Everyone knows you need protein, but there’s a lot of misconceptions about what it does – and it’s role in dieting. Here are the facts! But, first let’s talk a little about the quality of the meat we are consuming.
Grass Fed Free Range Beef vs. CAFO (confined animal feeding operations)
Anthropological research has proven that throughout the last 4-5 million years of Hominid evolution we have lived on an almost 1:1 ratio of Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s. With the increase of the human population and shortcuts in the methods in bringing cattle and other meats to market quicker, we have been forced to feed our livestock an unnatural diet of corn and grains. What this has done is give our “CAFO” meat a much higher concentration of Omega 6 fatty acids. This would not be such a big problem if we were balancing the intake by increasing Omega 3’s but given that many of the other fats in the Standard American Diet are of the Omega 6 variety we have become woefully out of balance. This is primarily due to the prevalence of Vegetable Oils and animals fed an unnatural diet. Eating the proper type of meat and steering clear of processed oils will help you bring these vital ratios back into balance. So with that being said we will always eating as close to natural as possible to nature, and that means free range grass fed meat when possible.
Protein’s Role: Building Blocks
Protein is a vital component of every diet, no matter what form you get it in. It helps to think of each general category of nutritional element as having an important job. While something like carbs are great for giving your body energy throughout the day, protein is seen as the necessary building blocks for your tissues. You see, all the time your tissues are growing, replacing their own cells with new versions, and taking care of problems. The replacement materials that your body uses for these jobs are all made out of protein. Without it, your body quickly runs out of building block materials and starts ransacking other tissues for emergency supplies. This is a role that fat cells simply cannot fulfill.
All About Amino Acids
When your digestive system encounters proteins, it breaks them down into amino acids. It is these amino acids that get the job done when it comes to supplying tissue parts (including other tasks). There are three different types of amino acids, including essential, nonessential, and conditional. As you can imagine, essential amino acids are the most important because our bodies cannot produce them. Nonessential amino acids can be created by our bodies, and conditional amino acids are used for a variety of special cases. There are about 20 amino acids in total. They cannot be stored the way that fat can, and will eventually be lost.
Daily Supplies of Protein
Obviously, you won’t get sick just because you skip protein for a day – or even much longer. But the more stress you put on your body and the more active you are, the more important a regular source of protein is, especially when it comes to the essential amino acids. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, there are plenty of sources that don’t come from animals – soy in particular, which is why tofu is popular, as well as plant proteins. The best sources of protein, however, remain options like chicken, eggs, milk, and fish.
Protein and Muscle Growth
If you are on a fitness schedule to grow some muscles, then protein is even more important. This is because of protein’s role in building tissue. Without enough protein to break down, your body simply can’t grow your muscles at all – and the damage you do to them, from minor to severe, will stay unrepaired longer. This is why it is very important to increase your intake along with your activity levels and your goals. Which brings up the next point…
Protein and Fat Loss
Many people working on fitness are afraid to eat too much protein, because their goal is often to lose weight and they don’t want to add even more weight through what they eat. The good news is that protein doesn’t really work this way. Protein doesn’t change into fat cells the way that carbs or fat itself do. Instead, the amino acids that your body doesn’t use are simply broken down and leave the body. Essentially, this means you can eat a whole lot of protein without worrying too much about gaining weight. A great diet can easily include large portions of protein, especially if they match your activity levels!