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What is the Amino Acid profile in plant based protein powder vs. animal based protein powder?

What vegan proteins are needed to create complete essential amino acids in protein powder blends?
  1. Pea Protein: Pea protein is rich in essential amino acids, particularly lysine. However, it may be lower in methionine and cysteine. To complement the amino acid profile of pea protein, you can combine it with other protein sources that are higher in these amino acids.
  2. Rice Protein: Rice protein is generally low in lysine but has higher levels of methionine and cysteine. Combining rice protein with other protein sources rich in lysine can help create a complete amino acid profile.
  3. Hemp Protein: Hemp protein contains all essential amino acids, making it a good source for creating a complete protein profile. However, it is lower in lysine. Combining it with other protein sources higher in lysine can help address this.
  4. Chia Seeds: Chia seeds provide a moderate amount of protein and contain all essential amino acids. However, the overall protein content in chia seeds is relatively low, so it is often combined with other protein sources to create a complete profile.
  5. Quinoa: Quinoa is a unique plant source as it is considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids. Incorporating quinoa protein into a blend can contribute to the completeness of the amino acid profile.

By combining these protein sources or using pre-made vegan protein powder blends that include a mix of different plant-based proteins, you can create a complete amino acid profile in your protein powder. Additionally, consuming a varied and balanced plant-based diet that includes a range of protein-rich foods can also help ensure you’re getting all the essential amino acids your body needs.

How does the amino acid profile compare from grass fed whey protein powder to a vegan protein powder?

Grass-fed Whey Protein Powder: Whey protein is derived from milk and is considered a complete protein source. It contains all essential amino acids in adequate proportions. The amino acid profile of whey protein is rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) like leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which play a crucial role in muscle protein synthesis and recovery.

Vegan Protein Powder: Vegan protein powders are typically made from plant-based sources such as peas, rice, hemp, chia, or a combination of these. Each plant protein source has a unique amino acid profile, and while they may be lower in certain essential amino acids individually, they can be combined to provide a complete amino acid profile.

Compared to whey protein, vegan protein powders may have varying levels of essential amino acids, with some amino acids being more abundant in certain plant protein sources than others. For example, plant-based proteins can be lower in lysine but higher in methionine and cysteine.

To create a complete amino acid profile in vegan protein powders, manufacturers often blend different plant protein sources to ensure that all essential amino acids are present in sufficient amounts. This helps provide a comparable amino acid profile to whey protein.

It’s worth noting that the specific amino acid composition can vary depending on the brand and formulation of the protein powder. It’s advisable to check the nutrition label or contact the manufacturer for detailed information on the amino acid profile of a specific product you are interested in.

Ultimately, both grass-fed whey protein powder and vegan protein powders can be valuable sources of protein, but the amino acid profiles differ based on the protein sources used. Choosing between them depends on personal preferences, dietary restrictions, and ethical considerations.

It’s important to note that the total protein content and amino acid profile can differ significantly between different brands and formulations of both whey protein and plant-based protein. Therefore, if you have specific requirements or preferences for glycine intake, it is advisable to check the nutrition label or contact the manufacturer to obtain precise information on the glycine content of a particular product you are considering.

Remember that while glycine is an important amino acid, the overall amino acid composition and the quality of protein (essential amino acid content and digestibility) are crucial factors to consider when choosing a protein powder, regardless of the glycine content.

What is the amount of leucine in plant protein vs. animal based protein powder?

The amount of leucine in plant protein and animal-based protein powders can vary depending on the specific protein source and product. Leucine is an essential branched-chain amino acid that plays a crucial role in muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth.

Animal-Based Protein Powders: Animal-based protein powders, such as whey protein and casein protein, are derived from milk. These proteins are considered high-quality protein sources due to their complete amino acid profiles and optimal leucine content.

Whey protein, in particular, is known for its high leucine content, typically ranging from 8 to 10 grams of leucine per 100 grams of protein powder.

Plant-Based Protein Powders: Plant-based protein powders, such as pea protein, rice protein, hemp protein, and others, can have varying amounts of leucine. While plant-based proteins are generally lower in leucine compared to animal-based proteins, their leucine content can still contribute to muscle protein synthesis and support muscle growth.

  • Pea protein, for example, typically contains around 6 to 7 grams of leucine per 100 grams of protein powder.
  • Rice protein may have slightly lower leucine content, ranging from 5 to 6 grams per 100 grams.
  • Hemp protein, on the other hand, generally has lower leucine content compared to other plant-based protein sources.

It’s important to note that these values are general estimates, and the specific leucine content can vary between different brands and formulations of protein powders. Checking the nutrition labels or contacting the manufacturer for precise information on leucine content is advisable when considering a specific product.

Remember that while leucine is an important amino acid for muscle protein synthesis, the overall amino acid profile and protein quality (digestibility and essential amino acid composition) are crucial factors to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of a protein powder, regardless of the leucine content.

How much leucine is needed for muscle protein synthesis post workout?

Research suggests that consuming approximately 2-3 grams of leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis to a maximal extent.

This threshold amount of leucine is often referred to as the “leucine threshold” or the “leucine trigger” for muscle protein synthesis.

It’s important to note that this recommendation applies to a single serving or meal, and multiple meals or servings throughout the day can contribute to overall leucine intake.

It’s worth mentioning that the total protein intake is also crucial for muscle protein synthesis, as leucine alone is not sufficient to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Consuming an adequate amount of high-quality protein in combination with the leucine threshold is important to support muscle protein synthesis post-workout. The recommended protein intake for muscle protein synthesis after exercise is approximately 20-40 grams of protein per serving or meal.

Keep in mind that individual protein needs can vary based on factors such as body weight, training status, goals, and overall dietary intake. It’s recommended to consult with a registered dietitian or sports nutritionist who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific needs and goals. They can help determine the optimal protein and leucine intake for your post-workout nutrition strategy.

The “leucine threshold” or “leucine trigger” refers to the minimum amount of leucine intake required to maximize muscle protein synthesis (MPS) in response to a meal or protein intake.

Leucine is an essential amino acid that plays a crucial role in stimulating MPS, which is the process of building new muscle proteins.

Research suggests that reaching a certain threshold of leucine intake is necessary to maximize the anabolic response and promote muscle protein synthesis. While the specific threshold can vary depending on various factors, including individual factors and the context of the meal, a commonly cited recommendation is around 2-3 grams of leucine per serving or meal.

Consuming approximately 2-3 grams of leucine in a meal has been shown to robustly stimulate muscle protein synthesis and maximize the anabolic response. This leucine threshold is often achieved by consuming high-quality protein sources that are rich in leucine, such as whey protein, animal-based protein, or a combination of plant-based protein sources that provide adequate leucine content.

