13 01 2013
Blog : Protein tips and tricks, you can’t teach those who don’t want to be taught & Updates
So I was working 3 different articles at once and just couldn’t fully wrap my head (and concentration) around any of them, so I asked on the MASS facebook group which article I should focus on first, and the overwhelming concensus was I should do the article on The High Protein diet first. After that it sort of all came together and I managed to actually get the article done in the following two days, but it took until now to proofread and get the reference list complete. Going over the studies again I realize this article isn’t even complete since a lot more can be written about the benefit of protein in ameliorating the various health conditions I mentioned, however given the public of this site, I’m not entirely sure if that would make interesting reading for you guys, but feel free to share your thoughts below. I can always add it to my slate for later. You can find the new article here, or link to it via the homepage or nutrition section.
As this blog goes, I promise they won’t be all personal and site updates and personal musings, the blog is also to share less scientific information I deem interesting, motivational writing, guest posts and other stuff, and no better time to start than the present. Given the nature of the latest article I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to protein tips and tricks. Hope you guys enjoy. Site updates at the end of the blog, as well as what I think some very important contemplations about science and logic, and how truth can only be taught to those who wish to be taught. And shouldn’t be forced on those who don’t. But let’s start with some bonus protein tips
Do I need to buy supplemental protein ?
Strictly speaking no. However I know literally no one who wouldn’t benefit from it. Technically its possible, and maybe those people are out there. You can get all your protein from natural sources, and if you have the time and money to acquire them, prepare them AND consume them at the right time, then no, you don’t need supplemental protein. The critical nature of the optimal anabolic window surrounding a workout and the simple ease of protein shakes make it a staple in almost everyone’s regimen. And frankly, once you have it, it’s just too easy to use to staple up your diet when you don’t have time or just don’t feel like cooking or shopping. With the limited use of most other types of supplements out there (I honestly can’t believe people spend money on stuff just to feel increased pump, energize their workouts or just plain bunk supplements that promise stuff they don’t deliver on) I actually find it quite warranted to spend the greatest part of my supplement budget on supplemental protein, so I can work with various tastes and types of protein. Of course, protein cooking is my hobby and it keeps me sane on a diet :p
However, having said that, I feel I need to stress the importance of eating clean and getting plenty of natural protein and fiber. Protein shakes are great and make life easier (don’t feel like getting up earlier to make breakfast ? Shake to the rescue) but you can’t consume all your meals in shake form, unless you want to suffer some mad diarrhea (I have done it at the end of diets, as it’s easy to keep track of calories and macros, and trust me, it’s not pleasant). The recipes section is dedicated to cooking with protein powders, which allows creative uses for protein powders in meals, and there is a very wide array of sources on the interwebz that can help you find tasty recipes for standard meals. I really believe there is no limit to what you can do with various meats, nuts, herbs, spices and a rich supply of vegetables. And take it from an expert, once your kitchen is stocked, you’ll start enjoying it more and more.
Which protein should I buy ?
As with any type of supplement a whole host of companies are vying for your affection and money, and those who aren’t the cheapest seem to have just one argument to throw your way, a supposed better quality. So is there any rhyme or reason to spending more on protein than you have to ? Let’s break it down into three sections. First of all, let’s look at whether or not there is any point to buying proteins with special formulations. Some try to catch your eye by adding all sorts of stuff : carbohydrates, peptides, free form amino acids, insulin enhancers etc. Does that make them worse ? No. Does it make them better ? Again no. In any case, if you are buying proteins of this kind, you should NOT be paying more money tha for straight up whey or casein. We discussed a large portion of this in this article. Free form amino acids offer no real benefit, and certainly not when taken together with intact protein. They do very little on their own, as proven by a plethora of studies, and as was pointed out repeatedly, when added to intact proteins, they will be absorbed faster than the other amino acids in the protein, and can’t possibly have any synergistic action. On top of that one has to realize what sort of a drop in the bucket additional amino acids are and at what cost. Whey and casein contain about 20% of glutamine/glutamic acid (this fraction is usually 50/50, but a portion of the glutamic acid is converted to glutamine in the liver as well) and 10% leucine. If you are consuming 2g/kg of protein a day, then 2/3 extra grams of these amino acids will not make a difference at all, and certainly not at an extra cost. The discussion about carbohydrates, and by extension insulin sensitizer and mimetics, is similar. Their only point is to increase insulin, which supposedly improves uptake and muscle protein synthesis, but as discussed here and here, insulin plays more of a permissive role, with no additional benefit beyond a certain dose that is easily reached with just the powerful insulin releasing effect of the leucine in your casein and whey. On top of that carbohydrates are dirt-cheap compared to protein, so these products again should be cheaper, not more expensive. So protein formulations containing anything but protein really aren’t worth your time or money. If stuff needs to be added, odds are good you can do a better job on the cheap adding generic stuff. Later on in this blog I’ll share my own little tips for protein consumption and making the most out of your shakes.
