Whey to go!

Saturday night, D and I were hanging out at our friend, J’s apartment uptown before going to a bday party.  We were all congregating in his kitchen, and I glanced over a saw a ginormous tub of whey protein powder supplement.  I said to J, “You know you really don’t need that stuff.”  Being ever the politician, we both got into a little debate over it.  So the question remains…do normal, regularly weight-lifting and exercising individuals really need that stuff?  Besides, the icky ingredient list (corn syrup and red dye #40 were present…not so good), it’s a common myth that you need tons of protein in your diet.

Believe it or not, a regularly active individual needs only about 15-20% of their diet to be protein.  In a normal, 1800 calorie diet, this means about 270-360 calories should come from lean protein sources such as lean cuts of beef, chicken, or turkey, fish, tofu, beans and lowfat dairy.  Did you know that you also get protein in grains too?  A slice of whole wheat bread usually has about 3 grams of protein!  So a 150-lb individual needs about 55 grams of protein per day, which translates into one medium piece of grilled chicken, a greek yogurt, and two pieces of whole wheat bread!  So where does the extra protein go?  Well, let’s just say that protein supplements make your pee really, really expensive.

You may ask — but what about building muscles after a workout?  Protein supplements are often touted as the ultimate post-workout muscle building drink.  The truth?  You’re better off drinking a glass of chocolate milk.  A study in the International Journal of Sports and Exercise Metabolism, found that athletes drank chocolate milk, that beloved childhood favorite, they recovered faster and better than drinking water or sports drinks like Gatorade!  The findings suggest that chocolate milk contains the optimal ratio of carbohydrates and protein needed to quench thirsty muscles.  Not too mention that moo juice contains key nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, which high-tech, highly processed sports supplements do not.

Bottom line?  EAT REAL FOOD.  If you eat a balanced diet full of whole grains, plenty of veggies and fruit, lean meats/legumes/soy, and dairy, then you’ll get all the protein your body needs.  Supplements, bars, and powders aren’t real food.  You may get extra protein, but you’ll also get a slew of artificial flavorings, dyes and sugar.  If you fuel yourself regularly throughout the day combined with good solid workouts and strength work will do a better job at keeping your metabolism humming and your body lean and mean than any protein shake ever could!

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