My Experience with Wilderness Athlete in Iraq
Written By: Jeffrey M. Jones
(Surveying Bridge in Mosul)
I was mobilized to Active Duty leading a United States Army Reserve Engineer Detachment in December 2016. I had been a Wilderness Athlete customer for about three years at this point, using their products sporadically over the course of normal life. I decided to go all-in during the deployment to Iraq, as I would have ample time for diet and fitness experimentation. I did not document all quantitative facts along the way, so my reviews will intertwine both qualitative and quantitative perspectives based on my experience. This nine-month experiment consisted of a recurring order for the following supplements, utilizing them as described on the label (mostly): multi-vitamin, fish oil, nighttime optimizer, probiotic, hydrate and recover, energy and focus, brute force, brute strength, joint advantage, and lean life.
I will attempt to describe each supplement, the intended effect, and my viewpoint on actual performance.
First, the Brute Force pre-workout. Prior to this deployment, I had not been in the gym for a serious workout with weights for years – mainly doing aerobic and body weight resistance training. During this tour, I decided to make a focused effort to not only experiment with my diet but see what a weight regime could do for my overall fitness level. I started with an intense five-week core workout to set the stage and moved from there to progressive failure style, traditional free weight, and dumbbell movements. I used the BF pre-workout religiously, and when my stocks ran out prior to re-deployment, I could tell a significant difference in my ability to maintain intensity in the latter half of my workouts. I utilized some other brands of pre-workout during this time and felt they made me too jittery. BFPW mixes thin, so I never felt bloated to start my workout.
(Completing Train Up)
Brute Strength: I added Brute Strength to the overall supplement regime during this experiment as well. I tried several different brands of protein during this year, and Wilderness Athlete Brute Strength has by far the best taste and consistency. This shake is thick when mixed with water, but where I found it to really shine was mixed with soy milk. This jumped the protein up to 36g per serving, and just tasted great. Over the final six weeks of my tour, I also made an effort to really increase the intensity of my workouts and protein intake, drinking two shakes per day. I noticed a significant increase in mass during this time, but most importantly my recovery time was very short.
Joint Advantage: As a 26-year veteran of the US Army, my knees are shot, my shoulders hurt, and I am generally pretty creaky. I have used just about every supplement on the market advertised to improve joint function, pain, and inflammation. In short, WA Joint Advantage is the best joint function supplement I have ever used. I take three in the morning, and three at night and have noticed significantly improved range of motion combined with a reduction in inflammatory pain that follows strenuous events. While I have no scientific basis to back this up, the difference could be the addition of turmeric extract to the blend, as all others I have used have only been glucosamine heavy. If I had to give up all other supplements to only take one the rest of my life, this is it.
Nighttime Optimizer (now Midnight Build): When combined with Joint Advantage, I never experienced a morning where I felt getting out of bed would hurt more than normal or be too tough. Given the short times we had to operate on sites, the ability to go 100% each day was critical. Using NO, daily muscle soreness became a non-factor after the most intense periods of physical activity.
Hydrate and Recover: I started with the lemon-lime, and loved it so much I wrote to WA about how disappointed I was they were discontinuing it. I enjoy the fact H&R has less sugar than other products and does not have a syrupy/viscous taste when mixed. Only recently have I been educated on the potential BCAAs have for improving health and fitness processes, so their inclusion in Hydrate & Recover is important to me as well. Iraq is pretty hot; extremely hot, actually. I would drink at least three Strawberry Granadas a day and did not ever feel like I needed additional hydration. The flavor is great and makes me want to drink more water. I like this so much my daughter gets a serving of “daddy hydration drink” every day.
(Packing for a Mission)
Energy and Focus: I will admit that I was not sold on E&F after my first experience several years ago. I was determined to not fall into the energy drink cycle of madness during this tour, and I wanted to reduce my coffee intake which history says is measured in pots-per-day vice cups-per-day. The Superman (one scoop E&F, one scoop H&R) became my go-to drink. The flavor combination between Tropical Fusion and Strawberry Granada is dead on, and I found myself craving this mix each afternoon. I would also supplement my Brute Force pre-workout with one-to-two scoops of E&F for an extra bump on those days that I just couldn’t get pumped to hit the gym. E&F carried me through 16+ hour workdays for 270 days without a break, and will now take a spot on my desk as an afternoon jump start as I return to office life.
Probiotic: This was my first experience with a probiotic, and It has been a good one. I can tell my digestive function has improved based on the consistency of my by-products, and nutritional uptake has to be better based on what I am seeing and feeling. I have spent over 20 months in Iraq over the last two tours, and one commonality is the very loose stool. This product has solved that problem.
Lean Life: I was first introduced to this when I tried out the 28 Day Challenge several years ago. I went back to it for this tour for several reasons: 1) people are great to us, and send us LOTS of snacks. I wanted to use LL to assist with resisting the urge for “nervous eating”; 2) We have unlimited servings and very large portions. It is very easy to overeat in that environment, even when working (and working out) for extended intensity and durations; 3) I also think LL helps my digestive function, as I notice a distinct difference when I am not using it.
I also used the High-Performance Multivitamin and the Omega-3 Fish Oil. The High-Performance Multivitamin has been a daily for me over the last three years, and I like this Fish Oil as it leaves zero aftertaste.
Overall results: I went in at 175lbs with my lowest weight at 163lbs. I left at 170lbs, gaining seven pounds of muscle over the final six weeks. I attribute this to the increased protein intake, but also the fact that I was never so sore that I couldn’t go work hard. From May to August I increased my one-rep-max bench press to 250lbs, decreased my two-mile run time to sub-16:00 minutes (over a one-minute improvement), and knocked out over 70 pushups and sit-ups each during our final physical fitness test. Blood pressure was 124/70 and resting heart rate was 51 bpm…. both significantly improved prior to starting the deployment, and pretty good for a 43-year-old male.
Summary: I used this deployment to really put the entire suite of WA products to the test, and they did not fail me. I have used them in the Colorado wilderness, dense forests of the Southeast, the desert of Iraq, and working in the yard at home. They have increased my ability to perform and recover from all physical functions. I recommend each of these products a-la-carte for their individual qualities, and the suite of products for overall health and fitness improvement.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.