Ample Meal Review – Big On Gut Health, But What About Vitamins?

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Ample is one of the newer kids on the block in meal replacements, but the product has a hook: it’s all made from whole foods.

Actually, that’s just one of the hooks. According to their website, there are three main goals with this product: to reduce inflammation, to improve gut health, and to minimize insulin spikes. The company was founded in 2015 by Connor Young, a gentlemen who once ran his own CrossFit gym, who found that most snack bars and meal replacements left his friends feeling drained and with poor digestion.

He decided that instead of condemning packaged foods, he’d change packaged foods, and after a successful crowdfunding campaign he launched Ample. There’s also a Ketogenic version and a vegan version, but we went with the original. We’d heard about this product before, since it’s become relatively commonplace in discussions on meal replacements, but when we received our shipment we were pretty surprised by the nutrition label.

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Ample Nutrition Info

Ample comes in two sizes, 400 calories and 600 calories, and we picked up a 600-calorie bottle. It contains 38 grams of protein, 38 grams of carbohydrates (14 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar), and 33 grams of fat (16 grams saturated fat). There’s no cholesterol at all.

The vitamins and minerals are surprisingly scant. There’s 2 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamins A and C, 4 percent of your calcium, and 15 percent of your iron. That’s it. That’s not a bad hit of iron but for something that describes itself on the website as “perfect nutrition” it’s a little surprising.

Ample's ingredient list

Ample Ingredients

There are quite a few ingredients that I’ll try to separate by category. Note that this is Version 3.1.

Protein: grass-fed whey concentrate, pea protein, grass-fed hydrolyzed collagen protein.
Fats: Coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, omega-3 chia extract
Carbohydrates: Sweet potato powder, tapioca dextrin, organic psyllium husk, chicory root fiber, acacia fiber
Probiotics: 40 billion CFUs from six strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus paracasei, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bacillus coagulans.
Fruits and Veggies: green banana powder, organic wheatgrass, organic barley grass, organic chlorella
Flavorings: dried honey, cocoa powder, lemon juice powder, cinnamon, sea salt, natural flavor, monk fruit extract, stevia extract

Besides some sunflower lecithin that’s pretty much it.

Ample is one of our favorite meal replacements of all time! Check out the rest of the list.

Our review of this meal replacement in a bottle

Ample Benefits & Effectiveness

So these ingredients are all natural, but what does it offer?

There are a few striking aspects. First, I like that it has a good amount of protein, fat, and fiber, making for a meal replacement that won’t leave you feeling hungry and shouldn’t result in a big insulin spike, so Ample succeeded on that front. Many competitors are particularly low in fat, so that aspect was especially refreshing. Note that with all the fiber, the net carbs are relatively low as well at 24 grams.

Then there’s the digestive front. Ample has put a ton of probiotic bacteria in each serving, which could have a lot of health benefits.

They may be extra important for athletes: a 2017 meta analysis that was published in The Journal of Sport and Health Science found that probiotic bacteria could even help to manage exercise-induced stress.(1) It concluded that a healthy and diverse gut could help to improve recovery from workouts by reducing inflammation and improving energy storage. Indeed, inflammation is a huge component of how probiotics may improve health. Chronic inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, and depression, and probiotics were found in some studies to not only reduce inflammation in the gut but also — possibly — to lower the likelihood of depression.(2)(3)(4)(5)

A lot of this research is in its early stages but it’s promising nonetheless. Probiotics are often left out of a lot of meal replacements and coupled with the fiber, Ample has a really impressive commitment to this new frontier of health.

After insulin management and digestive health, Ample says it wants to reduce inflammation with an injection of antioxidants. Now, it does contain a lot of greens that are known to have a lot of antioxidants, which is a plus. That said, we don’t really know how many — they’re not measured. There are ways to measure antioxidants, like the the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale. A cup of blueberries has about 12,000 total ORAC per serving, for instance. It would have been nice to know the ORAC value of Ample.

