In this section we will cover protein foods. You will also discover why consuming moderate amounts of protein is so important for creating a lean, healthy body and permanent fat loss.
Your body uses protein to construct bones, muscle, skin, hair, nails, and many other body structures. Every living cell and all body fluids, except bile and urine, contain protein.
A protein is any chain of amino acids. An amino acid is a small molecule that acts as the building block of any cell.
Amino acids are called “amino acids” because they all contain an amino group of atoms and a carboxyl group of atoms, which contain the hydrogen atom, that makes them “acidic.”
Since all proteins also contain the amino group, which is made up of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms, by consuming protein sources you bring nitrogen into your body.
Nitrogen is necessary for your organism to maintain and build new muscle. Consuming protein foods, is the only way that you can provide your body with nitrogen. This is one of the major reasons why it is important to eat foods that contain this macronutrient on a daily basis.
Carbohydrates provide cells with energy, while amino acids from protein provide cells with the building material they need to grow and maintain their structure.
Your total body weight is made up of about 20% protein and about 60% water. The rest of your body is composed mostly of minerals, for example like calcium in your bones.
ESSENTIAL AND NON-ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
There are twenty amino acids that are required by the human body for it to function properly. From these twenty amino acids, the human body can manufacture eleven of them.
These are called the non-essential amino acids. The other nine that the body can’t manufacture are called the essential amino acids. These must be supplied from the food that you eat!
If a protein in a food supplies enough of the essential amino acids, it is called a complete protein. If the protein in a food does not supply all the essential amino acids, it is called an incomplete protein.
In order for your body to synthesize muscle, all the essential amino acids must be available simultaneously.
If you are a vegetarian, you do not have to have to combine incomplete protein sources in one meal. But it is important to get these amino acids throughout the day, so that your body can get all the amino acids that it needs to function properly.
If your meals are missing these essential amino acids, your body must break down its own muscle to obtain them. This is the main reason why it is so important to consume protein foods that contain these essential amino acids on a daily basis.
Vegetable sources usually are low on or missing certain amino acids. By combining different vegetable sources you can get a complete coverage of all the essential amino acids that your body needs.
Some examples of combined proteins are rice and beans, corn and beans, and milk and wheat cereal.
For most people consuming complete protein sources is a much easier approach, but in the end it is up to you which path you take.
The most important thing is to make sure that you provide your organism with all of the complete amino acids it needs to function properly!
WHY PROTEIN IS IMPORTANT FOR PERMANENT FAT LOSS
Amino acids can’t be stored in the body, like carbohydrates (glycogen) and fat. There is only a very small amount of amino acid pool in your bloodstream, once it is depleted your body has to break down its own muscle to get the amino acids that it requires.
This is one of the major reasons why most people lose muscle as they get older. And sometimes it is not the low consumption of protein, but an inadequate meal frequency/timing approach that causes this!
Protein in our diets comes from both animal sources and vegetable sources. Protein foods include meat, eggs, fish, shellfish, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, grains and soy products.
However the vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes and grains are considered to be incomplete proteins, because these foods lack one or more of the essential amino acids.
You must consume complete protein food or the right combination of incomplete proteins to provide your body with all the essential amino acids it requires to function properly and also to make sure it stays in positive nitrogen balance.
The digestive system breaks all proteins from our food sources down into the amino acids so that they can enter the bloodstream. Cells then use these amino acids as building blocks.
This means that you can’t survive by strictly consuming carbohydrates that contain the non-essential amino acids.
By eating the right protein foods you provide your body with all the essential amino acids that it needs, and this will allow you not only to maintain, but eventually build up your muscle mass.
The more muscle you build, the more calories you will burn during the day. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, and your organism must expand energy (calories) to maintain it.
Raising your metabolism by increasing your muscle mass, is an important part of an effective, long term fat loss program.
By staying in nitrogen balance, during the weight loss phase of your program you will help your body to maintain your current muscle, and in the future once you reach your ideal weight, and continue to use resistance training, you will also build new muscle, and will increase your metabolism even more!
COMPLETE PROTEIN FOODS
Foods that contain complete proteins with all the essential and nonessential amino acids include beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, milk products and soy products.
But since a lot of these foods can be very high in saturated fats, eating too many can actually lead to coronary heart disease, and other diseases like diabetes.
This is why consuming foods that are low in saturated fats but still contain the complete proteins is the best possible approach that I can recommend, not only for weight loss, but also for long term health!
The best complete protein foods to consume to create permanent fat loss are chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, shellfish, lean red meats, eggs (mostly whites, use limited yolks), nonfat or low-fat dairy products and soy products!
