Protein Powder Power

January 8, 2011 - 1:08 pm No Comments

I lift a few weights now and again.  I’m in to P90x and love bringing it to the workouts (my favourites are Legs & Back, which I am currently suffering DOMS from, and Back & Biceps).  This week I was amazed by how strong my arms were.  I’m also into body weight exercises – if someone said I could do only one strength-training exercise for the rest of my life, I would honestly choose push-ups.  They are a bit of everything; arms, chest, shoulders, core, legs and butt.  And nothing beats doing your first man press up!

So, with muscle strength in mind, do I need more protein in my diet?

Since the age of 11 I have been a vegetarian (with the exception of a genuine wrap mix-up in work one day.  I worked in a catering company and the chefs would make things for us to try on Wednesdays.  I tucked into wonderful salads and marvelous canapes.  The next day the chefs would ask us how they went, and one guy approached me with the Hoisin Duck Wrap questionnaire.  “Oh no”, said I, “I’m a vegetarian.  There’s no way that questionnaire applies to me.  I did eat the nice hummus roll though”. He explained that he’d seen me eating at least two, and that I’d seemed to enjoy them!  Oops!)

In third year, I started to suffer from a range of problems which my doctor ascribed to being protein deficient.  It was important to get more protein, and animal protein can be used by our bodies more quickly than plant proteins.  Yes, plants contain sufficient proteins (called amino acids), but different amino acids are available over a variety of different vegetables.  To get the most out of a vegetarian diet, you need to eat a range of veggies and often together, in order to boost absorption.  Also you can have situations where protein is present, but not absorpable in that form.  My body was having difficulty in absorbing the proteins from plants, and while optimising my food could help (for example, eating beans with cheese gives you the fats and calcium required to help absorb the range of amino acids in the beans), the quickest way to get a spectrum of protein into me was to eat meat.  I chose fish, and decided that they would be sustainably caught and organic where possible.

We enjoy fish meals.  Our favourites are probably salmon and tuna, the tuna being tuna steaks with a Peri Peri sauce (recipe coming soon!).  We eat what I consider to be large portions of fish too, for example:

When my “Handy Guide” experiment (which you may read here) states that a portion is palm sized-and-thick.

Do I need more protein than that?  I’m pleased to say that the medical reasons for more protein have gone and I’m satisfied that I’m getting enough protein for health needs, but what about fitness needs?

Protein is needed to repair muscle tissue and therefore grow muscles.  I’m not out to become jacked, but I do want to get leaner and stronger.

Enter the whey powder.

Whey is a natural by-product of the cheese-making process. Milk contains two primary proteins: casein and whey.  Whey composes about 20% of milk proteins, and casein comprises the remaining 80%. So when you drink a glass of milk, you are consuming both casein proteins and whey proteins.

During the cheese-making process, an enzyme called rennet is added to milk to curdle it. The curds are used to make cheese, and the remaining liquid is whey. (Hence Little Miss Muffet, eating her curds and whey).

Historically, this liquid was considered more-or-less useless.  It’s not very energy rich and is only really a source of protein.  As the diet and fitness industry has boomed, whey has come into the spotlight as a low-calorie high-protein wonderfood.  However it is important to remember that it is a by-product of cheese, and is essentially a waste product.  Is this an example of sustainability in action (turning “wastes” into resources), or is it clever marketing?

Whey is extremely rich is three milk proteins – specifically beta-lactoglobulin (~65%), alpha-lactalbumin (~25%), and serum albumin (~8%) — which are more easily digested by the body than any other protein, including the holy grail of protein, eggs.  Easily digested protein makes bells go off in my head, because digestion is easy – it’s absorption that bodies have trouble with, taking up the proteins from the digestion process and effectively using them.  If you can digest it, great; but if you can’t get it into your blood stream where you need it to use it, it’s useless.

Then I was pleased to see that whey protein has the highest absorption-rate of any protein food source. This is known as the Biological Value or BV, which is an indication of how much protein in a given food is actually available to the body to utilize.

Whole eggs have a BV of 93.7, and whey protein has a BV of 100 (the higher the BV, the better.)  It’s important to remember that BV only measures the potential absorption of protein against other foods, not how much of the protein you will actually absorb, which is can be impacted by other foods that you consume with the protein, as well as how much protein is already pooled in your body from earlier meals (the body can only utilize a certain amount of protein at a time.)

Not only does the body potentially absorb more protein from whey, it digests whey more quickly than eggs, meat, or dairy. This makes it an ideal post-workout food, when it’s important to provide extra protein to the body to aid in recovery, especially after weight or resistance training.  For these same reasons, whey makes a good addition to breakfast, since protein levels will typically be low after eight hours of sleep.

Sounds good.  Really good.  But, still, do I need it?

