P is for protein.. and pre workout
Also what the hell is creatine and find out the best socks at Kmart to get for the gym.
This week’s topic is a doozy, so shall we start off with the socks?
Firstly, I am gen x and so no-show sneaker socks will always be my thing forever and a day. I do not enjoy having socks on show, no ma’am, socks are meant to be sight unseen. This is the hill. Fight me if you like.
Kmart - the holy grail of all things we never knew we needed, used to stock a fluoro no-show sock. They were perfect. Enough elasticity to stay on, low enough to never be seen - all round good.
They disappeared and were replaced with another no-show sock which was actually more like a footlet type thing? Shit for sneakers, shit for the gym, all round shit if I’m honest. I bought far too many pairs and when they are the only things in my drawer, the rage I feel is unbridled.
However, one day at Kmart, I happened upon these beauties in the “men’s section”, because of course the men get better socks than the women.
They are perfection. Cushioned. Good elasticity. No show, sneaker socks.
If the value of this newsletter brings you nothing but where to buy affordable no show sneaker socks, I am glad of it.
These socks get my full endorsement. This is not an ad. I am not being paid to say this. These socks (as far as Kmart socks go) are legit and you can buy them online here.
Now that’s out of the way, shall we talk about protein, pre workout, and creatine? Like, for regular people, not gainzzz fans, bodybuilders etc - their needs are different, and they can have at it. No, I mean for every day folk like you and me.
Let’s start with Protein.
Protein is complex. Essentially, a protein is a molecule made up of a chain of amino acids. Each chain can be made up of different amino acids, depending on what job they are intending to do.
There are 22 amino acids our body makes good use of. Some can be replaced by our body making them from scratch (those are the non essential kind), and some (the nine essential ones) need to come from food because our body can’t make them up. When we talk about “getting enough protein in our food” we’re talking about getting enough of the nine essential amino acids that only animals and plants can make, so we eat the animals and plants, and then we can get the essential amino acids.
That was a mouthful.. and I probably didn’t explain it very well, but the science of amino acids is not really something we need to focus on in any case.
What’s important to know is:
Protein is in, and responsible for, a whole host of stuff - muscle repair and growth, skin, teeth, nails, hair, and body structure, transporting oxygen around the body - the list goes on.
It keeps the immune system strong, balances and fires up various hormones.
It is also a back up for when an emergency source of energy is needed, like if you’re on a carb and fat free diet (yikes and why?) and are rightfully completely drained, protein can step in so you can get out of bed.
Like it’s just in and used for so many things and so we want to get in a good amount of protein every day. Ages ago when I was at nutrition school, we were taught that protein should come from food first, and that if we can’t get from our food source, then we should use a supplement, to supplement the food.
Thankfully that thinking has changed a bit and getting protein from a source like a powder form you can mix into a shake or other food, is totally fine.
But how much is the right amount? Can you have too much protein?
Keep in mind, we eat food with protein in it, not protein on its own. We aren’t having a delicious meal of protein. And so when we’re talking about macronutrients like protein, there is a standard equation that is based on body weight because it’s not about the food. It’s really about the amount of amino acids and nitrogens a body of whatever size needs. A bit like when you’re at the doctor, and need to be weighed for medicine purposes. This is similar but not the same thing as medicine does quite a different job than protein does.
Anyway, the equation is 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight.
However, if you were to start calculating your protein intake this way, it would be a dark day with all the joy sucked out of life, so I like to base my protein intake on about a palmful of food (a serve of about 100 grams) that I know is a good protein source.
A serve of lentils or chickpeas has roughly 18 grams of protein
A serve of lean meat like steak or chicken has roughly 25 grams of protein
A serve of fish like salmon or tuna varies wildly between 25-35 grams of protein
And that’s just the big sources. Milk, cheese, nuts, bread, cereals - all have protein, and if you start your day off with oats like I do, you can chuck some protein powder in there or make a shake, whatever you like. The point is that you don’t have to eat in a regimented way to get your protein in, you can eat whatever you like.
Too much protein can give people kidney stones, water retention, constipation - bunch of other things. So it’s really best to just get in a good amount, rather than being a competitive over-achiever.
You know what I love about protein though?
Protein in a meal fills you up which is good because being hungry all the time just sucks. Always hungry? Eat more food that has protein in it to feel a bit better.
Is pre work out for you?
Pre work out is a powder when mixed with water to make a drink, gives a burst of energy to someone during their work out. It’s largely caffeine based with a bunch of other things in it. It can be useful for athletes trying to make the most of their workouts, but largely for every day people, especially people who do mostly aerobic exercise, it’s a bit pointless. (Feel free to fight me on this one, too)
Pre work out supplements have increased in popularity over the years. And thanks to some kids on TikTok, dry scooping (taking pre work out powder without diluting in water) gave pre workout a bit of a profile push. For the record, pre workout should always be diluted in water, despite what you may see on TikTok. It isn’t “beast mode” dry scooping is the worst, it’s dangerous, and there is zero point to it.
But let’s assume you are taking pre workout or considering taking it in the right way, should you? What are the benefits?
Look, you won’t be shocked to learn I have nerded out on a couple of studies that show taking a pre workout supplement can be beneficial for anaerobic exercise (that’s exercise that doesn’t require oxygen, like short burst sprints, or low rep heavy weight lifting) but not that amazing for aerobic exercise like cardio. The study found no massive improvement overall in strength tests but the gains were reasonable in terms of power and endurance. So I guess if you have your heart set on lifting heavy for two hours in the gym, you may not need a cup of tea and lie down till the end of your work out. For every day people attempting to get in some regular exercise for health and mood benefits, give it a miss.
Lastly, creatine, which is much more interesting for every day people.
I am wary this essay is getting far too long. My apologies for that, so I’ll make this part super quick.
Creatine is a substance (for lack of a better word) naturally found in muscles and a few other places. It can help increase strength, but this study talks about how it can be useful for brain health like the fog in sleep deprivation, and menopause, but also there is potential for it to be useful in more serious conditions like Alzheimers, mood, and depression.
Your body makes up some creatine, and you get the rest from protein found in fish and animals. Supplements generally tend to not be vegan friendly, but you can boost your existing creatine stores that your body makes from legumes, spinach, and seeds.
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