Posts tagged ‘protein’

All About Protein

Great Article about the importance of Protein — take the time to read!

My diet of choice is the Warrior Diet, this diet focuses a lot on protien intake during evening meals and post workout meals. Often times I do not think people realize how little protein they are actually eating, therefore do not get the benfits of of this great nutrient! I was a little leary in reading the beginning part of this article as, I though it would challenge my views on eating large quantities of protien. John Bernardi could not have said it better when he states “Is building muscle the ONLY reason we eat protein?” My faith is restored….Thanks for the rebutal of the recent studies!

Limit Protein to 20g Per Meal?
by John M Berardi, November 4th, 2009.

Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009.

A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2009.

So, what did these landmark studies show?

Well, the first study showed that when college-aged weight-trainers drink 0g, 5g, 10g, 20g, or 40g of protein after a weight training session, muscle protein synthesis is stimulated maximally at the 20g dose. Interestingly, there were no further increases in muscle protein synthesis at the 40g dose.

Similarly, in the second study, when young and elderly volunteers were given 30 or 90g of dietary protein in a single meal, the 30g dose maximally stimulated muscle protein synthesis. Again, there were no further increases in muscle protein synthesis at the 90g dose.

20-30 Grams and No More
Oddly, since the publication of these two studies, I’ve read no less than 2 dozen articles and blog posts suggesting that these two studies definitively close the case on protein intake. Indeed, some authors have even suggested that we’re ignorant wastrels if we dare eat more than 20-30g of protein in a single sitting.

Milk? This is the best you can do? Maybe you should read PN’s All About Milk article.
Here are a few quotes:

“So basically what you’re saying is that we don’t need to consume any more than 20g of high quality protein after exercise. You could get that in a 500ml serving of milk…This info is really going to piss off a bunch of internet keyboard jockeys.”

“I’ve cut back on the amount of protein I eat during most meals…No more slogging down 50-60g in a sitting. “

“Looks like 3 eggs post workout is just as effective as drinking a protein shake. Plus all that extra shake will be wasted.”

And so on…

Is Muscle The Only Reason We Eat Protein?
Now, while I can always appreciate a good muscle protein synthesis study, I sorta wonder if all the hoopla regarding these two studies is doing healthy eaters a service or not.

I mean, it’s definitely a good thing to discover that 30g of protein provides the upper limit of amino acids necessary for maximal protein synthesis at a particular point in time. However, the important, big-picture question is this one…is building muscle the only reason we eat protein?

I think not.

Challenging the notion that eating more than 30g in a sitting is wasteful, here are a few thoughts I sent to a group of colleagues:

1) What Else Will You Eat?
Let’s say you’re on a high calorie diet. Maybe you’re into bodybuilding or you’re training for an athletic event. And now you limit your protein intake to 20-30g per meal. What else do you fill up with? Carbs or fats?

Let’s take an example. Say you’re eating 4000-4500kcal per day for competition, which many larger lifers and athletes will need to do. And let’s say, because of these studies, you limit your protein intake to 5 meals of 20g each. In the end you’ll be getting 100g and 400kcal from protein.

Well, that’s 8% of your diet. What makes up the other 92%? If you’re loading up with that many carbs or fats, body comp can suffer. Remember, the protein is being replaced by macronutrients with lower thermic effects (more on this below).

2) What About The Other Benefits?
Muscle protein synthesis isn’t the only reason to eat more protein. There’s satiety, the thermogenic effects, the impact on the immune system, and more (see below).

Plus, there are probably a few benefits science can’t measure yet. I say the last part because there’s so much experiential evidence suggesting that when you’re training hard and you up your protein, you do better. So maybe we just haven’t looked in the right places to notice the real benefits.

Other Protein Benefits
In an article I wrote a few years back, I listed some of the benefits of eating more protein. And although the article is a few years old, nothing’s really changed since then. Here’s the list:

Increased Thermic Effect of Feeding — While all macronutrients require metabolic processing for digestion, absorption, and storage or oxidation, the thermic effect of protein is roughly double that of carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, eating protein is actually thermogenic and can lead to a higher metabolic rate. This means greater fat loss when dieting and less fat gain during overfeeding/muscle building.

Increased Glucagon — Protein consumption increases plasma concentrations of the hormone glucagon. Glucagon is responsible for antagonizing the effects of insulin in adipose tissue, leading to greater fat mobilization. In addition, glucagon also decreases the amounts and activities of the enzymes responsible for making and storing fat in adipose and liver cells. Again, this leads to greater fat loss during dieting and less fat gain during overfeeding.

