Not Sure Which Running Shoes To Choose?

Getting a gait analysis done can be quite insightful, and certainly beneficial if you have no idea of what kind of shoes will give you the most comfort while running.

Running – as we all know – is a high-impact sport. With every foot strike forcing an impact of up to 3 x a person’s body weight, there is a greater risk of damage to joints, tendons, and ligaments. If, in addition to the impact, one or both feet pronate (rotate) inward or outward, the extra pressure can lead to progressive misalignment of the body and eventually to more serious problems. Poorly fitted shoes may aggravate the problem/s even further.

It’s been years since I last had a gait analysis done myself, so I was a bit surprised when the Physical Therapist I’ve been seeing suggested I go and do one. She thought that in addition to the actual therapy side of things, that I’d benefit from running in shoes that might help to stabilize my feet and ankles.

Now before I go any further, let me state that this post isn’t an attempt to convince you that the type of shoe you run in will improve your odds of staying injury-free. There are plenty of arguments that you can search online yourself that will help you form your own opinion about that. What I will say however, is that regardless of the science either for or against, if you believe that the shoes recommended for you are the most supportive, and if they feel the most comfortable, then they are probably the best shoes for you.

Since it’s been months now that I have been able to run consistently without pain, I heeded the advice of my PT and went and saw Niel Boshoff at ShoeScience in Mt Eden. I sent a couple of people to him last year and was super impressed by his knowledge and expertise!

The first thing Niel did was put my feet in the type of running socks I would typically wear, and with socks on my feet he then measured each foot. I already knew from previous PT and chiro visits, that I have one foot and leg slightly longer than the other, which by the way is not uncommon.

Once my feet had been measured, Niel had me jog up and down an in-store running mat that was electronically connected to a recording device. When the video was replayed, we were able to view it in slow motion and get a close look at how each foot struck the ground. It was clear to see that there was some inward pronation going on with my right foot.

Based on the video analysis, Niel then chose a few pairs of shoes for me to try on (keep in mind that other factors, such as foot and arch type, length and width of the shoe, frequency and distances of weekly runs, and type of running surface), are also considered. I tried each of the different shoe brands selected, and settled on a pair of Saucony “stability” shoes, a huge change for me given that I have always opted for lighter-weight performance shoes.

Before I left the store, Niel had me run in the new shoes on a treadmill. While running at a comfortable pace, Niel observed my gait from various angles and once again took a video recording. It’s not obvious when you watch the video below, but when carefully viewed in slower motion, we could see that my right knee collapsed inwards with every right foot strike.

With all of the information gathered from both video recordings and questions asked, we agreed that of the three types of shoes that Niel had shown me, the Sauconys were most likely the best choice. They were the heaviest of the three (though not as heavy as some other stability shoes), but surprisingly the most comfortable.

It’s now been a few weeks since I visited Niel at ShoeScience, and I am still seeing my Physio Therapist, but one change that has come about since I started running in my new Sauconys is that I now run with a renewed sense of confidence. My shoes make me feel as if I’m gliding effortlessly, and that feeling alone has helped to rewire my thought patterns towards ones that are focused more on healing rather than fear of further injury.

[Go and see Niel at Shoe Science in Mt Eden if you would like an in-depth gait analysis, coupled with amazing customer service! Niel will even let you take the shoes home and return them if, after a few runs, you decide they don’t provide the comfort you expected].

 

 

 

Wimping Out Doesn’t Get The Training Done

The title of this post is actually a quote sent to me by a friend; it is what he has used in the past as one of his training mantras in preparation for a big event. Let me explain how it ended up in my inbox………

Late last year, our dog (named Lucky), was attacked by a neighbour’s dog. To this day, whenever we walk past the neighbour’s house, Lucky becomes a cowering mess and starts tugging at his leash. At first I was sympathetic, but after a while I found his scaredy-cat antics kind of annoying and now, in an effort to help him overcome his fear, I make him stop outside our neighbour’s house and I order him to sit down. Usually, within the confines of a safe environment, Lucky has no problem responding to the directive, “Sit Lucky!” But outside our neighbour’s house he feels threatened and is reluctant to obey. I figure that in time he’ll surely regain his confidence.

