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Δώστε προτεραιότητα στην πρωτεΐνη

Δώστε προτεραιότητα στην πρωτεΐνη

Η πρωτεΐνη είναι ένα πολύ συναισθηματικό θέμα και υπάρχουν πολλές προκαταλήψεις γύρω από αυτό και τόσα πολλά “στρατόπεδα”. Υπάρχουν οι Vegan, οι κρεατοφάγοι, οι εκπομπές αεριών θερμοκηπίων και πολλά άλλα που μπαίνουν στο παιχνίδι.

Ωστόσο, το απλό γεγονός είναι ότι η πρωτεΐνη είναι η πιο σημαντική μακροεντολή για τη μακροζωία. Υπάρχει μεγάλη σύγχυση ειδικά στον πληθυσμό των γυναικών γύρω από τις πρωτεΐνες. Πολλοί συνδέουν την πρωτεΐνη με το να έχουν μεγάλους μυς. Αλλά αυτό δεν συμβαίνει. Η αρκετή πρωτεΐνη είναι απαραίτητη για κάθε άτομο για την υγεία και τη μακροζωία του.

Έτσι, αν πρέπει να κερδίσετε κάτι από αυτό το άρθρο είναι ότι θα πρέπει να δώσετε προτεραιότητα στην πρωτεΐνη βάζοντας την πρωτεΐνη που χρειάζεστε στο πιάτο σας πάντα πρώτα! Τόσο σημαντική είναι η πρωτεΐνη!

Γιατί χρειαζόμαστε πρωτεΐνη;

Χρειαζόμαστε πρωτεΐνη για τα πάντα.  Για τις λειτουργίες του σώματος μας αλλά και τους σκελετικούς μυς.

Οι πρωτεΐνες πάντα συσσωρεύονται και διασπώνται μέσα στα κύτταρά μας. Φανταστείτε την πρωτεΐνη ως πρώτη ύλη, ή ως τα δομικά στοιχεία για το σώμα μας. Αν δεν τρώμε αρκετή πρωτεΐνη, το κύτταρό μας δεν μπορεί να κάνει τη δουλειά του. Με την πάροδο του χρόνου αυτό μπορεί να οδηγήσει σε προβλήματα όπως ορμονικές ανισορροπίες, καταθλιπτική ανοσολογική λειτουργία, κακή ανάρρωση και πολλά άλλα.

Η πρωτεΐνη είναι επίσης ένα κρίσιμο δομικό στοιχείο των οστών, των μυών, των χόνδρων, τoυ δέρματος και του αίματος. Τα μαλλιά και τα νύχια είναι ως επί το πλείστον κατασκευασμένα από πρωτεΐνες, ενώ το σώμα μας χρησιμοποιεί πρωτεΐνες για την κατασκευή και επισκευή ιστών. Χρησιμοποιούμε επίσης πρωτεΐνες για να φτιάξουμε ένζυμα, ορμόνες και να μεταφέρουμε θρεπτικά συστατικά.

Protein is also a critical building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein, while our body uses protein to build and repair tissues. We also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and transporting nutrients.

Επαρκής ποσότητα πρωτεΐνης θα

  • Αποτρέψει την απώλεια μυών ή τη σαρκοπενία.  Παρατηρείται ότι η μυϊκή ατροφία αρχίζει να εμφανίζεται ακόμα και μετά την τρίτη δεκαετία της ζωής μας με μείωση 30-50% μεταξύ των ηλικιών 40-80.  Καθώς μεγαλώνουμε πρέπει να κάνουμε ό,τι περνάει από το χέρι μας για να διατηρήσουμε τη μυϊκή μας μάζα. Υπάρχουν δύο πράγματα που χρειάζεστε εδώ. Γυμναστική αντίστασης και αρκετή πρωτεΐνη! Αυτό είναι πολύ σημαντικό να τονιστεί αρκετά! Η απώλεια μυών μας κάνει εύθραυστους και αδύναμους.
  • Προωθήσει την υγεία των οστών και θα μειώσει τον κίνδυνο κατάγματος ισχίου. Η πτώση και το σπάσιμο των οστών είναι στην πραγματικότητα μία από τις μεγαλύτερες ανησυχίες που σχετίζονται με τη γήρανση. Μια υψηλότερη πρόσληψη πρωτεϊνών μπορεί να είναι πιο σημαντική για τον γηράσκοντα πληθυσμό μεταξύ των οποίων έχει βρεθεί ότι το RDA σε πρωτεΐνες μπορεί να είναι ανεπαρκές για τη διατήρηση του σκελετικού μυός.

Άλλοι λόγοι που επίσης παίζουν ρόλο είναι

  • Αυξημένος κορεσμός : Η πρωτεΐνη αυξάνει το κορεσμό σε μεγαλύτερο βαθμό από τους υδατάνθρακες ή το λίπος αυξάνοντας την παραγωγή ορισμένων ορμονών όπως το πεπτίδιο YY και το GLP-1. Μειώνει επίσης την γκρελίνη, την ορμόνη πείνας, για αρκετές ώρες.
  • Αυξημένη θερμογένεση : Η πρωτεΐνη αυξάνει τη θερμική επίδραση στο σώμα μας, η οποία επηρεάζει επίσης το κορεσμό και τις ενεργειακές καύσεις.

 

Περίληψη

  • Η πρωτεΐνη χρησιμοποιείται για τα πάντα, αλλά είναι ιδιαίτερα κρίσιμη για τη διατήρηση μιας υγιούς μυϊκής μάζας που είναι όλο και πιο δύσκολο να διατηρηθεί καθώς γερνάμε καθώς χάνουμε το 1% των μυών μας κάθε χρόνο μετά τα 40.
  • Η διατήρηση της μυϊκής μας μάζας αποτελεί βασικό δείκτη υγείας και μακροζωίας. Η έλλειψη της μας κάνει εύθραυστους!!

Πρωτεϊνική και μυϊκή σύνθεση

Ας μην συγχέουμε τη λέξη μυς με έναν bodybuilder. Οι μύες είναι αυτοί που μας κάνουν να κινούμαστε και να είμαστε ενεργοί. Χρειαζόμαστε υγιείς μύες για να είμαστε ανεξάρτητοι, να έχουμε λιγότερους πόνους και κόπωση. 

Οι μύες είναι το όργανο της μακροζωίας και πρέπει να τους ταΐζουμε! Πρέπει να τους ταΐζουμε με πρωτεΐνες! Για να διεγερθεί ένας μυς χρειάζεται αμινοξέα διακλαδισμένης αλυσίδας (BCaas). Πρόκειται για μια ομάδα τριών βασικών αμινοξέων: τη λευκίνη, την ισολλευκίνη και τη βαλίνη που δεν μπορούν να παραχθούν από το σώμα σας και πρέπει να λαμβάνονται από τα τρόφιμα.

