Protein (which also offers a wide variety of vitamins and minerals) is the building blocks of muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, and blood, and it is essential for lean muscular development and growth, as well as fat loss. Lean protein (in various types due to different nutritional value) should be consumed with every meal.Protein is an important component of every cell in the body, including hair and nails! Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues and also uses it to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. There are many different types of proteins that I’ll discuss with you but lets start with the whole sources:
- Beef (if ground, 90% or leaner)
- Fish and Shellfish
- Beans & Lentils (9g protein/cup + fiber, folate, & iron!)
- Tofu (note: soft & firm have different protein amounts)
- Edamame Beans (17g protein/cup!)
- Nuts & Nut Butters
Then, comes protein powders; which also have a wide variety of choices (macro breakdown, ingredients, and flavour). Since we are trying to eat a high protein diet, protein powder can be a very convenient (and tasty!) choice. Some can also be found to be carbohydrate, fat, and cholesterol-free or contain only a small amount; allowing you to create your own carb and fat choices. In comparison to high-protein foods such as meat and fish, it can be a money-saver as well! Just remember, there is a time and place for everything. Protein powder can be used at times where your in a bind and need to get your protein intake and you want to get it into your body quickly since it’s already in liquid form, or post workout when you need that protein to be driven into your muscles ASAP! Although, I personally suggest to consume whole sources for two reasons:
1. protein powder is still processed so you have to be careful as to what ingredients the brand is using (ie. sweeteners – sucralose, aspartame, stevia etc) and
2. because your body needs to burn more calories trying to break down the whole protein source oppose to powder which has already been liquified for you.
- Whey Protein: Derived from milk. By far, the most popular type of protein. Tends to be the best tasting, highest quality, and most cost effective. It also has a fast absorption rate in the body.
Concentrate: low lactose level that is well tolerated by most lactose-sensitive people. Small amount of fat and carbs.
Isolate: Virtually fat and lactose free. Thinner in texture due to the loss of fat.
- Casein or Milk Protein: Because the protein found in milk is 80% casein, the two terms mean the same thing. It is absorbed slowly and steadily in the body so I recommend this protein for the evening, before bed, so your body is being fuelled (for muscle repairs/growth and fat-loss) during your sleep.
- Egg White Protein: It was the most popular protein for many years before milk protein surpassed it due to it’s better taste and lower cost. It’s very low in fat and carbs, cholesterol-free, and an excellent choice for those who wish/need to avoid dairy products.
- Plant Protein: Soy, rice, and pea protein are by far the most popular but can also be made from hemp, sprouts, grains, seeds, quinoa, millet, spirulina, chia, and more. Soy and hemp are unique among the plant proteins because they supply all 8 of the essential amino acids. All are rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and fiber.
*Note* the isoflavones in soy provide antioxidant benefits and heart health benefits and is often used by woman transitioning through menopause
- Beef Protein: It has been known for a long time that bodybuilders and athletes consume beef to help build muscle and increase strength because of its natural sources of creatine and BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids). It comes defatted so it contains no fat or cholesterol. And no, they don’t taste like beef (lol), they too, are flavoured.
I myself and as well as many doctors and scientists suggest that a person consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body mass (1g/lb) for a healthy diet. If your goal is to build and develop lean muscle mass, then it is suggested to consume protein with every meal with the equation of 1.3 grams of protein per pound of body mass (1.3g/lb). Here’s a table to show you an example of this equation:
Daily Protein Suggestions
- 100 lbs
- 140 lbs
- 180 lbs
- Average 1g / lb
- 100 g
- 140 g
- 180 g
- Body Builder 1.3g / lb
- 130 g
- 182 g
- 234 g