Tag: protein

Protein Supplements

(The above pictures are not an endorsement of any type or brand of protein)

I often follow different social media sights which are focused on weight loss, nutrition and fitness. A common theme which comes up daily is the consumption of protein supplements and whether they are good for you or not, and are they even necessary if you have healthy dietary habits. To this, I will say it all depends. Your need for, or lack thereof, is all dependent upon what you are trying to accomplish with your own personal health initiative. Everyone requires protein in their diet, how much is all dependent on your level of activity. Are you a couch potato who wants to lose weight? Or, are you an endurance athlete or strength trainer who needs more than the average person who lives a sedentary lifestyle? And then you also need to consider your sources of protein. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you might consider some sort of supplementation if you not consuming enough protein from your vegetable sources such as you would get from soy, nuts, legumes, and quinoa for examples.

The catalyst for this piece came from something I read the other day on a weight loss social media forum where one of the really popular commentators went on a spiel about how he hates that protein bars are touted as being a healthy part of a weight loss diet. He is entitled to his own opinion, even if he is wrong, but literally there a few thousand people who hang on his every word in regards to weight loss. I personally feel that if you are going to put yourself out on a limb as some type of expert guru, then you should know better than to preach a one size fits all message to the masses who are attempting to lose weight and live healthier lives. And if you are going to put yourself upon a pedestal to be followed, then you had damn well better be correct in what you are preaching to people who know less than you.

What is protein?

In a nutshell, protein is one of three macronutrients our body’s require for health. Protein, carbohydrates and fats. For a better understanding of protein;

Proteins are large molecules that our cells need to function properly. They consist of amino acids. The structure and function of our bodies depend on proteins. The regulation of the body’s cells, tissues and organs cannot happen without them. Proteins are long chains of amnio acids that form the basis of all life. They are like machines that make all living things, whether viruses, bacteria, butterflies, jellyfish, pants or human function. The human body consists of around 100 trillion cells. Each cell has thousands of different proteins. Together, these proteins cause each cell to do it’s job. (1)

What are amino acids?

Amino acids are organic componds that combine to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life. When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are left. The human body uses amino acids to make proteins to help the body break down food, grow, repair body tissue and to perform many other body functions.

Amino acids can be used as a source of energy for the body, and are classified into three groups:

  • Essential amino acids. The nine essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleutine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
  • Nonessential amino acids. Nonessential means that our bodies produce an amino acid, even if we do not get it from a food we eat. Nonessential amino acids include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.
  • Conditional amino acids. Conditional amino acids are usually not essential, except in times of illness and stress. They include: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.

(2)

Essential amino acids cannot be be made by the body and must come from food. Must come from food is a key point in regards to the essential amino acids. Herein lies my problem with a weight loss social media superstar making blanket, one size fits all statements in regards to protein bars and other protein supplements. One size does not fit all you fool. Even if this individual is truly making an attempt at being helpful, he is not accomplishing it. Protein supplements may not all be equal in their utility, but for the most part, they are not some kind of “Frankenfood” as some would have you believe. Protein supplements are indeed a food source and can be comprised of whey, soy, rice, pea and other protein sources. If by combining actual protein food ingredients with other flavorings equates a “Frankenfood”, then every other multiple ingredient food source can also damn well be referred to as a “Frankenfood”. This thinking is absolutely absurd.

Protein supplements are just that: they are supplemental to your diet. There are many reasons why one might supplement their protein intake, here are a few:

  1. If you are a strength and or an endurance athlete, you might want to supplement your protein intake in order to ensure your body is receiving an adequate amount to build, repair, or maintain your lean muscle mass. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes. Older non-athletes need .9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
  2. If you are on a weight loss plan, you need to keep your protein levels up in order to maintain your lean muscle mass and as a means to keep your appetite more satiated than it would be from carbohydrates, with an emphasis on simple carbs as they are the biggest culprit in driving those kinds of cravings often referred to as being “hangry”, that type of craving where you can find yourself sitting on the kitchen floor with a can of cake frosting and a spoon, going at it like it is your last supper. Odds are, if you are or have ever been an obese individual who stress ate, you secretly know exactly about this kind of binging.
  3. If you are a vegan or vegetarian who might also be a picky eater, then supplementation might be for you. While soy and quinoa will provide you with a complete protein profile for good health, you have to eat enough to cover your body’s needs If you are not consuming soy, quinoa or any other sources of protein to ensure you receive all of the nine essential amino acids, you are going to wreck your health. If you have your children on a vegan or vegetarian diet, then you really have to be mindful their needs are being fulflled. A protein bar or shake can fill in the gaps for you, and there are plenty of vegan friendly supplements available to you.

