SCORE 8/10 - Not the flashiest girl at the dance, but certainly one you can marry
What’s up my brothers. Time for my take on a very interesting product that I was fortunate enough to review – The System from SSP Nutrition. The System is a multi-stage approach to training nutrition employing concepts of nutrient timing. Special thanks to the guys at SSP for giving some of us an opportunity to try this out. Because this is really 3 distinct products working together, I’m going to change up my usual format. I’ll also make a note that I’ve been gradually reconsidering how I rate my reviews and as such I don’t want anyone to think that an overall of 8 is anything but a very positive review. In my opinion an overall of 8 is a rock solid product that I have no hesitation to recommend to anyone that asks. As such, this is a product that I believe can indeed satisfy (and certainly simplify) most people’s training requirements. On to the review!
The System is a complete approach to training nutrition. It is comprised of 3 products – PRE, POST and LEAN MUSCLE MEAL (previously called MAINTAIN). The names are pretty self explanatory and dovetail with the science of nutrient timing in that they are designed to provide your body with specific nutrients delivered at specific times during your training. I got a (fantastic - very nice touch guys) box that contained 20 matched sets of packets and I have to say that I loved the convenience factor. At first I was pretty skeptical to not get tubs, but man, I loved the fact that while I was running this I just had 3 packets per day to drop in my bag and didn’t have to dick around with my usual array of baggies and containers. So big plus on that aspect of it. Granted it doesn’t impact effectiveness, but it actually did make a difference for me in simplifying my day.
I feel it also important to note that the CEO of SSP, Dennis Cieri, designed this to be totally drug free and Wada compliant and that’s a big plus for those who plan to compete in a drug tested federation. I will also note that the heart of their approach hinges on the science of nutrient timing – usually a controversial topic for sure. And while I am not personally obsessed with things like the anabolic window I will say that many of us actually do use this approach when we take a pwo, then an intra and then a post workout shake. Now whether we call that nutrient timing or not is irrelevant but the bottom line is that most of us are closer to this method than we may think – we just buy use it by buying separate products.
To me the real difference is in the ingredients and the macronutrient mix. I’ll get into them below but the bottom line is that they attempt to deliver vitamins, minerals, aminos, protein, carbs, etc. to the body in efficacious doses throughout your training and in conjunction with each other. So at first glance you may think that a specific component is under dosed but when viewed within the bigger picture, things look pretty solid. And that really got me thinking about how we take so many bloated products because other companies try to touch all the bases by adding in too many different ingredients but then have to cut back the amounts which ends up making them less effective (or at least superfluous) in the long run. The only real complaint I have is that I do wish that the label had full disclosure of each group of ingredients instead of proprietary blends but in this case the sin is far less egregious than other products I’ve reviewed before. And that comes back to what I think a great difference with The System is – each product is built around a solid foundation of macro nutrients – the most basic of all tools for building the body. There is no use of novel/esoteric ingredients and no trumpeting of the latest and greatest advancements based on new discoveries – this is foundational concepts of exercise science.
Compared to the direction of the pwo segment of the market, SSP PRE will most likely look under dosed and certainly under caffeinated, lol. It is, at best, a low-stim formula with only 250mg of caffeine. But what it does offer is 9g of carbs and 13g of protein. It also lists a prop blend of 16.9g of creatine/pump ingredients and since the serving size is 33.2g, I’m not sure how that math plays out but I speculate that the aminos and the palitinose included in the prop blend are counted in the macros. This is a solid pwo for performance from a nutrient aspect – nothing flashy and nothing that a stim junkie would even glance at but certainly sufficient to fuel your training needs. It is designed to be taken half prior to training and the rest during the first part of your training. So like I said, if you normally hit the gym with 450g of stims coursing through your veins, this is going to seem weak in comparison.
Taste and mixing was acceptable – nothing stood out. It was a fruit punch flavor. No real residue left behind in the shaker cup although because this doubles as an intra, I usually refilled the shaker with water.
