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Trying Grass-Fed Whey Protein Shakes

Regular readers know I'm a lifetime consumer of whey protein shakes, about since the dawn of modern bodybuilding. For meals, for pre-and post-workout needs, on ice cream, at my mother-in-law's house; in my lifetime I'm confident I've put thousands upon thousands of blenderized combinations based around whey down my gullet. But now the rules have changed; my Paleo life includes as few shakes as meal replacements as possible.

Robb Wolf consistently states that drinking meals keeps bodyfat hanging on the body. Following his advice and as much as possible only eating real food, I've lost about 22 pounds of bodyfat in nine Paleo/Crossfit months, beginning at a decently lean, 12-14% bodyfat strength-training-oriented fitness level. I've been aided in my meal-planning changes because my job as a personal trainer opens up in the summer. I have more breaks to eat meals in rather than having to gulp a shake between clients.

My bodyfat is now 8-9%; with four abs visible. Bodyweight is down to an adult-low 180 lbs., fitness at what might be an all-time high, strength still good even after losing so much weight. The magical Paleo/Crossfit combination, plus my inescapable curiosity and urge to constantly learn more about nutrition as applied to fitness, has enabled me to approach my 57th birthday in the best shape of my life.

Now it's fall. Business at the gym is heating up so my schedule is becoming more packed. All my meals travel with me daily to the gym, including pre-and post-workout Progenex shakes. As much as possible I want to remain Paleo, yet enhance the results of my workouts. So I'm going to experiment with two brands of grass-fed whey protein products, see how they feel and help (hopefully), and report on my results.

My initial experiments on a daily basis are going to be with StrongerFasterHealthier's Daily Balance Whey Protein, and All-Pro Science's Complete 100% grass-fed Whey. Hopefully I'm going to get some Jay Robb grass-fed protein to try as well; I'm working on it and hope they want to compete with these two. I have both chocolate and vanilla from StrongerFasterHealthier; All-Pro sent me French Vanilla. Before I open the canisters, label comparisons are interesting.

The French Vanilla protein contains only three grams of carbs, made up of sugars (apple pectin, Stevia Suave). All-Pro's protein is gluten-free, of course. SFH's chocolate has 2.7 grams of "low G.I. carbs" (cherries), 2.7 grams of "natural chocolate", 0.2 grams Stevia, and 0.3 grams sugar. Sounds like a lot of sugars and carbs when it's all added up, doesn't it? SFH states on their labels their protein is derived from grass fed, free-range animals, with no hormones, soy lecithin, gluten or added carbs.

Beginning tomorrow I'll blenderize one or two meals daily using these products; I'll add no fruit or anything else. No Fiberlyze, no BCAA powder, no fresh blueberries. *Sigh* Filtered water and powder. Some days I'll merely add the powders to water in a Blender Bottle; other days I'll whip them in the blender. My reporting will encompass taste, mixability, smell, and texture. I'll compare retail costs. In my experience, no matter what scientific analysis says about a protein powder, if the flavor sucks or it sticks to the sides of the blender or shaker, people won't use it. And what value is it if it's in the cupboard? This is real world, non-scientific, tested in the gym, the Crossfit box, and my kitchen.


Coconut Milk Protein Shakes

I don't know why using coconut milk in shakes didn't occur to me before reading Richard Nikoley discuss it in his wonderful Free The Animal blog. Considering I've consumed many thousands of shakes either as meals, or around my workouts, over the decades (I go all the way back to Bob Hoffman's horrid Protein From the Sea. A time when blenders barely could churn those early, clumpy protein powders. But I degress). Since evolving to Paleo-guy I've at times gone a week or two without a shake as a meal replacement, but as fall descends upon Wisconsin, and my schedule at Gold's Gym gets crowded, there are going to be times when that shake made at home is my only meal option.

I've dreaded this, as I used to utilize oatmeal, Fiberlyze, and flax seed in my shakes. Now I barely consume shakes as meal replacements (I still do just prior to and after my workouts - Progenex). I think Robb Wolf is correct when he talks about how liquid meals somehow promote bodyfat storage in a way that eating real food doesn't. 

Richard Nikoley gave his recipe at some point in his blog, I recently found it, and with some modofications, it's a new occasional favorite. I believe he has this for breakfast often; I enjoy my breakfast meal too much to have it be a shake, but in the afternoon when my appointments are one after the other, I can take a shake with me and use it as an opening to talk about nutrition with my client. Richard's recipe is as follows:

1 cup full fat coconut milk (he likes Native Forrest brand)

1/4 cup water

2 raw egg yolks (don't eat egg whites raw; cook them to destroy avidin, an anti-nutrient

1 scoopy whey protein (Richard uses vanilla Primal Fuel)

2/3 cup frozen berries

This is a great-tasting shake; I've made his formula and enjoy it.

