3 Reasons You Need To Change Your Protein Powder

Protein powders are as synonymous with fitness as tough workouts, competition and the need for recovery.

Even though the protein supplement market has been oversaturated and misunderstood, the reality is that: Human beings are protein machines.

All the way down to our DNA, you’ll find instructions for building our brain, digestive system, muscles, immune cells and so much more out of protein building blocks.

To build new structures, we must provide our bodies with the raw materials it needs to make it happen. You can’t build your muscle out of cheese fries and Doritos (believe me, I tried). And if your body is deficient in the protein building blocks it needs, you will breakdown faster and live a poorer quality life as a result.

The big issue in our world today is that we live in abnormally stressful conditions where our bodies have to work on high gear more often. More stress to fight, more infections to defend against and more need to build new brain and nervous system tissue than ever before. And don’t even get me started on how you need protein to build a sexified lean body… You already know that!

Though many people are adamant about getting in their protein supplement today for some of these reasons, many are unaware that the protein they are choosing may be doing more harm than good.

Here are 3 reasons you need to change your protein powder:

Digestion

The conventional go-to for protein powders for the past couple decades has been whey protein. For some people, this has worked out fine, but for many others this has been a stinky situation.

In the health & fitness field, whey protein is often referred to as “Gas & Blast” due to the unfortunate effects of causing more bloat, digestive distress and gassiness.

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I remember hearing an interview from Halle Berry back in the day when she was getting in shape for the movie Cat Woman (bad movie, but great body). She said to the interviewer that she’d be glad when she could back off on all the exercise and whey protein shakes she had to drink because of all the gas she was kicking out. (Wait, whaaat? Halle Berry farts?)

There are actually many reasons for these digestive woes. Unfortunately, many whey protein producers claim that their products are safe for those who are lactose intolerant because there is little to no lactose found in it (especially if it’s an isolate).

The problem with this is that even a small amount of lactose (milk-sugar) can be enough to set off a chain reaction of health problems. For those who are lactose intolerant (which you probably are if you’re not a baby and if you are a baby and reading this, great job!) just that small amount of lactose found in whey will go undigested in your digestive tract and trigger excessive activity with bacteria in your gut.

As a result, you end up experiencing the bloating, distended stomach and gassiness that are definitely not the sexy part about getting into shape.

Some people will hop to vegan proteins like soy to avoid this, but end up jumping into another problem. Many soy proteins, for example, are hexane extracted. That’s hexane, as in gasoline, as in that’s explosive stuff, as in that’s just crazy!

So whether you are unknowingly choosing the conventional whey, or the typical soy alternative, you are not doing your digestion any favours. And the truth is, it’s not “You are what you eat”, it’s really, “You are what you digest.”

To wrap this digestion point up, internal distress, denatured amino acids and the potential immune response can lead to an increase in mucus production and hormone dysfunction. This can translate to an increase in allergies and asthma symptoms, skin breakouts (especially back acne aka bacne) and more frequent colds and infections. More than enough reasons to leave these lower quality protein sources behind.

The solution

The most digestible protein source that you’ll find for the human body is hemp protein. Hemp protein contains a unique blend of two soft, highly digestible proteins called edestin and albumin.

Globular proteins like edestin are regarded as the most bioavailable, usable sources of protein for the human body. The word edestin is actually from the Greek word “edestos” meaning edible. Hemp is actually the only known source of the powerhouse protein edestin.

Edestin has also been found to contain higher levels of essential amino acids than soy and you’ll also avoid the harsh extraction process used to turn the soy bean into a protein powder.

Toxicity

A Consumer Reports study found that several of the major whey protein powders on the market exceeded the safety limits for heavy metals recommended by the USP.

Heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury were found in surprisingly high amounts in protein powders and drinks you’d find on your local store shelves.

The most alarming were the amounts of arsenic and cadmium. Exposure to arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver and prostate. It’s a strong immune system depressant and shown to damage blood vessels and other cardiac tissues.

Cadmium is also a known carcinogen. It’s proven to damage DNA and also disrupt DNA repair systems that help prevent cancer in the first place. These heavy metals are bad business. But the question is, how did they get into the protein powder in the first place?

This goes back, again, to the misinterpreted saying, “You are what you eat”.

Not only is it deeper than ‘you are what you eat’, but when it comes to the animal proteins you consume, it’s really, “You are what you eat ate.”

