Tag Archives: protein

More About Proteins

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 promotes 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.  After learning last week about protein concentrate versus isolate and complete protein versus incomplete proteins, here are two more options for getting the protein you need.

Casein Protein:  Casein protein supplements come mainly from milk, and it is digested at a slower rate than whey protein.  The five to seven hour time period it takes to digest casein can help you stay full and give a consistent source of protein to your muscles.  Because it takes longer to digest, casein is not recommended for use immediately following a workout, but is perfect at nighttime.  Ingesting casein protein before bed will keep your body anabolic throughout the night as it thickens in the stomach and slows its absorption into the bloodstream.  This means the nutrients are released gradually, helping your body use the nutrients while you snooze.

Eggs:  When using eggs as an additional source of protein, it’s important to consider the egg white.  Known as albumin, the egg white can be found as a protein powder, but fresh eggs are probably a little less expensive while easy to find and cook.  Be careful to remove the yolk when eating eggs because eating as few as two eggs in a day can exceed the daily recommended amount of cholesterol.  Lots of meal replacements have egg albumin in them, and egg albumen has the added benefits of vitamins and minerals.  Egg whites are also very versatile, easy to digest and contain all of the essential amino acids.

No matter what your protein supplement choice may be, be careful of food allergies and over consumption of protein.  Too much of this good thing can strain the kidneys and other organs, and protein contains calories, so make sure to continue exercising or it might end up being stored as fat.  Some high protein foods are also high in saturated fat and overconsumption can lead to increased risk of heart disease.

For help making healthy protein choices, ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com!

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!  Info@FitNicePT.com

Dealing with Soreness

Everyone has workouts they know are going to slow them down the next day.  Being sore comes with involvement in any fitness activity, and can really dampen your enthusiasm.  If you’ve taken some time off or are starting something new, it’s a good idea to plan for the stiff, sore body you’ll be stuck in for the next few days, and best way to deal with muscle soreness is to prepare for it.  Leave time in your day for stretching or schedule a massage when you know you are going to push the limits of your muscles.

The most important thing to know is that if you’re sore, it means you are getting stronger!  During your workout, you strained those aching muscles by putting tiny little tears in them.  The effort of your body to repair these small rips causes the inflammation that leads to muscle soreness.  It’s also nice to know that it won’t last forever because each activity you do will lead to less and less muscle damage as your body adjusts to the new demands you place on it.  Keeping your routine mixed up is a great way to keep muscles working and stop them from being achy and sore.

When you are achy and sore, most people head straight to the medicine cabinet.  While taking ibuprofen or aspirin might ease pain and reduce swelling, it also slows the healing process.  Your favorite pain reliever does this by impeding the ability of bones, ligaments, and tendons to heal and, if taken frequently, can also cause stomach and liver problems.  If you try taking one of these medications before a workout to prevent soreness, you’re actually hurting yourself more than helping.  The response of your body to training will lessen and, since taking these types of drugs has been shown to cause an increase in inflammation, you can end up in a more painful situation than you intended.

The best way to prevent soreness is to stretch out when you’re finished with your session.  Five minutes spent lengthening those hard working muscles can ward off a day spent stiff and sore.  After stretching, you also need to make sure your body has all the tools it needs to repair the damaged muscles, so get your protein and rehydrate within 30 minutes of working out.  You can also use heat, ice and massage as a way to ward off some post workout suffering.  Using heat will increase blood and oxygen flow to the damaged area and help clean out any chemicals stuck in there.  Massage breaks up the adhesions created during a tough session and, like heat, allows increased blood flow and nutrients to get where they need so your muscles are repaired.  Ice can ease pain and will decrease swelling, so ice for twenty minutes four times a day to aid in healing.

Have questions?  Need a stretching routine?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats are the three macronutrients you cannot live without.  Protein is the building block for every part of your body, and helps build and maintain muscles, which are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. The amount of protein required for each person’s diet depends on the activities you engage in during the day.

A typical way to tell how much protein you need to take in each day is to multiply your body weight by 0.37 then convert to grams, so a 200 pound person would need to have 74 grams of protein per day.  Athletes who are involved in heavy physical activity, such as heavy weight lifting or endurance exercise such as long runs, should increase their protein intake to between 1.2 and 1.7 grams of protein per day for each kilogram of body weight.

Pregnant women also want to increase protein intake.  As the building blocks for everything in our bodies, it’s important to see how necessary protein is while a baby is developing.  Pregnant women should increase protein intake by about 10 grams per day over the recommended amount in order to help their baby’s brain, eyes and cardiovascular system work perfectly upon their arrival.