I do at least an hour of exercise 6 days a week.  But I eat regular amounts of plant protein and fish. I eat waaaaay too many carbs however!

I think the key is to limit the carbs in my diet and get more protein in.  If I can do that without being hungry that’s better, and protein is supposed to reduce hunger as well as it is more energy dense than carbs.  I’ll boost my intake naturally for now, until I find some evidence why protein powders might be helpful to me.

Question:  Do you take protein supplements?  What are they and what do they do for you?

Links:

http://www.answerfitness.com/44/what-is-whey-protein-powder-and-do-i-need-it/

“If you succeed in doing this, tell me how”

January 8, 2011 - 12:21 pm No Comments

I love the Baz Luhrman “Everyone’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” song/ monologue to music.  (You may view the original video here).  It’s so inspiring and makes me happy and sad at the same time.  Some parts will change their effect on me through the years too – like “bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle” among your friends.  So true!

Anyway, one of the lines is “Remember the compliments you receive, and forget the insults.  If you succeed in doing this, tell me how”.  Remembering the compliments and forgetting the bad things people say to you is so hard, but I had a great moment the other day.

I was running along, minding my own business, when I passed a group of neds.  Ned  stands for Non Educated Delinquents, and is a great Scottish way of saying pikey (or chav, or whatever your preferred description is.  In case you’re overseas and need more information, these are neds:

The classic arrangement of neds

Also, this amused me:

LOL

So, imagine me, running along, and giving the neds a wide berth.  They were just walking, minding their own business.  Of course, as soon as they saw some entertainment, they start whistling.

“Nice arse!” one of them yelled.

“Naw”“, said another, “it’s FAT”.

Now, I know it’s important not to take comments like that to heart.  It’s just something people say to get a reaction.  I kept my chin high and ignored them and thought to myself that at least I was out and about and doing something about my butt.  Then I heard the first ned turn to his buddies again:

“….No, I actually think that’s an alright arse”.

I very nearly laughed.  That’s nice, I thought to myself, and ran on with a grin on my face.

Keeping the good and discarding the bad is important, but I think that we can learn from the bad.  Sometimes we can learn more from the things we don’t want to hear, than the things we are happy hearing.  It’s important to get to the truth.  My rule of thumb is that if comments come from a trusted friend, you should probably think about them and what that means; but comments from random neds can be ignored.  If they are bad, anyway. Good ones, you cna write all over your blog. :)

What’s the Carb(on) Content of your Diet?

January 7, 2011 - 9:52 am No Comments

You’re a healthy chick (or stud. Or want to be a healthy chick/stud/other). You know the protein content of your diet (unlike me…). You know the calories in your go-to snacks and meals. You know your carbs from your sugars. You can do this stuff in your sleep. Well, do you know your carbon from your carbs?

Now you can measure the carbon footprint of your diet.

I found this tool while wandering around the interwebs – http://www.foodcarbon.co.uk/index.html. Give it a try, I will and let you know how it goes.

Happy Super-Charged Metabolism Day

January 5, 2011 - 8:26 pm No Comments

Getting up earlier to do my Masters is working out really well.  Not only am I more alert and productive in work, I’m shooting through the program, and the confidence boost as a result is an added benefit.

I’ve also been cycling into work, looking very natty in my cold weather gear:

  • Running capris
  • Long trousers
  • Long thermal top
  • T-shirt
  • All-weather top
  • Ski balaclava
  • Excellent hat (it has interchangable covers! Woot!)
  • Cycling gloves.

I’m warm as toast and I get an extra 40 minutes of cardio in a day; a nice way to get a glow on my face!  (I might put up a picture of me in my super-cool cycle gear….if I get the confidence).  A side effect of this is a burning hot metabolism.  I don’t know whether it’s the cold, DOMS in my biceps or the step-up in cardio, but I’ve eaten everything in sight.  You know when you have a flavour that comes in a multipack, that you’re not crazy about but will eat?  I grabbed a Blackcurrent yogurt out of the fridge, and it tasted like ambrosia.  It was just the ticket for a healthy mid-afternoon snack!  Otherwise, I ate my mid-morning apple as soon as I got into work today, made my way through perhaps 120g of pistachios by 11am, and 5 little chocolates.  I’ve just had dinner and I’m hungry again!  Oh well, I’ll just have to do more exercise.

Which is a good thing, because……my wonderful, amazing, lovely and gorgeous boyfriend got me a Garmin for Christmas!

It’s a Forerunner 405CX!!!!  Of course I had to run out and have a quick play.  I was pleased with how the bezel looks and feels, but it needs to be set to uber-sensitive to work properly.  I was amazed by how quickly it found the heart rate monitor, and although finding the satellites can take a while, I did some jumping jacks to warm up (normally I don’t warm up for a run and just launch straight into it – warming up actually felt good!)  By a while I mean perhaps a minute, but a minute standing in one place when you want to run seems like forever!