Ειδικότερα, χρειαζόμαστε λευκίνη σε επαρκή ποσότητα προκειμένου να ενισχύσουμε τη διατήρηση της μυϊκής σύνθεσης. Η ενίσχυση της σύνθεση των μυών, περιλαμβάνει τόσο την ανάπτυξη όσο και τη διατήρηση των μυών μας.

Καθώς γερνάμε γίνεται πιο δύσκολο να ενεργοποιηθεί η σύνθεση των μυών. Αυτό ονομάζεται αναβολική αντίσταση και σημαίνει ότι το σώμα μας γίνεται λιγότερο ευαίσθητο για να διεγείρει τη σύνθεση των μυών από τα απαραίτητα BCaas.

Πρωτεϊνική ανάγκη ανά γεύμα

Για να διεγείρουμε αρκετή πρωτεϊνική σύνθεση πρέπει να πάρουμε περίπου 2,5 γραμμάρια λευκίνης σε ένα γεύμα. Φανταστείτε τους μυς σας σαν ένα αυτοκίνητο. Χρειάζεστε κάποιο κλειδί για να μπορέσετε να το ανάψετε σωστά; Η αρκετή λευκίνη είναι το κλειδί για τους μυς σας!

Πώς μεταφράζεται αυτό σε πραγματικό φαγητό;

Ζωική πρωτεΐνη

  • Χρειαζόμαστε περίπου 30 γραμμάρια ζωικής πρωτεΐνης για να ενεργοποιήσουμε τη σύνθεση πρωτεΐνης.
  • Για κάθε 120 γραμμάρια ζωικής πηγής που τρώμε, παίρνουμε περίπου 30 γραμμάρια πρωτεΐνης. Αυτό περιλαμβάνει βόειο κρέας, χοιρινό, κοτόπουλο κλπ.
  • Η ποσότητα πρωτεΐνης που περιέχεται στα ψάρια είναι ελαφρώς μικρότερη, οπότε θα χρειαστούμε περίπου 150 γραμμάρια ψαριών στην απαιτούμενη πρωτεΐνη.
  • Τα κρέατα οργάνων περιέχουν λιγότερη πρωτεΐνη κατά μέσο όρο.

Φυτική Πρωτεΐνη

  • Οι φυτικές πρωτεΐνες είναι πολύ λιγότερο απορροφήσιμες, οπότε χρειάζεται περισσότερο φαγητό από τους πραγματικούς αριθμούς που αναφέρονται.
  • Οι φυτικές πρωτεΐνες δεν είναι πλήρεις, πράγμα που σημαίνει ότι δεν περιέχουν όλα τα απαραίτητα αμινοξέα. Αυτός είναι ο λόγος για τον οποίο, για παράδειγμα, το ρύζι συνδυάζεται συνήθως με φασόλια.
  • Υποθέτοντας ότι υπάρχει 100% απορρόφηση, χρειάζεστε περίπου 250 γραμμάρια φασολιών για να πάρετε 30 γραμμάρια πρωτεΐνης.

Το θέμα όπως φαίνεται από τα παραπάνω γραφήματα είναι ότι προκειμένου να πάρετε επαρκή ποσότητα πρωτεϊνών πρέπει να καταναλώσετε μια ποσότητα φυτικής πρωτεΐνης που απέχει πολύ από το βέλτιστο, καθώς θα οδηγήσει σε αυξημένη πρόσληψη υδατανθράκων, πιθανώς πέρα από το σημείο που μπορεί κανείς να ανεχτεί. Αυτό θα οδηγήσει σε μεγάλη κατανάλωση φαγητού, περισσότερες θερμίδες για να μην αναφέρουμε το φούσκωμα και το αίσθημα σκασμού.

Μπορεί να νομίζετε ότι είναι εντάξει το να μην λαμβάνετε αρκετή πρωτεΐνη αλλά αυτό δεν συμβαίνει. Φυσικά, όταν είστε νέοι ή σε ανάπτυξη μπορεί και να τα καταφέρετε, αλλά αυτό θα σας προλάβει τελικά. Αυτός είναι ο λόγος για τον οποίο οι περισσότεροι vegans δυσκολεύονται να διατηρήσουν τον τρόπο ζωής τους καθώς γερνούν. Άλλα ζητήματα που σχετίζονται με τη χαμηλότερη πρόσληψη πρωτεϊνών είναι η οστική πυκνότητα, τα προβλήματα των δοντιών και πολλά άλλα. Πάνω σε αυτό, υπάρχει συνεχής έρευνα εάν το δικό μας μικροβίωμα μπορεί να δημιουργήσει BCaas, αλλά αυτό είναι ακόμα μια θεωρία. 

Γεγονός είναι ότι οι ζωικές και φυτικές πρωτεΐνες δεν είναι ισότιμες, καθώς χρειάζονται σε διαφορετικές ποσότητες και καθώς δεν έχουν τα απαραίτητα αμινοξέα στις σωστές ποσότητες. Σκεφτείτε το έτσι, τα φυτά κάνουν τη σωστή ποσότητα πρωτεΐνης για τα φυτά, αλλά δεν έχουν μυς!

Πρωτεϊνικά συμπληρώματα

  • Γενικά δεν προτείνω να παίρνετε πρωτεϊνικά συμπληρώματα καθώς το σώμα απαιτεί το πλήρες φάσμα αμινοξέων για βέλτιστη λειτουργία.

Περίληψη

  • Οι ζωικές και φυτικές πρωτεΐνες χρειάζονται σε διαφορετικές ποσότητες επειδή τα φυτά δεν έχουν τα απαραίτητα αμινοξέα στις σωστές ποσότητες. 
  • Χρειαζόμαστε τουλάχιστον 30 γραμμάρια πρωτεΐνης ανά γεύμα.

Πρωτεΐνες, καρκίνος και mTor

Πιθανότατα ακούσατε ότι υψηλότερες ποσότητες πρωτεΐνης σχετίζονται με αυξημένο κίνδυνο καρκίνου. Αυτό στην πραγματικότητα δεν οφείλεται στην ίδια την πρωτεΐνη, αλλά σε μια ένωση που ονομάζεται mTOR. Ο μηχανιστικός στόχος της ραπαντυκίνης (mTOR) είναι μια κινάση που στον άνθρωπο κωδικοποιείται από το γονίδιο MTOR είναι ένας ισχυρός διεγέρτης ανάπτυξης.

