The Magic of 3FU3L For The Dairy Intolerant
By Elke S. Nelson-Nichols, Ph.D., Founder of ESNFit LLC
When it comes to training, I prefer 3FU3L to any other protein supplement. By now, anyone who knows me knows this.For me, converting from 3FU3L skeptic to avid user has meant more confidence going into workouts, hitting PRs, and experiencing far less soreness. That said, 3FU3L is a grass-fed, whey hydrolysate, which means it’s off limits to all the folks out there who cannot tolerate dairy or choose to avoid it. In fact, even I choose to eliminate dairy for short periods of time throughout the year. While I certainly miss 3FU3L during my dairy hiatuses, performing sans dairy and guiding others who have to perform sans dairy has forced me to think of an effective dairy-free alternative.
3FU3L is unique among protein supplements in its formulation, containing not only protein but also hydroxypropyl distarch-phosphate (HDP) waxy maize, medium chain triglycerides (MCT), and betaine. Therefore, recreating a diary-free version of 3FU3L will require much more finesse than simply subbing your protein source.
Let’s start with HDP waxy maize (i.e. 3CARB). 3CARB was added to 3FU3L to offer a slower and sustained energy source that actually supports fat burning (whereas your typical carbohydrate would stunt it). 3CARB has also been shown to promote muscle hydration. And the best part: 3CARB is entirely dairy-free and available as a standalone supplement, meaning its benefits can be reaped by all!
All the MCT hype
Next we have to consider MCTs (also dairy-free), which are all the hype these days for reasons that make sense—they burn quicker than many other types of fat, they don’t get stored, and they promote ketosis. In the context of 3FU3L, MCTs serve an important role as an immediate source of energy.
The evidence surrounding another 3FU3L ingredient, betaine (a derivative of choline), is less conclusive; nevertheless, it has been touted and included in supplements for its potential to boost muscle strength for reasons that stem from its role as a methyl donor.
The magic of 3FU3L without dairy
To reinvent the magic of 3FU3L—minus dairy—all of its components, including why each one has been added, need to be considered. Let’s recap: 3FU3L provides a dose of easy-to-digest (and complete) protein, quick-burning fats, and slow-burning carbs in the pre-/intra-workout window.
One way to achieve this without dairy is to shake a scoop of 3CARB into your favorite branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement and consume this prior to or during your workout. You can either use a BCAA supplement that contains betaine, or supplement betaine separately, also in the pre-workout window. Depending on what time of day you exercise, you might choose to add MCTs to your morning coffee (my favorite) or mix them in with your BCAA/3CARB pre-workout shake.
For the caffeine addict
For someone looking for a kick of caffeine before exercising, 3CARB can also be mixed into a pre-workout supplement, preferably one that contains betaine and lacks potentially harmful (and often unpronounceable) ingredients. I’ve personally experimented and had success with both combinations: 3CARB plus BCAAs and 3CARB plus a pre-workout (in my case, non-stimulant) supplement that contains betaine. For most people, I also recommend taking an egg- or beef-based protein supplement following vigorous exercise, especially if you choose to mix 3CARB with a pre-workout supplement rather than dose yourself with BCAAs.
While the required amount needed varies from person to person, it is critically important to ensure you’re getting sufficient amino acids to promote muscle protein synthesis. Although you can’t recreate the convenience and deliciousness of 3FU3L, you can still experience its magic through 3CARB (and a couple other choice supplements).