Let me start out by declaring that I am not an unbiased reviewer.  I first met HEAL founder Paul Tylla at the 2016 CanWest Games where he took 2nd place in the men’s 40-49 division.  Chatting over lunch I learned that the Sheep Dog CrossFit representative is an active fire chief, a former sponsored triathlete and that much of his “spare” time was spent caring for his ex-wife who was dying of ALS.  So, basically a real life hero AND a saint.

Paul has remained among the top men locally and worldwide in the competitive master’s men 45-49 division and once again claimed 2nd place at this year’s CanWest Games.  But his real break-out performance in 2019 was the launch of his product HEAL which was made available to athletes for the first time at their booth in the CanWest vendor village.

HEAL is the meal replacement Paul developed for his ex-wife when she could no longer eat solid foods.  Disgusted by the synthetic, sugary products available commercially as meal replacements, Paul designed a product made of only the best, real-food, ingredients because the sick and suffering deserve good quality nutritional options too.  This is not a supplement, this is a meal replacement governed under the food act, held to much higher standards and sold, tax-free, as a food product.

As a competitive athlete, Paul also recognized the potential for his product in the athletic market as athletes often struggle to get enough quality feedings between taxing training sessions.  To test it, he and his partners lived for 30 days consuming nothing but their HEAL-in-a-Meal product reporting positive results.

Unable to eat enough solid food between events at the 2018 CanWest Games, Silk really struggled on day 3.  This year, thanks to HEAL, Silk was able to refuel between events with the liquid meal replacement and exhibited much better recovery and a strong finish on day 3.  Hers was the first positive endorsement of the product.

This August Sunghee and I decided to test the product ourselves.  We ordered a case to avail ourselves of the wholesale discount, a savings we were able to pass on to early-adopter Empower members who shared our interest in testing HEAL.

Why test it?  Athletes are often deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.  Tracking micronutrients on My Fitness Pal revealed that I often struggled to get enough iron or calcium while staying within my prescribed macros.  But what about minerals that athletes are often deficient in that the app doesn’t track like zinc and magnesium?  Was I getting enough from food sources?  Mineral content of real foods has dropped precipitously in the past century, how can I be sure?  Supplements are often poorly absorbed by the body which evolved to extract nutrients from real foods.  On the other hand, over-supplementation can sometimes result in toxicity.

So for me, HEAL is a hedge against deficiency.  The vitamin and mineral contest is listed so I know how much I’m getting and as they’re being delivered in their original food sources, hopefully my body can use them.  Combined with my diet of real food, this should cover all the nutrient requirements of my training regimen.

Women Read No Further, Men Only Past This Point
Testosterone is critical for performance and recovery but is often low in athletes as the demands of training cause competition for the building blocks required to make testosterone.  For this reason, aging male athletes often turn to testosterone replacement therapy which causes its own set of problems.  A better solution is to make sure you are getting enough of the nutrients required to support high activity levels AND testosterone production.

Checking this for women is not so simple which is why I’ve suggested they skip this section but men come conveniently equipped with their own T-level barometers.  Remember in your 20’s when you’d awake each dawn flag flying high, national anthem throbbing patriotically through your veins?  By the time you reach your 40’s, you might be delighted to wake one lucky morning to a half-mast salute.

Now, I don’t want to exaggerate results, rest assured that little blue pill manufacturers are not losing sleep over threats to their market share, but it is worth noting that my daily half dose of HEAL seems to nudge the needle (barometer metaphor, not a comment on personal proportions) in the right direction.  And before all the men over 40 buy out our HEAL supply let me remind you: results might vary between individuals!

Final Assessment
How has HEAL affected my performances?  I’ve scored some personal bests such as Saved by the Bell, Nancy and Fat Nancy but I’ve had some personal worsts such as Filthy 50 and Barbara.  On the balance, I’m performing better than average but my performance in the gym has not altered as dramatically as when I switched to macros.  So real food still rules.

To the positive, adding just half the recommended dose of HEAL to my post-WOD smoothie has made it easier to hit all my macros including the micronutrients, without force-feeding.  It has made macro-tracking easier and provided some peace of mind.

I will continue onto my second tub of HEAL this time testing the recommended full dose.  If there are any big changes I’ll report back.

We’re just about out of tubs but based on demand we will place an order for another case soon.  Meanwhile, if you’re on the fence but want to give it a try, ask your coach for a free sample pack.