It’s funny how times have changed. I remember twenty years ago fighting the good fight on why protein was the key ingredient to igniting your metabolism, and a must to balancing your blood sugar.
Back in the day the perception was that protein was just for body builders or for people wanting to gain weight.
But oh how times have changed…. with all the new cutting edge research, it has finally been globally agreed that eating high quality protein per meal is one of the most important factors in achieving your health goals.
So my goal with this article is simple, I’m going to share with you exactly why Protein, especially Complete Protein is so Powerful.
And this article will flow just like my recent articles, “Carbs are your friend” and “Eat Fat to Burn Fat”, if you missed those articles make sure to read them, they will give you an entirely new perspective on carbs and fat and how to balance them each meal. Let’s dive in…
Protein is the Building Block of Your Body and Your Muscles’ Fuel
Imagine Hot scrambled eggs, creamy Greek yogurt, tangy barbecued chicken, a chilled protein smoothie, and a juicy filet mignon, these are all great examples of protein.
Protein is the main factor in the growth, repair, and maintenance of your body’s tissue.
It is composed of chains of amino acids that contain both essential (your body cannot make them) and nonessential (your body can make them) amino acids.
Because of the difference between essential and nonessential amino acids, there are two types of protein: complete and incomplete.
Complete protein has all the essential amino acids and can be used immediately by your body.
Complete protein comes primarily from animal sources like beef, chicken, fish, and turkey, or from animal by-products like milk, cheese, and eggs. There are also plant based sources of complete protein, a few being: hemp (a seed) chia (a seed) soy (a bean) and quinoa (a seed).
Incomplete protein lacks one or more of the essential amino acids. Incomplete protein can be found in fruits, vegetables nuts, and grains. Incomplete protein must combine with another source of protein to become complete, such as when rice and beans are combined.
Whenever I first start working with a client, I find that they never think about the type of protein they are eating. They think that all protein is created equal…but this is not the case!
The type of protein you eat is a deciding factor in balancing your blood sugar. Because incomplete protein is lacking one or more of the essential amino acids, it is inferior to complete protein and complete protein is a key in balancing your blood sugar.
Here’s a great visual showing why balancing your blood sugar and Eating PFC Every 3 (eating a balance of protein, fats and carbs every 3 hours) is so important and check out this article if you want to learn more about eating PFC Every 3.
There are 3 Ways Complete Protein Stabilizes Your Blood Sugar and Is Superior to Incomplete Protein:
- Complete protein can be used by your body for fuel immediately, whereas incomplete protein must first combine with another source to be utilized.
- Complete protein causes a positive release of the hormone glucagon (the one that raises your blood sugar), which in turn counteracts the hormone insulin (the one that lowers your blood sugar), resulting in stable blood sugar as the two hormones balance each other out.
- Complete protein is of higher quality than incomplete protein.
Complete protein (with the exception plant based complete proteins) is protein that contains little to no carbohydrates. Your digestive system is designed to begin chemically metabolizing carbohydrates in your mouth. Protein doesn’t begin metabolizing until it reaches your stomach.
This means that when you eat protein that contains carbohydrates (almost all incomplete protein), the carbohydrates in that food are metabolizing faster than the protein.
This extra speed results in the glucose entering your bloodstream faster than the amino acids, causing a blood-sugar spike.
You get a great example of this when people combine the incomplete proteins rice and beans (which, as previously explained, become complete when combined) to make a complete protein. Rice and beans combined have a large amount of carbohydrates and a very small amount of complete protein.
This imbalance triggers an over release of insulin from the blood-sugar spike, resulting in the storage of fat.
Complete Protein Strengthens Your Body
In addition to the assistance that complete protein provides in stabilizing blood-sugar levels, it also greatly assists with cell and tissue growth because it contains nitrogen.
There are two environments in your body:
- Anabolic – where your body is building tissue and developing new cells
- Catabolic – where your body breaks down tissue and cells.
The determining factor is the amount of nitrogen you take in versus the amount that leaves. Simply put, more nitrogen entering than leaving equals an anabolic environment. Less nitrogen coming in than leaving equals a catabolic environment. In order to stay anabolic, it is crucial that you consume enough complete protein (and thus enough nitrogen) per day.
Think of protein, especially complete protein, as “muscle fuel.”
Because complete protein greatly assists in stabilizing your blood sugar and is your best source of nitrogen, complete protein is the only type of protein that is listed below. Look at incomplete protein, found in carbs and fats as bonus protein.
Check out the list of my most recommended high quality Complete Proteins and Your Protein portion sizes, as well as a great visual of how to Eat PFC Every 3 and balance your plate:
Now go get your Protein Groove on!!
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