It’s important to note that while leucine is a key factor in stimulating muscle protein synthesis, the overall protein intake and amino acid composition of the meal are also important. Consuming a sufficient amount of high-quality protein, including all essential amino acids, in combination with the leucine threshold, is crucial for optimal muscle protein synthesis.

It’s worth mentioning that individual protein and leucine needs can vary based on factors such as body weight, training status, goals, and overall dietary intake. It’s recommended to consult with a registered dietitian or sports nutritionist who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific needs and goals to determine the optimal protein and leucine intake for muscle protein synthesis.

Several foods are rich in leucine, a branched-chain amino acid and essential amino acid.

Here are some examples of foods that contain a high amount of leucine:

  1. Animal-Based Sources:
    • Lean meats: Beef, chicken, turkey, pork.
    • Fish: Tuna, salmon, cod.
    • Eggs: Especially egg whites, which have a high leucine content.
  2. Dairy Products:
    • Greek yogurt: Provides a substantial amount of leucine.
    • Cottage cheese: Contains a good amount of leucine.
  3. Plant-Based Sources:
    • Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans.
    • Soy products: Tofu, tempeh, edamame.
    • Quinoa: A pseudo-grain that is also a complete protein.
    • Peanuts and peanut butter: A nut-based source rich in leucine.
    • Pumpkin seeds and chia seeds: Provide a moderate amount of leucine.

It’s important to note that the specific leucine content can vary between different varieties and preparations of these foods. Additionally, the overall protein content and amino acid composition of a food also influence its nutritional value for muscle protein synthesis.

To ensure sufficient leucine intake, it is beneficial to incorporate a variety of high-quality protein sources into your diet. This allows for a balanced intake of essential amino acids, including leucine, which is important for muscle protein synthesis and overall muscle health.

Among animal-based foods, certain sources are particularly rich in leucine.

Here are some examples of animal-based foods that have a high leucine content:

  1. Meat:
    • Beef: Provides a significant amount of leucine, with cuts like sirloin, tenderloin, and ground beef being good options.
    • Chicken breast: Contains a substantial amount of leucine and is a popular lean protein choice.
    • Turkey breast: Similar to chicken breast, turkey breast is rich in leucine.
  2. Fish:
    • Tuna: Known for its high protein content and leucine content, making it an excellent choice for leucine intake.
    • Salmon: A fatty fish that provides a good amount of leucine, along with omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Dairy Products:
    • Whey protein: Derived from milk, whey protein is particularly high in leucine and is often used as a supplement.
    • Greek yogurt: A strained yogurt with higher protein content, including leucine, compared to regular yogurt.
    • Cottage cheese: Contains a good amount of leucine and is a versatile dairy option.
  4. Eggs:
    • Egg whites: While whole eggs contain leucine, the majority of it is found in the egg whites.They are a high-quality protein source rich in leucine.

These animal-based foods provide not only leucine but also other essential amino acids necessary for muscle protein synthesis. It’s important to balance your overall protein intake and dietary choices to meet your specific nutritional needs and preferences.

What are the essential amino acids needed for protein synthesis?

  1. Histidine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. Leucine
  4. Lysine
  5. Methionine
  6. Phenylalanine
  7. Threonine
  8. Tryptophan
  9. Valine

These essential amino acids play vital roles in various physiological processes, including muscle protein synthesis, tissue repair, hormone production, and enzyme synthesis.

It’s important to consume a balanced diet that includes sources of complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids to support overall health and optimal protein synthesis.

Animal-based protein sources, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, are generally considered complete proteins.

Some plant-based protein sources, such as quinoa and soy products like tofu and tempeh, are also complete proteins. However, most plant-based protein sources may be incomplete and can be combined to ensure a sufficient intake of all essential amino acids.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon Show Notes