The health of the animals that provide you with the protein you consume is of the utmost importance. Toxicity becomes more concentrated as you move up the food chain, accumulating in the tissues of the animal and transmitting over to the animal’s meat, organs and bodily fluids. In this case, it’s the whey made from milk.

If the animals themselves are eating an abnormal diet, then the milk they produce will be far less safe to consume. Did you know that only a small fraction of a whey proteins on the market are from cows that actually eat grass?

The vast majority of whey protein products are from cow’s who’ve been given a diet of soy and/or corn. Not sure if I’m the only one that noticed, but cows can’t shuck corn… And I’m pretty sure that they can’t cook beans either. It’s just those pesky hooves that they have… They’re just not that graceful in the kitchen.

Bottom line is, when you give cows food that they have not evolved eating, they get sick just like humans do. This is also the reason that most conventional whey products are from cows that have been treated rigorously with antibiotics. This destroys their immune system and leaves them susceptible to every disease under the sun. But hey, that won’t affect you when you drink their milk… Nah, I’m just kidding. Of course it will!

Add to the mix that you are consuming the whey from potentially hundreds of different cows in one jug of protein powder, you can imagine the not-so-pretty number it can do on your immune system.

You are what you eat ate. If the cows are consuming GMO corn and soy grown in soil that is saturated with unnatural fertilizers (which contain dense amounts of heavy metals) it’s no wonder that studies are finding the heavy metals in the whey. It’s just how the system works.

The Solution

To get out of that system and get a protein supplement that’s exceptionally more safe, it’s a good idea to shift over to a plant-based protein. There’s going to be less toxicity because it’s lower on the food chain, but you want to get one that still packs the protein punch that you would find in an animal source.

Hemptons utilizes a rich and complete protein derived from organic hemp seeds. You’re no longer going to have to be concerned about nefarious pesticides and heavy metal laced fertilizers making their way into your body. Hemptons’ Hemp Protein contains all of the essential amino acids and all three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), making it one of the most potent sources of plant protein in the world. You’ll get the protein that you need and none of the stuff you don’t.

Dense Nutrition

The protein you choose should never be deficient in the co-factors that actually make it work. Protein doesn’t function by itself in the human body.

Nothing functions independently in nature. Everything depends on something else to give it life and make it work.

Most protein powders on the market are so heavily processed that they give no regard to this fact. Vitamins and minerals found in the food, blah, who needs ’em! Antioxidants and neurotransmitters, please, who said any of that stuff is important?

The vitamins, minerals and immune factors that would be found in a cow’s milk (intended to give to its baby) are all but destroyed in the processing practices of most whey protein companies.

You are not left with anything close to a complete food… You are left with, well, protein and none of its friends (and protein is definitely not a shy little introvert … it likes friends)

Soy, on the other hand, has been found to absorb plenty of nutrients from its environment, but an abnormal amount of the wrong stuff. One study on protein-rich soy infant formula found that it contained up to 200 times more manganese than natural breast milk. You probably know that manganese is an essential nutrient for the human body, but consuming it in excess has been linked to reduced brain function and even Parkinson’s Disease.

Soy is a plant that has this unique affinity to absorb excessive manganese. This could be a good indicator that it’s not an appropriate human food. Add to the mix that it’s extremely high in estrogen compounds and trypsin inhibitors that actually block the uptake of proteins and the case is pretty clear that soy is not the standard that we want to subscribe to.

The Solution

Hemp protein provides a safe variety of minerals and trace minerals that make the protein more useable by the human body.

Hemp contains healthy amounts of magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium as some of the highlights. All with critical roles in brain function, blood building, the immune system and muscle function as well.

In nature, hemp contains nearly the exact ratio of omega 6’s to omega 3’s that are ideal for the human body. Research indicates that we need a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 respectively.

In our world today we are bombarded with foods that contain extremely high levels of omega 6’s (the pro-inflammatory fatty acids) and not enough omega 3’s (the anti-inflammatory fatty acids). Hemp contains a ratio of approximately 3.38:1 of Omega 6 to Omega 3 and no other food is this identical. This is yet another reason why hemp looks to be an amazing food for human beings.

At 35 percent protein by weight, hemp is a naturally high protein food that provides the most useable source of protein for the human body. It’s a food that we all need to incorporate as we move forward in our health and becoming the best version of ourselves.

