Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Great Sources of Protein

There are several great proteins available. What is the big deal about protein? There is tons of about the data benefits of protein, with many now saying that a consistent intake throughout the day whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain muscle is the way to go. I’d argue that protein timing, meaning the frequency of intake, trumps total protein intake. Most people eat very little protein for breakfast and lunch, then load up at dinner. Instead, a better approach would be to spread that same total amount throughout the day. The reason is protein helps fill you, it helps your muscles repair and recover from exercise, and quality proteins, like the great sources of protein listed below, provide the important amino acids we all need to function optimally. That being said, here are the proteins: Great Sources of Protein Whole eggs. While these are in no particular order, if there was a #1, whole eggs could arguably top the list. It’s hard to find a comparable source of high quality protein. And whole eggs is key – while the whites do have some protein, too, you get even more in the yolk, along with a plethora of other great nutrients. Therefore, I put my recommendation in for whole Eggs as the best protein source. Wild salmon. Wild salmon is loaded with protein. With around 7 grams per ounce, it’s certainly something to include on the weekly menu. It’s also loaded with great for you omega-3 fats, which are one of the most important nutrients you should eat more of. With animal based proteins, the less legs the better — which means fish are at the top of the list. Cottage cheese. This is one of my favorites! It is protein packed (16 grams for just 1/2 cup). Instead of always doing the basic cottage cheese and fruit, become creative with what you put in your cottage cheese. Here is an example; a couple spoonfuls on a Wasa crisp, some cracked black pepper and chopped jalapeno. Pretty amazing! It’s a perfect snack … and if you can’t get over the texture, try blending it in a smoothie or just blending it with a little fruit. Beef. It’s hard to knock the quality protein in beef, even though I'm not a big meat eater. It’s loaded with quality amino acids (building blocks of protein), zinc, iron, magnesium and plenty of other important nutrients. Stick with some of the leaner cuts like eye of round roast or steak, sirloin tip side steak, sirloin steak, or flank steaks. And it doesn’t have to just be a steak or a burger, try making fajitas with beef or top a salad with sliced flank. Greek yogurt. At around 16 grams per cup, this is a no brainer. With double the protein of “regular” yogurt and half the sugar, it’s a great choice for a snack or even a meal when you mix something with a bit of substance — nuts, fruit, etc. Sardines. They’re loaded with protein, but also omega-3 fats and vitamin D, yet low in contaminants that permeate the majority our seafood today. Whey protein. Whey protein is loaded with amino acids, particularly some key aminos called branched chain amino acids, that may specifically aid in recovery and muscle repair. Making a smoothie with a little fruit, maybe some veggies and a handful of nuts is a fantastic meal or snack. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s convenient. And at around $2-$3 per 20 grams of protein, it’s high on the list of the best protein sources. Poultry (chicken, turkey, etc). Roasting a whole chicken at least once per week to have for dinner and the have a convenient, quality lunch option for the next day or two. Short on time? Pick up an already cooked rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store. This is a good option when pressed for time. Same with turkey — don’t just save this one for Thanksgiving Day. Nuts. These aren’t the highest source of amino acids — in fact, they’re a bit limited. BUT, for convenience sake they made the list. They’re a perfect snack, portable and not perishable. That means you can forget about them in your desk, gym bag or locker and when you find them a month later, they’re still edible. They’re also a great source of of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fiber. Quinoa. Another vegetarian based protein, but my all time favorite. Unlike nuts, this one is a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids. I’d call this a “win win” for packing in a serious nutrients. I substitute this one for oatmeal quite often. In fact — cooked it in almond milk, added a handful of toasted almond, some fresh berries and raw honey. Provides you tons of energy to start the day!

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