Connect with us

Fitness

What is a “High-Quality” Protein?

Published

on

You’ve probably heard that you need more protein in your diet — and for good reason.

You might think of protein as the main building block for muscle, but it’s so much more.

Protein is also essential for maintaining a strong immune system, bones, tendons, and is responsible for many metabolic reactions. There is also clear relationship between protein and weight loss.

Here’s the thing:

Not all proteins are created equal.

Quality counts. But what’s the difference between protein and “high-quality protein?”

It can be a confusing distinction and one that doesn’t receive enough attention.

The good news: Distinguishing high-quality protein from lesser-quality protein is easier than you might think.

Your high-quality protein sources

If you just want a list of high-quality protein sources, we have you covered. The top sources are:

  • Dairy products; milk, whey powders, cheese and cottage cheese, yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Seafood and fish
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Bison
  • Pork
  • Pea Protein
  • Soybeans
  • Blended meals (beans and rice)
  • Vegan protein powders with multiple protein sources

If you want to better understand why all proteins are not created equal, then keep reading.

You might notice that the majority of the high-quality options are from animal sources. That’s simple because, by and large, animal proteins are of higher quality than their veggie-sourced counterparts. You’ll soon learn why.

But never fear, plant-based friends: you can still fill your diet with the protein you need even if you never want to put any animals in your mouth. We’ll show you how later in this post.

What makes a protein “high quality”?

A high-quality protein really is a function of three things:

  • protein digestibility (i.e. “Can your body break it down?”)  
  • amino acid content (i.e. “What’s really inside the protein?”)
  • the resulting amino acid availability to support metabolic function (i.e. “Will your body be able to use those amino acids the way you want it to?”) .  

The process of digesting any food begins in your mouth when you chew. But protein is unique among the three major macronutrients in that your body’s digestion of it truly begins in the stomach and continues into the small intestine.

Within those organs, acidic digestive juices, powerful enzymes, and other components fully break down intact proteins into smaller chains of amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

Before a chain can be absorbed into the bloodstream, it must be shortened into individual amino acids. Only then, when these amino acids hit the bloodstream, can they be transported to working tissues, reassembled into larger proteins that the body needs.

They may also be held for a short time with other amino acids in what’s referred to as an amino acid pool. The body can turn to this pool and take the exact amino acids it needs to create a larger protein molecule required for one function or another, and leave behind what it doesn’t require at the moment.

More protein isn’t always better. Quality counts.

While the process might appear cut-and-dry, it’s not that simple. And like many processes within the body, it isn’t 100 percent perfect.  In other words, less than 100 percent of the protein you consume will be digested, absorbed, and put to use.

Scientists can measure a protein’s digestibility in the lab is by monitoring nitrogen absorption and excretion. (Protein is the only macronutrient that contains nitrogen, which is why this works.)  The outcome of this test typically produces a digestibility score.

Proteins that are highly digestible receive scores close to 100% (digestible). Lower scores are less digestible. If you were to consume a protein with a digestibility score of 90%, then for every 10g you consumed, you would absorb 9g and excrete 1g.

In general, animal proteins — such as dairy, eggs, and meat — score highly. Vegetarian proteins typically score lower.

But there’s another wrinkle in the process. Your body’s ability to absorb nutrients compared to its actual requirements don’t always line up.

Amino Acids: What’s Inside Your Protein?

Every source of protein has a different amino acid profile. These amino acids — or the component parts that a protein will become when you digest it — are a big determinant of whether or not a protein is high quality.    

Your body can produce many amino acids on its own. But there are some it can’t make. They are:

  • histidine
  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • lysine
  • methionine
  • phenylalanine
  • threonine
  • tryptophan
  • valine

These are the “essential amino acids,” and you must get them through your diet.

Any food that contains all nine essential amino acids is known as a “complete protein.”

Why Animal-Based Protein is the “Easy Button”

Animal protein sources mimic the protein composition of human tissue. Which is why meat naturally offers a highly usable blend of amino acids—including all nine essential amino acids (with some exceptions, which we’ll get to in a second).

As a result, we humans can use protein from an animal source in a very efficient manner.

Animal proteins range from the obvious—beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and fish—to fluid sources such as milk. All of these are high-quality protein sources that are highly bioavailable (your body can put them to use easily).

Nearly all animal proteins are highly bioavailable — meaning your body can put them to use more easily.

