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6 Things You Need To Know About Protein

6 Things You Need To Know About Protein

Those containers of whey protein you have stacked in your closet, are they helping or hurting you? While they definitely buy you a membership card into the Jersey Shore Club, they might be better used as bed risers. The average man believes that the more protein you eat, the more muscle you’ll gain, but this is not entirely true. Before you eat your pound of grilled chicken for lunch, read on:

1. Protein is essential for you to survive.

Protein is a component of every cell, tissue, and organ in the body. When we eat protein, it is digested into amino acids, which are considered the “building blocks” of life, as they are responsible for creating all the other proteins our body needs. This is a continuous cycle, and thus your body needs protein every day. If it’s been a while since high school biology, and this seems confusing, think of a big building made out of different Lego pieces. Once that building is broken apart, you can use the pieces to build new things, just as your body does with the amino acids found in the protein you digest.

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2. Not all proteins were created equal.

Different sources of protein provide different amino acids. Foods that provide all of the essential amino acids, or ones that cannot be made by our bodies, are called complete proteins and come from animal-based foods. Meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese are sources of complete proteins. Incomplete proteins are low in one or more of these essential amino acids, and include foods such as beans and rice. However, you can combine these incomplete protein sources to ensure you get all of the essential amino acids you need.

3. You do not need as much protein as you think you do.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 46 grams for women ages 19–70+ years of age and 56 grams from men 19–70+ years of age. This equates to 10–35% of your daily caloric intake. According to the Food and Nutrition Board, it is recommended that you consume 0.36 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should consume 58 grams of protein per day. The 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) found that men above the age of 20 years old were consuming 101.9 grams of protein and women of the same age were taking in 70.1 grams of protein. This means that most Americans are getting almost twice the amount of protein they need.

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4. You can get a sufficient amount of protein from plants.

For those who choose to not eat meat, there are still ample ways to get your recommended daily intake of protein. Non-animal sources of meat include beans, nuts, nut butters such as peanut butter, almond milk, seeds, whole grains, and soy protein such as tofu and veggie burgers. Contrary to popular belief as well, you can be an athlete and a vegetarian. Famous vegetarian athletes include Joe Namath, Prince Fielder, and Billie Jean King.

5. More protein does not always equal more muscles.
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    Eating large levels protein does not directly equate to more muscle mass. In fact, athletes only need slightly more protein than the average individual, which they are likely getting from the increased amount of food intake. A 2004 article in the Journal of Sports Sciences, by Kevin D. Tipton and Robert R. Wolfe, states that increased protein will provide a “minimal” advantage and that lean body mass can be maintained with a large variety of protein diets. They conclude that most athletes are already meeting this requirement, thus high protein diets are not necessary.

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    6. A high-protein diet can harm you.

    Often high-protein foods, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, contain high levels of saturated fat as well. These foods can increase the amount of bad cholesterol in your body and thus put you at a higher risk of heart disease. In people who suffer from kidney disease, high-protein diets put an extra strain on the kidneys as they attempt to eliminate the by-products of protein metabolism. Furthermore, some high-protein diets suggest limiting carbohydrate intake. This can result in a lack of other important nutrients, as well as fiber, which can cause constipation and diverticulitis.

    The information on the internet related to protein is largely dominated by websites promoting high-protein diets and supplements. The next time you read about how you should eat a bowl of whey a day with a side of bone marrow, take a look at how many supplement ads are also on the website. A balanced diet, as always, is best. Before starting any diet, though, you should talk to your healthcare professional. Now, enjoy your chicken and maybe throw in some veggies or some pasta. Your biceps will not disappear.

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark Chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko Biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and Black Tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    More About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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