Let’s Talk Protein.
Posted by runningawaywithme
As many of you already know Protein is a very important macronutrient and even more important if you are weight training, are a runner or any kind of athlete for that matter. Your body needs it. Let me break down in a little more detail exactly what Protein is and what it does for you.
Proteins are made up of Amino Acids, you can also think of Amino Acids as building blocks. Some Amino Acids cannot be made within our bodies. The Amino Acids that cannot be made within our bodies are called Essential Amino Acids. They are called Essential because it is essential that our bodies have them.
When referring to Nutrition and what we eat we have two categories, Complete Proteins and Incomplete Proteins. The difference between the two are as follows:
Complete Proteins: These provide ALL of the essential amino acids, you may also have heard them called high quality proteins. Some examples of high quality proteins are your meats, fishes, eggs, poultry, milk and cheese. CHEESE!! OMG, I love cheese!
Incomplete Proteins: It does not contain all the amino acids, it could be missing one or a few(think plant based). Two quick examples would be something like rice and beans. If eaten separately they are both lacking amino acids to make it a complete protein, however, if you eat them together (like us Latinos) you will then get a more adequate amount of amino acids. One interesting fact I found out was that you do NOT indeed need to eat incomplete proteins together to form a complete at one sitting, you can eat them throughout the day and your body will combine them naturally (http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html).
If you follow that link you will also see down at the bottom it gives recommended daily amounts of protein broken down by age. Please try and remember that those are baseline numbers, especially if we are talking about athletes, body builders etc.. At which point I say amounts of protein may vary, but like I have said in previous post 1g per protein by bodyweight is a good rule of thumb (however, with that being said, take into account that I lift weights and I am active. If you are sedentary and do very little in terms of exercise, you can scale that number back to about .8grams). I am 140lbs and I take in roughly 140 grams of protein daily. Some days I take in more and some less, but by weeks end I typically go by a daily average of about 135-140 grams. Which leads me to the next topic of, can you get too much protein and how does the body break it down.
Your body can digest and absorb about 95% of the protein you ingest. The rest is broken down (which is roughly 5%) and used in other energy pathways. The absorption happens at various rates. There is much controversy on how much or how little protein one actually needs, depending on who you talk to. Some would say that you only need as little as .91 grams/weight (I still stick by my .8). Do your research, trial and error with your intake a bit to figure out what is right for you.
More times than not, I am shocked when I hear people give me a break down of their daily intake and it is severely lacking in protein. What most people do not realize is that the majority of their diets are made up of carbs and fats. This is why I say it is very important to log your food for a while. This way you can see for yourself where your macronutrients are and where you are lacking or eating too much of. I realize some of you just don’t want to be bothered with it or could care less. I strongly caution you against this train of thought. Even if you are not looking to lose weight, don’t you at least want to know that you are fueling your body properly to ward off any future problems? Don’t you want to feel better? More energized? What have you got to lose? The 1/2 hour it may take you to find the food app on your phone and set it up? That’s it. After that, you are good to go. All you need to do is log your food as your day progresses, and the end of the day, it’s all there right in front of you. What you ate and what percentages of each macronutrient you consumed in your day. I mean then, it won’t be a question of why am I not losing, gaining, still hungry, not hungry etc..you just open up your handy dandy little app and evaluate what you need to do going forward.
I really want to help you help yourself. Next time, I will focus on carbohydrates, what they are, why we need them and the pros and cons of having too little or too much.
Oh! Before I go real quick. I get asked what the difference is between Whey Protein and Whey Isolate (these are protein supplements that may be used to get your protein requirements in for the day IN CONJUNCTION with the rest of your intake coming from whole foods).
Whey Protein- is the most popular and cheapest source out on the market. It is also the one we are most familiar with, and whey comes from milk, is the quickest and easiest for the body to digest. Whey contains between 70/80 % protein and roughly 5% comes from lactose (which is good to keep in mind for those of you who are lactose intolerant)
Isolates- These are more expensive and probably is the most purest of both forms, containing about 95% protein. They also contain little to no lactose and generally are lower in fat than whey.
Is one better than the other. In my opinion NO. Unless you have a lactose issue, go for the cheaper variety of whey. If you are a protein snob and are watching your fats AND you are lactose intolerant AND have money to just burn..sure, go for the isolate.