Friday, October 14, 2011

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Protein Powders

Protein Powders (All You Ever Wanted to Know)
by Charles Poliquin
Date Released : 04 May 2011
Click here to comment on this article

One of the problems with American diets is a lack of high-quality protein. One reason is our obsession with poor-quality fast foods; another is lack of time. In a world where everyone is overwhelmed with a busy life, it often becomes difficult to find the time to prepare high-protein meals of fish, lean meats or eggs. This is especially true for bodybuilders and elite athletes who follow lifestyle programs that have them consuming five to six meals a day. One solution is to make health food shakes with added protein or to consume meal replacement products that are high in protein.

A great way to get a lot of high-quality protein quickly is with a shake with protein powder added. This product has an interesting history. The first type of protein powder was powdered milk, which has its roots in the Mongol people and their powerful leader, Genghis Khan. The Mongols would evaporate milk by allowing it to dry in the sun and would reportedly take the chalk-like substance with them on their long journeys of conquest. In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, author Jack Weatherford suggests that a low-carb, high-protein diet with an emphasis on milk protein was one of the reasons for Khan’s success in battle:

“The Chinese noted with surprise and disgust the ability of the Mongol warriors to survive on little food and water for long periods; according to one, the entire army could camp without a single puff of smoke since they needed no fires to cook. Compared to the Jurched soldiers, the Mongols were much healthier and stronger. The Mongols consumed a steady diet of meat, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products, and they fought men who lived on gruel made from various grains. The grain diet of the peasant warriors stunted their bones, rotted their teeth, and left them weak and prone to disease. In contrast, the poorest Mongol soldier ate mostly protein, thereby giving him strong teeth and bones.”

Henri Nestlé was a pioneer in developing infant formulas, which helped lead to the development of modern meal replacement powders. (Photos courtesy Nestlé Corporate Media Relations)

The individual responsible for inventing the modern form of powdered milk was most likely Gail Borden, nicknamed “The Father of the Modern Dairy Industry.” In 1856 Borden received a patent for condensing milk that involved boiling the milk in airtight vacuum pans. In the early 1860s, the American Civil War created a huge demand for Borden’s product, and another market opened up in 1867 when Henri Nestlé added flour and sugar to powdered milk to create the first infant formula.

With today’s powdered milk there is little risk of bacterial contamination because of the lack of moisture. However, you need to pay attention to the expiration date of powdered milk and protein powders, as the proteins eventually oxidize, reducing their quality.

One benefit of powders is that they enable you to precisely follow a nutrition program. For example, when someone reduces calories to try to lose weight, his or her protein requirements increase. If you don’t get enough protein during a weight loss program, you can experience a loss of muscle mass. In addition, protein tends to help with food cravings because it helps stabilize blood sugar levels and creates a sense of fullness. Sure, drinking milk and eating steaks will give you protein, but they also give you a lot of fat and calories you may not want during a weight loss program.

Does Your Protein Measure Up?

One question we have to ask in any discussion about protein powders is “Why use milk as a source for protein in the first place?” There are many good reasons. The first reason to use milk in protein powders is simply because it contains a lot of protein. Beef, chicken and eggs are considered very concentrated sources of protein, but just one cup of milk contains as much protein as one ounce of beef or chicken – whereas a whole egg contains 6.5 grams of protein.

Another reason to use milk as a protein source is that it’s very digestible. Just because the label of a protein powder says it contains a certain amount of protein, that doesn’t necessarily mean your body can use all that protein. Of course there are protein powders made from soy, rice and even hemp seeds, but those proteins are of inferior quality. Let me explain.

There are several methods of ranking the quality of a protein, and one of the most recent is called the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAA). The highest value that a protein can receive in this type of measurement is 1.00. Milk and whole eggs earn a perfect score, and beef looks good at .92, but Mr. Peanut has no reason to smile, as he only earns a .52 score.

Of course, there are other ways to judge the protein quality of food, such as a measurement called biological value (BV) that looks at nitrogen retention and absorption. With this measurement, milk earns a score of 91 compared to whole eggs, which max out at 100; but milk still wins out over beef, which achieves a score of only 80. And with the plant proteins, you have to consider that these are considered incomplete proteins in that they must be combined with other sources of amino acids to be used by the body. For example, to make a complete protein source you can spread peanut butter on a rice cake.

Although this discussion has been primarily about powdered milk, I’d like to take it a step further and talk about whey protein. Milk contains two types of protein: casein and whey. Whey protein is higher in quality than casein; whey is equal to milk in PDCAA scoring and higher in BV, and during the separation process its lactose can be removed.

