MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder Review

I continue my relentless sailing through the crowded sea that is the protein powder marketplace.

And in this article I review MusclePharm’s Combat Protein Powder with the Cookies ‘N’ Cream flavor, which the wife snagged for me during her last Costco run.

(They have it in a 6 lb. bag and it’s currently on sale; see pic. This Combat protein was on a pallet by the supplements section.)

MusclePharm at Costco - Combat Protein Powder Review - heydayDo image

 

Combat review summary

MusclePharm’s Combat Protein Powder has 5 types of protein in it:
* whey hydrolysate
* whey isolate
* whey concentrate
* egg white
* micellar casein

 

It delivers 25 grams of protein per serving, comes in 4 flavors, and is one of the inexpensive best-sellers on the supplement market these days.

 

Combat Protein Powder has very good buyers’ ratings, with over 6,200 reviewers across the online universe giving it 4.5⭐. 

 

Its protein % per serving is on the low end at 71%, and this is mainly due to the ingredients used for flavoring.

 

 

 

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Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science & medical resources, clinical studies, and nutritional data used in this article.

 

 

What’s next

Next I’ll go over Combat Protein Powder’s ingredients & nutrition profile in detail.

I’ll also discuss other important qualities like taste, mix-ability, & cost.

 

Optimum Nutrition vs. MusclePharm

And later on I’ll compare this MusclePharm protein blend to another one: O.N.’s Gold Standard Whey, also a Costco favorite & the biggest-selling whey blend in the world.

 

Shop Now Rogue Fitness

 

 

MusclePharm Combat Protein Review

Note:

* Combat Protein Powder is not be confused with another MusclePharm product whose package looks very similar, Combat 100% Whey.

 

 

* Very good buyer satisfaction rating of 89% & 4.5⭐ overall for the 4 flavors combined:

Chocolate Peanut Butter   92%  4.6⭐  300+ reviews

Vanilla   90%  4.6⭐  1,000+

Chocolate Milk   89%  4.5⭐  2,100+

Cookies N Cream   88%  4.5⭐  1,500+

(data source: MusclePharm page on Amazon)

 

* 25 g of protein per 35 g serving size

* Very good EAAs & BCAAs per serving

* Not a pure protein; 20+ non-protein ingredients

 

Combat protein nutrition facts

MusclePharm Combat Protein Nutrition Facts - heydayDo image

 

* 71% protein per serving by weight

* Carbs, fat, & sugar per serving higher than pure protein powders, but lower than the really processed junk

* Same goes for the sodium level

 

Combat protein amino acid profile

MusclePharm doesn’t put an amino acids profile panel on their Combat protein packaging or on their website.

No worries. I wrote to them asking for one, and they were quick to email it to me.

Here it is:

MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder amino acid profile - heydayDo image

 

Takeaways

  • Very good amino acid profile
  • 11.8 grams of EAAs (essential amino acids)
  • 5.4 grams of BCAAs (branched-chain aminos)

 

Combat protein powder ingredients

Note: This is for the Cookies N Cream version that I got.

MusclePharm Combat protein powder ingredients - heydayDo image

 

Main takeaway: lots of stuff in it

Looking at the long ingredients list, I can separate it into 4 main groups pretty easily:

  • The protein: wheys, casein, & egg whites
  • The Cookies N Cream recipe
  • All the fillers, artificial flavors, & artificial sweeteners
  • Amino spiking

 

Combat Protein

Combat’s 5-protein blend consists of:

* the 3 types of whey, concentrate, hydrolysate, & isolate (1)

* the slow-digesting milk product, micellar casein (2)

* egg whites (3)

 

Note: Since this “Microfiltered Protein Blend” that MusclePharm came up with falls under the FDA’s proprietary blend guidelines, they don’t have to disclose the quantity of each ingredient. (4)

 

Cookies N Cream recipe ingredients

The Cookies N Cream flavor has 11 different things in it, including sugar, palm oil, salt, & soy.

It’s important to know these ingredients are not in large quantities; it’s just the flavoring part of the Combat Protein Powder.

But also — for some of us, it’s equally important to know that they’re even in there at all.

 


 

 

Ingredients that some people might not want

Aside from what’s in the Cookies N Cream flavorings, there are a few ingredients to point out in case there’s something you’d like to avoid.