Το mTOR ρυθμίζει την ανάπτυξη των κυττάρων, τον πολλαπλασιασμό, την κινητικότητα  και την επιβίωση τους, τη σύνθεση πρωτεϊνών, την αυτοφαγία αλλά προωθεί επίσης την ενεργοποίηση των υποδοχέων ινσουλίνης και των υποδοχέων αυξητικού παράγοντα 1 που μοιάζουν με ινσουλίνη. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι με την παρουσία του mTOR έχουμε τον διακόπτη ανάπτυξης ενεργοποιημένο, γεγονός που αυξάνει επίσης τον κίνδυνο καρκίνου.

Αλλά εδώ είναι το ενδιαφέρον σημείο. Το mTOR υπάρχει σε κάθε κύτταρο μας. Υπάρχει στους μυς και είναι ευαίσθητο στα αμινοξέα, αλλά υπάρχει και στο ήπαρ και το πάγκρεας και είναι ευαίσθητο στην ινσουλίνη και τους υδατάνθρακες!

Τι σημαίνει αυτό;

Summary

  • Η πρωτεΐνη δεν αυξάνει τον κίνδυνο ασθένειας ή καρκίνου.
  • Δεν θέλουμε να έχουμε τον διακόπτη mTOR αναμμένο όλη την ώρα ειδικά στο ήπαρ και το πάγκρεας.
  • Το mTOR είναι απαραίτητο για την ανάπτυξη των μυών και λιγότερο από 30gr πρωτεΐνης δεν θα διεγείρει αρκετά το mTOR ειδικά καθώς γερνάμε.

Συνολική πρόσληψη πρωτεϊνών και χρονισμός γευμάτων

Εδώ έρχεται το πραγματικά ενδιαφέρον μέρος. Είναι η πρόσληψη πρωτεϊνών σχετική εάν κάνετε διαλειμματική νηστεία;

Γνωρίζουμε ότι χρειάζεται λίγος χρόνος για το έντερο για να χαλαρώσει και να επανέλθει, και επίσης τώρα θέλουμε να ενεργοποιήσουμε τη σύνθεση των μυών αλλά συγχρόνως δεν θέλουμε την υπερδιέγερση mTOR και το ερέθισμα ανάπτυξης. 

Η βάση είναι ότι δεν θέλουμε να τρώμε πολλά μικρά γεύματα με υδατάνθρακες καθώς διεγείρουμε το mTOR στο ήπαρ και πρέπει να δώσουμε μια ευκαιρία στο σώμα μας να επαναφέρει το mTOR που διαρκεί 4-5 ώρες.

Συνεπώς κάθε πότε πρέπει να τρώμε;

  • Τρώγοντας 2-3 φορές ένα γεύμα είναι ιδανικό για να πάρετε όλη την πρωτεΐνη που χρειάζεστε σε ένα παράθυρο 8 ωρών. 
  • Το OMAD (ένα γεύμα την ημέρα) πιθανότατα δεν είναι ιδανικό καθώς γερνάμε καθώς δεν μπορούμε να πάρουμε αρκετή πρωτεΐνη σε ένα γεύμα.

Άρα, πόση πρωτεΐνη θέλουμε να τρώμε σε μια μέρα; Η συνιστώμενη ημερήσια δόση πρωτεΐνης είναι 0,8 g/kg, αλλά αυτό δεν είναι αρκετό και είναι πολύ απλοϊκό όπως έχουμε ήδη δει μέχρι στιγμής.

Από την άλλη, περίσσεια πρωτεΐνης δεν μεταφράζεται σε περισσότερες μυϊκές συνθέσεις, καθώς μερικές από αυτές θα μετατραπούν σε ζάχαρη. Επίσης η υπερβολική πρωτεΐνη, αν και δεν σχετίζεται με νεφρικά προβλήματα, δεν χρειάζεται να υπερφορτώνει τη λειτουργία του νεφρού.

Λοιπόν, ποια είναι η χρυσή τομή;

Θα πρέπει να στοχεύσουμε οπουδήποτε μεταξύ 1,5 και 2 γραμμαρίων πρωτεΐνης ανά κιλό ιδανικού σωματικού βάρους ανάλογα με τους στόχους και την ηλικία σας.

Βασικά συμπεράσματα

Ελπίζω ότι είναι πλέον σαφές γιατί πρέπει να θέσουμε πρώτη προτεραιότητα στην πρωτεΐνη, βάζοντας την στο πιάτο μας πάντα πρώτη! 

  • Απαιτείται επαρκής ποσότητα πρωτεΐνης για τη βέλτιστη υγεία.
  • Χρειάζεστε τουλάχιστον 30 γραμμάρια πρωτεΐνης ανά γεύμα για να ενεργοποιήσετε τη σύνθεση των μυών.
  • Όλες οι ζωικές πρωτεΐνες παρέχουν τα απαραίτητα αμινοξέα ενώ η φυτική πρωτεΐνη πρέπει να συνδυαστεί.

Επιπλέον βιβλιογραφία




Mindful eating

Mindful eating

Sometimes simple changes can come a long way.  And doing things in a mindful way is a complicated way of saying that many things we do in life can have a great impact if only we pay attention to them.

So before you continue reading, ask yourself. “What are my eating habits?”, “How fast am I eating?”. Become aware!

When you eat slowly, you digest better. You lose or maintain weight more easily. Yet you also feel more satisfied with each meal.

Conversely, if you rush your meals, your digestion suffers. Meals are stressful. And it might seem like each meal is over too soon, which often makes you want to eat more. Or you “overshoot the runway”, finishing the meal before your natural satiety signals kick in, and ending up suddenly — uncomfortably — overstuffed. 

We’re a rushed, distracted, and too-busy society. Most people in North America eat fast. Really fast. We rarely take the time to savor our food… or sometimes even to chew it properly.

We rush our food no matter who we are. Even if you’re a nutrition coach with a Master’s degree in nutrition and many additional nutrition certifications. Like me.

For years, I ate quickly. The result was poor digestion and putting on weight!

But now I have to learn to eat more slowly again. It’s not always easy but, as when coaching my clients, I always see the profound effects it has on them. Learning to eat more slowly is one of the simplest yet most powerful things you can do to improve your overall health.

Let’s look at some aspects of mindful eating.

Satisfaction

One of the most important benefits of eating slowly is that it gives your body time to recognise that you’re full.

It takes about twenty minutes from the start of a meal for the brain to send out signals of satiety. Most people’s meals don’t even last that long!

Imagine the extra calories you could ingest simply because you didn’t allow your body time to register that it no longer requires food. Now imagine the effect of those extra calories on your weight.

Eating slowly also helps us feel more satisfied — which is different than just being “full”.

When you slow down, savour a meal, pay attention to tastes and textures, and appreciate each mindful bite, you leave the table feeling good in your soul… even if all you ate was a baloney sandwich.

