Food Bytes: Protein

Happy Monday, guys and gals!

I wanted to start something new over here on the ole blog every Monday. So this is the first edition of food bytes. Basically every Monday I am going to be sharing some of the research and information I find throughout my studying of my fitness nutrition specialist and certified personal trainer certification. I figured I would keep them focused on one small section of nutrition and share with you guys some fun findings to make everyone a little bit healthier. πŸ™‚

Today’s topic is going to be PROTEIN! Everyone always talks about how much protein they need, how much I recommend, how much I personally eat and I want to dive into all of that lovely information today. So sit tight! It could be fun. πŸ˜‰

Protein is basically defined as amino acids linked by peptide bonds (NASM)

Our bodies use about 20 amino acids to build the many different proteins that make up our bodies. Proteins help build and repair body tissues and structures along with synthesizing hormones, enzymes, and other regulatory peptides.

There are two types of amino acids: essential and nonessential. Essential amino acids need to be consumed through our diet because they cannot be made within the body. There are eight essential amino acids: Isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phentlalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Most people are familiar with these when they look at the amino acid profiles on their protein powders. Nonessential amino acids can be made in the necessary amounts within the body and contain 10 with 2 extra semiessential amino acids: Alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine. The two semiessential amino acids are arginine and histidine.

If a food supplies all the essential amino acids in the appropriate ratios for your body it is considered a complete protein. For example, quinoa, ezekiel bread, pairing yogurt and granola, a whole egg, meat, fish, rice and beans, peanut butter on whole wheat bread, sunflower seeds with peanuts, oatmeal with milk, lentils and bread, hummus with bread etc. Anything missing those essential amino acids, even just one, is considered an incomplete protein. Those missing amino acids become the limiting factor when your body is using them to repair structures and tissues. Incomplete proteins, as used in examples above, when paired with another incomplete protein can form a complete protein for your body. Have no fear vegetarians or people considering becoming a vegetarian. Even though meat and dairy are the most popular sources you can still achieve a complete protein by combining plant powered foods.

When people are on a restricted caloric intake to reduce body fat and weight their body will resort to using protein and amino acids for energy when total carbohydrate or energy intake is too low. However, there is also a misconception I have been reading out on instagram and twitter recently. Protein CAN be stored as fat. I’m not sure why people seem to think otherwise. Anything in excess of your daily energy needs will be stored as fat. It’s not really possible to eat 3,000 calories of vegetables in a day; but if you could without burning 3,000 calories in a day you would gain weight. No worries though, that seems like an impossible amount of vegetables for someone to consume so keep eating those plants! They’re amazing for you. πŸ˜‰

Since I just told you protein can be stored as fat in excess in the body; how does one figure out how much is too much? Everyone is different. As Kasey over at Powercakes would say, Be True to You! P.S. Love her by the way. She’s amazing.

Here’s how you can figure out how much protein would be good for you. Base it on your activity level. If you are sedentary (adult) who doesn’t work out all the much or only does about 30 minutes/3 days a week, 0.4g/lb would be sufficient for you. Strength athletes, such as myself, should be anywhere between 0.5g-0.8g/lb. I am using 0.8g/lb because my training is very intense and I am trying to put on lean muscle mass for my competition. I strength train 2 hours a day/6 days a week. Endurance athletes should only be consuking 0.5g-0.6g/lb. This seems low to some people, I am guessing. That’s because the most important part of our diet is carbohydrates. That will be next weeks topic! πŸ™‚ I will demystify all those crazy carb claims. But for now, just realizing that protein is important but you do not need to be consuming crazy amounts of it to gain lean muscle. So put that third protein shake down and focus on whole foods. πŸ™‚ Some research studies have even shown that carbs after a heavy resistance training workout, not protein, inhibited muscle breakdown, resulting in a positive protein balance. This is because carbs are protein sparing saving the protein for tissue growth and repair only.

Protein only needs to be 10-35% of your daily caloric intake. The higher percentages are for athletes, bodybuilders, etc. I keep mine around 25% and found that it is working beautifully for me. I weigh approximately 150 and eat about 120g. That’s with me being on a restricted intake to lose weight. πŸ™‚

Always remember the more protein you have the more water you need to drink. This is because protein requires seven times the amount of water for metabolism than fat or carbs.

I hope this was helpful for everyone! And I hope that y’all like this new edition. πŸ™‚ Let me know what you think in the comments section. πŸ™‚

As always stay healthy, active, and sexy!
Meghan

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