Friday, July 30, 2010

Protein Supplements

I'm not much of a supplement person. I don't frequent GNC or The Vitamin Shoppe in search of fat burners or muscle promoters or whatever is new on the market to aid in a quest for the "perfect body." The furthest I'll go with supplementation is daily taking a B-Complex vitamin, a multi-vitamin, and I usually add a tablespoon of whey protein to my morning oatmeal. Even though I'm not really into taking supplements, I think protein supplements are beneficial for weight loss and muscle promotion/maintenance. The more muscle we have, the more calories we are burning at rest. This means that you can sit on the couch and burn more calories while watching TV if you are carrying around more muscle mass--that's fun, right? After reading a recent study on the best types of proteins for weight loss/fat loss, I thought I'd share.

There are multiple proteins available on the market, but the ones that are most easily supplemented are whey, casein, soy and gelatin.

Whey is a complete protein which makes it the best of all the proteins out there. A study found that the best time to take your whey supplement is before your workout because it increases resting energy expenditure (calorie burning at rest). Add a scoop to a shake (or in my case, oatmeal) before your workout and this may improve your body composition over time. Cool.

Casein is a milk protein. Think cottage cheese, yogurt, and, well, milk. It will protect your body against protein loss, but it's not as good as whey at promoting a positive protein balance. Casein is great at promoting a sense of fullness. It's a good choice to add during dinner to prevent muscle loss and aid in meal satiety. To get some casein into your diet, you can also do something like drink a glass of chocolate milk after your workout. It's a great recovery drink to prevent protein loss and replace glycogen stores lost during exercise.

Soy is a plant-based protein. It's incomplete for people who are looking to add muscle mass, but it's a great option for vegetarians and vegans who cannot eat meat based proteins. It's also almost essential for those with lactose intolerance issues. Studies have shown that incorporating soy into your diet can reduce appetite and increase energy. Try adding edamame or soy milk to your diet.

Gelatin isn't a complete protein, but it's easily dissolved, allowing it to be added in sports drinks, bars, and puddings. Gelatin is not an option for vegetarians and vegans because it's a protein that is extracted from animal's bones. Studies show that it's a very effective appetite suppressant and would be a great after dinner treat. Jell-o anyone?

So there you are. Good for you, accessible proteins that will aid in muscle growth, satiety, protein balance, and maybe even weight loss.

Be Well!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cutting Your Cocktails

We are now officially halfway through the summer. Crazy! Personally, I'm happy the summer's nearing its end this year. New York has been an oven since May and I'm over it. Because of the near 100 degree heat and awful humidity, I haven't been running outside as much, the subways feel like a sauna, and just walking outside my front door has been a feat. To cool off, I've been meeting with friends and indulging in summer-time, alcoholic kind of beverages. It was so hot a couple Sundays ago that two girlfriends and I decided to stay in an air-conditioned restaurant and drink Bloody Mary's all afternoon. We didn't want to venture back out in the heat so we just continued to enjoy each other's company and let's face it, far too many calories with each additional drink. This is not the way to keep trim and healthy for swim suit season.

Drinking socially can become a slippery slide if you want to keep your waistline from expanding. As you continue to drink, the more your inhibitions drop and the less likely you are to turn down another drink when offered, especially if that drink happens to be some delicious summer concoction. In New York, cutting down alcohol consumption is super tough because social drinking has become a big part of life for everyone here. A lot of my clients have to meet with co-workers or clients of their own after work hours, and generally those meetings will happen over drinks. They find that their weight loss efforts are being slowed because of the additional calories they consume with each drink. Because I've been running into this issue myself lately, I've decided to follow these guidelines for now:

  • Save cocktail indulgence for one day or perhaps two days a week.
  • Keep my drinks as clean as possible by ordering something like a vodka soda, maybe with a splash of cranberry (to keep things festive and summery looking with a touch of pink color ;-)).
  • Keep amount of drinks consumed to 2 drinks tops on nights I do indulge.
  • Drink a seltzer or a water between drinks to slow alcohol intake.

If you are trying to cut calories and lose weight, cut your alcohol intake significantly or completely. A glass of wine can contain as many as 200 calories per glass and a summery cocktail (i.e. a margarita) might add up to 500 calories to your daily intake! The sugar content in these fun indulgences can become insane as well. It all adds up and slows your progress. Be mindful and Be Well!