Basic Nutrition II- Proteins

This week I’ll run down the basics of protein. Proteins are made of different amino acids, some your body makes and some you need to get from the food you eat. Your body proteins are constantly changing, old ones broken down and new ones being made using these amino acids as building blocks. The very fact that our bodies are literally made from the stuff we eat is a clear indication we need to pay attention to what we put in our mouths!

Many of us get way too much protein. If you refer back to my post on carbohydrates you’ll see the recommendation is 15% – 20% of your total calories. This is the maximum and most of us are not very active which means we need more like 10% – 15%. Consuming too much protein can have some negative effects that put a strain of your body. One effect is the excretion of excessive amounts of water. Most of the miraculous weight loss folks on the low-carb diets is actually caused by loss of water weight, not of fat. Fact is, they may weigh less on the scale but the fat cells are still there, lurking about, just waiting to be re-hydrated then PLUMP – belly’s back.

So that’s the quantity part, now the quality part. Animal protein is the easiest source for your body to obtain the essential amino acids it does not synthesize for itself. But, that is not to say that animal protein is better than non-animal sources. It’s not. The only thing with obtaining enough protein with a vegetarian diet is getting enough variety in your diet. So, for you vegetarians, pasta every night is not doing much good! If you are getting your grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies, your good. You don’t like tofu, that’s cool, you don’t have to eat it. You just need to eat lots of other great things. You also don’t have to eat things together like beans and rice, which was the old thinking. You just have to eat some sort of grain and some sort of protein at some point in the day, not necessarily together. It’s really quite easy to do. If you do eat meat, also cool, you still need to eat a variety of food. The truth is this: western diets rely on meat way too much! You should only be getting 10% of your protein form animal sources, the rest can easily be had through vegetarian sources. You are very well already getting enough protein through these sources and not even be aware of it.

I suggest keeping a food journal so that you can become more aware of what you put into your body. Ask yourself questions about the quality of the food you are consuming: Am I getting enough variety? How much red meat am I eating? How many fruits and vegetables? How much processed food do I eat? Asking yourself questions like this will get you in the habit of making better choices. Eventually you won’t even think about it, it will be part of your lifestyle. Remember, what your eat is literally what your body is using to build itself, day in and day out. You can provide the pieces to build a healthy, well oiled machine or a broken down junker. You may feel good today but what about tomorrow, or the many more tomorrows I hope you see?

Protein rich foods:

Tuna 3oz – 16grams

Salmon 3oz – 17grams

Peanut butter 1TB – 19grams

Black Beans 1cup – 15grams

Barley 1cup – 20grams

Tofu 1/2cup – 10grams

Soybeans 1cup – 22grams

Cottage chz 1cup – 22grams

Steak 3oz – 30 grams

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