Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gimmie a 'P'...Gimmie a 'Rotein!' -- Gotta Love that Protein!


Why the chicken and the bodybuilder both LOVE the egg...and you should too! Alright folks, this one is all about the protein. Protein is of course one of the three major energy sources, along with carbs and fats, but there is so much hoopla, information, misinformation, myths, rumors, and food propaganda swirling around out there it's no wonder why much of the populous are confused about what is actually true and what they should be putting into their mouths. (I will say though, that a no-brainer should be that they shouldn't be shoveling the Big Macs in at such a staggering rate...hehe!)

Back on track...WHY we love protein is that it is integral in muscle repair and growth. After you break down that muscle tissue during a workout, in order to rebuild it back stronger you need to supply your body with the nutrients to do so. Protein is a must-have post-workout, and the quicker you refuel the better; optimally within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

How much protein should you be getting? That depends on a few things, but an easy rule of thumb is that you should aim for 1/2 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight a day. (So if you weigh 150 pounds try to get between 100 to 150 grams total.) That probably sounds like a lot to the 'average folk' but honestly body builders and certain athletes actually try to consume even more, especially those doing more weight work, sprinters, and aiming to build mass.

But protein has a lot to offer; it not only is the primary muscle friendly nutrient but it also helps you feel more satiated.
Protein is broken down more slowly by the body than carbs so it will help you feel fuller for longer after you eat it. (You'll feel fuller longer, and much better, after a healthy omelet breakfast than one consisting only of a glazed donut.) For athletes and fitness fans the best route to go is to combine a protein and carb source right after a workout and make sure you get enough protein the rest of the day too. So here are a few foods you should make friends with:

  • Eggs: Eggs will pack around 6 grams of protein per egg; you don't have to go Rocky style and drink them though. Some people worry about the cholesterol found in egg yolks, and while studies have actually shown the positives of regularly eating eggs far outweigh the negatives you can go yolk free with a liquid substitute.
  • Lean Meats: We're talking turkey, chicken, and bison too, are all protein packed and have generally have lower fat stats than your other meats. Yet if you go with leaner cuts of beef you will still be chowing well.
  • Seafood: Our friends under the sea are golden when you look at their protein counts. Shrimp (my fav!) are not only super high in protein, 18 grams per 4 ounce serving, but really low in fat and calories. The same serving size is merely 90 calories and with 1 gram of fat! Tuna too is an excellent source, as is salmon. Salmon may look like it is high in fat, but it is the 'good' kind, Omega 3 fats, that is linked to heart, brain, and overall health so don't be afraid of it.
  • Cottage Cheese: If you opt for low fat cottage cheese you'll find that a 1/2 cup serving has around 12 grams of protein and is delicious if paired with a pear...hehe, or any other kind of fruit too.
  • Supplements: Going the supplement route can be your best bet if you are pinched for time or are finding it hard to get your protein needs met with foods alone. But be careful to scrutinize labels; some bars or drinks may be trying to sell you with claims that upon careful reading don't quite live up to their own hype. If you go for a bar seek one with a minimum of 10 grams of protein and not just loaded with sugar.
These are just a few sources. Finally, if you are a vegetarian you need to be extra certain you get enough protein throughout the day because it can be trickier. Tofu, tempeh, and other faux meats are good even if their protein stats are a little lower than the real deal; bean are also good.

So let's hear it for the all-mighty egg, and the rest of our list...of course don't skimp on the carbs and healthy fats either (don't get me started on how much I hate Atkins!) but those, my friends, are topics for another post!

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