Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More on Protein Powders!

This week, I'll continue with my protein powder dissection.  As I've iterated over and over, I do not condone protein powders as mainstays in people's diets - it hurts my soul to think of you guys subsisting on weird, flavored powders.  Real, whole, nutrient dense food is the way to go.  Instead of protein powders, eat this.
A friend wrote me an email regarding my last post on soy protein powder, and I'll share it with you verbatim here:

Wow that's cool neely, I've never liked soy because I never felt it was food and certainly was worried about growing titties from it. I guess consuming soy may counteract my ongoing testosterone therapy (laugh track hhhaaaaa)

Do take a look at this one:
I feel that I'm somewhat eating food when I use it.
Give us the lowdown on this type of protein.

PS: i dont feel that whey is food either, except if I have it once in a blue moon. Egg protein i suspect is better but its so expensive...

I looked at the protein powder he linked me to, which is a rice protein/pea protein mix.  It's a mix because rice and pea are both low in certain amino acids (the building blocks of protein), but when put together they sort of complete each other.  Here's my response to his email:

About your question.  I have a question for you in return.  Why do you use protein powder?

About your pea/rice protein powder:

1.  It's not organic, so there's a good chance you're getting GMO's and pesticides, among other things.  Not good.

2. Rice and peas both contain lectins and phytates - anti-nutrients - so they're not the easiest things in the world to digest, even after they've been ├╝ber-processed to make the powder.   

3. It says they're "hypo-allergenic", unlike whey, soy and egg.  Bullshit.  The term "hypo-allergenic" is misleading and arbitrary.  We all are sensitive to different foods.  You might be sensitive to rice, and I might be sensitive to soy.  Turns out that A LOT of people are sensitive to rice. 

4. You said you thought egg protein is probably better for you.  No, egg protein isn't necessarily better for you.  Why not just eat eggs????  I just called 3 distributors of egg white protein powders, only one of whom could even vaguely describe how the protein powder was made.  [What I gathered is that] it's basically separated from the yolk, pasteurized for a few minutes in 134 degree heat and then spray dried, which is drying it with more heat to make a powder.  I'm not saying that cooking eggs isn't a good idea, but who knows how high the heat is, for how long they heat it, and where the eggs come from in the first place.  One of the 2 big egg white protein powder manufacturers is in China, although I had to find that out for myself since the guy at Jay Robb's refused to give me their manufacturer's name...  In my opinion, it's these kinds of overly processed foods that make us have sensitivities.  I've had more people come in lately who were like, "I didn't used to be sensitive to eggs (or soy), but then I started eating an egg (or soy) protein powder every day for a couple of years and now I can't touch the stuff without getting (enter symptom here)."  

You may have gathered from this exchange that 1) my friends are perverted  2) I am not a huge fan of my friend's protein powder and 3) I like to call food peddlers and antagonize them.  The guy at Jay Robb's hung up on me because I was asking questions he didn't want to answer (and that's definitely not the first time that's happened to me).  The truth was that he was upset because he didn't know the answers because he had not done proper research on his manufacturer.  Doesn't that scare you?  In an ideal world, you would be told up front where your food came from and how it was made.  But in this world, there's no good reason to trust people who are selling food to you.  It's their job to persuade you to buy the food they distribute, so why would they disclose anything bad about it?  They're no different than used car salespeople (no offense to any used car salespeople out there).

Back to egg white protein powder.  Unless it states that you're eating lightly heated eggs from pasture raised chickens, you're most likely getting eggs that were factory farmed, born from mangy, abused chickens with their beaks cut off who were fed their own manure and a constant stream of antibiotics.  That was not a hyperbolic sentence.  It's gross how conventional eggs are produced.  Here's a video.

By the way, this does NOT mean you should stop eating eggs.  I get my eggs from a local family farm for $3.50 per dozen.  The chickens run around all day on the land eating bugs, grass and grains.  Plenty of the eggs at health food stores come from humanely raised chickens, too.  You just have to do your research.

