August 1, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Exercise, Whey Protein

I am a “semi” vegan (I eat eggs and fish, I know there is an official term for that, but I can’t remember it!)

I avoid processed food [and] exercise in the morning approximately 6 days a week, walking briskly for an hour. I [recently] added cycling 3 times a week (approximately 20 miles.)

With the additional exercise I was feeling a little sluggish and headachy in the afternoon.

I felt like I needed more protein in my diet, so I bought, and have been using, whey protein in a soy milkshake for breakfast.

Am I falling back into the trap of “Franken foods” by using whey protein?

-- Barbara (last name withheld)
Carmel, IN

As far as technicalities go, your diet (lacto-ovo vegetarian who also eats fish) qualifies as pescatarian.

You will find, though, that it's often easier to describe yourself as "vegetarian", since "pescatarian" is often met with puzzled looks.

The symptoms you are experiencing are completely unrelated to low protein intake.

I don’t know your specific medical history, but assuming you are a “normal”, healthy adult, I am leaning towards one of the following: low caloric intake, low carbohydrate intake (headaches are often a symptom of not consuming enough carbohydrates), or dehydration.

Remember that protein needs are not as high as advertisers want us to believe.

To determine how much YOU need, take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2.

Then, multiply THAT number by 0.8.

Whatever number you get as a result of that calculation is the minimum amount of protein you should be getting on a daily basis. You can get up to 200 or 250% of that number with no problems.

Protein deficiency in the United States -- and other developed nations -- is extremely, extremely rare.

I am suspecting you need to increase your carbohydrate intake, particularly after exercising.

Your glycogen stores need to be replaced, and a snack combining complex carbohydrates and some protein is the best way to achieve that.

Something as simple as a toasted slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter or a piece of fruit accompanied by a glass of dairy or soy milk should do the trick.

I don't consider whey protein in itself to be a "Franken" food, but many of the ready-to-consume shakes and bars can be heavily processed.

I just don't think extra amounts of protein will provide much relief.

NOTE: If your symptoms persist, please consult your physician. This answer should not be seen as a diagnosis.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Using your calculation I should be getting 54 grams of protein a day which is not a problem. I have started strength training, should I up my protein intake? If so by how much? Thank you,