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FastFuel Complete | Not Your Average Meal Replacement

I love real food. I recommend people eat real food as much as possible. That said, there are times when a protein shake is a fantastic option. However, just like with food options, there is a variety of quality when it comes to meal replacements. That’s why a lot of thought went into the development of FastFuel Complete. We first began offering FastFuel Complete a couple years ago and have tweaked and improved it during that time to arrive today at what we feel is a superior, great-tasting, complete protein powder/meal replacement powder. Each of the major components were specifically chosen to provide unique health benefits in an easy to mix powder. The following sections outline what makes FastFuel Complete so…complete, whether your goal is weight management, performance enhancement or vitality & health.

Whey Protein

Whey protein has consistently grown in popularity over the past few years. The demand has grown so much that the actual cost of whey has risen by about 60% in just the past year! Whey protein is made from separating whey from casein in cheese. Protein alone has a number of health benefits such as supporting lean body mass, increasing satiety and helping to regulate blood sugar. Whey protein is a great protein source, but it also has some unique properties of its own. It was recently shown to help reduce body fat percentage when it was used in place of other protein sources.[i] That means there’s something unique in whey that aids in reducing body composition, though the researchers weren’t able to identify the exact mechanism. Whey protein also stimulates protein synthesis (helps build muscle) better than casein, the other protein in dairy.[ii] It also seems to have a greater effect of raising metabolic rate than casein or soy protein, which would help explain why it helps in reducing body fat percentage.[iii] Each serving of FastFuel Complete provides 30 grams of protein.

Coconut Creamer

In the newest revision to our formulation, we took out the sunflower oil we used before and made sure the only source of fat other than the fat in that comes in the whey came from coconut. This was an exciting change as coconut is known for being such a great fat source. Coconut is rich in a unique type of saturated fat called medium-chain triglyceride (MCT). MCTs are quickly used for energy by the body. MCTs have also been shown to help raise metabolic rate. In addition, coconut has anti-viral properties and as a bonus, adds to the great taste of FastFuel Complete.


Dietary fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, but most people don’t get close to enough. When they do, it’s often from nutrient-poor packaged foods and cereals. Dietary recommendations are to shoot for 25-35 grams of fiber per day, so when we were formulating FastFuel Complete, we knew we wanted to include a substantial amount. We wanted to select a fiber source that actually had clinical research supporting its use and decided on Sunfiber.® Sunfiber® is a unique fiber source, coming from guar gum and has solid research to back up its use. We put five grams of Sunfiber® into the formula.

When some fibers are taken in excess, they can cause digestive issues, but that’s not the case with Sunfiber. In addition, Sunfiber has been shown to help increase the absorption of two important minerals – calcium and magnesium. Finally, it helps to reduce the glycemic index of foods in the diet. That means blood sugar levels don’t rise as quickly, which helps to keep insulin levels lower, allowing the body to burn more fat during the day. A fiber-rich diet helps to control appetite as well.  You can learn more about this fiber source at the Sunfiber website.


Glutamine has been popular in sports performance channels for quite some time. Glutamine is a “conditionally essential” amino acid, meaning at certain times, the body cannot produce enough to meet the body’s needs. Under times of physical stress, it can be used up quickly. It has more of a story than just sports performance, though. It has been shown to help in regulating blood-sugar levels following a meal.[iv] A small study found it also increased acute levels of growth hormone with a dose of just two grams.[v] Of greater benefit is glutamine’s effect on the digestive system. A significant portion of our immune system is found in the gut, and if it becomes permeable, bacteria and even food particles can enter the blood stream. Glutamine is an important aid for the digestive tract and helps to reduce the permeability of the intestinal wall.[vi]

Digestive Enzyme Blend

Digestive health is obviously an important consideration in the FastFuel Complete formulation. Fiber helps with adding bulk to the diet and helps to move food through the digestive system. Glutamine helps repair damage to the digestive system. Then, we added a digestive enzyme blend to aid in the breakdown of the nutrients in FastFuel Complete (and anything else added to it). Protein, fat and carbohydrate all require enzymes to help break them down. If individuals lack any of these enzymes, they can have a harder time breaking down the nutrients into absorbable bundles of energy.

Fruit & Vegetable Blend

Finally, we wanted to include some extra antioxidants with a fruit and vegetable blend. Most people don’t come close to meeting their fruit and vegetable needs each day. The fruit and vegetable blend is not intended in any way to replace the 9-11 servings of vegetables and fruit you should eat each day. It’s merely added to the formula to help enhance what you should be getting from whole foods.

Four Great Flavors

We first offered FastFuel Complete in November of 2009 with chocolate and vanilla flavors. We tweaked the formula a couple times over the past couple year, removing any artificial ingredients and changing the sweetener to Stevia and organic coconut palm sugar. This past November we introduced two new amazing flavors – Caramel Cappuccino and Orange Cream. The response to these two new flavors has been tremendous. With four flavor options, you shouldn’t get tired of making shakes any time soon.

As good as the formulation is, it’s also great to know there are no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. There are some all-natural products available for supplements, but the majority today still contain ingredients like Sucralose (Splenda), Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K) or other artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors. Our goal has been to give you as much “good for you” ingredients and avoid anything that’s possible “bad for you.” You can find FastFuel Complete at LifeCafe or in the Life Time Fitness Online Store.

If you have a favorite way of making FastFuel Complete, share it in the comment section below.

Written by Tom Nikkola – Director of Nutrition & Weight Management 

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. 

