When we were first married, Malamute and I used to go to the gym a lot and work out. He always had a goal of getting really fit and I knew weightlifting was good exercise so I came along too. All the sports nutrition stuff he read said that you need massive amounts of animal protein to put on muscle, so he was drinking a lot of whey protein shakes and I started doing likewise. But we didn't feel the best after drinking them and eventually, he got to a point where his health just crashed. We couldn't understand it. We were doing everything the conventional wisdom said you needed to do to be fit- extra protein, lots of supplements, working out several times a week- and he was doing worse than he ever had in his life. He was fatigued, developing aching muscles, brain fog etc. Later Malamute took a personal training class from Brian Biagioli, a professor of Exercise Science at some university in Florida.
Brian was a former competitive powerlifter and he offered one interesting piece of advice: ditch the protein shakes. He said that most Americans are getting enough protein, or even an excess and that the protein powders and shakes out there aren't good for you. So we stopped. A couple of years later, we heard about a consumer report that tested protein shakes and powders and found that many of them contained dangerous levels of cadmium, lead and arsenic. Turns out that the two highest poison brands, Myoplex and Muscle Milk were Malamute's drinks of choice and sometimes he would have several a day. Basically, my husband was being slowly poisoned.We swore off protein powders. never, ever, ever again. It was completely unnecessary. (BTW, if you read this report, you may notice it says that potatoes, sunflower seeds and spinach can have very high levels of cadmium due to chemical fertilizers. Organic products are grown without chemical fertilizers, yet another way to avoid cadmium.)
(If the heavy metals haven't scared you off yet, you might be interested to know that the largest nutrition study in history, the Oxford/Cornell China Project, found that people who ate a diet of 20%+ animal protein had massive rats of cancer, autoimmune disorders, and shortened life expectancies whereas people who ate a diet of 5% animal protein had much better health and energy and lived longer than expected. Oh, and you know all those "ultra-healthy" soy bars and soy protein drinks? They contain soy protein isolate, a highly refined soy by product which is produced by processing soybeans with hexane, a chemical which has been classified by the CDC and EPA as a neurotoxin and air pollutant. Soy protein isolate is in Clif bars, Luna Bars, Power bars, the list goes on. I used to eat these all the time. I had a Luna Bar a day when I was in my first trimester with Duckling because it was one of the few things I felt like eating. Next time you reach for a protein bar, check the label!)
So now we are back at the gym. We got a three month membership for the local rec center and have been going three times a week. At this point, we are eating pretty much vegan (we have been known to have small amounts of meat occasionally during the winter and once in a blue moon I will have have a little dairy) and we don't eat any soy. Conventional wisdom would say that we are not getting enough protein and shouldn't see any good results with weightlifting. But in fact, things are going better than before. Malamute especially has been increasing the amount of weight he lifts every time. We've been back to weightlifting for about three weeks now and he has already hit a new high doing 155 on the lat pull down. He's recovering well each time and bursting with energy! If you don't believe that you can put on muscle without eating soy, whey, or meat, I submit for your approval Storm Talifero.
Are you sitting down?
Storm and his family are very strict raw vegans (he won't eat any nuts he hasn't shelled himself; I'm not that hard core). He has been eating raw for over thirty years.
Stephen Arlin a.ka. Thor Bazler is a raw vegan bodybuilder. He has written a book called Raw Power! about weightlifting and eating raw.
It can be done! And we are doing it.
I know we swore off protein powders, but as fate would have it, we've been sucked in again... in a good way. We went to a Green Smoothie Girl class and Malamute entered us in a drawing and we won a bag of Chocolate SunWarrior Blend protein powder.
It's an organic, plant protein powder that is free of solvents (like hexane) and other junk like radiation, herbicides, pesticides, etc., so we figured we had nothing to lose by trying it, but didn't think we'd see much of a difference. I made us a shake before we headed to the gym one day and was pleasantly surprised by how good we felt afterwards. We didn't feel as fatigued and had lots of energy to take Duckling swimming afterwards. We felt surprisingly, GOOD. We're thinking of trying some more SunWarrior powder in a little while. It's all about finding the good stuff. So while I swore off protein powders before, I find myself quite happily drinking my words now. =)