Phase8 is a blend of milk protein concentrate (supplying calcium caseinate and whey), whey protein concentrate, micellar casein, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, and whey protein isolate. As with any protein powder, the effects of this product are fairly straightforward: it provides...
Phase8 is a blend of milk protein concentrate (supplying calcium caseinate and whey), whey protein concentrate, micellar casein, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, and whey protein isolate. As with any protein powder, the effects of this product are fairly straightforward: it provides the body with an essential nutrient, protein. Protein powder serves as a convenient, tasty, high-quality, low-calorie way of reaching daily protein requirements. Exercising individuals require more protein than their sedentary counterparts, and the RDA values for protein have been firmly established as insufficient for athletes and active individuals. Protein powder is more of a matter of convenience than anything else, because it ensures that individuals get the right amount of protein each day.
Although there's really no staggering difference in the performance of popular types of protein on the market, I'm a huge fan of protein blends and I believe a mix of high-quality sources is the optimal choice. Given sufficient total protein for the day, it's highly unlikely to make any measurable difference whether a person is using whey, casein, or a blend. With that said, the combination of whey and casein should be superior to either in isolation. The whey provides a quick hit of aminos to boost protein synthesis, while the casein provides a longer source of aminos to blunt protein breakdown. You get a spike from the whey along with a sustained level from the casein, plus you get slightly different amino acid profiles. Despite the old bro belief that a purely fast protein is ideal post-workout, research supports that slow proteins or a combination of slow and fast proteins are more effective. Quoting from a study looking at the effects of a protein blend, "The timed release of amino acids into the circulation is associated with greater SMPS [skeletal muscle protein synthesis] rates and lean body mass gains. These authors attributed the benefits of the protein blend to differences in digestion rates that prolonged the increase in blood amino acid levels, resulting in greater muscle amino acid uptake. Blending [proteins] also creates a more balanced amino acid profile, specifically for BCAAs, glutamine, and arginine. This may confer an advantage because a more balanced amino acid profile might provide for a wider range of benefits (e.g., acid-base balance, growth hormone release, enhanced muscle blood flow, immunity) than a single protein source rich in only 1 or 2 of these key amino acids." Furthermore, a study on whey and casein found that fast proteins are burned off for energy to a greater degree than slower digesting proteins, and fast proteins are more absorbed by the gut. Their fast digestion speed leads to greater digestive losses, more oxidation via deamination, and provides less amino acids to skeletal muscle. These reasons are a big part of why slower digesting proteins invariably lead to better overall protein retention in the body.
The protein percentage of Phase8 is relatively low. A 42g scoop yields 26g of protein, making the formula 61.9% protein. Upon further examination, the actual protein percentage is likely even lower. The tub states that each serving contains 4.6g BCAAs. High-quality proteins contain 20-25% BCAA, so this doesn't add up if each scoop has 26g of protein. The amount should be 5.2-6.5g BCAAs. The explanation for this is simple: there are not 26g of protein per serving. I noticed taurine and glycine in the full list of ingredients, which are seemingly being counted as protein. Creatine has been used in this way as well, because these ingredients are less expensive than whey or casein. You may be wondering how companies are able to pull this off. When a protein supplement is tested for its protein content, the test measures the total amount of nitrogen in a sample and calculates the protein based on nitrogen levels. By adding ingredients that are high in nitrogen, the tests can be tricked into thinking a product is higher in protein than it really is. In reality, Phase8 probably has 18-23g of intact protein per scoop, and the formula is spiked with taurine and glycine to bolster the protein percentage. Taurine and glycine are cheap and adding them to the formula lowers the cost. This makes the ratio of BCAA content go down and raises the perceived protein content. The point of protein powder is protein, and when you purchase a product with these ingredients, it's important to realize that it subtracts from the total amount of protein that you're actually getting.
MuscleTech touts that "Phase8 has the unique ability to release amino acids in your bloodstream for 8 hours after taking it." This is true for micellar casein, which has been shown to provide amino acids for around 8 hours to the body. The problem with many protein blends is every protein source is lumped into a proprietary blend, and there's no way of truly knowing the proportions in the formula. I feel that micellar casein and whey protein isolate are the two best proteins in Phase8, but there is no mention about the quantities in which these are present. The FDA requires the dietary ingredients in a proprietary blend to be listed in order of predominance by weight, but manufacturers have found a way around this by grouping several ingredients into a blend, which moves them up the hierarchy of ingredients on the label. For example, the first ingredient in Phase8 is "Protein Blend" with 6 types of proteins listed in parenthesis. Only the total sum of this blend outweighs the next ingredient, and if the proteins weren't bundled together, most sources would probably be outweighed by the fillers and flavoring in Phase8. It's no surprise the least expensive proteins, milk protein concentrate and whey protein concentrate, are the first two proteins listed in the blend. Without the proprietary blend, the order on the ingredients list would be completely different, and micellar casein and whey protein isolate may very well be at the bottom of the list.
One thing that made me question the amount of casein in Phase8 is the calcium content. Casein is rich in calcium, yet there is a mere 20mg of calcium in Phase8. After comparing this to various pure casein products, I discovered that many of them provide around 500mg of calcium per serving. The primary source of casein in Phase8 is calcium caseinate coming from milk protein concentrate. Calcium Caseinate is generally regarded as inferior to micellar casein because it's denatured during processing. For this reason, I prefer micellar casein because it's more structurally intact. Whether or not this affects measurable physical outcomes has not yet been determined by clinical trials (i.e. comparing calcium caseinate versus micellar casein on healthy trainees). Regardless, I wish MuscleTech had used a higher quality milk protein isolate instead, which contains around 80% micellar casein. Additionally, calcium caseinate's digestion and absorption properties lie somewhere between those of whey and micellar casein, so it doesn't provide amino acids for up to 8 hours.
My final nitpick is that Phase8 is slightly higher in carbs than I normally like. It has 7g of carbs per serving, which isn't unreasonable, but I suspect this mostly comes from maltodextrin, a useless filler. If it weren't for the protein blend altering the order of ingredients, I imagine maltodextrin would be listed as the second or third most abundant ingredient. It's an empty-calorie carb that is added to take up space or contribute to the texture and mouth feel. In conclusion, there are lots of protein powders claiming a sustained release, but customers are usually not getting what they believe. Companies wish to avoid using substantial amounts of casein in their products because it's more costly than whey. If you're going to spend your hard earned money on a protein blend, it would be nice to know you're paying for a high-quality product.
The flavor I had was Milk Chocolate. Chocolate is such a basic and common flavor, and it's tough to make a chocolate protein powder stand out from the competition. Had Phase8 blown me away in the taste department, I might have been willing to mostly overlook my peeves with the formula. Unfortunately, it was nothing special. I've had worse, but this was basically cocoa and sweetener. The consistency wasn't as thick as I hoped it would be for a protein blend, which is another reason why I had doubts about the amount of casein. I liked that the powder was fluffy instead of grainy, even though it's a bit messy when scooping out of the tub. Overall, I don't see any reason why I would buy this product again or recommend it to others. As consumers, we have to decide whether we are willing to support a company that is taking advantage of our trust, and using labeling loopholes to make more money. An ingredient may test out as nitrogen, but this shouldn't give companies the liberty to call it a whole protein. At the very least, this method should be considered misleading, and quite possibly a legal violation. Given the issues with protein percentage, hidden ratios, carb content, and subpar taste, there are many things that need to be corrected with Phase8 in order for me to consider it in the future. Also, the price does not come close to accurately reflecting the quality. Even if this product were 50% off of the current price, I still don't think it would be worth the cash.
- Deceptive Labeling
- Poor Ingredients