The heat is ON in Estes Park right now and this may be the best time for you to consider energy supplementation if you are determined to be active during the summer!
I think one of the easiest forms of fuel enhancement to a cool, refreshing smoothie is a protein powder. Whey protein is the most researched but if you are sensitive to dairy products then pea or hemp protein is an alternative. Pea has a good amino acid profile, has extra iron and Hemp has high fiber, and a good balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. The best way to decide on a good Whey protein powder is to check the leucine amino acid content – the higher, the better. Leucine is a Branched Chain Amino Acid – (BCAA) anabolic in nature, so muscle building as it goes straight to the muscle tissue rather than the liver. Their structure increases protein synthesis, strength and endurance. DOMS – or delayed onset muscle soreness is usually less the case if using BCAAs before working out.
Beef protein is coming under debate too which usually has vitamins and minerals added. Beef is digested in the stomach which avoids the sometimes swelling sensation of Whey which is digested in the intestine. However the biological value, a measurement to determine the percentage of protein the body uses is higher in Whey than in Beef.
Whey increases fat loss, is thermogenic – so heat forming, lowers ghrelin the hunger hormone or ‘g’ for greedy is how I remember it, so keeps our appetite under control and provides a fast recovery.
Dont worry about the speed of absorption of amino acids – the body will find what it needs from food or protein powder.
If you are serious about your athletic performance then topping up with creatine, an amino acid from animal sources – mainly meat, is an alternative. It helps make the energy fuel, ATP, lowers cortisol levels while working out – up to 45 minutes which is good. Cortisol breaks down muscle tissue in the body. It increases muscle strength, is thermogenic, lowers body fat, prevents liver disease, is an antioxidant and improves mental capacity. Carbohydrates help drive creatine into the cells as it is best absorbed during insulin spikes. However Creatine is not well studied.
The omega fatty acids from fish oils stimulate muscle protein or anabolism. A high potency supplement of EPA/DHA – less is needed with a healthy diet. However if your diet is high in Arachidonic acid, ARA, (a polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acid, the primary fatty acid for inflammation in muscle tissues), found in animal fat, then more may be needed to support the muscles.
MCT or medium chain triglyceride oil, like coconut oil is digested easily and goes directly to liver as stored energy. Research is proving that MCTs are helping with Dementia. Better to feed the brain fatty acids than sugar. MCT’s are thermogenic and improve fat burning.
Adaptagens are modifiers of the stress response. Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng), an adrenal adaptagen, balances the adrenal hormones, improves strength, improves the immune system and brain function. However it is a member of the Nightshade family and some people have difficulty with foods from this family. Golden Root (Rhodiola Rosea) enhances utilization of insulin, increases energy and reduces cortisol. Panax Ginseng enhances blood/sugar metabolism, improves the brain, mood, energy and stamina.
A final note – more protein (acidic) should be countered with an alkaline diet.
Wishing you scoops of fun this summer!
Smoothie Recipes- blend all ingredients together in a blender (better still a Vitamix blender if you have one!)
- Strawberries, cacao, cinnamon, coconut milk and protein powder
- Greens, ginger, banana, pineapple and protein powder
- Avocado, banana, pineapple and protein powder