So if you're going to use egg white protein powder, do it knowing where those eggs came from and how they were processed, but good luck with that.  Eggs are probably the cheapest form of animal protein we can buy, though, so why not just eat them instead? 

Whey Protein Powder
Here is my top issue with whey.  Unless it's organic, the milk they use to obtain the whey comes from factory farmed animals, which means it's devoid of many nutrients and chock full of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and pus.  Yes, pus.  The cows are almost always mistreated, as well.  The poor ladies in the video below are who you get your non-organic dairy products from.  This means your milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and any products you buy that contain cheese, butter or milk.  Pizza, cookies, most dressings, sauces, marinaras, lattes, soups, you name it...

Don't go turning vegan on me now, though.  You generally won't see abuse and neglect like that on small, family farms or organic farms.  Again, you have to do your research.  Despite the fact that you can buy organic whey protein powder, there are still plenty of problems with organic dairy products.  Namely pasteurization and homogenization.  

Isn't pasteurization what keeps the nasty bacteria out of your milk?  Well, yes, but without factory farms and with proper treatment of dairy cattle, you wouldn't need that.  When cattle aren't packed into small places covered in their own shit all the time, plagued by open sores and infections in their udders, they produce some pretty clean milk.  When milk is pasteurized, it's heated in order to kill bacteria.  In the process of heating it, they not only kill bad and good bacteria, but they rid the milk of all kinds of beneficial enzymes, which not only help you to digest the milk itself but also give you access to its beneficial minerals and other nutrients.  You're left with dead milk, which doesn't do anybody much good.  Pasteurized milk is linked with chronic ear infections, eczema, acne, digestive problems, increased allergies and more.  Look into finding a source of raw (unpasteurized) milk and read this website about it.  When they started feeding dairy cows sludge instead of grass, the cows began producing awful milk, devoid of nutrients and full of killer bacteria.  People became afraid of raw milk after that, and we still are afraid of it.  Give it a chance and read all about it.  It might just turn your life around.

We do this to milk so that it won't separate.  It's just another chance for heat to touch the fragile milk.  It also renders more nutrients unavailable to us from the milk.  And all because we don't like the cream on the top because God forbid we eat cream - it's so FATTY!  Ewwwww!  (That was a joke, by the way.)

As far as your whey protein powder goes, I say drink raw milk and eat raw cheese instead.  They're pretty good sources of protein, too.

In summation, don't eat soy protein powder.  Don't eat egg white protein powder, pea, rice, or whey protein powder.  That is, if you can avoid it, and I think you can.    

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Soy Protein?

Would you eat this TV?
Happy Holidays!  Before the official post begins, I want to make a shameless plug for the latest addition to the blog - my new store!  Please keep my nutrition therapy services and food sensitivity testing in mind when you're buying your loved ones gifts for the holidays.  Either purchase gift certificates here or email me at for more information.  On with the post... 

I get this question a LOT.  "What protein powder is best?"  It's like asking me which black and white TV is best - the 12" or the 15"?  Neither - they're black and white TVs.  And they're small.  What we all want is a Samsung 65" 1080p / 240Hz / 3D LED-LCD HDTV, right?  That's what I want, anyway, and if anyone has $6,000 to spare you can get me that for Christmas.  To be perfectly clear, in this analogy the Samsung is real, unadulterated, unprocessed, high quality food.  The black and white TVs, in all their splendid sizes, are protein powders.