* Soy lecithin is a soy-based food additive in the emulsifier family, meaning it is used to help the powder blend more easily with liquids. (5)

* Sucralose – also known as Splenda, it’s an artificial sweetener that the FDA approved yet its safety is oft-questioned by other health authorities. (6)

* Acesulfame Potassium – another artificial sweetener questioned by some nutrition researchers. (7)

 

 

Amino spiking?

MusclePharm adds extra amounts of 4 amino acids to their Combat Protein Powder during manufacturing, beyond what naturally comes from the proteins in it.

They are the 3 branched-chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, & valine, plus the non-essential amino acid l-glutamine.

Adding the BCAAs improves Combat Protein Powder’s amino acid profile, specifically its EAA & BCAA numbers.

Adding the glutamine raises the grams of protein per serving number.

 

L-Glutamine

L-glutamine gets mentioned at the gym as either a performance enhancer for weightlifters, or as a training recovery aid. (8)

Some supplement makers picked up on this chatter & sought to capitalize on it, and here we are. 😉

But extensive sports science research on the effectiveness of l-glutamine for providing these fitness benefits just doesn’t support the Bro Gym Whisperers’ claims, according to the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition). (9)

 

 

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Combat protein taste, mix-ability, & cost

Besides the nutrition side of things, there are a few other qualities about protein powders that I think are worth considering:

  • taste
  • mix-ability
  • cost

 

Taste

Disclaimer: I have finicky taste buds. I think it’s because I’ve eaten real clean for so long, but I’m not sure. And they can pick off an artificial sweetener from a mile away too…

 

It’s a taste test, so I mixed the Cookies N Cream with plain water, and it was easy for me to drink.

I don’t like it much, but I’m picky as heck.

It has an artificial vibe that my taste buds notice, and I’m fairly certain that is due to the double combo of synthetic sweeteners, sucralose & acesulfame potassium.

 

But it wasn’t over-the-top, and mixing it in with smoothie ingredients like fruit & spinach covered its artificial flavor just fine.

 

 

 

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Mix-ability

Combat Protein Powder mixed very easily & very quickly with only a few of the teeniest-sized (non-offensive) clumps.

After another couple of shakes, all was dissolved.

 

How I check a powder’s blend-friendliness

I use plain water — just a cup of it — when I’m product-testing all these protein powders.

Put the water in a shaker bottle, add the powder (without a whisk ball, I don’t like those things for some reason), and give ‘er a go.

I stop every few seconds and take a swig to see what the clump factor is.

Keep shakin’ til the deed is done.

 

 

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Cost

Combat Protein Powder’s cost per gram of actual protein –not gram of powder — is 3¢.

In case you’re wondering — that’s on the inexpensive side of the protein powder scale.

And in my humble opinion 3¢ per protein gram is appropriate for a blended protein that has a lot of processed things in it like Combat Protein Powder does.

 

As you’ll see a little later in a head-to-head product comparison, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey costs about the same, just a teeny bit cheaper.

 

Cost per recommended serving

So when I standardize that to a 25 grams of protein serving size, we see the cost/serving is 75¢ (25 x 3).

Why use 25 grams?

In their Position Stand on Nutrient Timing for athletes & weightlifters, the ISSN recommends dosing protein every few hours using 20-30 grams per serving. (10)

 

Note: Most people who’ve been lifting for awhile are aware of the benefits of this several small protein doses per day protocol, in the neighborhood of 20-30 grams a pop.

 

 

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Cost comparison vs. similar powders

per 25g of protein

 

Here’s how Combat compares to 2 other very popular protein powders, Syntha-6 and Body Fortress Super Advanced.

I chose those two because they’re similar to Combat Protein Powder: all 3 are heavily processed and also spiked with the amino acid l-glutamine.

  • Combat Protein Powder   75¢
  • Syntha-6   $1.18
  • Body Fortress Super Advanced   $1.56
You can see Combat Protein Powder is quite a bit cheaper than two of its closest competitors. 

 

 


 

 

Optimum Nutrition vs. MusclePharm

Optimum Nutrition vs Musclepharm - heydayDo image

“Battle of the Best-Selling Blends”

 

Here’s a head-to-head comparison of two of the biggest-selling protein powders, Musclepharm’s Combat Protein Powder and Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey.