So to answer the question: What is the best protein powder? Clearly, hemp protein stands head and shoulders above all other conventional protein powders in digestibility, assimilation, safety and nutrient density.

Here’s to a better protein, better performance and better health for years to come!

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Fuelling Your Strength Training Workout

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It is not just important what you eat, but when you eat it is crucial to – especially as an athlete. Eating the correct foods at the appropriate time before, during and after a workout will not only properly nourish and fuel you—you may also see gains in your performance. Fuelling for strength training is slightly different than fuelling for cardio-based workouts. Here are a few tips to follow in order to get the most out of your workout.

 

1 to 2 Hours Pre-Workout

To keep you from feeling hungry before a workout, without stomach discomfort, choose a mini-meal or snack that combines healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and protein.  Depending on your personal goals and needs, the amount of food required is unique to you. An example of such meal could be an amaranth porridge sprinkled with almond milk, nuts and seeds.

 

30 Minutes Pre-Workout

Your focus should be on simple carbohydrates right before your workout. Select foods that provide quick energy and are easily digested. Fruit is a perfect example of this, as a light, easily digestible and quick on-the-go option to consume while on the way to the gym. For easy pre-workout fuel try filling a date with coconut oil for a delicious and efficient pre-workout snack!  No Protein is needed at this stage.

 

During Your Workout

During your strength-training routine, the essential components to focus on are quick energy and electrolytes. If you are training less than an hour, you can stick to electrolytes as your focus. If your workouts are longer than 45 minutes to an hour, you may want to consume easily digestible carbohydrates. Most athletes find it easier to drink than to eat during a workout, so seek out carbohydrates in a gel or drink format. You can blend up fruit and dates to make a gel, or make a fresh fruit juice for a steady burst of energy.

No matter the length of your workout, electrolytes are essential. As you sweat you lose minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride with water. When choosing an electrolyte replacement look for ones without artificial colours, flavours or fillers.

No Protein is needed at this stage.

 

Immediately Post-Workout

One of the biggest mistakes I see in action at the gym is people rushing to have their post-workout protein drink, thinking that it is the one-and-only essential macronutrient needed in order to build muscle. This is simply a myth.

Post-workout, your focus is to replenish lost glycogen stores in order for protein synthesis to occur. Simply put, you must consume simple carbohydrates first, then protein later, in order for muscle building and strengthening to occur.  Consuming a post-workout carbohydrate based drink is highly recommended due to the ease of digestibility and assimilation—less work on your body! To replenish your muscle glycogen fastest, consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

 

1 to 3 Hours Post-Workout

A high protein meal is needed several hours post-workout—not directly after—as many assume. Some plant-based protein sources include clean plant-based protein power, such as quinoa, beans, lentils nuts and seeds. If you are having a post-workout meal, include dark leafy greens for added vitamin and antioxidant support.

 

Fuelling your body on a clean, plant-based diet is the key to forming strong muscles and supporting long-term health. Follow these essential tips while working out, to see and feel the difference in your workout—and in achieving results!

Should I East Before A Workout

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Whether you’re headed to your weekly soccer game, crossfit box or a new HIIT bootcamp class you’re likely to wonder, “Should I eat before a workout?”

Honestly, heading into a workout properly fuelled can mean the difference between a good and mediocre workout – and, other than working out without a grumbling tummy, the correct food will help fuel you throughout your training session, so you don’t start strong and then fade as you run out of energy. Selecting the right foods can help your performance (and body) reap the rewards.

That said, what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it are all factors that aren’t always as cut and dried as one may think. The time of day you work out can influence your food choices and quantities. For example, if you’re exercising right after work, you might have a substantial lunch three to four hours before the workout (optimal time for digestion) followed by a snack closer to the workout if needed. However, if you’re a morning person and work out before the rest of your day starts, you may only have a small snack or drink before heading out the door.

While many fuelling guidelines before sport are dependent on the intensity of your workout and your stomach sensitivity, there are some common mistakes we should avoid.

 

Avoid these three pre-workout fuelling mistakes:

Getting too hungry

Even if you’re looking to drop a few kilos, heading into a workout session hungry can result in lower energy levels and might not help you lose weight – as your body may actually go into starvation mode. In fact, it may cause you to have a sub-optimal workout followed by over consumption of food after.

