If you’re a twitter or instagram user (and these days who isn’t) chances are you’ve seen a few food porn pics of peanut butter sandwiches using Dr Zak’s Protein Bread. It’s not just me who has feeds set up for peanut butter food porn is it? There are other peanut butter addicts out there to… right!?
Heck you might have even seen banana, nut butter and a combination of other goodies spread of a Dr Zak’s Protein Bagel.
I met Dr Zak at the 2014 Bodypower Expo, and recently got chance to speak to him and conduct this interview with him. Before becoming a protein baker, Zak began his career in boxing, then moved into bodybuilding, and currently competes in the UKBFF.
Let’s jump straight into the thick of it, and see what he had to say in this recent interview.
Thanks for being with us here Zak. For anyone who hasn’t heard about Dr Zaks High protein bread, pasta and food line, firstly, give us a small insight into your background.
I come from a science background academically but my passion has always been bodybuilding and fitness.
You’ve trained since a teenager, 18 I believe. What led you to the weight room?
I always admired the Greek God and Herculean powerful physiques. I was skinny always as a child and always done martial arts, Kung fu, Judo Karate, but realised I wanted to achieve that muscular look and be different to the average person and the only way to achieve that was through bodybuilding.
At what point did you want to make going to the gym more than just a hobby, and have it become your lifestyle?
I set my goal to compete and be onstage and I knew to do that I had to step up my training and especially my nutrition to take it to the next level.
What was your “day job” when you first started competing in bodybuilding?
I was actually studying for my PhD at the Royal Free medical school when I decided to step on stage.
Tell us about your bodybuilding competition history. What is your proudest achievement in the sport?
Every contest for me I take seriously and every win means a lot to me but I must say my proudest moment was coming back to win the British Championship for the second time in 2013 after I won it first time in 2010, I returned in 2013 and I had a massive lineup of 35 competitors and to win that was very emotional, especially as a few months before I won both classes I entered (heavyweight and masters class) at the Jay Cutler desert classic in Last Vegas.
Also another win I never forget was my first ever show where I won my class and the overall tittle for the Mr Tower Gym show and my son Nicholas then 3-4 years old came onstage to present me my trophy.
That was the proudest moment winning my first ever show and having my boy present me with the trophy and I knew from that moment on I wanted to go onto bigger things. And a few years later my dreams came true winning shows in Cyprus, Vegas and even making top 4 at the Arnold Classic show!
You’re most well known for you Dr Zak’s protein food line, including Dr Zak’s Protein Bread & Pasta. Tell us about how you came up with the idea for these food products?
Ask any competitive bodybuilder that competes, what the miss and the first thing they say is bread. Same with me I do 3-4 shows a year and sometimes I diet for 8-12 months and I crave for normal foods like bread and pasta etc.
Now with my new range it has made dieting so much easier and still managed to get my total protein intake for the day with the luxury of having bread, pasta and bagels!
How did you take your idea from concept to reality?
I was fortunate to meet with the right people, we became partners and with my ideas and their contacts we pushed it in the right direction and after almost 3 years of development, we managed to come up with our protein bread.
What where the biggest challenges you faced during the creation of these foods?
The biggest challenge was to create a product that tastes and behaves like bread. Most of all and most important was the science behind formulating the bread.
This involved selecting the right protein, that wouldn’t denature after the bread is baked. Normal whey protein denatures and degrades after baking and makes the protein biologically inactive hence useless to the body.
The proteins we chose for our products and more robust and can handle the baking process without denaturing.
High protein foods & snacks are becoming more and more popular now. Why do you think this is?
People are getting more health conscious and pay more attention to their appearance.
They know the importance of protein within building muscle and sculpting a good physique, so i think that’s why more people are looking to include higher protein snacks and foods into their diet.
From my experience, the non hardcore gym goers seem more open to high protein foods as opposed to straight up protein supplements. Why do you think this is?
I always said that normal foods are better that food supplements and people should never replace their food for supplements. They are called supplements to “supplement” your eating not replace your normal food.
Many people, wrongly, thing that a “high protein” snack will help them lose weight. Not understanding calories in vs calories out. How do you help inform and educate people about the benefits of your food line?
I always tell people that is a combination of healthy food and exercise that will help them achieve their goals. One doesn’t work without the other
Tell us about how you incorporate Protein Bread into your diet plan.
Talk us through your diet. What would a typical day of eating look like for you in the “off season”.
In the off season I eat the same amount of protein as I do during contest prep. I follow the rule of 1.5g protein per lb of bodyweight. The only thing that changes is my carbs are a lot higher in the off season plus I allow myself weekends to eat what I want.
Do you consider your protein bread and pasta to be a viable food choice for bodybuilders during competition prep.
Yes I was having my bread and my pasta up to 2 weeks before a contest and my condition was as sharp as ever
I love having a high protein peanut butter like nuts n more or P28 on my protein bread. It’s pretty much a complete meal. What is your favourite protein bread sandwich?
We are now launching our own range of Dr Zaks Peanut Butter. I believe it will be one of the best nut butters on the market, and will complement the bread and bagels. We have 5 lovely flavours and my favourite is salted caramel high protein peanutbutter with chicken breast sandwich on my protein bread!
That works out to about 55g protein per sandwich!
You’re good friends with Jay Cutler. How did this friendship form?
The friendship with Jay started back in 2006 when I started competing at the IFBB Grand Prix in Cyprus and he was trying to win the Olympia and we were emailing each other encouraging and talking about our contest prep etc and we clicked from then.
Then I flew out to Vegas to support him when he won his Olympia tittle and after that it became a regular call, text, weekly to see how things are, general chit chat etc. he then invited me to compete at his first ever Jay Cutler desert classic show which I won 4 years in a row and still take part up to this date.
We meet at the Arnold classic usually, at bodypower, in Vegas etc. He has been a good friend and supporter and a big influence in both my competitive career but also my business. I can honestly say I learned a lot from Jay! I admire his hard work ethics and never give up attitude!
Is your relationship with Jay strictly friendship, or do you guys do business together?
With Jay we are good close friends but also I now sell his clothing range at my Gym (Pumping Iron Gym) in North London and we are thinking of doing something together regarding Dr Zaks but its still early stages to talk about that now!
Along with your high protein food line, do you opt for any other high protein fortified foods? If so, which ones?
I stick to what I know works and with my brand I know how it was developed and whats in the products so iam happy to stay with it! I also prefer to eat natural foods for protein like eggs, steak, chicken , fish etc.
Talk us through your supplement plan. What supplements do you use on a daily, or frequent basis?
Multivitamins, L-glutamine, Glucosamine and Udos oil.
Do you favour food over supplements?
When you first set out to create your food line, did you envision it would become as popular as it has?
I had visions of it becoming big because I knew we were the first to develop such a range and combining my scientific background knowledge with my experience in bodybuilding I knew it would work!
What is next for you, both in bodybuilding, and with the Dr Zaks range?
I am having the rest of this year off to improve and grow and Ill be back in 2016 probably at the Arnold classic and Jay cutler classic again!
Thanks for your time Zak, any last words for our readers?
Pleasure doing this interview and a message to everyone “ always follow your dreams, work hard and make them happen. Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way. Stay positive and healthy. Life is too short to be average!”
You may have seen Dr Zak’s in supermarkets or in supplement stores over the past year as its grown more popular. You can also pick it from MyProtein. Be sure to visit our myprotein discount code page to save on your order.