I love protein as a topic, especially and an athlete who cannot consume dairy. There is a lot of different research out there about what protein is best and how much is best and when to consume it. So in this article I'm going to highlight different types of proteins and what they do for the body. As far as how much to consume that all depends on your body, your sport, the time of year, the quality of the protein. So it's always best to ask a medical professional when you are going to start changing nutrient quantities in your own diet.
First off, lets talk about what protein is. If you asked the general population, the standard response is "meat." That is only part of the picture. Proteins are carbon, oxygen and hydrogen molecules just like fats and carbohydrates. The thing that sets them apart is they also contain nitrogen molecules, which allows proteins to repair and help rebuild cells. Proteins are made up of 22 amino acids; 13 are made by the body and 9 need to be consumed from food.
All animal sources of protein contain all 9 essential amino acids, but several plant sources contain all 9 as well. Quinoa, hemp, chia and soy are great examples of plant based complete proteins.
A couple main types of protein are Branch Chain Amino Acids, Glutamine and Cysteine. Branch chain amino acids (BCAA) are absorbed directly into the muscle tissue for energy use without having to be processed through the liver first. This makes it a great fuel for athletes to have in their system once the stores of glycogen have been depleted. Some researches believe BCAA can decrease muscle damage if consumed before and after exercise, amounts varied greatly so speak with a sports nutritionist if you want to begin adding BCAA to your daily regime. Included in BCAA are whey and casein proteins. Both are derived from milk and have differing absorption properties. Whey protein absorbs quickly without being metabolized making it popular among weight lifters. Casein must be metabolized by the body before it can be used, which gives the body a steady stream of amino. The downside to BCAA is it's a no-no for those of us who cant have dairy.
Soy has been found to be a great comparable alternative to animal proteins. The texture and flavor lend itself well to most dishes that require ground meat. Downside here is it's hard to find a non-GMO soy product and studies are showing that too much soy can cause issue with hormone production. It is also found in EVERYTHING! So you're probably getting more soy that you think.
Quinoa and chia are staples in my house. I use quinoa as an alternative to rice in almost every dish that calls for rice. I also add it to my salads par-cooked to get more plant protein and crunch in my salad.
Chia has an interesting texture. When you add it to liquid it forms a gel-like casing around the seed. So I tend to add it to my yogurt and oatmeal. In yogurt it gives a tapioca like texture and I don't even notice it in my oatmeal due to that fact that I add nuts raisins and apples as well😉
Like with all foods you want to get a variety. Each food may have its one or two nutrients it's known for, but getting a variety adds the benefit of additional nutrients you didn't know your body wanted.
As always leave your questions and comments below or on FB
See you on the other side!