This blog could have been titled, Do You Know The Ingredients Keeping You Fat, Sick, and Tired? I had a hard time deciding between the two. The secret reveal is right there.
*An overwhelming response to the podcast on Tuesday on the same topic prompted me to publish this one not originally in the line up!
I began using protein shakes when I was in my 30s and did my first marathons. I needed to shorten my recovery time and make sure I got adequate protein quickly and conveniently after runs. I ran five marathons injury-free. I contribute that partially to good recovery. Muscles are gained and lost with exercise. Without adequate nutrition, along with rest and recovery, losses are eminent. The older you get the more true this is.
At 40 I first got into triathlon training. I had had it on a bucket list since I was in college and was biking, swimming, and running without the time or money to actually dedicate to a training plan or races. I happened to be working for a triathlon coach at the time and surrounded by multisport athletes. That’s when I caught the bug. Then years later, you know the feeling, you turn the corner thinking, if this is going to happen I better get on it.
That’s when protein shakes became a way of life. After triathlon training there’s no way I’d ever go back to “exercise” again. Having a training plan made every workout and every recovery day so much more purposeful, and rewarding. I was in the best shape of my life. So even during years in this last dozen when I took a break from events and heavy training, I still followed a plan. I’d dropped teaching fitness classes to concentrate on my own fitness preferences for the first time since I’d been a freshman in college.
I swore though, I would never carry supplements and in my mind protein shakes fell there. I’d seen the model used by so many gyms. They required trainers and staff to sell a quota of products, whether or not customers needed them or not. Reports came back from my internship students about it frequently.
You do as well as you know. At the time I was reading labels before I bought. I was reading for low sugar and high protein content. I still do that. What I wasn’t paying attention to early on was the amount of chemicals and other ingredients that were counter to the goals that I had for using them in the first place.
Protein shakes vs whole food
I prefer whole food. I always will. Recently alive. My belief is that vitamins and supplements don’t do a body good if you’re not eating your way to a healthier body first. But early on I knew the ability to break down food by blending to drink in nutrients could help absorption of the food and nutrients.
I knew that a window of time existed when recovery was optimal if you did it within 30 minutes after a workout. For a training endurance athlete that is important. You’re going to be doing another tough workout and some weeks are quite intense. Recovery through nutrition and rest between workouts was much more important to me. A fast way to get that post-run or bike nutrition is a smoothie. When you’re soaking wet from sweat, tired after a long or hard effort, and need to move quickly to the shower to your waiting obligations a smoothie puts a lot of nutrition in you quickly.
That still today is a big plus for many women even though the triathlon may look more like juggling work, family, and home. For me in the last three years it felt like swimming in paperwork, riding my computer desk, and running in circles with a new business brand.
So, I knew things. What I didn’t pay attention to is ingredients like:
Maltodextrin: artificial sweetener rapidly absorbed potentially made from GMO corn
Sucrose: artificial sweetener
Sucralose: artificial sweetener
Fructose: sugar, increases fat storage, the last thing you want after exercise
“Gums”: Can cause digestive issues for women with IBS, chrohns or who already suffering from digestive problems
Soy: an obesogen, estrogenic, and a goitrogenic meaning that there’s evidence it increases fat storage and decrease fat burning as well as disrupts endocrine (hormone) function, and thyroid function
When you know better you do better.
What I wish I’d known about protein shakes then
I also didn’t know back then about the terms denatured and non-denatured back in the day I first scooped protein into a blender. I’m careful now to partner and use only non-denatured so it was made at lower temperatures that keep the nutrition and the immune properties in.
I didn’t look for grass-fed, organic, hormone-free when it came to animal protein sources.
I didn’t know that additional vitamins was NOT always a good thing. I thought the more the merrier, right? Not so much. Turns out the little vitamin and mineral family are also a little competitive. So if you’re taking a multivitamin and you’re downing protein shakes loaded with good vitamins too you may absorb LESS overall. There’s only so many seats in musical chairs.
I didn’t know that whey is not tolerated by some women (especially) because it’s dairy, and women at midlife experience gut changes from hormone changes. There wasn’t as much discussion about whey elevating blood sugar. I stumbled on that one naturally. Go figure, that if you’re not exercising or recovering from exercise and you’re using something rapidly absorbed it will elevate blood sugar because it isn’t needed elsewhere. Now we know. (It’s why I carry the Paleo version – not because I am Paleo, but because it offers animal protein without the spike in blood sugar. For vegans, and others like me who like significant protein from plants, I also offer a Plant Power option).
The Worst Did-Not-Know?
Over 50% of protein powders randomly tested off shelves in stores you and I probably shop in contained traces of arsenic, heavy metals, and some of 10,000 chemicals approved by the FDA for use in foods that can cause cancer at worst and prevent the kind of results you want at best.
That’s when I took my shopping elsewhere. Ultimately, as I shared more and more of the emerging research from protein researchers, exercise physiologists, nutritionists (of the clinical type, often more slow to waiver from the strict and conservative RDA guidelines) why I was using protein shakes to reach the daily quota (another blog entirely) of protein really needed to thrive – and to add convenience to an already- crazy life, I decided to carry it myself.
It’s a case of never say never. I feel good about offering a product I use myself one or more times a day with results I love. Smoothies aren’t for everyone but they are a simple way to get a breakfast in that is high in protein to boost fat burning and lean muscle loss prevention. It’s a convenient snack for a woman on the go. It’s a travel companion and a way to create dessert-like treats that you don’t regret. It has made a difference in the energy and vitality, and reflection in the mirror for so many women I work with.
I’ve got a great smoothie resource guide (two, actually, can you tell it’s a staple here?) and you can get 60 recipes or learn how to make smoothies not a diet food but a convenient way to fill up on fresh food and protein. Get that and enjoy $15 of coupons in the Flippingfifty store so you can try the difference and feel good about chemical-free, non-denatured, protein that increases the chance you get an additional serving or two of vegetables along with healthy fat and fiber in at breakfast. Shop here and read more about which and when to use.
*sorry I don’t have small samples (unless of course, you’re in Boulder, call me! and we’ll do shakes) but I do offer a money back guarantee* if you don’t love them. (less S+H)
Watch all the current and future episodes of the Flipping 50 TV show now by clicking here or you can wait and watch as they’re re-released on the Flipping 50 TV blog. We’ve started with episode 1 and released one a week for you. (At the time of this updated post, there are 26!)