Thursday, December 16, 2010

the protein story

I’ve blogged about the other 2 macronutrients already (carbs and fat) and get a lot of questions about whether I think dairy and animal protein is healthful, so I think it’s time to address the issue. 

What is protein?

protein

Daily, your body uses and turns over protein for tasks such as tissue building and repair, forming enzymes and hormones, and making antibodies to fight infections.

Protein can come from animal sources or plant sources. Protein from animal sources is called complete protein or high biological value protein. This means that the protein contains all of the essential amino acids (those that the body cannot produce on its own).

Vegetarians & Vegans

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If you missed my other posts about vegetarianism and veganism, read them here and here. The American Dietetic Association states that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

Many people wonder if adequate protein intake is possible when consuming an animal-free diet. Vegetables and grains also contain protein, but it is important to remember that these are not complete sources of protein. It is best to consume a variety of foods throughout the day in order to meet protein requirements.

How much protein should I eat?

The ADA currently recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (1 kg = 2.2 pounds). If you are 140 pounds, ~51 grams of protein (most 3 oz servings of meat contain ~20 g protein) would be adequate. This amount of protein is sufficient for recreational and some competitive athletes, although weight lifters and endurance athletes (marathoners, triathletes, etc.) may have slightly higher needs.

Endurance Athletes

Type of Training

Daily Protein
needs/kg

Daily Protein
needs/lb

Light to moderate training

1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram

0.55 to 0.8 grams per pound

Heavy training load and high intensity                                               

1.4 to 2.0 grams per kilogram

0.7 to 0.9 grams per pound

Strength Training

Type of Training

Daily Protein
needs/kg

Daily Protein
needs/lb

Weight and Body-focused Sports

1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram

0.55 to 0.8 grams per pound

Body Building                                               

1.4 to 1.7 grams per kilogram

0.63 to 0.77 grams per pound

Sports science experts Mark Hargreaves, PhD says: Strength and endurance athletes may need to consume 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram body weight each day (about 3-4 oz. per day for a 160 lb athlete), which is somewhat greater than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (0.8 g/kg).

According to Kevin Tipton, PhD, a metabolism expert: Studies from our laboratory indicate that exercise may actually reduce the requirement for protein intake due to the stimulation of muscle anabolism by the exercise itself. This may explain how some endurance athletes, such as the Kenyan distance runners, can thrive on very low protein intakes.

Most protein requirements can be met through dietary protein intake. If unable to meet requirements, you may consider a protein supplement…more on this in an upcoming post.

Benefits of animal protein and vegetable protein?

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animal: complete protein; can consume less of it to meet requirements; may be high in saturated fat and calories.

vegetable: fiber and protein without calories and saturated fat but must consume more to meet requirements; less acidic for those with related health conditions.

I haven’t done enough research to conclude that complete elimination of animal products is beneficial for every person. Doing so is a very personal decision…I don’t believe in cookie-cutter diet recommendations. See a registered dietitian to help you plan an appropriate diet. :)

12 days of giving logo copy

Day 5: Phone a friend

Text messaging has taken over a good chunk of our daily communication; take some time out of your day to catch up with someone > 160 characters, and you won’t regret it.

While text messaging is super convenient, phone calls are definitely more personal. They don’t have to last for hours; even a 10 minute shout-out can make someone’s day.

Who was the last person you called?!

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sources: American Dietetic Association; Sports Science Exchange Roundtable 42 VOLUME 11 (2000);4

17 comments:

  1. I talked to my mom for an hour last night ;)

    Thanks for the protein info! I don't really worry about it. I think I consume plenty, but I don't really count it.

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  2. i think the last person i actually called was my mom. she's really the only person i call anymore. i like to write letters to my friends instead. yes i'm oldfashioned

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  3. Great information here EMily. I typically tell people that 2grams/kg is the max amount of protein I would recommend for a healthy diet. Any more than that I have read seems to have the opposite effect. I didn't know that about exercise reducing the need for protein. I knew exercise made our bodies more efficient at using protein, so...I guess it does make sense!

    I call my friends more than I text. Texts aggravate me (but yes, they are convenient!).

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  4. phone calls are so much more personal, but i'll admit that i'm terrible at phone conversations. i always feel like i rush them or fear i'll run out of things to say, ha

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  5. great post, love your informative posts like this!! (well all posts really :))

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  6. great post! i actually do count protein, and i try to keep it up at the higher end to fuel my strength training. and I will be making a phone call today! i'm guilty of being addicted to texting.

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  7. wow, great info. thanks for sharing

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  8. The protein issue is very tricky. The typical "western diet" supplies protein in excess! But those that don't consume animal products should be mindful of their protein intake, especially if they are very active. I know I'm low on protein when I feel tired and grumpy! Great topic, great post!

    Oh, and I just called my grandma this morning :)

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  9. Fantastic info, as always Emily!
    Last person I called? Seth, I think.

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  10. I always get freaked out about this kind of suggestion--"__# of grams per __of body weight" because I never measure my food servings. I start worrying that the portion of meat I had was too big or too small given the suggestion. I guess I could just use that "deck of cards" suggestion...

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  11. Great post. I think this is a confusing topic for people, and I hear strange things about protein at the gym all the time. I cringe to think how excess amounts may be damaging the kidneys in people consuming well over guidelines (by 2-3 times).

    The last person I called was the owner of the restaurant we want to go to tonight. At Christmas time they are usually booked up so I wanted to see if they had space for us.

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  12. great post! i love how you always have practical information for people, because a lot of the time, all you see on the internet is fad diets or overpriced trendy health foods. i definitely need to call people more often, i end up texting or talking on facebook more often than calling. the last person i called was my sister.
    also, i'm glad you're enjoying kimchee grilled cheese. happy holidays!

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  13. great post as ever the radio interviews are saved on blog talk radio just click the link :-) Rebecca

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  14. Love your post! I have been catching up on my fav blogs after returning from HI.

    I am tempted to go Veg for animal welfare (PETA ads make an impression) and environmental reasons, but I have yet to make the committment.

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  15. A friend that I was meeting up with for lunch! I could not see where his car was parked!

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  16. awesome info emily!! i was wondering if you've read that article about exercising before breakfast on the nytimes or if you've read the actual study & what you think of it?

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