A question I often get asked is “Should I be drinking a protein shake or take some kind of protein/amino acids supplement?” You already know my answer. “It depends.” How many meals and snacks are you eating each day? Do you have a balanced diet? Are you a vegetarian? What are your health and fitness goals? How often, how intense and how long are your workouts? You’ve heard this routine of mine before.
Over the years I have run across all sorts of formulas to help calculate how much protein people need. Anywhere from 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight to over 1 gram per pound of weight. That’s a huge difference. Often these calculations are purely arbitrary. Having done extensive reading and research over my 24+ years of Personal Training, I’ve come to realize that the average person doesn’t require nearly as much protein as the high level elite athlete. Someone who is constantly breaking down muscle tissue and needs to repair, recover, prevent/reduce injury and improve his/her performance. That’s an entirely different thing all together. Just remember, though, that protein is just one part of your dietary equation. That’s why it is key to keep a journal of your food intake and workouts. The tendency is to focus on the workouts, specific training routines, amounts of weights, etc. When in fact, that should be secondary to a diet that complements your exercise program and will lead you to your health and fitness goal(s).
So why do I have a pic of me holding a tub of protein powder? To promote it? Partially. To educate you? Yes, that too. My wife, Heather, recently picked up a container of Orgain Protein Powder from Costco. She knew that I liked to make smoothies and thought this would be a tasty and healthy addition. My typical smoothie (without any protein powder) consists of 1/2 cup plain or Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup dairy, soy or almond milk, 1/2 cup frozen fruit, a couple kale leaves chopped and one medium size banana. The reason for these amounts is that it fits in the 16-ounce cup of my Ninja Blender. I looked at the protein powder ingredients and was pleasantly surprised: Organic vegetarian protein blend (organic pea protein, organic brown rice protein and organic chia seed), organic acacia, organic high oleic sunflower oil, organic rice dextrin, organic rice bran extract, organic rosemary extract, organic erythritol, organic alkalized cocoa, organic acacia, sea salt, organic stevia, organic guar gum, natural flavors, xantham gum and probiotic (bacillus subtilis). Plus it has 21 grams of protein per serving, 6 grams fiber and 255mg of potassium. I added the protein powder to my regular smoothie ingredients and blended it up. Since it was a little thicker than usual, I needed to add a bit of water. Now came the official taste test. Drum roll please. It was delicious, and the chocolate flavor did not have an artificial/synthetic taste. I’m a bit of a chocolate snob. The fiber made it filling too. Overall, I really enjoyed it and felt satisfied. Best of all, I had no gastrointestinal issues with it. And let me tell you, over the years, I have tried many supplements: protein powders, shakes, pills, meal replacement shakes, pre and post workout powders, etc. Many of them would absolutely rip my insides apart.
After drinking the shake, did I feel a surge of power like when Popeye eats his spinach? Nope. This is not a pre-workout drink loaded with caffeine and other stimulants. For me it’s an excellent accountability and motivation tool. . . and I get my chocolate fix. It’s like buying a new pair of athletic shoes, purchasing personal training sessions or picking up a healthy recipe book, they all encourage you to make healthy choices. Each time you look at those athletic shoes, hopefully you’ll think of exercising and doing something good for yourself. When you see your PT appointments in your calendar you’ll be motivated to stay on track between workouts. That healthy cookbook sitting on your kitchen counter is just begging you to open it and try a new delicious recipe. For me, this protein powder is a keeper.