Too much protein can harm your body by stopping up kidneys and putting you at risk for dehydration.  If your caloric intake is made up of more than 30% protein, it causes a buildup of toxic ketones.  This can cause your kidneys to over work trying to clean those ketones out of your system.  As the kidneys work, they produce a byproduct called ammonia, which the liver converts to urea.  In addition to this extra strain on the kidneys and liver, too much protein can cause dehydration, especially if you are exercising frequently.

Over indulgence in protein is something to be on the lookout for if you are using a Paleo diet, being careful to keep the ratio of protein to other macro nutrients (carbohydrates and fat) appropriate.  Cross fit and Paleo go well together, but it’s important to make sure you get all the nutrition you need.  People who run lots of miles every week usually need around 3,000 calories per day, so having the grains restricted by a Paleo diet just won’t work.  Before you decide to have a Paleo diet, examine your activity level and make sure you know how much is too much.

For help planning or changing your diet, contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com.

A Balanced Diet Part V: Meat, Poultry, Fish, Beans, Eggs and Nuts

Is the name of this group enough to get you interested?  With so many choices out there for protein sources, it can be challenging to know what the best ones are.  Foods in this group include beef, pork, venison, chicken, duck, flounder, tuna, lima beans, pinto beans, shellfish, peanut butter, and almonds.  Wow.  Not only does this group contain a wide variety of choices, it provides a long list of healthy body benefits.

Nutrients pulled from the protein group range from, as expected, protein, which is also found in fats and carbohydrates and provides calories for energy, to iron, which carries oxygen to the blood.  The antioxidant Vitamin E, zinc that helps the immune system function and magnesium for building bones are all found in meat, poultry and fish.  Elements in each of the foods in this group are also the building blocks for muscles, cartilage, skin, blood, integral enzymes and hormones.  Omega-3 fatty acids are present in seafood, and 8 ounces of fish per week may help prevent heart disease.  The risk of potential heavy metal poisoning from consuming certain fish species frequently is greatly outweighed by the benefits of omega-3s.  Nuts and seeds are a high calorie food great for snacks.  They also aid in reducing the risk of heart disease, though it is important to limit sodium intake by eating unsalted nuts.

Making the right meat, poultry and fish choices is hard, so here are some tips for getting the best you can:  Cholesterol is only found in animal source foods, and fatty meats contains lots of low density lipids (LDL), or bad cholesterol.  LDL is a root cause of coronary heart disease risk, so choose lean meats and cut excess fat off before cooking.  Eliminate excess cooked fat by draining during cooking, limiting breading, and using low fat sauces and gravies.  Vary your lean meat choices, while mixing in fish at least twice per week.  Skip the egg yolks, take them out of hard boiled eggs, separate them from cooked eggs or purchase premade egg whites since yolks contain plenty of LDL as well.  Eating lots of fat usually leads to an excess consumption of calories, and that means extra time at the gym to maintain or lose weight.  Be sure to read labels, and know processed meats often contain excess sodium and more fat than raw foods.

After you’ve picked the right foods, you should consume between 5 and 6 ounce equivalents per day in the protein group, and the amount should be increased in proportion with activity.  One ounce of meat, poultry or fish, one egg, one tablespoon of peanut butter, ½ ounce of nuts, ¼ cup cooked beans or ¼ cup cooked peas all count as one ounce equivalents.  When preparing raw protein group foods, be sure to separate raw food from what is already cooked.  Thawing meats, poultry and seafood should occur quickly, in a microwave or by submerging in cool water.  After thawing raw meat or poultry, it should not be washed, but any and all cooking utensils, cutting boards and pans should be cleaned with hot, soapy water between each food item it touches.  A great way to avoid consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry and eggs, which can carry salmonella, E. coli and other nasty food borne illnesses, is to use a meat thermometer.  After cooking, protein group foods should be chilled or frozen promptly.

Vegetarians can get enough protein from non-meat, poultry or seafood choices in this group, but vegetarian diet will be addressed entirely in its own segment.  For more information on the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Nuts and Seeds Group, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/protein-foods.html.  Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s segment, A Balanced Diet Part VI: Milk, Yogurt and Cheese!

