See How to Get More Protein on Plant-based Diet, Watch The Game Changers

Sometimes you read or watch something that changes how you think about a topic. The topic is this case is nutrition and more specifically, a plant-based diet. It’s always important to understand both sides of a story though. Many bodybuilders and recreational lifters alike think they can’t get enough protein from a plant-based diet. So, they tend to avoid it, even if they intuitively know it’s a healthy option. Most stay away because they can’t grasp how eating a plant-based diet would allow enough daily protein to build lean muscle.

Your mind could change a bit after watching an interesting documentary on Neflix called The Game Changers, produced by James Cameron. The show first dropped back in 2018 and is currently trending once again. I would highly recommend that you at least watch it. The show is 85-minutes long and interviews many great athletes who talk about how and why they transitioned to a plant-based diet.

Definition of a Plant-based Diet

One of the better definitions of a plant-based diet was found in this article published by Harvard Medical School and author Katherine McManus, MS, RD. She goes on to say that “plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.”

There are several pro/con reviews of the documentary, however, saying they get a lot right but also some things wrong. One review mentioned the show vilified red and processed meats while claiming animal proteins like chicken, fish, and eggs were as equally bad for your health. We know that certain ways of eating like a vegetarian or Mediterranean diet, have been shown to be healthy, and they includes such foods.

There may be an argument that healthy eating is not an “all or nothing” diet or philosophy and more about finding the best option to eat healthy. To be able to eat healthy the majority of time would be a good thing; incorporating a manageable diet that enhances a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Check out the show and see what you think for yourself, who knows, maybe it’s something you’ve thought about trying in the past. In any event, this or something similar could be a reset for eating better during (1) this stressful, pandemic time and (2) for a fast approaching Holiday season.

Stay Strong with a Plant-based Diet and Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database in your workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice in order to get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong!

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Protein at Each Meal is Required for Muscle Growth

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Research has shown that it’s important to eat protein at each meal. Many Americans eat a diet that consists of little to no protein for breakfast. This is followed up with a small portion of protein at lunch and an overabundance of protein at dinner. In fact, as long as they get their recommended dietary allowance of about 60 grams, it’s all good, right? Not according to research from a team of scientists led by muscle metabolism expert Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB). This research shows that the typical cereal or carbohydrate-dominated breakfast, a sandwich or salad at lunch and overly large serving of meat/protein for dinner may not provide the best metabolic environment to promote healthy aging and maintenance of muscle size and strength.

“The study, in the Journal of Nutrition, shows that the potential for muscle growth is less than optimal when protein consumption is skewed toward the evening meal instead of being evenly distributed throughout the day.”

Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD

Age-related conditions such as osteoporosis (bone weakening) and sarcopenia (muscle loss) do not develop all of a sudden. The researchers believe rather, that they are gradual processes triggered by poor lifestyle habits starting in early middle age.

Review of Research

The UTMB researchers provided volunteers with a generous daily dose of 90 grams of protein a day; consistent with the average amount currently consumed by healthy adults in the U.S. Very active individuals may benefit from a slightly higher protein intake. For the majority of adults, additional protein will likely have a diminishing positive effect on muscle metabolism says the researchers. Just as important, any less may fail to provide support for optimal muscle metabolism.

When study volunteers consumed the evenly distributed protein meals, their 24-hour muscle protein synthesis was 25 percent greater than subjects who ate according to the skewed protein distribution pattern.

An Eating Strategy for Protein

“Usually, we eat very little protein at breakfast, a bit more at lunch and then consume a large amount at night. “So we’re not taking enough protein on board for efficient muscle building and repair during the day, and at night we’re often taking in more than we can use, says Paddon-Jones.”

A more efficient eating strategy for building muscle and controlling total caloric intake would be to shift some of the extra protein consumed at dinner to lunch and breakfast.

“You don’t have to eat massive amounts of protein to maximize muscle synthesis. You just have to be a little more thoughtful with how you apportion it,” Paddon-Jones said. “For breakfast consider replacing some carbohydrate, particularly the simple sugars, with high-quality protein. Throw in an egg, a glass of milk, yogurt or add a handful of nuts to get closer to 30 grams of protein. Try doing something similar to get to 30 grams for lunch, and then moderate the amount of protein for dinner. Do this, and over the course of the day you will likely spend much more time synthesizing muscle protein.” Eat healthy and stay strong with Jefit.

