Nutrition 101: Protein

In the post “Nutrition 101: Burn Fat Fast!”, I mentioned how protein provides the building blocks for muscle tissue and is involved in the structure of skin, bones, and tendons as well as being involved in many bodily functions. Protein is composed of various amino acids that are essential to your diet. Although protein in a diet is more important for people who are looking to build muscle, it is still an essential nutrient for those trying to lose weight or cut up. While dieting, protein should make up approximately 40 percent of your diet and it should be included in each meal throughout the day. Foods high in protein that can be included in your diet are chicken breast, fish (salmon, tilapia, and tuna fish), lean steak, lean pork, eggs, and occasionally turkey. Other foods that contain a moderate amount of protein that can be included in your diet are cottage cheese, whey protein, yogurt, milk, beans (soy beans recommended), cashews and almonds.

Here is a list of foods and their protein ratings…

Food/Protein Rating

  1. Eggs (whole)/100
  2. Fish/70
  3. Lean beef/69
  4. Milk/60
  5. Brown Rice/57
  6. White Rice/56
  7. Soybeans/47
  8. Whole-grain wheat/44
  9. Peanuts/43
  10. Dry beans/34
  11. White potato/34

Tip: As you can see, I wrote “whole” next to eggs. This is because most people today believe that egg whites are healthier or better for you which isn’t true. The yolk part of the egg actually contains just as much protein as the “white” part of the egg along with dietary fats and minerals needed for a well-rounded diet. If you feel you need to cut out some fat out of your diet, do it elsewhere. This doesn’t mean to eat 5 whole eggs each morning, but 2 whole eggs with 3 egg whites is actually more productive for you than 5 egg whites.

You most likely noticed how some of these foods have what could be considered a low rating of protein. Although that is true, if you combine two of them in a meal it’s almost as effective as eating something rated higher on the list. And most of the lower rated food items have a high rating of carbs or dietary fats which are also as important as protein.

Protein Supplements- A protein supplement can help you reach your goal of 6 meals per day and help to provide the necessary protein to build and recover muscle. My first suggestion when purchasing a protein supplement is to READ THE LABEL. Some supplements contain various amounts of carbohydrates, which means extra calories and makes it harder for you to burn fat. I suggest going with a supplement that contains little to no carbs and just take the shake with a banana or other source of carbs pre-workout, and maybe with fruit or something light post-workout. Whey protein is one of the more common milk proteins and is what I recommend for someone looking to add protein to their diet. Caseinate is another type of milk protein most effective when taken before bed because it’s a slow digesting protein supplement which means it will help your muscles recover when your sleeping, and your body won’t be able to breakdown your muscles, so instead it will break down fat.

Tip: I mentioned this earlier in the post, but remember that it is important to try to include protein in each of your meals. And you’re aiming for 4-6 meals a day! Reason for this is because if your working out along with dieting, you’ll need something to help boost your muscle recovery and protein is what does just that. Carbs and fats aren’t needed in every meal like protein because they are best utilized at certain points during the day.

In conclusion, protein is the most important part of your diet when you’re looking to build muscle or cut up to obtain a more toned look. If you’re looking to burn a lot fat or lose large amounts of weight pay close attention to my next post on carbohydrates but don’t overlook this post on protein. My next post on carbs will explain to you how they can be used most efficiently throughout the day in order to burn them and prevent them from storing as fat.

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