Posted on May 18 2016
Fun fact: This 90’s hit was really about protein!
Okay, not really. But while my go-to karaoke song by the Backstreet Boys is not about protein, this blog is.
The building blocks of protein are amino acids. The amino acids naturally made by your body are called the nonessential amino acids, while others, which you have to get fro your diet, are called essential amino acids. The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lycine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. I promise you I didn’t just list Harry Potter characters or kingdoms in Game of Thrones. Not only are they real but they’re important for hair and nail growth.
You need them to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. They are an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and even blood! This means you need enough protein in your body to repair and rebuild the damaged muscle fibers after your workout. So, if you want to back that a** up to Juvenile, to be Bubba Sparxxx's Ms. New Booty, or to have that barista scribble Bonita Applebum on your coffee, keep your protein up! The good news is that you can get all this protein goodness from a number of sources, either animal or plant-based.
Eggs, meat, chicken, poultry, seafood, and dairy products all contain the 9 essential amino acids you need to build proteins within your body. With the exception of dairy foods, most animal-based proteins contain few carbs, giving you a high percentage of your total calories from protein. Many protein-rich, animal-based foods such as red meat, egg yolks and dark-meat poultry, are also rich in zinc and heme iron, which is more readily absorbed in your body than the iron in plant-based foods. On the other hand, diets that rely heavily on animal protein are typically also much higher in compounds that contribute to cardiovascular disease, such as saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Even lean meat sources are still filled with added hormones and antibiotics, as well as bacteria, parasites and carcinogens. As a result, try to stick to organic, hormone/antibiotic-free and grass-fed whenever possible.
Plant-based foods such as soy, quinoa, other whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds give us protein with a lower intake of dietary cholesterol and unhealthy saturated fat. Popular to contrary belief, proteins from soy and quinoa are classified as complete proteins and give us all the essential amino acids our body needs. Although not all plant proteins are complete proteins, you can still get all the essential amino acids by eating a variety of plant proteins throughout your day. Plant protein also includes an abundance of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber!
How About Protein Powder?
Protein powder is designed to be heavy on protein, but that means it can sometimes lack significant amounts of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Even if the protein supplement comes with additives, it won’t be at the same level as whole foods. There is no evidence that protein powder digests better than whole foods but they do digest faster, a huge post-workout advantage! Personally, I stick to a nice hemp protein powder shake after I work out since whey protein is derived from milk and I’m lactose intolerant. Where do you get your protein from? Let us know in the comments!