I wouldn’t normally be bothered by that, except that Ample does have a big flaw: very few vitamins or minerals. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, as are many other vitamins, so I would have felt pretty comfortable on the inflammation front if there were at least a good hit of those micronutrients. But there aren’t any. So Ample certainly has a lot of health benefits and plenty of macronutrients, but you will need to make sure you still eat your fruits and veggies throughout the day to meet your micronutrient requirements.

The label of Ample Meal

Ample Price

After the micronutrients, the price is probably the other main downside. If you buy one six-pack of the 600-calorie shake, it comes out at roughly $7.50 to $8.50 per bottle. If you get a 12-pack the price per serving drops by some 50-ish cents while a whole 60-pack is between $6 and $7. These prices can always change, of course.

You do have options beyond just ordering more and more of the bottles. Subscribing to regular shipments results in a discount of about 10 percent per order, and don’t forget that Ample also has a 400-calorie version that costs between $6 and $7 before the discounts kick in.

The 400-calorie version is indeed cheaper, but it is worth emphasizing that with the average meal replacement costing about $2 or $3 per serving, it’s still an expensive product.

Ample Taste

I loved, loved the flavor. For something that’s proudly “all natural” with no artificial flavors or sweeteners, I confess that I went into the taste test with some trepidation but Ample has a secret weapon: the fat.

That 33 grams of fat really made for a delicious, creamy shake and when it combined with all the cinnamon, honey, and coconut oil, it made for a beverage that tasted pretty akin to liquid shortbread or Graham crackers. I genuinely look forward to drinking this, though I probably wouldn’t be quite so glad to drink this thick, buttery shake on a hot day.

The Takeaway

Pros

  • No artificial ingredients
  • Good balance of fat, protein, carbs, and fiber
  • Contains probiotic bacteria
  • May provide antioxidants

Cons

  • Pricy
  • Not a good source of vitamins or minerals
  • No mention of Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Antioxidants not quantified

Most people want a meal replacement for micronutrients first, macronutrients second. If that’s you, Ample might not be your favorite meal replacement. Despite its baffling claim of “perfect nutrition,” there are next to no vitamins and minerals here.

What I think it is good for is a well-rounded diet that needs some extra calories between meals, for people looking to improve their gut health, or for people who are trying to lose weight. This is a very satiating drink and it’s easy to consume on the go as well.

If if you keep an eye on your fruit and vegetable intake and just want something healthy to tide you over between meals, Ample has a solid amount of calories and macronutrients, won’t leave you hungry, tastes awesome, and it definitely succeeds on the digestive health front.

References

1. Mach, N. et al. Endurance exercise and gut microbiota: A review. Journal of Sport and Health Science, Vol 6. No. 2 pp.179-197
2. Le Chatelier, E. et al. Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. Nature. 2013 Aug 29;500(7464):541-6.
3. Carvalho, B.M. et al. Influence of gut microbiota on subclinical inflammation and insulin resistance. Mediators Inflamm. 2013;2013:986734.
4. Plaza-Diaz, J. et al. Evidence of the Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Probiotics and Synbiotics in Intestinal Chronic Diseases. Nutrients. 2017 Jun; 9(6): 555.
5. Messaoudi, M. et al. Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2011 Mar;105(5):755-64.

Ample

Per Serving:~$8
8

Ingredients

10.0/10

Effectiveness

7.0/10

Price

5.0/10

Taste

10.0/10

Pros

  • Big emphasis on digestive health
  • All whole food ingredients
  • May provide antioxidants

Cons

  • Pricy
  • Not a good source of vitamins or minerals
  • Not a great source of omega-3

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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of different kinds of things, but his passion for health ultimately led him to cover it full time.Shanghai was where he managed to publish his first health related article (it was on managing diarrhea), he then went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before he finished his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and headed to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.Nick’s interest in health kind of comes from an existential angle: how are we meant to live? How do we reach our potential? Does the body influence the mind? (Believe it or not, his politics Master’s focused on religion.)Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.