02:18 Lift Weights:  Muscle is the organ of longevity. The only way to keep muscle healthy is to lift weights.
03:21 Dr. Lyon’s Work: Dr. Lyon trained with Dr. Donald Layman, one of the world’s leading specialists in muscle protein metabolism. Her focus is on muscle health, muscle protein synthesis, and optimizing body composition.
03:48 Ageing and Muscle Protein Synthesis: When you are young, muscle growth is driven by hormones, insulin and growth hormone. You don’t need as much protein. As you age, your body becomes more resistant to hormones. Then there are only two ways to then stimulate muscle protein synthesis: exercise or diet.
04:13 Stimulating Muscle Growth with Diet: Diet means the right amount of protein intake at the right times in the right amount to stimulate the lock and key effect.
04:42 Anabolic Resistance: As we age, our bodies become more resistant to tissue activation or mTOR signaling. Our hormones are naturally lower and the amount of protein needed to stimulate mTOR is higher. mTOR is stimulated by leucine. It is an anabolic protein that allows muscle to turn over and to be synthesized.
05:36 Muscle is the Organ of Longevity: It is an organ just like the heart. The healthier your muscle, the healthier your life. It is the largest unit for glucose disposal and the largest site for fat oxidation.
05:56 Eat More Protein: As age, we need to eat more protein at once. We need around 50 grams at one time.  At 65 and up, we need 40 to 50 grams of protein to stimulate the same kind of muscle turnover. There is a tendency to eat less protein as we age.
06:40 Anabolic Resistance: It is on the trajectory of sarcopenia and cachexia. Sarcopenia and anabolic resistance are happening earlier. Usually, it begins in your 40s and 50s, but we are so inactive that it is starting in our 30s. This involves a loss of muscle function and muscle strength and fat infiltrates the tissue.
07:10 Quality of Protein Dictates Quality of Your Health: The Protein and amino acids are the limiting factor for what makes a good diet. You do need high quality fats, lower glycemic carbohydrates, but it is the quality of your protein that determines the health of your diet and the quality of your health.
08:42 Animal-Based Proteins vs Plant-Based Proteins: Soy and wheat protein take over 40 grams to make the initial reaction to mTOR signaling. Whey protein takes 25 grams to do the same. It is based upon the amount of leucine. Vegan proteins are low in leucine and are not digestible, and thus not useable by the muscle.
09:49 Benefits of Methionine/Protein Restriction: Methionine is an amino acid whose pathway is restricted in a ketogenic diet. Dr. Lyon believes that this may be a key reason that the ketogenic diet works so well for some people. It revs metabolism because you are low in an essential amino acid. There may be benefit to periodic protein restriction.
12:20 Increase Protein on Rest Days, NOT Training Days : When you are training, you are stimulating muscle protein synthesis and you are primed to use the foods that you have eaten, so you need less protein. On days when you are not stimulating your muscle, you may need 40 to 50 grams of protein per meal to increase muscle protein synthesis.
13:55 Optimal Range of Protein:  The recommendation is 1.6 grams of protein intake per kilogram. Everyone should be consuming at least 30 grams of high quality protein 3 times each day for minimal stimulation. Higher ends of protein, quality and quanitity, max out the system.
16:25 Time Restricted Feeding/Intermittent Fasting: Dr. Lyon recommends doing this with branch chain aminos, making it not a true fast. If you are doing a water only fast, your first meal should have about 50 grams of protein to feed your muscle. Protein has a satiety and appetite regulating effect.
18:17 Train in the Morning: Dr. Lyon recommends that we do our training in the morning. If you are not going to eat (intermittent fasting) you should train.
18:51 Optimal Meal Timing: Dr. Lyon does not recommend time restricted feeding for everyone. Dr. Lyon starts her weight management patients on a 3 meal a day (containing 30 grams of protein each) program. Don’t do heavy weights or CrossFit in a fasted state.
20:00 Post Workout: Post workout your body is primed to take in amino acids. If you want protein, you only need about 25 grams. A small insulin spike post workout can optimize glucose uptake and amino acid uptake.
20:33 Protein and Insulin Spikes: Protein spikes insulin only as a phase one reaction to get the branch chain amino acids into the cell. It not a long insulin spike and does not elevate blood glucose. It is not a reaction similar to carbs/sugar. Protein does get converted to glucose. Branch chain aminos are more ketogenic.
22:55 Protein Causes Cancer? Studies use obese mouse models that are already at risk for cancer. There is mTOR in every cell. In muscle, the leucine that stimulates mTOR is targeted for muscle protein synthesis. There is no evidence that this relates to cancer. Overconsuming carbohydrates or overeating drive insulin mediated mTOR, may be related to cancer. Grazing and chronic feeding of carbs throughout the day raise insulin. Fasting 4 to 5 hours between meals is beneficial.
26:20 What We Think about Protein is Wrong: You should be eating about 150 grams of protein a day. It is protective. Humans used to be more active and stimulating our muscles. The more sedentary you are the more protein you need.
27:00 Get the Dose Right: It is not a percentage of calories. The lower your calories, the higher your protein needs. Otherwise, you go into starvation mode. You need to protect your muscle by eating protein.
28:31 Protein and Your Kidneys and Bones: If you have a compromised kidney, the load of the protein is high. If you are healthy, protein helps GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate). Bone is made of protein.
29:16 Train Your Body to be a Little Hungry: When you don’t snack, you allow your body to reset the metabolic pathways reset, the mTOR signaling resets. Then when you eat again, you have an opportunity to maximally stimulate your muscle protein synthesis. Snacking destabilizes blood sugar.
30:46 Getting Enough Amino Acids: Glutamine is primarily for the gut. Branch chain amino acids feed the muscle first. If you get the muscle protein right, with enough to feed a muscle, then you get enough arginine for NO2, enough creatine, enough taurine, and enough methionine. Use food as medicine. As you age, feed with a purpose.
34:30 What about the Liver? People with NASH/fatty liver have high blood levels of amino acids. It is a metabolic marker of insulin resistance. Should you add more protein to a liver that is struggling? Amino acids go through the liver first. Reducing carbs is the highest priority for this group. They can do well on a ketogenic diet to start. The liver metabolizes all the amino acids. Branch chain amino acids make up roughly 20% of the protein. When the liver kicks out the amino acids, it makes up 70%. Unless someone has cirrhosis, Dr. Lyon does not worry about protein.
36:52 Bone Broth is Not a Protein:  Bone broth is high in proline and glycine, but devoid of branch chain amino acids. Branch chain aminos is a bolus amount. Have it all at once to get the amino acid load in the bloodstream to get the metabolic triggering effect that you want.
38:09 Cooked vs Raw Branch Chain Aminos: Cooking methods do not make a difference in changing protein digestibility. There is a denaturing with eggs, but it does not change the amount of the amino acid. Mike and Dr. Lyon both eat raw eggs.
39:40 Dr. Lyon’s Favorite Exercise: Her choice is the sumo deadlift, full body movement.
39:56 Dr. Lyon’s Desert Island Herb: Vitamin C is her choice for its antioxidants, cancer prevention and more. However, she ponders whether she could survive without ashwaganda.
41:05 Dr. Lyon’s Morning Routine: When she first awakens, Dr. Lyon does 20 minutes of transcendental meditation. She journals her thoughts, intensions and gratitude. In the morning she journals about how her day went to program her day.
42:28 Dr. Lyon’s Elevator Pitch: Everything we know about protein is wrong. You need at least 30 to 50 grams of high quality protein 3 times a day. It will protect you for life.
These findings suggest that leucine supplementation is useful to address the age-related decline in muscle mass in elderly individuals, as it increases the muscle protein fractional synthetic rate.

Ronda Patrick on Protein Timing & Muscle Protein Synthesis

Aliquot #74: Protein intake for growing and maintaining muscle
  • Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscles.
  • Aiming for about 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (about 0.5 to 0.7 grams per pound) is optimal for maintenance on the lower end and building muscle on the higher end.
  • The timing and distribution of protein intake can influence how well our bodies adapt to exercise, but concerns about the protein source – animals versus plants – are likely unfounded.
  • The important thing is to get enough of the branched-chain amino acid leucine, which is found in higher concentrations in animal protein but is also in plant proteins.
In this Aliquot, we feature segments that discuss the importance of dietary protein in building muscles:
00:00:47 – Protein timing for elite athletes and older adults
00:05:19 – Pros and cons to working out in a fasted state
00:07:38 – Does plant protein support hypertrophy?
00:13:20 – How much protein do you need for building muscle?
Notes from podcast:
  1. Nutrient intake to max protein synthesis not as time sensitive
    1. Fasted workouts-
    2. Older adults –
    3. Equally distributed protein throughout the day
    4. Protein timing
    5. Top athletes – performance gains
    6. spacing protein
    7. timing to exercise – focus on throughout the day
  2. Focus on …
    1. focus on total amount of protein per day
    2. even spacing/spacing of protein throughout the day
    3. protein quality – real food sources over powders
    4. how often going to the gym to LIFT heavy weights
  3. Older adults
    1. higher protein in morning
    2. higher quality protein

Exhausted runner resting after running in city outskirts

Working out in a fasted state?
    1. Endurance exercise may be compromised if fasted
    2. Goal to get stronger – strength training fasted
      1. No of the studies showed differences in eating in men and women
      2. Not eating 4-6 hours post workout – as long as eat in 24 hour period in respect to the workout
      3. Check intensity and duration factors
    3. Mitochondrial adaptations of fasted exercise?  if fasted vs. fed state pre workout
    4. Post workout protein intake:  not eating 4-6 hours post workout should not affect strength gains … doesn’t matter when you eat protein, as long you eat your macro goals within 24 hours
  • if exercising in fasted state- your intensity may be impacted if going harder
  • mitochondrial adaptations -blunted in fed state but performance impacted if long endurance
  • Key amino acid:  Leucine is important part of protein intake for muscle strength gains/protein synthesis – animal meat is higher in essential amino acids
  • Plant derived proteins have anti-nutrients

