Protein to Shape Your Body
This article completes our series this month on nutrition. Protein is a macronutrient like fats and carbohydrates, and it is essential for optimizing lean body mass (building and repairing muscle), decreasing body fat, and optimizing hormone levels. All of that helps shape our bodies. Protein contains nitrogen and usually sulfur unlike carbohydrates and fats, and like carbohydrates and fats contains carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids. Some foods provide complete protein meaning they contain all necessary amino acids, or they can provide incomplete protein meaning they do not contain all needed amino acids. Eggs, milk, and meat are sources of complete protein. Incomplete sources include rice, potatoes, beans, seeds, peas, and corn should be paired together to ensure that all amino acids are obtained in a meal. Thus, grains are frequently paired with seeds, or milk products (cereal and milk), or legumes to provide all the essential amino acids.
Sources of Protein
This important macronutrient is found in nuts, plants, and animals. Leaner cuts of meat are healthier as they do not provide excessive saturated fats.
The best sources of protein include fish, chicken or turkey (skinless), whole eggs (yolk contains as much protein as the whites and nearly all the vitamins and minerals), milk, and whey protein powder. Supplements are a convenient way to obtain additional protein without excess calories from fats and carbohydrates. We recommend no more than two protein shakes a day. We prefer protein shakes rather than protein nutrition bars, which tend to have excess amounts of sugar. PureFit Nutrition Bars are one bar that we permit/suggest.
In terms of shakes we favor whey protein which is the most complete protein shake source. Vegetarians can consider pea or ice base protein powders. Soy proteins can raise estrogen levels so we discourage their use.
Also, when using protein supplements especially shakes be sure to consume it with come other source of calories especially carbohydrates. This enables the body to use protein for lean body mass synthesis rather than burn protein for calories.
How Much Is Enough?
Generally, you need more protein than you may think or have been taught. As a guideline we recommend you consume about 25 grams of protein with each meal and 10-20 grams with each snack. Some of you will need more especially if you tend to be more muscular and/or weight train and/or generally more active. Bodybuilders typically consume one gram per pound of body weight. But, most of us need one gram per kilogram or 2.2 pounds.
The body has a difficult time assimilating (efficiently using) more than 35 grams at a time and the excess is stored as body fat.
A healthy portion is typically the size and thickness of your palm. You can also use how soon you feel hungry after a meal to guide your intake.
If you are hungry one to two hours after a meal you did not consume enough protein the previous meal. If you are hungry three to four hours after a meal then your intake was optimal. If you are not hungry for five or more hours after a meal then your last meal’s protein intake was excessive.