Reference

Madonna M. Mamerow, Joni A. Mettler, Kirk L. English, Shanon L. Casperson, Emily Arentson-Lantz, Melinda Sheffield-Moore, Donald K. Layman, and Douglas Paddon-Jones, Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults, J Nutr. 2014 Jun; 144(6): 876–880. Published online 2014 Jan 29. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.185280

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Are Protein Drinks More Effective Pre or Post Workout?

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A qualified nutritionist will always recommend eating real, whole food as a first option in order to meet daily protein needs. This can be very challenging to do consistently over time though. It can also be difficult if someone requires a large amount of protein each day in order to build lean muscle mass. This is where protein drinks enter the picture.

When is the best time to consume protein drinks, before or after a workout? How many grams of protein should a typical protein drink contain? On the flip side, you have hundreds of different supplement companies to choose from and their job is to push product through creative marketing campaigns. So which way do you turn? Hopefully this article will help shed some light on the subject.

The website Examine.com has been up and running since 2011 and is a trusted source for nutrition and supplement information, and a good place to start!

Protein Intake Prior to Exercise

There is minimal scientific literature that has looked at the benefits of protein supplementation before or after exercise.

One research study divided 21 men into two groups, with both groups getting a protein drink containing 25 grams of protein. One of the groups received it right before their workout, while the second group received it following their workout. All of the subjects performed full-body strength workouts three times a week for 10-weeks. The results of the study found no significant differences in muscle strength or size between both of the groups. The results of this particular study suggest that as long as you take-in protein around your workout, it really doesn’t matter if it’s before or after a workout.

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Protein Intake Post Exercise

Previous studies have shown that 20–25g protein is enough to stimulate maximal increases in muscle protein synthesis (MPS) after weight training. The present study challenged this conclusion, testing the idea that those with greater lean mass require more protein to stimulate maximal MPS after training.

Examine.com

In one research study, researchers recruited 30 healthy males who were strength training twice a week for six months prior to the study. Subjects were grouped together based on how much lean muscle mass they each had. The study consisted of two separate trials separated by two weeks, where subjects ingested either 20 grams or 40 grams of a protein drink. The protein drink contained whey protein mixed with water and taken immediately post exercise. The study resulted in a significant change (20%) in muscle protein synthesis in the group that took 40 grams of protein after exercise. This occurred when researches did not account for differences in lean body mass in any of the test subjects.

LBM did not factor into the protein requirement for maximal MPS. This study showed that 40 grams of protein induced greater MPS than 20 grams in both high and low LBM groups, contradicting previous studies suggesting that MPS after exercise is maximized after ingesting 20–25 grams of high-quality protein.

Examine.com

Additional Study Insight

One reason this study showed promising results was because of the amount of protein used. The subjects who were given higher doses of protein (40 grams) experienced better results. The design of the study called for 40 grams of protein in place of the more traditional 25-30 grams that is widely recommended. The positive results most likely had something to do with the amino acid leucine. Most protein drinks either don’t contain leucine or have only trace amounts of it. Leucine is extremely important and the key ingredient or building block needed to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

If you happen to increase your protein intake through supplementation, do it gradually. The reason for this is there can be side effects of taking too much protein. Most of the side effects of whey protein are related to issues regarding digestion. Those individuals who have problems digesting whey protein experience symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps, gas, and diarrhea. Most of the side effects can be related to lactose intolerance. Lactose is a form of sugar found in milk and in whey protein. People that are lactose intolerant don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which the body uses to help breakdown lactose.

Final Say on Protein Recommendation

The amount of protein that someone needs to build muscle mass depends on many variables. A reasonable goal is to obtain the majority of calories from protein by way of whole foods. Look to supplement daily intake with reputable whey protein drinks containing 3-5% leucine would be prudent. Finally, it really doesn’t mater when you drink protein drinks, before or after exercise. Taking in slightly more protein then the recommended amount of 25-30 sounds like a good choice. Work on drinking plenty of water throughout the day as well. Eat Well & Stay Strong!

