Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Proteins and Extras

Wellness Wednesday: Proteins and Extras

Protein Powder Breakdown

Adding a protein powder is a great way to improve the nutrition of foods/meals that would generally be lacking and higher in carbohydrate. It can quickly change the nutritional profile of a food shifting it from a high carbohydrate, blood sugar spiking meal to a more balanced, blood sugar stabilizing meal. (Smoothies are a GREAT example- Check out more info on that here). However, now a days there are so many protein options it can be hard to choose which one is best for you. I always recommend speaking to your Naturopathic Doctor or health care provider to help determine which protein is best for you and for your goals as all have pros and cons.
  • Whey Protein
    • This protein powder does tend to be the most researched and does have the highest leucine content.
    • Leucine is the amino acid that triggers muscle protein synthesis aka bulks up muscles- this makes it a great option for after work outs.
    • It is also quickly absorbed which again, makes is a good choice for after workouts/sports when quick replenishment is wanted.
    • However, it is a dairy based protein and because of this can make it a poor choice for any one who has dairy sensitivities, though lactose is often removed, lactose is not the only cause of sensitivity to dairy.
  • Vegan Protein
    • Vegan proteins include soy, hemp, brown rice, pea, cranberry, etc.
    • Most vegan sourced proteins will not be a complete protein meaning they do not contain all of the necessary amino acids, because of this, these proteins are often blends ie) brown rice and pea.
    • These proteins do tend to be lower in leucine and slower absorbed.
    • Vegan protein powders can also have other benefits, for example, soy protein contains phytoestrogens which can benefit menopausal symptoms.
    • Vegan sources protein can also contain anti-nutrients which can impede some absorption- for example hemp and it's hull.
  • Beef Protein
    • This is one of the newest proteins on the market and the only true Paleo protein.
    • It does tend to be lower in leucine but also contains high levels of collagen which provides joint support.
With all protein powders you do want to look for high quality- avoid fillers and long lists of ingredients. Higher quality powders often tend to use stevia as a sweetener vs sugar. When it comes to the dairy and beef based proteins you do want to make sure they are using grass-fed organic animal sources as this can increase your exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. The same goes for vegan sourced with regards to organically grown. Also, brown rice does tend to contain higher levels of arsenic so making sure this is something the manufacturer tests for is important.

Bumping up the Nutrition

These are some easy 'extras' you can add to your foods to help increase their nutritional value.
  • Chia Seeds
    • These are one of my favourite things to add as they are a nutritional powerhouse.
    • These little seeds are packed full of nutrients- just 2 tbsp will provide 18% of your recommended Calcium intake
    • They are not only high in Calcium, but also Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Potassium, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3 and antioxidants
    • They provide a huge amount of fibre- actually out of the 12 grams of carbohydrates (in 2 tbsp), 11 grams are fibre. Because that fibre isn't digested, they are actually lower in calories than may be on the label.
    • Chia seeds also provide a decent amount of fibre and are a source of healthy omega-3 fats.
    • You can read more about chia seeds' health benefits here.
  • Flaxseeds
    • Flaxseeds are another great addition that are pretty much all fibre- out of the 3 grams of carbohydrates 1 tbsp will provide, 2.8 grams is fibre- both soluble and insoluble.
    • They provide a great source of protein- flaxseeds are made up of 18%, though not a complete protein source; and are a good source of healthy omega-3 fats as well.
    • They are also nutrient dense providing Vitamin B1, Copper, Molybdenum, Magnesium, Phosphorus and are high in antioxidants.
    • You can read more about flaxseeds' health benefits here.
  • Greens Powder and Berry Powder
    • Greens and Berry powders are whole food extracts that are high in nutrients.
    • Greens powder is generally made from a variety of veggies and provide 'natural', bioavailable nutrients.
    • Berry powder is generally made from fruits/berries and are very high in antioxidants.
    • However, because berry powders are made from fruit sources they can be high in sugar so you do have to be mindful.
    • This is another area where quality and sourcing matters.
    • Also, you do want to speak to a health care provider if you are pregnant as some of the ingredients may not be safe during pregnancy especially if they do have estrogenic actions.

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

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