Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Shake

chocolateshake

Here’s yet another concoction I’ve come up with in the past few days having to do with protein. I know what you guys are thinking, “What’s with all the protein, man?!”

Well, to be honest, I was diagnosed with a heart infection right before I started this blog. The pinnacle of health, right? Why should you be following someone’s health blog when they have/had a heart infection?

It wasn’t my fault, I swear. I just happened to get a fever when I was camping last August and it went a little too deep for comfort. Probably started with strep bacteria because my throat was mighty sore at the time. Believe it or not, heart infections are actually somewhat common in people my age (I am 23). I felt a little bit of chest pain starting in October … nothing major, just a bit of burning. Kind of like acid reflux but a bit to the left. Went to the doctor in January when it wouldn’t go away, and BOOM, pericarditis.

Did you know that your body usually goes for muscle first if you’re an active or dieting individual? I mean, active enough that carbs don’t even have a chance. What muscle does the body like to choose, of all things? The heart muscle. And because my habit of staying healthy includes running 3 miles a day and eating in moderation, I figured it would be best to up the protein just in case my body decides to have a little snack on my ticker.

I’ve also been taking 600mg of advil a day, a bit of potassium citrate every other day (about 1/4 tsp pharmaceutical grade powder, roughly 600mg), and 200mg magnesium citrate every other night. Electrolytes are important when the heart is involved. I can also afford to eat a bit of salt because I have a low resting blood pressure.

However, if you ever get something wrong with your heart, I highly, highly suggest you go see a doctor. That’s not something to be screwing around with. The only reason I am is because I was directed to take that much advil a day, and my test results came back completely normal, so it’s likely just a very mild infection. Even my thyroid was normal, which is unusual, because it’s autoimmune (I know, I’m sooo healthy, right? That one is hereditary, though!). Only 1 in 3 people experience spontaneous thyroid remission. I guess I have good gambling odds.

Anyhoo, in order to force more protein into myself (my macros are about 35% fat/ 35% carbs/ 30% protein right now, it is recommended that active individuals looking to burn fat/maintain muscle eat between 20 – 40% fat, 20 – 40% carbs, and 30 – 50% protein), I’ve been tinkering around with a bunch of recipes involving protein powder. I even just had a whole stash mailed to me from bodybuilding.ca so I can find the best vanilla flavour ever (even though I did find a pretty good one from Superstore in the meantime, the Vanilla Whey Isolate – PC brand). But I’m not sure what to do with vanilla (yet!), so on with the chocolate!
chocolateshake2(Look, it’s my blue sippy-cup again! Boy do I love that thing. You can get a whole set — orange, purple, and blue — from Costco, for about $20.)

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Shake

  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • sugar or sweetener to taste (I used just a few drops of stevia)
  1. Place everything in the blender; almond milk first, followed by sweetener, protein and cocoa powder, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and ice on the top.
  2. Blend for a minute or two.
  3. Pour and serve.
  4. Mmmm.

Nutritional Info using unsweetened almond milk, 2% cottage cheese, regular cream cheese, and Isoflex: 267 calories, 9.5g fat (4g saturated), 450mg sodium, 9.5g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 3g sugar, and 38g protein

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Are artificial sweeteners evil?

Sweetener

Are artificial sweeteners evil?

It is a debate that has been going on for decades.

Oddly enough, the word ‘artificial’ creates hostility on its own. Many people associate ‘artificial’ with something bad. You know what is artificial? Flying on a plane and getting to the other side of the world in 16 hours or less. Driving a car. Eating cereal that came in a printed, pre-packaged box. Having a skin graft or a lung transplant. Taking medicine. Having a blog.

Are half of these things bad? No. But they don’t have the word ‘artificial’ in them, so they seem less likely to be misconstrued. Call it ‘artificial transport’ and then see what people say after a few years. Probably either hostility defending it, or a lot more people choosing to walk.

However, I digress. I must admit to being the neutral party when it comes to the actual subject matter. I believe artificial sweeteners are both good and bad.

Why?

The good:

They can help with weight loss and blood pressure reduction. Alternatively, though, so can reducing your sugar intake. I would call it a moot point, then, but do acknowledge the fact that they can indeed help dieters with poor impulse control when it comes to sweets. This may be a good thing for those with a risk of diabetes.

The aspartame -> brain tumour ‘link’ is likely a fallacy. There were simply not enough potential causes isolated to garner it a real concern.

Sucralose is proven safe to consume, even in ridiculous amounts. A packet of Splenda contains 12mg of sucralose. Scientists were having subjects safely consume up to 500mg per day (that’s 41.6 packets in a day!).

Men who drink diet soda instead of regular soda might have a reduced risk of heart disease. However, this seems to depend on other factors as well, so I wouldn’t call it the be-all end-all to your current soda habit.

The bad:

They might actually make you more hungry. Artificial sweeteners have no effect on ghrelin, the hormone that makes us hungry. Real sugars, however, can reduce it; making us less hungry. Marginally so, but still enough for a statistical difference.

They might cause you to eat more fat. They are also not very useful when it comes to people who aren’t dieting, as they will usually end up ‘eating back’ the ‘missing’ calories later in the day.

Artificial sweeteners mixed with alcohol cause you to get drunk more quickly than their sugar-sweetened counterparts. Why is this bad? Those who ‘go big or go home’, or are known to start a party with a rapid succession of alcohol consumption may be at higher risk of alcohol toxicity without even knowing it. In fact, this effect may be even worse when caffeine is addedsuch as in the case of mixing diet cola and alcohol.

There is also some evidence that those who regularly consume artificial sweeteners may not feel as satisfied when they consume real sugars, causing them to over-indulge. They may even lose interest in less-sweet foods that may be necessary for good health.

There are other things out there to discuss as well, such as how they purportedly increase incidences in cancer. However, I did not find any studies concrete enough about that for me to feel worthy of linking. There is still a lot of controversy about it, even in the scientific world, it seems. I suppose we’ll just have to wait to find out more.


So should you consume artificial sweeteners or not?

Well, that is completely up to you.

As noted by my introduction postI believe in moderation. I think they’re fine, but I prefer having them in foods where they’re already mixed in – I still use sugar in recipes. When I consume artificial sweeteners in ‘regular’ foods, my preferences are varied. I might put a packet of sucralose-based sweetener in my oatmeal every couple weeks, because stevia can taste like vomit to me (at least in oatmeal .. oddly enough, I am fine with using it in hot chocolate or smoothies). I use both sucralose and stevia-sweetened protein powders equally enough. When it comes to sodas, I prefer sugar alcohols. They seem to make me crave less sweet stuff afterwards, compared to acesulfame-potassium. That is just me, though. You could be completely different in your preferences, and I am a-okay with that.

Whatever you do, just make sure not to over-do it. That goes with both sugar and artificial sweeteners; as both have their upsides and downsides.