Instead, have more energy so you can work out harder, by choosing a balanced meal (that includes carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and aim to eat it with plenty of time to digest before hitting the gym, circuit or field. If you need a little something right before your workout choose something small, such as a piece of fruit or raw vegetable crudité with a nut butter.

Overeating

How much you eat is definitely dependent on a number of factors, including your size, fitness level and duration of your exercise. There was a time when it was advocated to only focus on carbohydrates as a pre-workout meal. We now know that having a meal that is more balanced to include both carbohydrates and proteins is a far better to provide you with a sustained fuel while exercising e.g. it won’t give you a lift only to drop you as your blood sugar gets depleted i.e. like when you eat or drink a high sugar food or liquid. Regardless of your activity, avoid getting trapped in the carbo-load mind-set and instead eat sensible portions and give your body enough time to digest the food prior to your workout.

Eating too much fibre

One component of carbohydrates, found in foods in varying quantities is fibre. Fibre is found naturally in foods like oats, fruits and vegetables and are often added to snacks such as granola bars and cereals. As high fibre foods, especially before exercise, may cause sensitivity in your stomach e.g. bloating, gas etc. it is recommended you stay away from these prior to excersizing. If you realy do feel like that granola bar, leave it for after.

When preparing your pre-workout meals or snacks try and choose foods that can settle comfortably in your stomach, such as piece of fruit or sports drinks/mixes that are a source of mixed carbohydrates and proteins. You may find that these foods are easy to digest before your start moving.

 

So, what are good options to reach for before your workout?

Here is a list of my top six foods  :

Banana

Any fresh fruit will do but bananas are a favourite thanks to their portability. Eat alone 30 minutes before your workout or make it more of a substantial snack by adding a nut butter. Bananas also offer your body potassium, an electrolyte required by the body that is lost during exercise via sweat.

Vegetable/Fruit Smoothie

Vegetables like beetroot and carrot are very beneficial pre-training as they not only provide nutrients, but can actually assist in boosting performance (think additional nitrogen in the case of beetroot). So blitz up a pure vege or vege/fruit combo smoothie with a scoop of plant based protein. Just give yourself enough time to digest before actually training e.g. at least an hour.

 Oats

Rolled oats are a great option to have for breakfast when you’ve got some time to digest before heading to your workout (like a weekend morning). However, because they are higher in fibre, you will want to give yourself some time to digest.

Dried Fruit and Nuts

For an easy grab-and-go option a few handfuls of dried fruit and nut trail mix can do the trick. It can be a good snack when you need something on the fly because you can get nutrients and energy for very little volume. Nuts and fruit can provide a combination of carbohydrates, good fats and protein, but watch portion sizes. Calories in dried fruits and nuts add up quickly and so does fibre.

Gluten-free or 100% Whole Grain Bread with Nut Butter and Jam

Sometimes you can’t beat a good old peanut butter and jam sandwich. For a portable snack, pack a PB&J and eat it two to three hours before leaving the office and heading to work out. The peanut butter provides protein while the bread and jam can help to top off your glycogen stores.

Sports Drinks

For the times when food just isn’t an option, consider a good sports drink – and here I don’t mean reaching for the over coloured, flavoured and sugared drinks masquerading as “sport drinks” these days. Choosing a drink that will offer you carbohydrates for energy and some proteins. A fruit juice mixed in a shaker with a helping of plant based protein powder will do the trick. If you prefer adding some caffeine, add a small helping of green tea.

Keep the container in your gym bag and shake one scoop in your water bottle before and you’ll be ready to go.

The bottom line

A hard workout, especially one significantly over 60 minutes in length, can deplete energy stores in the body. Proper fuelling of balanced meals or snacks can be effective in helping support your energy levels during the workout.

And finally, practice makes perfect. You will likely find that some foods work great before your workout and others not so much.  Practice your fuelling just like you do your sport and never test anything new on game or race day!

Should you eat Soy Protein Powder?

Soy has long been eaten in its fermented form of miso, tempeh, tamari or natto in Asia. In the US, it is believed that soy was first planted in 1765, and was not preliminarily scientifically studied in Agricultural College in New Jersey until 1879. Soy was mainly cultivated as a forage crop in its early existence in the US. During the Second World War though, its agronomic role significantly changed. With the disruption of the trade routes due to the war, the US started large-scale planting of soy for its oil.