Ronda Patrick Q & A on Protein

  1. total body workouts – upper and lower body; lower body mass correlates to longevity – difficult to gain muscle mass as age so start getting stronger earlier than later
  2. make sure eating enough protein – increases muscle gain to certain point – more protein in the diet helped increased muscle protein gain as 180 lb person – 130 grams of protein per day
  3. elderly men- 10 weeks without working out vs. high protein vs. low protein diet = gain in muscle or lost muscle
  4. exercise + high protein diet is important to strength gains/building muscle
  5. MTOR activation fear – activate to build muscle while working out but if you are constantly elevating MTOR without exercise

Protein Timing & Training: Separating Fact from Fiction

Joni M. Boyd, PhD, MS-Nutrition, MEd
A. Structure & Function of Proteins – Proteins are composed of amino acids
  1.  Essential are amino acids that must be consumed in the diet non-essential can be made by the body.
  2.  Contractile Proteins: facilitate the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
  3.  Defensive Proteins: protect the body from viruses (ex. fibrinogen and thrombin)
  4.  Enzymatic Proteins: start chemical reactions in the stomach and the intestines.
  5.  Hormonal Proteins: Messengers that influence a metabolic function in the body (ex–insulin).
  6. Storage Proteins: store essential minerals and energy for later use.
  7. Structural proteins: provide structure and support throughout the body (ex. Collagen)
B. Sources of Proteins
  1.  Animal sources
    1.  Whey Protein is an complete animal based protein from cow’s milk.
    2.  Casein Protein, like whey, is a complete milk-based protein. It makes up 80% of the protein in cow’s milk and more abundant that whey.
  2.  Plant sources = Soy Protein is a complete plant-based protein originating from the soybean plant. Soy is a great protein source for vegan or lactose intolerant individuals
  3. Supplements
C. Review of the Research on Protein Consumption & Performance
  1. Impact on endurance and resistance training performance
  2. Protein does not appear to improve endurance performance when adequate carbohydrate is delivered.
  3. Adding protein during or after an intensive bout of endurance exercise may suppress myofibrillar damage and reduce feelings of muscle soreness. Research is limited.
  4. Both men and women can receive a small to modest impact on strength development from protein supplementation.
  5. Protein supplementation of 15 –25 g over 4-to-12 weeks exerts a positive impact on performance.
    1. Effect on physical performance measures
    2. Improvement in performance, body composition
D. Review of Specific Recommendations on Nutrient Timing in Healthy Adults
  1. An acute exercise stimulus and protein ingestion both stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) before or after resistance exercise mixed recommendations, but generally 0.25 g of a high-quality protein per kg of body weight, or an absolute dose of 20–40 g.
  2. Rapidly digested proteins that contain high proportions of essential amino acids (EAAs) and adequate leucine, are most effective in stimulating MPS.1.4 – 2.0 g/kg/d is sufficient for most strive for 700 – 3000 mg of leucine and balanced EAAs- evenly distributed every 3-4 hours, across the day. Optimal time diminishes as post-workout time increases focus on whole food sources with all EAA to stimulate MPS

Clean Protein Powder Options

  1. Paleo Valley
  2. BiOptimizers Protein Shake
  3. Kion Aminos Whey protein (plus Colostrum)
  4. HLTH Code fat/protein shakes by Dr. Ben Bikman
Other options:
    1. BiOptimizer Supplements

Dr. Stacy Sims on fueling the female athleteTrain The WHOLE Athlete

  • Adaptations:  Fueling for the stress at hand
  • Fuel in and around training
  • To increase energy, cognition, hit heavy loads, improve recovery
  • Recovery post workout
  • Avoid fasted exercise
  • Manipulate training and body composition
  • Fueling for the stress at hand
  • Give the body fuel to hit hard high intensities
  • IF you need to lose weight- add in 10-20 reduction in evening away from training
  • To at less, train more = low energy availability = low thyroid, increased catabolism, increase in body fat
The benefits of FASTED exercise – based on men to increase fatty acid breakdown for fuel; increase fat burn but not increase performance
Women naturally shuttle carbs into endometrial lining via estrogen/progesterone = naturally fat adapted
Hormone Kisspeptin – down regulates thyroid and metabolism – hormone dysfunction
Women – improve performance with pre-workout fuel 100-150 calories to access glucose when training harder; drops cortisol levels; fuel to hit heavy loads:  train harder and improve recovery
  • Pre strength workouts:  15-20g protein
  • Pre cardio workouts:  15-20g protein + 30g carbs
  • Post workout 40g protein after workout  (protein synthesis)
Short Intensity Workouts: 30 second or less all out sprint, 2-3 minute recovery; metabolic control; 95-110%; #1 method over hormone therapy; subset of HIIT (1-2 minutes), SIT 2x week
Peri-Menopausal – follicular lengthening
  • more resilient as get closer to ovarian failure; fatigue, brain fog, body fat increase = train lower volume and higher intensity
  • Strength training 3x week
  • Increase quality of workouts, race specific on weekends (easy), strength building focus priorities with SIT
I am going to be experimenting with my workouts as
530am lift
6:15 am spin class with power intervals
MEAL Timing-
11:45am-1pm Masters Swim
MEAL Timing- lunch 2-3pm protein based
Tuesday or Thursdays
5:30am-6:15am lift weights
630am-730am run with hill sprints/intervals
Post workout fuel:
11:45am-1pm Masters Swim (some days)
Walking, Sauna, Yoga at night
Long Bike Ride – later in morning in winter
Long Run Day- 1hr30-2 hours early morning

What is glycine exactly? 

Glycine is the most abundant amino acid present in collagen, as well as tending to other bodily functions that we mentioned above. Also, glycine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning our body creates this amino acid on it’s own. However, adding more glycine into your nutritional lifestyle will only provide you with greater health benefits. More on that in a bit…
With a number of foods and supplements, it isn’t too hard to incorporate more glycine into your daily diet. One of the best sources of glycine is bone broth, due to the collagen that is released when bone broth is made! On top of glycine, bone broth contains other health-boosting vitamins and minerals that are great for your overall well-being. If you are vegetarian/vegan, other foods that contain glycine are vegetables like cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, or legumes like beans. Glycine can also be found in collagen protein supplements, which can be mixed into your meals or warm drinks.

