Much of the online interest in Rheo Blair is focused on his protein powder, but with this comes a couple of misconceptions. I want to deal with each of these briefly so you will see Blair's use of protein in building bodies -- and building health in general -- in the context he intended.
First, there was no one, single Rheo Blair protein powder. You may have seen references to "the" Blair protein, or "the" Blair formula. In reality, there were many Rheo Blair protein formulas over the years.
In my time with him, for example, (I met him in 1978) he had three primary formulas all, to my knowledge, based on the "mother's milk" concept. First there was a white powder formula which was available at health food stores and from various distributors and other sources. This was his basic, and least expensive, formula intended for general distribution. At the same time, he offered his private clients two additional grades of protein, which he nicknamed "Extra Special" and "Super Extra Special" reflecting, respectively, the level of egg yolk content in the mix. The Extra Special was an off-white slightly yellow-colored product; the Super Extra Special had more of the yellow color to it. I used the latter exclusively. Back in the late 1940's when Blair, then known as Irvin Johnson, introduced protein supplementation to the public, in any number of different formulations. For a detailed discussion of the evolution of his protein formulas see Muscle Smoke & Mirrors,by Randy Roach.
Another misconception concerns the use of the word "miracle" in conjunction with the Blair Proteins. Perhaps Blair himself was responsible for this notion by calling his first powder a "miracle food" and using similar descriptions for subsequent powders. He was, afterall, a first rate salesman. Peary Rader suggested Blair could sell reading glasses to a blind man. In any case there has been no shortage of people ever since who have been gung-ho with the thought of using the "miraculous" Blair protein. But the idea that all one need do is consume quantities of this miracle stuff and the lean muscle will follow is just wrong.
To help explain how the protein worked as part of the larger Blair program, and his concept of protein supplementation and it's use by and in the body, I will use the analogy of a treasure chest. If this analogy fails, I am sure many of you will let me know;-) Consider a can of Blair protein as a treasure chest. By virtue of your possession of the treasure chest, you are wealthy. But there is a problem; you can't go out and spend the wealth inside because the treasure chest is secured with a combination lock. If you don't know the combination, you can't get to it. But once you know the correct combination and use it to unlock the chest, the wealth is yours to enjoy.
Instead of wealth, the tin of Blair protein contains health. But the health benefits of the protein, including lean muscle, are also locked up -- in this case by your own body chemistry. Rheo was adamant about a concept called -- Biochemical Individuality. This idea is that we are all biochemically different and have different nutritional needs. This concept explains why some people are hard gainers and some are easy gainers, or as he called them -- "naturals." He said that naturals inherited a certain glandular makeup, an efficiency of glandular chemistry that enabled them to add muscle with relative ease. The rest of us don't have it so easy. Nor did he. This is why he became a nutritionist. He was his own first "before and after" example. He was in miserable health until he discovered (1) protein supplementation, and (2) the biochemical combination that unlocked his body chemistry enabling it to properly and efficiently digest and assimilate protein. When that happened, the lean muscle followed. This, you see, was the "miracle" of his protein and his program. What he did with his many before and after transformations was unlock their body chemistry. This was done with enormous levels of nutrient supplementation. For me this meant 500 pills and capsules each and every day for months, plus of course the protein. In effect, the supplements made the protein effective. They activated the protein. Let me quote him from 1951 "...scientific eating means a good protein diet PLUS the use of food concentrates (read supplements). I could not have produced the Before and After cases without food concentrates. They were the key factor. Correct exercising and eating were important, but the food concentrates were the big factor."
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Copyright © 2008, 2009 Charles Welling
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Information found on Rheo H. Blair: The Book is meant for educational and informational purposes only, and to motivate you to make your own health care and dietary decisions based upon your own research and in partnership with your health care provider. It should not be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment.