Thursday, December 30, 2010

protein and athletic performance {and vega review}

Hope the Christmas recovery is going well for everyone…so much fantastic food and family time in one consolidated dose that it can be slightly overwhelming.

Mine has been filled with lots of game time…


Please notice the lovely scorecard below; I always consider it a good day when I beat the English major, who knows more words than I will ever know. Ever.


And now for the protein story, part II…[read the intro post here]. Protein is one of the most highly debated topics in the exercise world, specifically how much (and what kind) is needed for optimal athletic performance.

Fuel used during exercise


  • during short duration exercise (sprinting, weight lifting), protein and amino acid use is negligible.
  • during prolonged exercise (endurance cycling or distance running), amino acids may account for ~2-5% of total energy expenditure
  • there is little evidence that more than 0.8-1.6 g/kg of protein per day is needed.
  • carbohydrates are an important fuel: the rate of glycogen (stored byproduct of carb metabolism) breakdown is high during weight lifting, so replenishing CHOs to rebuild muscle glycogen is important.

The bottom line


  • excess calories consumed from any macronutrient (carbs, fat, or protein) will lead to weight gain and conversion to adipose tissue.
  • the main fuels used during exercise are carbohydrates and fat; protein use is usually between 2% and 10% of the total energy expended.
  • most people can meet protein requirements by consuming dietary protein.
  • while protein is important, an overall balanced diet containing sufficient calories is the key to increasing muscle strength and size.
  • There is no solid evidence that special mixtures of amino acids provide any advantage over normal dietary proteins in stimulating muscle growth.

*source: Sports Science Exchange Roundtable 42 VOLUME 11 (2000);4.

For those who do need extra protein, I prefer non-soy, vegetable based protein vs. whey or soy protein. Whey is one of the two types of protein found in cow’s milk (casein is the other), so it is a dairy by-product. Soy protein contains soy protein concentrate or soy protein isolate, which have a high concentration of isoflavones, the estrogen-mimicking compounds which are controversial for their potential effect on various types of cancer. However, if the protein supplement is not being used regularly, choosing whey or soy protein powder will likely not cause harm.

 optimum soy protein vega whey

Vega makes plant based protein powders and shakes free of artificial colors and flavors and most common allergens including artificial sweeteners, corn, dairy, gluten, soy, wheat and yeast. I also appreciate their commitment to sustainability.

shakegosmoothie-4Pack      sport-protein-trio-v1

While I don’t always advocate protein powder for the normal healthy individual, and I’m not convinced that the branched chain amino acids or special ingredients like maca root extract will necessarily yield improved athletic performance or increased energy, I feel more comfortable recommending a plant based product free of artificial ingredients.

And here’s a little preview of my CSN review…can you guess what it is?!


What are your thoughts on protein powder? Do you use it regularly?



  1. I've always wondered about protein powder. I prefer to get my protein through real food so I haven't bought a tub. The size alone of those things intimidates me!

  2. 100% agree with you on the protein powders ;)

  3. The only protein powder that I use is brown rice protein. Love the stuff!

    Thanks for the great post Em :)

  4. I've never used protein powder because I'm not vegetarian and I do consume animal source protein and soy proteins. But I agree that too much protein is unnecessary even for athletes. :) Happy New Year!

  5. Is it an ice cream maker?! It looks like it! Or a juicer??
    I agree with you about special ingredients in protein powders, they typically aren't anything special like they say on the box, however, this product sounds like a good one that we should sell at MD. I am a fan of ZERO artificial sugars and minimal art. ingredients.
    Happy new year Emily!

  6. nah i'm not a big fan of protein powder. when i think of it i think of chalk. i know that there are likely some tasty ones out there but the image i have in my mind makes me gag a bit hah! and i think i get enough protein as it is.

    and i am a terrible scrabble player. i'm sure you'd beat me.

  7. I like whey protein, vanilla flavored, but I usually use it only for the homemade PB protein bars! :)

    My hubs has this scrabble app on his iphone that I love if I need to kill some time! GOod job beating the ENGL major!

  8. great post for real exercisers lol

    Happy New Year try an hispanic store for the hibiscus flowers


  9. i can't tell what that CSN product is - an immersion blender?!?

  10. i'm so glad you posted this. now that i'm running more i've been concerned about getting enough protein in my diet (i'm a vegetarian). But through the guidance of my nutritionist and blogger tips, i've been able to increase my variety!

    wishing you a happy healthy and safe new years eve!

  11. Not too into protein powder. I am not really a fan of unregulated products either. I do of course think in clinical there is a place for it, but then again, that product is different and regulated.

    This is the very topic we are covering in class next week. I am teaching sports nutrition this term, so we are finishing up carbs right now. Protein is coming up.

  12. I'm not into protein powders as a 'performance enhancer', but use it occasionally myself for the convenience. I also have a small amount of protein/bcaa in my endurance cycling formula because on those 4+ hour rides I believe it makes a difference for me, although there isn't much conclusive evidence out there.
    I just don't trust all those companies and the ingredients in their products unless they are at least third-party tested by say NSF. I do like Vega products!
    hmmm is that an ice cream maker or food processor? Have a great New Year's!!!

  13. Thank you for your review girl!!!!
    I like protein powder cause its an easy way to get protein (which is prob a bad reason!) ahah! But I dont like the artificial crap!
    hmmmm is that like an ice cream maker??

  14. The exciting three letter words on the scrabble board are mine!

  15. I've never used protein powder. I've seen it on a lot of blogs and I kind of want to try it, because there are a lot of recipes I've seen that call for it. The only reason I haven't tried it is because it's so expensive! The cheaper ones are really processed, which I want to avoid.

  16. Thanks for that review. Protein can help you with your muscle growth. It also has some benefits for athletic performance.

  17. Inside your juicing diet it is best to incorporate fruits and vegetables which are reduced in sugar and also carbohydrates like celery, carrots, spinach, beets as well as apple and coconut. You may also try tomato juice but avoid it if you're acidic or if you are on the fasting stage. Make sure to drink plenty of water, to include a lot within the juicing diet. In order to make the particular juices more tasty, you can attempt adding ginger, garlic, bits of salt, honey along with other spices to make it taste much better. somatodrol


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