Lactose is a sugar that causes gastrointestinal distress in much of the world’s population. The enzyme that breaks down lactose is called lactase. If an individual is not producing enough lactase, the result is lactose intolerance. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea and even nausea. Lactose intolerance is one reason for the popularity of soy protein powders, but I have a laundry list of problems with using soy products, including its potential to reduce testosterone in men. It’s rare that a child is born with complete lactose intolerance, as the problem usually develops after adolescence. Taking a lactase supplement can help, but it’s easier to avoid lactose intolerance altogether by using whey protein powders.

When you go shopping for whey protein powders, you’ll see that they come in categories such as concentrates, isolates and hydrolysates. Isolates contain more protein and less fat than concentrates, and hydrolysates contain digestive enzymes. Isolates cost more than concentrates, and hydrolysates cost more than isolates.

With whey protein, the axiom “You get what you pay for” often holds true. I’ve always said that if you buy supplements from a discount store, you’re probably buying an inferior product that could be tainted with things you don’t want in your body – consider the recent lawsuit filed in California after high levels of the toxins known as PCBs were found in popular brands of fish oils. The best whey protein powders should be independently lab-tested for the following: whey protein authenticity, protein potency, melamine, solvent residue, heavy metals, herbicide and pesticide residue, stability, bacteria, yeast and mold counts.

The Case for Meal Replacements

Extending our discussion beyond protein powders, meal replacement shakes offer quality food ingredients in various combinations of the three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats. And despite the name, meal replacements should only replace some meals – not all of them.

There are many reasons to use meal replacements, and there is legitimate scientific research to support their use. Two frequently cited studies looked at weight loss with meal replacements.

The March 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association published the results of a yearlong study of 64 overweight women, ages 18 to 55, who expressed an interest in losing between 20 and 40 pounds. One of the unique characteristics of the women involved in this study is that all claimed they had been unsuccessful in changing their eating habits. The women were divided into two groups and were placed on 1,200-calorie diets. The control group was given a standard diet, while the other group consumed three milk-based, 220-calorie meal replacement drinks totaling 680 calories (meaning that the remaining 520 calories consumed were from whole foods, primarily fruits and vegetables). The result is that after three months, both groups lost 3-6 pounds, but at the end of 52 weeks the group that used the meal replacement product kept the weight off while the whole-food group regained the weight they had lost. Discipline in a can!

Published in October 2004 in the International Journal of Obesity were the results of a six-month study with 63 overweight subjects, 50 female and 12 male, with an average age of about 49 years. Their daily nutrition consisted of one whole-food meal per day and two milk-based meal replacement drinks, with a total daily intake of 800 to 1,800 calories. The subjects were instructed to walk three times a week for 30 minutes each session. Six months into the nutrition program, there was a mean decrease of seven percent body weight.

The meal replacements used in these studies were commercially available and had a high amount of sugar (220 calories and 34 grams of sugar); the ingredients in one brand consisted primarily of milk, cocoa and two types of sugar. But before getting into what constitutes a good meal replacement, let’s look at the origins of this type of product – which, incidentally, falls into the category of infant formulas.

The first infant formula was developed in 1867, consisting of cow’s milk, wheat flour, malt flour and potassium bicarbonate; the first soy formula was introduced in 1929. The most famous developer was Henri Nestlé (yes, that Nestlé, of Toll House cookie fame).

Born in Frankfort, Germany, Nestlé came from a family of 14 children, half of whom died before reaching adulthood. In the mid-1860s, Nestlé used his training in pharmacology to address the issue of infant mortality due to malnutrition by developing a healthy, economical alternative for mothers who could not breastfeed. With the help of nutritionist Jean Balthasar Schnetzler, Nestlé made the formula easier to digest by removing the acid and the starch in wheat flour. Nestlé called the new product Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé.

The early days of infant formula eventually involved into meal replacement powders for athletes, primarily bodybuilders. One of the most popular formulas among bodybuilders in the ’70s was called Blair’s Protein, developed by Irvin Johnson (who changed his name to Rheo H. Blair on the advice of an astrologer). It was a delicious mixture – described as having the taste of soft ice cream – and was reportedly the favorite of six Mr. Olympias. However, because it contained approximately 25 percent lactose, it often caused gastrointestinal distress.

The two major types of meal replacement formulas manufactured today use whey or soy as their primary protein source. One reason that soy was introduced to infant formulas was to deal with infants who are allergic to cow’s milk; however, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that infants who are allergic to cow’s milk should not be given soy milk because 50 percent of those who are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to soy milk. Soy can be bad news, especially for men due to its effect in decreasing serum testosterone. To learn why soy is such a poor choice for a meal replacement, pick up a copy of Dr. Kaayla Daniel’s book The Whole Soy Story .

