Archive for the tag - protein

Is Cooking Protein Powder Bad?

cookingwithproteinLet’s face it: Protein powder doesn’t taste great. In fact, it’s pretty awful.

It’s no wonder that people try to disguise the taste of protein powder by hiding it inside other, more delicious foods like smoothies, yogurt and so on. But what about baked foods like protein powder muffins, pancakes, cookies or cakes? Does cooking protein powder change the chemistry and render it useless?

Believe it or not, this is actually a widely-held protein powder misconception. It’s true that cooking protein powder does change the structure of the protein powder’s amino acids through a process called denaturing. But this same process happens in all the other protein-containing foods we eat including cooked eggs, beef or chicken. Cooked or not, our bodies absorb the same amino acids – and can put them to work.

In short, cooking protein powder doesn’t impact its effectiveness.

As such, try incorporating protein powder into some of your favorite foods. For example, I add protein to a healthy blueberry muffin recipe that I love for an extra nutritional boost. Explore and have fun.

In the comments below, share some ways that you’ve incorporated protein powder into your favorite recipes.

7 Myths & Facts About Protein Powder

protein-powder-flexIf you ask ten people about protein powder, you’ll probably get ten different answers. Indeed, there are many misconceptions about protein powder – so let’s separate fact from fiction:

  1. Protein powder makes you fat: False. Well, it’s false but with a caveat. Eating too much of anything can make you fat – even lettuce. Your body adds fat when you’re consuming more calories than your body needs. Protein powder contributes to your daily caloric intake just like any other food; there’s nothing special about it. However, it is true that many pre-mixed protein shakes and smoothies are very high in calories. Just be mindful of your calorie balance.
  2. Protein powder will give you muscles even if you don’t work out: False. When it comes to adding muscle mass, there’s no quick fix. Simply ingesting additional protein isn’t going to help. In fact, most Americans already get more than enough protein through their diet. Unless you’re excising, there’s probably no need for protein supplementation. Save your calories for foods that taste better. :-P
  3. Protein powder gives you gas: True. Some people experience gas and bloating as a result of protein supplementation. If you’re experiencing excessive gas, try switching brands. Depending on the quality of the protein and the presence of various fillers, you may find some brands easier to digest than others. It takes a little trial and error.
  4. Your body can only absorb 30 grams of protein at once: False. Research has debunked the 30 gram protein myth. In reality, your body can absorb much more than 30 grams of protein in a single meal.
  5. Too much protein can be dangerous: True. Too much of anything isn’t good – and protein is no exception. Excessive protein consumption has been linked with a number of side effects – including dehydration and seizures.
  6. All protein is the same: False. Actually, this one is extremely false. The various protein types vary quite dramatically. Whey protein, for example, is absorbed very quickly by the body and is great to consume post-workout. Casein protein, on the other hand, is absorbed slowly. As such, it’s a good choice to consume before bed. You can also compare different types of protein on their biological value, which determines how much of the protein your body is able to use.
  7. Protein tastes awful: True. There’s no sugar-coating it. Protein powder doesn’t taste great. But you’re not eating it for the flavor; you’re eating it for fuel. Having said that, you can try disguising the protein powder in smoothies with fruits, vegetables and almond milk. Or you can try mixing it into other foods, like Greek yogurt or even healthy muffins.

Do you have any questions about protein powder? Let me know in the comments below!

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Raw Vs. Roasted Nuts: Health Benefits.

all types of nutsThe other day, I was chatting with a friend about the benefits of raw versus roasted nuts.

In a world where so-called raw diets are increasingly popular, there’s a tendency to assume that raw is healthier. The science for this is less clear. While some foods are healthier when eaten raw (as heat can destroy nutrients and reduce the benefits of certain foods), this isn’t true of all foods. Tomatoes, for example, are healthier when heated due to lycopene content.

So what’s the deal with nuts?

