I make no secret about my feelings on “All Protein, No Carb” diets. I believe that carbs (in moderation) are essential to muscle growth, energy and brain function. I completely understand the science behind cutting carbs to lose weigh but I believe that people abuse this “science” and end up harming themselves in the long run. It’s also my opinion that these extremely high in protein and low in carb diets are not sustainable. My theory has always been, eat a well-balanced diet with 40-50% of your calories coming from Protein, 20-30% from Whole Grain Carbs and 20-30% from good fats (and of course as many veggies as you can eat). I believe Protein to be a “super” food and is essential to weight (fat) loss.
So, what exactly is a “Protein” and why is it beneficial to your health?
Protein is a nutrient needed by the human body for growth and maintenance. Aside from water, protein is the most abundant molecule in the body. Protein is found in all cells of the body and is the major structural component of all cells in the body, especially muscle.
Proteins are one of the key nutrients for success in terms of sports. They play a major role in the response to exercise. Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are used for building new tissue, including muscle, as well as repairing damaged tissues. Proteins, however, only provide a small source of fuel for the exercising muscles, being used as fuel typically only when carbohydrates and lipid resources are low.
Simply put, a protein is crazy important to your body and is used by the body to grow and maintain muscle. So say it with me. Proteins are our friend. Protein is good.
Lets explore the world of Protein..
Different Sources of Protein
The easiest way to get your Protein would be through animals: Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish etc. There are other options like Whey Protein, Soy, Vegan and Dairy but the primary source for protein is through meat. If you are getting a majority of your protein from red meat there are a couple of factors you need to know.
#1 Red Meat would be considered a “complete protein”. It has all the essential amino acids (building blocks of proteins) and it’s not a known allergen. How many people do you know who are allergic to red meat?
#2 It has a very high Calorie to weight ratio. Meaning that you’ll get a lot of protein per serving (23 grams for 3 oz) but that also comes with a hefty calorie count.
#3 It has a much higher fat count than other options (15 grams per 3 oz) which can lead to heart disease.
Red Meat has its advantages (not to mention taste) but should not be your main source of protein if you are looking to live a healthy lifestyle.
Poultry, Pork and Fish are by far your better options when choosing to get your protein from animals. By comparison, a 3 oz serving of Chicken or Turkey has about 27 grams of protein to only 3 grams of fat. Certain types of Fish are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids which is a non-saturated (good) fat and has been linked to reducing heart disease. Lean Pork is a great protein source as well. Many people look down on pork as being “unhealthy” but recent research (and better farming) has all but eliminated the concerns about pork. Though, if you have a history of heart disease, Pork and Red Meat should be your last choice.
Other great options for protein are of the vegan variety.
- Black beans
- Veggie Burgers
- Soy products
- Peanut Butter
These are just a few options for those in the “no meat” club.
The best place to find pure protein without the fat, calories and carbs would be in the form of Whey Protein. It typically can be found in powder form but new products like “Protein Pudding” are great alternatives. The great thing about supplements is that you can take it on the go and it doesn’t need to be cooked. One red flag concerning protein supplements is the carbs per serving. Many Protein shakes have a high carb levels. These are meant for those looking to GAIN weight not lose it. So if you’re looking to cut fat, go with the lowest carb option.
Believe it or not some cheeses, like Swiss are great sources for protein. (7 grams for every serving. ) So if you are in a pinch cheese can help. Just watch out for the fat level.
I mentioned above that I suggest people should get 40-50% of their calories every day from protein. Some may say this is high and I have seen some nutritionist suggest as low as 25%. I can not tell you enough how false this is. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle and recovery for the body.
The more lean protein you eat the more lean muscle your body can grow. More muscle means more calories burned which again means more weight (fat) loss. If you are doing any kind of exercise your body is breaking down muscle with each and every rep, run, jog, walk, swim etc. (no matter the intensity) If you aren’t replenishing your body with enough protein, your muscle mass will actually AND THIS IS A BAD THING! You don’t want to lose weight and end up looking flabby because you didn’t eat enough protein in your diet.
Just as a challenge, try to eat protein with every meal. Not a lot but at least get some protein every time you eat. Make your dinners Protein and Veggies and have some low-fat cottage cheese about an hour before you go to sleep. Continue your current exercise routine and then watch the fat (weight) fall off. I’m telling you, protein is the super food. If you aren’t eating enough, your body is missing out.
Below is an example of my current diet. Try it, you never know it may work for you.