Well, by now, (New Year’s night), you have probably just finished your collards, peas, bar-b-que and pecan pie and possibly are, with a national throng, watching one of the final college football games of the season, inevitably hyperventilating. Not to discourage, but, rather to encourage you, I just capped off my low calorie day with a vegetable based protein shake with flax seed, lecithin, a banana, fresh ginger and a little cayenne pepper. OK, you won’t be the first this season to be grossed out by my culinary prowess. My lovely young ladies at our office were not impressed with my Christmas clams oreganata and low country boil!
When it comes to protein shakes as meal replacements, patients often ask which kind is best and why even consider using. The most common and popular choices include soy, whey and plant (or vegan). Protein is essential to rebuilding cells and tissues, keeping fluids in balance, protecting enzyme functions, supporting nerve and muscle contraction as well as supporting the health of skin, hair and nails. Meat, fish, dairy and beans are the usual food sources; protein shakes can be just as nutritious, simpler to prepare and satisfying enough to keep you from ingesting more calories. Some research is pointing to the need for cutting back on volume rather than simply avoiding certain foods.
- Whey protein is theorized to help not only build muscle and enhance body composition but also to speed the recovery of broken down and stressed muscles (as occurs from exercise). As with most supplements, there are certain side effects from whey protein. Some of these side effects include gas, bloating, cramps, tiredness, fatigue, headaches and irritability.
- Soy protein is derived from the soybean that has been de-hulled and de-fatted. Some claims state that soy protein consumption helps lower bad cholesterol, prevent heart disease and even fight off some cancers. However, more recent studies have indicated that many of these health claims are not only false but that there are serious concerns with concentrated soy protein consumption. These concerns have to do with the phytoestrogens found in soy proteins, especially the concentrated soy proteins. Phytoestrogens mimic estrogen. The concern with this is that many people today are becoming estrogen dominant and this can be potentially hazardous to their health. High levels of estrogen have been associated with increased risk of certain cancers in both men and women. Men and children in particular, should use caution with soy protein. The only soy that I consume is occasional tofu.
- Plant based or Vegan protein powder is easily digested and very few people are allergic to it; unlike whey. The concern is that individually, plant protein may not give you as much “bang for the buck”. I am most impressed with blended plant based products that have pea, sprouted whole grain brown rice, hemp and chia, with a protein amount of 18-25g per serving.
Adults in the U.S. are encouraged to get 10% to 35% of their day's calories from protein foods. That's about 46 grams of protein for women, and 56 grams of protein for men. (Pregnant or lactating women may need about 10g more, but always check with your attending doctor to be sure).
It's not hard to get this amount if you eat two to three servings of protein-rich foods a day, according to the CDC.
- A small 3-ounce piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein. A typical 8-ounce piece of meat could have over 50 grams of protein.
- One 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein.
- One cup of milk has 8 grams of protein.
- One cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein.
The things to look for when purchasing protein powder
- Cold Processed and RAW, No heat processing
- Only ORGANIC so it’s free of pesticides and heavy metals
- Easy to Digest and Sprouted, No isolated whey that hurts digestion
- High Bio-Availability (sprouted) so you can digest ALL amino acids
- Sweetened naturally, No artificial sweeteners
- With Probiotics to increase absorption
- Low Carb, No fructose or other processed sugars
1 Scoop protein powder
1/3 cup coconut or filtered water
1 tbsp chia or flax meal
½ cup berries or banana
** I also sprinkle in some cayenne pepper and shave some fresh ginger root for anti-inflammatory benefit and I try to do shakes for breakfast and dinner and have real food (with limited carbs for lunch).
Believe me, there is nothing more attractive right now than desiring to give in to a plate or two of eggplant parmesan and mussels marinara, but, more importantly, I want to start off the year on a healthy note as well as in pants that I can breathe in; in a month, I’ll resume cheating on the weekends! Hopefully, by next January, I can forget about the great Yogi Berra’s quote at the title of this epistle!
May one year from now, you be able to reflect back, having experienced a year where your health and faith were cultivated, planted, watered, reaped and shared with abundance! Happy 2015!
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