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The Blair Niche Project
Protein supplements were novel in the 1950s, but Rheo Blair created a milk and egg powder that was years ahead of its time.
Rheo H. Blair, a 1950s bodybuilder at a time when the sport was barely a sideshow, was also a pioneer in the nutrition and supplement industry. A nutritionist to major Hollywood stars and bodybuilders, Blair was one of the first to bring protein and other supplements to market.
His flagship product was called Rheo H. Blair’s Instant Protein Supplement and included the following ingredient list: calcium and sodium caseinate (milk protein), low-heat non-fat dry milk, lactalbumin, dried whole eggs, iron phosphate, and natural vanilla flavour. One 30-gram scoop of Blair’s protein provided 17.5 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbs, 0.6 grams of fat and 102 calories.
Blair spent a considerable amount of time perfecting his formula over years while testing it on athletes and bodybuilders. Over time, he believed he had come up with the perfect combination of milk and egg protein to stimulate muscle growth and repair. During his experiences with bodybuilders, he discovered that athletes who consumed high amounts of milk and egg proteins gained significantly more muscle and strength than athletes consuming lower amounts or other primary sources of protein. Even the athletes themselves noticed such a significant difference that the Blair protein powder started to develop a cult like following. In fact, some athletes would consume Blair’s protein as the only source of protein in their diets.
WHY WAS BLAIR’S PROTEIN SO FAR AHEAD OF ITS TIME?
Almost all of the other protein supplements available at the time used soy as the primary protein source. Today milk and egg protein supplements are commonplace, but back in the mid-20th century, Blair was far ahead of his time for using these ingredients. Blair used whole milk and whole eggs in his powder and always believed that it was important to keep these protein sources as close as possible to their natural forms.
Blair ensured that his protein provided a 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. This was novel and unheard of back then. Calcium was known for being important for muscle function and tissue repair. At the time, athletes were concerned about taking in too much phosphorus versus calcium, which they believed could cause anxiety. So Blair’s 2:1 ratio was deemed optimal. Originally, Blair used an artificial sweetener to flavour the product, but he later switched over to a natural sweetener (fructose) and also provided an unflavoured option.
Another major consideration of Blair’s was maintaining the quality of the protein powder. He was ahead of his time again and began using a low-heat processing method to ensure the protein remained undenatured throughout the manufacturing process.
So let’s toast with a protein shake to the OG of protein supplements, Rheo H. Blair, and raise your shaker cup high to the Grandfather of Gains!