The body needs three macronutrients for energy. One of these is protein and the other two are carbohydrates and fats. Protein, which is a series of amino acids linked together, is also essential for proper muscle growth, balanced pH level in the blood, maintenance of hormone levels and correct functioning of the body’s immune system and fluid balance. Because there are several forms of protein, it’s a must that you get to know each of them so you can choose which ones to include in your diet.
Red meat is probably the most popular source of protein. In fact, when you say protein, people will immediately think of beef, steaks and hamburgers. Yes, red meat protein is complete, even more complete than vegetable protein. A three ounce serving of beef gives you 23 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat. But you must know that it’s not automatically the better choice. Meat protein contains all the essential amino acids but it poses some problems. Red meat increases the risk of colon cancer (if the meat is grilled at high temperatures), injests you with all sorts of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones (unless you’re buying organic) and increases your cholesterol level, as it contains high amounts of saturated fat.
Lighter and less expensive compared to beef, chicken and turkey are healthy sources of protein. A three ounce serving equips you with 27 grams of protein as well as only two to three grams of fat. But like the beef, you’re also getting lots of antibiotics and growth hormones unless you eat organic birds.
A three ounce serving of fish provides you with only five grams of protein but it has no carbohydrates and only very little amount of saturated fat. It’s also good in the sense that it packs in lots of omega 3 fatty acids, which are wonderful for mental stimulation along with other health benefits. The only problem is that if you catch it from the wild, you risk mercury contamination.
An average size pork chop provides about 23 grams of protein. It’s also no longer unhealthier compared to beef or chicken unless the source of your meat is substandard. Although it’s slightly higher in fat than beef, it’s a little more digestible and offers your body and tastebuds a break from beef and chicken.
You probably hear about whey protein in protein supplements and weight training programs. Since it can be easily absorbed by the body and has an “extremely high biologic value of 90 to 100,” many opt to use this form of protein for building muscle mass and getting the energy they need. Whey protein is the most available of protein supplements and by far the most popular. Be aware, though, that whey protein is absorbed into the body in about a two hour time span. This makes whey ideal for post workout consumption.
Also known as milk protein, casein protein supplements are made from milk. About 80 percent of casein protein comes from cow's milk, which contains 26 grams of protein and only five to ten grams of fat per eight ouce serving. Casein also takes a lot longer for the body to break down and digest. Where whey only takes about two hours, casein can take up to six to eight hours to break down in the body. This makes casein protein supplements good to take before bed or in the morning before work. It also has an excellent amino acid profile.
This one comes from the soybean. Since 1959, it's been used in health food products. Having complete amino acid profile, soy protein is a good alternative to meat protein. This one doesn’t contain as much fat. Apart from that, soy protein can also be consumed by those who are lactose intolerant. If you’re not able to drink milk because you cannot digest lactose, you can try drinking soymilk instead.
Protein is essential in any person’s diet. That’s why it would help a lot if you get to know the different types of protein along with all their advantages and disadvantages.