Jan
29
2013
Not All Protein is Created Equal

protein

I remember watching Top Chef a few years back and being fascinated by their menu planning.   Those talented chefs would come up with ingredients and food combinations I could never fathom.   When was the last time someone asked you to make dinner and within seconds you thought “Oh, I will make my famous Pig Skin Ravioli” or “I know, they will love my Haricot-Vert with Grilled Trout!”.

Most of the time it seemed the contestant were speaking a foreign language…well…I guess some of it was French, the traditional language of all things culinary couture.  Overall, the menus were very exotic except when it came time for picking a protein.  Suddenly, it became rather…ordinary: Steak, pork, chicken, lobster, and shrimp.  Ok, sometimes you got duck or rabbit, but for most part the protein used was very “household name”. This seems a rather disappointing since protein can be found in a wide variety of foods, both animal-based and plant-based.

Now this isn’t a discussion on vegetarian or vegan diets, however, if you have thoughts to share on those topics, please submit a comment below.  We’d love to know your perspective.  This blog post is to mention that protein can vary greatly in origin and in quality.  While protein is a critical nutrient necessary for healthy living, not all protein is created equal.

Let’s examine first some of the non-mainstream sources of protein:

1. Lentils and Beans: There are dozens of varieties.  You can find garbanzo (chick peas), white, black, pinto, kidney, edamame (green soybeans), and lentils at most grocery stores.  They come in cans, dried in bags, and even frozen.  According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference one cup of the beans listed above all range between 15 to 16 grams of protein.  The lentils have 18 grams per cup.  It may seem a small difference, but consumed 4 to 5 times per week, in the course of a month, those 2 grams add up to a lot of extra protein.

2. Seeds and Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more are all good protein sources.  You can eat them raw, roasted, or converted into “butters”.  Almond butter is particularly popular and easy to find.  Look for jars with no added sugar or sodium.

3.  Meats Replacements: Veggie burgers, black bean burgers, and other meat replacements derived from soy, nut, or vegetable products often have more fiber and lower saturated fat than the real thing. While the steak-loving crowd may not phantom a large slice of grilled mushroom as a suitable replacement for a porterhouse, many find these replacement acceptable in stews, tacos, and chili.

4. Tofu and Tempeh: Despite being a soy-based product, Tempeh has its own unique texture and flavor that distinguishes it from tofu.  It is said that Tempeh is a better hamburger meat substitute because of its firm texture.  A quarter pound tempeh burger will provide 18 grams of protein with 11 grams of fat.   The traditional ground beef burger gives you five more grams of protein for a total of 23 grams, but at the cost of twice as much fat with a total of 22 grams.

5. Eggs and Dairy: Oh the besmirched egg yolk!   A huge source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, the yellow center of chicken eggs fell from grace when its cholesterol content was associated with heart attacks.  Whether or not egg yolks really impair heart health is still being debated today, but whether you are an egg white aficionado or whole egg purist, keeping Humpty Dumpty in your diet is a reliable source of protein.  Recently, yogurt, specifically Greek yogurt, has emerged as a new health fad, thanks in part to its high protein content.  Half of cup of plain Greek yogurt can provide 18 grams of protein and less than half a gram of fat.  Compare that to the quarter pound of ground beef mentioned above.  Same protein and you save 22 grams of fat.  Now that’s heart healthy.

If you have been reading our blogs, you know that in the past year the i spa practitioner team has collectively lost over 150 pounds by following a weight loss protocol called Ideal Protein.  This program takes the concept of healthy protein one step further.  All the foods in the Ideal Protein program are high-quality proteins.  This means that they have a very high biological value.  Biological Value or (BV) is the scientific measure of the proportion of absorbed protein from a specific food.   Why is this important?  Because if protein absorption is low, you may not be able to protect your muscle mass and thus you will burn muscle along with fat. If you lose muscle while dieting, you may impair your ability to burn calories.  Not only does this impair weight loss, it’s very unhealthy!

Want to learn more about nutrition, healthy eating, and permanent weight loss?  Call i spa Health Studio at 727-386-4004 and ask to speak to Adrienne, our Certified Weight Loss Coach.  She can answer questions and even schedule you for one of our educational seminars on healthy eating.  In the meantime, we suggest a lot more Haricot-Vert and a lot less Pig Skin Ravioli. Laughing

 
     
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i spa Health Studio

The goal of each practitioner within i spa Health Studio is to aid you in your journey to health and wellness. We offer acupuncture, massage therapy, psychology, weight loss programs and facial skin care services. Our wellness center is located in Largo, FL, and is convenient to the Tampa Bay area including Clearwater, Seminole, Pinellas Park, Dunedin, St. Petersburg, and Tampa.

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