That brings me to the point of this post; I witnessed a terrible cycling accident a few weeks ago and have been anxious about riding ever since. I even let a friend down recently by cancelling riding plans at the very last minute, because as I set out to meet him it started to rain and I was afraid that the roads would be too slick. My dog may not be the best reference point for comparison, but admittedly, my fear of riding is no more justified than his fear of walking past our neighbour’s driveway.

 

So thank goodness for athlete friends like the one mentioned above, as he is also the same friend who knew exactly how to coerce me into getting back on the bike last weekend. And it wasn’t with kind words; it was more like, “You’re being a wimp!” He was just jesting of course, but he also inferred that there’s no point in being a hero if common sense isn’t used; in other words, it’s not wrong to ignore legitimate danger cues, but otherwise, be smart and cycle defensively to allow for a faster reaction time.

I’m obviously stoked to have gone out riding last weekend – and a fair distance at that – but I still need to find courage to ride by myself. I think however, that if I am forcing Lucky to confront his fear head-on, I should probably be doing the same 😉

In that vein, I guess the best way to get back on my bike, is to get back on my bike!

A Mother’s Tough Love

It’s Mother’s Day today and while most mothers are probably enjoying time with family – or without – one special lady I know is experiencing a completely different kind of Mother’s Day.  I’m featuring her in this post because she deserves, in my eyes, an “Exceptional-Mother-Of-The-Year” award.

A year ago to the day, this friend of mine received on Mother’s Day, news of her second eldest daughter falling 30 feet from an Arizona ridge top. Her daughter survived the fall but was paralyzed from the waist down. Over the past twelve months, I’ve had the privilege of being able to follow social media and video documentation of some of the victories and setbacks experienced by my friend and her daughter.

I’m not going to go into too much detail as their journey – despite being shared amongst friends and family – is private. But there is one aspect of this friend’s parenting that really “wowed” me; she dished out a hefty dose of tough love! Instead of falling at her daughter’s feet and catering to her every need, she nagged her in the same vain that a mother would nag a lazy teenager. In essence, she tossed her daughter’s prognosis out the window and ordered her to start walking!

One year later, my friend’s daughter is still not walking, but she continues to endure difficult rehabilitative sessions, and her progress, though slow, is impressive. Tomorrow marks the anniversary of her accident, and to celebrate (yes, I did say celebrate), they are opening their home up to host a party that they’ve called ——–’s d-day, unbirthday, or yahoo she didn’t die anniversary.

The following is the cover picture posted on the event page:

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Does that not speak volumes about the kind of mother my friend is!

That’s it; no message to pass on! I simply wanted to acknowledge the incredible strength, courage, and love of a friend whose Mother’s Day will never again be the same, and yet if you were to ask her how she feels about that, she’d only be able to tell you how amazing it is.

 

Exercise Tips For Mothers With Young Kids

This morning I ran past a daycare centre and felt bad for a young mum who struggled to carry her crying baby in one arm, and an overloaded day-bag in the other; she looked tired and defeated. I remember those days well, and not too fondly either. Exhaustion was something I hated but got used to, and frustration was frequently experienced but more so when exercise couldn’t find its way into my daily schedule.

These days, with my kids both grown, I have the luxury of exercising with fewer restraints. But thinking back to those years, I do remember working with my limitations and finding ways to at least maintain a reasonable level of fitness. If a mother of young kids were to ask me how they could do the same, these would be my key tips:

  • Invest in a running stroller if you enjoy running!
  • Don’t feel that your workout must be completed in one consecutive session; if exercising daily means 3 lots of 10-minute workouts spread throughout the day, then take it! Some movement is always better than no movement.
  • Opt for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. Simply put, that means working at an all-out effort in short bursts, with equally short active-recovery periods in between. You’ll keep your heart rate elevated and burn more fat in less time.
  • Don’t focus on just cardio; strength/resistance training is key to promoting fat loss. An increase in lean muscle mass will assist your body in burning fat much more efficiently. You don’t need to go to a gym to do resistance training; all you need is a couple of light dumbbells and/or a resistance band, or even just your own bodyweight. There are plenty of at-home workouts available online that are under 30 minutes and require minimal equipment.

