Transcript: EP 330 – Dr. Taz Clears Up Protein Confusion
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Dr. Taz: The bottom line is, should you eat before you work out? The answer is yes, but we have to qualify it. So first of all, if you’re trying to build muscle, if you’re trying to lift weights, you do need to get a little bit of protein and a small load of carbohydrates before going into that workout. Absolutely do not go in in a fasted state.
Hi, everyone, and welcome to Super Woman Wellness. I’m Dr. Taz. I’ve made it my mission throughout my career in integrative medicine to support women in restoring their health using a blend of eastern medical wisdom with modern science. In this show, I will guide you through different practices to find your power type and fully embody the healthiest and most passionate version of you. I’m here for you and I can’t wait to get started. This is a Soulfire production.
Protein seems to be the newest trend these days. I’m sure you guys agree. Everywhere you’re looking, people are talking about getting in enough protein for muscle mass, for blood sugar balance, and so much more. Hey there, I’m Dr. Taz, and I want to break down all protein confusion, and how you really pick a protein that’s going to work for you, whereas one that may not work that great for you.
First of all, there are many different ways to get your protein in. And here’s the good news, the majority of it should be coming from whole foods. Now, protein, many people think, well, do I need to sit around and eat a bunch of meat? Simply not true. Just to give you a frame of reference, a chicken breast, a full chicken breast, or even a full steak, actually has about 60 grams of protein in it. So you really only need about a third of that if you’re eating meat as one of your protein sources throughout the day. So bottom line, we’re often over consuming protein when we’re eating animal protein, we actually need less. But we do need some to keep those protein grams where they need to be.
Now, let’s say you don’t tolerate meat, or who wants to eat meat three and four times a day? We need other sources of protein. So I even turn often to protein powders. It keeps me full, keeps my energy buzzing, and I feel great when I’ve started my day with a healthy amount of protein. I want to take a second today to talk to you about protein powders. Maybe how to pick one that’s right for you versus one that maybe just won’t work so great for you.
Now think about it for a second. When you go to the grocery store, you’ll see all kinds of protein powders out there. I’ve picked a few here to really break down some of the differences, but one of the most common protein powders are going to be whey-based. So whey protein, whey isolate is a lot of what our bodybuilders use. A lot of what people use when they’re hitting the gym frequently. It’s not a bad protein powder. Many people think I’m automatically against whey or against whey isolate. I’m not. Here’s the issue. We meet so many patients every day in practice at CentreSpringMD, and they actually have a dairy issue. They’re dairy intolerant. Or they have leaky gut. And that combination of either not tolerating dairy or having leaky gut makes whey isolate and whey proteins very difficult to digest.
Now, if you do have leaky gut, you want to have both your whole foods and even your protein supplementation be of a source that’s really easy to break down. So that’s where we turn to alternative sources of protein. So if you’re not dairy intolerant, you can break dairy down really well, you’re interested in muscle growth and muscle metabolism, whey protein is a great option for you. Just make sure it’s organic, that it’s sourced responsibly, and then it does actually work for you.
But for the majority of patients that I get to meet and many people that I talk to, they can’t digest dairy or they have leaky gut. Instead then, we turn to some alternative sources that include a pea protein, a rice protein, or even a hemp protein. Now, all of these are vegan and vegetarian in nature. So for folks that don’t eat meat or have given meat up, it’s a great option for them.
Most of these, you have to read your label. So for example, looking at this particular pea protein product from Metagenics, most of them give you about 20 grams of protein per serving. That is a great average when you’re looking at a protein label, you want at least 20 grams. You probably want more if you’re a bodybuilder or really interested in beefing up muscle mass. You probably want less if you’re not as interested in muscle mass, but you’re more interested in blood sugar regulation or just staying full throughout the day.
So 20 grams is a great average. Some protein powders have a little bit less, some have a little bit more. Decide on where you need to land, depending on what your particular goals are. My recommendation, 20 grams. And that could be a pea, a hemp, or a rice protein, even a whey protein, as long as you’re not dairy intolerant.
Now, let’s talk about another protein source. So there’s soy protein, many people will go on soy. Same problem for anyone dairy intolerant. They have an issue with whey, but they also often have an issue with soy. There’s about a 60% or so cross-reactivity between dairy and soy. So the same group that doesn’t tolerate whey, often won’t tolerate soy either. The problem we have with soy, very manufactured, highly processed. Most soy nowadays is GMO, meaning it’s genetically modified. So not the best option for many of us who are trying to do things in as gentle a way for the body as possible.
All right. So we’ve talked about the different types of protein powder, right? We’ve got soy, we have whey, we have pea, rice, and hemp. We want an average of 20 grams of protein per serving. What else do you need to look for? Well, here’s another little tip. If you’re somebody that’s got a lot of digestive issues, you’ve got bloating, you have maybe some reflux, picking a protein powder with a lot of junk in it is not going to work for you.