Digestion

Eating slowly also helps our digestion. Think of digestion as a chain reaction. As soon as we see, smell, or think about food (step 1), we start salivating to prepare for putting that food in our mouth (step 2). Saliva contains enzymes that break the food down, and moistens the mouth for easier swallowing.

Meanwhile, digestive steps 3, 4, 5 etc. have to get ready to go to work. Our stomach starts to secrete more acid. Our small intestine starts to get ready for some peristalsis. And so forth.

If we rush this process, we force our Gastro Intestinal (GI) tract to deal with stuff before it’s fully prepared. Surprises are great on birthdays, not so great during digestion.

At the University of Rhode Island, researchers examined how eating speed affected the early stages of digestive process by observing 60 young adults eating a meal.

Slow eaters consumed 50% less food (in grams) per minute than fast eaters! 

This means that not only are fast eaters putting more food down in a given amount of time, but also that food isn’t as well-processed. Food is essentially landing in fast eaters’ stomachs in big lumps.

Digestion starts in the mouth, so large bites which are inadequately chewed will be more difficult for your stomach to turn into chyme – the liquid mix of partially digested food, hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes and water, that passes through the pyloric valve on its way to elimination.

Food that isn’t properly broken down into chyme can lead to indigestion and other potential GI problems. And who wants that?

Eating less

Most of the research on this topic suggests that eating slowly helps you to eat less. That’s especially useful information if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight. I am not a big believer in counting calories, but the fact is that satiety is controlled by our hormones. And eating mindfully means to allow our hormones to do what they are supposed to do!! 

Back to the study. During the study 30 normal-weight women where served two meals. The meal in both cases consisted of an enormous plate of pasta with a tomato-vegetable sauce and some Parmesan cheese, along with a glass of water. At each visit, researchers instructed the women to eat to the point of comfortable fullness. But during one visit, they also told them to to eat as quickly as possible, while on the other visit, participants were asked to eat slowly and to put down their utensils between bites.

When the researchers compared the difference in food consumption between the quickly eaten lunch and the slowly eaten lunch, here is what they found.  When eating quickly the women consumed 646 calories in 9 minutes. When eating slowly the women consumed 579 calories in 29 minutes. That is 67 less calories in 20 more minutes! If you extrapolate that to three meals per day, you can see how those extra calories could add up.

And here’s another interesting twist: When the women ate their lunch quickly, they reported more hunger an hour later than they did after their slowly eaten lunch.

So not only did eating quickly lead to greater food consumption, it actually satisfied the women less! 

Summary

  •  Eating slowly is an act of celebration of food. Enjoying and savouring your meals will lead to better digestion, eating until satisfied but not full. And you will also eat less!

Simple Practices

Listen to you Hunger and Fullness Cues

If you want to see an example of someone skilled in intuitive eating, hang out with a baby. Despite being completely dependent on others for all their needs, infants are incredibly skilled at listening to their hunger and satiety cues. It’s only as infants grow that they learn to override these cues and use food for comfort or reward.

To help you get in touch with your hunger and fullness cues, it’s important to appreciate where they come from. Your stomach is the squishy organ located just under your sternum (or where your ribs split apart). If you struggle to recognize hunger and fullness cues, place a hand on your stomach every time you get the urge to eat and try to determine where on the following scale you fall.

Put Down the Phone and Eat with All 5 Senses

Becoming an intuitive eater takes practice and means that you are letting go of the diet culture and all the “rules” you picked up along the way. Intuitive eating means taking a giant leap of faith and trusting your body to relay the correct information about when, how much, and what to eat. Now, this isn’t to say that you should completely forfeit all nutrition guidelines, rather, it’s about learning how to balance nutrition with pleasure in a way that is sustainable now and in the future. (Remember, whatever you do to lose weight or improve your health needs to be lifelong!). The following suggestions may benefit you on your journey to becoming a more mindful eater:

  • Limit distractions

When we pay attention to work, Netflix, or Instagram, we are less likely to pay attention to our feelings of hunger and fullness. Also, you may not derive as much satisfaction from your meal if you eat when distracted (making it likely that you will want to eat something else for pleasure). Finally, eating with distraction is a two-way relationship in that TV watching or reading can become the trigger for eating, even if we’re not hungry.

  • Eat with all five senses

While the sight, smell, and taste of food is something most of us consider at meals, we often don’t fully embrace these senses. Next time you sit down to eat, pay attention to how the food looks, smells, sounds, tastes, and how it feels as you are eating it. Using all five senses not only enhances the pleasure you derive from food, but helps you to slow down and truly savour your meal.

  • Take your time

How long does it take for you to finish a meal? Fifteen minutes? Ten minutes? Have you already helped yourself to a second serving in this time? Your stomach is not able to send instantaneous feedback to your brain about how full it is; this process takes time. By slowing down, chewing your food well, and taking at least 20 minutes to finish a meal, you allow your stomach and brain to work in harmony to regulate food intake.

  • Eat the right amount of food for your body

When it comes to weight loss, everyone wants fast results. However, fast does not mean effective. Rapid weight loss almost always results in rapid (and excessive) weight regain. Sustainable long-term weight loss takes time and should be done by creating a slight calorie-deficit without sacrificing satiety or pleasure. 

Summary

  • Practice mindful eating with every meal. 
  • The environment we eat can have a big impact so try to eat without distractions and at a place where you feel comfortable. 
  • Don’t rush. Eat with all your senses and you will soon see that your nutrition will improve!

Apply awareness to all aspects of your life

Awareness for me means having focus, and being able to focus on little things. Not losing track of what is going around and what my priorities and my values are.

I believe that with greater awareness, everything else becomes easier. Once we become aware, our human instinct is to take action in such a direction that solves challenges or seizes opportunities.  Without awareness, it is difficult to navigate a world that is constantly changing. Having this understanding also means that you are acutely aware of your personality, strengths and weaknesses, thoughts and beliefs, and emotions. 

Focus on awareness and everything else will be fine. How can this look like for you?

Day-to-day awareness

On a regular day-to-day basis, usually in the morning, bring yourself in the spotlight of your attention. How are you today and what are your priorities? Celebrate yesterday’s achievements and be grateful for them. This is always a nice way to start the day.

How does this look in your work environment

Awareness in any environment, and especially in a work environment, can be created by summarising and capturing the outcome of your actions. Every conversation you might have with a customer (for example) can be summarized and captured in a concise post (in Slack for example). If you can explain a certain action then you understand it’s value. This creates transparency and provides great awareness, in an efficient manner and on a consistent basis. Even if you are not talking to customers you are part of team and everything we ultimately do is to serve our team. So let your team know what’s happening.

 

Summary

  • Practicing mindful eating will probably become such a strong habit, it will soon also extend to all areas of your life!