The last, and most important thing I would say, is that there is no greater feeling than the love a mother has for her children. So while lack of time and exercise might be a major source of frustration, realize that there is a time and season for everything and these years will pass so quickly that you’ll wish you could take them back.

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Are You That Mum Who Never Stops Or Slows Down?

Several years ago I recall setting out on an early morning run and being startled by a car that swiped the footpath a few feet ahead of me. I was further surprised when the hubcap bounced off on to the road and the driver carried on without stopping to retrieve it. It made me think of mothers, including myself, who often race through each day determined to conquer an impossibly long to-do-list, and in the process unknowingly lose a “part” of themselves.

By “part,” I mean any “thing” that contributes towards overall physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. How often for example, do we intentionally set aside time to rest and relax, get out for some fun, or take a few moments each day to talk and laugh? And what about diet and exercise; are these a priority, or do they get pushed to the wayside in favour of other “mum duties?”

Like the driver who kept driving without a hubcap, we tend to do the same. We keep going, ignorant of cues that try to warn us of our bodies needing a break. And yet, despite our noble efforts to be the best mums we can be, we’d be doing everyone (ourselves and kids especially), a huge favour if we stopped to do a “parts” check every once in a while.

Take some time this Mother’s Day to sit back and enjoy the pampering. And be selfish for a change; spend the day doing whatever it is that you want to do!

Wishing you all a restful and happy mother’s day.

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Choosing Quality Over Quantity For Greater Health And Happiness

Is it just me, or is anyone else tired of hearing that it takes 10,000 hours to get good at anything? Ever since Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea of the 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers, it seems to have become a cliche of sorts, and thank goodness too, because who has time to spend 20 hours a week for a consecutive 10 years trying to master a skill (unless your skill also happens to be your profession).

Why am I even bringing this up, because truthfully, the point I’m about to make has little to do with the 10,000-hour rule. It’s just that every time I hear or read of it, it conjures up – for me at least – thoughts of extremism and peoples’ tendencies to take an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to improving their appearance, health, and/or fitness.

I have been hearing a lot of the same stories for example; declarations of some ambitious goal with extremely confining boundaries, backed up by the notion that momentary pain and suffering will be worth the end result. But is it really worth it, if old habits inevitably return soon after the goal has been achieved?

I think Cassey Ho (one of my BFFs by the way; she just doesn’t know it) gets it right when she repeatedly insists that life is all about quality, not quantity! And that life should be enjoyed at every stage, through each journey and not just at the end of each journey. I slightly altered the context of her message (she refers to exercise specifically), but you can see how the same could be applied to life in general.

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I think, that we all should challenge ourselves to stop challenging ourselves! In other words, no more “x-number of days” of extreme dieting, or extreme exercise, or basically, extreme anything. Why can’t we simply practice good old fashioned restraint and discipline; do everything in earnest and with a genuine good effort, and leave a little room for playing, enjoying, indulging, relaxing……..

Wouldn’t our lives be healthier and happier with frequent, but small doses of the things we take pleasure in, versus sustained periods of time with no pleasure at all?

Radio Hosts Deliver Dismal Carrot Cake Report

Jannine Myers

The other day as I was driving to work, I heard on the radio a couple of FM broadcasters declaring their shock revelation of traditional cream cheese frosted carrot cakes containing as much as 854 calories per slice. Significantly more calories – and fat – than a McDonald’s Big Mac burger.

Carrot Cake

Calories: As many as 854 (with a whopping 480 calories from fat!)

Fat: 47g

Big Mac

Calories: 540 (260 of these calories from fat)

Fat: 29g

To put things into perspective, most major health and nutrition organizations consensually agree that daily fat intake be limited to no more than 30% of total daily calories. So, for a person on a 1500 calorie-per-day diet, total fat intake for the day should be no more than 50g. One slice of carrot cake however, adds up to almost the entire fat allowance for the day, not to mention more than half of the recommended daily calorie intake.

A further irony, given that carrot cakes are often seen as the healthier choice of cake, is that a slice of frosted chocolate cake typically has less than 300 calories and around 15g of fat. With those stats, you may as well go straight for the chocolate cake! Unless of course you prefer carrot cake, in which case you should most definitely indulge because it’s not like you eat carrot every single day (heck, where is the fun in life if you never let yourself enjoy a few indulgences).