To this day, soy is utilized as a main or supplementary ingredient in a whole host of processed food products, from textured vegetable proteins, to soy nuts, to cereals. While this is the case, there’s a great deal of research that products like soy protein powder as well as other processed soy made from uncooked, unfermented or unroasted beans pose risks to human health.

Continue reading to learn more about the negative effects of soy protein powder, and why the Superhuman Food Pyramid recommends you avoid them as a source of protein.

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Soy Protein Powder Risks:

Soy protein powder comes from soy protein isolate or SPI. SPI is extracted by washing the dried defatted and flaked soybeans with either water or alcohol. Afterwards, the flakes are dehydrated so as to achieve powder form.  This manufacturing process fails to remove the phytic acid, a known anti-nutrient, from the soy. As it turns out, phytic acid can be neutralized only through long and slow cooking in high heat. This process is absent in the making of soy protein powder.  Phytic acid binds with zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, and copper resulting in deficiency in these essential minerals.

Soy protein powder contains plant oestrogens as well which affect the normal production of hormone in the endocrine glands. In men, the effect is decreased production of testosterone resulting in reduced sex drive as well as the enlargement of breast tissue in men, a condition called gynecomastia. Individuals suffering from hormone-sensitive cancers like uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers are advised against taking soy as well since the soy’s oestrogen-like effect may potentially stimulate the growth of tumours.

SPI, and therefore soy protein powder, also contain toxic substances that prevent trypsin, a type of enzyme, from doing its function which is to aid in the digestion of protein. Because the trypsin inhibitors block the breakdown of protein, this then results in oftentimes serious gastric distress, and even worse, prevents the absorption of essential amino acids. Some of these trypsin inhibitors, much like phytic acid, can be neutralized through high-temperature processing. However, high-temperature cooking is essentially a double-edged sword. While it can indeed remove some of the trypsin inhibitors and the phytic acid, it can also denature some of the proteins in the SPI rendering them unsafe for human consumption.

Additionally, the preliminary process of washing the soy flakes is done in tanks made from aluminium. Aluminium has been found toxic to nerve tissues and may even be the culprit causing Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia-related illnesses. Also, processing soy into SPI results in the production of the toxin lysinoalanine. The presence of lysinoalanine was the reason the Food and Drug Administration didn’t label SPIs as “Generally Recognized as Safe”.

Hemp Protein & Oatmeal

hemp-protein-powderIf you’re looking for a high-quality protein that’s not derived from animal sources, hemp protein powder might be for you. Mix the powder into smoothies or yogurt, but don’t stop there. Hemp protein powder may also boost the protein content of oatmeal, whether you cook it in the morning or make an overnight, soaked version. The powder contains multiple other nutrients to help you start your day right.

Not Complete

Some claim that hemp has all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein on par with whey or soy. This is not the case, as a study in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” reported in 2010. Hemp protein lacks an adequate, digestible amount of the amino acid lysine. To ensure you get enough lysine, augment your meal of hemp protein and oats in the morning with a lunch that includes beans or lentils.

Adding Hemp to Breakfast

Hemp boosts your overall morning nutrition by providing you with essential fatty acids, iron, fiber, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Hemp-laced oatmeal also makes a quality post-workout meal to provide a combination of protein for muscle repair and carbohydrates for glycogen, or energy, restoration. One scoop of hemp protein adds about 10 grams of protein to the oats.

Mixing It In

Stir the protein powder in after you’ve cooked the oats. A tablespoon or two adds a nutty flavour and a greenish hue. Finish the oats with berries, milk and walnuts, or whatever other toppings you like. Alternatively, try the option of no-cook oatmeal by combining oats, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp protein, a little mashed banana and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy the soft, puddinglike oats the next morning.

Quality Hemp

When shopping for hemp protein to add to your oats, go for organic varieties. Hemp readily absorbs pesticides, which may contaminate non-organic varieties. Freshness is also essential when purchasing hemp protein. If you don’t have ready access to hemp protein powder, you could add shelled hemp seeds to your oatmeal to gain the nutritional benefits of this seed.

Although hemp is related to marijuana botanically – just like broccoli and cauliflower are related, but not the same plant – hemp lacks the THC content that makes marijuana a psychoactive drug. You can’t get high from adding hemp protein to your oatmeal.

So, what is Hemp? And why should I include it in my diet?

