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Megan Ware, RDN, LD

TRX Protein Series: Fueling up with Plant-Powered Proteins

 

Did you know that nearly all foods except highly refined products like sugar, oils and alcohol have protein? Even broccoli, peas and spinach? It's a common misconception that most people need to eat meat to consume enough protein. Some plant-based foods are protein powerhouses and can contain even more protein per serving than an ounce of meat.P1040031

 

Most meat-eating Americans are eating about 1.5- 2 times the recommended dietary allowance for protein, which is fine, except that the majority of this extra protein is coming from animal products often high in calories and lacking in the nutritional benefits that other plant-based proteins can provide.

 

Protein can help curb hunger, which is why it is important to have a protein source with each meal. If you're interested in increasing your protein intake with plant-based foods, choose foods from this list:

 

  • Beans, beans beans! Adzuki beans, black beans, kidney beans, soybeans -- you name it, they're all high in protein. 
  • Ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth and barley
  • Brown rice, whole grain breads and cereals
  • Nuts and seeds and their butters. Try sunflower butter, cashew butter and almond butter for a switch. Top cereal and yogurt with chia seeds or flaxseed meal.
  • Green veggies: Edamame, spinach, peas, kale and broccoli
  • Lentils
  • Corn

 

Don't forget that dairy products like milk and yogurt are packed with protein (and lots of other important nutrients) as well. If you would rather have a milk alternative, go with soymilk. Almond milk and coconut milk are comparatively low in protein.

 

Nutrition experts, authors, diet gurus and physicians all have their own theories when it comes to nutrition. Cut out sugar, no cut out fat... no wait, fat is good, cut out gluten instead. New information, studies and diet books pop up weekly with new recommendations and "magic" diets for us to follow. But, one thing that ALL experts can agree on is that we need to eat MORE fruits and vegetables. Everyone's health and well-being can benefit from shifting to a more plant-based diet, and so can the environment!

 

More information:

The Top Ten High Protein Vegetables

Plant-Powered Proteins List

Red Bean Burger with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa


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Megan Ware, RDN, LD

TRX Protein Series: Fueling Up with the Right Amount of Protein

 

Over the past few weeks, I've had quite a few questions from Fitness With Insight members about protein-- especially from those of you who aren't big meat eaters. A lot of TRXers like you are wondering when is the best time to have protein, what are the best sources of protein that aren't meat, how much protein you need to build muscle and whether you should be taking a protein supplement, and if so what is the best one. In the next few posts, I'll be doing a "Protein Series" to answer all of these questions and debunk some popular protein myths that have been floating around for years.

 

309078_324196327596564_1331408605_nBuilding and toning muscle happens when you do resistance exercises that challenge your muscles, not from eating excess protein. Consuming extra protein doesn't mean you'll build more muscle, it only means you'll burn more protein as a fuel source.

 

If you have meat and other animal products with most of your meals, you’re probably already getting plenty of protein with your average daily intake. Most Americans are actually eating about 1.5- 2 times the recommended dietary allowance for protein. The problem is that the majority of this extra protein are coming from animal products that are often high in calories and lacking in the nutritional benefits that other plant-based proteins provide. Any excess protein is burned for energy or stored as fat.

 

Humans do not have the ability to keep extra protein stores on hand, so we need to consume adequate protein each day, evenly distrubuted throughout the day. For optimal muscle building and toning, try to eat 20-25 grams of protein at each meal. Our bodies can only utilize about 20-25 grams of protein at one time and any excess is waste product. Eating no protein throughout the day then eating three chicken breasts for dinner with 60 grams of protein isn't nearly as effective as spreading the 60 grams out throughout the day. If you find that 20-25 grams is too much, break it down to 10-15 grams at meals and maybe 5-10 grams at snacks or after your workout.

 

As for protein powders and bars and such, why not use real foods instead of supplements? ;Natural foods contain protein the way nature intended. We don't know the half of the science behind the way the components of a whole food (food in it's natural state) interacts in our bodies and gives us benefits as opposed to "food" engineered in a lab.

 

Following exercise, the body needs to repair and generate growth to the muscles and restore energy. A combination of carbohydrates and protein is a perfect choice. Eating within 30-45 minutes after exercise is a great window of time for repair.