Key Takeaways

Awareness is always observing being focused. And naturally asking constantly questions. “Are you eating the best you can?” “Are the foods that you are eating serving you best?” 

Slow down your eating and enjoy improved health and well-being.




Protein and BCAas

Protein is essential for virtually every one of yur cellular functions. Most people, when they think of protein, think of building muscles. There’s much more to protein than merely muscle.

You need protein for the structure, metabolic function, and regulation of all tissues and organs, including muscle. Every cell in your body is full of enzymes,which are proteins that control your metabolism.

Protein is also important for neurotransmitters which are responsible for mood and even your sleep. Your bones, your ligaments, your tendons, your liver, your brain, skin, and fingernails are all built from proteins.

Why do we need protein?

To truly understand protein, we must first understand  that proteins are built from amino acids and these amino acids are the foundation of how we will build your diet. By getting your protein intake correct, you will get your amino acid requirements correct. There are 20 of these amino acids and some sources of protein you eat have more of these amino acids with a better balance of the individual amino acids than others.

Summary

  • Protein is used for everything but it is especially critical for maintaining a healthy muscle mass which is increasingly difficult to maintain as we age as we lose 1% of our muscle every year we age past 40.
  • Maintaining our muscle mass is a key indicator of health and longevity. Lack of it makes fragile!!

Protein and muscle synthesis

Muscle is the organ of longevity. It functions beyond locomotion. Muscle is the foundation of your metabolism, helping to regulate blood sugar and blood lipids. It’s also an endocrine organ that secretes myokines, proteins that help regulate metabolism in all other tissues in the body. The stronger and healthier your muscles, the more carbohydrates and fat your body burns. It is your metabolic currency.

Amino Acids

The nine indispensable or essential amino acids, defined as those that the body is unable to synthesise from simpler molecules, are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Cysteine and tyrosine can partly replace methionine and phenylalanine, respectively. Under certain extreme physiological conditions such as in prematurity or during some catabolic illnesses, the non-essential amino acids arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, proline and tyrosine may be require in the diet. Under normal conditions, glutamine, glutamate or aspartate can supply arginine; methionine and serine can be converted to cysteine; glutaminic acid and ammonia can be converted to glutamine; serine or choline can supply glycine; glutamate can provide proline and phenylalanine can be converted to tyrosine. These amino acids are sometimes termed conditionally indispensable. Alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid and serine are non-essential. The amino acids act as precursors for many coenzymes, hormones, nucleic acids and other molecules.

Proteins in the diet and the body are associated with a number of other vitamins and minerals and are more complex and variable than other energy sources such as fat and carbohydrate. The polypeptide chains that make up proteins are folded into three-dimensional structures that include helical regions and sheet-like structure due to interaction between the amino acids in the chain. The final shape of a mature protein often reflects its function and also interactions with other molecules. The protein’s structure may influence its digestibility.

The body of a 76 kg man contains about 12 kg of protein. Nearly half of this protein is present as skeletal muscle, while other structural tissues such as blood and skin contain about 15% (Lentner 1981). Myosin, actin, collagen and haemoglobin account for almost half of the body’s total protein content. Only 1% of the body’s store is labile (Waterlow 1969, Young et al 1968), so its availability as a reserve energy store, compared to body fat, is limited. Unlike carbohydrate and fats, the body does not maintain an energy storage form of protein.

Proteins are found in both animal and plant foods. The amino acid profile of animal proteins is closer to that of humans but all of the necessary amino acids can be provided in the amounts needed from plant sources. Certain proteins can cause allergic responses in some individuals notably milk, eggs, peanuts and soy in children and fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts in adults.

Protein need per meal

In order to stimulate enough protein synthesis we need to get around 2.5grams of leucine in one meal. Imagine your muscles like car. You need some sort of key to be able to turn it on right? Enough leucine is the key for your muscles!

How does this translate into actual food?

Learn to design each meal around a targeted amount of high quality protein. I recommend three meals each day for most adults with a minimum of 30 grams of high quality protein to optimize muscle protein synthesis. But this recommendation is also goal dependent. If you’re trying to gain muscle, you can increase your intake to four meals. It’s more effective to increase your meal number than to eat more and more protein at a single meal. For example, if your protein target is 200 grams a day, and you already have three meals containing 40 grams of protein each, you should add an extra meal. There will be more on that later.

Summary

  • Animal and plant proteins are needed in different amounts as plants don’t have the needed Amino-acids in the correct amounts.
  • We need a minimum of 30grams of protein per meal.

Amino Acids

There are two types of amino acids:

First, there are the essential amino acids. These come directly from our diet and we need a daily supply; and for some amino acids, a supply at each meal.

Then, we have nonessential amino acids. Our body produces these all on its own.

Since every individual has a different overall diet, all the similarities notwithstanding, there are two possible occurrences. The first is you are not getting enough protein. The other is you have no idea how much protein you’re actually getting in a day. For someone who isn’t as conscious of their diet, I usually find most people are a combination of the two.

They aren’t getting enough, and they have no idea how much they aren’t getting until they make an attempt to quantify it by tracking their intake.

On top of that, there are recommendations out there for protein intake. The current RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein is set at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body mass (or about 0.36 grams per pound), which equates to only 72 grams of protein per day for a person weighing 200 lbs.

YOUR WEIGHT (kg) 0.8 RDA (IN GRAMS) FOR PROTEIN

Depending on your background and experience, this might sound absurdly low, relatively high, or you might feel neutral about it one way or the other. Nevertheless, the RDA exists for a reason, and that reason is to keep you alive. The RDA is defined as the bare minimum to simply exist. That is, the RDA is designed to prevent deficiencies and provide for basic tissue repair and not much more. It doesn’t take into account active lifestyles or people who want to protect muscle and longevity as we age. And I absolutely want you to optimize your current way of life, just as much as you do. In that regard, more protein will likely be more beneficial for you. It’s time to find out why.

Protein quality

You are now beginning to understand the vital role that protein plays and that it’s function is not limited to building new muscle. For instance, antibodies, used in an immune response, are made of proteins. When a toxin or otherwise foreign substance, known as an antigen, enters your body, your antibodies protect you by fighting them off. 

In addition, many of your hormones, such as insulin, are made from proteins; and some like thyroid hormones, for example, are made from amino acids and transported by proteins. Thyroid hormones help to regulate your blood glucose and metabolic rate, and can impact growth hormone secretion and bone health. 

Although all proteins are made of amino acids, not all proteins contain the correct balance of amino acids your body needs. Amino acids are the key to understanding protein needs, and I want to highlight three of them.

