Comprehensive Discussion About Protein in Relation to Health & Fitness

Comprehensive Discussion About Protein in Relation to Health & Fitness

The human body can be described an a living, organic machine with numerous processes operating all at the same time to maintain functionality.  But without two elements our bodies would crumble to nothing: over 60 percent of the human body is comprised of water and over 20 percent is protein.  Without having to read numerous studies, the “average Joe” can assume that humans need to consume water and protein daily to maintain normal body functionality.  Similar to water, protein can be consumed from nutritional sources but there are specific sources that are considered “optimal” for protein absorption.  The higher quality the protein is, the better the body can use to for function.  A list of optimal sources include:


Primary
-Chicken (Breast, Cutlet, Thigh)
-Beef (Lean Cuts of Sirloin, Rump)
-Eggs (One egg equals 6-8 grams of protein, this protein is typically more quickly absorbed than Beef & Chicken)
-Turkey (Breast, Thigh and lean ground)
-Dairy sourced protein (Milk, Whey Protein is a fast absorbed protein; Casein Powder is slower absorbed protein; Yogurt and Cheese are not always great sources of protein due to how they are processed in factories or the ingredient source is “synthetic milk product”)

Secondary
-Pork (Pork Chop is considered a good protein source while most pork products are high in fat content)
-Beans (Kidney Beans and Black Beans are high in quality protein)
-Rice (Rice is a low source of protein and high source of easy to digest carbohydrates; Brown Rice is seen as the best rice option by many nutritionists)
-Fish (Salmon, Flounder, Tuna, for example, are solid protein sources but not very high in number of grams per serving)

The Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) by U.S. Food and Nutrition Board is 0.8 grams per pound of body weight for sedentary adults; that number doubles or triples for young children and teenagers because the body is in a growing/development phase.  The “downside” of these RDA numbers is that the body loses some lean muscle mass daily and some protein does not get absorbed by the body depended on the quality of the protein and how backed up the GI Track is.  Note the phrase above: “sedentary adults”.  Being sedentary is not recommended by any health and fitness professional so these estimates are subjective.

The Recommended Amount of Physical Activity (RAA) per day is 60 minutes.  When we estimate the average person gets 7 hours of sleep, then you have 1 hour of activity, allowing for 16 hours in the rest of your day.  But how you eat during the rest of your day makes the biggest difference in your daily life: how well your brain functions, your mood, emotional and hormonal balance, etc.  Also, getting in physical activity every day taxes the body, accelerating the need for Macro-nutrients (Protein along with Good Carbohydrates and healthy Fat) and Micro-nutrients (Vitamins, Minerals, Fiber).  Since the food we eat is the fuel for the living machine that is our body, how do we get what we need each day if the amount of protein that is recommended to us is based on a sedentary lifestyle?

What Does Science Tell Us
Well let’s look at the science, starting with the study done at Kent University, where their researchers did a study with six test groups, divided into 3 sets of two categories: sedentary adults and weightlifting adults.  Each set of adults were given different amounts of protein:

1. One was given a low protein diet which was 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
2. Another group was given 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
3. The third ate 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
Groups 2 and 3 showed higher levels of protein synthesis in the body, less protein “wasted” during digestion, and groups that had regular exercise combined with the higher protein diets were healthier at the end of the study compared to the beginning of the study.

Furthermore, numerous research scientists in the field of science physiology and other related fields such as Dr. Peter Lemon, Dr. Susan Kleiner, Dr. Jacob Wilson, and Dr. Jim Stoppani all recommend that no matter what your activity level is, the RDA of 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight is far below what the human body really needs.  Depending on who you ask, the latest science shows us that we need between 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight for optimal health results.
Studies by University of Tampa and University of Oklahoma have shown that the quality of protein and eating of protein throughout the day has shown to result in optimal health benefits in numerous test subjects.  The results show that when you have protein with every meal throughout the day your body will absorb and utilize it better.

Finally, a study from University of Texas Medical Branch show that post-exercise the body needs three types of protein: Fast absorbing, Medium Absorbing, and Slow Absorbing.  They found this was the case because when the body has multiple types of protein post-exercise optimal protein synthesis and recovery continues throughout the day.  This leads to less muscle fatigue later in the day and the body will not Catabolize muscle (Catabolism is when your metabolism  breaks down muscle tissue to release energy.  Breaking down muscle is counterproductive to maintaining low levels of body fat and results in less skeletal muscle functionality and stability).

The value of Protein Powders

In the daily diet, packing enough protein in our meals is difficult because unless you are eating 8 meals per day like a bodybuilder or professional athlete who trains twice a day, getting enough protein into your day is difficult.  This is where protein powders come into play.  A good protein powder can inject 24-30 grams of protein into a meal without having to cook anything.  Protein powders can be consumed by mixing with water or blending into a smoothie.  Depending on your flavor of choice, you can get very creative with utilizing protein powder.  I know some people who put protein into pancakes, cookies, or other baked items as a way of getting more protein in their diet while also not consuming empty calories like white sugar or box batter mixes. 