Here's what I've begun making, and enjoying:

In a full blender (I make two meal/shakes at a time), dump a half can coconut milk (don't use a full can, as I did the first time, unless you want to relive pre-gluten-free gastointestinal distress), four scoops whey protein (I use Gaspari Myo-Fusion right now), a handful of fresh blueberries, and a tablespoon or two of almond butter. Blend away; makes two meals that carry in your little soft-side cooler nicely and fit into the fridge at work.

My research tells me that Native Forrest is one of only two brands of coconut milk that is sold in BPA-free cans.


Balanced Bites Podcast Improving Steadily

Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolf (Cave Girl Eats) teamed up three weeks ago with a new Paleo-oriented podcast named after Diane's site, Balanced Bites. Today I listened to the second weekly podcast, and feel the two are rapidly improving. This episode had plenty of useful information on a variety of topics, including Celiac disease, but what I most enjoy is when Liz and Diane begin talking to each other rather than to the audience. This is the spirit of the show, when I think they're truly digging into their wisdom and experience and putting it out there. I hope this trend continues, that they don't get caught up trying to become overly-professional.

Go ahead and fix the audio issues plaguing the show, the constant break-ups, but please don't get slick. You two have much to offer and as you become more accustomed to creating podcasts, you'll continue to sound natural and unaffected. I'm counting upon you.

Available through iTunes and on the Balanced Bites site.


The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf

Where to begin when talking about the already-classic work by the Godfather of the Paleo movement (but unlike Marlon Brando's movie character, Robb Wolf talks a great deal and is easy to understand!) The Paleo Solution lays the groundwork for all of today's Paleo bloggers, podcasters, cookbook authors, and the unknown but growing numbers of people adopting the lifestyle (to differing extents) and the food culture. Published in 2010, this book continues to be the first and most important work that anyone asking questions about Paleo-anything should be referred to.

So why is this? There is a great deal of science in The Paleo Solution. Anecdotes are few and far between. But the entire book is compelling, readable and comprehensible. Robb Wolf's secret is that he's a super-smart regular guy! His sense of humor is ever-present in asides and comments, but they're written to help get information from the page to the reader's brain. Nowhere in this book did I ever feel talked-down to, or preached at. Sure, there are science-heavy pages I read two or three times, but Wolff wants you to understand what he's saying; he's not trying to impress anyone. Having listened to each of his 95+ podcasts, and everything I can find on You Tube with him, and read and listened to interviews, I'm firmly convinced Robb Wolf is far more interested in helping educate people than he is being a rich celebrity. 

Reading The Paleo Solution will set anyone interested in optimal health in our confusing modern world on a good path towards feeling and looking better, probably improving athletic performance, and living a longer, more enjoyable life. Pretty good deal, isn't it? All without magical pills and supplements. 

I don't need to explain what the Paleo movement is all about, not here for this audience. In areas of science and biology in the book, necessary topics and areas of learning, he wades in and talks plainly about the science of how the human body works, how the food we ingest is utilized. When the science gets deep, it's sidebarred as "geek speak." in each section Wolff also breaks out summaries, Cliff Note-like paragraphs. These are easy to refer back to, helping keep The Paleo Solution timeless.

Paleo as a tag is becoming over-used, and as Wolf has noted in his podcasts, there is bound to be a backlash someday. He's the last person who wants Paleo to be regarded as a religion, with set rules. Athletes bend strict Paleo; Wolf often suggests sweet potatoes or even white rice post-workout. Crossfit people certainly place differing loads upon their systems than others; many heavy-duty strength athletes consume dairy. He helps everyone learn and understand what is going to work best for them.

But first, I think it's safe to say Robb Wolf would like everyone to strictly, in a fully compliant manner, eliminate all gluten, wheat, dairy and sugar from their life for 30 days before making any judgements, or tweaking the Paleo diet. Do this and he defies you to tell him you don't look and feel better!

So yes, this is a guidebook into the world of Paleo eating and the improved health that follows. It always follows. Unlike conventional nutritional "wisdom", the Paleo movement is based upon successful habits millions of years old. I promise you don't even realize how much better you're going to feel because right now, you don't even know how good you can feel. If you eat grain-fed beef, have low levels of omega-3 and vitamin D, you suffer from intestinal distress and nutrient deficiencies affecting you daily, but you're accustomed to it.