The second part you’ll want to consider is your protein source. I mean sure there is casein and whey, but there is also soy, hemp, rice, pea, beef, egg and other proteins. The issue of protein quality has been thoroughly discussed in the literature with dairy proteins trumping other forms of protein, especially plant protein, by a landslide in nearly every category, due to their complete amino acid profile and high essential amino acid content. On top of that whey is by far the fastest digested and absorbed protein, and micellar casein the slowest, giving them the best profile to work with. There is nothing wrong with soy, hemp, rice, pea, beef, egg and other proteins in moderation, but I sure wouldn’t spend my money on taking them in supplemental powder form. I would rather consume them as soy beans, eggs, peas, rice etc. As Patrick Arnold once noted on his blog, there is something fishy about beef protein too. If you know the price of a steak, there is no way you can get pure beef protein in a powder and sell it at that price, meaning either the stuff is highly diluted with other stuff, or its junk protein from slaughterhouse waste. So other protein powders than whey or casein are probably not worth your dime, unless you have a milk or lactose allergy (and with the latter there is still a good chance of finding a slightly pricier whey isolate that is lactose free).
So, third, and last, which whey and casein proteins should you get ? Well with casein there is no question you want micellar casein. Calcium caseinate is inferior enough to favor the micellar form. It’s still a slower digesting protein than most, but not even close to being in the neighborhood of intact micellar casein. With whey protein you’ll have a choice between concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. Right of the bat we typically dismiss the hydrolysate, because you get less bang for your buck. That is less bang and more buck. It is further digested to yield smaller peptides, which are easier and faster to absorb, but it seems the process denatures the whole thing too far, destroying various peptides that seem to provide some of the beneficial effects of intact whey. The difference between isolate and concentrate isn’t as huge as you think. The thing is that isolate takes the thinking out of it because it has a guaranteed high protein content of 85+%. With isolate you always know what you get. But concentrate isn’t any poorer quality protein, and is usually cheaper, you’ll just need to check the protein content of the individual products and calculate the adjusted dose. When I buy an isolate at 90% and I want to take 30g of whey in my shake I’ll need to use 33.3g of powder. If I have a 78% concentrate I will need 38.5g of powder to get the same dose of whey protein, so you need to factor that in and then decide if it’s still cheaper or not. If not, then you may as well go for the isolate since the extra dry matter has to be accounted for by something, and if it’s not protein, then what ? Usually just lactose and sweeteners, but thing is you never know. If it is still considerably cheaper, there is no problem with concentrates at all. Just when dieting it may be wiser to switch to an isolate.
So in my book that really only leaves three criteria : Price, protein content and taste. If you’ve checked for price per matched protein content, taste is really your best criterium. It ensures you will use it when you need to, and actually enjoy your supplement, rather than endure it. So try a few and see what you like. I’m sure no one is wondering what I am using, but I will tell you anyway. I’m obviously using XXL proteins. I used them before M.A.S.S. and now that I’m working with them on a few projects and they are sponsoring our recipes page, I’m obviously not going to change. And they have me slightly addicted to their cappuccino flavored whey. They also have the right price, free delivery where I live, a good customer service and their Night protein is the protein-densest micellar casein I’ve seen to date. I think price trumps customer loyalty, but it still counts for something. Although I’ve told him he shouldn’t spend as much, my training partner still swears by Optimum nutrition gold standard, as do quite a few people. Waste of the extra money, but it’s certainly a recognized quality brand, so if you are convinced you prefer a brand (or taste, very important) then by all means, get it. The particular flavors you like play a big role as well. I’m a vanilla kind of guy, because honestly, even the worst vanilla’s are pretty decent. Meanwhile I’ve yet to find a decent chocolate flavored protein, and I’ve tried many. Maybe it’s a hard flavor to do, maybe my standards for chocolate are just too high. Likewise I find a flavor like banana fairly disgusting, no matter who sells it. But there’s so much stuff out there, it’s really all about finding a quality protein that you like at the right price.
