I have a handful of guy friends that take protein powder like sorority girls drink diet coke. It wasn’t until my friend Jake said to me, “Hey Lisa, are any of the ingredients in this going to kill me?” that I actually took a look at one of those giant tubs. And, hell yes, Jake, that stuff sucks. I’m going to quickly sum up why these man-tubs are dangerous.
Two words for you: nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a key ingredient in these energy powders, as well as a major free radical. (Just a side note, nitric oxide is also produced naturally during the electrical discharges of lightning in thunderstorms.) Free radicals cause disease, cancer in particular. I could go on for days about exactly how free radicals cause cancer in the body (I’m sure you will all see that post soon), but for the sake of your time in this matter, they just do by magic biology.
These powders also promote the increase of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is produced naturally in the body and is what stimulates our growth, from first teeth to wrinkles. This hormone, though beneficial for growth, can decrease the body’s natural defense against free radicals in excess. So, these powders are not only adding harmful free radicals to your body, but they are destroying your defense!
Not only are the ingredients in these supplements harmful to your health, research has shown that many of these powders do not enhance your performance or energy at all! There was a study, published in 2005 in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, which examined 30 male endurance athletes, giving one group high levels of arginine and aspartate (amino acids found in these powders), another low levels of both, and a third group a placebo. All of the groups performed cycling tests. There were no major differences in endurance performance or blood levels of human growth hormone in either of the arginine-aspartate groups. Therefore, the powder ingredients did nothing for the athletes.
Meow you know doze shakes aren’t wurkin.
So, what can you do to get your energy up for a good workout sans shake?
- Apples. An apple gives you more energy for a good workout than a cup of coffee can give you.
- Whole wheat bread. Smart carbohydrates boost energy and mood, and are the body’s preferred source of fuel.
- Nuts. Particularly cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, and brazil nuts are rich in magnesium, a mineral that has a key role turning sugar into energy.
- Lean meat. Lean meat and fish have tyrosine, which boosts the brain’s levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which help you feel alert and focused, ready for your workout.
- Water. Water is so vitally important to your body’s functioning. Even mild dehydration can slow down your metabolism and drain your energy.
- Supplements. You don’t have to avoid the quick fix completely! Natural supplements that boost energy without harming your body include: kola nut, yerba mate (my personal favorite study aid), green tea extract, and guarana supplements.
So, gentlemen, please put down the shaken, not stirred, energy shake. Those king-sized tubs in your frat house scare us girls, and we are sick of hearing about the “rad benefits of whey, bro.”