Healthy Protein Choices
Proteins are the building blocks of your body. They build and repair muscle and connective tissues, help produce hormones and enzymes, promote healthy hair, skin and nail growth, and contribute to effective neurotransmission from the brain to all parts of your body. Proteins are made up of 21 different amino acids, 8 (9 for children) of which your body is not capable of producing itself. It’s important that you get these 8 amino acids, called the essential amino acids, from food. Protein coming from animal sources (meat, poultry, seafood, dairy) contains all of the amino acids our bodies cannot produce, and many plants and legumes have lower levels of some of the amino acids and higher level of others.
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.
Protein for Controlling Hunger
Protein is often said to be more fulfilling than carbohydrates for a few reasons. When the body obtains glucose from broken down protein, it’s absorbed into the blood stream slowly unlike carbohydrates, which quickly increase blood sugar levels. Some studies show that proteins spark the production of glucose in the small intestines. This production increase is identified by the liver and signaled to the brain that the stomach is full. A 2006 study published in the journal of Cell Metabolism digs deeper and found a hunger-fighting hormone called peptide YY. The peptide YY is increased when protein consumption is increased. As you can see, all compelling reasons to make sure you get the appropriate amounts of protein into your diet for recover.
Protein Recommendations Based on Activity Level
Grams of protein per body weight (lbs)
Adapted from Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook
Sedentary Adult 0.4[Get a list of Protein Rich Foods and Sample Healthy Protein Meals]
Recreational Exerciser 0.5 - 0.7
Endurance Athlete 0.6 - 0.7
Growing Teenage Athlete 0.7 - 0.9
Adult Building Muscle Mass 0.7 - 0.8
Athlete Restricting Calories 0.8 - 0.9
Jill Tomich is the owner of Ultimate Bootcamp and a Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant who helps boot campers get the most out of every workout one meal at a time.