Archive for the tag - protein

Which Is Better: Protein Supplements or Protein Foods?

Alon-Gabbay-SixPack-CamWithHim-11If you’ve ever visited a supplement store like GNC, you’ve likely seen dozens of protein products promising incredible results. But beyond the marketing hype, are these products really any better than high protein foods like fish or chicken?

It depends what you mean by better. In reality, there are advantages to both protein sources.

So let’s break things down.

Advantages of Protein Supplements:

  • Higher Biological Value (BV). BV measures how much protein is absorbed from a food and incorporated into the body, and is therefore often used to determine protein quality. Though this measure of protein usability has its limitations, there’s no doubt that protein supplements have higher BV scores than food. High BV products include:
    • Whey protein: 96+ BV
    • Chicken egg: 94 BV
    • Cow milk: 90 BV
    • Rice: 83 BV
    • Chicken: 79 BV
    • Fish: 76 BV
  • Convenience. I think the most compelling case for protein supplementation is that they’re super convenient. You can pack protein powder in your gym bag; you can’t do that with a chicken dinner. If you’re on the go or don’t have time to sit for a meal, protein supplements are a great option.
  • Easy to track. Whatever your daily protein target, supplements take out the guesswork. The protein supplement will indicate the grams of protein per scoop – so you’ll know exactly what you’re eating. Calculating protein in foods like fish, chicken or turkey can be much trickier.
  • Easier to hit your target. If you’re a serious gym enthusiast and looking to pack on some serious muscle, your target protein intake could be beyond 150 grams per day. For a lot of people, consuming that amount of protein through a traditional diet is unrealistic – and may result in overeating. With protein supplementation, it’s much easier.

Advantages of Protein Foods

  • Gastrointestinal issues. Though there are numerous protein supplement options, many people experience bloating or cramps from protein supplementation. Whey protein, for example, is derived from milk. For individuals with lactose sensitivities, this can be an issue. With high protein foods, you won’t have these concerns.
  • Satiety. A protein shake probably won’t fill you up. But a fish dinner probably will. Relying on natural protein sources through food can help keep you full longer and curb cravings.
  • Avoid crappy supplements. Let’s face it: Not all protein supplements are created equal – and there are a whole slew of products with added fillers and unhealthy ingredients. Many of the protein bars are really just glorified candy bars with chocolate, added sugar and unhealthy fats. By sticking with protein foods, you can avoid all of that.

So what’s the bottom line? Are protein supplements required for muscle growth? Absolutely not. You can certainly fuel your fitness goal through a diet of whole, real foods rather than supplements. Having said that, supplements are certainly convenient – and may be a more realistic option for the rest of us.

P.S. To learn the tricks for packing on some lean mass, download Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle.

20 High Protein Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating!

Dear Davey,

I really don’t like the taste of protein powder, so I’ve been looking at other ways to increase my protein intake. What are some healthy high protein foods that I can include in my diet?


DSC_8067It’s no secret that protein powder doesn’t taste great. But it’s important to remember that you’re eating it for other reasons than flavor. It’s fuel for your body.

Having said that, there are certainly plenty of other options for increasing your overall protein intake. Here are a few of the healthier options that I’d recommend:

  1. Quinoa (24 grams protein / 1 cup, uncooked)
  2. White beans (47 grams protein / 1 cup, raw)
  3. Peanut butter (8 grams protein / 2 tablespoons)
  4. Edamame (17 grams protein / 1 cup, cooked)
  5. Tofu (20 grams protein / 1 cup)
  6. Seitan – wheat-meat (18 grams protein / 3 oz serving)
  7. Dry roasted mixed nuts (14 grams protein / half cup)
  8. Raw almonds (15 grams / half cup)
  9. Lentils (18 grams protein / 1 cup, boiled)
  10. Chicken (43 grams protein / 1 cup, cooked)
  11. Canned tuna (42 grams protein / 1 can)
  12. Tilapia (26 grams protein / 100 grams fillet)
  13. Salmon (20 grams protein / 100 grams fillet)
  14. Octopus (30 grams protein / 100 gram serving)
  15. Tuna (30 grams protein / 100 gram fillet)
  16. Halibut (23 grams protein / 100 gram fillet)
  17. Turkey breast (34 grams protein / 1 serving)
  18. Eggs (6 grams protein / 1 egg)
  19. Plain Greek yogurt (17 grams protein / 1 container)
  20. Cottage cheese (11 grams protein / 100 gram serving)

If you have any suggestions for protein-packed healthy foods, share them in the comments below!


P.S. For more nutrition tips, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.

Is Greek Yogurt Healthier?

Dear Davey,

I’ve seen a lot about Greek yogurt being very healthy. Is it all marketing hype or is Greek yogurt really better for you than regular yogurt?


greek yogurt vs fruit yogurtHey Sean,

For the most part, people think of yogurt as a healthy option. But the truth is, not all yogurts are created equal.

For illustrative purposes, let’s compare 100 grams of nonfat fruit yogurt to 100 grams of nonfat plain Greek yogurt (see click-able chart).

As it turns out, the nutritional differences are substantial. With 95 calories, fruit yogurt is far more energy-dense than nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Even more shocking is the amount of sugar. The 19 grams of sugar in fruit yogurt converts to nearly 5 teaspoons! Compare that to the 2.3 grams of sugar in plain Greek yogurt. There’s also a substantial difference in protein content. While the 4.4 grams of protein in fruit yogurt isn’t shabby, plain Greek yogurt has a solid 10 grams.

Hands down, nonfat plain Greek yogurt is the healthiest yogurt option. From a nutritional standpoint, it’s a huge improvement over other yogurt variations – especially when it comes to calories, added sugar and protein.

As a general rule, only buy plain yogurt – regardless of your preference for regular or Greek yogurt. Fruit yogurts almost always have added sugar. In fact, the second ingredient listed in Dannon Fruit on the Bottom yogurt is sugar. If you want some sweetness in your yogurt, add a few berries or a slice or two of fruit.

The bottom line is that nonfat plain Greek yogurt is, in fact, healthier than the other yogurt variations.


P.S. For more information about improving the way you look and feel through the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter!

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?


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.


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.