Sep 10, 2007

How can I add protein to my diet in a healthy way?

There are actually quite a variety of ways in which to achieve this goal. As is the case with many nutrients, consuming proteins from a variety of sources ensures a more well rounded diet and helps to avoid long-term digestive and possible food sensitivity issues. With respect to food sources you can choose from chicken, turkey, ostrich, veal, pork, lamb, beef, fish, seafood, beans, nuts, peas, lentils, cheese, milk, eggs, soy products, whole grains, seeds, and more. A couple quick reference points here to consider. First, if you are choosing protein sources from animal products, do your best to choose lean or low fat sources. While there are many benefits animal sources may provide which plant sources may not, one must always be aware of getting in excessive amounts of fat calories from them. If plant sources are what you are looking for, something to keep in mind is that it is very difficult to find what are called “complete” proteins here. A complete protein is one that provides all of the essential amino acids (in other words, nutrients you must ingest since your body cannot manufacture them). Therefore, if the bulk of your proteins come from plant sources, you need eat sources that compliment one another in the amino acids they contain.

A final thought here is on going the supplement route. Is it worthwhile? Can you get good protein from supplementation? Let me put it this way: your number one goal should be to start with the best nutrition you can get from food. However, in today’s world that is not always as easy as it appears. Supplementation can be valuable additions to your daily intake if it is used as a way to “fill in the gaps” of what you have difficulty getting in with your foods. So, getting in some extra protein from a blended source (i.e. containing soy, whey, casein, milk, etc.) in a shake or snack bar can be a great option. One strong caution here: supplements are not currently well regulated by the FDA. What does that mean to you? In short, I don’t think the saying “you get what you pay for” is truer anywhere else than the supplement industry. Chances are, if you are paying bottom dollar for the big tub of protein you aren’t getting a quality product. In fact, you may not be getting what you paid for at all. Be careful. Do your research on the companies from which you purchase.

...One additional comment I will make here that was not in my original article. As I mentioned on the tail end, much of the supplement realms is left to the consumer to disseminate. With all that's out there, this is a tough chore (at best). This is one reason I only consume and recommend Advocare supplementation to my clients, family, and friends. You can take whatever you want out there on the market. With what I've seen, tried, researched, and gotten (or not gotten) results with...Advocare's Sci/Med board is the only one I'll trust anymore. Also, in some recent research I've found that only 25% of the U.S. population gets approximately all the recommended nutrition from food sources alone. So, you tell me...are most people getting what they need through food? Supplementation makes a good argument here. Furthermore, I would venture to guess I am one of those that fits into that 25%...yet I have felt better, recovered quicker, avoided illness, and had more energy for the last 6 years I've supplemented with Advocare than ever before.

The choice is yours.

Written for SB Fitness Magazine (click here to visit site)

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