When you eat foods that contain protein, the digestive juices in your stomach and intestine go to work. They break down the protein in food into basic units, called amino acids. There are 20 amino acids in total. Out of the 20 amino acids, 12 are non-essential, meaning your body can make them. The remaining 8 must be derived from the food we consume on a daily basis.
They are called essential amino acids because it's essential that you get them from the foods you eat. It is important to try and get your protein from complete sources, because they contain all eight of the essential amino acids. Incomplete proteins need to be combined to ensure you are getting all 8 essential amino acids. Most people also consume the majority of their daily protein needs at dinner. This means you may be fuelling muscle growth for only a few hours a day, and breaking down muscle the rest of the time. Instead, try spreading out your protein intake through the day. Remember your body can process only so much protein in a single sitting, everything else is becomes excess.
Now what to do with the proper amount of protein you now know you must consume. Use it! Get physical! According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, adults (18+) should be active at least 2.5 hours a week and children ages 5-17 should get at least an hour a day, which is 7 hours a week! Whether your choice of exercise is an organized sport like soccer, an individual activity like swimming or just your daily walk, it is important to become or remain active, so that the protein you consume is properly used by your body to rebuild and maintain your muscles, bones and joints. According to physiologist Deborah Shulman, it is extremely important to create an environment in your body between exercise sessions that minimizes the breakdown of protein and maximizes protein synthesis. Basically this means getting your body to properly use the protein you have provided it. A common mistake people make is to refrain from eating after exercise either because they think that fat burning will continue at a higher rate or because their appetite is depressed. It is in fact better to eat and drink immediately after exercise, especially after prolonged or high-intensity workouts.
An analogy we use a lot at In Balance is to compare your body to a vehicle. If the “check engine” light went off in your vehicle, chances are you would check the engine or bring it in for an expert to examine. The same principle applies to your body. Awareness is vital for when, what and how much you eat and how much activity you provide for you body. If you feel like you are in great shape chances are you are getting the recommended daily exercise and are properly fuelling your body. If you feel like improvements are needed then why not start today. If the “check engine” light is going off in your body what are you going to do about it. Start today by examining the protein you are providing your body and how you are getting your body to properly use that protein. You can also make an appointment with Dr. Vantanajal to see how our In Balance Team can help with your healthy lifestyle needs.
What do I need?
To figure out your protein needs, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to figure out how many kilograms you weigh. Once you know your weight in kilograms, you need about 1 gram of protein each day for every kilogram you weigh. It’s that easy.
Where do I find it?
Grass-Fed vs Grain-Fed Beef: The average cow is raised on cheap grain that will kill it after about six months (they’re conveniently slaughtered before this happens – but not always). Grass-fed, organic beef is rich in beneficial fatty acids that are
missing from the factory-raised cattle. It’s cleaner, healthier, more flavorful, and richer in nutrients. And grass-fed beef is typically raised in humane conditions. If you eat beef, grass-fed is a must. It’s getting quite easy to find these days, but you can order online from many outlets as well.
Organic Chicken vs regular frozen chicken:
Chicken raised properly are rich in EFA’s and is one of the most efficient, lean sources of protein available.
Wild Salmon vs farmed salmon:
Farmed salmon is produced in a way that’s the seaside equivalent of a chicken factory. As a result, the fish are often sick and infected. They’re fed cheap feed that does not yield the desirable Omega-3-rich flesh. Stick with wild only.
Organic, Plain, European (Greek) Yogurt vs Regular yogurt:
European also known as Greek yogurt is richer, fattier, more nutritious and lower in sugar. When choosing an animal protein source, choose one that also provides valuable fats to maximize nutrition. Conventional yogurt tends to be high in chemicals, hormones, bad fats, and sugars.
Almonds and Almond Butter vs peanuts and peanut butter:
Peanuts are one of the least nutritious nuts (and they’re not technically a true nut anyway). When adding a handful of nuts to your salad for protein, go with almonds. Almond butter is less toxic and allergenic than peanut butter, although the protein amounts are similar by comparison.