When we think of macronutrients, we think of fats, protein and carbohydrates. Protein is an important and often under valued macronutrient.
Did you know that the human body actually needs 20 different amino acids? Interestingly enough, we can create 11 of them and we get the 9 others from food. Of course the source and quality of food will determine if we get those 9.
The twenty different amino acids
First things first, not all protein is created equal. The protein quality in animal products is very different from the protein in plants. I would just like to clarify that I am not against plant proteins – I am here to explain the differences in quality.
Plant based protein
Plant based proteins are considered incomplete proteins because they are missing essential amino acids that our bodies need. Generally, we absorb about 40-50% from plant foods. We can also have a harder time digesting these proteins, due to them being bound to anti-nutrients. Simply put, anti-nutrients are plant compounds that reduce the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. They are also much higher in carbs which can make it challenging to balance protein and carbs for optimal blood sugar range.
Animal based protein
Animal proteins are considered complete proteins because they contain the essential amino acid profile. We can absorb around 80-100% and digest it much better. It also contains higher amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals per serving – hence more nutrient dense. Buyer beware- conventional meats are known to have added hormones and antibiotics. If you do choose to buy conventional meats make sure they’re lean cuts, as most of the toxins are stored in the fat. Ideally for a much healthier choice go with a grass fed, grass finished and free range animal protein fed with non GMO crops or certified organic meat.
From a health and hormone balance perspective, eating a solely plant-based diet isn’t ideal. The “faux meats” are processed and do not contain nearly the same quality and quantity of nutrients as meat. They are derived from GMO crops, contain pro-inflammatory oils and are mixed with binders and fillers to look and taste a certain way.
RD Diana Rogers showed a chart on her Instagram @sustainabledish where she explained that “to get the same amount of protein in a 4oz steak (181 calories) you’d need to eat 12oz of kidney beans plus a cup of rice, which equals to 638 calories and 122g of carbs. See the difference in quality and quantity per serving?
Here’s a list of the CoreX approved proteins:
- Grass fed & grass finished beef
- Organ Meats
- Organic Dairy
- Bone Broth, Collagen, Gelatin
Stay tuned for next week when we discuss the benefits of protein!