Playing ‘Mad Scientist’ in the name of Savings!
Supplements aren’t magical. They are (usually) foods or plants taken a few steps away from how they are naturally made. Whey protein is merely a processed and dehydrated milk by-product, things like Rhodiola Rosea and Vinpocetine are just plants that are treated to remove certain extracts, even Ephedrine, Yohimbine, and Caffeine (which can be seen as the most ‘chemical-like’ of supplements) come from plants initially.
That being said, many people do not have the resources in their own homes to create supplements. Microfiltration gradients (for whey processing) are not common kitchen tools, and very few have labs in which to treat plants with acids and bases, or put the extracts through columnar filtration, to get the desired compounds. It’s much more convenient to get a big company to do that stuff for you and buy their pills and powders.
However, there is some stuff in your kitchen right now which can be a supplement. Things that you do not need to spend much extra money on to reap benefits, and things that can be put to an alternate use with a little ingenuity.
One of the best things you can get, in regards to the following, is a Mortar and Pestle and some music to grind to.
Glucose powder or Corn Flakes?
Glucose powder is glucose, it’s not that special really. You need glucose, you get glucose; nothing fancier than that.
Building off of ‘Pure glucose’, Corn flakes are really not a food in my opinion, they’re way too detract and processed in and of themselves and filled with added sugars, and the worst possible sugars for insulin spiking and blood sugar health for a meal. That, and a high leucine content (for the abysmal protein content) for any form of corn flake furthers an insulin spike. Not the best breakfast meal for the young ones if you want them to be non-diabetic.
However, if you want a good workout carbohydrate blend, it’s awesome.
Corn flake based breakfast cereals, are made with the disaccharide ‘maltose’, which is glucose bound to glucose (similar to how the disaccharide sucrose is glucose bound to fructose). Crushing up corn flakes with a mortar and pestle (or just punching it into oblivion) can yield a simple sugar powder that is fructose free.
Some brands of corn flakes, such as Frosted Flakes, may have added fructose-containing sugars though; whether this matter or not is dependent on overall dose and your goals though.
If crushed up sufficiently enough, it can be added to shakes without changing taste or viscosity significantly.
Voila; a fructose-free carbohydrate powder with a micronutrient boost
Proprietary carbohydrate blend or Table sugar?
I recently outlined how glucose and fructose can both exert different effects in the body, and a combination of the two can be seen as highly beneficial for an exercising individual. This is a fairly well-known fact, and many supplement companies sell carbohydrate blends for exorbitantly high prices to try and profit off of it.
Thankfully, a big ass bag of table sugar is cheap and, in all honesty, the exact same thing in most cases.
Table sugar, or sucrose, is a disaccharide of fructose and glucose. It tastes sweet, dissolves in water, and spikes blood sugar quite fast. A very good workout carbohydrate for the frugal.
In the linked article, I mentioned how someone who is trying to gain weight would be wise to have 60g of glucose and 20g fructose during a workout. This could be done with buying glucose or fructose separately and dosing it accordingly, or it can be done with 40g of crushed corn flakes and 40g table sugar.
I’ll give you a hint as to which one is better in my opinion, one option is both cheaper and contains micronutrients.
Long-lasting carbohydrate blend or crushed Oats/Granola?
There is a supplement called ‘maltodextrin’ which markets itself as a longer-sustained sugar high, as the molecule itself is a long chain of glucose molecules. It’s an interesting compound, and hard to replicate in the kitchen.
However, most grains are made up of the carbohydrates called ‘amylose’ and ‘amylopectin’, the former is a linear chain of glucose molecules (similar to Maltodextrin) and the latter is an amylose backbone with amylose branches. It’s pure, branched glucose.
Similar to how we treated the frosted flakes, grinding any grain source beyond recognition will result in an amylose powder which can be used to fuel exercise. For the actual crushing process, a pestle and mortar work extremely well. Oats and granola are typically the easiest to crush, but both are much harder relative to dehydrated corn flakes.
Those with BlendTec blenders may rejoice, as that may be a good and quick option.
Calcium Tablet or Egg shells?
Yup, egg shells.
What else are you going to do with them?
This technique does require one thing though, all eggs in which you do this to must be blanched. This is to destroy any chances of contamination or salmonella which could exist on the egg shell (which is where most of it is anyways, rather than the insides). This is best done with the full egg, although one could blanch egg shells after cracking as well.
After blanching and rinsing the egg shells, put them aside for a time (until you go through a few cartons of eggs and build up a supply). Then pestle and mortar the crap out of them to yield a very fine powder (as drinking down little chunks of egg shells is not too appealing).
Viola; you now have a highly bioavailable (bone) source of calcium to add to shakes.
Iron supplement or an Iron Pot?
A ‘dirty diet trick’ amongst dietetics in regards to Iron-deficiency anemia is to tell people to cook acidic foods, usually tomato sauce is mentioned, in a cast-iron pot. Some of the structural iron from the pot itself is leeched into the sauce.
Voila; A sauce that now has a much higher Iron content and the Vitamin C that already existed in the sauce helps with it’s absorption (as a non-heme source of iron).
(Note: This is also a reason why I don’t like cooking with equipment made with the good ol’ neurotoxic aluminum)
Vegetable extract or left-over cooking water?
Nutrients, both the vitamins and minerals as well as other compounds in foods (dubbed phytochemicals) can either be water soluble, fat soluble, or a blend of both (it depends on the polarity of the molecule and what the molecule is ringed with either methyl or hydroxyl groups).
When you cook any food you disturb the cells themselves where many nutrients are stored via heat and acids, breaking the cell wall of the plant. Water soluble compounds can then use the water used to cook foods as a vehicle to exit the vegetable.
You can actually see this effect, and the significance of it, by the green coloring of water after cooking certain green veggies such as broccoli. Chlorophyll itself (the green coloring) is fat-soluble, and gets broken down into water-soluble compounds which then leave the vegetable and get retained in the water. The degree of which cell walls are broken and heat/acid is introduced into the vegetable during cooking in this case correlates with the hue of the water.
The best case scenario would to not have any micronutrients leave through water, which can be done by steaming or microwaving the vegetable (no water is available to transport the micronutrients away), but some other cooking techniques require some water and vitamin loss if done correctly.
Most people toss this vitamin water down the drain after the veggies are procured, which is not advisable for the frugal.
An alternative, after the vegetables are cooked save the water. Use it to make protein shakes or other things that require a liquid base in the future (given other added ingredients have enough taste to cover the minor vegetable taste of the water).
Voila; a free water-soluble vitamin liquid, the vitamins you get are dependent on the veggies you cook.
Fiber supplement or Orange peels?
Mortar/Pestle might not be enough here; this stuff is tough. Best use a blender or food processor.
Oranges are a great source of fiber, looking on the label shows that a regular sized orange contains about 8g of fiber; a blend of both soluble and insoluble. Have you ever wondered though, where that fiber is located?
It’s mostly the white, stringy stuff.
And there is a lot more of that on the inside of the peel not included on the nutritional label; since it isn’t typically eaten.
The outside of the peel itself, the orange part, is a great source of vitamin C and other polyphenols typically found in fruits itself with little to no caloric content. It also exerts a minor orange flavoring. Wash and scrub the peel to remove impurities, then grind/blend/shred the hell out of it.
Voila; a free fiber and anti-oxidant powder to add to shakes.
If you have any additional ingenuity to share, feel free to add them in the comment section below.