If you are a conscious eater attempting to balance the right carbs, sufficient protein and healthy fats daily, you are probably aware that finding lean sources of protein can be challenging. This is especially true if you are a vegan, a vegetarian, or a pesco-lacto-ovo vegetarian (which includes fish, dairy, and eggs).
Protein is essential for immune function, maintaining muscle and bone mass, encouraging fat loss, blood sugar balance, tissue healing and repair, muscle growth and the production of certain hormones that impact our mood and metabolism as well as digestive enzymes, which are necessary for the breakdown and absorption of foods.
Your protein intake must be personalized. I determine each of my patients required daily intake by considering the following factors:
In most cases, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein of 0.8 grams per kg of body weight per day has not been shown to be sufficient to maintain muscle mass and strength as we age. Instead, research shows about double this amount, 1.6 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day appears to be the target. And if you are moderately active with gardening, walking, cycling, or similar activities such as these, 1.8 – 2.0 grams per kg per day is best. When strength exercises like yoga, weight training or Nordic pole walking are included in a regular exercise routine, these activities should be supported with a protein intake of 2.0 to 2.2 grams. It’s important to note that a common risk for adults is a reduction in stomach acid and the enzymes required to digest and absorb protein, so taking a supplement which contains betaine hydrochloride and pancreatic enzymes with each meal can be beneficial.
Are You Protein Deficient?
Without protein, your body cannot properly make collagen to heal the skin; serotonin, dopamine and melatonin to boost mood and improve sleep, thyroid hormone that controls metabolism, growth hormone for repair of body tissues and to slow down aging, digestive enzymes to prevent bloating and indigestion and antibodies to prevent infection. You may also experience skin concerns, like thinning, wrinkling or sagging and hair loss.
The biggest effect – metabolic slowdown, decreased strength, frailty, and increased risk of health injury from falls and injuries. Combined with this is greater chance of type II diabetes and fatty liver disease.
Protein-Rich Foods (amount of protein per serving provided in grams)
5 oz steak, cooked 35
5 oz roasted chicken 43
5 oz tuna 43
1 egg 6
1/2 cup edamame 15
2 slices of low-fat Swiss cheese (low-fat is best) 16
1 cup tempeh 31
1 cup cooked broccoli 5
1 cup beans (legumes) 15
*Individuals with kidney disease should consult their physician for proper protein requirements.
Since you require a minimum amount of protein per day, preferably spaced out into at least three meals, finding readily available sources can be challenging. Protein powders are a useful option and I find it immensely beneficial for fat loss, muscle strength, exercise recovery and energy and stress hormone balance as it allows me to keep to an eating schedule. The best protein powder options for you are those that are complete proteins, which means they provide all of the essential amino acids. These amino acids must come from our diet because our bodies cannot make them. Many of these amino acids, including leucine, isoleucine and valine provide the most anabolic, or muscle building impacts. Complete protein choices include animal-based options like whey and egg, and for a plant-based complete proteins option look for a mixture containing pea and rice or organic, non-GMO, fermented soy protein. You can also choose pumpkin, pea, hemp or rice protein powder options, but note that you will need to source additional essential aminos.Read more about protein powder and meal replacement powder on this blog: The Scoop on Protein.
Whey is fantastic for fat loss, building muscle and boosting our fat-burning hormones. It is also rich in the antioxidant glutathione, aids immunity and supports the removal of harmful heavy metals. Whey protein isolate has been found to increase metabolic rate, aid liver cell function, reduce the amount of fat stored in liver cells (otherwise called fatty liver disease) and improve biomarkers for type 2 diabetes, including improved blood sugars and insulin sensitivity.
According to a study published in the September 2010 British Journal of Nutrition, wonderful whey protein isolate renders a powerful effect on body composition, lipids, insulin and glucose in overweight and obese individuals. Researchers found that subjects using a whey isolate (versus a mixed or casein protein powder) experienced a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol over 12 weeks. Fasting insulin levels were also significantly decreased in the whey group compared to their counterparts. Another April 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when whey protein is ingested before a meal, it reduces the overall food intake as well as pre and post meal satiety. This is a big reason why I tend to recommend whey protein in your mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. This little secret will reduce your appetite at lunch and dinner. Not only this, it also lowers post-meal glucose and insulin response.
Importance of Protein and Amino Acids in Combination with Intermittent Fasting:
In every single patient I have seen in my office over the past few years that has self-adopted the routine of daily intermittent fasting, I have found the physical signs adrenal fatigue like a decreased orthostatic BP reading and a loss in muscle mass according to bioimpedance testing. These negative changes are directly related to the repeated stress of not eating until late-morning or early afternoon and insufficient protein.
You can avoid these negative effects by using a blend of powders including collagen, protein, creatine and branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) in water upon rising, and before your coffee should you drink it, daily. This mixture will provide protection to your muscle, your adrenal glands and keep your thyroid working. It will also keep you in ketosis because it is carb and fat free.
You can find these products local health food store, natural pharmacy or online. Simply mix them in a shaker cup with as much water as you like (I prefer less water). It also is best consumed 20 to 30 minutes before a workout:
Shake, drink and devour all these wonderful metabolic, energy, and body benefits from the one simple concoction of these three supplements. I am rarely sore after workouts, and I find the combo of this ingredients makes me feel energized and focused all morning.