Protein Spiking and allergen concerns

The concern with protein powders is the issue of protein spiking.  Protein Spiking is when a supplement company puts into its protein blend incomplete proteins then claim a product has a certain number of grams of protein.  An example of this is if a company claims one serving of their product has 30 grams of protein, but when you read the ingredients you find part of the protein blend is an Amino Acid like Leucine.  Leucine is important for enhanced protein synthesis and absorption in the body, but it is not a complete protein like Whey, Casein, Soy, or Egg Albumin.  The danger of taking a product that has incomplete proteins in their blend is metabolic imbalance, which can lead to less protein synthesis and more fat storage.  One of the reasons these companies get away with this deceptive labeling is by using testing that measures the level of nitrates in the powder instead of measuring of actual grams of complete proteins.  Also, any company that claims that their protein blend or Whey/Casein is a proprietary blend or special formula, not telling the consumer how much is actually in the ingredients, instead giving percentages.  These companies will not tell you what the percentages are based on within the ingredients, another way of getting away with not putting quality ingredients in their products.

Lets not forget about people with Gluten or Lactose allergies.  These individuals will have allergic reactions or Gastro Intestinal Track issues if they use some of these products.  Some companies are not transparent about how their protein is manufactured or the sources used for the protein powders.  This lack of honesty with the consumer is indicated by the basic warnings on the back of containers that state how the product was made is a factory that also manufactures products that contain nuts, dairy, etc.  This is their fall back to avoid legal issues and to tell the consumer “Hey, we warned you on the label!”.  The solution to dealing with potential protein spiking is to do your homework on a product before ingesting; anyone with food allergens should also never ingest anything without doing some investigating of the product and company first.

So How Does a Certified Nutritionist Get In a High Amount of Protein Each Day?

An example of a day of eating that I have done to ingest a high amount of protein is as follows:

-Breakfast – 1.5 Scoops of MTS Whey Peanut Butter Fluff Protein mixed in 16 oz. of water, 1 Apple (37 grams of protein)
-Post-workout Meal – 1.5 Scoops of MTS Whey Cookies N Cream in fruit smoothie with large banana, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup raspberries; 2 slices of Ezekiel Bread Toast with natural extra crunchy Peanut Butter (50 grams of protein)
-Lunch – Bed of Romaine Lettuce with Grilled Chicken (24 grams of protein)
-Snack Meal – 20 gram Protein Bar, 11 gram Protein Bar, 1 Orange
-Dinner –  10 Turkey sausage Links; Bowl of Organic Brown Rice, Black Eyed Peas, & Broccoli; 2 raw carrots (38 grams of protein)
Total protein for the day – 180 grams of protein; 2,000 Calories

In conclusion, we all need protein in our diets, but getting that protein is easier said than done.  You may not always get enough protein, but the more you try, the closer you will get to your goals.  Do not be fooled by the media headlines that make claims such as “Can Too Much protein Kill You?” because it’s hard enough to get 1 gram of protein per pound of your weight.
As a disclaimer, people with specific chronic illness or who have had surgery to remove a GI Track organ needs to consult a doctor on how much protein they can consume without becoming sick.

References/Further Reading
* http://www.prweb.com/releases/dupont-nutrition-health/protein-blend-muscle-mass/prweb11788928.htm
* http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/bodywork/performance-plate/The-New-Rules-for-Protein.html
* http://www.jissn.com/content/4/1/8
* http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/the-basic-structure-of-proteins.html
* http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/9/1/5
* http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3133534/
* Applied Physiology Research Laboratory, Kent State University, OH 44242.
International journal of sport nutrition 07/1991; 1(2):127-45.
Source: PubMed
* Nutrition in Exercise and Sport, Third Edition
edited by Ira Wolinsk; Nutrition in Exercise and Sport, Third Edition
edited by Ira Wolinsk
* http://www.jimstoppani.com/home/articles/a-high-protein-diet-will-kill-you?preview
* http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10357740


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THE TRUTH ABOUT HEALTH & FITNESS: WHAT “EXPERTS” ARE NOT TELLING YOU

The Truth About Health & Fitness: What “Experts” are not telling you

J-SMILING

“Fat Loss” “Tone Up” “Loose Weight” “Be Stronger” “Be more Fit”

These are terms personal trainers hear at the gym daily.  Most people do not join the gym because they are already in shape, they join because they have a desired goal and have not been able to accomplish it on their own.  Furthermore, many of these new folks at the gym lack the working knowledge on what certain equipment is used for, how to reach their goals, how long it will take, and the relationship between nutrition and exercise.