Metabolic Pathway Adjustment – When a higher protein (20-50% of intake) is followed, a host of metabolic adjustments occur. These include: a down regulation of glycolysis, a reduction in fatty acid synthesis enzymes, increase in gluconeogenesis, a carbohydrate “draining” effect where carbons necessary for ridding the body of amino nitrogen is drawn from glucose.

Increased IGF-1 — Protein and amino-acid supplementation has been shown to increase the IGF-1 response to both exercise and feeding. Since IGF-1 is an anabolic hormone that’s related to muscle growth, another advantage associated with consuming more protein is more muscle growth when overfeeding and/or muscle sparing when dieting.

Reduction in Cardiovascular Risk — Several studies have shown that increasing the percentage of protein in the diet (from 11% to 23%) while decreasing the percentage of carbohydrate (from 63% to 48%) lowers LDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations with concomitant increases in HDL cholesterol concentrations.

Improved Weight-Loss Profile —Research by Layman and colleagues has demonstrated that reducing the carbohydrate ratio from 3.5 – 1 to 1.4 – 1 increases body fat loss, spares muscle mass, reduces triglyceride concentrations, improves satiety, and improves blood glucose management (Layman et al 2003 — If you’re at all interested in protein intake, you’ve gotta go read the January and February issues of the Journal of Nutrition. Layman has three interesting articles in the two journals).

Increased Protein Turnover — All tissues of the body, including muscle, go through a regular program of turnover. Since the balance between protein breakdown and protein synthesis governs muscle protein turnover, you need to increase your protein turnover rates in order to best improve your muscle quality. A high protein diet does just this. By increasing both protein synthesis and protein breakdown, a high protein diet helps you get rid of the old muscle more quickly and build up new, more functional muscle to take its place.

Increased Nitrogen Status — Earlier I indicated that a positive nitrogen status means that more protein is entering the body than is leaving the body. High protein diets cause a strong positive protein status and when this increased protein availability is coupled with an exercise program that increases the body’s anabolic efficiency, the growth process may be accelerated.

Increased Provision of Auxiliary Nutrients — Although the benefits mentioned above have related specifically to protein and amino acids, it’s important to recognize that we don’t just eat protein and amino acids — we eat food. Therefore, high protein diets often provide auxiliary nutrients that could enhance performance and/or muscle growth. These nutrients include creatine, branched chain amino acids, conjugated linoleic acids, and/or additional nutrients that are important but remain to be discovered. And don’t forget the vitamins and minerals we get from protein rich foods. (And lest anyone think I’m a shill for the protein powder industry, this last point clearly illustrates the need to get most of your protein from food, rather than supplements.)

Looking over this list of benefits, it’s hard to ignore the fact that we don’t just eat protein for its muscle synthetic effect. We eat protein for a bunch of other reasons too. And since a higher protein diet can lead to a better health profile, an increased metabolism, improved body composition, and an improved training response, why would anyone ever try to limit their protein intake to the bare minimum?

Take-Home Message
It seems to me that whether someone’s on a hypoenergetic diet (low calorie) or a hyperenergetic diet (high calorie), the one macronutrient they would want to be sure to “overeat” (relatively speaking) would be protein.

But that’s not what people do, is it? Instead, their protein prejudice often leads them to look for what they consider the bare minimum of protein (whether it’s 20-30g/meal or 0.8g/kg/day), and then overeat carbohydrates and fats instead. That could prove to be a performance – and body composition – mistake.

To this end, my advice is the same as I’ve outlined in the Precision Nutrition System.

Women – 1 serving of lean, complete protein (20-30g) with each meal, every 3 hours or so

Men – 2 servings of lean, complete protein (40-60g) with each meal, every 3 hours or so

This pattern of intake will make sure you’re getting enough protein to reap all the benefits that this macronutrient has to offer. Not just the protein synthetic benefits.

November 4, 2009 at 5:00 pm 2 comments

How to Begin A Life Long Nutritional Plan

Many people know they need to eat healthy and genuinely desire to support a healthy, well-functioning body. However, how do you choose a plan best for you? How do you begin? and How can I sustain my diet?

We are all inundated with sensational advertising, magazine covers, “model” type aspirations and unrealistic quick fix ways to make ourselves “look good”. A critical point to understand is that there is NO QUICK FIX for changing your eating habits and “looking good” does note mean being healthy. There is definitely no pill to transform you overnight, 11 days or even in one month.