For those of you however who are very health conscious and would prefer to “say no” to a calorie and fat laden slice of cake, you can always make your own slimmed-down version. After hearing the dismal news report mentioned above, I decided to head home after work and see what I could come up with by using only ingredients I already had on hand (I knew I already had carrots because I have a human rabbit in my house who eats her way through a kilo or two of carrots a week).

Here’s what I took from my pantry and refrigerator:

Bananas – 2 (medium, and very ripe)

Carrots – 2 (large)

Dates – 1/2 cup (dried and pitted)

Peanut Butter – about 1/4 to 1/3 cup (very oily)

Sugar – 1/3 cup

Almond milk – 1/3 cup (plain, unsweetened)

Chia seeds – 2 tbsps (soaked in 6 tbsps water)

Baking soda – 2 tsps (dissolved in a little almond milk)

Flour – 2 cups (plain)

Cinnamon – 1 tsp

Walnuts – 1/4 cup (chopped)

Salt – 1/4 tsp

Lemon – 1

Powdered sugar – 3/4 cup

Almond milk (extra – approx. 1 tbsp)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 175 C. Grease a rectangular baking pan and set aside.

First, soak the dates in hot boiling water, and set aside. Next, prepare two chia eggs by mixing the chia seeds in 6 tbsps of water and leaving to set for at least 5 minutes. Finally, grate the carrots and put aside. Now you’re ready to start baking.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

In a blender, add the two bananas, the peanut butter with as much oil as possible, and the dates (with about 1/4 of the amount of water that they were soaking in – the rest can be disposed of). Pulse until just combined; the texture should be wet but slightly lumpy. Add the baking soda (already dissolved in a little almond milk), and then pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Finally, add the chia eggs and walnuts. Gently mix everything together until the flour can no longer be seen. Pour into the cake pan and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

While the cake is baking, make a lemon powdered glaze by simply mixing together the juice of one lemon with 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and adding a little almond milk until a runny glaze-like consistency is achieved. When the cake comes out of the oven and has cooled a little, poke holes in the surface and pour the glaze all over. Then leave the cake to completely cool before slicing.

The end result is a health-ier lemon-glazed carrot cake with not-so-alarming nutrition stats:

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Makes 20 servings (20 slices)
Serving Size 1 slice / Amount Per Serving:

Calories 140 (calories from fat – 35)

Total Fat 3.65g (saturated fat .0.6g)

 

A Bread You Can Make With Just 3 Ingredients

Jannine Myers

I was recently browsing the site of an acquaintance (Tully Zander) and came across an easy bread recipe she shared. It’s so easy in fact, that it contains just three ingredients. Which, by the way, reminded me of a post I published a few years back when I was living in a US military community and shocked by the breads available in the base commissaries. Some of the more widely purchased breads, unbeknownst to those buying and consuming them, contained an ingredient list a mile long (not kidding; read my post).

Here in New Zealand, the breads generally contain far less ingredients, and supposedly non-harmful emulsifiers (used to enhance flavour and preserve shelf life), but if you don’t mind baking and would prefer to make your own bread, there are many safe and simple recipes online that even your kids would have no trouble following.

This one below, is my “slightly tweaked” version of Tully’s easy bread recipe. It’s the same essentially, except that I made it not only dairy-free but gluten-free as well. Although not as soft in texture as Tully’s recipe, I am sure that a little experimentation of flour and liquid amounts, as well as time spent kneading the dough, could potentially fix that.

I have been eating my bread toasted and I love it! It actually brings back childhood memories of weekend breakfasts, when almost every dairy in NZ sold freshly baked white bread loaves on Sunday mornings. Mum would send my brother and I out to buy a couple of loaves, and we’d devour them with butter and our favourite spreads (along with our cups of hot milo).

Nothing quite compares with the smell and taste of the breads back then, but give this recipe a try; it sounds bland and boring with so few ingredients but I think you’ll be surprised.

A favourite combo of peanut butter and banana

A favourite combo of mine: peanut butter and banana – and served with hot tea or coffee….sooooo good!