 

You can pick and choose 1 carbohydrate and 1 protein option from the two lists below for a pre and post workout snack or choose one option from the combination column. Experiment with some of the options and times as your body will let you know what works best.

 

 

CARBOHYDRATE – 1 serving 

PROTEIN – 1 serving

    COMBINATIONS

  • Apple
  • Hard-boiled Egg
  • Trail Mix with Nuts and Dried Fruit
  • Berries
  • Edamame
  • Smoothie with Yogurt or Milk
  • Banana
  • Chicken
  • Chocolate Milk
  • Whole Grain Pita
  • Tuna
  • Sting Cheese and Crackers
  • Oatmeal
  • Powdered Milk
  • English Muffin & 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
  • English Muffin
  • Skim or Soy Milk
  • Protein Shake with 8oz Skim Milk
  • Whole Wheat Toast
  • Lean Roast Beef
  • Granola and Greek Yogurt
  • Whole-Grain Cereal
  • Pistachios
  • Pita, Hummus and Baby Carrots
  • Home-made Granola
  • Almonds

 

  • Granola Bar
  • Peanut Butter

 

  • Whole-Grain Crackers
  • String Cheese

 

 

  • Hummus

 

 

  • Cottage Cheese

 

 

  • Lentils

 

 

 

 

In next weeks Protein Series, we'll talk about how to fuel up with Plant-Powered proteins.

 

References:

Clark MS RD, Nancy. Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Fifth Edition. Newton, MA, Copyright 2014.


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Megan Ware, RDN, LD

Fueling Up For TRX: To Soy or Not to Soy?

 

 

soy-beans2-300x256There are a lot of questions and controversy surrounding soy foods– Do they cause cancer? Are they bad for women? Should I eat more soy or stay away from it as much as possible?

The soy and cancer study that started the controversy concerned only those with a specific type breast cancer (estrogen receptor positive). Some early studies suggested possible increased tumor growth in rats with a high intake of soy. As more advanced research was done, scientists found that rats metabolize soy completely different from humans, making the earlier studies invalid.

 

Now we know that moderate amounts of soy foods do not affect tumor growth or a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, at least 10mg of soy

per day can decrease breast cancer recurrence by 25%.

 

I recommend increased soy consumption, especially for menopausal women. There are compounds in soy that behave like estrogen in the human body and could lessen the natural decrease in estrogen due to the menopause, therefore decreasing common symptoms such as hot flashes. If you suffer from severe hot flashes, you may want to seek the help of dietitian. Switching to a plant-based, high phyto-estrogen diet has significantly decreased symptoms in some women.

 

Soy foods are a complete protein, low in calories, and a good source of omega-3s which helps to reduce inflammation. The isoflavones in soy foods have been linked to a decreased risk for osteoporosis, while the calcium and magnesium in soy may help to lessen PMS symptoms, regulate blood sugar and prevent migraine headaches. Soy foods are a perfect example of FUEL for the body, to keep it running at it's peak level.

 

Processed soy ingredients (like isolated soy protein) are found in products like cereal bars, packaged snacks, and many other processed foods are lacking in many of the nutritional components that make soy so healthy, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Always go for "whole" soy foods, like the ones listed below:

 

Foods to eat to increase your soy intake:

 

Soymilk or soy yogurt- Soymilk (light is best, less sugar) can be used in place of cows milk in puddings, baked goods, on cereal and in smoothies. If you like chocolate, try light chocolate soymilk to cure a sweet tooth or after a work out. Make sure soy yogurt is unsweetened, then add your own natural sweet flavors with berries and a touch of honey.

 

Tofu- Tofu can be stir-fried, grilled, added to stews, soups or egg dishes and used in mixed dishes or stuffed pastas such as lasagna.

 

Edamame- (Fresh or frozen) can be used in soup, stir fries, salads, or eaten as a snack with a dash of olive oil and pepper.

 

Roasted soybeans- can be eaten as a snack or to add a crunch to your salad (also known as soy nuts).

 

Soy nut butter- try it in place of of peanut butter.

 

Here is a great recipe for a Thai Coconut Curry to help increase your soy consumption.

 

If you have concern regarding consuming genetically modified soy, go organic. The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs. You can also look for products with the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. Some brands with this seal include Silk, Amy's, Back to Nature and WestSoy. For a complete list of products with the verified seal, visit nongmoproject.org.

