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Let's talk about nutrition!: Protein an interactive blog post

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Let's talk about nutrition is a new feature I'm adding to my blog, where I will be sharing all the health information I learn about nutrition on my way to being a doctor. I am not a registered dietitian, just a concerned and educated individual that wants to provide you with information I learn to help you make educated decisions about your health.
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--------------------THE FACTS-------------------------
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Protein is something we, as a culture, are convinced is important, and while it is important we're over estimating it's value in our diets and as a tool for healthier living and better bodies. Today we will cover what makes a protein, its quality, supplements, things such as protein powders, and how much protein you should actually be eating, and my favorite! There's a quiz at the end!

-------------What makes a protein-------------

When I say protein you probably think about meat or muscle, which is sort of correct, but do you know what protein is or what it does? Protein is a chemical substance in your food that is made up of amino acids (brown) . Protein serves many functions in the body including structural rolls. It's a structural component of skeletal muscle, bone, connective tissues, such as skin, collagen, and cartilage, organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys, red blood cells and hemoglobin, hair, and fingernails. Protein is also a major component of hormones such as insulin and growth hormones. It's there when your organs or tissues are damaged from illness or injury and it also serves as an energy source (4 calories per gram).

Proteins in the body are always being turned over or broken down and rebuilt, which helps to keep your protein tissues in optimal condition. While typically we consume about 2 - 3 ounces of protein a day our body uses roughly 9 ounces of protein for the turn over/break down process. So that begs the question, where does the other 6 to 7 ounces come from? It's actually recycled from muscle and other protein tissues involved in the process.

As we've learned protein plays a key roll in repairing the body from things such as exercise, injury, and illness. This happens when the body uses protein as a substance--such as fibrin--that help blood clot and by replacing those damaged tissue proteins.

Protein is an energy source in healthy people, 4 calories per gram of protein, but not as optimally as carbs and fats do. Protein actually contains a component known as nitrogen which doesn't sore in the body and usually leaves the body through urine. For the body to use proteins as energy the amino acids that make up the protein first need to be stripped of their nitrogen. When the amino acids don't contain nitrogen it's converted to glucose or fat and then can be used as energy. A tiny amount (1%) of protein can also be obtained from parts of the body such as the blood or liver which is usually used to cover the rare deficits in protein intake. Nitrogen can fall in, out, and even over balance depending on the amount consumed. The results from a test that determines your nitrogen balance can be used to adjust your protein intake to meet your needs.

We've talked a lot about amino acids so far, but now it's time to learn a little more (by a little I do mean just a taste, there is more to know) about the substance that makes up protein such as it takes about twenty common amino acids to form protein and every protein in the body is formed from a unique combo of proteins (kind of awesome right)! Only 9 of the amino acids are considered essential, that is not made in sufficient quantity by the body and must be obtained by an outside source, the rest are nonessential which means the body makes enough of those on it's own. These essential acids include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, theronline, tryptophan, and valine.

-------------Protein Quality--------------------

It's also important to know some about protein quality. As you can guess, high quality proteins contain all of the essential amino acids that you need. Without the amino acids protein cannot be formed in the body which leads to protein deficiency and because amino acids don't last very long in the body, you need a new supply of them every single day.

As I just mentioned high quality protein contains all of the essential amino acids, but it has another name and that is complete proteins, which includes products such as meat, milk, and eggs. But as you may of guessed there are also incomplete proteins which are deficient in one or more amino acid. These include plant based foods with exception to soy beans. But be aware that while it is a "complete source of protein" for adults, soy beans don't meet the needs of infants. As you can imagine protein is lacking in the vegetarian and vegan diet but I will get more into that in tomorrows blog posting.

-----------Amino Acid Supplements-------------
We all know that america is gaga for supplements so my guess is that, in at least a few of my readers, the idea has crossed your mind. You may assume that because amino acids are found in foods, they are harmless in the form of supplements no matter how much is taken BUT high doses of amino acids can cause problems for you, such as disruption to your body's normal and wonderful protein abilities by overwhelming cells and can also increase the symptoms of schizophrenia, promote hardening of the arteries, impair fetal and infant development, and lead to nausea, vomiting, bad breath, and constipation. It's recommended that you don't take supplements unless you are deficit and that when you do you are supervised by your doctor. This my seem like a silly warning but there is a price to pay for every supplement that you take that your body doesn't need, just like there is a risk for not taking them when you need them.