Ingredients:

4 cups gluten free flour

2 tsps yeast

1 1/3 cups non-dairy milk (or water)

Directions:

In a large bowl mix together the flour and yeast, and form a well in the bottom.

Pour in your choice of non-dairy milk (or water, for a lighter, fluffier bread), and gently combine until the flour and yeast absorbs it all.

Now you can begin to work on your dough. Knead it into a large ball and place on a floured surface. Do this for approximately five minutes or until it becomes smooth and a bit sticky. Resist the temptation to add additional flour, unless it’s so moist that it won’t combine. Alternately, if it’s too dry, add more milk or water, just a little at a time.

Once that’s done, lightly dust some flour on the top of your dough, place in a bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let it sit in a warm, dry place and allow it to rise for an hour (or until it doubles in size).

Return the dough back onto your working surface and gently flatten it. Knead it some more to get rid of the excess air bubbles, and start shaping it into a loaf by repeatedly folding it on itself and rolling it.

Place your dough into a lightly greased loaf pan and cover again with a kitchen towel. Allow to sit for a further hour.

Allow the dough to rise by setting it in a warm, dry place for an hour or so

Allow the dough to rise by setting it in a warm, dry place for about an hour.

Towards the last few minutes of the previous step, preheat the oven to 180 C. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. If you are unsure, perform a quick tap test and check that it sounds hollow.

Let the bread cool for 5 to 10 minutes before you turn it out onto a wire rack. Best eaten while still warm from the oven, or toasted.

[This bread stores well in an air-tight container kept in the refrigerator, and you can slice and freeze it too if you want to save for later]

The Best Way To Diet Is To NOT Diet!

Jannine Myers

Losing weight is challenging enough, but attempting to maintain a desirable weight is even more so. Many women with weight loss and maintenance goals are failing because they’re either rebound dieters, or under-eaters.

Rebound dieters are those who repeatedly resort to short-term deprivation diets that yield quick but unsustainable results. Women who fall prey to rebound dieting are typically willing to endure temporary discomfort, but not necessarily committed to making permanent lifestyle changes. Consequently, their efforts reap only temporary success, since normal eating patterns usually resume soon after the desirable goal has been achieved.

Under-eaters, on the other hand, habitually consume too few calories. There seems to be a common misconception among under-eaters that an ideal daily caloric intake should be less than 1200 calories. While a caloric deficit is necessary to achieve fat loss, a too-extreme deficit (especially over a long period of time) causes the body to make drastic modifications in order to maintain homeostatic balance; such modifications generally produce negative health effects and conversely, an increase in weight.

To make matters worse, knowing how and what to eat – in a way that keeps the body fit and healthy (and the mind happy) – has become way too confusing. With various health and nutrition groups all advocating different beliefs, food decisions have become complicated and stressful.

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The only thing we can all be certain of is that we will never get it 100% right. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t reduce or eliminate stress surrounding difficult food choices. The following is a list of habits that are a routine way of life for me, and what I also believe to be a fairly simple and non-restrictive approach to eating mindfully, healthfully and happily:

1. I never skip meals; the only exceptions are if circumstances prevent me from doing so or if I am legitimately not hungry.

On the topic of meal-skipping, I’ve noticed that many of my former clients tended to skip breakfast and lunch meals if they had some special event to attend later in the day. They preferred to “save their appetites” for the event, so as not to exceed their daily caloric allowance. But almost always, they complained of overindulging anyway. Going to an event half-starved is never a good idea; It’s better to eat as usual throughout the day and enjoy the feeling of later being in control (and eating/drinking in moderation whatever is on offer).

2. Like everyone else, I have some major slip ups from time to time. But I’m able to get myself back on track because I don’t diet. Whenever I go a little overboard, I just get right back to my usual habit of eating regular and well-balanced meals. Since most, if not all of my meals, contain all of the macronutrients (a lean protein, a dense carbohydrate, some vegetables and/or fruit, and a small serve of a healthy fat), my blood sugar levels remain relatively stable. But more important, any fat loss that occurs is more likely to be long-lasting, since my body won’t try to fight for it’s return (as it would if it were deprived of energy and nutrients).

