Hold The Protein Bar

I don’t appreciate this New York Times takedown of protein bars.

The lowlights:

“Manufacturers of these products would have you believe that they can improve your health and your workout. The website for Clif Bar shows people hurling kettlebells or racing through the rain; Gatorade describes its protein bar as ‘scientifically designed for athletes.’ Others seem to brand themselves under the squishy umbrella of wellness. Their marketing features photos and videos of serene women writing in journals, with tips for preventing burnout on the side.

Despite the advertising, though, nutrition experts say that protein bars aren’t all that healthy.

‘You can put ‘keto’ or ‘protein’ on a candy bar and sell it, and people don’t even question it,’ said Janet Chrzan, an adjunct assistant professor of nutritional anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.”

Can we trust Chrzan, when she’s missing a vowel or two? Prob not, but she’s not the only one with bad news:

“But many protein bars are also full of sugar. A chocolate chip Clif Bar, for example, contains 16 grams of added sugars, more than what’s in a serving of Thin Mints. A Gatorade protein bar in the flavor chocolate chip contains 28 grams of added sugars, twice the amount in a Dunkin’ Donuts chocolate frosted doughnut with sprinkles.

‘By and large, they’re highly processed, high in sugar and salt — kind of a ‘Frankenfood,’’ Dr. Cutting-Jones said. Dr. Rimm agreed: ‘Many protein bars are really just ‘candy bars with a lot more protein,’ he said.”

Has Cutting-Jones ever seen Thin Mints or a frosted doughnut with sprinkles in the back pocket of a cycling jersey after even a few minutes in the saddle.

Sigh. The one thing nutritionists seemingly agree upon is that we should avoid eating any foods that require removing a wrapper. Guess I’ll wait for some team of scientists to figure out how to grow Snickers in the wild.

Postscript: Is it donut or doughnut?

The Deleterious Health Effects of Sedentary Work Cultures

One aspect of my privilege is my education which has enabled me to make a living without sacrificing my body. Roofers, welders, plumbers, farmers, house painters, construction workers, tree cutters, often aren’t as fortunate.

But I’ve noticed a pattern even among my fellow white collar egghead professors. A majority routinely sacrifice their health for the sake of their work because of a deep-seated intellectual bias that prioritizes the mind at the expense of the body. 

Simply put, most of my colleagues have been sedentary for decades. On top of that, generous people take turns providing unhealthy office snacks*. Most professors don’t make time to walk, hike, run, play tennis, swim, cycle, or lift weights because there’s always another lecture to plan, or syllabus or grant to write, or set of papers to mark, or conference presentation to prepare, or faculty workshop to attend.

I like my work and my university, but not nearly enough to sacrifice my health for it. One colleague of mine retired in May and died in July. I didn’t know him so I don’t even want to pretend his lifestyle played any part, but I fear too many of my colleagues will not get to enjoy as many post work years if they do not prioritize their health more than is the norm.

Today marks the end of the world’s longest academic sabbatical, mine. I normally work summers, but I took the summers of 18 and 19 off, the book-ends to my 2018-2019 academic year sabbatical. 15 months, huzzah! Someone call the Guinness Book of World Records**. I won’t be telling any of my colleagues what I’m going to tell you in the next paragraph because the sedentary nature of faculty life is so pervasive my athletic self lives deep in the closet***.

Besides the traditional, publishing a couple of articles, reading a bunch, and updating my syllabi, I also turned the knob up a bit on my regular swimming, cycling, and running volume. Por exemplar, I joined a Masters swim team and so far this year have already swam about the same distance as last calendar year. And SO WHAT if I did stretch and chill in the jacuzzi after some practices! Also, I’m on pace to cycle 5,000 miles this year and maintain my 1,000 mile a year running streak. I was fit when I began my record breaking sabbatical, today I’m a little more fit****.

Am I overcompensating? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I’m under no illusions that my active lifestyle will guarantee any kind of post-work longevity because life is fragile. That driver on their cell phone could wipe me out on tomorrow’s ride.

But as long as I work as an egghead professor, I will dare to be different by making time to swim, cycle, and run. In particular, I will not sacrifice the quality of my life to the pervasive work culture of which I’m apart. Please, just don’t out me to any of my colleagues.

*Decent chance I have my first donut in a long time today. #glazed

**Could an educator-reader please tell me if teaching is like riding a bike, I’m afraid I may have forgotten how. Any tips?

***Except for one colleague-friend who follows my workouts on Strava. I should probably get him to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

****No, I haven’t just opted to not write about racing triathlons, I have in fact sold my time trial bike and stopped competing for reasons I’m not entirely sure. As I age, given the attrition of my peers, and my consistent training, I would do quite well. But when I envision best case scenarios, like winning races, I’m still not sufficiently motivated to toe the line. Is there a sports psychologist in the house?

bike