Today I want to chat a little about protein. I am a vegetarian, so sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge to take the time to make foods that are rich in protein and meet my daily needs. There is a lot of disagreement as to what is the minimum/maximum amount of protein required daily. Here is my general rule of thumb, you need more protein (approx. 60-100g) if you are: an athlete, a body builder, work out often (3x+/wk), are a growing child, under a lot of stress or find you metabolize protein better than carbohydrates and fats. The right number is also higher for men then it is for women, obviously men have more muscle than women naturally. For the average adult like myself that is not growing, building muscle or working out hard enough to be breaking down muscle for fuel your needs are much less around 25-40g/day.
Next criteria is how and what sources. Obviously for me I find protein powder to be the easiest method, however I try not to rely on powders for my protein. For those that eat meet a 4-6oz. portion of your favourite kind of meat 2 meals a day is more than sufficient for the average person's needs. As a vegetarian I do eat fish (mainly sushi or salmon) as a large portion of my protein intake, and occasionally eggs. I like to switch up my various sources of protein to keep both my mouth and my body interested. Because I have an allergy to dairy I find whey does not agree with me. It causes me very smelly gas, bloating, constipation and fatigue. Of course I had to eliminate it first to realize this. I do not digest heavy proteins of any type very well and they usually tend to constipate me. If I am using a powder I try to stick to Vega whole foods, a soy, vegan or rice protein choice. For those that are not allergic to dairy, then whey isolates may work for you. They can certainly be cheaper and more available than those that I look to. They are certainly a cleaner choice than conventional meat, for meeting protein needs. Protein drinks are great for starting off the morning especially if you do not have an affinity for breakfast. It is fast, portable, delicious, filling and hydrating if mixed with water.
Protein is an awesome fuel source and helps provide sustainable energy because it is a slow burn fuel. Sugars and carbohydrates are fast burn fuel sources from food. These cause a surge in glucose and require insulin to regulate blood sugar following ingestion. Fast burn fuel sources will give you a short term burst of energy, followed by an exhaustive slump. This is often satisfied with another simple sugar indulgence. In nutrition we call this the craving roller coaster, or the obesity chink in the chain. If you are doing coffee and a bagel, or latte and a croissant for breakfast you are starting your day and blood sugar off on this roller coaster. Slow burn fuels like fats and carbohydrates take longer in the digestive system and will then produce a more sustained energy source. By having some avocado on salad in the morning with lemon water you will find yourself with plenty of energy over the morning without cravings. A simple protein shake with some nut butter or almond milk will also do the trick. So if you need to be alert, energized, calm and poised; look to a nice clean protein shake to start your day, or as a snack between lunch and dinner. We typically get peckish around 3 pm because our blood sugar levels are dropping and we have usually been sitting at our desks for too long. Save your waist line and your life by looking at how you are fuelling your body.
Healthy from the inside our is about balance.