More article to read up on the benefits of GLYCINE:

What about eating foods to build our hormones as we age up?

Certain foods can support the production and balance of steroid hormones in the body. Steroid hormones are derived from cholesterol, so it’s important to include foods that provide the necessary building blocks. Here are some food groups and nutrients that can support the production of steroid hormones:

  1. Healthy fats: Include sources of healthy fats in your diet, as they are crucial for hormone production. Good options include avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and fatty fish like salmon.
  2. Cholesterol-rich foods: While it’s important to consume cholesterol in moderation, including foods that contain natural cholesterol can provide the raw material for steroid hormone production. Examples include eggs, grass-fed meats, full-fat dairy products, and shellfish.
  3. Protein-rich foods: Adequate protein intake is necessary for hormone synthesis. Include lean sources of protein like chicken, turkey, fish and dairy products.
  4. Colorful fruits and vegetables: These provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall hormone balance and function. Aim for a variety of fruits and vegetables to obtain a wide range of nutrients.
  5. Zinc-rich foods: Zinc is a mineral involved in hormone production. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, lean meats, poultry, beans, nuts, and seeds.
  6. Vitamin C-rich foods: Vitamin C supports the production of steroid hormones and helps with their conversion and utilization. Include citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, and leafy green vegetables in your diet.
  7. B-vitamins: B-vitamins are important cofactors in hormone synthesis. Include foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and animal products like eggs and dairy for a good intake of B-vitamins.

More with Dr. Stacy Sims on “Women are not Small Men” (great book!).

Are there differences between pre- and postmenopausal women?
Premenopausal woman have a harder time maintaining lean muscle mass than men, since the monthly hormonal cycle can have a catabolic effect on the body. Simply put, the rise and fall of progesterone and subsequently cortisol throughout the cycle can make it hard to maintain lean muscle mass, and easier to store fat. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense! Storing fat enabled women to survive on less calories during famine (more on this later).
Postmenopausal women also have a hard time maintaining lean muscle mass and healthy bone mass due to onset of menopause, and eating a diet high in protein along with regularly strength training can mitigate the catabolic effects of aging and the sudden lack of estrogen.”
Conclusion: EAT MORE PROTEIN! Maintaining a diet high in protein for a woman of any age can have nothing but positive effects on her performance in the gym and total lean body mass.
The low hormone phase (Day 1 of bleeding leading to ovulation) is the best time to hit the gym and work strength and power. Because of the low estrogen and progesterone, your body will be capable of higher intensities, and in fact you are capable of a 10% increase in the weight you can lift the day before ovulation. Following a traditional strength or power program three times a week and hitting more interval type training is best suited for this phase.
During the high hormone phase, things get trickier. Lifting heavy and expressing power becomes more challenging. Recovery is also more difficult. Fatigue is higher. During this time, it is more beneficial to follow a hypertrophy-type template to maintain neuromuscular adaptation (aka continue developing strong, lean muscle). What does that look like? Higher reps, less intensity. Aim for 10-15 reps versus your heavier lifting days which would look more like 5 – 8 reps.
For postmenopausal women, lifting heavy is the way to go. Sims recommends avoiding higher intensity training, to ditch the long endurance training (unless it brings you joy!), and definitely add in three days of heavy lifting. This will preserve muscle and bone mass to keep you stronger, healthier and fit!

When to eat with exercise: before or after if you want to get stronger, leaner and faster?

Morning exercise fueling or fasting with Ben Greenfield:
  • Stays in mild ketosis 1-3 mmol all day long by not eating carbs
  • Doesn’t eat carbs all day long
  • Workout in late afternoon/early evening – increases/induces temporary insulin sensitivity
  • Carbs at dinner -100g to 200g (helps sleep better)
  • Doesn’t eat carbs again until next evening meal
  • Stays in insulin sensitive state post workout- evening refeed of carbs – restocks up glycogen stores in liver and muscles because you upregulate glute4 transporters- enough fuel is on board for next day’s workout.
  • The morning cortisol is elevated – more insulin sensitive in the morning
  • If you can exercise late afternoon – improve insulin sensitivity again post workout so you can enjoy healthy carbs at night
TRAIN LOW -COMPETE HIGH = increases fat metabolism
  • Even if slightly lower glycogen stores – training low and competing high or saving carbs for hardest workouts – enhances fat metabolism and increases endurance performance
  • Eat low carb diet and occasionally throw carbs in it
  • METCON in the morning?  the carbs you eat in the evening are going to be enough fuel as your liver and muscle glycogen stores would be topped off. 
If need an extra boost- use essential amino acids and/or creatine pre workout (stave off neuromuscular fatigue- tryptophan crosses over BBB(?), instead of carbs, maintain the ability to burn more fatty acids in the day and stay in autophagy fasting state.  Eat your carbohydrates in the evening.
BUT if you are doing two workouts in the day as pro athlete – you can not adequately replenish carbohydrate stores enough if doing two workouts in eight hour time period. 
If your workout is in the morning then you have another training session in eight plus hours away from the morning workout then you would want to eat consume carbs in the 20-60 minutes post first workout to replenish the glycogen stores so you can perform as well as you would want to in your second workout of the day (depends on the workout intensity). 
If both workouts you are “crushing it” then fuel appropriately after the first workout. Eat your carbs after first workout session then after second workout session.
If eating carbs after second session- you can wait 1-2 hours after workout to eat your carb refeed post workout meal as you want to take advantage of the amplified levels of growth hormone and testosterone that occurs when you don’t eat right after the workout and wait for the upregulation (neuro endocrine favorable hormone response post workout)
Avoid over training!
IF your morning exercise is light, low intensity movement as sauna with yoga, walk in sunshine = not a carb depleting then you can save your carbs for dinner evening meal.
  • The best time of the day is when you are able to workout but the best time to do a MET CON workout is between 4-6pm. 
  • Ideal to start day outside in sunshine or restorative yoga passive – as body naturally surges in cortisol in the morning. 
  • Wait until dinner to have your carbs unless doing two a day workouts withing eight hours.

How much PROTEIN do we need?

Gabrielle Lyon:  So, I would say that the most important aspect of differentiating between plant protein and animal protein [is] really the essential amino acids.
And of those, the branched chain amino acids. Especially as it relates to muscle health because muscle is the organ of longevity and it is the foundation of an individual’s metabolism.
Having healthy muscle tissue allows for a large site of glucose disposal, fatty acid oxidation, all very important.
So, animal products contain a high amount of leucine. And leucine is important because it stimulates this complex called mTOR.
And that is, what then down the line generates muscle protein synthesis.
So, when that is an adequate quality, the quality of the protein and quantity, so it needs to be at about 2.5 grams of leucine to stimulate this process.
That is roughly 30 grams of protein per meal.
And that is very important to understand because it’s necessary for the health and longevity of your tissue.