3. There is nothing I cannot eat or drink. I don’t have any food or beverage restrictions, but I tend to stick to an 80/20 (sometimes 90/10) approach, where at least 80% of my diet comes from nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and what I consider my “treats,” make up the remaining 20%. I recommend developing a mindset that focuses on adding foods versus eliminating them; as you begin to add a greater variety of healthy foods to your diet you’ll hopefully begin to also lose the desire for less nutrient-dense foods.

4. I eat mostly foods that I prepare myself, and I include fresh produce daily. That means that I am in the kitchen a lot, but I’m a big believer that people find time for the things they value the most.

5. I make it a habit to eat different foods every week. It’s very easy to fall into the habit of eating the same meals day in and day out (which by the way, can be initially helpful to anyone attempting to lose weight by calorie counting), but repeatedly eating the same foods limits the nutritional value of your diet and often leads to bouts of binge-eating.

6. My food choices are heavily influenced by my mindset, versus emotion. In other words, I choose to eat foods that nourish my body and not weigh or slow me down. I am happiest when I have a lot of energy to move and be active, and anything that interferes with that is fixed in my mind as something I need to persevere against. Carrying an extra 20kg for example will obviously slow me down, so a question I might ask myself if I felt my clothes getting tighter is this: “Would I intentionally put on – and walk around all day with – a jacket that weighed 20kg?”

7. I eat meat, grains, dairy, seafood, and soy (pretty much everything we’re told NOT to eat) – but in differing quantities, and according to my taste preferences and stomach sensitivities. I also eat a wide range of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, legumes, and healthy fats. The only foods I try not to eat are those that come with an ingredient list a mile long!

In summary, I don’t DIET! The way I eat has become a fixed part of my lifestyle that never changes; the foods I eat change all the time, but how I eat does not. The satisfaction that comes from knowing how to manage my weight is liberating, but even greater is the joy that comes from not being physically or emotionally bound by confusing and restrictive “food rules.”

Hammer Protein Choc-Almond Cake-Cookies

Jannine Myers

Since I’m often out doing longer endurance-type activities, I like fueling with inexpensive home-made snacks that contain a good ratio of carbohydrates-protein-fat (approximately 40 to 60% carbohydrate, and 15 to 30% each protein and fat). These cake-like cookies are the result of a few pantry staples that I threw together; they fit the bill for the following reasons:

  • they meet the macro requirements that I personally prefer
  • they fit two-to-a-snack-size ziploc, and are therefore easily portable if I choose to eat them during extended outdoor activities
  • they’re not too sweet, so hopefully less likely to mess with your stomach
  • apart from the slightly chewy texture that comes from the protein powder, they’re fairly easy to eat on-the-run
  • they contain a good quality protein powder that doesn’t have any added fillers, sugars, artificial sweeteners, or any other undesirable ingredients

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Ingredients

1/8 cup Brown rice Syrup

1/8 cup Agave Nectar

1/8 cup Smooth Peanut Butter

1/2 cup Organic Oats, pulsed into a finer flour-like texture

1/2 cup Almond Meal/Flour

1 cup Plain Gluten Free Flour

1/2 tsp Baking Soda, dissolved in a little Almond Milk

2 scoops Hammer Nutrition Chocolate Protein Powder

1/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

16 Whole Almonds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly Grease a cookie tray. Whisk the sweeteners and peanut butter until well combined, and add the previously dissolved baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add the wet ingredients. Slowly add the almond milk, a little at a time, until a cookie dough texture is achieved (not too wet and not too dry). Form golf ball size size cookies and lay out on the tray. Flatten each cookie with the back of a fork, and press an almond into the centre. Bake for approximately 12 minutes and allow to cool.

Makes 16 servings (16 each)

[For my vegan friends out there, try these 5-ingredient choc-chip cookies by Tully Zander]

Nutrition Data (per cookie):

Calories 99.81

Fat 3.52g (saturated fat 0.36g)

Carbohydrate 13.15g (Sugars 4.27g)

Protein 4.93g

 

Macro Distribution:

Carbohydrate 51% / Protein 19% / Fat 30%

Why Hammer Nutrition Protein? Get the facts here: www.hammernutrition.com/blog/hammer-whey-superior-protein-health-recovery