-----------Protein Powder and muscles---------
It doesn't take a lot of brain power to understand that you can't just eat a whole bunch of protein or take a lot of protein powder and expect to develop muscles over night. As beautiful functioning human beings we understand that that isn't how the body works. However research shows that if you eat 10 grams of certain amino acids or 20 grams high quality protein (such as skim milk, fish, eggs, beans, and rice) within an hour of strength training, you could enhance muscle protein synthesis and muscle mass. Protein intakes over 20 grams after exercise don't exceed the benefits of just consuming 20 grams. Supplements do not work better than 20 grams of high quality protein and even if they are labeled pure, there is no grantee to their purity, dose, or safety.

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--------THE DISCUSSION--------------------
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The recommended daily allowance of protein for men and women are quite different and very depending on your condition. For women the RDA is 46 grams, and for me 56 grams. You can determine how many grams your eating by using the nutrition tracker at sparkpeople or choosemyplate.com. In america the average intake of protein in adults is 98 grams, nearly double what we should actually be eating (this should be a clue to my next paragraph).

People fixate on protein when they are trying to get healthier because its supposed to build muscle faster and keep you fuller longer. So, it's no surprise that they turn to supplements and powders, but the truth is, unless your deficient in protein you don't need the powders. The typical protein powder contains 50 grams of protein which exceeds the amount women need and leaves only 6 grams left over for men. Not only that, but the average american adult is already eating double the amount that they need and taking the powder increases that by an addition (about) 50% (remember it's 4 calories per gram, that's a whole lot of calories) and as I said earlier, it's not quality protein. It's safer to just enjoy a great quality protein rich meal that is within your RDA because there are no benefits to exceeding that amount by over 20 grams.

REALITY CHECK: A FEATURE FORM MY TEXTBOOK:

QUESTION: You have a nutrition exam coming up, so you and your classmate Carole have gotten together to study. You get into a discussion about food sources of protein that goes like this: Carole: Lean meats are the best source. They're pure protein! Lauren: Pure protein? Even the driest, toughest meats contain more than protein. Who is correct Carole or Lauren?
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The correct answer is Lauren. Some people think muscle and lean meat consist only of protein. They don't. By weight lean cooked sirloin steak is 29% protein, 8% fat, and 62% water. Lean pork is 29% protein, 9% fat, and 61% water.

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----------------QUIZ------
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This is pretty easy. Take out a piece of paper or type your answers into the comment box, that is if your up to the challenge. Studies show that the more you think and interact with a topic the more likely you are to remember the information which will help you on the path to a healthier life! Be sure to post your answers and or comments! Answers will be posted along with my next blog post so be sure to stay tuned or subscribe.

True or false:

1. The only known function of protein is to serve as a structural component of muscle, bones, and other solid tissues.

2. Low protein intake is a fairly common problem among adults and children in the united states.

3. Immunoproteins are a part of the bodys immune system.

4. Fibrin is aprotein that helps blood clot.

5. The nitrogen component of amino acids must be removed before they can be used for energy.

6. There are 22 amino acids, and half of them are essential.

7. DNA provides the blueprint for the production of specific proteins by the body.

8. People need to eat animals sources of protein in order to consume enough high-quality complete proteins.

9. Individual amino acids supplements may be hazardous to health.

10. Kwashiorkor is the name of a protein deficiency disease.

11. Protein intake should constitute 10 - 35% of total calorie intake.

12. Proteins with primary structure consist of a linear arrangement of linked amino acids, whereas proteins with secondary structures have folded chains of amino acid.

13. Amino acid supplements plus resistance exercise are the keys to building muscle mass and strength.

CHOOSE THE CORRECT LETTER (A,B,C, OR D)

14. Bertie decides to consume 20 grams of high-quality protein after her resistance training workout. How many glasses of skim milk would Bertie need to consume to get about 20 grams of protein?

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4

15. Bertie consumes 20 grams of high quality protein after each resistance training session. Over time, the protein would likely __________ Bertie's muscle mass.

a. have no effect on
b. decrease
c. increase
d. increase then decrease

16. Berties decides to consume 20 grams of high quality protein daily as a supplement to her diet but to give up on resistance training. What do you expect would happen to her muscle mass?

a. the extra protein would maintain her muscle mass.
b. the extra protein would increase her muscle mass.
c. her muscle mass would decline.
d. her muscle mass would stay the same.

Bonus questions:
true or false:

1. The primary function of protein is to provide energy.

2. nonessential amino acids are not required for normal body processes. Only essential amino acids are.

3. high-protein diets and amino acid supplements by themselves increase muscle mass and strength.

------------Answers posted tomorrow along a list of participants who will get sparkgoodies, 3/11/2014, see blog post labeled: Let's talk nutrition: Vegetarianism and Veganism an interactive blog post.--------------------
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOLFINMOMMA 3/12/2014 12:14AM

    Thanks for the info. Waiting until tomorrow to see how I do.
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