While playing college football, my registered sports dieticians would recommend gainer shakes to replenish the lost calories in my extremely active lifestyle.
As an unsuspecting and undersized young athlete, I listened.
With a gainer shake a day, I started to see some results. I put on a couple pounds here and a couple pounds there.
At the same time, I was getting sick more than ever.
After a few episodes of antibiotics, I started to suspect dietary choices had at least something to do with systemic inflammation and repeated infections.
I looked at the labels of the gainer protein shakes my dieticians pushed in my direction.
On every label was a common theme. Each company had a proprietary “carbohydrate blend” that enabled their bulked up macronutrient profile. In every “blend” the same ingredient was listed first. On a nutrition label, ingredients are listed in order of volume, meaning this one ingredient was the main ingredient.
What was it?
I dug into the scientific journals to find out more. With a gaping jaw, I felt like I was looking at articles written about my immune system, my gut health, and my skin.
At the heart of the issue was one finding: maltodextrin destroys the microbiome.
Not only is maltodextrin an ultra-high glycemic index food that lacks any nutrients, it interferes with the protective mucus layer around intestinal cells.
In a place in the body where the barrier between feces and the bloodstream can be only a single cell layer thick, removing the protective coatings on cells is catastrophic.
While interfering with the protective barrier of cells is one (critical) reason to avoid maltodextrin, a second is that it creates a more favorable environment for pathogenic bacteria in the gut. While human studies have yet to be performed for obvious reasons, animal studies with maltodextrin show suppressed immune function in the gut, higher ratios of pathogenic bacteria, and increased susceptibility to disease. Finally, maltodextrin creates an inflammatory environment that has already been linked to the rise in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) like Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
Interestingly, I’ve also found significant anecdotal evidence for higher rates of inflammatory gut issues in athletic communities.
My findings on maltodextrin sparked a journey that includes the creation of D1 Lab’s only product, which includes 10 grams of glutamine to improve immunity, gut health, and muscle protein synthesis.
This journey also includes many tests to find high-calorie foods that are as easy or easier to get down than a maltodextrin-poison-shake.
Today, I’m giving you one of my favorite recipes so far.
It’s gluten-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free.
It’s highly customizable, loaded with micronutrients, and jam packed with calories. In fact, each serving has almost 460 calories. If you use them like I do and eat two with a plain whey protein isolate shake in milk, that adds 1,338 calories to your day. The macronutrient profile of that meal includes about 65 grams of protein, about 90 grams of carbohydrates, and 77 grams of grass-fed and coconut-based fat.
Enter, my Maple Banana Muffins.
Maple Banana Muffins
Ready in 30 minutes (10 prep, 20 bake)
Each serving: 459 calories, 33.5 g Carbs, 30.5 g Fat, 12.1 g Protein
- 2 Cups Almond Flour
- 1.5 Cups Coconut Flour
- ½ Cup Crushed Walnuts
- 1 cup Organic Maple Syrup
- 3 Pasture-Raised Eggs
- 2 Ripe Organic Bananas
- 6 TBSP Melted Unsalted Grass-Fed Butter
- 140 Grams Almond Butter (Base Culture Brand Preferred)
- 2 TSP Cinnamon
- 1 TSP Baking Soda
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Line each muffin tin with cupcake liners or grease with butter
- Mix all dry ingredients in first large bowl (includes almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, walnuts, cinnamon)
- In a separate bowl, mash the bananas
- Add remaining wet ingredients and mix thoroughly
- Pour wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed
- Transfer mixed batter into the muffin tins (approx. ¾ full)
- Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until the muffins have risen and are golden brown; If you have toothpicks, insert one into a cupcake. If it comes out clean, the muffins are fully cooked.
Keep these muffins refrigerated and throw them in the microwave or oven to heat up before eating.