Reference

The Response of Muscle Protein Synthesis Following Whole-Body Resistance Exercise Is Greater Following 40 G Than 20 G of Ingested Whey Protein. Physiol Rep. 2016 Aug; 4(15):e12893. doi: 10.14814/phy2.12893.

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5 Foods to Eat for Accelerated Muscle Growth

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Food is quite literally our life energy source, think of it like high octane gas that fuels our brain and body. Eating specific foods may help when looking for muscle growth to occur. Our brain needs about 130 grams a day of carbohydrate to function optimally. It’s important for any nutrition plan to include all the major macronutrients and micronutrients. Our body also need amino acid-rich sources of protein for muscle growth to take place. Amino acids are considered the building blocks that eventually help form proteins. Almost all foods contain some source of protein. Amino acids are important because they play a big role in protein synthesis, tissue repair and nutrient absorption.

There are 20 different amino acids that are grouped together making up three separate categories. The body makes 12 of these amino acids and we get the other 8 from food we eat. The cool thing is our body produces thousands of different proteins using just these 20 amino acids. Amazing!

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Non-essential amino acids do not need to be included in the diet. Nine out of the 20 amino acids are essential, but adults only need to obtain eight of them: valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and tryptophan. The ninth amino acid, histidine, is only essential for infants. Your body doesn’t store amino acids, so it needs a regular daily supply of these essential building blocks.

Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids need to be included in the diet. There are handful of amino acids as you know but the one I’m going to mention here is leucine. “This amino acid directly contributes to muscle protein synthesis. It affects the ability to recover from both stress and exercise. Leucine facilitates cell growth as well as the formation of sterols which are used in the process of forming hormones like estrogen and testosterone.” Make sure the amino acid, leucine, is also in that whey protein shake you drink post workout. This will improve your chances for muscle growth. Research has shown just 1.5 grams of leucine can provide adequate stimulation for muscle protein synthesis. Other research has shown that 3 grams of leucine alone stimulates protein synthesis in young men.

Conditional Essential Amino Acids

You usually hear about essential and non-essential amino acids only. Conditional essential includes 8 amino acids that are specifically needed in the body under certain conditions like stress, exercise, aging, etc.

Some of the Best Protein Sources for Muscle Growth

1. Beef, Pork, Wild Game (especially if it’s grass-fed)

2. Poultry (i.e. chicken, turkey)

3. Eggs (the yolk contains most of the nutrients; also 185 mg cholesterol)

4. Fish & Seafood

5. Dairy (i.e. cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt)

**Additional food sources like Tempeh, Tofu, Beans, and Nuts.

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Healthy food high in protein. Meat, fish, dairy products, nuts and beans

Did You Know…

Did you know that foods like broccoli (3 grams), baked potato (4 grams), avocado (4 grams), and a cup of quinoa (5 grams) also contain adequate amounts of protein. Add these healthy food options as “sides” with the main course mentioned above. They will also help meet your daily protein requirements to ensure muscle growth.

Great Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Stew (bonus recipe, contains 38 grams of protein)

What you’ll need to turn this into your dinner for tonight:

Canola oil (2 Tbsp)
Cubed lamb stew meat (2 lbs.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
One (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef broth

How to Make It:
1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the lamb, season well with salt and pepper, and cook until well browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots and saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, and cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas, apricots, green olives, tomatoes (with their juices), reserved lamb, and beef broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the lamb is very tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Feeds 6

Nutrition per serving: 495 calories, 38g protein, 46g carbs, 10 g fiber, 16g fat (Credit: Paul Kita, Men’s Health Magazine)

How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

The average, healthy adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram per body weight. BUT, if your strength training and want to add muscle mass, that number needs to increase. See the protein recommendations (below) published by Precision Nutrition, found in The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, 3rd edition pp. 216. They offer a great online nutrition certification course BTW, I actually took it a few years ago.

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Protein Requirements

Questions for you. What do you consider the best choice for protein intake? How much protein are you taking in on a daily basis? For muscle growth to actually occur, sufficient protein requirements need to be met. Also important are adequate training stimulus and plenty of recovery (between workouts and sleep). Think of it as a three pronged approach. Enjoy! Eat Well. Stay Strong!

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