The Pol­i­tics of Pro­tein

Mountain Bike for Her - - Contents - Words by Melinda Lund, MS, RD

You’ve heard the term – but how much do you re­ally know about pro­tein? We’ve seen it be the ma­jor player in a lot of the “low car­bo­hy­drate life­styles.” But what does it re­ally mean to you?

Pro­tein is clas­si­fied as a nu­tri­ent that is a part of ev­ery cell and tis­sue in our body (mus­cle, bone, skin, etc.). Pro­tein is made up of dif­fer­ent se­quences of amino acids (the build­ing blocks of pro­tein) that, when eaten, is used to help re­plen­ish the pro­tein stores (amino acids) in our body that have been de­pleted or bro­ken down be­cause of a va­ri­ety of rea­sons (ex­er­cise, in­jury, etc.). Most adults get more pro­tein than they need which con­trib­utes to ex­ces­sive calo­rie and sat­u­rated fat in­take. How­ever, our body does not store amino acids for later use, so it is im­por­tant that we “feed” it daily.

There are two dif­fer­ent sources of pro­tein: 1. An­i­mal – beef, chicken, fish, milk, yo­gurt, etc. 2. Plant – beans, lentils, nuts and seeds (to name a few) There are also two dif­fer­ent TYPES of pro­tein (or amino acids): 1. Es­sen­tial – those amino acids that are NOT made by the body and there­fore are es­sen­tial that we get them from our diet 2. Non-es­sen­tial – those amino acids that ARE made by the body. Th­ese are still a part of our di­etary in­take as well

With a lot of the high-pro­tein/low carb di­ets out there th­ese days, you may also have heard the term – “high qual­ity” or “com­plete” pro­tein. By def­i­ni­tion, th­ese are pro­tein foods that con­tain all 20 of the amino acids. Com­plete pro­teins in­clude the an­i­mal prod­ucts (meat, eggs, dairy, etc.). But there is one “grain” that is con­sid­ered a com­plete pro­tein - quinoa (which is tech­ni­cally a seed).

On the other side of the fence are the “in­com­plete” pro­teins. As you may have guessed, th­ese are foods that are miss­ing one or more of the 20 amino acids. The beauty of this is that you can com­bine in­com­plete pro­teins to “form” a com­plete pro­tein. For ex­am­ple: the clas­sic beans and rice com­bi­na­tion. The amino acids that rice is miss­ing are found in the beans and visa versa. What we’ve also learned is that you do not have to eat in­com­plete pro­teins at the same time to re­al­ize the ben­e­fit of the two…they can be eaten at dif­fer­ent meals but still have the same ef­fect.

Okay, okay – so what’s the pur­pose of eat­ing pro­tein any­way? Again, eat­ing a bal­anced va­ri­ety of pro­tein in ap­pro­pri­ate amounts helps to re­plen­ish what’s lost or bro­ken down dur­ing our daily ac­tiv­i­ties (think re­builds mus­cles/ tis­sues), makes up the en­zymes that are in­volved in chem­i­cal re­ac­tions in your body and is also a com­po­nent in he­mo­glo­bin which car­ries oxy­gen to your blood.

In­clud­ing pro­tein in with your meals also helps to pro­vide us with the “longevity” from our meal. When we dis­cussed car­bo­hy­drates last month, we men­tioned mak­ing sure to in­clude foods with the car­bo­hy­drates to slow down the in­crease in blood sugar – pro­tein does just that. It fills us up, but also keeps the blood sug­ars from spik­ing when added to the car­bo­hy­drates. For in­stance, even just eat­ing an ap­ple can in­crease the blood sugar at a quick rate, but adding peanut but­ter or an ounce or so of nuts along with the ap­ple will slow that sugar down…and you’ll feel fuller for a longer pe­riod of time in­stead of just an hour or two.

Find­ing the right amount of pro­tein that you need daily varies depend­ing on who you talk to, but a good rule of thumb (for the av­er­age healthy per­son) is found in a sim­ple cal­cu­la­tion: take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2 – this will give you your weight in kilo­grams. Now take your weight in kilo­grams and mul­ti­ply by 0.8 – this will give you your ap­prox­i­mate grams of pro­tein re­quire­ments for the day. Ex­am­ple: 130 lbs / 2.2 = 59 kg x 0.8 = 47.2 grams of pro­tein per day. If you are es­pe­cially ac­tive and par­tic­i­pate in strength train­ing, you might try mul­ti­ply­ing by 1.0 to in­crease your pro­tein in­take just a touch. One point to keep in mind is that since we don’t store amino acids for later use (as men­tioned pre­vi­ously), what­ever is “ex­tra” is pro­cessed out of the body (uri­na­tion), so go­ing over­board with pro­tein can un­nec­es­sar­ily tax the kid­neys over time.

Make sure to in­clude dif­fer­ent pro­tein sources through­out the week – meat one day, eggs an­other, cottage cheese on Wed­nes­day, lentils on Thurs­day, etc. Any way you look at it, pro­tein is a much needed nu­tri­ent for the body… just not too much needed.

Most adults get more pro­tein than they need which con­trib­utes to ex­ces­sive calo­rie and sat­u­rated fat in­take.

Copy­right: pix­el­b­liss / 123RF Stock Photo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.