Debbie Potts Coaching

Are you striving to thrive as you age?

Part of improving the aging process and quality of life is improving muscle health.

Do you want to avoid being undermuscled and struggle with sacropenia?

Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is the process by which cells in muscle tissue build new protein molecules.

It’s a critical mechanism for muscle growth, repair, and maintenance. When you exercise, especially through resistance training or weightlifting, you stimulate MPS as part of the body’s response to the stress placed on the muscles.

Here’s how MPS plays a role in muscle health, building muscle, and longevity:

Muscle Health:

    • Regular bouts of exercise, particularly those that activate MPS, are essential for maintaining muscle mass and function, especially as we age.
    • As we get older, our bodies become less efficient at synthesizing muscle proteins, leading to muscle loss and weakness, a condition known as sarcopenia.
    • By stimulating MPS through exercise, we can help counteract this age-related decline in muscle mass and function, promoting overall muscle health and mobility.

Building Muscle:

    • MPS is crucial for muscle hypertrophy, or the increase in muscle size.
    • After resistance training, MPS rates increase, allowing the muscle fibers to repair and grow larger in response to the stress placed on them during exercise.
    • Consuming an adequate amount of protein, particularly rich in essential amino acids like leucine, further enhances MPS, facilitating muscle recovery and growth.

Longevity:

    • Maintaining muscle mass and strength is associated with numerous health benefits and longevity.
    • Stronger muscles support better physical function, balance, and mobility, reducing the risk of falls and fractures, which can be detrimental, especially in older adults.
    • Additionally, muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns calories even at rest.
    • Thus, preserving muscle mass through regular exercise and promoting MPS can contribute to weight management and overall metabolic health, which are key factors in promoting longevity.

Muscle protein synthesis is essential for muscle health, building muscle mass, and promoting longevity.

By engaging in regular exercise, particularly resistance training, and consuming adequate protein, individuals can optimize MPS, preserving muscle mass and function, promoting muscle growth, and supporting overall health and well-being throughout life.

How can you get 30-50g protein with the right amount of EAA for MPS?

Example on some foods that are “high in protein and leucine”, along with their approximate serving size, protein content, calorie count, and leucine content:

  1. Chicken breast:
    • Serving size: 3 ounces (85 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 26 grams
    • Calories: Around 140 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.5 grams
  2. Turkey breast:
    • Serving size: 3 ounces (85 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 26 grams
    • Calories: Around 125 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.5 grams
  3. Salmon:
    • Serving size: 3 ounces (85 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 22 grams
    • Calories: Around 175 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.7 grams
  4. Tuna:
    • Serving size: 3 ounces (85 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 22 grams
    • Calories: Around 100 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.5 grams
  5. Greek yogurt (non-fat or low-fat):
    • Serving size: 1 cup (240 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 23 grams
    • Calories: Around 120 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.5 grams
  6. Cottage cheese (low-fat):
    • Serving size: 1 cup (226 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 28 grams
    • Calories: Around 160 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.8 grams
  7. Lentils (cooked):
    • Serving size: 1 cup (198 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 18 grams
    • Calories: Around 230 calories (x 2 = 460 calories)
    • Leucine: Provides about 1.5 grams = double serving to get right dose of EAA for MPS 
  8. Quinoa (cooked): 

Quinoa is not particularly high in leucine compared to some other protein sources like meat, fish, or dairy. However, if you’re looking to reach 3 grams of leucine solely from quinoa, you would need to consume a significant amount.

Serving size: 1 cup (185 grams)
Protein: Approximately 8 grams
Calories: Around 220 calories
Leucine: Provides about 0.5 grams

To reach 30-50 grams of protein and approximately 3 grams of leucine with black beans, you would need to consume a substantial amount. Here’s an estimation:

  • Serving size: Approximately 5 cups (about 925 grams)
  • Leucine: Provides about 3 grams
  • The number of calories in 5 cups (about 925 grams) of cooked quinoa would be approximately 1110 calories.
  • Quinoa is relatively high in calories compared to some other protein sources, so consuming a large amount to reach a specific nutrient target like leucine should be done mindfully, considering your overall dietary goals and energy needs.

Black beans (cooked):

  • Serving size: Approximately 2 cups (about 354 grams)
  • Protein: Approximately 30 grams
  • Calories: Around 460 calories
  • Leucine: Provides about 3 grams

This serving size may vary slightly depending on the specific type and preparation of black beans, but it gives you a general idea of what is needed to meet your protein and leucine goals. Keep in mind that this is a large portion, so it’s essential to balance it with other foods in your diet to ensure you’re meeting your overall nutritional needs.