You actually want to stay away from the artificial sweeteners. From maltodextrin, from things like monk fruit or stevia. Because if any of these powders have too much of that, it’s actually going to upset your stomach. In fact, one of the most common causes of bloating, which many folks don’t realize, is simply artificial sweeteners. People are trying to replace sugar with one of these sweeteners, thinking they’re being healthier, but they find that their gut often doesn’t tolerate it. So looking out for some of those ingredients is helpful as well.
Now, on the other hand, if you’re taking in a protein powder because you’re trying to stabilize blood sugar levels or insulin levels, or you already have pre-diabetes or diabetes, you want to make sure your label not only doesn’t have too much artificial sweetener, but also doesn’t have sugar. And that sugar is very upsetting to many folks and is making their blood sugar spike versus keeping it nice and even, which is really the purpose of taking in a protein powder.
So lots of protein confusion. We have different types of protein powders, different goals. Think about what your first goal is. Muscle mass? Go for whey or whey protein isolate. Make sure it’s organic and sourced well. It doesn’t have a lot of junk in it. But if you’re dairy intolerant, we got to push that one aside and you have to move on to pea, rice, or hemp. If you’re not interested in muscle growth and you’re more interested maybe in blood sugar stability, pick a product with about 15 grams of protein on average, but watch the ingredients. Stay away from the fillers and the sweeteners. And if you have a lot of GI issues, again, watch for the preservatives. Things like maltodextrin are really upsetting to the belly. Trying to keep an eye on if you’re getting a big load of that in your protein powder.
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We talk a lot about getting in protein for healthy muscle metabolism, for weight loss, and a number of other reasons. But do you really need to have protein, or anything before you work out? Got to be honest, I have had workouts where I don’t eat at all, thinking I’m being healthier or burning more calories, only to end up super tired after that and have trouble getting through my day. On the other hand, who wants to load up on a lot of heavy stuff right before you go in to work out? So we’re going to talk about what research says, and how you can choose whether or not to have something to eat before you go for that workout.
Now, one of the things that is a universal truth … get ready for it. Is that everyone I meet, almost every single woman in particular that I meet, is in some sort of state of adrenal fatigue. Meaning they’re burning the candle at both ends. They’re probably staying up late and working out extra hard. Does that sound familiar? It’s exactly what I did, and still continue to do at times, but try to check myself. So think about your poor body and think about how you might be running your body like you would run a car, but without any gasoline whatsoever. And how in the world are you going to get from point A to point B?
So the bottom line is, should you eat before you work out? The answer is yes, but we have to qualify it, of course. So first of all, if you’re trying to build muscle, if you’re trying to lift weights, you do need to get a little bit of protein and a small load of carbohydrates before going into that workout. Absolutely do not go in in a fasted state. What happens there is you don’t perform as well as you could, right? Makes sense. But more importantly, you end up super fatigued after the workout.
So add in maybe a scoop protein powder, a yogurt that gives you at least maybe five to 10 grams of protein, and a little bit of carbohydrate, maybe from a banana or even from a handful of nuts, but some combination. And it doesn’t need to be heavy, and it doesn’t need to be a lot of food, but some combination of protein and carbohydrates absolutely helps you, especially in a muscle building workout like weight training or weightlifting.
Now, let’s move on to those of you who are distance runners. Really love your cardio. In those particular cases, we sometimes preserve the protein for after the workout, and instead recommend getting in more carbohydrates before the workout. Now, cardio, remember, is burning through those carbs. It’s burning through carbohydrates super fast. So you actually come out of it depleted in carbohydrates, hungry, and now you get hormonal fatigue because you’re in a carbohydrate deficit state. So a recipe for crashing your hormones, that’s not going to work either. I meet women all the time, and men honestly, who both have issues with their adrenals and with thyroid function, because again, they’re overworking out, doing tons of cardio, distance running, you name it. But their numbers are terrible when it comes to looking at what the data says.
So you should eat before you work out. If you’re muscle building, focus on the protein, focus on a little bit of carbohydrates. Just a very small portion of food just to give you the energy. Come out of that workout and go ahead and eat a full meal. If you’re doing cardio, focus on the carbohydrates. Get a small portion before you go into that heavy duty cardio workout, and then have your meal afterward. But either way, the answer is yes.
Now, here’s what not to do before working out. Please don’t overload the caffeine and acidic drinks. Those actually make your energy artificially high, really mess up your gut health, and work against you in the long run. So you’re literally riding these waves of artificial energy, then come crashing down and you’re wiped and exhausted throughout the day. I think one of the telltale signs is that if you are fatigued after a workout, a workout doesn’t energize you and make you feel like you’re on top of the world, you’re either not eating enough, not drinking enough water, getting in too much caffeine, or simply not fueling your body in a way conducive for you.
So remember, eat before you work out. Get the protein in. And nourish yourself rather than punishing yourself, which is what many people, I feel like, ultimately do. And I think the reason they do that, let’s be honest, is they’re obsessed with the idea of calories in versus calories out, which simply doesn’t work. So don’t worry about that. Think about nourishing and fueling your body instead. And remember, it’s up to you to stay super powered.