What is Protein?
Protein is found throughout the body is virtually almost every tissue and organ. In fact, 20% of the human body is made up of protein.1 The building blocks of protein are amino acids which carry out many roles such as transportation of nutrients, supporting our immune system, healing and repairing of tissue, and help remove waste. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight.2 Beyond that, there’s little information on the ideal amount of protein you need from the diet. Generally, the more active you are, the more protein you will need. Athletes or individuals who exercise on a regular basis may even need up to double the amount depending on the intensity, duration, and frequency of the exercise.
Essential amino acids are required to get from the diet because our body does not produce these types of amino acids. If you do not get essential amino acids in your diet, proteins break down, resulting in muscle loss and problems with repair. You can get protein from animal sources and from plant sources. Adding a protein supplement can give the body an extra boost to heal and repair after workouts as well. We will talk more about supplementing protein later on.
How to Incorporate Protein into Your Diet
Most desirable sources of animal based proteins would be fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, and red meat (if OK’d by your nutritionist). If you have a normal serum ferritin and normal serum iron, then 4-6oz of red meat should be OK for you to consume on a weekly basis. Plant based sources of protein would include beans, seeds, nut, sprouts, and quinoa. Nut butters such as peanut butter, cashew butter, or almond butter are good sources as well. Vegans and vegetarians need to be aware of their protein levels. It is very common for these individuals to lack the appropriate amounts of protein for the body’s ability to heal and repair. Chlorella is a good supplement to be taking and is vegan friendly. Chlorella consists of 58% of protein and generally they are about 2 g of protein per 2-3 capsules/tablets.
Avoid These Sources of Protein
Proteins to eliminate from the diet include soy protein and whey protein. Many vegans or vegetarians often times refer to soy as their main source of protein. You may not know it, but 80% of the oil Americans consume is soy. If you look on the ingredient list of many foods, especially processed foods in the aisles of the supermarket, you will see ingredients such as “soy lecithin” and “isolated soy protein”. Soy lecithin has known effects on reproductive abnormalities and sexual dysfunction. Containing the compound phytoestrogen, it produces similar effects on the body as estrogen. Unfortunately, about 75% of breast cancers are estrogen-receptor positive.3 Soy is also highly genetically modified (MSG). Common side effects of MSG exposure include:
- heart attacks
- joint pain
- sterility in females
Types of Soy to Eliminate
- “Soy Protein Isolate” [Isolated Soy Protein]
- “Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein”
- “Texturized Vegetable Protein”
- “Soy Protein”
- Soy Protein Supplements
When choosing to supplement with protein for added nutrients to the diet that can help with healing and repairing, you want to be sure to choose wisely. There are many products on the market today which are full of artificial flavoring, colors, dyes, and fillers. Whey protein is one of the most popular supplements however, most are actually harmful. Most whey protein manufactures use a lot of heat for production which actually denatures the protein and makes it insoluble in water. This is why the manufactures add chemicals to restore the flavor and solubility. Also, many whey protein supplements are deficient of the healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals due to the acidic processing as well.4 Genetically modified ingredients, such as soy lecithin, are added as well artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (also known as Splenda).
Protein supplements to consider would be egg white protein, pea powder protein, and rice protein. Jay Robb’s Egg White Protein Powder (contains no whey, soy, or added sugar). One scoop equals 24 grams of protein.
Get Tested for Optimal Health
Adding more protein to the diet has many benefits and is even necessary in many situations. However, before starting any new diet or lifestyle change it is important to discuss your concerns with your experienced nutritionist. By testing a comprehensive blood panel and hair tissue mineral analysis, we are able to determine other necessary vitamins and minerals you may need to optimize your health. Get tested today to find out where you start and to know exactly what to do and what to take for better health!
- Mercola, Joseph, Hofmekler, Ori, Stroden, Kipp. Not All Whey Product is Created Equal. Food Matters. July 2013.