Although not as well known, one other option is pea protein. Pea protein has excellent digestibility (98 percent) and has an excellent array of amino acids, including high levels of BCAAs. It is particularly high in leucine, lysine, arginine, phenylalanine and tyrosine. And because pea protein has ACE inhibitory activity, it may have a positive effect on the maintenance of normal blood pressure levels. It has also been shown, in rat studies, to have a positive impact on total cholesterol and very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) by stimulating bile acid formation and excretion.

The concept behind using meal replacement powders is a good one, as they can be quickly and easily prepared and can provide precisely the nutrients you want. When you use nutrition/lifestyle protocols that involve several “feedings” a day, adequate food preparation becomes very difficult and time consuming.

I recommend that the majority of your calories come from whole foods, but this is a fast-paced world, so meal replacements and protein powders have a place as convenient ways to ensure you receive the highest-quality nutrition.

Daniel, K. T. (2005). The whole soy story: The dark side of America’s favorite health food. Washington, DC: NewTrends Publishing.

Frantz, J. B. (1951). Gail Borden: Dairyman to a nation. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

History [of Nestlé]. (n.d.). Retrieved from .

Huerta, S., Li, Z., Li, H. C., Hu, M. S., Yu, C. A., & Heber, D. (2004). Feasibility of a partial meal replacement plan for weight loss in low-income patients. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 28 (12), 1575-1579.

Rothacker, D. Q., Staniszewski, B. A., & Ellis, P. K. (2001, March). Liquid meal replacement vs traditional food: A potential model for women who cannot maintain eating habit change. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 101 (3), 345-347.

Weatherford, J. (2004). Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

9 Foods Not To Give Your Kids (or Yourself!!)

I found this article on website (originators of Brazilian Buttlift and P90x)


9 Foods Not to Give Your Kids
By Joe Wilkes
If you've followed the news on childhood obesity lately, you know the state of affairs is pretty grim. Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past two decades, and most signs point to the next generation being the first whose life expectancy will be shorter than their parents'. Much of the blame for this trend has deservedly been laid at the feet of the producers and marketers of unhealthy food aimed at our youngest consumers, whose parents face an uphill battle: trying to pit fresh, healthy foods devoid of mascots or sidekicks against superheroes and cartoon animals in a struggle to tempt their children's palates and stomachs.

Since most kids have hummingbird metabolisms that adults can only envy, it's often easy to give them a free pass and let them eat whatever they want. But eventually those metabolisms slow down and the pounds settle in. Also, as physical activity decreases and processed food intake increases annually, kids aren't burning calories the way their parents might have when they were their age. And even if the kids aren't getting fat, they are establishing eating habits they'll take into adulthood. As parents, you can help foster a love for healthy eating and exercise that will last your kids a lifetime—hopefully a long one!

Eating can so often be a classic power struggle where kids try to finally locate their mom and dad's last nerve. (I can remember family dinners with my brother and parents that could teach Hezbollah a thing or two about standoffs.) There are a number of strategies you can use to mitigate this type of deadlock. One is to let your kids help with the selection and preparation of the food. If they picked out the veggies at the farmers' market and helped cook them, they might be less inclined to feed them to the family pet. Another is to frame eating vegetables and healthy food as being its own reward. Otherwise, by offering dessert as a reward for finishing vegetables, you create a system where unhealthy food is a treat and healthy food sucks. With these thoughts in mind, let's take a look at some of the unhealthiest foods being marketed to your kids today, and some healthier alternatives you can offer to replace each of them.

Note: The following recommendations are for school-aged children. Infants and toddlers have different specific nutritional needs not addressed in this article.

Chicken nuggets/tenders. These popular kids' menu items are little nuggets of compressed fat, sodium, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and some form of chicken. Depending on the restaurant, chicken might not even be the first ingredient. Oftentimes, the nuggets or tenders are made of ground pieces of chicken meat and skin, pressed into a shape, flavored with HFCS and salt, and batter-fried in hydrogenated oil (the bad, trans-fatty stuff). Then, as if that weren't unhealthy enough, you dunk it in a HFCS- or mayonnaise-based sauce. With all the fat, salt, and sugar, it's easy to understand why they're tasty, but the nutritive value weighed against the huge amount of calories and fat consumed is incredibly lacking. Even healthier-sounding menu items can be deceiving, like McDonald's® Premium Breast Strips (5 pieces), which pack 640 calories and 38 grams of fat—and that's before you factor in the dipping sauce. (By comparison, a Big Mac® with sauce has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat.)
Instead: If you're cooking at home, grill a chicken breast and cut it into dipping-size pieces either with a knife or, for extra fun, cookie cutters. Make a healthy dipping sauce from HFCS-free ketchup, marinara sauce, mustard, or yogurt. Let your kids help make the shapes or mix up the sauce. Try and go without breading, but if you must, try dipping the chicken breast in a beaten egg, and then rolling it in cornflake crumbs before you bake it. It'll be crunchy and delicious, but not as fatty.

