In this article you will learn:
How to make healthy choices for protein sources
What various options are and what to look for
The top things to avoid when it comes to protein decisions
Lazy Author Alert:
This article is based on research and years of practice, but if you want the full details then grab yourself a copy of my nutrition book, where I share precise action plans, over 1500+ scientific references and a lot more information. Remember also that digesting your food (especially protein) is just as important as eating quality amounts of it, and most people have impaired digestion. That's why I recommend a comprehensive digestive enzyme so that the changes you make can work for your best health.
This is going to be Part 1 of a 4 Part series. If you need help implementing these principles, don't be afraid to reach out. Below are my guiding rules for making healthy, lifelong choices with regards to protein:
Make sure that your beef, dairy and collagen sources are all grass-fed. Dairy should be organic.
For protein powders, beware of additives like artificial sweeteners, coloring, gums, maltodextrin (usually from corn), titanium dioxide and so on. The fewer ingredients the better, unless each of the ingredients is a food. Don’t be cheap with protein powders. Get grass-fed collagen and whey and, when it comes to brown rice or other plant-based proteins make sure all of the ingredients are organic and nutrient dense with no BS.
Avoid soy-based powders and always read the label of your protein supplement since manufacturers will often mix in soy powder just to give it volume. The first ingredient listed is the one that is in greater quantity, so if soy comes before the protein you are actually wanting to consume, throw that shit out and let someone else buy it.
Make sure that your pork, poultry and eggs are pasture raised. Remember that pigs store a lot of toxins in their fat and, as much as we all love bacon, you’d best not make a frequent habit of it if you want optimal health. For eggs, the darker the yolk the better so always compare brands to see if the color matches the marketing.
If you eat fish, make sure it is wild-caught and as fresh as possible. Try to avoid frozen fish as it’s easy for something frozen to be old regardless of the marketing claims. Avoid shrimp as they are bottom feeders (meaning they get all the toxins) and often raised en masse on farms with all sorts of deplorable conditions. Sushi is delicious, but just understand that it carries a risk of parasites. If you are taking a comprehensive stool test once per year to keep tabs on your microbiome, this will show up.
Avoid deli meats, fast food meat, spam, canned meat and anything else that your intuition would tell you is suspect. These foods are dangerous to eat on a regular basis and should not be considered a reliable source of protein. Also try to avoid ground meat, even if its grass fed, because those tend to be lower quality and older. If you want ground meat, your best bet is to purchase high quality and grind it yourself.
If you do eat soy, make sure that it is fermented as the fermentation changes the makeup and unlocks many beneficial compounds. Tempeh is a great source and is also a complete protein.
If you are eating a plant-based diet, make sure you obtain a complete range of amino acids from the foods you consume. This isn’t difficult, it just takes a little planning and food combination. Beans and rice are a classic example. Also, make sure to soak your beans and pressure cook them to remove the lectins if this is a concern.
Avoid gluten-based protein sources like seitan or fake meats as these are inferior to other plant-based proteins. There is no real reason to eat them unless you are the rare unicorn that has an allergy to the other options available and refuse to eat animal products.
Obtain your fat free mass using a BIA scale (a gym or nutritionist can do this for you) and eat .6 grams of protein per pound of fat-free mass if you are very active or around .5 grams of protein if you are not as active. Make sure to stay hydrated as increased protein has a dehydrating effect on the body and use some digestive aids like enzymes to insure that what you’re eating gets processed correctly.