The ABC Blocks of Nutrition- PROTEINS for the Win!

The ABC blocks of nutrition- PROTEINS for the win!

Carbs, Protein and Fat.. We’ve heard these concepts before but what do they mean? What makes a carbohydrate a carbohydrate, a protein a protein and a fat a fat? Are all carbohydrates created equal? Are all fats bad for you? How does a vegetarian get their protein without meat? And of course, the never ending question of “How do I build muscle, stay lean but still have enough energy for my workouts?”

PROTEIN- the category of interest, but the source of confusion for many athletes

Once you get through the basics, proteins are very simple to understand. Like anything else.. once you understand the building blocks of what synthesizes a protein, the topics throughout nutrition make more sense.

  • Proteins are made up of amino acids (the building blocks I keep referring to). There are TWENTY different kinds of amino acids found in natural form, NINE of these amino acids are called ESSENTIAL amino acids (meaning we MUST get them from our diet in order for our body to synthesize other proteins). 
    • Wait, time out! So you’re saying I need protein in my diet in order for my body to synthesize other proteins??
    • YES! Our body needs protein in order to grow muscle, repair muscle, generate red blood cells, regulate body hormones & enzymes, AND to help resist infections by creating antibodies.


  • So how do I get the most bang for my buck AKA the highest quality protein for the least amount of carbs?
    • CARNIVORES: Dietary protein from animal sources provide a complete package of all NINE essential amino acids!! It is like we were made to eat meat for our protein gains. However, this doesn’t give you permission to eat steak, cheeseburgers and bacon for every meal (Dad, this means you). Rather, if you eliminate meat from your diet you could be missing out on a lot of necessary protein (and muscle building opportunities).
      • Eliminating fatty meats from your diet such as sausage, bacon, fatty beef, and pork can reduce your chance of high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and stroke. This category of meat has a lot of saturated fat in them and can damage your organs by increased abdominal fat & future obesity. We should try to eliminate these meats as much as possible. Instead, look for lean meats at the market such as turkey, white chicken breast, venison, and fish (American Heart Association)
    • HERBIVORES: Only a few plants provide the complete package of essential amino acids such as chia, soybean, hemp etc. With other plant sources of protein, it is important to combine different sources of protein to get the “whole package” of amino acids equivalent to meat.
      • Vegans, Vegetarians and Ve-everybody else should be consuming a variety of protein rich foods throughout their day to ensure dietary protein gains. This can include grains, seeds, beans, nuts and vegetables. Amongst the higher end of protein rich foods containing a smaller amount of calories include
        • Rolled oats, buckwheat, almond butter (limit 2 tablespoons), chia seeds, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, tofu, soybeans, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, green beans, & quinoa (One Green Plant)


The BIG question everybody wants to know… “How much of this INCREDIBLE macronutrient do I need?”

  • An AVERAGE & HEALTHY person only needs .8 grams of Protein per Kilogram of their body weight according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance is used by Registered Dietitians for recommending an adequate intake of a specific nutrient to meet a person’s essential needs)
    1. Take your body weight in pounds (110 lbs)
    2. Divide pounds by 2.2 (110lbs / 2.2 = 50 kg)
    3. Kilograms x .8 grams (50 kg x .8 grams = 40 grams protein per day)
      • example: I would need on average 40 grams of protein per day or 160 calories from protein
    4. Somebody who is critically ill, in need of building muscle mass, sick and or who endures strenuous physical activity like weight lifting and marathon running needs on average more than .8 grams/kg but less than 1.2 grams/kg.
      • WHY? It is important to mediate how much protein we put into our bodies just like any other macronutrient because it can have an adverse effect on our health. Having too much protein in our diet puts stress on our organs to eliminate the toxins it produces when it breaks down in our bodies. The molecule of interest is called nitrogen. When our bodies break down proteins through transamination, deamination and ultimately urea formation, these molecules of nitrogen can leach into the urine in the form of ketones. When a person has ketones in the urine, this is usually a sign of malfunctioning kidneys, liver or other organs. 



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