The Protein Bistro

AND why is it so important?



Fat

There are numerous types of fat. Your body makes its own fat from taking in excess calories. Some fats are found in foods from plants and animals and are known as dietary fat. Dietary fat is a macronutrient that provides energy for your body.

Fat is essential to your health because it supports a number of your body's functions. Some vitamins, for instance, must have fat to dissolve so they can be used by your body.

But fat is high in calories. If you eat more calories than you need, you will gain weight. Excess weight is linked to poor health. In addition, some types of dietary fat are thought to play a role in cardiovascular disease.

Research about the possible harms and benefits of dietary fat is always evolving. And a growing body of research suggests that when it comes to dietary fat, you should focus on eating healthy fats and avoiding unhealthy fats.

There are two main types of potentially harmful dietary fat:


Harmful dietary fat

Saturated fat. This is a type of fat that comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Trans fat. This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. These partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fat or that contain trans fat are solid at room temperature. Because of this, they're typically referred to as solid fats. They include beef fat, pork fat, butter, shortening and stick margarine.


Healthier dietary fat

The types of potentially helpful dietary fat are mostly unsaturated:

Monounsaturated fatty acids. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that these fatty acids may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids. This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. These fatty acids may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Omega-3 fatty acids. One type of polyunsaturated fat is made up of mainly omega-3 fatty acids and may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3, found in some types of fatty fish, appears to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. There are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it hasn't yet been determined whether replacements for fish oil — plant-based or krill — have the same health effects as omega-3 fatty acid from fish. Foods made up mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, such as olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil and corn oil.

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed (ground), oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), and nuts and other seeds (walnuts, butternuts and sunflower).

What is protein ?

Proteins are the primary building blocks of the body. They’re used to build tissues like muscle, tendon, organ, and skin, as well as many other molecules vital to life such as hormones, enzymes, and various brain chemicals. Proteins are comprised of smaller molecules known as amino acids, which are linked together in a long chain that can be molded into different shapes.

Our body can produce twelve of the amino acids needed to form protein molecules, but it must get nine others from protein in the food we eat. The former are known as nonessential amino acids and the latter essential amino acids. How much protein you eat every day is the primary factor that determines whether your body is getting enough essential amino acids or not, but the quality of the protein you eat also matters.Animal-based proteins like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy are particularly popular among athletes because they contain high but balanced amounts of essential amino acids, but certain plant-based proteins like rice and peaprotein are high-quality as well.

You build more muscle and get stronger on a high-protein diet.
You lose more fat and less muscle on a high-protein diet.
You feel fuller on a high-protein diet.
You preserve more muscle as you age on a high-protein diet.

The degenerative loss of muscle associated with aging (known as sarcopenia) is debilitative and, ultimately, life threatening. Research shows that the more muscle you lose as you age, the more likely you are to die of various causes related to injury and disease.

Elderly people can’t use protein as efficiently as younger folk and thus need significantly more protein. This is why a high-protein diet is an effective way to help mitigate or even prevent the effects of sarcopenia, and especially when combined with resistance training (yes, even the elderly can build muscle!).As an added bonus, a high-protein diet also reduces the risk of osteoporosis, another serious health risk associated with aging.

According to research conducted by scientists at McMaster University, a protein intake of 1.3 – 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (.6 – .8 grams per pound of body weight) is adequate for stimulating maximal proteinsynthesis. They did note, however, that more protein may be needed when you’re training frequently and intensely and when you’re restricting calories for fat loss.

Carbohydrates

The way carbs are demonized today, it’s no wonder so many people actually fear eating them. I used to be one of them. As a recovering “carb-o-phobe,” I’m now on the flip side and advocate eating complex carbs for optimal nutrition.

You’ve probably heard of the term, “good carbs versus bad carbs” and all that really equates to is non-refined carbs versus refined carbs. Non-refined carbs are foods that contain a complete source of carbohydrates that include natural sugars and more importantly- fiber. Refined carbs are foods like white bread, enriched flour and sugar which have been highly processed to the point that little to no nutrition remains.

Your body uses “good carbs,” which are non-refined, complex carbs to do a host of important issues in the body. The best complex carbs come from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Eating more of these foods will only benefit you and without them, you’ll likely suffer a number of health consequences.

Here’s Why You Need Complex Carbs:

Energy

Carbs provide the body with energy immediately. That’s their purpose by nature and depriving yourself of them will leave you tired and fatigued all day long. I suggest eating them earlier in the day when you need most of your energy in the form of some whole grains, which take all day long to burn through your system. These carbohydrates from whole grains release slowly into the blood stream so you never suffer a “crash” like you do with caffeine or sugar. This means you’ll have energy all day long and won’t have to deal with the afternoon slump.

Metabolism

Carbohydrates provide you with energy so they’re important for an optimal metabolism. Without energetic calories (which is essentially what carbs are), your metabolism will suffer quickly. Most people assume that because a low-carb diet can lead to weight loss that it will improve their metabolism, but this is actually the opposite from being true. While you might lose some weight without carbs, your metabolism will actually suffer and slow down the longer you prolong the diet. Again, eating whole food sources of carbs is the best way to optimize your energy, weight, and metabolism.

Digestion

Since carbs contain fiber, they help aid digestion and assist in regularity. This is one benefit of eating whole food sources of carbs such as whole grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, and fruits instead of opting for processed foods.

Sleep

Certain carbs like oatmeal, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, bananas, and brown rice contains large amounts of trytophan, which relax the body and help put you to sleep. Oatmeal even helps your body produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep. Eating some complex carbs at night before bed can help you sleep more soundly through the night and fall asleep faster.

Filling Fiber

Fiber doesn’t just regulate your digestion – it also keeps you full a really longtime. While the daily recommended amount is only 25-30 grams of fiber, most plant-based meals provide much more which means you’llstay fuller longer. For a super-filling meal, aim for 10-15 grams of fiber from your foods and try not to eat meals that contain less than five grams of fiber for optimal satisfaction. All whole food sources of carbohydrates are excellent sources of fiber. Fiber also slows down your blood sugar so you don’t get hungry quite as quickly and it keeps your glycemic levels steady all day long.

Brain Function

Your body also uses carbohydrates for optimal brain function. Foods such as vegetables, oats, quinoa, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruit all contain an array of carbs that aid in mental focus and a healthy mood. Without carbs you may become foggy-headed, feel light- headed, have a hard time concentrating, feel sad or depressed, or just not feel like yourself. You may also have a harder time retaining information. Don’t deprive your brain of carbs- it needs them!



Nervous System Function

While sugar makes you jittery and anxious, complex carbs help provide a grounding effect to the body and reduce nervousness and anxiety. It’s the reason you often feel less stressed after having a yummy bowl of oatmeal, a simple banana, or a dish made with sweet potatoes. Carbs provide your body with exactly what they need all the way down to your nervoussystem. They help your body produce a number of enzymatic reactions and bring balance in just about every way possible.

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