I often travel in my profession as a Sports Medicine physician. Currently, I’m at the Tour de France in my role as Head of Medicine for the Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team. Sometimes the food options on the road are incredible! Many times, though, the pickings are slim. Over the years, I’ve learned to travel with some healthy food options to which I can turn when not much else is available.
While on the road, I try to maintain a reasonable level of activity as well, but that too can be difficult. Given this and the regular lack of healthy dietary options, there are many days where I’m stuck with a 20-30 minute run and a breakfast that consists only of various pastries and jams. Even worse is the 8-10 hour trans-Atlantic flights with only airline food on offer. In such situations, you can either choose to give up on your dedication to health and fitness, or you can get creative and do your best to maintain. I prefer the latter…unless there is a regional culinary specialty that is not to be missed!
Recently, I was introduced to a meal replacement product called Ample. In general, I’m not a fan of “meal replacements”. They tend to be full of preservatives, sweeteners, and all sorts of things I’d rather not ingest. Ample is different. With my interest piqued, I took some of their product to the Tour de Suisse last month and now to the Tour de France.
In the interest of keeping this review short and pertinent, here are my bulleted thoughts:
- Ample has taken great care in selecting their ingredients.
- The whey protein is from grass-fed cattle, as is the collagen protein.
- The fats are provided by macadamia nut oil and coconut oil.
- They include a mix of greens and probiotics.
- There are only 4g of sugar!
- The macronutrient breakdown is well-balanced at 20g fat, 28g carbs (10g fiber), and 25g protein.
- Ample is sweetened with honey, monk fruit, and stevia. I hate the taste of stevia! It’s normally a deal-breaker for me, but I can’t even taste it in this mixture.
- It comes as a dry powder in its own bottle. Just add water, or milk, or whatever. I use water. This packaging makes it bulky for travel, but I hear they are considering selling larger containers of powder which can be scooped and mixed in your own bottle.
- Ample is expensive, starting around $6 per serving. It will cost you more than most “meal replacement” bars or shakes, but you get a lot for the money. If you took the time to source the same ingredients, dehydrate, blend, and package them, I suspect it would not save you any money. And if you ever visit your local juice bar for a smoothie, you probably pay more. The price seems fair, but it’s not going to be a daily drinker for most.
- The product comes in a 400 calorie serving, a 600 calorie serving, and even in vegetarian options.
All of this is great, but if it tastes like crap, who cares? I like to enjoy my food, not just choke it down. Life is too short for that! I can’t say Ample is going to win any taste tests when put up against your favorite milkshake or smoothie. At first, I honestly didn’t care for it. It wasn’t that I found it to be repulsively bad, but it just wasn't terribly appetizing. The flavor has an earthen quality and is decidedly not sweet. (If you can describe a wine as having “barnyard” qualities and it still be a compliment, why not a protein shake?!?) The taste is imparted by macadamia, honey, cinnamon, cocoa, greens powder, and whey protein, which like all whey, adds a certain bitterness. I can honestly say that it has grown on me though. If you’re worried about this though, they offer a “Taste and Quality Guarantee”. You can get your money back if you don’t like it. I kind of like it now, though I’d still gladly opt for an omelet and salad any day. I think Ample is a great product to keep in your luggage or at your desk, for those times when your options are either to regret your meal or go hungry. Ample provides a healthy mix of ingredients and gives you no reason to regret what you’ve eaten.
For future travel, and to keep around the office, Ample will continue to have a place in my diet. For me, it’s a contingency plan. But it’s a good one.
For the sake of transparency, I have no financial relationship with Ample and was not even one of their Indiegogo backers when the company was getting started. They have paid me nothing, other than being kind enough to send me a free case of product for my trip to the Tour de France.