I do however recommend getting both casein and whey. I use them separately and in various combinations during different time of the day. Ranging from a pure whey before workout (although I usually eat a meal before a workout), to 2:1 whey:casein after a workout, to 50:50 throughout the day, to all casein before bed. It really depends on time of day and when you expect your next meal to be. A casein/whey mix in different ratio’s is very ideal throughout the day, but don’t forget, before you waste all your money on protein powders, just plain milk has a 20:80 whey:casein mix as well, and is quite a bit cheaper ;). The one shake I’m assuming you all use is your post-workout shake, when adding a slower source of protein to predominantly whey (like the 2:1 whey to casein I use) provides a high spike of amino acids when you need it most, but also extends delivery, due to the casein content, which keeps amino acid levels above baseline, and increases total area under the curve for hyperaminoacedemia and muscle protein synthesis (Butteiger DN et al. 2012)
My own workout shake :
The only times I always use a shake is during my workout, and when not dieting, at breakfast. On top of that I may use it any time I feel stressed for time or just plain feel like having more. A casein shake before bed is also a frequent occurrence (because a slow digesting protein to keep blood amino acids high for extended time during sleep is of course a major bonus in your daily nutrition). For my workout shake I will use 40g of whey powder (yielding about 34g of whey, which is really more than I need, 25-30 is enough) and 20g of casein powder (which in my case yields 18g of casein) dissolved in half a liter of milk (semi-skim for 15g/L fat most of the time and skim for 0g/L when dieting), with two raw eggs, 20g of soluble oatmeal and 3g of creatine. I really don’t understand why people don’t use milk to make shakes more often. As discussed here, slower proteins do not affect the digestion and absorption rate of whey, so it can’t be for such reasons, and meanwhile milk adds body, flavor and additional protein. Half a liter also already provides 24g of carbs from lactose, which combined with 20g of soluble oatmeal provides 44g of carbs in a fast/slow mix, negating the need for any type of MRP or added sugar, and is MORE than enough to help you replenish glycogen after a training and sustain you through your next meal. The two eggs add a third protein source for an additional 14g of protein, but mostly they make the shake fluffy and full-bodied. It’s also a tasty way of consuming eggs, because really after a week of eating eggs at breakfast, I’ve just about had it for at least another week. Together, this shake provides 82g of protein, of which, at best, you’ll probably only use 50-55, but as discussed previously, excess protein is not necessarily a bad thing, sustaining satiety and burning off calories through gluconeogenesis and terminal oxidation.
Best ways to consume additional protein powders throughout the day :
1.Add it to warm milk. Chocolate casein with some stevia or vanilla casein with some natural honey in a cup of warm milk makes the perfect nightcap. I look forward to this almost every night. And I personally don’t shy away from making lattés with my cappuccino whey either :p
2.Add vanilla protein with stevia to some quark, mix well and eat just like that. Probably works with yoghurt too. Very tasty, tastier than the pure products, and yet still without added sugars.
3.Protein recipes. We have a whole section devoted to them. If find protein cooking extremely therapeutic when dieting, since I can wrap my mind around them and keep busy when I can’t eat, and I’ll have a tasty dessert waiting for me in the evening that I can eat guilt-free because its helping me meet my protein demand for the day. My potein cheesecake at 300 calories, 28g of protein and exceptionally satiating, and my RS4 HDPancakes at 15-20g protein and chockfull of HDP to provide me with muscle sparing protein and keep fatty acid oxidation going, are two of my most valuable tools on diets, while brownies and truffles are the single best whey to get extra protein in during the day when bulking. Smoothies are a very customizable recipe I’m going to add in the future as well.
As discussed in this recent article, getting adequate protein in the diet is important regardless of goal and the absolute protein content of your diet should be your primary concern, much more than how much and what types of carbs and fats you are ingesting.
