Proteins coming from animal sources (meat, poultry, seafood, dairy) contains all of the amino acids our bodies cannot produce. And although many plants and legumes have lower levels of amino acids, by combining plant proteins into a complete meal, vegetarian and vegan athletes can enjoy the same protein recovery boost.
Because many proteins come from animal sources, they can also contain high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat which can lead to heart disease and weight gain. Try to add proteins low in saturated fat to your diet, such as the ones listed here. Limit the amount of “Other Proteins” and try to avoid meats and dairy that are high in fats, such as bacon and cheddar cheese.
Things to consider when choosing protein
* Lean red meats are the richest dietary source of iron, but contain higher levels of saturated fat. A lack of iron can reduce the efficient transport of oxygen from the lungs and cause amenorrhea in women.
* Not all plant proteins have sufficient amounts of each amino acid. Vegetarian athletes can add soy foods or dairy to their plant protein to create complete meals.
* Vegan athletes need to know which amino acids are lacking in their favorite foods and create a complete meal by adding a complementary plant protein that has higher levels of those missing amino acids
* Proteins contain calories. An overconsumption can lead to weight gain and unnecessary taxation on your kidneys.
Proteins low in saturated fat:
- Steamed, Baked or Grilled Fish
- Packaged or canned fish in water
- Crustaceans (lobsters, shrimp)
- 90% Lean Ground Beef
- Clams, oysters, mollusk, scallops
- Turkey (skinless, minimally processed cold cuts, ground)
- Chicken (skinless, baked or grilled)
- Grains (Quinoa, couscous)
- Beans (garbanzo, black, kidney, pinto)
- Soybeans and Tofu
- Low-fat yogurt (minimally processed or "greek" style)
- Low-fat/skim milk
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Egg whites
- Flank Steak
- Lean cuts of beef round and sirloin
- Pork Loin
- Hard cheeses (parmesan, romano)
- Nuts and nut butters
- Veggie Slices (cheese alternative)
- Canadian or Turkey Bacon
Sample Meals Containing Protein:
• Fiber-rich cereal and skim milk, banana
• Egg white omelet with black bean salsa
• Hummus, avocado, spinach and tomato on pita bread
• Smothered Baked Chicken (chicken breast w/melted cheese alternative), vegetable medley
• Low-Fat Yogurt with granola
• Low-Fat Cottage cheese with pineapple
• Flank Steak Salad with broccoli, peppers and onions
• Quinoa tossed salad with garbanzo beans, red peppers and almonds
Jill Tomich is the owner of Ultimate Bootcamp and a Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant who helps her bootcamp clients get the most out of their workouts by helping them create new, healthy eating habits one meal at a time.