Sugary cereal. I can remember as a child, after going to friends' houses for overnights and being treated to breakfast cereals with marshmallows that turned the milk fluorescent pink or blue, feeling horribly deprived when faced with the less colorful and sugary options served up in my home kitchen. But now I can appreciate my mom and her unpopular brans and granolas. True, they didn't have any cartoon characters on the box or any toy surprises, but they also didn't have the cups of sugar, grams of fat, and hundreds of empty calories that these Saturday-morning staples are loaded with.
Instead: Read the labels and try to find cereal that's low in sugar and high in fiber and whole grains. Remember, "wheat" is not the same as "whole wheat." Also, avoid cereals (including some granolas) that have hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, or chemical preservatives. Add raisins, sliced bananas, berries, or other seasonal fruit to the cereal for extra flavor and nutrition. Again, letting your child help design a healthy bowl of cereal from choices you provide will get you a little more buy-in at the breakfast table.

Lunch meat and hot dogs. Kids love hot dogs, bologna, and other processed meats, but these are all full of potentially carcinogenic nitrates and nitrites, sodium, saturated fat, and artificial colors and fillers. A study in Los Angeles found that kids who ate 12 hot dogs a month had 9 times the risk of developing leukemia.1 And more health risks are being discovered all the time. Leaf through any research about kids' nutrition, and you're bound to read about the bane of the cafeteria—Oscar Mayer's Lunchables®. These and similar prepackaged lunches are loaded with processed meats and crackers made with hydrogenated oils. These innocent-looking meals can boast fat counts of up to 38 grams. That's as much fat as a Burger King® Whopper® and more than half the recommended daily allowance of fat for an adult.
Instead: Get unprocessed meats, like lean turkey breast, chicken, tuna, or roast beef. Use whole wheat bread for sandwiches; or if your kid's dying for Lunchables, fill a small plastic container with whole-grain, low-fat crackers, lean, unprocessed meat, and low-fat cheese. This can be another great time to get out the cookie cutters to make healthy sandwiches more fun. For hot dogs, read labels carefully. Turkey dogs are usually a good bet, but some are pumped up with a fair amount of chemicals and extra fat to disguise their fowl origins. Look for low levels of fat, low sodium, and a list of ingredients you recognize. There are some tasty veggie dogs on the market, although a good deal of trial and error may be involved for the choosy child.

Juice and juice-flavored drinks. Juice—what could be wrong with juice? While 100 percent juice is a good source of vitamin C, it doesn't have the fiber of whole fruit, and provides calories mostly from sugar and carbohydrates. Too much juice can lead to obesity and tooth decay, among other problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day for kids under 6, and 8 to 12 ounces for older kids. Juice drinks that aren't 100 percent juice are usually laced with artificial colors and that old standby, high fructose corn syrup, and should be avoided. Your best bet is to make your own juice from fresh, seasonal fruit. You won't have to worry about all the additives, and it's another way you can involve your kids in the cooking process. Let them design their own juice "cocktail."
Instead: Water is still the best thirst quencher. Explain the importance of good hydration to your kids, and try to set a good example yourself by carrying around a healthy reusable hard plastic or stainless steel water bottle. Get your kids used to carrying a small bottle of water in their backpack or attached to their bike. If they're very water averse, try water with a splash of fruit juice in it. But just a splash. The idea is to get your kids used to not having things be overly sweet, overly salty, or overly fatty. Another great beverage is milk. Growing kids need plenty of milk (or fortified nondairy milks, like soy or almond)—which is filled with nutrients, calcium, and (in the case of dairy and soy) protein—but they don't need too much fat, so choosing low-fat or nonfat options will help ensure that they get their milk without actually beginning to resemble a cow.

