Getting our plates into shape protein style!
Protein Frequent Flier
Protein, chemically speaking, is made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and a nitrogenous group. These compounds make amino acids, which you are probably more familiar with right? There are about 20 amino acids that make up practically everything in your body. Amino acids are what help your body code your DNA, which acts as a blue print to replicate every cell and tissue that amounts to your existence! So these powerful amines are to be taken seriously!
As far as the proteins we consume, it’s important to know the difference between a complete protein and an incomplete protein. Let me give you a little background first…
There are nine amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine- incase you were wondering) that your body absolutely cannot make itself-whereas the rest of the amino acids can be created through the break down of other aminos. That makes these amino acids essential aka you have to eat these from food sources. A complete protein is a food source that has all these essential amino acids in it. High quality food sources would be:
eggs, poultry, beef, pork, fish, veal, duck, and all sorts of meats, milk, cheese, yogurt, and sources of dairy, quinoa and soy
But wait? What about legumes, nuts, and peanut butter?! These foods do contain a good amount of protein, but one or more essential amino acid is missing and must therefore be coupled with a complimentary food that would have that missing amino. A perfect example is rice and beans. Beans are missing the amino acid acid methionine and rice is missing the amino acid lysine. Combined they equal each other out and give you a total amino acid profile! Neat!
It’s really important we include protein in all our meals and snacks to help our blood sugars and rebuild our muscles. You might think that only body builders and teenage boys need protein to rebuild their muscles, but actually our bodies are constantly turning over our protein stores, meaning breaking down and rebuilding. So it is important we consistently and regularly eat protein.
Some tips to shape up your plate:
- Eat a variety of protein sources. Try having a day or two that are “meat-free” and try some quinoa, lentils or legumes (coupled with grains of course!), or soy.
- Choose lean varieties or chicken and beef. Chicken breast and tenderloins are the leanest cuts.
- Try to have fish twice a week.
- And remember to limit portions. I still laugh when I think of my husband at a steak restaurant a few weeks ago disappointed because the largest cut of steak was only 12 oz. ONLY! Um, an actually portion size of meat is 5 oz…. or think of the size of a deck or cards or the size of your palm.
- Add seeds, nuts, cheese, or nut butters to your snacks for an extra protein kick!