Mixed Tape Monday: Foods to reduce stress, protein powder and baseball

I'd say happy Monday, but that would be a bald-faced lie. Or bold faced. I googled it and couldn't really decide. No, Monday's aren't bad. Hopefully you all had a kickin' weekend and got outside to enjoy the nice weather. It actually got above 60 degrees here in Maine and I worked outside all day Saturday without wearing a ski jacket for the first time this spring. 

 Don't get a sunburn. And definitely don't get a raccoon shaped sunburn.

Don't get a sunburn. And definitely don't get a raccoon shaped sunburn.

Sadly, I also went sans sunscreen because I wasn't really expecting to expose my skin to that much vitamin D. The end result was a raccoon sun burn that left my niece and nephew asking what happened to my face while we FaceTimed last night. But this leads to a natural transition on Vitamin D (not like that --->) as one of the methods of reducing stress. 

Food that reduce stress

I have a host of blog topics that I'm working on, but the subject that really fascinates and terrifies me is stress. It terrifies me because as I learn more about fitness, I learn more about the physical ways stress affects us, to say nothing of what it can do to our state of mine on any given day. It fascinates me because there are a number of natural ways we can reduce our stress, and I'm going to highlight one of those (sleep) in an upcoming post. 

There are plenty of studies to confirm this, but with the exception of my dog, I've rarely encountered any living thing that isn't suffering from stress. And suffering is the key word here, as there is the good kind of stress (eustress) like falling in love, having an awesome conversation, watching the Pittsburgh Pirates finally beat the Cardinals (they will, eventually); but then there's the bad stress (distress) that more than 80% of adults say they've experienced in the last five years (see link below).  

So when one of my fitness journals arrived talking things you can do to reduce stress, I was all eyes/ears.

The article, which can be found here, highlights some stress fighting foods. Sadly, they are not glazed donuts, Doritoes or PBR, which are often the types of foods we reach for when we are stressed. Foods that can help to improve levels of serotonin are those that contain tryptophan, such as turkey (cue Adam Sandler music), shrimp, dairy, soy and pumpkin seeds. 

The author also highlights foods that are loaded with folic acid including Brussels sprouts, broccoli and asparagus as nutritional sources to increase levels of serotonin. But enough of the cliff notes. 

Read me. 

Protein Powder

This is another subject that bears a lengthier post, but for now, just a few random thoughts about protein, especially as it relates to strength training. 

 Metabolic Drive, from Biotest is one option that tends to be lower in calories and carbs and has 21 grams of protein per scoop. It's best to get all protein from whole foods, but sometimes, a shake can be more convenient.

Metabolic Drive, from Biotest is one option that tends to be lower in calories and carbs and has 21 grams of protein per scoop. It's best to get all protein from whole foods, but sometimes, a shake can be more convenient.

Drink it. (Or eat it..)

Have you ever seen those (mostly) guys in the gym tooling around with their blender bottles and 5lb tubs of whey protein powder? And have you ever thought, upon seeing said tub of protein powder, that it contained some not-for-everyday-people substance that will cause you to pop veins in your forearms and grow chin hair? (Bad example...some of us grow chin hair anyway...)

In most cases, what you're seeing is protein in a convenient form, which, when used prior to a workout starts protein synthesis and kind of primes the pump for the training session. I generally consume 15-20 grams of protein before (or halfway through) a strength training workout, and another 15-20 grams immediately following a workout. Why?

First of all, there's a good chance you're not hitting your protein intake for the day with whole foods alone, and I know this is the case for me. The recommendations vary, but a general rule is a gram of protein per pound. Protein consumed post-workout, generally within an hour after finishing, has been shown to be beneficial, especially helping individuals recover and potentially increase muscle and strength gain. 

There are various types of protein, include whey, soy, and hemp, though I've only had experience with whey, which is a milk-based protein that is a by-product of cheese production. I try not to think about that part when I drink it.

Because strength training causes small tears in your muscles, and protein helps build lean muscle as you recover. You will not get huuuuuuuge by using protein powder. You may, however, get huge if you have a lab experiment with a gamma bomb that goes horribly wrong (five points for Incredible Hulk mention the Monday after the new Avengers movie opened).

Your protein of choice could be yogurt or cottage cheese, but often times a shake is more convenient than throwing a chicken breast in your gym bag. But hey, whatever spins your pedals. 

 I've also had good success with Pro Grade workout, but you'll notice that this powder tends to be higher in carbs and calories. One is not necessarily better, it's just a question of your goals and the type of nutrition program you're using. 

I've also had good success with Pro Grade workout, but you'll notice that this powder tends to be higher in carbs and calories. One is not necessarily better, it's just a question of your goals and the type of nutrition program you're using. 

In terms of choosing a protein powder, take a good look at the nutrition label before you buy. A lot of the commercial protein powders and protein bars are also high in sugar and calories, which is part of what makes them taste better.

In terms of taste, I like either of the options here, both of which are ordered online. The other thing to bear in mind with any supplement, is that the supplement industry is not regulated, so it's a good idea to do a little research about the company that makes whatever protein powder you buy. 

Again, this could be an entire post in and of itself, and likely will be one day. I just wanted to hit the high point here.

Baseball

Other than the fact that the Pirates got swept in three extra inning games in a row to the St. Louis Cardinals, and I was sitting outside at a baseball game when I got my raccoon sunburn, there's really nothing else to say about it for now. 

But it feels like things should happen in three's...so....