These are the ultimate lean protein foods to consume if you want to create the body of your dreams and reach your ideal weight! They have the lowest amounts of saturated fat, and it is always to your advantage to stick to low-fat protein sources instead of trying to replace meat with something that is high in fat, for example cheese, or other dairy products that have a high fat content.
Low fat or non fat dairy products are fine, but should be consumed in moderation when you are in the weight loss phase of your program. All dairy products contain the simple carbohydrate lactose, and when losing weight consuming too many simple carbs can make fat loss difficult, especially for people that have an endomorph dominant body type.
For convenience whey-based protein powders can be used, but you will miss out on the thermic effect that is produced by eating real food. This quality of protein foods can make a real difference in your weight loss program, and will be covered below.
Of course, when there is an issue with time, you might have to use a protein powder, to make sure that you get all the essential amino acids that your organism requires.
In the dietary fat section I will explain why you should avoid saturated fats, and trans fats, if long term weight loss is what you desire. We will cover which fats are good for you and can actually help you to lose unwanted body fat.
If you are a vegetarian, and eat only plants products, or a lacto-vegetarian and allow yourself dairy products, or a lacto-ovo-vegetarianand consume eggs and dairy products, you can still get all of your essential amino acids by choosing the right combinations of foods.
You have a huge variety of choices from which to choose from. Legumes like lentils an peas, whole grains, seeds and nuts are all excellent sources of protein.
Soy protein contains all the essential amino acids and is just as complete as animal protein. Tofu, made from coagulated soy milk, is extremely high in protein and available in a variety of forms and flavors.
TVP (textured vegetable protein) is a dried soy flour product that can be used as a meat substitute. Most “mock” meats are made from seitan, or wheat gluten, which is known for its versatility in recipes.
And of course if you are a lacto-vegetarian, or a lacto-ovo-vegetarian your choices are almost unlimited considering the wide variety of non-fat and low-fat milk and milk products that are available.
THERMIC EFFECT OF PROTEIN FOODS
The expression “thermic effect of food” is used to describe the energy expended by our bodies in order to consume (bite, chew and swallow) and process (digest, transport, metabolize and store) food. Our bodies “expend energy” by burning calories.
Processing protein foods requires the greatest expenditure of energy, with estimates ranging as high as 30%. What this actually means is that 30% of the calories that come from this nutrient get burned up by your organism, during the digestion and utilization process.
This thermic effect of protein is the major reason why low carb dietsproduce amazing short term weight loss results.
It is not the low consumption of carbohydrates, but the high consumption of protein, and the high thermic effect that comes from this nutrient that is responsible for the weight loss that is achieved during low carb dieting.
Dietary fat, that has a low thermic effect of about 3%, and is easily converted into body fat. This is why it is to your advantage to always consume this nutrient in moderation.
Dietary fat has 9 calories per gram, and it is very easy to go over your daily calorie limit, when you consume foods that contain high amounts of this nutrient.
Complex carbohydrates have a thermic effect of about 15%, somewhere between that of protein and fat. Carbohydrates only have 4 calories per gram, which makes them an excellent food choice, as long as you stick to consuming mostly natural complex carbs, and stay away from the processed/refined carbohydrates.
Protein also has 4 calories per gram, and when you take into account the 30% thermic effect, you can understand why it is so important to consume lean protein with complex carbohydrates in every meal during the day, if you want to create permanent fat loss!
PROTEIN FOODS NUTRIENT RATIO RECOMMENDATION
The best place to start your weight loss program is to use the 50-30-20nutrient ratio, with 30% of your calories coming from quality protein foods.
Once you start seeing the results from your program, especially in your weekly weight loss chart, then you can adjust these ratios, if that will be necessary.
Metabolizing this nutrient requires a lot more water than fats or carbohydrates. During the temporary low carb diet it is recommended that you consume up to a gallon a day.
Also I want to mention that this is the one nutrient you should consume very moderately, if you have a history of kidney problems. Please consult your physician, to find out the proper nutrient ratios for you in this case.
PROTEIN FOODS NUTRIENT RATIOS
This chart below shows the nutrient ratios, and shows what is considered very low to very high, as far as you daily calorie intake from protein foods.
Protein when consumed moderately in every meal during the day helps to provide your body with the amino acids it needs to function properly and increases your metabolism.
The high thermic effect of this nutrient can create a small calorie deficit on a daily basis, and can eventually help you to create a lean, healthy body and reach your ideal weight.
The secret to permanent fat loss is doing everything in moderation!
By consuming the right amount of daily calories, using the optimum nutrient ratio for your body type, and choosing the most effective meal frequency/timing approach you will tremendously increase your chances of reaching your major health goal!
When you add cardio training and weight training to your weight loss program, creating the body of your dreams will become a complete reality!