If you’re an athlete, you likely need to be eating more than the measly RDA of 0.36 g/lb. No surprises there.

However, you might not need as much more protein as you’ve been led to believe—but this also depends on your sport and goals.
Every coach, nutritionist, and trainer has different thoughts on how much protein athletes should eat. So, when “expert opinions” contradict, it’s helpful to look at what the body of research says. Science for Sport recently did a thorough review of all the studies on protein intake and athletic performance and recovery. After analyzing a good chunk of research, here’s the general range of protein they found to be effective for athletes, depending on their sport (numbers rounded for ease):
  • Endurance athletes: 0.5-0.8 g/lb (1.0-1.8 g/kg)
  • Strength/power athletes: 0.6-0.9 g/lb (1.4-2.0 g/kg)
  • Athletes currently in a weight-loss period: 0.7-1.15 g/lb (1.6-2.4g/kg)
The report also found that exceeding these levels did not confer any additional benefit to the athletes. And since you now know that there are downsides to going overboard on protein, it’s probably a good idea to generally stick within these ranges.
So if our buddy Jim was an elite athlete, depending on his “sport,” he should be eating around 88-158 grams of protein per day. And if he was “cutting weight,” closer to 122-200 grams.
Another scenario in which you may want to exceed the average recommended intake of protein is if you’re 65 or older.
As we age, muscle mass becomes increasingly important—and increasingly more difficult—to maintain.
This is because of something called “sarcopenia,” or age-related muscle loss, which is partially due to the aging muscle being less responsive to anabolic stimulus from amino acid intake. Additionally, stomach acid and the digestive enzymes responsible for breaking down protein can decline by up to 40% as we age, which inhibits our ability to break protein down into amino acids and utilize it for building muscle. Therefore, in order to overcome these obstacles, aging adults should probably eat more protein than the RDA (recommended daily allowance)—especially if they want to kick butt well into their 90’s, and they should probably combine that with a decent digestive enzyme complex that helps to break down that protein (e.g. Thorne’s Bio-Gest or Bioptimizers Masszymes are a couple of decent brands I like).
Based on a 2016 report in the journal Nutrients, experts in the field of protein and aging recommend a daily protein intake between 0.55-0.9 g/lb or higher for elderly adults.
That means Grandpa Jim would need to be eating closer to 100-158 grams of protein each day.
What if our fictional character Jim was looking to utilize a higher protein diet as a muscle gain/fat loss tool?
Purposely exceeding nitrogen balance could definitely be an effective short-term strategy. This is because protein works in two main ways to help fat loss:
  • It satiates your appetite, resulting in less calorie intake overall
  • It increases lean muscle mass, which boosts your resting metabolic rate (RMR), or how many calories you burn at rest
For the generally healthy person who wants to put on lean muscle (and simultaneously lose body fat), somewhere around 0.6-0.8 g/lb (1.3-1.8 g/kg) protein per day seems to be the most effective for satiating appetite and building muscle.
So if Jim wants to “slim down and tone up,” he could shoot for 105-140 grams of protein per day.
However, I have indeed worked with some individuals—so-called “hard gainers”—who have a difficult time putting on muscle or recovering properly unless they eat 0.8-1.0 g/lb of protein. But those folks are few and far between, and most people don’t need that much protein to see results for body composition.
Long story short, in case your eyes have been glazing over for the past two minutes, is that for most folks, I tend to recommend no less than 0.55-ish g/lb and no more than 0.8g/lb. That’s pretty much the sweet spot of protein intake for the lion’s share of people.
In case your head is spinning, let’s recap the protein guidelines:
  • The U.S. RDA for nitrogen balance in sedentary adults is 0.36 g/lb
  • Athletes may need 0.5-1.15 g/lb depending on their sport and goals
  • The sweet spot for gaining lean muscle is around 0.6-0.8 g/lb
  • Older adults need more protein to combat sarcopenia, around 0.55-0.9 g/lb
So, as someone interested in both maintaining muscle and optimizing for longevity, what do I do, personally? While I tend not to obsess over macros or calorie intake, I usually aim for around 0.55-0.80 g/lb of protein per day (which for me, is around 100-150 grams), depending on how heavy my activity levels are that day.
The take-away message is this: If you’re a generally healthy, active adult, eat as much protein as your body needs for repair and recovery (~0.5 g/lb). If you’re an athlete fueling intense bouts of exercise, an older adult, looking to put on muscle/lose weight, or are in another aforementioned category, you’re likely going to need more than that (~0.6-1.15 g/lb).
In other words, if you’re reading this, you could probably do well with eating more protein than the RDA—but how much more ultimately depends on your personal health and goals, and your optimal protein intake may take a bit of tinkering to discover.
So now that you know generally how much protein you might need, the next obvious question is: What exactly should I eat to get this protein?

What Are The Best Protein Sources?

First, I should admit that I think the importance of getting “X amount of grams of protein” every day is a little overblown.
Wait, didn’t we just spend a whole ten minutes discussing how much protein you need?!
Here’s what I mean: I don’t think about food sources only in terms of their protein content. Instead, I personally, tend to look at the amino acid profile, among other factors.
See, amino acids confer nearly all the magic that often gets attributed to protein. In fact, I just published an entire article on the wonderful world of amino acids, the importance of getting adequate amounts, and their science-backed benefits, which I would highly recommend checking out if you haven’t already read it, as it will provide a lot of background information to what I’m about to cover here.
Essentially, when it comes to “the best protein sources,” I tend to look at food in terms of 1) what sources are going to give me the most “complete amino acid profile” (adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids), 2) the amount of protein delivered per calorie, and 3) overall nutrient density.
So, with that being said, below are some of the most nutrient-dense, amino-acid-rich protein sources—broken down into the categories of animal sources, plant-based sources, and protein powders (yes, I do use protein powder, and find it extremely beneficial when I’m in a pinch, want to put on muscle, or on a hard training day where I need a protein boost. I’ll tell you which protein powder I like best in just a moment).

