In my last triathloning column, I talked about the protein fetish.
The protein shake proposition frightens me. I associate protein shakes with Ivan Drago, Gold’s Gym, and overly zealous lifters knocking off a few reps and chugging down a supplement-packed slurry. Consuming more than a day’s worth of protein in liquid form feels unnatural and unbalanced; but if you want to get vascular, and you do, then out with milquetoast beverages and in with bodybuilder’s delight. Milkshakes no more—that is, unless they contain 100 grams of whey protein isolate.
Despite my aversion to protein shakes—both their taste (gritty and bland) and the attendant culture—I understand the need to supplement protein intake. Getting enough protein can be challenging when completing two triathlon workouts a day. Although I typically focus on real meat—where’s the beef?—I enjoy the occasional breakfast shake. Near Columbia, Juice Generation offers the neighborhood’s largest (non-milk)shake selection. Health food stores attract a variety of pathologies, including the wheat grass shooter, the hungover frattie, and the raw mom, like a soccer mom, except with watermelon smoothies instead of ball bags. Avoiding eye contact is essential to avoid discussion about the latest vegan muffin or tumeric cleanser. At least Juice Generation blends a mighty fine soy milk, strawberry, banana, and whey shake.
Am I a hypocrite to snigger at muscle milkers and still indulge in a soy shake? Yes. Yes, I am. If I am a hypocrite, however, I am a well-nutritioned hypocrite, one terribly satisfied with a rotating breakfast selection of bagels (from Absolute, of course), bran muffins (Silver Moon Bakery’s are more like bran cupcakes), and (protein) shakes. For lunch today, I had an everything bagel and a pumpernickel bagel and a little can of tuna. After reading Calvin Trillin’s essay “The Magic Bagel,” I craved Absolute’s pumpernickel chaw. Still, I needed protein, and with nary a Juice Generation in segwaying distance, I settled on tuna. Now, all I need is a bassomatic and I’ll be ready to train.