 

Buyer ratings

MusclePharm Combat   89%,  4.5– 6,200+ reviews

O.N. Gold Standard Whey   90%,  4.6⭐ – 27,000+ reviews

 

Protein, EAAs, & BCAAs

Protein % per serving

MusclePharm Combat   71%  (25g/35g scoop)

O.N. Gold Standard Whey   79%  (24g/30.4g scoop)

 

Essential Amino Acids (per serving)

MusclePharm Combat   11.8 grams**

O.N. Gold Standard Whey   11 grams

 

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (per serving)

MusclePharm Combat   5.4 grams**

O.N. Gold Standard Whey   5.5 grams

** – higher due to extra aminos added during manufacturing.

 

Ingredients

Optimum Nutrition Whey ingredients vs MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder - heydayDo image - heydayDo image

 

* We see that Gold Standard is also processed though not as heavily, as it contains far fewer synthetic ingredients.

* Both contain fillers, with Combat using more per serving than Optimum Nutrition as evidenced by its lower protein % per serving (71% vs. 79%).

 

 

Optimum Nutrition vs MusclePharm Combat - heydayDo image

Calories

Combat Protein Powder   140

O.N. Gold Standard   120

 

Carbs

Combat Protein Powder   5 g

O.N. Gold Standard   3 g

 

Fat

Combat Protein Powder   2 g

O.N. Gold Standard   1.5 g

 

Sugar

Combat Protein Powder   2 g

O.N. Gold Standard   1 g

 

Sodium

Combat Protein Powder   100 mg

O.N. Gold Standard   50 mg

 

 

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Taste

My taste buds voted for Optimum Nutrition’s Double Rich Chocolate, since it had a more natural chocolate-y flavor than Combat.

And though I can taste O.N.’s artificial sweeteners too, they’re not as forward as they are in the Cookies N Cream.

 

 

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Mix-ability

Again using just 8 oz. of water, both powders mix easily in a shaker bottle without a whisk ball.

The Gold Standard chocolate probably wins this by a hair, since it had zero clumping going on after just a few shakes.

There were just a few teeny tiny ones in the Combat at the same point.

 

MusclePharm uses a bigger scoop

Combat protein’s serving size is over 15% larger than Optimum Nutrition’s (35g vs. 30g).

You can tell by looking at their scoops side by side.

Combat Protein vs Gold Standard Whey scoops - heydayDo image

 

So in only 8 oz. of water it’s not much of a surprise that the Combat had a couple of unmixed specks, who weren’t a bother at all anyway.

 

 

 

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Combat vs O.N. cost/serving comparison

After doing my math I found that Combat & Gold Standard cost about the same per serving:

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey   70¢

MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder   75¢

 

Notes:

* My definition of ‘serving’ here is 25 grams of actual protein, not 25g of powder.

* For the cost comparison I used the 4 lb. can of Combat and the 5 lb. can of Gold Standard, priced at $39.25 & $49.49 respectively, at the time.

(Bear in mind prices online are always changing…)

 

 

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Summary Gold Standard vs Combat

* Both Combat & Gold Standard protein powders are inexpensive, popular, and among the top-selling protein powders today.

* Neither is a pure protein powder, since both have fillers & artificial flavors.

* Currently, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard whey costs a nickel less than Combat for every 25 gram serving of protein.

* Gold Standard has a higher protein % per serving, so it delivers the same amount of protein per serving with 15% less non-protein ingredients.

* Combat & Gold Standard whey provide similar (& very good) amounts of essential amino acids and BCAAs.

See O.N. reviews & price

See Combat reviews & price

 

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Wrapping Up

Lil Boji and Combat Protein Powder - heydayDo

I hope that my product review article on MusclePharm’s Combat Protein Powder is useful to you, and that the comparison to Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard is helpful too.

I wish you well on your fitness journey; let’s go.

-greg

July 2020

 

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About Me

heydayDo author Greg Simon
Hi I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. Surfer. Organic food & wine grower. Guitarist. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far).

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About heydayDo

heydayDo is my “fitness after 50” website that’s about embracing the physically active lifestyle as we get older.
 
It’s an information-sharing, personal opinion blog of mine.
 
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heydayDo began as a daily journal I kept as I recovered from the latest of many heart operations I’ve had to deal with since birth. 
 
I have a deep interest in learning about nutrition & fitness, and applying it to improve my quality of life.
 
I believe this knowledge can help me be the healthiest & strongest version of me as I can, even in the face of inborn heart disease.
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The 60-year-old version of me, January 2020

So when I get curious about something, I’ll dig into whatever sports science & medical facts there are on the topic to learn what’s real & what’s hype.
 
Here on heydayDo I share what I’ve learned from my fitness, health, & nutrition research with whoever drops by.