This includes dairy, which supplies a wealth of amino acids, including a high amount of leucine. So perhaps it’s not surprising that studies involving chronic exercisers have found that consuming milk-based protein after resistance exercise promotes muscle protein synthesis, more muscle, and less flab.

While collagen and bone broths are popular for their potential to support joint health and other tissue function within the body, collagen protein is high in only 3 amino acids (glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline) while being fairly devoid of the other essential amino acids.

Bone broths may deliver health benefits, but they alone won’t help with muscle building or fat loss (or satisfy your body’s amino acid requirements, unless you add chicken or beef to the broth, in which case, you’re all set.)

What About High-Quality Plant Protein?

A bunch of peas pour out of a jar onto a table. Pea protein is a higher quality than most realize.
They say pea protein is the new whey.

Conversely, most plant sources (but not all) have an amino acid profile that differs drastically from that of humans.

Many (but not all) plant proteins are low in various essential amino acids, especially leucine. This is important to note, because leucine plays a critical role in turning on muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which is key for building and repairing muscle tissue.

The big exceptions are soy and select sources of pea protein (like pea protein isolate). These vegetarian sources contain all, or nearly all, of the essential amino acids you require.

Outside of those sources, most plant-based proteins are not complete. All this means is that consuming one lone source of plant protein cannot support body growth and maintenance.

But there’s a simple fix. If you combine different plant protein sources, then you can receive adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids.

Examples of complementary proteins include combining legumes and grains, such as red beans and rice, or vegetables and legumes, like you’d find in a 9-bean vegetable soup.

When you eat complementary proteins, the combined sources equal a complete protein source.

You don’t have to do this at the same meal. Your body will store the amino acids as they come in, and then resynthesize proteins as it needs by pulling from body cells and blood supplies later. So even if you had rice at breakfast and beans at dinner, you’re covered.

Often you need to eat more plant-based protein to get the equivalent amount of amino acids that you would from a smaller amount of animal protein.

So really, your main takeaways here are:

  1. The exact amount of protein you need will depend on the quality of the protein you eat.
  2. If you consume a lot of plant-based protein, or are exclusively plant-based, you may need to increase your total daily protein intake even more to compensate for the lower protein quality.
  3. If you are vegetarian or vegan, eat a diverse mix of foods, and you may want to research the amino acid profiles of the foods you eat.

READ MORE:

What is the Best Protein Powder?

The Curious Case of Why People Fear Protein

No Carbs Diet: The Flaw in Fat Loss

Pamela Nisevich Bede, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a 21-time marathoner, Ironman triathlete, and mom who counsels athletes and wellness enthusiasts towards optimal performance at Swim, Bike, Run, Eat!, LLC, and is the resident endurance sports nutrition expert at EAS Sports Nutrition. She has contributed to multiple books and is regularly sought to provide insight to  numerous publications. Connect with her @PamBedeRD

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fitness

I Want to Look More Muscular. What’s the Best Way to Make Gains?

Published

on

By

There’s one thing that all the biggest, most muscular people on the planet have in common.

It’s not great genetics.

(Good genes help, but plenty of people have gotten huge without having been blessed with it at birth.)

It’s not that they all just live at the gym and do nothing else, or follow some magical workout. (When it comes to building muscle, many different approaches — low rep/high weight, high rep/low weight, straight sets, supersets, and on and on — can work. There is no one that’s “best.”)

And it’s not that they’re on performance-enhancing drugs. (You can pack on plenty of muscle naturally — look no further than any drug-free bodybuilding competition for proof.)

The thing they all have in common is this:

Patience.

Not the answer you expected? Here’s why being patient is so important.

The Problem with Bulking and Cutting

First, when most people set out to build muscle, they go through a phase where they eat a lot and train a lot. You’ve probably heard it called “bulking.”

Then, after a few weeks or months, they switch. Maybe they get self-conscious about the size the gained. Or maybe they think they’re starting to look fat. So they trim back on calories and change their training to try and burn the fat off. This phase is called “cutting.”

Most people bounce back and forth between these two phases — bulking and cutting, bulking and cutting — without making any real progress. Why? Because each new phase undoes the success of the last.

On our website, we’ve talked about Set Point Theory. It’s the idea that the body identifies with a certain weight and then becomes resistant to change. In our previous article, we discussed how it applied to weight loss. It’s one of the reasons why losing weight — and keeping it off — can be so hard.

But the concept also applies to muscle gain. Your body is used to being a certain weight. When you change that through strength training, it will take measures to go back to how it was — unless you teach it that this more muscular weight is it’s new normal.