While essential amino acids are not stored in your body for later use, you do not have to eat essential amino acids at every meal. You can provide your body’s needs simply by getting a balance of them over the whole day, every day. Know that diets based on a single plant item will not be adequate, but it is also not necessary to pair proteins such as beans with rice at a single meal. Just ensure you are consuming all that you require in balance through the day. Supplementing is an individual choice to be made on your needs. Some people require no supplementation, some benefit greatly from protein shakes and bars.

In closing, if you are involved in a weight loss/management social media forum, please do not just take the word of a popular superstar as being the Holy Grail. They may tell you what you want to hear and not what you need to hear. These superstars may be correct, they could be absolutely wrong. Do yourself a favor and investigate what you read from others. Investigate me, you have a duty upon yourself to even ensure that I am correct in my advice. Know also that if when you question a so called expert and they get mad at you for not taking their word, they are full of crap and have no good answers for your questions. One who is truly knowledgeable will encouage you to challenge them in a respectful manner. One who takes offense when being questioned cares more about their fragile ego than they do about your health and well being.

(1) Medical News Today

(2) medlineplus.gov

Other reference: Food and Nutrition Board, and Institute of Medicine of The National Academies.

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The Building Blocks for Good Health

Our Pleasure

Happily, we are frequently asked about food choices and weight loss strategies. It gives me great joy that you consider us a source of information on this topic because it’s our passion. These strategies are not new information but since they are David’s Way and I know that some of you may not scour the blog looking for this information, I thought that I would recap the program for you.

No Added Sugar, High Protein, Low Carb, Activity

After being at my Weight Watchers goal for a couple of years, I was still on medications for anxiety, insomnia and high blood pressure. I knew that something was wrong. After asking for David’s help and following his Methodology for just a few weeks, I was able to come off of all of the medications and began to drop weight. I removed all added sugar, and replaced it with our sugar free recipes. They are really, really good. Actually, they are The Bomb! I embraced a high protein, low carb lifestyle. As I lost 20#, I also began adding muscle with strength training. I removed sources of stress from my life and began a journey of recreating myself. A year later, life is good. I work a high stress, full time job in nursing, blog, hike and weight train…and that’s about it. I have made my world small.

Sleep

Rest is essential. My sleep was immediately better, now the only thing required to sleep is to be still, and that’s not always necessary. Removing sugar from my life and strength training rectified the anxiety that contributed to insomnia. I was happy to be able to stop taking anti-anxiety medication. This is not always the case for everyone and I am not advising you to stop any medications without your doctor’s advice. This is simply my story.

Stop Stressing

Lowering the stress in your life will fix a lot of problems. I took some rather drastic steps to do that and I would do it all again tomorrow. After my home was destroyed by a cluster of tornadoes, living in a motel for a while and moving three times, changing jobs two times and one divorce, I am stronger than I’ve ever been, at 62. Stress can kill you, Baby. Gain control of stress or it will gain control of you, and if it is the one in control, you’re going down.

True Self Love

There is always room to up our game. I never stop trying to improve. As we age it’s necessary to become fanatical about self care or the reality is that we’ll go to hell in a hand basket with medications, pain, depression and low self esteem close on our heels. That’s just not my cup of tea. We have choices and we better make good ones if we want to live well. While there are health problems that befall us that we have little control over, there are more that are directly linked to the decisions that we make every day. There is a self love movement which is good as long as we realize that by loving ourselves, we continually spiral upward, improving ourselves. To accept mediocrity is not loving ourselves. Self love is self care.

Write It Down

I believe that the most critical element for maximum health is to forego sugar. Keeping a food diary is a very close second, or it may be tied for first place. Both of these are critical to thriving. If we keep a food diary, we will make progress in all areas because we will fix our diet first and then be better able to make other necessary changes.

David has taught me to keep good records of my workouts also. Since I am a power builder in strength training, I have to keep meticulous records of my weights and reps. I have learned that it’s also critical to keep records of my state of mind while lifting, my calories consumed and my hours of sleep. Along with my calories, I have to know how many grams of protein and carbohydrates I have eaten in order to be ready to lift heavy. This is the first time that I have had to make sure that I eat enough. Since we don’t eat sugar, I seldom get hungry and never have cravings. This is a very pleasant change from always being afraid of eating too much!

Don’t Quit

We promote a healthy lifestyle, not a short term “diet”. If you think you’ve fallen, get up and go again! You no more quit a lifestyle than you quit life itself. If you fall ten times, get up eleven. You will get to your destination if you continue your journey.