Muscle tissue is often the first bodily structure that strikes your mind when considering protein existence in the body. Indeed, the majority of the body’s protein exists in the form of skeletal, bone, and organ tissues! Proteins are also part of enzymes, antibodies, lipoproteins, hormones, hemoglobin, albumin and are profoundly powerful.
Meat, poultry, seafood, beans & peas, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds are considered best sources of protein foods.
Wonder what makes almonds a high-quality protein and egg & meat considered, a complete protein food?
Protein in the human body is composed of 20 amino acids. More than half of these (called non-essential amino acids) can be synthesized by the human body. Nine of them (called essential amino acids) should be obtained through the diet, for the body cannot manufacture them!
Animal protein and egg are considered High-quality, high biological value and complete protein foods, for they contain all the essential amino acids.
Histine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine are the 9 essential amino acids. They have vital role in – regulating your mood & sleep, muscle metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, the production of sulphur, regulating blood sugar, aiding the production of collagen, antibody formation, and regulating the central and peripheral nervous system.
Proteins’ functions are really wonderful and amazing!
For example, Tryptophan helps maintain your body’s serotonin and melatonin, the neurotransmitters levels that plays vital role in the regulation of mood and sleep. Isn’t it obvious that low levels of tryptophan can lead to depression and insomnia? Chocolate, mangoes, dairy products, oats, eggs, fish, chickpeas, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are good sources of tryptophan. Drinking milk before bed, makes sense!
Leucine, another essential amino acid, increases the muscle mass and helps muscle recovery after exercise. Dairy products, meat, soy protein, nuts & seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin) are listed as good sources of leucine
Beans & peas are good sources of plant protein and are considered vegetable alternatives for meat. In addition, they also provide iron and zinc. Though they are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution to protein, plant proteins are referred as incomplete protein, for they are difficient in one or more of the essential amino acids. Grains tend to be low in lysine and beans are low in methionine and cysteine.
Of the plant proteins soy, quinoa are considered complete and high-quality protein! Almonds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins & minerals and need no fortification!
Get a good mix of protein
Vegan should consider the quality of protein while planning their meal. It is important to consume a variety of plant protein foods to get all the essential amino acids over the course of the day. It is very easy to meet the recommendations for protein, through varied diet throughout the day. The key is to consume a variety and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie and nutrient needs.
Combining plant proteins, generally referred as “Complementary proteins,” is the best way to achieve all the essential amino acids.
Beans and rice, beans and corn, beans and wheat, white cheddar with whole wheat pasta, yogurt with flax seeds, green salad with nuts & seeds, mango & quinoa salad, whole wheat or rye bread and peanut butter are few of the examples of combined complementary proteins.
Avocado fruit, widely considered as vegetable, mixed with beans and corn is an excellent combined complementary proteins salad! Avocado contains a generous amount of omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids, too!
Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids and is gluten free!
Quinoa-mango salad – colourful and highly nutritious!
Tender beans & peas are also considered part of the vegetable groups, for they are good sources of fibers and potassium. Beans and peas are recommended, for both vegetarian and non-vegetarians because of their high nutrient content.
You need to pay attention to the package of the protein, too!
For example, in beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains, protein comes in a package with healthful fiber and micronutrients. When you consider meat or whole milk, it is just the contrary! The protein comes packaged with unhealthy fat!
Though animal proteins are considered as, “High – quality, high biological value and complete protein food, they are also high in saturated fats!” Diets high in animal fats will not give a reduced risk of heart disease. So, go lean with protein:
- Round steaks top loin, top sirloin, chuck shoulder are the leanest beef cuts.
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest poultry choices.
- Choose boiling, broiling, grilling, roasting or poaching cooking methods instead of frying. Avoid breading or battering the meat, poultry or fish. Breading adds calories, battering absorbs more oil there by increasing the calories!
- Opt for low-fat dairy products.
For recommended daily amounts of protein, click: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/printpages/MyPlateFoodGroups/ProteinFoods/food-groups.protein-foods-amount.pdf
Protein supplement is the spot light these days! There are many advertisements too, for protein supplements like whey protein, casein, soy protein, protein-energy bars & cookies, testosterone-fueled protein products. Are they truly necessary for you? Many nutritional experts say “No…….,” to supplements.
A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts and lean meats & sea foods will give you all the essential nutrients your body requires for optimal health.
There are many articles touting high protein diet. These high-protein diets, are gaining more popularity among those who want to drop pounds and build muscles. A total misguidance. These plans restrict carbs and the major source of protein is the red meat and full-fat dairy products, rich in saturated fats that raises the risk of cardiac disease! So, protein alone, as a tool for weight loss or weight maintenance, should not be encouraged.
Recently, I had a conversation with a taxi driver, a very beautiful lady, on “Health & Nutrition!” She did mention that there was no time for her to concentrate on physical activity and doesn’t like to take fruits. Also said that she is taking supplements especially, the protein and much more interested to go for vitamins & mineral supplements! I am not very comfortable with her, taking a protein supplement, which she really doesn’t need! She was not convinced when I said no to supplements. So, with much caution and care, I did explain that protein supplements are designed for the professional athletes who are involved with intense training and for patients with muscle wasting. I discouraged her, who hardly does exercise, from having these protein supplements. I encouraged her to do exercise minimum 30mins/day (10-minute increment) and take more fruits and vegetables for vitamins & minerals with whole grains, beans and lean meat! When we reached the destination, with a broad smile, she did agree to take a balanced diet and will try to do physical activities, in future!
Protein supplements, even for athletes is only upon consultation with doctors and sports dietitian based on their training load, daily energy requirements, and their general dietary intake. Many protein-amino acid supplementation are linked to dehydration, hypercalciuria, weight gain, and stress on liver & kidneys! So, in general, athletes are encouraged to opt for small, frequent servings of high-quality protein rich foods that will not only provide adequate protein but also other nutrients that the body requires!
Why supplements when you can get good amount of protein, vitamins, minerals from the balanced food you eat everyday?
I would like to conclude that, “ A balanced diet rich in vegetables & fruits, dairy products, nuts & seeds, beans, lean meats, and whole grains will give the body adequate calorie, protien, vitamins & minerals required for optimal health.” Well balanced meals with regular physical activities, everyday, help manage your weight easily!
American Heart Association (2001, October 10). High-Protein Diets Not Proven Effective And May Pose Health Risks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 31, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011010074524.htm
- Shane Bilsborough and Neil Mann, A Review of Issues of Dietary Protein Intake in Humans, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2006, 16, 129-152
- Margo A Denke, MD, Metabolic effects of High-Protein, Low-carbohydrate diets, American Journal of Cardiology Vol 88 July 1, 2001
- Ioannis Delimaris, Adverse Effects Associated with Protein Intake above the Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults, Volume 2013, Article ID 126929