 

References:

Soy Foods and Cancer, Today's Dieititan

Update on the Soy Controversy, Dixie Mills, MD

Soy Foods: How Food Affects Health, Joy Bauer, MS, RD, CDN


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Megan Ware, RDN, LD

Organic Food: Is It Worth The Extra Buck?

 

Organic products, organic honey, organic raspberries, organic pumpkin seeds, organic cereal

 

Organic labels aren’t limited to just produce anymore. Even the budget grocery stores and big box stores are carrying options like organic cookies, organic cereal, organic soups, organic potato chips and more. With all these options, shouldn't you always buy organic when you can? Not necessarily.

 

The bottom line when it comes to packaged organic products, is that an organic cookie is still a cookie, chips are still chips, and high sodium organic soups and frozen dinners are still high in sodium. Each of these foods are still highly processed and probably have a paragraph’s worth of ingredients. A common assumption is that just because a product has an organic label, it is automatically "healthy." Having an organic label on a package does not mean these products have any less calories or more nutrients than their conventional produced counterparts. If you’re buying packaged foods, the most important thing is not to make sure it’s organic, but to look at the ingredients label and ask yourself three questions:

 

1. Are there any ingredients I can’t pronounce?


2. Does it take me longer than 10 seconds to read through all of the ingredients?


3. Are sugar or one of it’s derivatives (corn syrup, cane syrup, brown rice syrup, maltodextrin, fruit juice concentrates, dehydrated cane juice, sucrose or anything else ending in -ose) one of the top three ingredients?

 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, put it back on the shelf, whether it’s labeled organic or not.

 

Why is buying organic so much more expensive? Organic foods typically cost 10-40% more than similar conventionally grown products. To obtain a USDA certified organic label (which guarantees the product contains at least 95% organic ingredients), farmers must meet stricter quality standards. They use natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost instead of chemicals and use crop rotations to conserve the nutrients in soil. Organic farming aims to reduce pollution and conserve resources. More labor is required, which brings up the cost for the farmer and brings up the cost of the product for you.

 

The best and cheapest way to buy produce is still from a Farmer’s Market, where the produce may not carry any USDA labels saying it’s organic, but it is organic in every sense except for the name. Small farmers can’t afford to attain pricy labels, yet most of them are already farming using organic standards. Ask the farmer where the food was grown and if any pesticides were used.

 

The jury is still out on whether organic produce has a higher nutrient content than conventional. Research findings differ because foods grown in healthier organic soils are likely to taste better and have more nutrients initially, however most organic produce is shipped from far across the country or even overseas to your local grocer which causes it’s nutrients to diminish, possibly cancelling out the benefit of being organic in the first place. That is why it’s important to look for produce grown locally AND by organic standards (cough, cough– Farmer’s Market).

 

Pick your battles. If you have a choice between eating non-organic, non-local fruits or vegetables or no fruits and vegetables at all, please EAT the fruits and vegetables. The benefits of eating produce far outweigh the risks of potential pesticide exposure.  The Environmental Working Group has come up with a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest levels of pesticide residue, which changes year to year. You may have previously heard of the Dirty Dozen, but in 2013 the EWG expanded the list to the Dirty Dozen Plus. When possible, buy these foods in the organic version:

 

  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Imported nectarines
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Kale
  • Collard Greens
  • Summer Squash

 

The EWG also have a Clean Fifteen list, showcasing fruits and veggies with the lowest pesticide levels.

 

My last tip on buying organic is to not forget your freezer. Organic frozen produce is often cheaper than fresh, especially if the fruit or vegetable is out of season. Most frozen produce is frozen when the fruit or vegetable is at its peak ripeness, so don’t worry about it containing less nutrients than the fresh version.  Just make sure there aren’t any added ingredients. The ingredient label should read: organic _____ (raspberries, edamame, lima beans, etc.) and that’s it!

 

Another option is to grow your own produce at home. Even if you only have a small balcony or window sill space, you can still grow your own herbs like basil, cilantro and parsley. The more you know about where your food comes from, the healthier you will be.

About the author: Megan Ware is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Awareness, based out of Dallas, TX. She specializes in weight loss and has recently partnered with Fitness with Insight to offer their clients a whole-body approach to getting fit and healthy.


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