I’ve spent a lot of time looking for ways to make workouts better and one of those is through diet. If you’re working out intensely, eating quality protein is important. Often clients in Calgary, Canada, ask me whether some proteins are better than others and what the best protein for athletes or those who participate in intense exercise. There’s not only a difference in the quality of protein, but also how digestible they are. The price of the protein is now, more than ever, important. Beans, edamame, yogurt, cottage cheese, canned tuna, peanut butter and eggs tend to win the game in that area.
Animal sources tend to be more complete proteins.
While there are some plant sources of protein that are complete proteins—containing all essential amino acids—most plant protein sources aren’t complete. That means you have to combine them with other sources to include all essential amino acids. It’s one of the reasons vegans have to plan their menu carefully. Luckily, you don’t have to eat all the amino acids at once and you can combine protein sources to make it complete. Whole wheat pita and hummus or beans and rice are perfect examples of combinations.
Athletes need more protein than the average person.
Athletes require more protein for muscle repair and to enhance performance. Getting the right amount of protein and the right type is important to both athletes and sedentary individuals. However, assessing the quality of the protein takes multiple steps. You have to determine if it’s complete, digestible and bioavailable. The efficiency rate is also important. The protein efficiency rate determines how effective the protein is in increasing the rate of growth.
Animal protein is superior when it comes to efficiency.
Eggs ranked at the top for efficiency, with beef and milk close behind. Plant sources ranked low. How well the body uses that protein is also measured. Whey ranked at the top with eggs coming in next and plant protein ranking lower. Eggs and whey protein ranked on top for net protein used. However, other factors have to be considered, such as the fiber in plant based protein and other nutrients. Beans, for instance, help lower LDL—the bad cholesterol.
- Wild game and grass fed beef and milk are good sources of protein. They have lower fat content, more linolenic acid, more omega-3 fatty acids and more antioxidant vitamins.
- Eggs are a low cost protein source. Milk products, such as Greek yogurt are also options. If you’re working out and want a protein supplement that’s best, opt for whey protein.
- Some protein sources are often overlooked. For instance, Brussels sprouts and spinach are relatively high in protein when considering protein per calorie. However, they are incomplete proteins.
- Protein is also important for people trying to lose weight. It fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer so you don’t overeat.
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