Why Should We Mix Up Our Proteins?

Why Should We Mix Up Our Proteins?

18 Feb

Why Should We Mix Up Our Proteins?

Proteins are one of three macronutrients we consume in our food. Arguably the most important as they are the building blocks for the body. One aspect regarding protein consumption that often gets neglected is variation in the diet. Each source of protein we consume has varying amounts of protein subunits called amino acids. These subunits are integral to our body’s ability to grow and develop. Amino acids are responsible for, but not limited to:

  • Giving the body structure and strength
  • Building hormones and cell signaling molecules
  • Building Enzymes
  • Building immune system chemicals
  • Building transport proteins

There are 20 amino acids:

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glycine
  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Tyrosine
  • Valine

Of the 20, there are 8 essential amino acids, cannot be made by the body, that we must be obtained from the diet:

  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Our bodies don’t store amino acids the same way we do carbohydrates and fats. We utilize amino acids for a host of processes causing it to have a high turnover rate. The amounts we do store are known as amino acid pools. Once we breakdown protein into amino acids, they pass through the liver and enter the bloodstream becoming part of the plasma pool of amino acids. This is a collection of essential and non-essential amino acids. In total, this pool contains around 100g of amino acids.

So what does this have to do with protein variation and why it’s important?

We have a large demand for protein in the body to help build and create new chemicals, etc. Thus, protein is an important aspect of our daily nourishment that will vary depending on the demands we place on the body. All sources of protein have varying amounts of amino acids. Some have more Leucine (an essential amino acid) than others. By intaking a vast array of protein food sources we are able to ensure adequate protein, and amino acid, intake along with minimizing the potential for food intolerances by consuming the same foods day after day. As mentioned in previous posts, eating the same foods day after day can provoke food intolerances where the body actually elicits an immune response increasing systemic inflammation. This can lead to malnourishment as nutrient extraction from the food you are consuming is being inhibited. And this is not limited to protein sources. This can include all food types prompting us to ensure great rotation and variation in our weekly diet. Additionally, great variation can prevent lack of pleasure and taste in the food allowing satiation, enjoyment, and nourishment from the food we are intaking. Let’s create some examples to help elucidate this idea of variation in the diet:

Protein meal variations:

Meal #1 Example

    • Organic Sausage
    • Eggs
    • Fruit
    • Cooked Vegetables

Meal #2 Example

    • Grass Fed Beef
    • Green Salad
    • Sweet Potatoes

Meal #3 Example

    • Wild Caught Salmon
    • White Rice
    • Steamed vegetables

Meal #4 Example

    • Free-Range / Cage Free Organic Chicken
    • Golden Potatoes
    • Green Salad w/ Olive Oil

Meal #5 Example

    • Grass Fed Bison
    • White Rice
    • Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Meal #6 Example

    • Grass Fed Goat Whey Protein Powder
    • Cup of Frozen Mixed Berries
    • Cup of Frozen Kale
    • Almond Milk
    • Almond Butter

Meal #7 Example

    • Free-Range / Cage Free Turkey Breast
    • Mashed Sweet Potatoes
    • Cooked Spinach

In the above examples, we utilized a different protein source with each meal. This will allow for adequate intake of all necessary amino acids while maintaining great palatability, satiation, and pleasure. The requirements of our protein intake will vary depending on a multitude of factors. A few of the major variances:

  • The goal/function
  • Training frequency
  • Intensity of the training
  • Biological Age
  • Training Age

Choosing and preparing your proteins:

  1. Quality Meats: grass fed, free-range, organic
    1. This will have a direct impact on the lipid profile of the meal along with quality of protein
  2. Low Char when cooking
    1. Will help prevent carcinogen production
    2. Stay closer to the medium rare side with red meat and medium with ground beef
    3. Higher quality meats won’t require as much cooking
    4. Overcooked meat will denature the protein structure
  3. Slow Cooked
    1. Slow cook your meat whenever possible (will help breakdown the protein making it easier to digest for the body)
  4. No microwaving / reheating food
    1. This will denature the protein along with exposing your food to electromagnetic waves

Proteins are vital for the body to grow and build. We don’t store them to the same degree we do carbohydrates and fats creating a high turnover rate. Proteins are broken down into subunits called amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids, there are 8 essential amino acids we must get from the diet. Having a wide variety of protein sources in the diet will allow for adequate amino acid intake and maintain great palatability, satiation, and pleasure from your food. When preparing your proteins, choose the highest quality sources as this will affect the lipid profile of the protein. Additionally, cook them with care to prevent denaturing of the proteins and when able slow cook the protein to help break it down further allowing for easier digestion. Lastly, don’t forget to chew it well.

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