In last weeks blog post "Foods & Supplementation for
Injuries" we chatted about how important protein is
for building & maintaining lean muscle mass.
But guess what?
Not all protein is created equal.
What is Protein?
Protein is an essential macronutrient, just like carbohydrates & fats. It is made up of tiny little structures called amino acids, that serve as the building block of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, etc. In unlikely cases, they can serve as a fuel source- but not when carbohydrates or fats are present.
Protein is made up of 20 amino acids. 9 are essential (Well, 8 technically & the 9th is debated but I'll include it here for simplicity's sake), 11 are non essential & a few between them serve as conditionally essential. If an amino acid is essential, that means that we must get them from our food because our body does not produce them.
Okay, so what does that mean for the foods we eat? Protein sources can either be classified as complete or incomplete. Incomplete protein sources DO NOT contain all 9 essential amino acids, while the complete sources do. Examples of complete sources are- red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, soybeans & quinoa. Examples of incomplete sources include- most plant sources (ex. pea protein), beans, legumes, nuts, seeds & veggies.
Now that doesn't mean that you should never eat plant sources for protein, but if you are looking for a complete protein source with all of the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle, you'd be better off with an animal source of protein.
Why do we need protein in our diet?
Your body uses protein to build & repair tissue- AKA the muscle tissue you broke down during a workout. The more muscle tissue your body builds/repairs -> the more muscle tissue you have -> you'll burn more calories throughout the day because your muscle tissue will naturally up-regulate your metabolism -> your body's fat mass will decrease as the lean mass increases. (AKA, you'll have more visible muscles)
What about peanut butter, isn't that considered a protein source? Okay, so yes peanut butter has protein. But no, I do not consider it a protein source. For 1 serving of peanut butter, which is typically about 2 tablespoons, you'll have 16g~ of fat, 8g~ of carbohydrates & 8g~ of protein. That makes it a fat source in my book, because fat is the highest macronutrient. That also means that you'd have to consume A LOT of peanut butter for it to be enough to kick on muscle protein synthesis, but even then it's an incomplete source (doesn't contain all 9 essential amino acids).
What about supplements? In my opinion, protein powder supplements are a simple & convent way to add in more protein to your diet. Obviously supplementation won't be able to replace a whole food source, but it can be a convent thing to have on hand. & Sometimes you just get sick of chicken breast & want to switch it up- trust me, I get it. What better way than with a chocolate protein shake & some almond milk, or a scoop of vanilla protein thrown into a smoothie?
But guess what take two? Not all protein powder are made equal. No surprise there though, because most companies are trying to get the most bang for their buck. The next question I get is often, "Well what do I look for?". Great question- depends on what you're needing!
If you're wanting a protein for after a workout, then I'd look for a 100% hydrolyzed whey protein isolate. All that means is that it's a high quality protein that's in a pre-broken down state so that your body can immediately use it to start the muscle repair process. If you're needing a protein for doing the day, then I'd recommend finding a whey protein that is a blend of a whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate & sodium caseinate. This blend will slow down the release rate & prolong the break down of the protein inside your body, keeping you fuller for longer. With both protein's I'd make sure that its low temperature processed. (Not cool filtered, cool pressed, etc.- These are marketing ploys) LTP means that the protein was cooked in a slow & controlled manner to make sure not to damage any of the amino acids, which in turn makes it available for your body to actually use.
The only two protein powders I recommend to clients are:
Phormula-1 (Post-workout)- https://1stphorm.com/a/products/protein-powder/isolate-protein/phormula-1?a_aid=slynnmfitness
Level-1 (Meal replacement)- https://1stphorm.com/a/products/protein-powder/meal-replacement-proteins/level-1?a_aid=slynnmfitness