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Some Inside Information on Meal Replacement Formulas (MRPs)

by Phil Kaplan

Let me prepare you in advance here.  I’m going to tell you about meal replacements, but I’m also going to explain a special offer for my EAT! formula.  Unlike most of my articles, this one is biased.  It was used in a promotion to sell greater quantities of EAT! to my customers and clients.  Due to the success of the promotion, I’ve decided to extend it beyond our “customer base’ and offer the EAT! discount to . . . well . . . everyone who maintains an Exercise Advantage (EAT! stands for Exercise Advantage Technologies) and wants a quality meal replacement. 

Whether or not you decide to try EAT!, this article will better prepare you to evaluate commercial meal replacement formulas.  I prefer not to get involved in commercial supplement sales in any grand fashion.  I don’t want to get caught up in the games that have to be played to move product in the mainstream marketplace.  The products I sell are sold with a 100% commitment to integrity and the fitness truth.  With that said, here is the article as it was sent (by snail mail) to four thousand of my customers:

 

The Hollywood Celebrity 2 Day Diet PlanIn an age where fruit juice can be marketed as a “2-day miracle diet” and sold for $40 a bottle, don’t think the marketers of most commercially sold meal replacements are tied too closely to scruples and ethics.  They can easily move their wares by creating mediocre products, employing “legal deception” to create some illusions on Nutrition Labels, and then by advertising these things using a mix of “compelling” claims that border on pure fiction, and scientific jargon that leads consumers to believe the products are advanced.

About six years ago I created my own meal replacement formula.  I felt that I had to.  It wasn’t a money making venture for me.  It was my commitment to client satisfaction that drove me to create EAT!  In this article, I’m going to share with you a few of the deceptive practices that make meal replacement powders (MRP) fly off of the shelves.  I’m also going to explain what you can expect from my EAT! formula.  Finally, I’m going to make a special offer.  Hmmm.  Why wait?  I might as well make the offer now.  It’s simple.  Buy 3, get one free!  As we go on, you’ll understand why this offer is not only a “great deal,” but a rare offer that I can’t promise I’ll repeat.

The introduction of Engineered Food

Several years ago, Bill Phillips invited me to a private conference in Orlando where Dr. Scott Connelly was presenting a “revolution in nutrition.”  It was one of the most creative and powerful product positioning moves I’ve ever seen.  Dr. Connelly stood up before about 200 respected fitness professionals, and started into some monologue ravaged with what sounded to me like double talk and scientific jibberish.  Don’t get me wrong.  Connelly is a smart man, and he has my respect, but he seemed to be speaking so far above the comprehension level of the attendees, it was almost painful to attempt to follow.  My brain was hurting.  He drew little seesaws and triangles, spoke about nutrient ratios and amino acid partitioning, and at the end, Bill Phillips presented these two massive canisters of this new magic formula, Met-Rx.  Here’s where the genius came in.  In reality, it was a protein and carbohydrate powder.  Many had come before it.  A powdered mix of nutrients.  Phillips didn’t call it a supplement.  He called it . . . are you ready for this . . . an Engineered Food!  The idea was that you no longer needed conventional food.  Now, food can be your supplement, and three or four times a day, you just drink your Met-Rx shake.

From there Phillips and Connelly built this into a huge empire, and inevitably, as always happens when titan sized egos clash, Bill and Scott parted ways . . . with lots of attorneys involved.  By this time Met-Rx was no longer in canisters, but was sold in “single serving packets.”  This offered some great convenience.  Hey hasn’t anybody heard of zip-loc bags?  I’ve been carrying my protein powders in zip-log bags for years, and never saw the need to buy powder in pre-prepared packets, but again, from a marketing standpoint, it was genius!

Was Met-Rx magic?  Nah.  Was it the perfect meal replacement?  I don’t know about that.  It had hydrogenated oil in it.  It had its fair share of simple sugars.  It seemed to be at least as good as any of the top commercial protein and carb formulas, but the only magic was in Met-Rx marketing.  If we use a little bit of common sense, we’ll immediately see the flawed thinking behind single serving packets.  We all have different metabolisms, different lifestyles, and different fitness goals.  Why in the world would anyone assume “everyone” is going to find a 330 calorie serving optimal?  Why?  Because of genius marketing that takes people way beyond the point of common sense.

Bill, not to be outdone by his former partner, pulled together some resources and re-entered the marketplace supporting EAS!  EAS, in order to compete with the market Phillips had helped create for Met-Rx, introduced Myoplex as its premier product.  It was a Met-Rx knock off, although Phillips insisted it was anything but.  In the meanwhile, Twinlab, another major player, was going to cash in on this sudden swing among consumers to MRP packets.  Rx Fuel hit the shelves.  Lots of sugar.  Great taste.  Before you knew it, every supplement manufacturer was cranking out a “better” MRP.  The claims bordered on insanity, but they became so widespread the FTC couldn’t possibly police it all.  These MRP’s were selling without any rules at all.

A friend of mine, Lee Labrada, was committed to making a high quality meal replacement and his Lean Body Formula became the one I recommended.   Not because of his friendship, but because of his ethics.  While he didn't explode on the MRP scene, he gradually built up his credibility by committing to excellence in product development and customer satisfaction and within the parameters of the commercial MRP market, Lean Body has seen continuous growth.  I'm happy for Lee.  He deserves success.

Which Meal Replacement’s Best?