Let Robb Wolf tell you about Paleo. He's not a caveman, he's not a geek, he's not a genetic freak of an athlete. You'll laugh, learn and open up a desire to experience good health and improved fitness you may not even know exists within your life.

Crossfit better, workout in any gym or at any sport with improvements. Lose bodyfat and improve your strength-to-weight ratio. Buy new slim-cut jeans at a smaller size. And not at all least, fall in love with the Nor-Cal Margarita!

Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution deserves a place of honor in the library of everyone reading this site.

Victory Belt Publishing, 2010



Monday Thoughts...

My Paleo-life continued...

Planning ahead -

Listening to The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore (he has great guests, and lets them talk!), in the March 2 episode Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites says something very smart and logical. It jumped out at me. Like in my personal training business, most of Diane’s clients have major food and nutrition issues. Constantly they tell her they didn’t have time to prepare meals, didn’t have time to eat, were unprepared. I hear this daily also, and in fact received the very same message in an email yesterday from a client. 

Diane is as amazed as I am with this attitude, and asks people “didn’t you know yesterday you were going to eat today?” “Aren’t you aware you’ll be hungry each day?”

I couldn’t agree more. A little bit of planning ahead with your food is necessary, and far more important than determining what outfit you’re going to wear, or checking your Facebook page for updates first thing in the morning.

Making Tomorrow’s Meals -

Yesterday afternoon I prepared food for about three days of eating for Anne and myself. I cut up a beef roast into big chunks and put it in the crock pot. Sliced a few garlic cloves, added some red wine from a bottle opened the night before, added onion powder (using up old spices in the drawer, working to bring them up-to-date), red pepper, black pepper and salt, and some assorted basil and tarragon leaves. Set.

Used my new Good Grips (love this new purchase; so much easier on my already Crossfit-sore hands) peeler to quickly skin four large sweet potatoes. Sliced them fairly thickly. In a bowl I had four egg whites and one egg yolk, and another random bunch of herbs and spices, mixed together. Dip the potato slices in the mixture, place on a cookie pan. Bake at 375 for an hour. Voila, great sweet potato for post-workout carbs.

I browned a pound and 1/2 or so of grass-fed beef. Into three or four single-serving containers. Done.

Baked a half dozen chicken breasts in the oven. Tuscan olive oil, basil, salt and pepper, 350 for one hour. Done. Sliced and into single-serving containers.

Cut a bunch of asparagus into pieces, bite-size. Sliced a large red pepper. Cut up mushrooms. Chopped two large heads of broccoli into logical-sized pieces. Sliced several garlic cloves. Dumped the resulting big bowl of vegetables into the biggest frying pan I have, with several tablespoons of coconut oil in it, already hot. Mixed well in the oil, sauteed for a few minutes until the broccoli turned bright green. Off the burner and into containers.

This entire process was about an hour. I sipped a glass of red wine throughout the process, had good music playing in the background. No a chore, but essential. In the morning I grabbed some potatoes, vegetables, two meats, one avocado, all into my little soft-side cooler. I always have a can of wild-caught salmon in the cooler - for those “just in case needed” situations. Out the door in one minute with my food for the entire day.

Less Is More

I’m eight months into eating Paleo. Bodyweight down 20+ pounds, bodyfat down significantly. I think virtually all the weight I’ve lost has been bodyfat. My Crossfit workout frequency has expanded to two times weekly, occasionally three. But, and this is important, I’ve cut back on traditional strength-training. I’m continuing my almost daily walks of 30 to 45 minutes, especially when it’s sunny outside (vitamin D). I don’t workout more than once per day, and am making sure I take at least one entire day off weekly. Most of the hard-working people in my gym over-train wildly. And don’t make progress. And are very anxious and making themselves crazy.

I think I’ve lived with elevated cortisol and adrenal fatigue for many years; probably 20 years. My bodybuilding and powerlifting decades included many thermogenic products, possibly more coffee than I consume today, and a distinct lack of sleep. In the last few months I’ve cut out thermogenics, of late I’m no longer using pre-workout jazz, I’m getting through some afternoons without additional coffee. And the biggie, I’m working hard to get to bed earlier and sleep more. I’ve been napping for 10-15 minutes in the afternoon, several days weekly, but when I sleep seven or more hours, I don’t have to, and I feel better all day. More energy, more patience, all-around improvement. Sleep, it’s a good thing. My father told me this my entire life, he preached it, but I always treated sleep as if it was an elective. No more. Get some extra sleep!

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