Protein consumption is a hot topic these days. How much is enough? What type of protein? How often? What time of day? The amount of protein needed varies from one person to the next and fluctuates throughout life. Frequency of consumption differs for each individual as well. Some people require a bit of animal protein with almost every meal. Others do well with primarily vegetarian protein sources, but once or twice a week find it strengthening to consume a high-quality animal protein. Still others do best with no animal protein at all. In any case, here are some important all encompassing protein tips.
- In all cases, from poultry to beef, from salmon to lamb, when possible and feasible purchase organic and fresh cage-free meats and wild fishes. Conventional protein production has increasingly relied upon the use of hormones, antibiotics and unnatural feed, as well as caging processes that allow for little or no mobility during the animal’s life.
- If access to fresh meat and fish is not feasible, the freezer section of health food stores generally has ecologically raised and wild-caught fish, as well as organic and grass-fed red meats and poultry. And regardless of quality, always look for manufacturers who provide the date it was frozen, to ensure freshness.
- Canned fish is one way to have a quick and easy protein option on hand. Look for fish that is canned in water or olive oil, such as tuna, salmon and sardines.
- If you are partial to red meat, stick with the leanest cuts and choose moderate portion sizes.
- Studies show that organic eggs are richer in nutrition than conventional eggs. Look for free-range, vegetarian-feed eggs, which are produced by chickens under less stressful circumstances. You can also check out your local farmers market for fresh farm eggs. And surprisingly, there is no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs.
- Store all fresh meats in the fridge. Cook fresh meat within 2 to 3 days. Once cooked, it can last from 3 to 5 days, depending on the animal.
- Meats stored in the freezer should be used within a few months and must be defrosted prior to cooking. To avoid bacteria growth, meat should be defrosted in the refrigerator and not on the counter.
- Animal protein, unlike plant-based protein, is a complete protein providing all the essential amino acids the body needs.
- Animal protein is lasting fuel for the body, and consumed in the right amount throughout the day, can help reduce sugar and other food cravings in the evening.
- Protein is essential for the building, repairing and maintenance of every single cell in the body.
- Protein helps your body to build and maintain muscle.
- The best animal protein choices are fish and poultry as their fat to protein ratio is much lower than red meats and pork.
- Many fishes contain abundant omega 3 fatty acids (wild salmon, mackerel, artic char, sardines and albacore tuna).
- Animal protein can be difficult to digest and leaves the body feeling heavy and sluggish (best to reduce or remove it when cleansing the body).
- Animal protein (specifically red meat) is associated with extremely high fat content levels, particularly saturated fat. Saturated fat, when consumed in large amounts, has been attributed to high risks of chronic disease.
- Animals accumulate insecticides and other toxins.
- High intake of animal protein has been known to increase total blood cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, obesity, and risks of stroke, kidney stones, osteoporosis and coronary heart disease.
At the end of the day, moderation is key.