Importance Of Diversifying Your Protein Sources

Eating the same food day in and day out can become redundant and negatively impact the chances of sticking to your diet. Janis, expert nutritionist and Meal Ninja Head Coach helps us better understand the importance of diversity when it comes to consuming protein...

How important is it to consume protein from different types of foods (such as meat, fish, dairy, etc.)? 

We need to consume protein, although the specifically optimal amount varies per person, depending on your weight, age, activity level, muscle mass, climate, lifestyle, other food intake, etc.

The human body doesn't specifically require variation to survive, but consuming protein sources for variety is valuable because different protein sources have different effects on the body due to their rate of absorption and protein packaging (fat, salt, etc also present in the food).  

Which food offers the most complete protein/has the most essential amino acids?

Per weight, spirulina is the richest source of protein on earth.  

The FDA and the World Health Organization have adopted a Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS), which is a method of evaluating protein quality based on human amino acid requirements and our associated ability to digest them.

The highest scoring foods (ranked by top three) are easily available:

1. Cow's milk

2. Eggs

3. Casein (found in milk)

4. Soy protein

5. Whey (found in milk)

Is there one type of food or protein that's best to have post workout to get recovery kicked off on the right foot? 

Whey protein is absorbed by the body faster than other sources of protein, which is why it's often sold at the smoothie bar at the gym. You want to supplement the protein with some carbs, such as 1/2 a banana: again, the reason that fruit is often mixed with your smoothie. 

What about pre-workout? Is there a fast digesting protein that's best to consume?

Choose from the list above, and, again, look to add a small amount of carbohydrates.  

A study presented at the International Society of Sports Nutrition Symposium in 2005 concluded that casein and whey had different effects on the body, and suggested that casein is better long term and whey in the short term.  

Is diversifying proteins and foods in general a proven successful practice in helping people stick to their diets?

People frequently enjoy consuming variety. Beyond that, it's helpful to diversify because each protein has its own profile of fats, micronutrients, salt, and impact on gut flora. 

Is a protein supplement a viable source to get protein from?

It can be.  There are, however, many ways to get enough protein.  The World Health Organization concluded that 9 baked potatoes per day supply enough essential amino acids and calories to sustain a 132 lb person.  So, one doesn't need to supplement, but can if they wish to for convenience.  

Is there one protein food anyone who is taking something like Tone House should include in their diet?

Beyond the 5 sources above try some spirulina!

 

-Janis, Meal Ninja blackbelt certified nutritionist and Head Coach

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