Workin’ on my Fitness: ‘Supp Protein

Anne at Henry’s coffee shop is giving me the stink eye for ordering my latte with non-fat milk. I can’t get mad at her. She makes sure I get out with all my stuff. I tend to leave things behind. I don’t care about the scowl. I just put my headphones on and turn on vintage Dreadful Yawns, which is my favorite band to listen to when it’s insanely gray in Indiana, as it will be for the next three months.

So Tony asked me to keep a log of my progress and experiences with lifting. Tony’s my trainer. I’m a big fan. He’s a hard worker, lets me play with his bulldog, Stafford, and is always giving me “suggestions.” I figured out that if I don’t follow his “suggestions” I tend to stay unmuscley, so I decided to write the damn log.

I will include some food stuff, but I find looking at food from the body management angle to be a HUGE eye-glazer. It starts to sound like a Little Britain Fat Fighters meeting so fast. Not saying I don’t pay attention to food. It’s way more important than I wish it were when it comes to adjusting your muscular form, but I don’t have an interesting way to write about it yet.

I can, however, start with protein supplements, which are technically food, bizarre, food with wacky packaging. Supplements sort of deserve their own posts anyway since there’s a million of them out there, all with well paid marketing departments who convince you that your dog will die if you don’t take theirs. Unfortunately their research departments don’t get the same love from the boss man (very few peer-reviewed studies), which makes knowing which proteins to suck up tricky to figure out.

I should say right here that my approach to researching supplements is to do a number of “review” searches on the internet when I hear about something I “should” be taking. Kind of hypocritical of me to slam the lack of science thing, isn’t it, but there you go. I have a pretty well honed bs detector, and eventually you start to figure out when a “study” or claim is bogus. Just look for signs of selling (like who published the info and where), and you’ll get an idea of how objective the source is. Oh, I also got over the fear of looking stupid and am happy to ask Tony or other successful weight trainers about what I’ve found and what works for them.

Two things that the fitness community tends to agree upon is that weight lifting is not actually what makes muscles grow, and your body is gonna need more protein than a sedentary person typically consumes. Your body needs the extra protein because lifting tears your muscles (a good thing when done correctly), and protein is what it uses to repair itself and grow stronger. Muscle growth actually happens after you hit the gym IF you have the right proteins running around your body.

From what I can tell you need two kinds of protein in your stash:

1. Quick digesting proteins (eggs are a good source, and “hydro” protein powders)–I take these before and right after a workout.

2. Slow digesting proteins (meats, cottage cheese, and powders that contain a mix of proteins). I take these when I won’t be breathing hard for a while and before bedtime.

As I said, most in the fitness industry agree that your muscles repair (aka grow) while you sleep (after they’ve been stressed in some way). I’m supposed to shoot for eight hours of sleep a night, especially on lifting days. This is turning out to be one of the hardest obstacles for me to overcome, and it’s kinda stressing me out. More on that some other time.

So how much protein do you need? This is where experts disagree and people seem to be making some educated guesses, which you then have to sort through. And let me tell you, the amount of information will make you crazy as a shit-house rat in no time. Until I’m convinced to do otherwise, I’m sticking with a little over 160 grams of complete (animal) protein a day. A general formula I’m comfortable with is .80 times your ideal lean body weight. Ideal body weight is pretty subjective for me at the moment, since I don’t even know what body fat percentage I’m shooting for yet (I know it will be below 19%, but not sure how much).

Okay, even I’m tired of talking about proteins for now. I’ll get to the other supplements I’m taking later, but protein is a good place to start figuring out what will work for you. If you’re not giving your body enough extra bricks, it won’t build you a bigger house no matter how hard you work.

Lee Hayward has a decent breakdown of the protein theories and the science behind them here. Even though he’s using the article to sell his book, his ideas seem pretty even-handed. No time like the present for you to start sorting through the amazing world of protein supplements for yourself.

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