There's no use in depriving yourself the joys of the season if that's going to cause you stress and worry. Most likely you'll be invited to one or more holiday parties over the next couple of weeks. At those parties, you'll be sure to find all manner of temptation, from crumb cakes to cookies to chocolate covered mints to eggnog.
While none of these things should find their way into your diet on a regular basis, splurging on treats every once in a while can go a long way toward helping maintain your level of fitness — mental fitness, that is. When we deprive ourselves of pleasures for too long, we experience stress, which in itself is catabolic and metabolism-altering. The negative effects of not having that slice of apple pie a la mode can end up being greater than those from eating it.
So go ahead, enjoy the holidays, and save me a sugar cookie if you would ...
Q: This is probably going to sound silly, but I've made a new year's resolution to join a gym during the first week of January — the first time I will have done so. I am concerned, however, that I may be more susceptible to colds with all the germs living there. I just got over a terrible bout of the flu, so I'm pretty concerned about this kind of thing at the moment. Do I have anything to worry about, Joe?
Joe: I suppose you always run the risk of coming in contact with germs, especially in a public setting, and more especially in a place where people sweat. I, myself, don't believe I've ever picked up anything at the gym. Possibly a cold from another member, but then I've also caught colds from coworkers and family members. In other words, I haven't experienced any increase in the frequency of colds from the gym over other places.
If you're still concerned about catching something at the gym, I suggest you carry an antibacterial lotion with you and use it on your hands periodically. Since hands do tend to become dry from all of the grabbing of bars and handles at the gym, one that moisturizes isn't a bad idea.
If you find that you are more susceptible to colds than most, you might want to see an ear-nose-throat specialist and an allergist. Sometimes people with severe sinus allergies are more at risk for colds because of the rawness of their nasal passages due to constant blowing.
I'm confident you needn't worry about catching anything major at the gym you decide to join, though. Just make sure it meets your sanitary needs upon your initial tour. If not, I'm sure you have plenty to choose from in your area.
Q: What is the best source for protein for a bodybuilder? I've heard that eggs have a very high rating in terms of usability, but most of the protein supplements on the market are whey. Why is this?
Joe: Eggs are indeed a wonderful form of protein, not to mention rich in lots of nutrients, like Vitamin A, phosphorus, iodine and iron. As you mentioned, they do rank very high on the BV (bioavailability scale) — 100 percent in fact. Remember, though, that is for the whole egg. Egg whites alone rank lower — at about 88.
Whey, which is a derivative of milk, is considered even more bioavailable than eggs. The main difference between the two, however, is that whey is processed much more quickly than egg protein, or for that matter most other forms. This is why it makes for a good protein powder. Because whey absorbs into the bloodstream so rapidly, it can be taken in the form of a shake immediately after working out and the results will begin to take effect within the hour.
Other forms of protein, like casein, which is also derived from milk, are digested more slowly and therefore are better to be taken before bedtime. Because sleep is essentially a multi-hour fast, you can ensure that protein is being delivered to hungry muscles, thereby staving off catabolism, by eating a slow-digesting protein an hour before bedtime.
Of course, the best thing is to get your protein from a variety of sources throughout the day. Protein variety is, after all, the spice of a bodybuilder's life!
Joe Weider is acclaimed as "the father of modern bodybuilding" and the founder of the world's leading fitness magazines, including Shape, Muscle and Fitness, Men's Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Hers, Golf for Seniors and others published worldwide in over 20 languages.