There hasn’t been a study to specifically determine how roasting nuts changes their nutritional properties. But according to Dr. Rui Hai Liu, a professor of food science at Cornell University who has studied the benefits of nut consumption, “you will get health benefits from consuming either raw or roasted nuts.” He continues, “I don’t think the processing will decrease the benefits, and it may improve the bioavilability of some bioactive compounds.”

But here’s the big catch.

Many of the “roasted” nuts at grocery stores are actually fried. It’s true. If you look at the ingredients, you’ll likely see vegetable oil and salt listed. The vegetable oil is added during the frying process – and then, to add insult to injury, the nuts are usually salted.

If you prefer roasted nuts but want to avoid purchasing fried nuts, only buy nuts labeled as “dry-roasted nuts.” Or, even better, buy raw nuts and roast them yourself in the oven. Don’t add oil and don’t add salt. The nuts will still taste great.

In summary, you can’t go wrong with raw, unsalted nuts. If opting for roasted nuts, select the unsalted and dry-roasted variety. You’ll ensure that you’re getting a healthy, convenient, high fiber, and high protein food that’s loaded with healthy fats.

Do Protein Shakes Work?

doproteinshakeswork

The packaging on many popular whey protein shakes and supplements makes them seem like miracle products. It all begs the question: Do protein shakes really work to build muscle mass? Or is it marketing hype?

As it turns out, whey protein has been extensively tested – including a 2001 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise. In the study, 36 males were divided into three groups and underwent 6 weeks of strength training. Compared to the placebo group, men who supplemented with whey protein experienced more lean muscle mass and tested higher on many strength measures.

According the Mayo Clinic, the muscle building claims of whey protein are given a score of “B” – meaning that there is good scientific evidence for this use:

Whey protein has been studied for promoting muscle growth and improving athletic performance. Taking whey protein after exercise may have benefits in both men and women, in terms of improving protein oxidation and blood levels of essential amino acids. Overall, short-term studies have suggested that whey protein increases muscle mass and strength. Some conflicting results have been found in terms of whey protein’s effects on body composition. More research is needed to confirm these results over a longer period of time.

Of course, just consuming whey protein won’t magically grow your muscles. Whey protein supplementation must be in addition to a comprehensive strength training and nutrition program that targets muscle growth. And, too much protein can be detrimental to your health.

In other words, whey protein can be a powerful tool in building lean muscle mass – but it’s just one factor of many.

 

 

Myth: Extra Protein Builds Muscles.

JedHillbyRickDay02

A body like this wasn’t build by protein alone.

Think eating extra protein is enough to make your body big and buff? Think again.

It’s a common misconception that increasing one’s protein intake is enough to cause muscle development. In reality, the following three conditions must ALL be met for muscle growth:

  1. Effective strength training program
  2. Adequate calorie intake
  3. Sufficient protein intake

Yes, protein is a part of it. But all three conditions must be met together.

Drinking a protein shake is easy. Training for increases in muscle size – a process called hypertrophy – requires some real work. Our bodies are very efficient machines and muscle mass takes a lot of calories to maintain. Therefore, your body won’t build extra muscle unless it’s absolutely required. The first step in bulking up is employing an effective strength training workout – thereby signaling to your body that it’s time to add muscle.

In order to gain any sort of mass, you need to consume more calories than you burn. Thus, the second step in adding muscle consuming a surplus of calories. It’s simple math, but it’s something that many aspiring muscle guys and gals overlook.

Last but not least, is protein. The truth is, most people already get more than enough protein. And, often times, any additional required protein can come from food. First, calculate your protein requirements. Then, if there is a gap, figure out the best way to close it. Only avid exercisers require protein supplementation through protein shakes or powders.

The bottom line: Drinking protein shakes isn’t enough to buff you up. Without an effective strength training routine and enough calories, you’ll be spinning your wheels and wasting your money.

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MYTH: Meat is the Only Protein Source.

PBIf you spend a lot of time lifting weights, you know the importance of fueling your body. But most exercise enthusiasts don’t know that eating hoards of meat isn’t necessary to reach your daily protein targets.