As a 5’1″ female who is not a fitness model, not a professional body builder, or professional athlete, I would like to share with you what I have found that works for me to support healthy eating habits. I have always been conscious of my weight and body image, maybe from my perspective a little more so than the average female, but probably just as much as the next guy. After college, I had about 30 lbs to loose and attached it head on with aerobic type exercise while remaining somewhat conscious about my eating. I was successful with what I felt was a healthy way to loose weight. Following my weight loss, I did partake in my fair share of diet pills and try many quick fix gimmicks. Kind of odd how I use the words quick fix and gimmick in the same sentence! After realizing that I was single and wanted to live a little, 1-2 hours exercise was not going to fit in my daily routine. In order to sustain my weight loss, I experimented even more with crash diets and drastic ways to keep my weight off. My main method of madness was severe caloric restriction and skipping meals when I felt guilty about what I had eaten previously during that day or evening.

So…how did I get to where I am today? I read a lot, experimented a lot, I learned how to listen to my body and give it what it needs. This is a very important point and not all of our bodies need the same things, we are all unique and must eat differently. Yes, we all have the basic need for survival. We all need oxygen, food, water, and a nervous system to survive.

In researching many types of diets, most all came back to quick fixes and restriction. Whether, restricting carbohydrates as in the South Beach and Atkins diet, restricting fat and protein as in the Pritikin Diet, or Dean Ornish’s Diet. Other popular diets such as the Zone allocate percent of carbohydrates, fats, and protein that appears to be a one size fits all diet – remember not all of our bodies need the same things. So what now — time and time again, I circled back around to logic and eating a natural, innate diet as our ancestors might have eaten. So, I gave it a whirl. My diet of choice is the Warrior Diet, which cycles periods of fasting (a natural detox) and periods of feasting on a daily basis. Now, this is not a diet that everyone can practice, but I believe in the principals behind this way of eating. Ori Hofmekler, in his book “The Warrior Diet” makes some very important points about food that can be applied to sustaining a healthy life long nutritional plan.

One of the first things I needed to realize was that I was not “dieting” anymore; I was beginning a life long process. One that I would be able to sustain and incorporate into my life. Easy right? No Way, this was a process that I committed to change my habits, it certainly did not happen overnight. Remember, the whole weight thing, this was suddenly second fiddle and simply a by product of my new way of eating. It wasn’t weight loss, it was fat loss and you know, that stubborn fat that we all despise. It was actually coming off!

To begin your healty eating plan follow this simple test:
1. Is it simple? Can you realistically follow in your lifestyle (be honest with yourself, no excuses here) 2. Is your diet plan based on proven scientific principles 3. Have the rules worked for people like you?

If you cannot answer yes to all of the above questions, then you may need to rethink your selected diet plan. I will also add one more rule here, let’s say a BONUS: Can you sustain your nutritional plan for LIFE?

What influences your eating habits? How have these habits influenced how you look today? Do you eat for convenience? Do you plan what you are going to eat on a daily, weekly basis? Have you ever kept a diary of what you are eating? You don’t have to write a term paper, but jot down a few simple influences on your eating habits, now think about how you can change any of these influences to support a positive nutritional plan?

Think about the influences above, I would like to introduce you to a set of good habits to begin practicing:
1) Eat Complete Protein, prefreably grassfed(anything that had a mama – You cannot kill a pizza), I would also recommend supplementing your protein intake with a Whey Protein Shake. Most people do not get near enough protien on a daily baisis. (remember I metioned keeping a food log)
2) Carbohydrates are not the bad guy, but concentrate on eating complex carbohydrates (vegetables, whole and fresh, did it come from nature?) not simple carbohydrates (refined sugars, processed food, there are no bread trees)
3) Eat Good Fats and eat them often – omega 3 fats are essential, we do not produce these and must get them from the foods we ingest (fish, olive oil, nuts, flaxseed oil)
4) Eat Organic as often as possible
5) Drink ONLY zero Calorie Beverages (water or greeen tea – a cup of coffee in morning is ok)
5) Watch your empty calories – (Alcohol, simple carbs, most all processed foods)
6) Supplementation – a good multi Vitamin, EFA (Essential Fatty Acids), Calcium (for females).
7) Exercise – must be treated as an essential nutrient (see previous blog)

Finally, in order to sustain a good nutritional plan, keep it simple. Plan your meals. “Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal”. Do you want to look back and say, I should have done more to take care of myslef? What’s stopping you now…

My Influences: Reading and Websites
The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler
Prograde Nutrition
Defense Nutrition
Precision Nutrition
The Wellness Practice
The Innate Diet & Natural Hygiene by James L. Chesnut

October 11, 2009 at 8:49 pm 1 comment

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