Many people may react cautiously to the notion of hemp as food, based on its connection to the harmful illegal drug, marijuana. Upon further exploration, however, one will discover that although hemp is family of marijuana, it is in fact a different plant – like broccoli and cauliflower are of the same family, but different plants. So, not only is the hemp seed completely THC free, it is also nutritionally superior to most other sources of protein and essential fatty acids.

 

So What Make The Hemp Seed A Super Food?

Hemp seeds contain complete protein. They are a highly digestible balance of all 20 known amino acids (both essential and non-essential) and in higher quantities than most other plant sources of protein. Hemp seeds are 33-35% protein. A mere 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain approximately 11g of protein!

Hemp seeds contain the globular plant proteins Edestin (65-67%) and Albumin (33-35%). Globular proteins are responsible for enzymatic functions in the blood plasma and for antibody formation, making them critical for strong immune function. Edestin is considered the most easily digestible protein and is very similar to protein in the human body. Albumin is another highly digestible and quality source of plant protein. Hemp contains the highest known levels of Edestin in the plant kingdom, making it a superior source of protein. Hemp seed is also free of trypsin inhibitors and oligosaccharides, two factors that affect the absorption and digestibility of other plant sources of protein i.e. soy.

Hemp seeds have a near perfect ratio of Omega-3 (Alpha-Linolenic) to Omega-6 (Linoleic) essential fatty acids (EFAs). The ideal ratio is considered to be 4:1 (Omega-6: Omega-3) ; hemp  seeds have a ratio of 3.38:1.

These fatty acids are required by our body via our food; we cannot synthesize them ourselves, thus the term, “essential.” Most westerners consume far more Omega-6 and not nearly enough Omega-3; this imbalanced ratio seems to go hand in hand with the common degenerative diseases of today. EFAs have a critical role in growth and development, inflammation response, mood regulation, immune strength, cardiovascular and neurological health, cellular respiration and more. Hemp also contains the fatty acids Gamma-Linolenic Acid (Omega-9), Stearidonic Acid and Oleic Acid.

The fat in hemp seed oil is 75-80% polyunsaturated fat (also known as EFAs) and less than 10% saturated fat. Hemp seeds contain approximately 44% fat. This overall fat percentage is lower than most nuts and carries with it the extremely desirable abundance of EFAs.

Hemp seeds are a good source of iron and also contains significant levels of the antioxidant vitamin E.

Hemp seeds and Hemp Seed Oil contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is nearly identical in molecular structure to our blood and is thus extremely beneficial to building the blood, nourishing and detoxifying the body. While the quantity is not nearly as high as the chlorophyll content of other blatantly green foods, like wheatgrass or leafy greens, the more we can increase our intake of chlorophyll the better. Chlorophyll’s presence in the hemp seed is another testament to its amazingly balanced nature.

You are probably now wondering; “Does it taste good?” My conventionally trained culinary taste buds can honestly give you a resounding, “YES!”

Hemp seed is unique in its culinary compatibility and flavour. It has a deliciously nutty and rich, yet delicate nature. Unlike what most of us know as “nuts,” hemp is a tiny, cream-colored flat disk comparable to the size of a sesame seed. Its texture is soft and creamy, not hard and crunchy. In my opinion, the taste is akin to that of a peanut or sunflower seed, yet somewhat richer and more complex. I can taste the hint of chlorophyll that dots some of the seeds; it reminds me ever so slightly of the taste I perceive when chewing a mouthful of chlorella tablets. Hemp, however, melts in your mouth. This property lends itself extremely well to blending the seeds to create smooth and creamy sauces, shakes and soups.

Besides the hemp seed, other forms of hemp food are now more widely available. Powders, often marketed as protein powder, are quite popular, as are hemp seed oil, nut butter and milk forms. Hemp is even ground into flour and used in baked goods. The red flag gets thrown here, however and we need to apply our knowledge of the fragility of essential fatty acids and proteins before we dive head first into the hemp food market.

Essential fatty acids are very susceptible to the effects of light, heat and oxygen (as most plant foods are). This means that any hemp products (or any EFA rich food) should be stored in the refrigerator, in sealed. Light-impermeable containers and not heated in any way. Some products recommend refrigeration only after opening. And that is most likely fine; however shelf life is generally increased when these products are kept cooler. EFAs and proteins change drastically when they are heated. And can transform the fats and proteins from being extremely healthful. To extremely harmful. Any temperature over the enzyme threshold temperature of 115F will initiate these harmful changes. Here is the lowdown on the most popular forms of hemp available and how to use them:

 

Hemp Seed

This is the best form currently available to us and is the hemp seed in its most whole state. Hemp seed are widely available in health food stores, raw food product stores and on the Internet. Sprinkle them on your salads, eat a handful alone, or blend them into a creamy sauce, smoothie, or soup. Keep in mind that blending causes rapid nutrient destruction and oxidation, so you won’t get as much from them by blending them as you would eating them whole.

