Protein, Protein, Protein
By Unite Fitness Retreat Dietician, Brooke Bouwhuis
Protein is super popular in the wellness world, bodybuilders have always loved it but why such a fuss if I am not exactly trying to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger?
When we exercise microtears of damage are done to our muscles. The tears are what is responsible for muscle growth. Damaging our muscles, leads to tearing but it also leads to re-building which is what makes our muscles stronger and bigger.
Bigger muscles burn more calories. Which we know is pretty important when it comes to losing weight.
Fish, chicken, pork, beef, eggs, tofu, edamame, eggs, nuts, seeds and smaller amounts in whole grains, fruits and veggies provide us with protein. Our body see’s them as amino acids, the building blocks of protein. We eat protein, break it down to amino acids and our body uses it to repair and build muscle so we can go back to the gym and push more weight on the leg press or pull more weight on a preacher curl.
It’s not all about muscles though, protein is powerful at helping us feel satiated – It makes us feel full longer. It is important to note, protein is more satiating than carbohydrate. We aren’t entirely sure why this happens, it may be changes in hunger and satiety hormones coupled with slowing peristalsis in the gut as what we eat gets broken down and absorbed.
Think about how you feel when you eat a tender, juicy steak or enjoy a savory lemon and rosemary seasoned grilled chicken breast. Your stomach feels full for much longer after enjoying the chicken or steak vs a quick bowl of cereal.
For those who prefer plant-based protein sources – quinoa, tofu, edamame, hemp seed hearts, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, etc. they also provide the amino acids needed for muscle repair and growth. Keep an eye out at the grocery store, Silk has a high protein nut milk with 10 grams of protein; keep in mind, almond milk only has 1 gram of protein.
Further, what we once thought needed to be eaten at the same time (think corn tortilla and beans) for best amino acid absorption is no longer the case. The amino acids we consume go to a “pool” – making those precise eating combinations not as important as we once thought. If all essential amino acids are consumed within a 24-hour period, your body will thrive.
How much protein do I need?
Not many people track and calculate what they eat or need daily, it’s obnoxious, inconvenient and we often make mistakes when we record (even dietitians under-report intakes). Getting caught up in the grams can be daunting.
Adding a scoop of collagen powder to your coffee; 2 scrambled eggs with breakfast; and a palm sized serving of protein at lunch and dinner makes sense. Women generally have smaller hands then men, so men do end up needing and eating more protein.
Use this recipe for a protein packed quick, easy and filling breakfast, lunch or dinner.
EASY MUG OMELET
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp milk or water
- 1 Tbsp diced ham
- 1 Tbsp minced onion
- 1 Tbsp minced bell pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- *Optional – mushrooms, jalapeno, chives, asparagus, cauliflower rice, tomato, spinach, etc
Wipe the inside of a large microwave safe mug (12-16 oz) with a tiny bit of olive oil, crack eggs into it and beat until well blended. Add ham, onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Stir to evenly incorporate ingredients. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove and stir. Microwave another 30 seconds, remove and stir. Microwave a final 30 seconds and your omelet is ready.
Place mug omelet on a bed of spinach and top with salsa.
*Extra vegetables may increase cooking time. Your omelet is ready when the eggs are no longer shiny. Enoy!