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Protein & Why is it Important?

Can we all agree that protein shakes are such a great staple in a nutritious diet? Plus, their versatility to create some super delicious smoothies and shakes makes them so easy to fit within anyone’s taste palate. Protein has so many awesome and important health benefits that it is essential for living. There is so much more to protein than a plate full of savory chicken and veggies. It is especially important for those athletes who are training and rely on quick and efficient recovery times as well.

I am one of those individuals who has a really hard time getting enough protein within my diet based off my personal athletic goals, so supplementing has made such a difference for me. As I am trying to gain more lean muscle tissue in my latest body building off season, my protein intake is extremely important. I am a natural carbohydrate lover and struggle with most animal meats. Luckily, there are so many different options to fill in my macro gaps and optimally fuel my muscle growth. 

In my early athletic career, I found out quickly that I do not respond well to whey protein and eggs, and I had to discontinue all whey powders and my beloved egg white breakfasts. I have since decided to try a plant-based powder to help reach my macro goals, and I will never go back. For those who can consume many different protein sources, do not take it for granted! As I started to increase my protein intake, I noticed a huge difference in my overall lean tissue growth and a huge increase in my body’s ability to lose stubborn body fat. I also noticed how quickly my body would recover and bounce back after each intense strength training or sprint session as well. I have been able to push my body to further limits now that I have made my protein intake a huge priority in my training. 

Now that my diet is about 80% plant based, I get my protein macronutrients from AMPD Nutrition’s PRO Vanilla protein powder, vegetables such as peas, hemp, Brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, edamame, chia seeds, and pollock, tilapia, shrimp, and crab. I am very limited now that I have found out I am allergic to eggs, whey, dairy, and now a new sensitivity to poultry, but I am very pleased with how my body has responded to a pescatarian-approached diet.

AMPD Nutrition has formulated a supplement that meets all my needs and criteria as an athlete, not to mention I really enjoy getting creative in the kitchen. AMPD Nutrition’s Pro Vanilla is the ultimate plant-based protein. It is made from a unique combination of specialized proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that work synergistically to support our body’s systems at the cellular level. It provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals for comprehensive support and helps maintain a healthy metabolism with B vitamins, zinc, and chromium. It also enhances weight management, body composition, and bone health with calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium. It is easy to digest as plants are much easier on the digestive system, which greatly reduces negative side effects such as gas and discomfort or pain. 

What is Protein?

Proteins are large, complex, and essential molecules that are found throughout our bodies. They are in our hair, skin, bones, organs, and tissues. In our bodies, there are over 10,000 different kinds of proteins that make us the humans we are. They do most of the work within a cell to help the cell regulate, function, and form part of structures in our body’s tissues and organs. Each protein molecule is made up of 20 different types of amino acids which determine each protein’s unique 3-D dimensional shape, structure, and function. Different functions include: transportation of atoms and small molecules throughout the body, antibody protection, chemical reactions, DNA formation and reading, hormonal communication, and cell structural support. Once proteins reach your stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzyme proteases break the structures into smaller chains of amino acids. Protein – 1 gram = 4 calories.

Benefits of Protein Rich Diets

Most Americans consume enough sources from the protein food group; however, most are being encouraged to choose leaner choices and expand to more options. Protein rich diets have some amazing health benefits for muscle growth and recovery, increased strength, and fat loss. The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein depends on age, sex, and level of physical activity. There are some small studies that recommend higher amounts of protein per day for adults 65 and older.

Consuming different varieties of protein sources also ensures that we are also getting many different nutrients. We can also end up consuming B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6), vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium. There is a huge benefit to eating several varieties of seafood each week as they contain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA. According to choosemyplate.gov, they recommend around 8 ounces of seafood per week. 

Recommended daily protein intake for athletes, however, is quite higher for those seeking to make a significant change in their lean muscle tissue. There have been many studies proving that supplementing a protein source prior and post strength training can greatly reduce recovery time, increase lean muscle tissues, physical performance, muscle hypertrophy and strength. 

I personally notice a huge difference during my resistance training sessions when I am consistently consuming enough protein throughout my day. I do not enjoy physical activity with a full stomach, so I supplement with a light shake about an hour prior to training. Protein timing is also a great way to increase performance and reduce recovery time, but I will save that for an entirely new post. 

Protein Sources

Some protein packed food sources are lean meats such as wild game, chicken, turkey, beef, bison, pork, lamb, salmon, tilapia, cod, catfish, other wild fish species, clams, shrimp, oysters, crab, lobster, nuts, legumes, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, dairy, eggs, whole grains, hemp, and vegetables.

Meal Examples

Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Ingredients:

Smoothie

1 scoop AMPD Nutrition Pro Vanilla Protein

1 scoop AMPD Nutrition Marine Collagen

1 cup coconut milk 

2 pitted dates

½ cup raw cashews

4 fresh strawberries

1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping

½ cup of animal crackers

Optional

Ice cubes

Instructions:

Combine AMPD Nutrition Pro Vanilla, AMPD Nutrition Marine Collagen, coconut milk, pitted dates, raw cashews, and strawberries into a blender or Ninja. Add ice for a thicker consistency. Garnish with crushed animal crackers for extra flavor.

Grilled Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

1 large chicken breast

Butter lettuce 

Grape tomatoes

Pine nuts

Blue cheese crumbles

Dressing

Vinaigrette 

Instructions:

Prep and grill chicken breast until fully cooked. Wash butter lettuce and grape tomatoes while chicken breast is cooking. Halve the grape tomatoes. Combine all prepared ingredients in a large bowl and top with pine nuts and vinaigrette of choice.

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