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

[i] Baer DJ, Stote KS, Paul DR, et al. Whey Protein but Not Soy Protein Supplementation Alters Body Weight and Composition in Free-Living Overweight and Obese Adults. J Nutr. 2011;141(8):1489-1494

[ii] Pennings B, Boirie Y, Senden JMG, et al. Whey protein stimulates postprandial muscle protein accretion more effectively than do casein and casein hydrolysate in older men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(4):997-1005

[iii] Acheson KJ, Blondel-Lubrano A, Oguey-Araymon S, et al. Protein choices targeting thermogenesis and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(3):525-534

[iv] Samocha-Bonet D, Wong O, Synnott E-L, et al. Glutamine Reduces Postprandial Glycemia and Augments the Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Response in Type 2 Diabetes Patients. J Nutr. 2011; 141(7):1233-1238

[v] Welbourne TC. Increased plasma bicarbonate and growth hormone after an oral glutamine load. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;61:1058-61

[vi] Dos Santos RG, Viana ML, Generoso SV, Arantes RE, Davisson Correia MI, Cardoso VN. Glutamine supplementation decreases intestinal permeability and preserves gut mucosa integrity in an experimental mouse model. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2010;34(4):408-13

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Reader Comments (17)

Wish there was a dairy-free version of this product!

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracie

We're working on one. Do you have to avoid all dairy?

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom Nikkola

The only thing I can tolerate dairy-wise is butter - which has none of the proteins. I do use the vegamax but it's not the complete meal thing and does get old after a while.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracie

Gotcha. I can't promise when it would be available, but we're working on a dairy-free FastFuel Complete.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom Nikkola

Well, that's great news - at least its in the pipeline! :) Something to look forward to. Yay!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracie Tipton

The cappucino fast fuel mixed with unsweetened almond milk, a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and a couple dashes of cinnamon is delicious!

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeni

Is FastFuel lactose free? Unlike the other Tracie, I can do dairy, but not lactose.

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracy

There is a small amount of lactose from the whey. Many people with a lactose intolerance find they can digest it well, but not everyone. If you're a member at Life Time, you could order a FastFuel shake made with water in LifeCafe to see how you do with it. Of course, if you get a bottle and it doesn't work out for you, you can return it for a refund as well.

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom Nikkola

Thanks, Tom. I'll give it a try!

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracy

Hi Tom. I noticed you wrote that " In the newest revision to our formulation, we took out the sunflower oil we used before and made sure the only source of fat other than the fat in that comes in the whey came from coconut." I just bought a new fastfuel complete today, and noticed it still has sunflower oil listed in the ingredient list. Should I return it? Is the new formulation out? How will I be able to tell it is the new formulation.

Looking forward to your reply!

p.s. I just found Vanessa's site and I love it!. I am so inspired by her approach to life! Thank you keep up the good work!

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlma

Alma: For the chocolate and vanilla flavors, we'll be introducing the newer version as we use up the current. The new flavors (Caramel Cappuccino and Orange Cream) do not have the sunflower oil and do have more of the coconut, but the chocolate and vanilla may not just yet. No need to return - it's still an outstanding product. Even our 15 year old son has one each day. Thanks for the comments.

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom Nikkola

Can this product be added to smoothies for kids 9 and under. I have a small 9 year old who I am always trying to get to eat more calories. I also have 7 and 4 who would want the smoothie too. Please advise

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaty domschot

Katy: I know quite a few people who use it for their kids. The Orange Cream is especially popular with kids. The great thing is you don't need to add any sugar-loaded juice or extras if you don't want to, as it tastes great with water and ice, although you may decide to toss in some extra fruit or whole milk.

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom Nikkola

Hi, Tom.
I've been using Fast Fuel for several years now. I have one for breakfast every day. My neighbor sells Body by Vi Shakes. They are Gluten Free as well. Do you know how they compare to LTF fast fuel? They act like theirs is nothing but nutrition....I'm very skeptical. Please let me know your thoughts.

May 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

Good question, Connie. Other popular meal replacement shakes may contain alternative (read cheaper) sources of protein such as highly processed (and often genetically modified) soy proteins. If you compare the ingredient lists, you can start to recognize which powder is full of fluff and which one is right down to business about 'replacing' that meal you just didn't have time to prepare. You can see by reading about Fast Fuel Complete in the article above that meticulous care when into the design of this product, particularly because Life Time Members are busy & productive but also demand the best for their bodies to remain resilient and healthy. Inferior protein sources just can't stack up in the long run.

Additionally, to truly 'replace' a meal, you'd want to substitute at least as much protein as an adequate meal would provide; for most active adults this is somewhere around 20-40g per meal (i.e. ~4oz of chicken supplies on average about 30g of protein) while the brand you mention is designed to deliver just under 20g and a measly 100calories or so (for more on why it's just NOT smart to base food decisions solely on calories, simply search 'calories' in the search bar at the top of this webpage). Simply put, these calorie-restricted pseudo-snacks are repeatedly proven to be an inferior way to retain healthy, lean tissue on a weight loss journey. We cannot cheat our bodies out of calories too quickly on a weight loss or fat loss plan, unless we want to also lose muscle mass, energy, positive thought processes and also risk hanging on to loose skin.

I hope these thoughts resonate with you as you choose the best option for you. In the case you've only come up with more questions, please visit your nearest Weight Loss Coach or Registered Dietitian.

May 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Kriegler, RD/LD

I went to look at the Fastfuel in the online store, and I can't find anywhere how big the container is, or how many servings it provides. At $60, I would need to know how long this would last me before purchasing.

Also, all protein drinks claim to taste great, but we all know their statements are not true. How much different does Fastfuel taste from others on the market?

Thank you!

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

@Valerie, I've had the chocolate and vanilla flavors and try really do taste as food as they say. I add milk to my protein drinks and have also added frozen fruits, either way, it's yummy!!! My 13 year old baseball player drinks a shake every morning and 1/2 before a workout and 1/2 after his workout. This stuff is truly amazing, I highly recommend it!!!

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna F.

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