Monday, October 10, 2011

Protein shakes aren't primal/paleo

I woke up this morning and was about to engage in the usual pre-workout routine when I thought, "Riiiiiight. Protein powder isn't primal." Every day that I head to the gym, I drink a protein shake that consists of three shots of espresso, some heavy cream, protein powder and water. I see better results at the gym since I started doing that. All those things are just fine during a primal challenge, except the protein powder.

Read the label. There's a lot of stuff in there that you can't find in nature. There is nothing "clean" about protein powder.

So what's a not-so-young crossfitter to do? The protein powder is out the window during this challenge. What's the substitute?

Enter my son Kevin the trainer, who suggests the following: put a bunch of frozen fruit (no added sugar, no ingredients on the label except "fruit") in the microwave for one minute. Add some almond butter and microwave for another minute. Bask in the deliciousness.

It tastes incredible. But is it nutritionally sound as a clean substitute for protein-powder in a pre-workout setting?

I think it is.

When I look for nutritional information, particularly in an exercise context, the first guy I turn to is Robb Wolf. He has a website and a podcast that I am addicted to. One of the things I have learned from him and Dr. Kurt Harris is that excessive fructose consumption is bad, but that if consumed in the pre-workout window, particularly if the workout is something glycolytically demanding like CrossFit, fruit (hint: contains fructose) can be a great source of energy. If you hit your system with good clean fructose from fruit (note: that's "good clean fructose" ... put down the can of Coke and step back slowly) and then workout soon thereafter, your liver treats the fructose more efficiently/differently than usual, and converts it into glucose --  an energy source. This is especially effective if you workout in the morning because the glycogen stores in your liver are low after a night's sleep. More on all that here.

Additionally, the almond butter is a good source of fat and (some) protein, and, oh yeah, I am still drinking coffee with heavy cream along with this delicious almond-butter/fruit concoction. I love the bump that caffeine gives me in the gym, and heavy cream only accelerates that bump.

So, I think, thanks to Kevin that I just cleared another hurdle in this particular challenge. I may miss the protein powder enough that I eventually go back to it after the challenge is done, but I have a good substitute to get me through the 30 days.

Postscript: I really sucked today in the gym, but I *think* that has little to do with subbing out the protein powder and more to do with crappy sleep last night. Continuing note to self: sleep is king. CrossFit hits the wall at 100 mph without proper sleep. You can't "nutrition" or "exercise" your way out of a bad night's sleep.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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