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Neighbors of Kane County

Protein Truths

Oct 29, 2019 03:26PM ● By Anita Malik

Protein has arguably been one of the most misunderstood macronutrients of modern nutrition! It wasn’t until late in the twentieth century that scientists began to better understand protein dynamics. Protein is required for numerous structural and functional needs including the maintenance of skeletal muscle and bone. It’s composed of twenty building blocks called amino acids. Non-essential amino acids are the ones your body makes, while the nine essential amino acids must be obtained in your diet because your body lacks the ability to make them. Foods containing all nine essential amino acids in balanced quantities are considered high-quality proteins and effective at maintaining and building muscle. Animal products such as beef, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and fish are considered high-quality proteins. Some plant-based foods including soy, quinoa, hemp hearts, buckwheat, and chia seeds are also considered high-quality proteins. Bean, nuts, and corn are considered lower quality proteins because they provide less of the essential amino acids.

Maximizing the muscle-building process requires that all the essential amino acids be present at each meal. A rapid increase in the number of essential amino acids in the blood is what appears to push the body into a muscle-building mode [1]. It’s easy to activate this process when you prioritize high-quality protein at each meal. If you’re not getting high-quality protein at each meal, you can fill the gap by consuming complementary proteins. For example, legumes contain the essential amino acid lysine, which is low in some grains. Whole grains contain the essential amino acid methionine which his low in lentils and some beans.

Combining these foods at a meal (i.e., black bean and brown rice salad) will provide adequate amounts of essential amino acids and support activation of the muscle-building process.

Professional nutrition organizations including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Canadian Dietetic Association (Dietitians of Canada) recommend a diet that emphasizes whole foods including animal and plant-based protein sources. A diet that emphasizes whole foods (unprocessed and minimally processed) has been shown to reduce the risk for numerous degenerative diseases (i.e., heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, etc.). The popularity of protein supplements that contain Whey (a soluble by-product of cheese manufacturing) is due to the fact that Whey contains significant amounts of the essential amino acid leucine. Leucine has been identified as an important activator of the muscle-building process (i.e., The Leucine Trigger Hypothesis).

Multiple studies have found that the strategic use of high-quality protein supplements can help adults consume adequate protein. Whether or not you choose to use a protein supplement should be based on your existing eating habits. If you are unable, or unwilling, to consume whole foods that provide adequate high-quality protein, you would be a good candidate for the use of a protein supplement. It should be noted that you don’t need to use protein supplements that contain Whey to obtain adequate leucine in your diet. Consuming whole proteins that contain all the essential amino acids including leucine (i.e., chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, beef, etc.) is an effective way to stimulate the muscle-building process.

With health agencies including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommending Strength Training for all adults, it makes sense to consume optimal protein as a way of maximizing the health benefits of each strength workout. The following evidence-based guidelines [2,4] are for healthy adults currently Strength Training.

#1. To calculate your daily protein requirement for maximizing muscle growth, multiply your weight in pounds by .7. Individuals above an ideal body weight should use estimated ideal body weight.

#2. To calculate your per-meal protein requirement, multiply your weight in pounds by .13. Space your protein intake over 3 to 5 meals/snacks to maximize absorption and muscle growth.

#3. Consume 10 to 20 grams of high-quality protein within 1 to 2 hours following your strength workout [3] to maximize muscle growth and strength gains.

Protein Grams / per Serving

Non-fat or low-fat milk, 8 ounces…………………………...……….… 8 - 9

Plain yogurt, 8 ounces………………………………………………….. 8

Sweetened yogurt, 6 ounces……………………………………...…….. 5 - 6

Greek yogurt 2/3rds cup (6 ounces) ...…………………….………….... 10 - 15

Ham (baked, boiled or canned), 1 ounce ...……………………………. 7

Pork (tenderloin), 1 ounce ……………………………………………… 7

Red meat (select, choice or prime grades of beef), 1 ounce……….…… 7

Lean ground beef/turkey (90% or higher lean) ………………………… 7

Wild game (venison, duck, etc.), 1 ounce cooked……………………… 7

Fish (salmon, tuna, shellfish, dark fish) 1 ounce cooked…….………… 7

Veggie burger, approximately 3 ounces ……………….………………. 10 - 15

Skinless poultry (chicken or turkey), 1 ounce cooked…..........………… 7

Tofu, 1/4 cup………………………………………………...…………. 7

Soybeans, ½ cup boiled………………………………………………… 15

Quinoa, 1 cup cooked…………………………………………………... 8

Low-fat cottage cheese, 1/4 cup………………………………………… 7

Cooked beans/legumes, 1/2 cup………………………………………... 7

Whole Egg, 1 large……………………………………………...……... 7

Egg Whites, (2 egg whites) ……………………………………………. 7

Cheese, 1 ounce………………………………………………...………. 7

Protein powder mix (animal or plant-based), 1 ounce………………..... 20

Nutrition Bars (various sizes) …………………………………………. 10- 30

HMR Shake, Pudding, and Cereal (1 scoop or packet) ………………... 11 - 15

HMR Entrées…………………………………………………………… 10 – 20

References

1. Environmental Nutrition., Volume 42., Issue 9., September 2019.

2. Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals., Sixth Edition, 2017. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

3. Enhancing Resistance Training Results with Protein/Carbohydrate Supplementation. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. Volume 17., No. 2. 2013. 4. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Volume 52, Issue 6. 2018. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/6/376

5. Food Data Central., U.S. Department of Agriculture., Agricultural Research Service. https://.fdc.lan.usda.gov

Article contributed by Richard J. Wolff, RDN from MEDFITNESS Strength Training in St. Charles, IL.

MEDFITNESS specializes in On-Demand Personal Training ™. For more information visit www.medfitnessprogram.com