These foods offer a good balance of protein and leucine to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Adjusting serving sizes can help you reach your desired protein intake within the 30-50 grams range. Keep in mind that individual protein needs may vary based on factors like age, gender, weight, and activity level.

Here are some red meat sources along with their approximate serving size, protein content, calorie count, and leucine content:

Beef steak (top sirloin):

    • Serving size: 3 ounces (85 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 23 grams
    • Calories: Around 180 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.4 grams

Pork loin (chops):

    • Serving size: 3 ounces (85 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 22 grams
    • Calories: Around 150 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.1 grams

Lamb (chops):

    • Serving size: 3 ounces (85 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 23 grams
    • Calories: Around 250 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.4 grams

Bison:

    • Serving size: 3 ounces (85 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 23 grams
    • Calories: Around 152 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.2 grams

Venison (deer meat):

    • Serving size: 3 ounces (85 grams)
    • Protein: Approximately 23 grams
    • Calories: Around 124 calories
    • Leucine: Provides about 2.1 grams

These red meat sources provide a good amount of protein and leucine to support muscle protein synthesis. Adjusting serving sizes can help you meet your protein and leucine goals within the recommended range. Remember to balance your meat intake with other food groups for a well-rounded diet.

What is NUTRIENT DENSITY and WHY Does it Matter over CALORIES?

Nutrient density refers to the amount of beneficial nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and healthy fats) in a food compared to the number of calories it provides. In other words, it’s a measure of how many essential nutrients are packed into a given portion of food relative to its calorie content.

Nutrient density is important because it helps us understand the quality of our food choices.

Here’s why it matters:

  1. Overall Health: Consuming nutrient-dense foods ensures that we get essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that support overall health and well-being. These nutrients play crucial roles in various bodily functions, including metabolism, immune function, and tissue repair.
  2. Satiety and Weight Management: Nutrient-dense foods tend to be more filling and satisfying, which can help regulate appetite and prevent overeating. By choosing foods that are rich in nutrients, we can feel satisfied with fewer calories, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Disease Prevention: A diet rich in nutrient-dense foods has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Nutrients like antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids found in nutrient-dense foods have protective effects against oxidative stress, inflammation, and other factors associated with disease development.
  4. Energy Levels: Nutrient-dense foods provide sustained energy by supplying a steady stream of nutrients that support metabolism and fuel cellular processes. Unlike empty-calorie foods that provide quick energy but lack essential nutrients, nutrient-dense foods contribute to long-lasting vitality and well-being.

While total calories are important for weight management and energy balance, focusing solely on calorie count can overlook the nutritional quality of foods.

Metabolic Health Matters!

By prioritizing nutrient-dense options, we can optimize our diet for both health and vitality, ensuring that we meet our nutritional needs while managing caloric intake.

  1. Blood Sugar Regulation: Nutrient-dense foods often contain complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein, which are digested more slowly and help stabilize blood sugar levels. This can reduce the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  2. Lipid Profile: Healthy fats found in nutrient-dense foods like nuts, seeds, and fatty fish can improve lipid profiles by increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Inflammation: Many nutrient-dense foods are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help reduce systemic inflammation linked to various chronic diseases, including metabolic syndrome.

Muscle Health Matters!

  1. Protein Quality: Nutrient-dense foods that are high in protein, such as lean meats, fish, dairy, legumes, and tofu, provide essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair, growth, and maintenance. Consuming adequate protein supports muscle protein synthesis and helps prevent muscle wasting.
  2. Leucine Content: Leucine, an essential amino acid found in protein-rich foods like meat, dairy, and legumes, plays a key role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Nutrient-dense sources of protein that are also high in leucine can optimize muscle protein synthesis and support muscle health.
  3. Micronutrients: Nutrient-dense foods are not only rich in macronutrients like protein but also provide essential micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals that support overall health and muscle function. For example, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and potassium are important for muscle contraction, bone health, and electrolyte balance.

In summary, prioritizing nutrient-dense foods in your diet can positively impact both metabolic health and muscle health by providing essential nutrients, supporting metabolic processes, and optimizing muscle function and repair. This approach lays a foundation for overall well-being and can help prevent chronic diseases while promoting vitality and physical performance.

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