Animal-Based Protein

When you think about protein, the first thing that may come to mind is a big ol’ steak.
Am I right?
Well, there’s no question about it…animal protein—such as meat, eggs, dairy, and fish—is a superior source of protein. This is the case for a number of reasons:
  1. Complete amino acid profile: Contains adequate levels of all nine essential amino acids
  2. Higher amounts of protein per calorie: Meaning you need fewer calories to meet your protein needs
  3. Chock-full of other nutrients: Such as B Vitamins, Vitamin D, Omega Fatty Acids, Zinc, and Heme Iron (which is more bioavailable than the Non-Heme Iron in plants)
Because of these reasons, I try to get a solid amount of my daily protein via animal products. Now, I won’t give you an exhaustive list of all the different animal food sources you could eat, but here are some general numbers to give you an idea of how many grams of protein animal sources supply, and roughly how much you might need to meet your personal daily protein requirements:
  • Chicken (~27 g protein / 100 g)
  • Organ meats (~26 g protein / 100 g)
  • Beef (~26 g protein / 100 g)
  • Fish (~20-25 g protein / 100 g)
  • Eggs (~6 g protein each)
  • Dairy:
    • Yogurt (~10 g protein / 100 g)
    • Cheese (~6-10 g protein / 1 oz.)
    • Milk (~3 g protein / 100 g)
It goes without saying that, ideally, you should try to get animal protein from grass-fed, wild-caught, pasture-raised sources. As you can see, it really doesn’t take much to hit your protein goals if you’re regularly eating high-quality animal protein.
However, there are reasons some people choose to limit or avoid animal protein—such as the cost, environmental impact, and other ethical reasons. I’m certainly not here to promote an animal-based diet as the only way to meet your protein needs (though I will say that in terms of environmental/ethical reasons, I would highly suggest listening to my podcasts with Joel Salatin and Mark Hyman to learn about other regenerative farming solutions).
In any case, there are certainly plant-based proteins that can help fill the gaps—whether you’re relying strictly on plants, or just want to supplement an omnivorous diet.

Nutrient dense foods that help build sex hormones, thyroid and adrenals include:

To support the production of steroid hormones derived from cholesterol, it’s important to include nutrient-dense foods that provide the necessary building blocks. Here are some specific foods that are both rich in nutrients and contribute to the production of steroid hormones:

  1. Eggs: Eggs are a good source of healthy fats, cholesterol, and protein. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc, which are important for hormone synthesis.
  2. Fatty Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for hormone production and overall health. They also provide vitamin D and high-quality protein.
  3. Grass-fed Meats: Grass-fed meats, such as beef and lamb, are good sources of protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. These nutrients are important for hormone synthesis and overall health.
  4. Avocado: Avocado is a nutrient-dense fruit that contains healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. It also provides cholesterol, which is a precursor for steroid hormones.
  5. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds are all nutrient-dense foods rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and micronutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. They can support hormone production and overall well-being.
  6. Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is a good source of high-quality protein, calcium, and vitamin D. It also contains probiotics, which can support gut health, indirectly affecting hormone balance.
  7. Leafy Green Vegetables: Vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also provide fiber and support overall hormone balance and health.
  8. Shellfish: Shellfish such as oysters, shrimp, and crab are excellent sources of zinc, which is a mineral important for hormone production. They also provide other nutrients like vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
  9. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It can support hormone synthesis and provide additional health benefits.

When aiming for a nutrient-dense diet that supports the production of sex hormones, thyroid function, and adrenal health while also considering low oxalate and low lectin foods, here are some options to consider:

  1. Protein Sources:
    • Grass-fed and pasture-raised meats (e.g., beef, lamb, poultry)
    • Wild-caught fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, sardines)
    • Eggs from pastured chickens
    • Shellfish (e.g., shrimp, crab)
  2. Healthy Fats:
    • Avocado and avocado oil
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • Coconut oil
    • Grass-fed butter or ghee (if tolerated)
  3. Non-Starchy Vegetables: low oxalate, low fodmap, low lectins
    • Leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale, Swiss chard)
    • Cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
    • Cucumbers
    • Zucchini
    • Asparagus
    • Bell peppers
  4. Low-Oxalate Fruits:
    • Berries (e.g., blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
    • Apples
    • Pears
    • Citrus fruits (e.g., oranges, lemons, limes)
  5. Nuts and Seeds (in moderation and if tolerated):
    • Macadamia nuts
    • Pecans
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Remember, the tolerance and individual needs for specific foods can vary from person to person. If you have specific dietary restrictions or sensitivities, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian who can provide personalized guidance tailored to your unique needs and health goals.

What are nutrient dense foods that are lectin, oxalate and grain free?

Finding vegetables that are low in lectins, oxalates, and FODMAPs can be challenging, as certain vegetables may contain varying levels of these substances. However, here is a list of vegetables that are generally considered to be low in lectins, oxalates, and FODMAPs:

  1. Leafy Greens:
    • Spinach (in moderation for oxalates)
    • Kale (in moderation for oxalates)
    • Swiss chard (in moderation for oxalates)
    • Bok choy
    • Romaine lettuce
    • Butter lettuce
  2. Non-Starchy Vegetables:
    • Zucchini
    • Cucumbers
    • Carrots (cooked and well-tolerated for FODMAPs)
    • Green beans (in moderation for FODMAPs)
    • Bell peppers
    • Celery
  3. Root Vegetables:
    • Parsnips (in moderation for FODMAPs)
    • Turnips
    • Rutabaga
    • Celeriac (celery root)
  4. Squash:
    • Butternut squash (in moderation for FODMAPs)
    • Acorn squash
    • Spaghetti squash
  5. Herbs and Spices:
    • Basil
    • Cilantro
    • Parsley
    • Thyme
    • Turmeric
    • Ginger

It’s important to note that individual tolerances may vary. It’s recommended to listen to your body and work with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian experienced in gut health and dietary restrictions to personalize your diet and identify any specific triggers or sensitivities you may have. They can help you create a customized meal plan that suits your needs while promoting gut health.

To support both Phase 1 and Phase 2 liver detoxification processes, it’s essential to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods that provide specific vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here are some foods that can support liver detoxification:

Phase 1 Liver Detox Support:

  1. Cruciferous Vegetables:
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Kale
    • Cabbage
  2. Citrus Fruits:
    • Lemon
    • Lime
    • Grapefruit
    • Oranges
  3. Garlic and Onions:
    • Garlic
    • Onions
    • Shallots
    • Leeks
  4. Green Tea:
    • Green tea (contains catechins and antioxidants)
  5. Berries:
    • Blueberries
    • Raspberries
    • Strawberries
    • Blackberries

Phase 2 Liver Detox Support:

  1. Sulfur-Rich Foods:
    • Cruciferous vegetables (as mentioned above)
    • Garlic
    • Onions
    • Eggs
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cabbage
  2. Leafy Greens:
    • Spinach
    • Kale
    • Swiss chard
  3. Beets:
    • Beets and beet greens (rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients)
  4. Artichokes:
    • Artichokes (support bile flow and liver function)
  5. Turmeric:
    • Turmeric (contains curcumin, a potent antioxidant)
  6. Berries and Cherries:
    • Blueberries
    • Strawberries
    • Cherries
  7. Walnuts:
    • Walnuts (rich in omega-3 fatty acids)
  8. Legumes:
    • Lentils
    • Chickpeas
    • Black beans
  9. Green Tea:
    • Green tea (contains catechins and antioxidants)
  10. Cruciferous Sprouts:
    • Broccoli sprouts
    • Brussels sprouts sprouts
    • Radish sprouts