I was most surprised by the approach that SSP took with the POST formula – it’s only 32.6g total. Most of us are used to taking twice that amount in protein alone, lol. This takes an even more surprising turn in that of that 32.6g, 17g are carbs and only 6g are protein. The rest is made up a gram of carnitine complex, aminos, glycerol, etc. Radical you say? Well not really – it’s very much in line what many performance athletes have been using for years. It’s mainly the bb world (and certainly the supplement companies that supply it) that have altered post workout nutrition to include massive amount of protein and/or carb based products. However, given that Dennis is a world record holder in the bench press, I was willing to give this an honest try and I have to admit that I was surprised that my recovery did not suffer. Now granted, as I said before, this would probably be less effective taken on its own, but keep in mind that this is the second part of a 3 stage system and that the majority of protein comes in the LEAN MUSCLE product, which follows the post by about 1-2 hours.
Again, taste and mixing was acceptable and this was a berry flavor with sort of chocolate undertones. Seriously – kind of like berry/chocolate, or at least that’s what I thought.
Designed to be taken 1-2 hours after the POST, this delivers 48.57g of macros and vitamins – 4g fat, 14g carbs and 20g of protein plus 2.5g of leucine. I like the selection of ingredients – whey concentrate+micellar casein (a nice touch over calcium concentrate) plus MCT oil, coconut oil, oat fiber, etc. Also included are robust amounts of vitamins and minerals. Again, seemingly a bit under dosed but when taken as a whole it really made me rethink what I’ve come to believe about training nutrition.
Flavor was chocolate and I mixed it with water and found it to be acceptable – older school in taste and texture, unlike today’s dessert flavors and creaminess. I actually found this went down pretty smooth and like the fact that it’s designed to be taken with water or skim milk.
The System can be purchased directly from SSP for $149.99 and is available in packets or containers. Like I said, I’m sold on the packets. (Although I guess having the flexibility of the canisters would allow you to alter your servings – but I personally think that may defeat a big portion of what makes the System tick – it’s supposed to simplify things, right? Just my two cents). I was also able to find it online for around $99.99. Each tub/box contains 20 workouts so that comes out to $5.00 per training day (1 PRE, 1POST, 1 LEAN MUSCLE serving). At first glance that’s a steep price tag but when you consider what you pay for the individual components it’s not all that high. For example, most pwo’s come in around $1.00 per serving, most intras are the same and then probably about $1.50 or so for protein – so really it’s maybe a dollar or so more per day and frankly, if you are going to sweat the added 20 bucks per month, well buy something else and send me the money instead. (just kidding – but really, feel free to send me your money.) In any case, I will rate this a touch lower because of the higher total price tag but SSP also offers each component separately as well as in different combo packs to suit your individual needs. If SSP would sell this directly for $99.00 I would have zero problems buying this from them and using it. I’m considering using their WORKOUT COMBO which includes packets of PRE and POST and combining that with my RCSS IsoTropic, which I love. Likewise for someone that just absolutely has to have a high stim pwo, they offer a RECOVERY COMBO that includes just the POST and LEAN MUSCLE that you could add your own pwo or intra to. I think that’s a nice bit of flexibility from SSP.
For most of us this will be a new approach to training nutrition. It is certainly a departure from the overblown products that have become so prevalent in the marketplace today – with a single product being all things to all people. I actually like the multi stage delivery aspects of this and I also liked that because of my experience with this, I’ve learned that my current approach to training is considerable over the top in terms of macros. I will say that one caveat that I found is that when using this I had to make sure that I consumed plenty of food during the rest of the day – but after all that is when growth happens as opposed to recovery – not really sure when I forgot that. I also think this would be ideal for recomping or cutting with a program of reduced macros.
Like I said earlier, if you judge each of these 3 products on its own merits and in comparison to other products out there, you will most likely judge them to be overpriced for what you get or in comparison. However, in my opinion, the real benefit here is how SSP has designed 3 separate products to work in synergy with each other and as such, the sum of the parts really is greater than the whole. I have no hesitation to recommend this to you if you can suspend your disbelief of all the marketing that the current crop of supplements has sold you on. I do wish the price was a bit more affordable but other than that I found that I got very solid results and I’m glad that I got a chance to try this and I’m considering adding this into my rotation. I liked this product, sure, but really what I liked was how it provided a positive impact on my training and at the end of the day, that’s all I ask from the products I use.