Protein: How much is needed and where can I get it?
Protein is a macronutrient that has been emphasized in recent diet fads. Many people are concerned with getting enough protein to fit their needs, but how much protein is enough? The average sedentary man requires 56 grams of protein per day, and the average sedentary woman requires 46 grams per day. The majority of Americans consume two times the recommended amount of protein each day. Protein intake should fall between 10-35% of total calories. Although the human body has no storage molecule for protein like it does for carbohydrates and fats, the body is capable of storing additional calories from protein…in the form of FAT! Because this is how our bodies store foods consumed in excess, it is important to try to create more balance with the amount of protein we eat and strive to hit, not exceed, our needs.
The amount of protein is not the only consideration for those seeking to eat healthfully, it is also important to choose high-quality protein options. High-quality protein options not only offer the building blocks of protein (amino acids), they also offer micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Many people choose animal products as their main source of protein. This includes meat, poultry, fish, cheese, eggs, and dairy products. These sources are complete proteins; they contain all of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot synthesize. Plant sources of proteins are not complete on their own, but can be made complete by consuming complementary plant proteins simultaneously or by pairing them with a complete protein. For example, beans are an excellent source of plant protein (they contain 13 grams of protein per cup), they aren’t complete unless consumed with a complimentary protein like a whole grain or nuts. It is possible to meet all of your requirements with only plant sources of protein. A diet rich in plants, including those with high protein content, is associated with a lower BMI, reduced heart disease risk, and better diet quality.
Here are some plant protein sources, their amount of protein per serving, and some of their additional benefits they offer. The varied sources and their health benefits make meeting your protein fun! You can choose any of these plant options to create different recipes with excellent nutrition.
Pre-screenings ongoing through March 25th!
CTMC Health Fair on April 12th!
Upping Your Resistance Training
Resistance training refers to any exercise designed to strengthen a muscle or group of muscles by moving against external resistance. Though it's popularity has increased over the last couple of decades, the benefits are still not well understood by many people.
Strength training isn't just for bodybuilders. Certainly, it can add more definition to your muscles, but the invisible benefits of strength training are for everyone...all ages, all fitness levels, and even those with certain medical conditions.
As we age, we begin losing muscle and bone more rapidly. Resistance training combats the effects of aging by helping maintain and increase muscle mass and bone density, helping prevent osteoporosis and even reducing pain and improving mobility in arthritis sufferers. In addition, resistance exercises strengthen and stabilize joint and connective tissues, helping to protect us from injury at every age.
But there's more! Aerobic exercise is known to be good for the heart, but the latest research indicates that resistance training may have unique and important benefits for cardiovascular health as well. "Muscle is our largest metabolically active organ, and that's the backdrop that people usually forget," says Kent Adams, director of the exercise physiology lab at Cal State Monterey Bay. Muscle tissue is "metabolically expensive", and training our muscles to work against resistance strengthens our heart and increases our calorie expenditure during aerobic exercise as well.
The ACSM currently recommends incorporating resistance training into your exercise routine at least twice a week. Next week we'll discuss those recommendations more in depth, including specific recommendations for frequency and duration, how to develop a routine, and what all of those "sets" and "reps" mean to you. Later in March, we'll delve into the various types of equipment (including an equipment-free at-home strength training workout with our trainers), "trouble spots", and post-workout muscle soreness. Stay tuned!