I set my Virtual Partner up to try and best him.  Here we are, resting:

I am 0.02 of a mile and 14 seconds ahead of him!  (I feel I should give him a name.  I shall call him Phil).  Phil runs a 9.39 minute mile, so he should help me improve my 10 minute milers. I also tried out the navigation mode and was suitably impressed, although not sure when I would actually use it.  (It might be fun to run somewhere, then give a partner the watch to see if they could run back to where you started from….maybe…)

I downloaded the training centre and analysed my data.  I was impressed with how quickly the wireless AMT stick connected to my watch and they synced almost instantly.  Suddenly reams of beautiful data were at my fingertips!

I think it’s slightly insulting how my 9.30/mile run was classed as a “slow run”!  But it was great to prod and poke the data to get meaning from it.  It will be interesting to see what I do with it, and how I react to Phil especially (will I get competitive?!?!  I certainly felt competitive out in the field test!)

You can also create workouts.  I created an interval one here:

All in all, I think I’m in love.  With my boyfriend, not the watch ;)

New Year…New ways of working!

January 3, 2011 - 8:18 pm No Comments

How much chocolate does everyone have after the holidays, by the way?!  I had to give it it’s own shelf!!

Chocolate overload! It doesn't all have to be eaten NOW, though...right?

Over my holiday, I was able to recharge and think a bit more about, among other things,  my routine.  I tend to roll out of bed just in time to drive to work, spend the first half hour waking up to the world and getting in the “zone”. I  already use leftovers for lunch as well to save food and money, and to save time I prepare it the night before so I just have to scramble to the fridge. I’m usually coming home between 5pm and 6pm and working out.  I’ve gotten really good at coming straight home and putting my workout gear on, and then exercising for an hour.  We will then rush to the local supermarket (a nice half mile walk there and back along the canal), and then cook whatever it was that took our fancy.  Because it’ll be at the very earliest 7pm by then, we are starving and the portions we serve ourselves will usually be huge.  Usually we are eating by 7.30pm, but it can be as late as 8.30 or 9pm.  Then we will spend some time doing whatever it is we like to do, and then bed by 11pm at the latest.

First off, I noticed that I wasn’t getting any of my Masters done.  I’m doing a distance learning Masters in the same field I work in, so the two are related and should work well together.  However, after 8 hours of working, no one wants to come home and do the same again for another hour (puuurplease!)

I also noticed that we were eating quite late, and because we were hungry this was leading to large portions.  I would also not be able to refuel after my workout for about an hour and a half after finishing, which most trainers say is Bad.  It will leave me drained the next day, my muscles will take longer to grow, etc, etc.

We were also not getting enough protein, as most of the things we chose to eat would be burritos, pasta dishes, Healthy Nachos (TM…just kidding), and not enough fish and steamed veg.  Don’t get me wrong, we cook from fresh and from scratch, but because that takes even more time, our belly would be huge and our eyes even bigger, and we are forever piling our plates higher.

So, New Year, New ways of working!

1. First off I will get up earlier.  There is great wisdom in doing the thing you dread most first.  Getting up at 6.30am will allow me enough time to do some Masters while I’m waking up, helping to put the time in while at the same time gearing my brain for work.  I should be able to work for an hour before I need to get ready.  A few things need to be in place for this to work – one is coffee, the other is an idiot proof breakfast that I would want to get up for.

Enter the porridge!

Idiot proof!!

We don’t have a microwave, but you can put these on the hob for perfect porridge in 2 mins.  Definitely idiot proof, but we shall have to see tomorrow if they are decaffienated Becki proof, however…

Once fed, caffinated and with Masters done (and a high from ticking that dreaded item off my list, yay!) I will be better able to cycle in to work.  Work is only 2 miles away, and I like to cycle in if the weather is fine, saving carbon, money and getting more fitness minutes in!

2. We need to plan our meals better.  So today I used frozen veggies, as frozen vegetables keep many of their nutrients and yet are convenient to use.  Today in the supermarket I found that they stock a lot of different vegetables, all prewashed, pre cut and unadulterated.  Win, win, win!

Here’s how they looked as I started our pasta bake trial:

It got a bit watery to start with, but draining it allowed me to carry on, and the pasta bake turned out well.  Because we are now able to eat earlier, we should be less hungry and eat less!

I’ll let you know how these two ideas turn out.  Making a change means being consistent until it becomes second nature.  I’m hoping that I can have the habit formed in 21 days or less!  I also know that tomorrow will be the hardest day…wish me luck!

Airport Fodder

January 3, 2011 - 1:12 pm No Comments

Just a quick catch up post on my recent American Adventure over the holidays.  It was a great chance to catch up with friends and see more of the world, especially the parts of it I really like!  But I know the most interesting parts to you are definitely what I got up to AND, of course, what I ate!