A Balanced Diet Part III: Vegetables

So now you’re eating the right kind of grains, it would be great to have something to go with them.  Vegetables are an integral part of any diet, adding flavor, color and nutritional value to any meal.  They contain no cholesterol, and are low in fat and calories.  The dietary fiber present in vegetables helps lower the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, while aiding in the prevention of certain types of cancer and obesity.  This dietary fiber gives vegetables to ability to give a feeling of fullness with fewer calories than many other foods.  Found in vegetables, Vitamins A and C keep eyes and skin healthy, help heal cuts and wounds, and aid in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

There are five types of vegetables: dark green (broccoli, romaine lettuce, spinach), starchy (corn, green peas, potatoes), beans and peas (kidney beans, split peas, black beans), red and orange (butternut squash, carrots, tomatoes), and other vegetables (beets, celery, zucchini).  It is recommended that adults (ages 9 and over) consume between two and three cups of vegetables each day.  A cup is measured using chopped vegetables, and any whole vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a serving.  Beans and peas are special because they are also a great source of plant protein, which makes them similar to meat, poultry and fish.  Vegetarians and vegans, who don’t consume animal protein, should consume larger amounts of protein filled beans and peas to make sure they are getting enough dietary protein.

There are a few keys to getting the right kind of nutrition from your vegetable selections.  The first is to buy fresh and in season.  Fresh foods contain less sodium and more flavor.  If fresh options aren’t available, choose canned or frozen vegetables that are labeled ‘reduced sodium’, ‘low sodium’ or ‘no salt added’.  To make adding vegetables to a meal easy, buy prewashed bags of salad, or be sure to rinse all vegetables with clean water and dry before cooking or preparing.  Once they’re clean and ready to go, add them to any dish for an infusion of color and flavor.  Also try using vegetables as snacks by adding a low fat dressing as a dip.  Keeping some pre-sliced vegetables in the fridge helps make eating these nutritious foods quick and simple.

So throw some green, red or orange vegetables in with your next meal and make it a nutritional success!

For more information on the Vegetables Group, check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables.html, and check back in for the next Segment, A Balanced Diet Part IV: Fruits.

A Balanced Diet Part I

The human body needs six kinds of nutrients to function properly, so knowing what they are and how they work is important to having a balanced diet.  In this segment, we’ll go over each of the six nutrient types, explaining what they are and how they work.  In the upcoming weeks, we’ll learn about each food group, what to eat, how much, and how often, so by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be ready to hit the grocery store armed with plenty of knowledge to ensure healthy choices.

Carbohydrates.  These are the body’s energy.  Carbs supply simple glucose, and without it, your brain can’t function properly.  You need lots of carbs for day to day life but be careful not to over indulge.  Each gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories, so if the expenditure of carbohydrates is less than the intake, weight gain is inevitable.  Carbohydrates are found in bread, beans, potatoes and corn, with the most common types being sugars, fibers and starches.

Protein.  Proteins, like carbohydrates, contain 4 calories per gram.  While protein can be used as a source of energy, the human body uses them primarily for moving nutrients through the body, keeping the immune system up and running properly.  Proteins help grow and rebuild muscle, maintain fluid balance, and catalyze the reactions essential to life.

Fats.  Fats contain 9 calories per gram, and as a result, are a great source of energy.  Fats also help the body absorb vitamins while providing insulation and cushion to internal organs.  There are two major types of naturally occurring fatty acids, saturated, with each molecule covered in hydrogen atoms, and monounsaturated, when each molecule has only one hydrogen atom.  Saturated fats, found in meat and dairy products, can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke if over-consumed.  Monounsaturated fats, found in nuts, whole grain wheat, avocados and popcorn, have been said to reduce a person’s risk for heart disease.  Both saturated and monounsaturated fats are essential to life.  Trans fats are not naturally occurring, never saturated, and are not essential for life.  Trans fats have been proven to increase bad cholesterol (LDL), lower good (HDL) and raise the risk of heart disease.  Trans fats are found mostly in junk and fast food.

Vitamins.  Vitamins are made from plants and animals, and each of the 13 (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, C, D, E and K) is something your body needs.  They are necessary for normal metabolism and since the human body does not produce them, vitamins must be acquired through diet or supplements.

Minerals.  Minerals, including selenium, zinc, and calcium, allow your body to get the energy out of carbohydrates and also promote good immune functioning.

Water.  Sure, water sounds simple.  You can go for weeks without eating, without eater, you’ll last only a few days.  Water is the universal solvent and provides the basis for chemical reactions to take place.  It also helps maintain body temperature and lubricate joints.

Stay tuned next week when we start learning about Food Groups with Grains.