Protein ( "the good" part 1)

18 03 2009

In case you have not observed what I ate very closely, I eat a pretty high protein diet. The biggest reason I do is because I have always felt better when I eat more LEAN protein and lots of fruits and vegetables compared to when I eat more grains or more fat. In the past few classes I have had, what I have learned really helped me understand what might be going on!

Metabolism yesterday was the beginning of Protein! I am sure there will be more information to come, including “the good, the bad and the ugly” sides of proteins. For now, I will post about my class notes from yesterdays’ first class. 

Proteins are made up of three groups, an amine group that contains nitrogen, an acid group usually a carboxyl, and a side group that varies giving each amino acid its different names. Amino acids link together, forming a protein.

Essential amino acids are “essential” to get through your diet and right now there are 9 considered essential ( since I will need to memorize them, they are:

If we consume the essential amino acids and other compounds, our body can typically make the nonessential amino acids ( I won’t list them but there are 11 )

Of course there is more to it than just essential amino acids. Looking at one important amino acid, Methionine, its’ food sources include cheese, eggs, fish, meat and poultry. If we have enough Methionine we can make the nonessential amino acid Cysteine. Since we can make it, its not considered required to get in your diet. However, if we don’t have enough Methionine, we can’t make the nonessential Cysteine, making Cystein “conditionally indispensable” ( essential).

B vitamins are required in the metabolism of protein. Specifically Folate and Vitamin B 12 help convert homocysteine ( a compound that increases your risk of Cardiovascular Disease  and apparently elevated homocysteine is also related to depression) back into Methionine, that essential amino acid.

Folate and or B 12 deficiency has been shown to interfere with normal cell division, hence, the deficiency is linked to early stages of cancer and also depression, dementia and anemia. (Folate sources include: green vegetables, mushrooms, legumes, and the liver. Fortified sources like grains and cereals are also good sources)

Back to protein..

So what happens when we eat TOO MUCH and don’t exercise enough? We “gain weight” and store it all over our bodies don’t we?! Well, unlike our bodies system of storage of excess carbohydrates as glycogen in several tissues or the storage of excess fat in adipose cells, excess protein is not stored in any organ or tissue.

Wait a second though, before we all jump on the Low Carb bandwagon…

Each day. the body undergoes what is called Protein Turnover [considerable protein synthesis and break down ( catabolism)]. On an average day, our body will make and degrade about 300 grams of protein overall, which includes the dietary protein intake ( usually around 100 g for American diets) used for the process of making it and breaking it down.

In general after we eat a meal, our protein synthesis increases because we are combining all the amino acids we just ate. If we are in a state of starvation, our protein synthesis will decrease as will the breakdown of Amino Acids because our body will strive to keep the protein it has.

Here is what I found most interesting, athletes and body builders that consume a sufficient amount of protein but not enough overall calories to balance their exercise calorie deficit require MORE protein. Why?

Well, when they consume sufficient protein but not enough overall calories, the body has to use protein as an energy source. So when you use the protein for energy, the body doesn’t have enough leftover for its normal protein functions like in Protein Turnover ( our liver cells need protein, our muscle cells need protein, we use it for connective tissue, etc. etc. ). So they need MORE protein for all of these functions.

I realize I am not employed as a professional athlete, but I do run several miles  3, 4,5,6 ) on most weekdays and usually longer on weekends at a pretty fast pace ( My speedwork is at a 6 minute mile pace, and my regular pace is between a 7:30 – 8:00 minute mile). On top of that, I am strength training, doing yoga, or doing the Shred circuit training.

ding ding ding Light Bulb goes off….With all of that taken into account, I am pretty sure that the reason I am always “craving” more protein with all of my meals,  is because I actually NEED more protein!

Okay, so aside from the self defense of my dietary protein intake,  I thought this information was pretty cool. We will probably focus on protein for the rest of the semester, so stay tuned for what will probably be “the bad” and “the ugly” of protein!




11 responses

18 03 2009

I just reviewed another dvd from core fusion today! and I answered your question on my blog about what i thought about it compared to the shred! I would DEF get it girl 🙂 its an AMAZING workout, i ordered mine off amazon so it was a few bucks cheaper. Its an amazinggggg dvd! killed me!

18 03 2009
I could turn the gray skies to blue…. « Body Mind Soul

[…] I just posted about Protein from my class last […]

18 03 2009

That is really interesting…thanks for posting all that protein info. I am going to pass this along to my husband– he keeps a very high protein diet as well.

18 03 2009

Great information!! I consume MORE than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, so I too believe in the importance of protein.

18 03 2009
Sweet and Fit

I LOVE reading about this stuff on your blog! remember when I toyed with the idea of going veg? well… your comment really stuck in my head. Its completely true about how hard it is to get enough protein on a vegetarian diet. This was such a great post, it makes me want to try and get much more protein in!

19 03 2009

great explanation about protein! It’s good to know about it! 😀

19 03 2009

Great info! I SO cannot wait to start classes in nutrition! *sigh*

20 03 2009

This is so interesting. I have heard mixed things…is it best to refuel on carbs or protein post-run? I find myself doing carbs pre-run and protein after to help with recovery. Is that right?

20 03 2009

Lara :

Typically, that is how “most” are advised to fuel because during aerobic exercise , your first source of energy is to break down gylcogen to get glucose. So “carb loading” essentially maximizes your glucose storage ( glycogen) in muscles so that you have enough to power your workout. After your workout, your muscles have depleted their glucose stores, however, muscles also tear as a result of exercise. To help repair the muscles into even stronger muscles, a mix of carbohydrates and protein is suggested because carbs help your muscles utilize the protein for forming the muscle repairs.

I am the opposite… I almost always want pasta and carbs after a long run and I almost always want to have protein before. I don’t really understand it for myself yet, but I have noticed this difference particularly since last september/october when I had began running again.

25 03 2009
Vitamin B 12 « Body Mind Soul

[…] – We use B12 to recycle homocysteine ( a bad guy that has shown to increase risk of cardiovascular disease) back to an amino acid, Methionine.  We also need folate for this recycling.  I talked about this on my Protein Post Here […]

31 03 2009
Awesome Almonds Are.. « Body Mind Soul

[…] 6g of protein […]

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