French fries. High in calories, high in fat, and high in sodium—and unsurprisingly the most popular "vegetable" among kids. Fries offer virtually none of the nutrients found in broccoli, carrots, spinach, or other veggies not cooked up in a deep fryer, and the fat they're fried in is often trans fat, the unhealthiest kind for the heart. To top it all off, studies are beginning to show cancer-causing properties from acrylamide, a toxic substance that is created when starchy foods like potatoes are heated to extreme temperatures. In some tests, the amount of acrylamide in French fries was 300 to 600 times higher than the amount the EPA allows in a glass of water.2
Instead: Vegetables like baby carrots, celery sticks, and other crudités are great options, but if potatoes must be had, there are some options that don't involve melting a brick of fat. A scooped-out potato skin with low-fat chili and a little cheese can provide lots of fiber and vitamins, with even higher amounts if the chili has beans. You can also try making baked fries, using slices of potato with a light brushing of olive oil. Or the classic baked potato could be a hit, with plain yogurt or cottage cheese instead of sour cream and butter.

Potato chips, Cheetos®, Doritos®, etc. These are full of fat, oftentimes saturated, and way more sodium than any child or adult should eat. Some chips also have the acrylamide problem discussed in #5, French fries, above. Also, watch out for innocent-seeming baked and low-fat chips that contain olestra or other fake fats and chemicals that could present health issues for kids.
Instead: Kids gotta snack, and in fact, since their stomachs are smaller, they aren't usually able to go as long between meals as adults. Cut-up vegetables are the best thing if your kids want to get their crunch on, but air-popped popcorn and some baked chips are okay, too. You can control how much salt goes on the popcorn, or involve your child in experimenting with other toppings like red pepper, Parmesan cheese, or dried herbs. Try making your own trail mix with your kids. They might be more excited to eat their own personal blend, and that way you can avoid certain store-bought trail mixes, which sometimes contain ingredients like chocolate chips and marshmallows that aren't exactly on the healthy snack trail.

Fruit leather. Many of these gelatinous snacks like roll-ups or fruit bites contain just a trace amount of fruit, but lots of sugar or HFCS and bright artificial colors. Don't be misled by all the products that include the word "fruit" on their box. Real fruit is in the produce section, not the candy aisle.
Instead: If your child doesn't show interest in fruit in its natural state, there are some ways you can make it more interesting without losing its nutritional value. For a healthy frozen treat, try filling ice-cube or frozen-pop trays with fruit juice, or freezing grapes. Or buy unflavored gelatin and mix it with fruit juice and/or pieces of fruit to make gelatin treats without the added sugar and color (let it solidify in big flat casserole dishes or roasting pans—another good time for the cookie cutters!) Try serving some raisins, dried apricots, apples, peaches, or other dried fruits that might give you that chewy, leathery texture without the sugar.

Doughnuts. These little deep-fried gobs of joy are favorites for kids and adults alike, but they are full of fat and trans-fatty acids, and of course, sugar. Toaster pastries, muffins, and cinnamon buns aren't much better. The worst thing about doughnuts and these other pastries, aside from their nutritional content, is that they're often presented to children as acceptable breakfast choices. These delicious deadlies need to be categorized properly—as desserts, to be eaten very sparingly. And you can't have dessert for breakfast.
Instead: Honestly, a slice of whole wheat toast spread with sugar-free fruit spread or peanut butter isn't going to get as many fans as a chocolate-filled Krispy Kreme® doughnut, but at some point, you have to stand firm. Be the cop who doesn't like doughnuts. Doughnuts—not for breakfast. Period.

Pizza. In moderation, pizza can be a fairly decent choice. If you order the right toppings, you can get in most of your food groups. The problem comes with processed meats like pepperoni and sausage, which add fat and nitrates/nitrites (see #3, Lunch meat and hot dogs, above); and the overabundance of cheese, which will also provide more calories and fat than a child needs.
Instead: Try making your own pizza with your kids. Use premade whole wheat crusts, or whole wheat tortillas, English muffins, or bread as a base. Then brush on HFCS-free sauce, and set up a workstation with healthy ingredients like diced chicken breast, sliced turkey dogs, and vegetables that each child can use to build his or her own pizza. Then sprinkle on a little cheese, bake, and serve. If your child gets used to eating pizza like this, delivery pizzas may seem unbearably greasy after awhile.

Someday your children will come to realize that caped men in tights and sponges who live under the sea might not have their best interests at heart when it comes to food. Until then, however, why not involve them in the process of selecting and preparing healthier alternatives? Some of these cleverly disguised wholesome foods might become their favorites. Who knows, they may even tempt some of the overgrown children among us!


1Peters J, et al. "Processed meats and risk of childhood leukemia (California, USA)" Cancer Causes & Control 5: 195-202, 1994

2Tareke E, Rydberg P, Karlsson P, et al. "Analysis of acrylamide, a carcinogen formed in heated foodstuffs" J. of Agri and Food Chem. 2002;50:4988-5006