You can’t teach those who refuse to be taught
My personal musing for the week is that you need to be careful about what you tell people for fear of them using it to validate their misgivings. People only really hear what they want to hear. When I tell a group of people that the relative importance of cardio is overstated, there are inevitably some endurance athletes who just categorically ignore what I say, and a handful of strength athletes that use that to validate the fact that they should never do cardio, when obviously some cardio is good for your health and well-being, and likewise, some cardio will still need to be performed in the final stages of a diet to get adequately lean. It’s the same sort of reaction I got when I was studying the effects of steroids. A large part of the audience immediately gives you a very shifty look as if you are doing the devil’s work, and those people who use steroids immediately take any sort of nuance about the risk of steroids to mean that there are no risks and they can do whatever they want. In all actuality anabolic androgenic steroids are prescription drugs and frankly should be treated as such. When used with caution and under the proper care, they can be used to improve quality of life, but when used carelessly they form a risk. The final conclusion is that most people who are using them shouldn’t be, and that those who condemn them should be more open to where they can be used to increase quality of life, in older men for example.
And it’s really a pitfall we all suffer to avoid hearing what we should be hearing. And I think it is the single greatest misgiving in the world for people like myself. If I don’t fight this tendency every day (and to claim I don’t suffer this problem would probably be my biggest excuse ever) I can’t possibly deliver quality articles for this site. That’s also why, despite having no commercial interests, we seriously want to increase our M.A.S.S. community, because only a large, critical population of readers provides us with ample feedback to maintain the level of quality we want.
A reader by the moniker Mutabo commented on the pre- and post-workout nutrition article this week that people won’t listen to him when he explains to them that there is no need for large amounts of sugar in post-workout shakes, and as I told him there, you just can teach those that don’t want to be taught. And nor should you. It’s not your place to cure the world of ignorance. While based on fact it’s really no different from imposing ones beliefs. Everyone has the right to revel in their ignorance. I shared with him a quote by Sam Harris that is very dear to me :
“Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. What if someone says, ‘Well, that’s not how I choose to think about water.”? All we can do is appeal to scientific values. And if he doesn’t share those values, the conversation is over. If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance or logic?”
Logic is precious. Cherish it if you have it. And that is what we direly need for M.A.S.S., people who appreciate logic and science. That’s why we really, really want to get the word out there about this site, but we don’t want people to join or like us out of sympathy. We only want people with a genuine interest and love for what we do. Our only aim is to put the information out there for those who seek it, because there is a dire need for free, correct, unbiased, science-based information. But we won’t be out there shoving our information down people’s throats. And neither should you. You’ve learned to be open-minded enough to understand the significance of science and logic, so be open-minded enough to understand the significance of choice. Ignorance is not a choice any of us support, but it’s also not our place to condemn. Ever. When given all the necessary information, the choices we make separates the enlightened from the rest. We choose to see or not to see, to hear or not to hear. We also choose to be tolerant to the choices of others or not. When you force things on people, they won’t become smarter or more logical, they will only become dogmatic with slightly more funded information. That’s not logic. True logic and enlightenment will teach them to make better choices, but forcing anything on them, no matter how true, only denies them their choice.
And that’s why the truly smart man is the tolerant man. (or woman of course)
After the high protein article, the article on intermittent fasting got the second place vote, so that’s the next one I’m focusing on, much to the dismay of our webmaster who would rather read the zinc article :p As always feel free to leave your thoughts, questions and suggestions beneath articles or blogs, on our facebook group or via email.
Help us spread the good word !
I noticed yesterday that one of you posted a link to one of our articles on the forum at bodynet.nl. Apparently that generates a pingback to our site, and so I took a little peak, and ended up taking part in the discussion. If you guys frequent other forums, feel free to share a link to our articles (you can also share it on social media, there are social media buttons at the top), and when I get the pingback I might come take a personal look and get in the fray of things if I can. It’s a good way for me to learn about new forums and places I did not know about yet, and the links are a good way for us to promote the site, and have our community grow. So anyone who can help out there, we would greatly appreciate it ! We don’t have any means to reward people for helping us out right now, as we are paying for all expenses ourselves, but we won’t forget the people who help us out down the stretch, I promise If and when you share a link, feel free to let us know and who you are. The faster we can get our community to grow, the sooner we will be able to expand the work we do, and the more accurate and complete everything becomes. So become a Muscle and Sports Scientist and show the world !
Speaking of, we will also be looking for a unique logo soon, so if anybody happens to know anyone that can help in that department, please let us know.
For more updates keeping checking the facebook feed I also made a Twitteraccount (TheMASScience) but I haven’t gotten the hang of the twitter thing yet, so not a whole lot to see there right now :p
Have fun this week, and as my favorite saying goes, “Good things come to those who weight”