You can also make your own hemp milk by blending the seeds with three times as much water as nuts and then straining it (optional). Most people prefer to slightly sweeten their hemp milk by adding a few drops of stevia or honey. Without any sweetener, this milk makes a delicious base for a creamy dressing or soup. Because I’m a big believer in consuming the most whole form of a food in order to benefit from the synergistic nutritional effect it has to offer and to minimize nutritional losses and modifications caused by processing, this form is my favourite and comes most highly recommended.

 

Hemp Seed Butter

This is the finely ground form of the hemp seed, similar in consistency to almond or peanut butter. lt has a green tinge to it due to its chlorophyll content. While nut butters are delicious, with a consistency that makes them quite versatile and enjoyable, there is always a question that weighs on my mind: “How hot did the commercial grinder get?” Anyone who has attempted to make nut or seed butter in their own home, whether using a homogenizing juicer, food processor, or other equipment, knows what I mean when I say that homemade nut and seed butters are never as oily and smooth as commercially made ones, unless you process the butter for lengthy periods of time until it gets quite hot.

While I have no doubt that makers of “raw” nut and seed butters do not intentionally heat their product, the heavy and quick work of commercial grinders naturally generates a considerable amount of heat. That heat releases a lot of the oils causing a commercially ground nut or seed butter to seem much more creamy and oily than one made at home. What’s wrong with this deliciously creamy spread? Heat and oxidation can easily equal the damage of fats and proteins. There is no practical definitive way that we, as consumers, can tell how much damage was done in this process.

My suggestion has always been that if you aren’t going to make it yourself, look for the brand with the least amount of oily separation in the jar. This is not to say that all raw nut and seed butter are bad, just use caution and use whole hemp seed as more of a staple, saving the nut butters for more recreational use. They too can be used in smoothies or dressings/sauces and as a spread. Check ingredient labels; salt or other ingredients may be added.

 

Hemp Seed Oil

This is the oil which is obtained by pressing the hemp seed and it can be used in dressings / sauces, drizzled on your meal, in a smoothie, or ingested as a supplement. Again, the importance of cold-processing is extremely critical. This oil is should always be refrigerated. Like flax oil, it is highly perishable and should be purchased in small bottles so that it will not remain opened and unused in storage for a lengthy period of time. Never use hemp seed oil for cooking, as the healthy fats will be transformed into harmful fats. While this oil is certainly high quality, keep in mind that oils bring pure fat to the table and whether good or bad, too much causes distress in the body. Again, my first choice is always the whole hemp seed, because you get the whole balanced food and not just one aspect of it and in a less processed state. Use all oil sparingly and it can be a healthy addition to your daily intake.

 

Hemp Protein Powder

In a purely hemp form, this powder can be useful for boosting a blended mixture. Look for cold-milled brands, such as that from Hemptons, to ensure that processing has had minimal detrimental effect on the nutritional quality of the powder. My opinion is that the shelled hemp seed nuts blend in to a shake just as easily and are tastier, so unless you are looking for other ingredients that might be contained along with the hemp protein powder, it is better to just use the nuts.

 

Hemp Flour

Most of these products do not have a place in a raw food diet. Hemp flour is usually incorporated into baked goods using flour and other processed ingredients. While it is healthier than wheat flour, as it does not contain gluten, cannot be used as a substitute – as the baked goods won’t rise. It is good if you want to increase the protein percentage.

Smart Nutrition: 3 Ways to Boost Your Athletic Performance

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By Brendan Brazier

Becoming a great athlete requires work. Hard work, that’s a certainty. But the often-overlooked “smart work” can play an equally large role in athletic success. While there’s no substitute for diligent training, there are a few natural nutritional “helpers” that can directly complement the effect of exercise for a compounded performance boost.