Have a Born Fitness coach guide your gainz!

 

You teach your body that through what’s called a maintenance phase. In a lecture on his site Renaissance Periodization, Dr. Mike Israetel discusses how people hold themselves back if they do not include this phase in their training. (The content itself is paywalled, but totally worth buying if you like to nerd out on the science of muscle-building.)

I don’t want to give too much away or do violence to the quality and depth of his explanation. So I’ll summarize it like this: During a maintenance phase, you ease up on training a little bit. And you aim to eat what’s called an isocaloric diet, meaning you try to eat as many calories as you’d need, but not more.

Sample Muscle-Building Macronutrient Formula

This formula from Adam’s Great Abs Experiment will help:

For Total Calories Per Day:

Take the body weight you wish to maintain and multiply it by 10 if you are training 1 hour or less per week. For each additional hour you train per week, add 1 to the multiplier. So if you’d muscled up to 200 pounds, and trained 4 hours per week, you’d multiply 13 by 200 and get 2,600 calories per day as your mark. You can split that total across however many meals per day you prefer to eat (two, three, four, five, whatever).

Protein:

Eat at least 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. So if you were 200 pounds, you’d aim for 200 grams of protein (800 calories total) per day.

Fat:

Eat half a gram of fat per pound of bodyweight. So at 200 pounds, you’d target 100 grams of fat (900 calories) per day.

Carbohydrates:

Determine how many carbohydrates to eat by subtracting the protein and fat calories from your daily total, and then dividing the remainder by 4. To continue the example we’ve been using here, it would be 2,600 calories total minus 800 calories (protein) and 900 calories (fat), leaving you with 900 calories for carbs. Divide that by 4 and you get 225 calories of carbs per day.

While the length of your maintenance phase can vary, you’d want to approach it as if it were something you could do for several months or even years. Why? Because — again — you want this to be your new normal.

You want to think of building muscle not in terms of days and weeks, but months and years. The biggest, most muscular people in the world are the ones who show up for training, again and again, for years on end.

READ MORE: 

Adding Muscle At Any Age: Defying Genetics And Designing The Muscle Building Workout

The New Rules Of Specialization: How To Add Muscle Mass

How To Master The Art Of “Old School” Muscle Building

5 Muscle Building Mistakes (And How To Make Gains)

Source link

Continue Reading

Fitness

Should I Cut Out Alcohol to Get Rid of Fat?

Published

on

By

First, I’ll toast you to a good question here. (I’m drinking green tea right now, but feel free to have a sip of whatever you wish.) When people ask “does alcohol make you fat,” or “should I stop drinking to lose weight,” the answer is complex, but can be summed up with:

  • No, you don’t have to ditch alcohol to lose fat…
  • BUT, if you do cut out drinking, it might help.

Alcohol And Weight Loss: It’s Complicated

Let’s start with the first point here. From a metabolic perspective, alcohol and your body have a weird relationship. There’s actually been a lot of research into it over the years because it’s so surprising.

Numerous studies, both observational and in controlled settings, have shown that people can consume light to moderate amounts of alcohol and not necessarily gain weight. (Moderate drinking is defined as 1 drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.)

An infographic showing what one standard alcoholic drink looks like

Part of this may be due to alcohol’s unique effect on the body. Your body can’t store alcohol and the 7 calories per gram it delivers. (Yup, it does have calories — more per gram than carbs and protein, but less than fat.) So instead the body fast-tracks that booze through your system.

Additionally, a high percentage of calories from alcohol get burned up by your metabolism through a process called the thermic effect of food (TEF). The thermic effect of alcohol is about 22.5%, which puts it on par with protein (which has a TEF of 25-30%) and well ahead of carbs (6-8%) and fat (2-3%).

All of which is to say: Alcohol on it’s own won’t necessarily make or break your weight loss goals.

“If you enjoy a few drinks during the week, it is still possible to have a highly successful fat loss journey,” says Born Fitness Head Nutrition Coach Natalie Sabin.

Now for the but…

Why Alcohol Might Make You Fat

Just because your body doesn’t store alcohol’s calories, it doesn’t mean you (and your fat cells) get off scot-free.

When your body is processing those calories from all those hoppy IPAs, or just one more glass of wine, they take the place of other calories you could be burning — like the bacon double cheeseburger you had on the way home from the bar. With beer calories taking its place in the metabolic line, the burger’s calories become part of you (and your belly).