The phones in my office were ringing.  As a Personal Training company, we were serving several hundred clients, and with all of the marketing combat going on to move products, it seemed every client was calling to ask “what’s the best Meal Replacement?”  Is Met-Rx good?  Will Myoplex make me lose fat?  Is Rx Fuel the best?  Kira, my assistant, would spend 20 minutes on each call explaining how to decipher labels, how the “proprietary protein blends” can be misconstrued, and how sugars were “hidden” on labels and my trainers were constantly battling the power of the newest ads.  I decided that if I wanted to wholeheartedly endorse a Meal Replacement and not have to explain to each individual how and why serving sizes should be customized, if I wanted to endorse without reservation a powder that can fill in the gaps for those times that clients on my programs couldn’t get to supportive meals, I was going to have to create one.  I did.  EAT!  Here’s what I learned.

The best quality ingredients are expensive!  I mean, at a wholesale manufacturing level . . . the good proteins are anything but cheap.  I came to understand why the commercially sold formulas “blended” high quality proteins with lower grades.  I also found out that maltodextrin, the primary carb source for most MRP’s, is sold in various grades ranging from pricey to . . . well . . . cheap.  Maltodextrin has also been referred to as “glucose polymers.”  Its source is usually rice or corn and the sugars are linked together in chains.  This should offer a slow release supportive carbohydrate.  The cheaper grades, however, do not behave as the better grades do.  The enzymes in your saliva can break apart the chains, so although the maltodextrin is not a simple sugar when it’s in the powder, by the time it makes it into your stomach and digestive tract, you’re eating sugar!

I shopped with the help of friends and assorted nutritional experts for the best raw ingredient sources.  I realized I could never sell my EAT! formula in the commercial marketplace.  Too many people have their fingers in the pot.  The manufacturer has to buy raw materials, and then has to spend a small fortune on advertising (a full page ad in one of the major fitness mags can run well over $20,000.  Per ad!).  Next the product is sold to a wholesaler.  The wholesaler sells to a distributor.  A distributor sells to a retailer.  The retailer sells to you.  In order, therefore, to keep a mainstream MRP, priced within the marketplace, there’s almost no choice but to compromise on product quality.

After I formulated EAT!, with a mix of whey and egg protein, two superior protein sources, and the highest grades of maltodextrin, and added complete vitamin / mineral profiles, I then had to deal with another issue.  Taste!  I was committed to not using any simple sugar.  Fifteen times I received taste samples and sent them back.  Finally, we created a great tasting product in chocolate and vanilla flavors without any simple sugar.  Prior to now (if this is considered an advertisement) I have never advertised EAT!  It’s only been sold to customers and clients.  It goes from manufacturing plant to me and from me to you.  There aren’t any middle people with their fingers in the pot.  This allows me to use the highest quality and keep it reasonably priced.

You won’t find single serving packets.  I did something unique.  I had the scoop (included in every container) measured to hold 100 calories.  I’ve included charts on the labels.  You customize serving size based upon your metabolism and your personal goals.

I continued to watch the research, and the marketplace.  In 2001 I decided I could make EAT even better!  Since there are times within my programs that people manipulate carb intake, I raised the protein and lowered carbs making the formula more “thermic.”  Thermic indicates “heat producing.” Since a calorie is a measure of heat, the more of a thermic effect a food has, the greater the metabolic benefit.

I’ve also been fascinated by research on L-Glutamine.  L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue, but it also plays a critical role in immune function, recovery, and digestion.  Any time you face stress, upset, or illness, the other systems of your body may “rob” L-Glutamine from muscle making muscle gain challenging and muscle loss likely.  Since exercise, although it is "positive stress," does tax the body's recovery and muscular systems, it becomes even more important for exercisers to ensure sufficient L-Glutamine for optimal muscle response.  Since muscle and metabolism cannot be separated, to further enhance metabolic benefit I added L-Glutamine.  Powdered L-Glutamine is destroyed by stomach acids, so I included glutamine peptides, chains of glutamine that allow for absorption and use.

New EAT!, New Challenge!

With the new formula complete, at least on paper, a new challenge sprung up.  When you change ingredients, taste changes!  The first taste samples on the new EAT! formula were not well received.  I decided, since this formula was better, I wanted it to taste BETTER than the original.  27 taste tests later, we had it!  It’s sweetened with a mix of stevia and acesulfame K.  No sugar.  Great taste!

I didn’t include any magic.  I couldn’t find any.  What I did create is a Meal Replacement Formula I use myself, my trainers use, and my clients use, one that I can wholeheartedly endorse.  If someone is selling miracles, it’s likely they’re tapping into the creative talents of some marketing geniuses at some big ad firms in NY or LA.  I’m not in the advertising business.  I’m in the business of helping people find the fitness and weight loss results they seek . . . and in line with that mission, I now make the following special offer . . .

Previously, a 1-pound container of EAT! sold for $24.95.  The new 2-pound container can be more economically priced.  It’s only $34.95 . . . for twice as much!  And . . . if you order 3 containers, we can send you the fourth one FREE!

Get 4 containers of EAT! in delicious vanilla or chocolate for only $104.85.  That’s a full 8 pounds!  I don’t know how long this offer will be available, but you can take immediate advantage.  Whether you buy 1 container or 3 (and get the 4th one free!), you can begin integrating a high quality meal replacement formula into your fitness and nutrition regimen.  I can say with complete certainty that you will not find a more supportive formula on the market.

To order, call 1 800 552-1998, stop in to my Headquarters location at 6809 Main Street in Miami Lakes, or visit the Current Specials section of my on-line Superstore.  (If you are set on a commercially sold product, we sell Lean Body as well).

Wishing you all the health and fitness you can handle!

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