Leucine

This is an essential amino acid found in high quality protein and is the key amino acid that drives muscle protein synthesis. It’s also a modulator of insulin signalling, a fuel for skeletal muscle, and a primary nitrogen donor for production of alanine and glutamine in skeletal muscle. In addition to muscle protein synthesis, Leucine also increases your ability to burn fatty acids.

That all sounds well and good, but think about how you age. As we age, our muscles become less efficient at the critical processes of repair and replacement of existing proteins. This aging process is called anabolic resistance. We succumb to what’s known as sarcopenia, the gradual loss of our muscle tissue. 

However, the good news, we can blunt or mitigate this aging process with the right choices of exercise and protein. This means Leucine is even more important as we get older, and it’s also why our protein intake, both quantity and quality, should increase with age.

Lysine

This protein, in addition to starting with the letter “L” and having two syllables and sounding kind of similar to Leucine, is another essential amino acid, which means you can only get it via your diet. 

Lysine plays a large role in synthesizing proteins within your body. Not only that, Lysine is also responsible for the proteins specifically in your connective tissues, tendons, which connect a bone to a muscle, and ligaments, which connect bones to bones at a section called a joint. Your tendons and ligaments are composed of a structural protein called collagen, and Lysine is instrumental in collagen formation. 

Lysine also forms the backbone of the molecule called carnitine essential to help your muscles burn fats for fuel. Lysine is extremely low in grain products and virtually absent in wheat. Breads and cereals are very poor-quality proteins.

Methionine

Finally, we come to an amino acid that has more than two syllables and doesn’t start with the letter “L” but is just as important as its friends. Methionine is responsible for making creatine (that thing you might think is a steroid because weight lifters love it, but it really isn’t a steroid and is one of the most researched supplements around). 

Methionine is important for the synthesis of carnitine, which is instrumental in fatty acid oxidation, and in the synthesis of another amino acid, cysteine, which leads to Glutathione, an antioxidant that helps with your immunity, and for production of DNA and taurine. Methionine also plays a role in detoxification of metals like lead and mercury as well as protecting the cell from pollutants due to its sulfur side groups. 

Finally, methionine is always the first amino acid transcribed from mRNA so without enough of it, protein synthesis doesn’t even start. Methionine is often in low amounts in plant proteins, especially in legumes, lentils, and nuts.

Applying the info to your life

There are a couple of things I want you to notice. 

First, there’s a lot of overlap among the foods listed. Because of that, I have a nifty three-way Venn diagram and right in the middle are all the foods that are rich in all three of these amino acids. 

Second, you’ll notice the list has a few plant-based options, but the bulk of the foods listed are from animals, in some form or another. This is because animal sources are the highest in these particular amino acids. Now, it’s not impossible to get them on a vegetarian diet, especially if you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian. If you’re a lacto-ovo vegetarian, you still have the option to take in some high-quality animal protein sources from animals in the form of dairy and eggs.

 It’s not impossible to get these essential amino acids in a vegan diet, though your options will be limited, and you will need to eat more total protein and more total calories to reach your goals. You may want to consider supplementing your diet to prevent a deficiency.

Before diving into the nuances of a balanced diet, you need to figure out how much you need to eat in a given day. It will be different for each of you, and there are a lot of equations out there on the internet to choose from. You are more than free to try those out, if you want. However, for the sake of ease, there’s a simple set of math equations everyone can follow to figure out their caloric and macronutrient needs.

Let’s assume a 90kg man. For him, we will use his body weight as our number in which we figure out his caloric intake. Before we do that, there are a few points of note about the calories within the food we eat. Specifically, every macronutrient has a calorie count per gram. 

As we have established protein is critical for your muscle health, always begin your diet planning with decisions about protein. Our goal is 1.5 gram of protein per pound of body weight and every gram of protein produces 4 calories. So, for our 90 guy, should have around 150g of protein and that produces 600 calories.

How you decide to split carbs and fats that is for another chat.

More on Leucine

The minimum RDA for Leucine is only 2-3 g per day, but remember the RDA is designed simply to prevent deficiencies. You will want to shoot for at least 8 to 9 g per day for optimum muscle health with at least 2.5 g to 3.0 g at each meal. 

The good news is once you start eating high quality protein and hitting your protein target every day, this will be easy to accomplish. To achieve your protein needs and optimize muscle protein synthesis, you need to eat a minimum of 30 grams of protein at each of your three meals per day. The origins of this 30 g number is not magic and it’s not related to the myth that your body can only use 30 g of protein in a meal. The 30 g is simply the amount of protein in an average meal that is required to get the minimum of 2.5 g of Leucine. The actual amount of Leucine differs in individual proteins. 

Whey protein is a rich source of Leucine which is why it is a favourite of most body builders. Whey has about 11% Leucine, while meats have about 8.8%, soy about 7.8%, wheat 6.8% and quinoa 6.0%. So, you can get 3.0 g of Leucine with 27 g of whey protein or 34 g of beef protein, but it requires 38 g of soy, 44 g of wheat or 50 g of quinoa. For most meals, you’ll want your protein amount between 30-50 g, which is the sweet spot for muscle protein synthesis.

Further reading




Prioritise Protein

Prioritise Protein

Protein is a very emotional topic and there are so many biases around it these days and so many camps. Vegans, carnivores, green house emissions and much more come into play.

However, the simple fact is that protein is the single most important macro for longevity. There is a lot of confusion especially in the women population around protein. Many connect protein to having big muscles. But this is not the case. Enough protein is essential for every single individual for their health and longevity!

So if you take something out this article is that you should prioritise protein by putting the protein you need in your plate always first! This is how important protein is! 

Why do we need protein?

We need protein for everything.  For turnover but also for skeletal muscle.

Proteins are always being built up and broken down within our cells. Imagine protein as the raw material, or the building blocks for our body. If we don’t eat enough protein our cell can’t do their job. Over time this can lead to problems such as hormonal imbalances, depressed immune function, poor recovery and more.

Protein is also a critical building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein, while our body uses protein to build and repair tissues. We also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and transporting nutrients.

Sufficient amounts of protein will 

  • Prevent muscle loss or sarcopenia.  It’s observed that muscle atrophy starts to occur even after the third decade of your life with a 30-50% decrease between ages of 40-80.  This importance of this fact cannot stated enough! As we age we need to do everything in our power to keep muscle mass. There are two things you need here. Resistance training and enough protein! This can’t be emphasised enough. Loss of muscle makes fragile and week.
  • Promote bone health and reduces risk of hip fracture. Falling and breaking bones is actually one of the biggest concerns related with aging. A higher protein intake may be more important for the aging population amongst whom it’s been found that the RDA for protein may be inadequate for maintaining skeletal muscle.