In fact, some research would lead you to believe that the problem isn’t necessarily the alcohol itself. It’s what can come along with drinking. You know, like nachos. Or two dozen wings. Or a box of Totino’s Pizza Rolls if it’s 2 a.m. and you’re in college.

“Many folks who drink alcohol also have a tendency to eat more,” Sabin says.

A review published in Physiology & Behavior backs her up on this. It found that, sure enough, drinking before or during a meal tends to increase food intake.

Also, note that even though your body can’t store alcohol, it can (and does) store the calories mixed with it — like the 83g of sugar in a frozen margarita.

So What Should You Do?

1. Examine how much you’re drinking currently. For some this can be very eye-opening on it’s own. You might see that the “beer or two” you have “now and then” is actually “a couple drinks every night, plus about a dozen on the weekend.” Remember, the studies mentioned previously involved light to moderate drinking — i.e. one drink per day for women, two for men. Drinking more than that is conclusively not good. Heavier drinking is associated with weight gain and increased waist circumference, as well as poor health. Excessive alcohol consumption is the third-leading cause of premature death in the U.S. If your drinking exceeds that one to two drinks per day guideline, then yeah, cutting back (or going dry) likely will help you lose fat.

2. Pay attention to what else you do when you drink. If your occasional cocktail with friends is just that — a cocktail — then the caloric load probably isn’t all that significant. But if your drinks seem to come with a late night pizza chaser, you might have an issue on your hands. Here again, cutting out drinks might help your fat loss.

3. Let’s say your drinking (and appetite) is under control, but you still aren’t losing fat. And let’s say your drink-per-day is a must-have. If that’s the case, you could try and offset the calories by trimming elsewhere. For example, a glass of wine is around 120 calories. A typical beer is about 150 calories (although those heavier microbrews that are so popular nowadays can be double that). Cut out 30 to 40g of carbs from somewhere else, and pay attention to any changes. “Remember, to get rid of fat you need to create a calorie deficit,” Sabin says. “That means burn more calories than you are consuming — whether that’s eating OR drinking.”

READ MORE

Why Am I Not Getting Stronger

Why Did I Gain Weight On My Diet

4 Week Fat Loss Transformation

Source link

Continue Reading

Fitness

When to Do It, and When to Avoid It?

Published

on

By

When to Do It, and When to Avoid It?

I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life. Most of them having nothing to do with fitness and nutrition. But my nutrition blunders run especially deep. 

I’ve done everything from waking up twice in the middle of the night to drink protein shakes (gotta eat every 3 hours, right?) to slugging 20-30g of BCAAs throughout the day to “stay anabolic” (this still feels like my “pet rock” moment).

When it comes to carb-loading, I’ve experimented with extremes: I’d wake up 2 hours prior to my workout and eat about 100-150g of carbohydrates. (Think: Two bowls of oatmeal + fruit + 2 slices of bread just to make sure my glycogen stores were “fully loaded” to build muscle.) And I once avoided carbs completely, because fasted exercise burns more fat, right? (Nope!)

The truth is always more about sustainable behaviors than trying to “hack” your body. For instance, fasted cardio does not burn more fat, but if you feel better doing it, then go for it. And carbs can help build more muscle, but you don’t need to eat yourself silly.

Still, the question remains for most:

Should you eat carbs before a workout?

From a scientific standpoint, research suggests a little bit of carb-loading can be a great thing for your workout performance.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, compared endurance performance when consuming different amounts — and types — of carbohydrates.

The high-carb group ate 1.5g/kg of bodyweight before completing 90 minutes of intense exercise (think: a long run). This group saw better performance and were able to maintain their intensity for a longer period of time, whereas the lower-carb group had better fat oxidation, but were quicker to fatigue.

Looking at the results, it was a little murky to determine if the type of carbohydrate (low vs. high glycemic index) made any difference.

When to Carb Load

If you’re going to do long-lasting activity (especially endurance-type exercise, like running, biking, etc.) and performance is your goal (running longer, faster, and experiencing less fatigue), than pre-workout carbs is a better approach than avoiding carbs or going for a lower-carb meal.

In general, the longer the activity, the greater the “need” for carbs to help boost your workout.

But remember: if “forcing” your carbohydrate intake before a workout means you don’t work out, or makes you feel sick to your stomach, then don’t do it. Carb loading isn’t worth it if the meal that disrupts your workout.

READ MORE:

Do Carbs Make You Fat?

5 Signs a Protein Bar is Worth Eating

Understanding Fasted Cardio and Fat Loss

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

Trending