Airport fare has a bad press, but I’m quite impressed with how most of them can serve breakfast, lunch AND dinner 24/7 in order to cater for all the flights coming through and different people on different timezones.  It does make for impossible choices however!

First off we headed to the airport.  Once we were through security we were famished, and a little place called Giraffe called to us – literally!  ”Burgers!  Salads!  Pasta!”  Yes Please!

We had potato wedges with guac, salsa, and a bit of sour cream….just a bit!

Wedges to start - mmmmmm!

I had a Veggie salad, full of delicious goodness – spinach, broccoli, quinoa, tomatoes, beans, rocket, and seeds, all raw and all delicious.  As I dug in, there were grains and a little bit of feta underneath; just perfect!

Now that's a Super Salad!

Other airport goodness?  Well, Salt Lake City has quite a selection of restaurants and eateries…and straight into the States, what can be better than a Cinnabon?

Gooooey...

You can literally have only one of these per holiday.  I also got a berry frozen yogurt drink with added protein boost to share with my boy, in order to counter-act some of the unhealthiness!

We also dined in SLC’s Terrace Restaurant (on the return journey).  That was a bit of a let down.  Here’s their salmon burger:

Not too exciting, is it?  The view was nice though:

SLC Airport

But the winner is definitely Newark!  At half nine at night, you could still grab a healthy salad from inside the gate:

Surprise salad!

This tuna salad was much appreciated, especially after the delay in getting home!  We shared a dip as well:

Crunchy

And a little treat!

Just a little one

Question: What is your best and worst airport experience?

Ameri-Christmas!

January 1, 2011 - 1:25 pm No Comments

Just a quick catch up post on my recent American Adventure over the holidays.  It was a great chance to catch up with friends and see more of the world, especially the parts of it I really like.

There was a little of this:

Ski bunny (ish)

A whole lotta this:

Christmas!!!!

And, of course, plenty of this:

Just a little....

...a little bit more...

We had some super snow!

Baldy, on a powder day

Not riding that for a while...

Just a bit frosty outside...

Some of which we wanted, some we did not, as it meant our flight was cancelled!  But we got out okay.

We also had a little bit a this:

Go on..it's Christmas!

And, of course, new foods to try!!!

Twist in New Jersey

Java in Ketchum, ID

Christmas Lobsters

Super Sushi!

HUGE pizza!!!

Strange chip

Yum!

Go Raw!

All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas, and I hope you’ve had a great one too.

Drop me a line, and let me know!!

Christmas Scenes

December 24, 2010 - 11:46 pm No Comments

Phew!  It’s been a whirlwind few weeks, and I hope your holidays have been as great as mine.

First off, I’m loving the cold weather we’ve been having.  Apart from the perils of falling over in the ice, winter is probably my favourite season.  You can curl up indoors with a coffee and a book and not feel lazy, because it’s genuinely too cold to do much else!  Here are some Gloucester scenes of winter – I’d love to see some Christmas cheer where you are!

Snow on the canal!

From Llantony Bridge

Towards the warehouses

Christmas Linner

December 10, 2010 - 2:07 pm No Comments

Yesterday we had my boy’s Christmas do, in Number 7 in Cheltenham.  We’ve never been before, and the menu looked great, so expectations were high.

Number 7 Wine Bar

(Sorry for the blurry photo – too many orange juices!)

Amazing bar...can we get snowed in here?

The atmosphere was great, very welcoming and cosy, with just a few tables, so we knew we would be well-attended lunch guests.

The food we ordered didn’t come as individual servings.  Being a Chinese fusion place, it was very much prepared for a group and then placed in the middle so everyone could try everything.  I ended up with two veggie starters, the pumpkin soup and the spinach and cheese crepes, and for mains I had the most amazing four course plate!

Yum!

From top left clockwise: Thai curry, potato cake, baked goats cheese, carrot and beetroot salad.

It was all gorgeous and I finished every bite!  The portions were so huge though, we really won’t need dinner, so I christened it “Christmas Linner”.

Christmas is getting closer!

December 9, 2010 - 8:14 am No Comments

Christmas is getting closer, and our office looks like a grotto.  Really!

Christmas Grotto...er...workplace!

I love the little twinkly stars!

Here’s me looking all work-ready!  Grrr!

Ready for vurk!

I’ve been working super hard this week (poor me) in preparation for my holiday next week (woo hoo!) .  So I’ve jumped on the Instant Breakfast Bandwagon.

I got a box of Quaker Oat’s Good Morning Instant Oatmeal.  Since I’m a sucker for multi-flavoured products, I went for the all-emcompassing Sultanas, Raisins, Cranberry and Apple.

Mmmm oaty

Some milk, two minutes in the microwave, and we’re in oaty business!

Don't you love how cute our office bowls are?

Now – to work!

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