I am not saying this to be demeaning, I am saying this because this is what I work with every day. People come to the gym who do not know what to do, and I am here to help them along the way.  The truth is that what most people think and believe is true about health and fitness is actually based on false advertising.  This is especially true about how fat and muscle relate to each other.  People see a number on a scale and have a built in reaction, without a full understanding of what that really means in terms of their health and fitness.

So many people come to the gym wanting to “tone up” and “lose weight” go to a group cardio exercise class or jump on the cardio equipment for long periods of time followed by exercises with equipment that targets their “trouble areas”.  Then after a couple weeks they step on the scale and find out not much has changed.  Sound familiar?

Here are a few things you or someone you may know is missing out on when it comes to attaining your health and fitness goals:

-The weight scale is a farce

The truth about the scale is that it is basically a measurement of how much gravity is pulling on your frame.  I have seen numerous times two people who weigh the same on the scale with very different physiologies.  What is forgotten is that Muscle weighs more than Fat on the human frame; skeletal muscle is denser than fat stores.  Muscle is the reason for that “toned” and “shredded” look so many people strive for in today’s world, so in order to look like that one has to forget about the scale and focus more on their Body Fat Percentage number.  This measure estimates the amount of your body that is just fat, while the rest of the body is comprised of muscles, organs, skeletal bones, and water retained.

Using the scale as a measuring stick of your fitness progress is misguided and has led to many people quitting while they are making progress, so stay away from the scale as much as possible.

-Cardio is not the key to fat loss

Cardio is a short for Cardiovascular Exercise.  Cardio exercise initializes a caloric burn in the body when done for a long enough period of time or a high enough intensity to spike heart rate.  The dark secret about cardio is that sustained cardio will also burn off muscle from the body; this happens because those muscles are not being maintained through exercise or physical activity so as a result, the body harvests energy and nutrients from wherever it has been programmed to think is not in need of nutrients or use.  That phrase “you lose it if you don’t use it” is very true for your health.

The reality that is unknown to many people who are at the gym is that anyone can garner the same caloric burn from lifting weights as does cardio if done at the proper intensity.  This way a person can reprogram their body to not burn off muscle while instead using fat storage for the burn off.  Performing functional strength exercises will do two things biologically that improve your health better than cardio exercise:

  1. Prolonging the protein synthesis process, which causes the body to better utilize nutrients and slow down the process of fat storage;
  2. With strength training, the building and maintenance of muscle will burn more calories at rest, which increases the metabolic rate and works to reduce fat retention.

-Nutrition is more important than exercise

It does not matter how many hours you spend at the gym each day or how sweaty you are when you leave; if you do not put the right types of foods in your body each day than you are just fighting an uphill battle.  The human body is a complex machine of numerous biological processes that depends on the intake of Macro (Fats, carbohydrates, Protein) and Micro (Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids) Nutrients in order to function properly.  When we go hard at the gym and then do not put the proper nutrients in the body, these biological processes do not operate optimally and problems occur such as injuries, cramping, headaches and sometimes more severe side effects.

What you put in your body is almost more important to your health and fitness than what you do with your body on a daily basis.  Without the proper balance of Protein, Carbs and Fats then all those hours at the gym is just another activity in your day.  Your body needs a certain amount of fats for hormonal and organ function, a certain amount of carbohydrates for glycogen production that is used for energy in the body, and a certain amount of protein for the maintenance of skeletal muscle as well as organ function.

-You need to speak with a Health and Fitness professional

This may be the most controversial point I make on this list. Every day in the gym I see people using bad form with exercises, ask me questions that have origins in misinformation, and too many people doing the same exercises every day with no variety.  No one has it all figured out, we all have things to learn in life. If your health and fitness are important to you then the same applies for those areas also.  Most certified personal trainers and certified nutritionists are people who want to help others and will not be condescending or judgmental towards those who come looking for help.  Even if you work with a trainer or nutritionist for a few months, it is still time well spent learning how to correctly do different exercises, learn how to eat according to your body’s needs, and build good fitness habits so you can live a better life.

Also, do not be fooled by so proclaimed “Fitness Experts”, check the credentials of everyone giving you advice and find out from them the source of their knowledge and information they attempt to give you.  Too many of these self-proclaimed Experts do not have the time spent in the classroom, gym, and kitchen to support many of the claims they make; instead these people propagate information based on subjective knowledge or based on marketing a specific program or product they insist that you buy because their way is the “only way” to get “results.

Do not let any excuses, whether ego or fiscal, stand in your way of getting the help you need to better your life.  Health and Fitness is something all of us should invest our time in, improving our physical, mental and emotional well-being.   Today is the day to take the step away from the fads and misinformation of yesterday, take the steps forward to change your lifestyle and create new habits that will sustain you for the rest of your life.

Posted by Joshua Hennig