Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Walk This Whey...

Whey protein is one of those elusive supplements that I thought only juicehead body builders used (see the YouTube video My New Haircut: "Ma, I told you to get me some PROTEIN!" lol.) . As a vegetarian, I was familiar with protein shakes, like Spiru-tein (which I drank religiously in high school sports days and still love to this day).

Whey protein, however, eluded me. So, when my boyfriend went on a health kick and bought a HUGE cannister of Body Fortress Chocolate Peanut Butter Whey Protein Powder, I thought I'd get educated about it.

As it turns out, whey protein is a naturally occurring protein found in milk (think "curds and whey"). According to the National Dairy Council, whey is a "complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids ("building blocks") your body needs and is easy to digest. Whey protein is also one of the best sources of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), including leucine, which has been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis." Because it is so easily digestible, body builders use it to supply their muscles with much-needed protein after an intense workout, thus facilitating lean muscle growth.

Whey is not just for heavy hitters, however. There's all kinds of benefits for the average active person. For example:

**When combined with a resistance training program, whey protein can increase the rate at which person builds lean muscle (See my earlier post on the myths and benefits of weight training).

**Whey can be used to aid weight management. Diets high in protein have been shown to help people feel fuller longer, which may reduce the desire to snack or over-eat, leading to decreased caloric intake.

**Some pre-clinical studies in rodents have suggested that whey protein may have anti-inflammatory or anti-cancer properties; however, human data is lacking.

**Some research suggests that the consumption of high-quality proteins, such as whey protein, may help fight osteoperosis and aid in healthy aging.

So, whey protein is not just for the steroid-happy, but for the everyday active girl, too! After achieving a peace of mind, I tried the Body Fortress stuff. The can says combine one scoop with your favorite beverage or water. Since I couldn't imagine combining it with coffee I opted for skim milk :). I have a mason jar that I use for making shakes, but you can use any container with a solid lid.

The taste was not as sweet as the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup pictured on the front cover, but it was okay. Despite lots of shaking the drink was kind of grainy and thin with the consistency of Nestle Quick. I think I was a little disappointed because I was expecting something more thick and creamy.

Undeterred, I looked up some recipes for whey shakes online. I found a couple good ones and decided to take a little from each recipe and tweak it to make my own healthy version. I call it "All Shook Up PBB" in reference to the forever supa-fine Elvis' favorite sandwich. Damn good if you ask me:

All Shook Up PBB
-1-2 scoops Chocolate Peanut Butter Whey Protein
-1 banana (can be frozen or fresh)
-1 cup frozen vanilla yogurt (I used Blue Bunny)
-1-2 TBS. reduced fat peanut butter
-1/2 cup milk (more or less to the consistency you prefer)
Chocolate syrup or whipped cream(optional)

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend on high. Pour into glass. Top with a splash of chocolate syrup or whipped cream if desired.

This is SO yummy for breakfast or even as a dessert, and is jacked with protein for energy. I'll keep experimenting with whey shake recipes and keep you posted. So far, I've added whey to my diet for only a week now, but I've already noticed that my hunger levels have stablized--especially if I drink a shake for breakfast or as a morning snack. I don't find myself HANGRY (so hungry, you're ANGRY) by lunchtime.

If you want to give it a try, Body Fortress retails for about $14 at Wal-mart, though there are more expensive brands available.

Some other whey refs, info and recipes:

**National Dairy Council

**University of CA Healthnotes

** Article on Proteins

**Recipes for shakes

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