Eating the Correct Kind of Protein

Protein is the ‘it’ word of fitness.  Protein shakes, bars, supplements are all going to get you the protein your body needs to recover after a workout and help maintain a healthy weight, but with so many choices on the shelves, how do you know what to eat?

Protein, made from amino acids, is a macronutrient found in meats, dairy, nuts and beans that promote healthy skin, hair, fingernails, and muscles.  The best place to get protein is from whole food sources, but supplements can make getting your daily dose of protein a little bit easier.  It’s important to know the different types of proteins available out there and how you might find them packaged.  Here’s an overview of things you might see on the label of a protein powder and what’s inside that package.

Protein Concentrate versus Isolate:  Protein concentrate come from removing the non-protein parts of a whole food protein source and results in a roughly 80 percent pure protein powder that also contains fat and carbs.  Isolation is more intense than concentrate, removing more of the non-protein part of a food and making a powder that is up to 95 percent pure.

Complete versus Incomplete Protein:  There are over 500 types of amino acids, and those that cannot be produced by the human body are known as essential, or indispensable, amino acids.  Complete proteins contain all 10 of these essential amino acids, while incomplete proteins do not.

Whey protein:  This most popular and often most wallet friendly protein comes in a wide variety of flavors and has been shown to help with lean muscle growth, fat loss and maintaining healthy metabolism.  The lactose found in whey protein is an allergen for some and can make it impossible to eat.  Carefully choose flavors with whey protein because they can contain artificial sweeteners and be aware that whey can lead to gassiness and bloating, so slowly building up your intake is important.

Soy protein:  Plant food sources offering essential amino acids are hard to find, but soybeans fit the bill.  Offering all 10 of the essential amino acids, soybeans can improve bone health, help prevent certain cancers, and promote healthy immune function.  Soy has recently been genetically altered for larger crop yields and come under fire, plus it is already found in lots of foods.  Adding more soy to a diet already rich in soy might make another choice more appropriate, though it is a great choice for vegetarians.

Have questions about getting more protein in your diet?  Want help planning what to eat after your gym session?  Ask us!

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