Excuse my idealism, but I believe there is enough real food in America that you should be able to find a way to put some veggies, fruit, eggs, nuts, seeds or meat in your mouth, instead of a completely wrecked, processed, food-like powder.  I do realize that there are situations when a protein powder is much easier, more affordable and faster than making or buying an entire meal, but in my opinion the better choice is always real, whole food.  Whole foods like raw or lightly cooked veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs and meats have nutrients in them that work synergistically with each other to nourish you in many different ways.  When you process soy, whey, rice, etc. to make protein powders out of them, a lot of their nutrients are stripped away with heat, chemicals and dangerous heavy metals.  Today we're going to talk about soy protein's misgivings and merits.  Next week I'll go over whey protein.
Soy protein comes in several different forms - soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, and sometimes just soy flour.  They are all soy beans, or edamame, processed in some way - some more than others.  No matter what type of soy protein it is, it's all soy.  You'll find these products not only in tubs of soy protein powder, but in everything from Odwalla drinks to Clif bars, cookies, soups, cereals, bread - you name it.  Because it's so ubiquitous, I thought it deserved a post of its own. 

There is an UNBELIEVABLE amount of research and contention surrounding soy.  I considered trying to lay it all out there for you, but quite honestly the thought of that made me nauseous and grumpy.  I'm just going to make myself useful by pointing you in the direction of some good sources of info on the topic. 

The Bad

Dr. Mercola, alternative medicine's monger of fear and anxiety, had this to say about soy.  A lot of his information was taken from the Weston A. Price Foundation, which has Sally Fallon at its helm.  Sally Fallon, in a word, hates soy and will tell you all about it here and here. 

Here are some highlights: 

1. Soy is very hard on your digestive system.
2. The phytates in soy inhibit your body's absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.  

3. Soy contains isoflavones that are phytoestrogens (literally "plant estrogens"), which act like estrogen in your body.  One researcher "estimated that an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least five birth control pills per day." (1)  This, they argue, can cause anything from smaller testicles in males to earlier puberty in females.  

4. "Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer.  In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease."(2)

If that's not enough to make you think twice about consuming soy regularly, think about this:  Soy is the second most common food allergen in this country.  I do a lot of food sensitivity blood testing using the LEAP test by Signet Diagnostic Corporation, and almost all of my LEAP clients are sensitive to it.  Not to mention that most of the soy out there is genetically modified.  Here's a rap song about GMO's.  Soy also has one of the highest pesticide contamination levels of any crop.   

The Good

To be fair, I'll give you some links to articles on the benefits of soy.  These days, though, there always seems to be at least one caveat, like "Soy is good, soy is great, but it MIGHT cause thyroid cancer..." or "You should stop eating meat because soy is better for you, but it MIGHT give your baby C cup breasts by the age of 3..."  

Here's one link at Livestrong.  Here's another one brought to you by the United Soybean Board itself.  I find it interesting that they don't cite any research for their lofty claims...  Here's one more with a list of references.  The pro soy camp claims that soy has a positive effect on high blood pressure, some cancers and weight loss, among other things.  

For every study out there saying good things, there is another study debunking it and vice versa.  There are so many variables with academic research, which is why I always ask myself, 'What would our ancestors do?'  Even without the internet, our predecessors somehow magically knew what to do with food.  When soy was first introduced as a food in China about 5,000 years ago, they would have fermented it (miso, tempeh, soy sauce) to make it easier to digest and to lower the phytoestrogen content before they even thought about putting it in their mouths.   It's also known in Asian countries that if you want your husband's libido to decrease, you feed him a lot of tofu.   By the way, soy wasn't even considered a food in the U.S. until the 1920's, before which time it was used here for things like painting Fords.  

So, if you want a protein powder, please think twice about the Odwalla Super Protein drink or GNC's super discounted soy protein "Get Ripped" formula.  Try eating whole foods instead.  Meat has lots of protein in it.  We'll talk about another option, whey protein, next week.  

Until then.



Monday, December 6, 2010

Losing the Thanksgiving Weight You Just Gained (Part 2)

In the last post I told you how NOT to gain the holiday weight in the first place.  This time, we'll talk about how to lose it, since we all know you're going to gain it, no matter whose blog you're reading.

Here are 5 rules to obey, starting December 26th.  January 2nd?  Okay... how about some time in January.

