Protein is always the topic when talking about nutrition, diet and exercise. If you have been considering go plant based, have you, perhaps asked yourself ''Where do I get my protein from?''
1. What is protein?
Protein is a complex organic compound, made by long chains of amino acids. The proteins in our body basically contain 20 amino acids, from which 12 the body can adequately make and the other 8 we need to get through food.
Protein needs to be broken down by digestion into simpler compounds, the amino acids, only then can they be utilized by the body. Proteins are the building blocks and carriers used for growth and repair of tissue. Protein is not used by the body as fuels, instead carbohydrates are the fuel.
2. Which foods do we find protein?
Animal products: meats, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy.
Plant products: spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peas, wild rice, nuts, seeds, other vegetables and fruits.
3. How much protein do we need?
Even though there is many different answers for that question, looking at a meta-analysis using nitrogen balance data. Was found that 0,8 or 0,9 gram protein per kilogram body weight. These values are already quite higher than the average to give margin for error. (Check study report for more info.) This means 5 to 10 % of total calories you eat per day should be protein. Now, I ask you how much percent are you having per day? more?
Does it matter the type of protein we choose? At the end isn't protein protein?
Yes it does! First of all, protein is acidic, meaning inflammatory. Animal protein has been connected to many diseases, like cancer. One example is a cancer-promoting hormone called IGF-1. this hormone is released in excess amounts by the liver when we eat animal protein.
On the other hand, people who do not consume animal protein have considered lower amounts of IGF-1 hormone. How is that possible?
In fact according to a study by Dr. Ornish if you stop eating animal protein from today, in just 11 days you would see the improvement on your IGF-1 values.
Following up the study, when we stop eating animal protein, we suppress cancer cells and even kill them. This can be seen also in another study by Doctor Dean Ornish, on prostate cancer. You can see how he used plant-based diet to reverse prostate cancer without chemotherapy.
4. Do I need to increase my protein percentage when I exercise more?
No, you don't. When we are very active physically, we are burning more quickly so we need to eat more in quantities. That does not mean that the ratios change. you can still have 5-10% protein in a 1600 kcal diet or on a 3000 kcal diet. What changes is the overall calories. Carbs is the thing you want to increase since is your main source of energy. Yes! Another thing, protein is acidic right? So after you exercise you release a lot of lactic acid, therefore you are quite acidic, think about anti-inflammatory foods you could eat to neutralize the acid... these are plant foods! EUREKA! Plant foods can help you improve your reparation before next workout.
Don't you worry about protein, worry about eating fresh foods packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, astringents, fiber and fatty acids.
T H Ngo, R J Barnard, C N Tymchuk, P Cohen, W J Aronson. Effect of diet and exercise on serum insulin, IGF-I, and IGFBP-1 levels and growth of LNCaP cells in vitro (United States). Cancer Causes Control. 2002 Dec;13(10):929-35.
Watch the video '' Changing Protein Recommendations by Dr. Michael Greger:
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