Protein Powder – Fact and Wishful Thinking

I have taken up strength training, and as part of the process, the nutritional information I’ve been fed most of my life kicked in.

Ever since I took a class through my employer twenty years ago, people have been pushing protein powder post workout. Not just any protein powder, but whey protein.

Up until this point, I’d been diligently following what that original instructor told me. The books I’d bought on the subject reiterated everything he’d said.

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No, not Facebook. Just my blog.

I decided to check with science and see what the actual demonstrable results were.

This was harder than I thought.

I read through the WebMD articles, but there were no links to actual studies. No published results. Just an “expert” giving their opinion. I was surprised, though I probably shouldn’t be.

There is a lot of really good information here  if you are a really serious lifter. If you look past the images, you’ll see that the site is actually quite impressive. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. The articles I read there were all very well written and footnoted.

Yeah, the authors quote real studies. They think about those studies and what they mean for their target readers. Seriously good site. I wish I could find something similar for middle-aged desk-jockeys trying to dodge osteoporosis. Interestingly, this site assumes you are drinking a shake after workout and goes into which protein powders are best. But, these guys are hardcore lifters.

I am not. Middle-aged desk-jockey, remember?

So, WebMD’s site offered a different opinion than the “expert” that my company had paid to come talk to all of the employees, and a different opinion than that of devoted lifters. WebMD’s opinion had no scientific studies behind it, so I dug a little deeper.

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Opinions masquerading as facts permeate the web. Have to check your sources carefully.

 

I found this: Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training

It’s from the US National Library of Medicine. Yeah, that’s a respectable data source.  I tried to read this article, but I’ll confess, I ended up skipping down to the conclusion. That conclusion states that certain proteins, consumed pre or post workout, do, indeed, have an impact. Not only that, but for building muscle, whey protein really did have the best results.

Sometimes experience, as in the case of those weight lifters over at T-Nation, has taught us a thing or two.

Next question for me, however, is does what I do really constitute the level of exertion they are describing in the study.

Probably not. I’m a desk-jockey by day and romance writer by night. Yes, I’m strength training, but I’m not really “weight lifting”. Especially not like the guys a T-Nation. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m in awe. Especially after enduring my version of strength training. That’s serious dedication and pain over there that I’ll never have.

That’s okay. My goals are different. I’ll never be ripped, but I am looking to be able to stay mobile as I age and fend off osteoporosis which is a big deal in my family, especially for desk-jockeys.

As of right now, I am still using the powder after each workout.

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Although, first I have to get the scoop out. Why doesn’t it attach to the lid?!?

Not because I think it’ll help me build more muscle, but because of a less talked about side effect.

Faster recovery.

I’d love to link to a quality study on this, but for all of the websites that talk about faster recovery, none of them actually link to any studies that prove it. *sigh*

What I do have is my own experience. Maybe it’s placebo (the brain is powerful that way), or maybe it’s real, but lots of people who do much harder workouts than mine swear it helps get rid of jelly legs faster. Lemme tell ya, I’ll do a lot to get rid of jelly legs and drinking something that tastes like chocolate milk is not a hardship.

So, for the moment, I’m willing to let my quest for the truth rest and drink my protein shake after working out. Maybe it helps, maybe it’s all in my head, but for the moment, I don’t see any reason not to indulge a placebo. And, they whey protein I found on Amazon tastes like chocolate milk.

 

How about you? Do you strength train, and if so, do you drink a protein shake afterwards? Why or why not? Any other post-workout tips to reduce jelly legs or just the general aches and pains?

My Legs Are Made Out of Jelly

I started strength training approximately ten years ago. Then, we decided to have children. Between issues with pregnancy and finally having a squalling if amazing baby, I quit lifting.

Yes, I know how important it is. For general wellness and doing things like spreading mulch, and but also to prevent osteoporosis. This disease is big deal in my family, made all the worse by where I’ve lived most of my life.

Per my endocrinologist, the closer to the equator you are, the less likely you are to develop it. Having lived in the north of the US most of my life has increased my likelihood of the disease quite a bit. Things like strength training can help decrease it.

Back before children, I went straight to the gym after work. Eventually, we put a home gym in, and I went to that as soon as I got home from work.

So, I tried that again. Simply coming home, throwing on my gear, and heading to the basement. But it was almost impossible to get there. My daughters wanted, needed, my attention. They hadn’t seen me all day and missed me. How could I possibly walk past my toddler holding her arms out to me with a grin on her face as she says, “Momma, momma, momma!”

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Don’t forget to add writing!

That leaves mornings before they get up and evenings after they go to bed. I am not much of a morning person, but I learned very quickly I don’t have enough energy left to start any kind of exercise after they are in bed.

Setting aside my lack of being a morning person, morning is doubly hard for strength training as you’re supposed to be awake for an hour before you start lifting to help prevent injury. I haven’t been in my indestructible twenties for a long time. Injury is most assuredly a thing that happens to people at my age.

So, I decided to tweak my work schedule and work on strength two days a week at lunch and one day on the weekend. I reviewed my old workout plan, modified a few things to take into account my current physical state, and implemented it.

After strength training for the first time in almost seven years, I’ve discovered just how hard stairs can be to climb.

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My legs feel like jelly and my arms don’t want to lift off the keyboard. I hadn’t thought I’d overdone the workout, but apparently even body-weight push-ups on an incline are hard after seven years. Really hard.

Beyond moving with the stiff gait of the walking dead, the other thing I noticed was how hungry I was.  I mean hungry. Not just in the it’s almost time for dinner hungry. But genuinely hungry. I had an apple in the afternoon and later a Kind bar. I was still hungry when I got home. I snacked on some fruit and a bit of beef jerky and devoured dinner. I was still hungry.

At this point, I was starting to feel like the very hungry caterpillar.

We normally don’t keep snacks in the house because if you don’t have them, it doesn’t take much willpower not to eat them. I was so hungry by eight o’clock that I had a headache.

I ended up finding my stash of frozen custard and plowed through it. I’d love to justify it by saying it was chocolate custard with raspberries in it, so clearly it couldn’t be so bad. But there’s no point. I knew how bad it was while I was eating it and didn’t care. I was hungry and this was finally helping me feel full.

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So, while strength training may help build some strength and some bones, I need to figure out a way to deal with this spike in hunger. I’m hoping it’s just temporary while my body gets used to the new demands being made on this desk jockey.

On the positive side, I had no trouble falling asleep. Literally, I don’t think my head was on the pillow for thirty seconds before I was sound asleep. I also slept the whole night, and when a nightmare woke me up, as they do, I rolled over and was back asleep in less than a minute.

 

How about you? Ever started a strength training routine? How’d it go? Any tips? Or maybe you over did some gardening or other work and paid for it the next morning? Any tips on how you coped?