Other reasons that come into play are 

  • Increased satiety : Protein increases satiety to a greater extent than carbohydrate or fat by increasing the production of certain hormones like peptide YY and GLP-1. It also reduces ghrelin the hunger hormone for several hours.
  • Increased thermogenesis : Protein increases the thermal effect in our body, which also influences satiety and energy expenditure.

 

Summary

  • Protein is used for everything but it is especially critical for maintaining a healthy muscle mass which is increasingly difficult to maintain as we age as we lose 1% of our muscle every year we age past 40.
  • Maintaining our muscle mass is a key indicator of health and longevity. Lack of it makes us fragile!!

Protein and muscle synthesis

Let’s not confuse the word muscle with a bodybuilder. Muscles is what makes us mobile and active. We need healthy muscle to be independent, have less pains and fatigue. Are we on the same page? If yes let’s move on!

Muscle is the organ of longevity and we need to feed our muscles. We need to feed them with protein! For a muscle to be stimulated it needs branched-chain amino acids (BCaas). These are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine that can’t be produced by our body and must be obtained from food.

In particular we need Leucine in sufficient amount in order to promote maintain muscle synthesis. When I state promote muscle synthesis, this includes both growth but also maintenance of our muscles.

 

As we age it gets more difficult to trigger muscle synthesis. This is called Anabolic resistance. This means our body becomes less sensitive to stimulate muscle synthesis from the needed BCaas.

Protein need per meal

In order to stimulate enough protein synthesis we need to get around 2.5grams of leucine in one meal. Imagine your muscles like a car. You need some sort of key to be able to turn it on right? Enough leucine is the key for your muscles!

How does this translate into actual food?

Animal Protein

  • We need about 30 grams of animal protein to trigger stimulus protein synthesis. 
  • For every 120grams of animal source we eat, we get around 30grams of protein. This includes beef, pork, chicken etc.
  • The amount of protein contained in fish is slightly less, so we would need about 150grams of fish to the the needed protein.
  • Organ meats contain less protein on average.

Plant Protein

  • Plant proteins are a lot less absorbable so we need to eat more than the actual numbers stated.
  • Plant proteins are not complete, which means they don’t contain all the needed amino-acids. That is why rice is usually combined with beans.
  • Assuming 100% absorption you need around 250grams of beans to get 30 grams of protein.

The issue as seen from the graphs above is the in order to get sufficient amount of proteins you need to consume an amount of plant protein that is far from optimal, since it will lead to an increased carb intake probably past the point one can tolerate. This will lead to overeating, more calories not to mention bloating and feeling stuffed.

You might think you can get away from not having enough protein. But this is not the case. Of course when you are young or growing one can manage and get away with more but this will catch-up with you eventually. That is why most vegans find it difficult to maintain their lifestyle as they age. Other issues that are related to lower protein intake are bone density, teeth issues and more. Having said that there is ongoing research if our own microbiome can create BCaas but that is just a theory for now.

Fact is that animal and plant proteins are not equal as they are needed in different amounts and as they don’t have the needed Amino-acids in the correct amounts. Just think of it this way. Plants make the right amount of protein for plants, but they don’t have muscles!

Protein isolates

  • I generally do not suggest having protein shakes as the body requires the full range of amino-acids for optimal function. 

Summary

  • Animal and plant proteins are needed in different amounts as plants they don’t have the needed Amino-acids in the correct amounts.
  • We need minimum 30grams of protein per meal.

Protein, cancer and mTor

You have probably heard that higher amounts of protein are associated with an increased risk of cancer. This is actually not because of protein itself but of a compound called mTOR. The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a kinase that in humans is encoded by the mTOR gene, a potent growth stimulator.

mTOR regulates cell growth, cell proliferation, cell motility, cell survival, protein synthesis, autophagy, and transcription. But also promotes the activation of insulin receptors and insulin-like growth factor 1 receptors. What all these mean is that in the presence of mTOR we are having the growth switch ON, which also increases the risk of cancer.

But here is the interesting point. mTOR exists in every single cell. It exists in the muscles and it is sensitive to amino-acids, but it also exists in the liver and pancreas and is sensitive to insulin and carbs!

What does that mean?

Summary

  • Protein does not increase the risk of disease or cancer.
  • We don’t want to have the mTOR switch ON all the time especially in the liver and pancreas.
  • mTOR is essential for muscle growth and less then 30gr of protein will not stimulate mTOR enough especially as we age.

Total Protein intake and meal timing

Here comes the really interesting part. Is protein intake relevant if you are doing intermittent fasting?

We know that it takes some time for the gut the relax and reset, and now that we want to trigger muscle synthesis but also that we don’t want to overstimulate mTOR and the growth stimulus. The basis is we don’t want to eat many small meals with carbs as we stimulate mTOR in the liver and we need to give a chance to our body to reset mTOR which takes 4-5 hours.

So how often should we then eat? 

  • Eating 2-3 times a meal is ideal to get all the protein you need in an 8-hour window. 
  • OMAD (one meal a day) is probably not ideal as we age as we can’t get enough protein in one meal.

So how much protein do we want to eat in a day? The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is 0.8 g/kg but that is not sufficient but also very simplistic as we have already seen so far.

On the other hand, excess protein does not translate to more muscle synthesis as some of it will be turned into sugar. Although not associated with kidney issues, I don’t see a need to overload the kidney.

So what is the sweet spot?

We should aim for anywhere between 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight depending on our goals and age.

Key Takeaways

I trust it is now clear why we need to prioritise protein by putting the protein we need in our plate always first! 

  • Sufficient amount of protein is required for optimal health.
  • You need minimum 30grams of protein per meal to trigger muscle synthesis.
  • All animal protein provides the essential amino-acids whereas plant protein needs to be combined.

Further reading




Protein and satiety

Protein and satiety

When starting your nutritional transformational journey it is important to understand your macros. There are three macros: protein, fat and carbs. In this post we will discuss the importance of protein. Let’s look into why protein is so important

Importance of protein

Proteins are always being built up and broken down within our cells. Imagine protein as the raw material, or the building blocks for our body. If we don’t eat enough protein our cells can’t do their job. Over time this can lead to problems such as hormonal imbalances, depressed immune function, poor recovery and more.

Protein is also a critical building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein, while our body uses protein to build and repair tissues. We also use proteins to produce molecules such as

  • enzymes
  • hormones and cytokines
  • neurotransmitters
  • antibodies and immune system components
  • transport proteins
  • structural proteins
The word protein is derived from the ancient Greek protos, meaning first, primary or most important. Indeed, proteins are the body's building blocks!

Sufficient amounts of protein will lead to : 

Increased satiety. Protein increases satiety to a greater extent than carbohydrate or fat by increasing the production of certain hormones like peptide YY and GLP-1. It also reduces ghrelin, the hunger hormone, for several hours.