It’s true that meat is rich in protein. A chicken breast, for example, contains about 36 grams of protein. A hamburger patty has 28 grams. A serving of tuna can have up to 40 grams. The numbers are certainly impressive, but meat products aren’t the only source of protein. And the truth is, most of us could improve our health and longevity by reducing red meat consumption.

So let’s explore some other protein sources.

Not to be outdone, a cup of roasted peanuts has 35 grams of protein. A cup of cottage cheese has 26 grams. Eggs have 6 grams of protein each. Lentils have 18 grams of protein per cup. And a cup of oatmeal mixed with peanut butter and hemp seeds has 25 grams.

And that’s just getting started.

In actuality, a diet that includes beans, nuts, whole grains and even vegetables is rich in protein. Sure, a chicken breast for dinner or a serving of fish can help – but it’s certainly not necessary (or advisable) to consume a massive steak or 10 cheeseburgers a day.

Keep your diet lean, colorful and balanced!

Chocolate Milk After Workout: Ultimate Recovery Drink?

chocolate-milkYour post-workout recovery snack is arguably the most important meal of the day. So what do you consume? A protein shake? Water? A sports drink?

According to new research, you may want to start opting for fat-free chocolate milk.

In a study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine, researchers enlisted the help of eight male runners. Following a series of runs, the participants either consumed fat-free chocolate milk or a carbohydrate beverage (like Gatorade) with the same amount of calories.

During recovery, researchers found that runners who drank fat-free chocolate milk had better muscle protein repair when compared to the carbohydrate beverage. A second study found that muscle glycogen levels were also higher for the chocolate milk group. Since glycogen is used for fuel during exercise, replenishing these stores is crucial.

But why?

After exercise, it’s important to consume both protein and carbohydrates; many exercisers make the mistake of consuming one but not the other. Sports drinks usually only have carbs. Powdered protein mixes usually only have protein. Since chocolate milk has a mix of both protein and carbs, it can be a wise choice. Moreover, it’s also inexpensive – and tastier – when compared to many pre-mixed recovery drinks.

There are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’d only want to use fat-free chocolate milk because fat content can slow digestion – and your body needs the protein and carbohydrates quickly. Second, just because chocolate milk is good for workout recovery doesn’t make it a healthy choice during other times of the day. Because quick absorption is crucial after a workout, it’s the only time when ingesting simple carbohydrates – like those found in chocolate milk – is healthy.

Personally, I usually opt for a whey protein powder mixed with simple carbohydrates. It’s not as tasty, but it’s quick, easy and effective. Nonetheless, it’s great to know that chocolate milk is an inexpensive alternative to traditional recovery drinks.

What do you drink after a workout? Let me know in the comments below.

Why Do We Drink Cow’s Milk?

cow

Maybe we should just cut out the middleman and go right to the source!

A year ago, I took a trip to Thailand. It was a beautiful country full of amazing sights, friendly people and delicious but interesting food. From chicken feet to red ants with their eggs to duck mouths, much of the Thai food we encountered seemed quite adventurous.

So when I asked for a glass of milk, I was surprised by the response. Many of the Thai waiters and waitresses seemed repulsed by my request. This caused a good deal of introspection on my part, and – after careful consideration – I realized that it’s actually really strange that we drink the breast milk of cows. And moreover, why don’t we drink the mammary gland secretions from other animals like horses or even humans?

Milk is weird. Of course, just because milk is weird, it doesn’t mean that it’s unhealthy or that we shouldn’t drink it. So let’s dig deeper.

In a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Harvard professor David Ludwig questions the role of milk in our diets. Indeed, the government recommends three servings of milk per day to promote a healthy lifestyle – but is that really necessary, wise or even true?

It’s true that milk is rich in calcium, vitamin D and has some protein. But that’s not all you’re getting. Most people are surprised by the amount of sugar in milk. A cup of 1% milk, for example, has 13 grams of sugar. It’s not added sugar, but still sugar nonetheless. Most guidelines recommend no more than 40 – 50 grams of sugar per day, and three servings of skim milk would almost reach that limit. And we’ve all seen the link between sugary drinks and obesity demonstrated time and time again.