Including a variety of these nutrient-dense foods in your diet can provide the necessary compounds, vitamins, and antioxidants to support both Phase 1 and Phase 2 liver detoxification processes

Animal-based foods can also support liver detoxification processes, particularly Phase 1 and Phase 2. Here are some examples of animal-based foods that can support liver detox:

Phase 1 Liver Detox Support:

  1. Quality Protein Sources:
    • Grass-fed beef
    • Free-range poultry (chicken, turkey)
    • Wild-caught fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)
    • Pasture-raised eggs
    • Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster)
  2. Garlic and Onion:
    • Garlic
    • Onion
    • Shallots
    • Leeks

Phase 2 Liver Detox Support:

  1. Sulfur-Rich Foods:
    • Eggs
    • Organ meats (liver, kidney)
    • Grass-fed beef
    • Free-range poultry
    • Wild-caught fish
    • Shellfish
  2. Cruciferous Vegetables:
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cabbage
  3. Quality Protein Sources:
    • Grass-fed beef
    • Free-range poultry
    • Wild-caught fish
    • Pasture-raised eggs
    • Shellfish
  4. Beets:
    • Grass-fed beef liver (high in nutrients that support liver function)

It’s important to note that while animal-based foods can support liver detoxification, it’s advisable to consume them as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of plant-based foods. This ensures you get a wide range of nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber necessary for overall health. Additionally, it’s recommended to choose high-quality, organic, and pasture-raised animal products whenever possible to minimize exposure to environmental toxins.

Plant-Based Protein

Personally, I’m a big fan of plants.
In fact, unless I’m giving my gut some TLC and avoiding too many plant defense compounds or hefty amounts of raw fiber to give my gut a bit of a break, my plate is usually loaded up with small-to-moderate amounts of vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, tubers, herbs, spices, and plants of all kinds—and the remaining is typically a variety of clean, nose-to-tail animal products, and a few choice supplements, such as creatine, fish oil, protein powder, etc.
While there are many, many benefits of a diet rich in plants, purely relying on them for adequate protein intake can get a little tricky. This is because:
  1. Most of them have an incomplete amino acid profile—Even if a plant protein is touted as “complete,” it is usually still low in one or more of the EAAs (essential amino acids, or those you need to get from food sources), especially leucine
  2. They’re lower in protein per calorie—This means you need to eat more calories of plants to get the same amount of protein. Ted Naiman’s Protein Leverage Hypothesis states that you will prioritize the consumption of protein in food over other dietary components, eating more calories until your base protein needs have been met, regardless of how much energy you are taking in. This means that if you are vegan or vegetarian, you are more likely to overeat as your body tries to meet your protein needs. Supplemental protein will help you to reach your protein requirements more quickly, thus reducing the likelihood of overconsuming calories. The video below explains the Protein Leverage Hypothesis in greater depth.
However, it’s still certainly possible to get adequate protein from plants. In fact, athletes such as ultrarunner and Ironman Rich Roll, MMA fighter James Wilks, NBA star Kyrie Irving, and many more seem to thrive on completely plant-based protein, but man-oh-man, this approach takes a ton of slow-food prep, fermentation, soaking, sprouting and the like to actually render all those plant protein sources digestible, and, furthermore, many plant-based eaters either have to accept the fact that they’re gonna be hella skinny or they’re going to have to consume massive plates of food to actually reach the amount of protein intake their bodies need, resulting in the type of gas, bloating, indigestion, weight gain, blood sugar fluctuations and inflammation many plant-based eaters, especially the active ones, experience on the daily.
But some plant protein isn’t bad to consume. It’s just easier to round out your protein intake with animal sources. If you do include plant protein sources, below are some of the more complete plant protein sources, which contain all nine EAAs (but again, are going to be too low in one or more of them, so are not typically considered “complete proteins”):
  • Edamame (~11 g protein / 100 g)
  • Peas (~5 g protein / 100 g)
  • Spirulina (~4 g protein / 1 Tablespoon)
  • Quinoa (~4 g protein / 100 g)
  • Hemp (~3 g protein / 1 Tablespoon)
Comparing these numbers to the animal sources, you can see how it can be more difficult (though not impossible) to meet daily protein needs if you’re just relying on plants—especially when it comes to getting adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids.
That’s why I, personally, tend to focus on getting most of my protein from animal sources, while again, still filling much of my plate with plants. Not only that, I will often “supplement” my protein intake with a few scoops of some kind of easy-to-digest protein powder, such as in a morning smoothie. So, let’s dig into that next!

What About Protein Powders?

Let’s face it: If you’re in a category that needs more protein, squeezing in adequate amounts every day can be tough—especially if you’re restricting calories or intermittent fasting. Not only that, there’s the expense that comes with high-quality protein, as well as the amount of time required to prepare it every day.
This is where quality protein powders can be a life-, time-, and wallet-saver. Just one convenient scoop added to a smoothie can deliver an extra 10-20 grams of protein in as little as a few seconds.
However, the question of “which protein powder is best” is ubiquitous and could be a topic for an article in and of itself. There are dozens of protein powder choices out there, plant- or animal-based, including these common choices:
  • Pea
  • Egg
  • Rice
  • Hemp
  • Whey
  • Algae
  • Collagen
  • And more…
While all of these protein powder sources have their pros and cons—and I’ve personally tested and tinkered with many of them—as you’re about to discover, when you isolate for the three factors I mentioned above (amino acid profile, protein per calorie, and nutrient density) one clear winner emerges…
…good ol’ whey protein.
It’s also worth mentioning the protein digestibility-corrected amino score (PDCAAS). PDCAAS is a newer model that is used by the World Health Organization to evaluate protein value based on the amino acid requirements of humans. While many protein powders stick with the biological value or BV (a way to measure a protein’s usability—the higher the BV, the greater amount of available protein that the body can synthesize), the PDCAAS is becoming increasingly popular. Both whey concentrate and whey isolate have an optimum PDCAAS of 1 while, in contrast, pea protein has a PDCAAS of 0.49, rice protein is 0.27, and hemp protein is 0.46.
Now, you may be surprised by that answer. After all, whey protein has a notoriously bad rap in the alternative health and wellness world, especially by those concerned with dairy, hormones, growth factors, etc.
However, when you look past the (slightly unfounded) stigma, whey has a fascinating history as a health-promoting product dating back thousands of years, and

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