By now, you’re familiar with my stance on supplements. The query of whether to use protein powder continually comes up, however. The most recent example occurred in my own home!
My 14 year old, Chase, came up to me the other day and asked for protein powder. I looked at him, paused, and took a deep breath before asking why. He explained he needed it after his off-season football practices and workouts, at his coach’s suggestion.
In this case, my answer was the simple. “Chase, your best protein source will always be real, whole food. You’re a carnivore [the kid loves to eat meat] and we have a ton of food in the fridge. What can you eat cold? Salmon? Tuna?”
This did not go over well. He looked at me with disgust in his eyes – he is not a fan of fish.
“I’ll get you protein powder if that’s what you really want, but I don’t think you’ll like it. Drinking watered down whey, soy or egg protein powder isn’t the most pleasant experience, overall. Plus, those powders are generally loaded with artificial sweeteners and ingredients unrecognizable to us.”
Post conversation, I did some research to make sure my data was accurate. One of the most positively reviewed is 100% Whey Gold, by Optimum Nutrition. Optimum Nutrition? That sounds healthy!
Sure enough, this protein contains Acesulfame Potassium, an artificial sweetener containing methylene chloride, a known carcinogen.
Of course, this isn’t the only protein supplement on the market. There are thousands and they have a broad range of crappy ingredients. Almost all protein powders are going to contain some type of sugars or sweeteners. They’re next to impossible to consume otherwise. Additionally, because the proteins have been separated into an easy to digest form, the body breaks them down very quickly. This can lead to an insulin spike even without added sugar.
Chase cut back to the heart of the problem. “Well, I still need protein for after my workouts.”
“What if I make you some beef patties and throw them in bags? You can take them to school and eat them post workouts.”
Chase: “All right, I’ll try it.”
I must admit, I was holding back a powerful smile and playing it cool. Every father loves when a suggestion lands, even if his son is reluctant. Chase went to sleep and I grabbed my grass fed, organic ground beef out of the fridge. I heated up some butter and coconut oil in my pan, seasoned the meat with garlic powder, salt and pepper and produced 4 medium rare patties.
Full disclosure, I devoured one. It was perfectly juicy while hot, but will still be palatable cold after Chase’s training session.
For Chase, a single portion translates to 21 grams of protein (roughly the same as a serving of protein powder). Additionally, he’ll be ingesting nutrients crucial to his development. From whfoods.com:
A recent study of children and teens in the U.S. has shown that individuals in these age groups depend on their intake of beef for the following key nutrients and in the following amounts.
- Vitamin B12: beef provides 14-21% of this B vitamin to U.S. children and teenagers
- Zinc: 13-19% of this mineral is provided by beef to these age groups
- Vitamin B3: U.S. children and teens receive 6-10% of their vitamin B3 from beef
- Vitamin B6: 5-8% of this vitamin is provided by beef to these age groups
- Iron: up to 8% of dietary iron is provided to these age groups by beef
In 2014, teenagers are involved in more and more activities, and between rushing from school to practice, many parents find the idea of an easy to prepare shake appealing. Beyond convenience, it can be difficult to contradict the coach of a young man or woman. The benefits of real food make taking a stand worth it. Sit down and chat with your kids and find something they can eat on the go. They’ll be healthier and happier for it.