Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Things that are Good for You {Protein}

It's that time again. Forget about the post I just did on delicious hamburgers and think "healthy." Again, everything in moderation; I'm a firm believer in not depriving yourself from an occasional treat, but make sure that you fill your life with great healthy foods that don't make you feel like you are being deprived all of the time to do so.

If you didn't catch it, I did a post a couple of weeks ago called "Things that are Good for You" which focused mainly on the importance of healthy carbs in your diet. I recommend that you read that post as well to ensure that you are somewhat educated on all of the macronutrients, because they are all ESSENTIAL for life. That's right, if you don't have them eventually you will deprive your body of what you need for LIFE.

Keep in mind that I do have a BS in nutrition and am currently working in the nutrition field, however, I do not claim to be an expert and encourage you to do research on your own from RELIABLE sources. If you're not sure what a reliable source is, please ask.

What is a Macronutrient? Simple, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. YOU MUST HAVE THEM ALL IN YOUR DIET. Please don't try to drop a few pounds by cutting any of them out of your diet, it's really not safe and you will gain your weight back eventually when you incorporate them back into your diet. Last time we talked about CARBS. Carbs are great for you, healthy, give you energy and provide a ton of vitamins and other nutrients to your diet if used correctly. Your daily carb intake should consist of 45-65% of you calories or energy for the day. What does this mean? If you eat a diet that consists of 2000 calories a day, 900-1300 of your calories should be coming from carbs (roughly 225-325g). That sounds like a lot, but if you are eating brown rice, quinoa, 100% whole wheat bread, or oatmeal instead of mac and cheese, brownies and ice cream, you'll notice that it's not that hard. For more info on whole grains, please visit http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/grains.html. If you are a lady, smaller build or are not very active, you probably do not need a 2000 calorie diet. I would reach out to a professional or check out the Mypyramid site to find out what your daily needs are.

Now that we are all caught up, lets talk about protein. How much protein do you need? I'm afraid that protein is something that is over-used in our country. Fitness magazines, body building, gyms and supplement stores, all pound into our brains that WE NEED PROTEIN! The thing is, you are probably over consuming it at that point, substituting some of your carb calories for extra protein, or you are trying to squeeze in both and are getting TOO many calories (which will just be converted to fat if they're not used). 

I know the ladies out there caught that last part...when your body has unused calories at the end of the day, THEY WILL BE CONVERTED TO FAT AND STORED IN YOUR BUTT, THIGHS, OR HIPS! It can actually be stored anywhere that your body prefers, mine just happen to be in those spots ha ha. Something else that is a serious problem with over consumption of protein is that it is REALLY HARD ON YOUR KIDNEYS. Your body uses protein for so much more than your muscles. It uses it for your immune system, digestive tract, lymph system, circulatory system...well you get the point, EVERY system in your body needs protein to function, and we can't designate how our body uses it.  So when I talk about your body converting protein to fat, or even when it converts it to use for your other systems, it all goes through your kidneys; when you eat 2 or 3 times what you should be, your kidneys go into hyper-drive and get worn down really fast. Trust me, you do not want to have kidney problems when you are older.

So how much is the right amount? 10-30% of your calories or about 200-600 calories a day based on a 2000 calorie diet (if you are eating 2000 calories/day). If you like grams better, that is 50-175 grams.

I get nervous putting grams and calories or any actual numbers on here. I'm worried that you all will take me literally and start looking at the label of everything that you eat, counting to the nearest gram what you are eating. DON'T DO THAT. The reason that we have percentages is so that you can guesstimate. If you were to see that I put 175 grams of protein on here, then weighed out all of your chicken and looked at all of your packaging, you would probably be eating too much. Wanna know my protein needs? I've done fancy math skills that I won't bore you with now, but for my size, I should ONLY be consuming 43 grams of protein a day. Now do I do that? No, but how much is that? According to the CDC one small piece of meat (3oz), for example a small chicken breast (or piece of fish), can have around 21 grams of protein. 
When was the last time you bought a package of chicken that had 4 breasts in it, and was less than a pound. Those chicken breasts are already almost meeting the needs for most people's protein intake ALL DAY. So what about all of that extra protein that you are getting from bread, from beans, from cheese, yogurt, noodles, rice, soymacronutrients that you need, and if all of that extra protein puts you over your needs...it turns into fat. The CDC has a great "basics" page that will give you a general idea of how much protein you need based on your age and sex here, but again it's not tailored to you, so don't get crazy with checking out labels. 
Are you still with me? Almost done, don't give up on me now!

So what is okay for protein? Well, lean proteins are the best. An occasional steak or hamburger is okay for you, but some cultures encourage red meat to be eaten once a month or not at all. I personally like it, so every once in a while I have a hamburger. :) Lean meats consist of fish and poultry, with any fat cut off of it. If you bake it or broil it, some of the fat can be eliminated as well, but frying can often add a lot of that fat right back into it. If you're not a meat eater, there are PLENTY of veggie-friendly protein options (great for every one's diet!) Beans, nuts, seeds, dairy products, eggs, and tofu! I think my favorite non-meat protein option are beans; they are packed with protein and have great fiber in them too! I always remind people to be careful with beans though, if they are refried, most of the time they have fat or lard added to them, so try to avoid that and get whole beans whenever there is the option. 

Easy tips for protein:
1. Consider a cut of cooked meat the size of a deck of cards a serving size. That is 3oz and usually 50-60% of what most people need all day.
2. Try to eat meat only once during the day and get the rest of your protein through other sources like beans or peas, low fat cheese, or nuts. 
3. Avoid expensive protein drinks or protein powders, instead drink one 8oz cup of 1% chocolate milk to get the correct ratio of protein, carbs and fat after a workout. (Don't go crazy with this one). 
4. If you are very active or an athlete, protein shakes or extra protein may be needed in your diet. If you are serious about your workout and being healthy, I would consult a Registered Dietitian or health professional, instead of a trainer at the gym or sales-person at the supplement store who stands to make a profit off of your purchase. 

Question time! Don't be afraid to hit me up, if I don't know the answer I will find it for you!

Keep it real, 


ps. If you are wondering about amino acids, I am just focusing on the macronutrients for now, but will go into greater detail in the future if readers desire it. 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...  

how do I tell, for my size/weight, what my grams should be? Do you recommend something, a chart, that would calculate this for me?

Blogger RooFresh said...  

Great question! In the nutrition world we have a calculation for that. Start by calculating your weight into kilograms:

Your weight divided by 2.2, i.e. If a man weighs 200lb, 200/2.2=90.9kg
Take that number and multiply by .8 and it will calculate your protein needs in grams. So the 90.9kg man would need approximately 73grams.

Remember that this is an approximation and is for a HEALTHY adult. It doesn't work for someone with a disease or medical condition, or even a professional athlete.

Did that answer your question? Let me know if you need help with calculations, and again, don't stress yourself out trying to get the exact amount in ever day.

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