Should You Try A Protein Powder? 3 Ways To Tell.

In the fitness world, protein powders are marketed as the fast track to “defined muscles” and a “quick recovery”. It seems like everyone is walking around with a blender bottle. Have you ever found yourself wondering if a protein powder is something you should be drinking too?

Do we really need these powdery drinks?

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself before you jump on the protein powder bandwagon:

1. Do you get approx. 20g/ protein per meal?

We all need protein in our diet. Protein helps maintain lean muscle, improves metabolism, supports immunity, provides energy and generally improves our overall well being. Clearly, it’s an important nutrient. The amount we need varies from person to person, depending on our age, weight and activity level. However, most grown, active adults tend to need about 20-30 grams of protein per meal (1).

Ideally, we would get all this protein from a variety of whole foods. Foods like fish, meats, nuts, seeds and legumes are all protein sources. Even vegetables contain a small amount.

However, if you start to take a look at your diet and notice that most of your meals only contain 10 or 15 grams of protein, then you might want to consider supplementing your diet with a protein powder.

(Don’t know how much protein your food has? We love nutritiondata.com to look up the amount of protein in common foods)

2. Do you have smoothies as meal replacements?

If you drink a smoothie in place of a meal (like having a green smoothie for breakfast)  it’s important to make sure that your smoothie has a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. While you can add protein by adding nuts and seeds, it can take up to 1 whole cup of almonds to reach 20 grams of protein (2). Adding a scoop of protein powder is a convenient way to ensure your smoothie is a balanced meal.

3. Do you workout without having a meal or snack 2 hours before or 2 hours after?

If you don’t snack between meals and you’re active, you might end up going more than 4-5 hours without eating around your workout. (For example if you wake up at 6am and workout but don’t eat breakfast until 10am. Or if you eat lunch at 1pm, workout at 5pm but don’t eat dinner until 7pm). Studies show that a good snack or meal after an intense workout really does benefit our performance and recovery (and how we build muscle and burn fat) (3).

If you can’t get around to eating a meal after your workout, a protein powder shake is an easy and convenient way to  provide your body with the nutrients it needs.


Again, ideally we would be getting all the protein we need from whole foods like fish, meats, nuts and seeds.

And many of us do just that!

However, if you answered yes to one or more of the questions above, then adding a protein supplement might be for you.


But before you go pick up a tub of muscle milk…all protein powders are NOT created equal. There are some that are great and some that do more harm than good. Here are some guidelines to help you choose the best brand for you:

How to choose a protein powder

1. Look at the label and ingredients: How many calories and protein does it have per serving? Look for about 16-22 grams of protein per servings and between 100-150 calories. Also, take a close look at the ingredients. If there are more than 10 ingredients, it’s a bad sign. Most high quality protein powders just have the protein (whey, hemp, pea) and 3-4 other ingredients.

2. Look for “cold processed”, “undenatured” or “raw” : The problem with cheap protein powders is that they are usually heated and processed at such high temperatures, that the protein molecules become damaged. These can make protein powders hard to digest and can be a big waste of money. (This is particularly important for whey protein which is especially sensitive to heat).

3. Remember, it’s like a serving of food: A good way to think about protein powder is as a serving of protein! It’s worth spending an extra $10-20 on higher quality product.

Resources:
1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150425
2. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3085/2
3. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/about-post-workout-nutrition

Finding Fitting Music to Get Fit With

Are you good at making mix tapes? If so let’s chat because I’m so tragically not. I never fully understood or put into practice all of the so-called fundamentals necessary for arranging (with High Fidelity level fanaticism) music into painstaking order with proper beats per minute perfectly balanced with obscure tracks and tongue in cheek references. Also, I’m dating myself by even referencing the word “tapes.” You can’t even call them mix CDs anymore. Honestly, when was the last time you bought an actual honest-to-goodness CD that wasn’t impulse shopped from the counter at Starbucks while you clutched a latte and stared at a Top Pot Doughnut with longing?

So, yes, when it comes to mix tapes, CDs or playlists I am utterly hopeless but wow do I love it when someone else makes a mix for me. To that end I love Spotify. Are you familiar with this service? There is a free version but for $10 a month you can get unlimited access to millions of songs without annoying ads. If you already have an extensive collection of music housed in iTunes you can still sync it with Spotify for everyday streamlined use. Best of all they have an excellent mobile app that allows you to access the service (and all of that music) with wireless or you can specify specific playlists to be downloaded for use in an offline mode. Plus you can easily create playlists that you can share with friends or keep private. It’s totally up to you.

You might be wondering why I’m bringing this up. Frankly it all ties back to running and my continued inability to improve at it. I call shenanigans on my inner monologue and I suspect I can run much further and longer than my very critical thoughts seem to insist. So in an effort to block out those very loud, “let’s stop moving now” impulses I started listening to my iPod again when working out outside on the weekends.

In the meantime, something desperately needs to be done with the music currently housed on my device. Yesterday, and I’m not making this up, the Bangles came on, followed by a Whitney Houston song (too soon!), and then Sunday Morning by No Doubt. Not to even mention that I hit skip about a dozen times when something even more annoying started to play. Then I’d get distracted and usually end up stopping.

So I’m hoping to use Spotify to find some good workout mixes that I can save for later use and that don’t make me roll my eyes whenever the next track starts.  So far I’ve identified these as being good possibilities to try out.

Work It Out! by Sony UK

2012 Running Music by Runner’s World

The Utlimate Running Playlist

Zone Out Music for a Morning Run

What are your favorite songs to work out to? Maybe together we can create a collaborate playlist for BootCampSF on Spotify? If you already have spotify you can access the playlist at this link or check it out below. I’ve added a few tracks to get us started and can’t wait to see what you like exercising to as well!

A Note on iPod Use From BootCampSF: For most BCSF sessions, we prefer that you not use your headphones during class so that your instructors can keep you safe and ensure you hear all the directions. But if your class is doing a run day, just check in with your instructor to let them know that you’d like to jam out during your workout!