The best way to enhance the odds of becoming a better athlete is to put the body in a position in which it can physically and mentally handle progressively longer and more intense training. This is achieved by adopting a nutrition program that will support the fueling and regeneration process of an active person, which is significantly above and beyond that of a sedentary individual. The fundamentals on which this high-performance body can be constructed are, as you would expect, from the building blocks that you supply it. Nutrient-rich, plant-based whole foods are the foundation on which optimal health (and eventually performance) can be created. Studies have shown that, when consumed after a workout, plant-based whole foods enable muscle tissue to grow stronger in a shorter amount of time than would be possible with the consumption of refined, fractionalized low-quality food.

Once this foundation of solid health has been built by means of premium building blocks, higher levels of both mental and physical performance can more easily be obtained. As I set my sights on professional triathlon racing in 1997, I began to search for additional ways that nutrition could boost my performance as opposed to simply improve my health. While I had already achieved good health, I felt it was time to take my well-being (and my athletic performance) to the next level, beyond a simply solid bill of health.

There are a few nutritional steps that can be taken to get a greater rate of return on the time and energy invested in training.

Enhance cardiovascular output
Rhodiola helps dilate blood vessels allowing for increased blood flow throughout the body. This will reduce energy requirements placed on the cardiovascular system and naturally enhance endurance and the ability to perform intense physical work efficiently. Those who take rhodiola before a workout will enhance their body’s ability to recover by quickly normalizing their heart rate after the workout.

One trait of augmented fitness is an increase in red blood cells, which causes the blood to become thicker. Ginger will help keep the blood at the ideal viscosity so that it can be pumped efficiently throughout the body, which will increase energy (by conserving it) and boost performance.

Turmeric increases circulation, acting as an aid in delivering blood and oxygen to working muscles.

Since keeping the heart rate as low as possible is one of the chief ways of improving endurance, the muscular system as a whole also needs to be considered.

Improve muscular efficiency
If two runners are equal in every respect except for muscular strength, the stronger will be faster over any distance. The lower percentage of maximum strength needed for each stride will translate into improved efficacy and therefore greater endurance. If one runner can squat 10 percent more weight than another, their muscles will not have to work as hard to move the body forward, which will translate to significant endurance gains. When muscles don’t need to work as hard, they don’t require as much oxygen or circulating blood, and therefore will not put as much demand on the heart. This will lower the rate at which the heart beats and significantly improve endurance. Greater strength does equal greater endurance. But, as with the heart, there are nutritional steps that can be taken to enhance the fluidity of the muscles, essentially allowing them to move with greater ease and requiring less energy for each contraction.

Kombucha is a form of tea that has been fermented using microorganisms. It is exceptionally rich in organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids, and polyphenols and is distinguished as a health elixir. Significant for the athlete, it can directly enhance performance by acting as a natural muscle relaxant. This allows muscles to move with greater fluidity and ease, which results in less energy expenditure and ultimately enhanced endurance. Kombucha culture is also exceptionally good for removing toxins from the liver, which will result in quicker recovery following a workout. Enhanced mental clarity and a smooth, sustained state of well-being is another benefit of drinking kombucha, which will reduce anxiety before physical exertion or other demanding events.

Sodium and potassium are electrolytes that play a vital role in optimal hydration. The correct balance of electrolytes and fluid will help maintain hydration, which in turn will enhance muscle function, heart efficacy and mental sharpness. Since sweat is comprised of water and electrolytes, water alone will not fully maintain or restore fluid levels lost through sweat. Without complete hydration, blood will thicken and increase the workload placed on the heart, leading to premature fatigue. Inadequate hydration will also result in muscle twinges and cramps.

Reduce inflammation
Regular exercise causes inflammation. The more aggressive the muscle contractions, the more inflamed they will become. This inhibits performance in two major ways. Inflamed muscles will not be able to move smoothly, requiring more effort (energy) for each contraction, which will cause the heart rate to rise and endurance to fall. The recovery rate after exercise will be reduced, requiring more time between workouts leading to the inability to train more.

Anything with chlorophyll is highly alkaline-forming and will significantly reduce inflammation. Spinach and other leafy greens are ideal.

When taken immediately before exercise, devil’s claw has been shown to prevent inflammation and promote fluid muscle contractions. Devils claw has also been shown to temporarily reduce the effectiveness of pain receptors, allowing the athlete to push harder during physical activity and achieve a higher level of performance.

Ginger and turmeric have also been shown to reduce inflammation when taken immediately before physical exertion.