 1.  Take out the fluffy stuff from your diet, or at least decrease your intake of it.  Extra refined carbs (grains, added sugars, bread, cereal, pasta, hamburger buns, sugary drinks, etc.) are not doing you any good here.  Vegetables and fruit are also carbohydrates, but they're complex carbs, and I've never seen anyone gain weight because they were eating too many vegetables.  I'm just talking about the refined carbs.  If it's not a vegetable or a fruit or it doesn't say "whole grain _____ flour" on the packaging, it's most likely refined. 

2.  Eat at regular intervals.  Try to go no longer than 4 hours at a time (except when you're asleep) without eating.  That looks like this:

8am - Breakfast
12pm - Lunch
3-4pm - Snack
6-8pm - Dinner

(Notice there's no dessert here.  Go ahead and have it once in a while, but take note of how you feel afterward, how you sleep, and your mood when you wake up.) 

The reason for the frequent eating is that it regulates your blood sugar, which has most likely been damaged throughout your life if you are a normal American.  When your blood sugar crashes and you bonk, your body starts storing fat.  When your blood sugar spikes from binging on sugar, your body starts storing fat.  See the trend?  Don't bonk, don't binge - eat regularly.

3.  Eat protein, fat, and complex carbs every single time you eat a meal or snack.  It heals your bonking blood sugar and gives you sustainable energy.  It lets your body know you're not starving so that it doesn't hold onto every pound of fat you begrudgingly own.

Protein is meat, fish, beans, raw cheese (if you insist on having cheese), seeds and nuts.
Good fats are coconut oil, unheated olive oil, nuts, seeds, most meat, avocados and whole, raw milk (again, if you insist on having milk).
Complex carbs are veggies, fruits, whole grains and legumes (not that I'm a huge fan of the two latter...)

Yes, some foods belong in more than one category.  If you pick one or two things from every category and put them in your mouth in combination every time you eat, you will achieve rule number 3.  And by the way, I'm always, always a fan of organic, grass-fed and pasture-raised foods whenever possible.

4. Stop drinking sugar.  Stop. Drinking. Sugar.  Drink water instead.  Do I actually need to say why?  Even if you think you're doing yourself a favor by drinking diet drinks, artificial sweeteners are linked with obesity, cravings, oh, and MS and other atrocities

Also, alcohol acts much like sugar in your body, and one 5 oz glass of red wine contains about 130 calories.  You'd have to walk for 35 minutes to burn just that off.  Ha! I think that means you'd have to walk for about 6 days to burn off the entire turkey dinner.

Speaking of which...

5.  Move your body.  I refuse to say anything along the lines of, "... must do cardio for at least 30 minutes 3 times per week..." or "...should lift heavy things for one hour at least 5 times per week..."  because it's ridiculous.  Most people will not stick with a gym membership unless they actually enjoy doing reps on a pull-down machine OR unless they are masochistic.  So I'm not going to tell someone to go do something that I know won't last.  But you have to do SOMETHING.  Move your body because it feels good to go outside and take a walk in the fresh air.  Give yourself a break from your life to play a game of indoor soccer every week.  Go see Sam Iannetta at Functional Fitness because you want a highly entertaining genius to be your personal trainer.  Find a hobby that you like that just so happens to involve moving your body.  Yes, that might mean looking like a total gumby in the racquetball court your first few times, but who cares?  I sucked at rock climbing for the first 10 years that I did it, but I kept going because it felt good and it made me strong.   Just DO something regularly and you'll be better off than if you didn't.  

I didn't say anything about calories here because that can get confusing.  If you want to know how much you should be eating, there are a ton of free online calorie counters/weight loss tools with apps for your iPhone.  Or you can hire a friendly nutrition professional to help you with that task.  Although I don't agree with everything these websites advocate, the ones I like the most are:

Good luck on your battle with the bulge.  I wish you clarity of mind, self restraint and a significant other with a key to your refrigerator door.

Until next time...