Increased thermogenesis. Protein increases the thermal effect in our body, which also influences satiety and energy expenditure.

Increased muscle mass. A moderately higher protein diet has anabolic effect to our muscles and favours the retention of lean muscle mass while improving metabolic profile. However, more protein won’t make you build exponentially more muscle beyond a certain threshold. Current research has seen that limit being around 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. Higher protein intake during dieting promotes keeping the metabolic rate up.

Adequate protein intake prevents muscle loss or sarcopenia. It’s observed that muscle atrophy starts to occur even after the third decade of our life with a 30-50% decrease between ages of 40-80. This has to do with not enough resistance training and not enough protein intake.

Higher animal protein intake promotes bone health and reduces risk of hip fracture. Falling and breaking bones is actually one of the biggest concerns related with aging. A higher protein intake may be more important for the aging population amongst whom it’s been found that the RDA for protein may be inadequate for maintaining skeletal muscle

Summary

  • Many people think of protein only in the context of building muscle. However, this is far from the actual need of proteins.
  • Proteins are the building blocks of every cell in our body allowing them to create and repair everything that is required.

The protein and amino-acid connection

When we eat protein sources the body will break it down into compounds called amino-acids which are the raw material we need.  This is important since not all protein sources have the same (or all ) amino-acids. Once the raw material are available they will be combined back into proteins for the different body needs.

There are 21 amino-acids and are categorised as essential and non-essential.

  • 9 Essential amino-acids : The nine amino acids humans cannot synthesize are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, histidine
  • 6 conditionally essential amino acids :  This means their synthesis can be limited under special pathophysiological conditions. These six are arginine, cysteine, glutamine, proline and tyrosine. 
  • 6 non-essential amino acids : These can be synthesized in sufficient quantities in the body and are alanine, aprartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acide, serine and selenocysteine. 

 

How much protein should you get

Protein is probably the most important macronutrient because your entire body is made of its amino acid building blocks so we need to get sufficient amounts. 

The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is 0.8 g/kg. That would be enough to cover your daily bare essentials for survival but, in my opinion, it’s definitely not optimal.

A diet is considered ’appropriate in protein’ when the daily protein consumption is higher than 15% of total energy intake. That would maybe give you about 1 g/kg of body weight but I’d say that’s not high at all.

For a diet to be considered ’optimal in protein’, it would have to consist of at least 20-25% of daily calories with around 1.5-2.0 g/kg of your ideal body weight.

  • The more lean muscle mass you have, the more protein you need to sustain that amount of muscle.
  • Being more active, in general, increases your protein demands because physical activity damages the muscle cells to a certain extent.
  • If you do resistance training, you need more protein to support that training with enough protein synthesis and mTOR activation.
  • If you primarily do endurance training, you need slightly less protein because endurance training doesn’t break down that much muscle tissue as resistance training does. 
  • As you age, your ability to maintain skeletal muscle decreases and thus you need more protein as well.

Summary

  • Protein can’t be stored, as carbs and fats are, for later use. We need sufficient amount of protein daily.
  • Aim for more that 1g/kg of ideal body weight on a daily basis and depending on the level of exercise you are doing.

Best sources of protein


As we discussed not all protein sources are equal, and we can broadly separate the sources into two categories. 

Animal protein : All meat sources have a complete protein profile, where plant sources need to be combined to make-up for all essential amino-acids. Best source of protein, due to the amounts of protein they contain and also of other minerals and vitamins, are free-range eggs and grass-fed beef. Then comes lamb, pork and chicken.

Plant protein : Plant proteins need to be combined in order to get the full amino-acid profile. For example combining legumes (e.g. beans) with rice will give you the protein you need. 

Gram for gram, animal sources have more protein so they are said to be more nutrient dense. This means you need to eat less from that food to get everything you need, which is important as low nutrient density can lead to over-eating. Another consideration is that plant sources have anti-nutrients, like phytic acid, which can block absorption of minerals and make it more difficult to absorb the protein. 

That’s why you need to be eating protein on a consistent basis and you can’t survive without it for too long. The body doesn’t have a backup vault for protein that could be used for protein synthesis long-term.

Other considerations

Protein is the only macronutrient that can’t be stored inside the body long-term.

Carbohydrates can be stored as liver and muscle glycogen. Extra carbs will be converted into triglycerides and get stored as body fat. Fat and extra carb can be stored in an infinite amount as body fat in the adipose tissue. 

Protein intake will be used for elevating muscle protein synthesis and activating mTOR which will help to maintain your current lean muscle mass. To activate these pathways, you need only a certain amount of protein and more won’t have a dose-increasing effect. You can’t really store protein inside the body beyond a certain necessary limit. To store protein as energy it has to be converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis first.

There is a limited amount of transporter cells and receptors in the small intestine which restrict how many amino acids can be moved into the blood. Hence the theory that our body can only absorb a certain amount of protein in one meal.

  • There are many other factors that determine protein absorption such as the pH levels of the gut, the permeability of the intestinal lining, protein sensitivity, and the presence of hormones related to gastric emptying.
  • If eating fewer meals with higher amounts of protein, our body will adjust to the amount of protein we eat. Intestines will contract according to the speed at which it can digest food. If they can’t handle any more protein, then they won’t waste this precious resource away but will simply slow down gastric emptying. After a few moments when you’ve digested the protein you’ve already consumed, the intestines will then move the remaining protein down the line so to say and continue absorption. 
  • Triggering muscle protein synthesis is mostly regulated through leucine, which is the main anabolic amino acid. It requires about 2-3 grams of leucine to activate muscle protein synthesis and generally, you can get that amount of leucine from 20-30 grams of a complete protein. Best source of leucine are eggs.
  • When you’re doing intermittent fasting and you’re eating a ketogenic diet, then the protein you eat will be used primarily for protein synthesis instead of gluconeogenesis because there’s not much need for glucose-derived energy. Hence, you’ll end up assimilating your protein from food better instead of burning it off as sugar.

Even considering the above, the magic amount of protein seems to be about 30 grams but still consider that muscle protein synthesis may continue for 24 to 48 hours post-workout.

What does that amount look like? Here are a few examples…

  • 1 cup cottage cheese (28 grams protein).
  • 20gr of Greek yogurt plus a handful of nuts (25g).
  • A palm size portion of steak, fish and/or poultry (28g).
  • 3 whole eggs (27g).

Key Takeaways

  • Protein is the body’s most important building block!
  • Sufficient amount of protein is required for optimal health and you probably need more than the RDA.
  • All animal protein provides the essential amino-acids whereas plant protein needs to be combined.
  • Protein is a satiety factor regulating ghrelin, and is important for suppressing hunger.

Further reading