovery peanut butter? Sports nutrition in a spreadable form??
At least that’s the claim from UK company Dr Zak’s. Dr Zak’s was originally founded back in 2013 when it debuted a high protein bread product. Since then, Dr Zak’s has added a high protein pasta, high protein bagels, and high protein nut butter spread to its product line. The concept behind creating this line up of edible food products was to allow active people to passively increase their daily protein intake, be it for muscle development and/or recovery purposes.
Owner and founder of Dr Zak’s, Dr Zak Pallikaros is a bodybuilder and fitness coach. However, having studied Medicinal Chemistry, Bio Technology and Bio Chemistry, it’s safe to say that he also knows a fair bit about nutritional science too. With his science and bodybuilding backgrounds, Dr Zak saw the opportunity to create a line of convenient high protein food products. And hence why I’m here taking photos of jars of peanut butter in my kitchen.
While it would be safe to say that bodybuilders and cyclists are unlikely to have a whole lot in common (we don’t skip ‘leg day’), using protein as a nutritional supplement is a shared practice. But whereas bodybuilders use protein to build muscle, cyclists and other endurance athletes use protein for muscle recovery post-exercise and ongoing lean muscle development. The idea is to help fatigued and damaged muscle tissue repair after a long ride or a hard race, so that your legs feel fresher sooner. Have a look at any of the many recovery drinks on the market targeted towards cyclists and runners, and you’ll see that each of them uses a fair whack of protein exactly for that purpose.
So, back to the peanut butter. Dr Zak’s offers a range of different flavoured peanut butters that include Salted Caramel, White Chocolate & Coconut, and Apple & Cinnamon. You can also get just plain peanut butter in both smooth and crunchy variants. Regardless of the flavour, Dr Zak’s peanut spread is basically peanut butter with the addition of partially hydrolysed whey protein isolate. The product is high in fibre, low in salt and contains naturally occurring sugars. Here’s what goes into it;
- Air roasted peanuts
- Whey Protein Isolate (Milk)
- Oil: Peanut, Shea & Coconut
- Chicory Root
- Dietary Fibre
- Sunflower Lecithin
- Natural Flavour
For each 20 gram serving of peanut butter, there’s 7.2 grams of protein in there. That’s supposedly 14% of your daily recommended intake, so it’s a solid boost to your existing diet. There’s not a whole lot of carbohydrates in the peanut butter, with only 3 grams in that same serving size. That’s good news for people who are carb-conscious and don’t want to be ingesting a lot of sugar and calories.
As far as the actual flavour of Dr Zak’s Peanut Spread goes, I really, really like it. I do love peanut butter, so that helps, but the actual flavour is pretty darn nice too. I’ve been sampling three different flavours: Fresh Raspberry, Salted Caramel and Crunchy. The overall taste is sweeter than regular peanut butter, and that goes for even the non-flavoured ‘Crunchy’ blend. Dr Zak’s aimed to mask the protein flavour with the Peanut Spread, and they’ve done quite well in this regard. You can still just taste the whey protein, but it’s nowhere near as noticeable as most other recovery drinks I’ve had before. Texturally, it’s a bit runnier than regular peanut butter, but not drastically so.
Oh, and the Salted Caramel flavour basically tastes like Reece’s Pieces. So I’m pretty much addicted to it now.
I’ve been using the Peanut Spread in a couple of different ways. Either spread on crackers or a slice of toast, or in a smoothie. For a smoothie, I simply add a cup of milk, a heaped dessertspoon of Peanut Spread, and a frozen banana into a blender, and whizz until smooth. The photo above shoes a super-ripe banana, which I’d then peel and chuck into a plastic bag in the freezer, then pull out whenever I’d want to make a smoothie. It makes for a really nice tasting smoothie, and with the combination of whole milk, banana and the Peanut Spread, there’s plenty of protein, carbohydrates, potassium and other good stuff in there.
I’ve been using Dr Zak’s High Protein Peanut Spread for a couple of months now. Previously, I’ve used a number of the common recovery drinks on the market, including from the likes of TORQ, Endura and GU, all of which have been effective as sports nutrition products. In terms of where I fit on the mountain biking spectrum, I’d say I’m a medium-volume rider. I’m no elite athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I do a reasonable number of miles on a weekly basis, and I do the odd race here and there for shits ‘n’ giggles.
Now I’m not going to make any sweeping performance conclusions about how effective it is as a recovery product, because I’m no sports nutritionist. I mean, I have been weighing my stools and analysing the content, but without access to a laboratory, I haven’t been able to extrapolate any worthwhile data. But what I can tell you is this; having a protein-based supplement like the Peanut Spread makes for a thoroughly satisfying snack post-ride. I found that I felt much less hungry throughout the day after having a smoothie or a slice of toast with Peanut Spread on it following a hard morning ride. Normally in that scenario, I’d be hangry come mid-afternoon, but with an extra dose of protein in my digestive system, that hunger is noticeably less likely to appear. And that meant I was much less likely to reach for a sugar-loaded bit of cake as an afternoon snack.
Did I find my performance increasing throughout the test period? Not discernibly so, but that’s quite a hard thing to quantify, so I’m not going to pretend otherwise. What I have found with recovery products is that if you start to utilise them on a regular basis after intense exercise, you definitely notice an improvement to muscle recovery within a 24-hour period. That is to say, that your legs simply feel less achey and tired the next day. And that becomes more noticeable the more you use it. There’s also loads of research that points to the positive effects of whey protein and its effect on muscle recovery, so if you’re looking for more scientific evidence then have a dig for some of those studies. From my own scientific research, I can tell you that I’ve been farting a lot more throughout the day after using the Peanut Spread product. So I knew something was working. As did everyone else in the office…
If you’re not so turned on by the recovery drinks with a list of ingredients that looks like the periodic table, then Dr Zak’s High Protein Peanut Spread will be a very appealing product. It tastes great, you can have it spread on toast or in a smoothie, and it’ll give you a satisfying protein hit that’ll help to sate those hunger pains that seem to last throughout the day after a hard ride. It’s perhaps not as convenient as a powdered recovery drink that you can take with you to a riding event, but as a regular item to have in the kitchen cupboard for post-ride refuelling, it’s great.
|Product:||High Protein Peanut Butter|
|From:||Dr Zak's, www.dr-zaks.com|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 2 months|