Ludwig also cites a lack of evidence that reduced fat milks are any less likely to result in weight gain or other health outcomes when compared to whole milk. In fact, Ludwig speculates that when individuals drink reduced fat milk, they feel less full – and then consume more calories in other food. For example, if you’re drinking a glass of whole milk, one cookie may be sufficient. But if you’re drinking a glass of reduced fat milk, you feel less satisfied and may reach for a second cookie.

Yes, milk has some important nutrients – but it’s also entirely possible to get those nutrients from other foods and without all that sugar. And there are plenty of delicious and rich non-dairy alternatives that can serve as healthier replacements to dairy milk.

Questioning what we eat is a good thing and it’s important to occasionally take a few steps back from our diet for examination. While milk may not be as unhealthy as cake, candy or a glass of Coca Cola, it’s also not necessarily the wisest nutritional choice.

Are Protein Bars Good for Building Muscle?

pure-protein-barsYou’ve probably seen countless rows, boxes and packages of protein bars at your neighborhood gym or health food store. They’re convenient, easy and loaded with as much as 50 grams of protein. As such, they’re a popular choice for gym-goers and exercise enthusiasts – especially after a hard workout. But are they really healthy? Are they good for building muscle? And is there a better alternative?

First things first, it’s important not to paint all protein bars with the same broad brush. Indeed, there’s a full spectrum of options available – and the nutritional content varies greatly from product to product. BUT, for the most part, protein bars are highly processed and loaded with added sugar, unhealthy fats and several hundred calories. Whether stuffed with nougat or dipped in chocolate, eating a protein bar isn’t that unlike consuming a high-protein candy bar. It’s like a Snickers bar on steroids. Which is probably why they taste so good.

Though most Americans get more than enough protein, additional protein supplementation is sometimes necessary for individuals that lift often and hard. Especially after a good workout, ingesting protein is important so that your body can rebuild and repair the damaged muscles. In fact, it is by this process that our muscles grow larger. The quicker this post-workout protein is absorbed into your body, the better. Added ingredients – and fats, in particular – can really slow down the body’s absorption of protein. Because many protein bars are rich in fats and thus slow to absorb, they’re not the best post-workout protein option.

So what’s a better alternative?

Most exercisers opt for a shake made of powdered whey protein mixed with water. Pure whey protein, especially in the absence of other nutrients, gets absorbed quickly and gives the body exactly what it needs. Though a whey protein shake isn’t as delicious as a chewy, gooey protein bar, it’s a definite nutritional upgrade—and has less than half the calories. And from a cost perspective, protein powders are significantly cheaper.

The bottom line: Save those protein bars for the occasional treat—and resist the temptation to make them a regular part of your diet.

High Protein Breakfast Prevents Unhealthy Snacking.

slide05-healthy-eggsIf you’re looking to upgrade your diet, one of the easiest ways to start is with a protein-rich breakfast – at least, according to the latest study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And yet, up to 60% of young Americans skip what is arguably the most important meal of the day.

For the study, a group of women ages 18 – 20 either skipped breakfast, ate breakfast cereal or consumed a protein-rich breakfast of eggs and meat. Regardless of the food type, all the breakfasts were matched for calories, fat, fiber, sugar and energy density. Only protein varied – with the high-protein breakfast containing some 35 grams.

Throughout the course of the study, participants completed questionnaires, provided blood samples and underwent an evening brain scan. After reviewing the data, researchers found that eating a high-protein breakfast led to increased fullness and a decrease in brain activity associated with food cravings. In addition, eating a high-protein breakfast was associated with reduced evening snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods – as compared to skipping breakfast or eating a cereal.

According to researchers:

These data suggest that eating a protein-rich breakfast is one potential strategy to prevent overeating and improve diet quality by replacing unhealthy snacks with high quality breakfast foods.

If you’re looking for a high-protein breakfast, eggs, protein shakes, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are all protein-rich choices to upgrade your early morning meal.

What do you usually eat for breakfast? Let me know in the comments below.