Protein as a subject as been discussed over the last ten years and its become a billion dollar industry. There are so many myths around protein. Its not only prevents us from reaching our health goals but it also causes more disease and health related problems. Today I want to discuss about this protein.
How does protein work in the human body?
The human body breaks down the protein in your food into amino acids which then generates the right amount of protein needed for your muscles and your cells. The common misconception is that you take a scoop of whey protein and eat a high protein meal and that protein goes directly into the muscles. It doesn’t work that way. Your body first breaks down protein into amino acids. It’s the amino acids that contribute towards proper lean mass that gives muscle fuel and gives power to your cells. There are 23 amino acids. 15 of them your body can make every single day. The balance 8 amino acids also called essential amino acids must come from other sources like beans, green peas, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, carrot, kale, spinach, nuts, seeds, sprouts.
To Meat or not to Meat
Vegetarian foods contain the 8 amino acids your body needs to make complete quality protein. Eggs, red meat too have fantastic protein in along with fats and other hormones but you can get complete amino acid profiles from vegetarian foods. You will find Olympians, vegan body builders, pure vegetarians who run marathons and triathlons eating vegetarian protein. You can get sufficient protein even if you are a Jain or all your food is plant based or even if you do not have a dairy.
How much Protein?
We have been confused by the media and many people over the years about the quantity of protein one must consume. Excess protein comes with its own problems because it not quantity. Its quality. I could get 30gms of protein in a scoop of whey protein which is not qualitative and does not have a complete amino acid profile. I could get just 7 to 8 grams of protein in two to three tablespoons of pumpkin seeds that has all the amino acids and will give my body what it exactly needs. So its not about quantity. Its about quality. The human body can absorb 9 to 12 grams of proteins at each sitting. So taking 30grams of protein per meal is too much protein for some people. Body cannot absorb that much of protein. Excess proteins get stored as glucose which gets converted to fats. Hence people who keep taking excess protein for better muscle build end up getting abdominal fat because excess protein does not get absorbed at one time.
Bodybuilders & Protein
When it comes to muscle building you need a little bit of protein but more of the Human Growth Hormone and hormone called Testosterone and that’s what we never look at. We just calculate how much protein we can get. But if you have low growth hormone levels and low testosterone levels in your body, it doesn’t matter how much protein you have. In fact excess protein causes a reduction in the serum testosterone. Testosterone is what builds muscle mass and lean mass both in men and women. Women also have testosterone and human growth hormone in their bodies. Every time you generate more human growth hormone you have more muscle mass and lean mass. Consuming processed foods, sugar, alcohol, smoking, sitting in active for a long time depletes the human growth hormone. What stimulates the human growth hormone is an active lifestyle like skipping, jumping and basically any activity that has your contact of foot to the ground multiple times. This in turn stimulates immunity. High human growth hormone means high testosterone. Right hormonal balance is needed because hormonal imbalance does not break the protein the right way. As a result you cannot build muscle nor have a lean body. So the idea is balance your hormones by taking a balanced nutrition. One needs to eat the right kind of fats to generate right hormones in human body. So when you get right source of fats from the right olive oil or the right coconut oil, nuts, seeds they all have essential fatty acid, you help body generate hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone. Excess protein is stored as fat and you will put more pressure on your kidneys to flush out the excess protein.
Vitamins & Proteins
If you are consuming a protein rich diet and you are not putting on muscle and you are not losing weight, it is also because of a vitamin deficiency. Because one of the main functions of many vitamins is to convert the protein we eat into amino acids that our body can absorb. So if you have a vitamin deficiency your body is not synthesizing protein the right way. A balanced diet will give anyone the right amount of protein the body needs. So instead of adding more protein to our diet we need to look at why isn’t our body breaking protein the right way and why isn’t it absorbing the right way. A handful of nuts, a tablespoon of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, a bowl of peas, raw fruits, vegetables and seeds all this is good protein.
Small Frequent Meals
People eat every two hours thinking that the metabolic rate may increase which is wrong. Proteins take roughly three and a half to four hours to digest in our system. If you eating every two hours, you making your digestive system work constantly. Digestive system uses most amount of energy in your body. And if it is constantly using this energy to breakdown the amount of food you eat, your metabolic rate is actually slower, because metabolism is a function of energy. Also if you eat every two hours, this makes stomach produce stomach acid every two hours which means at some point you have more acid in your system. And when you are acidic, you are destroying amino acids, you cannot lose weight, you cannot build muscle. Eating every two hours is a myth. It will not boost your metabolism. Your body is not looking out for nutrition so frequently. Give body what it needs during its meal times and in between let it rest in between. Let it digest and absorb nutrition. Let it build cell health and immunity. Let it build your muscles. That’s exactly how human body works.
Being healthy is easy. It’s just become too complicated today. Proteins are building blocks of cells, muscle, immunity and everything else. You can build that lean mass by looking after your hormonal health. Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone is that all you need when it comes to proteins, everything else is available in nature.