The Difference between Animal Protein and Plant Protein

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Nine times out of ten, when I get a new client, they have either tried a high protein diet, are currently on a high protein diet or are curious to learn more about a high protein diet. While protein is essential for tissue growth and repair and helpful for your cognition, digestion and metabolism, it is important to spread your protein consumption throughout the day and to incorporate plant protein into you regimen as well.

Let me highlight a couple of differences between animal protein and plant protein and give you some ways to consume protein healthfully.

Animal proteins such as eggs, meat, chicken, poultry, as well as seafood and dairy products contain all the essential amino acids you need to build proteins within your body. With the exception of dairy foods, most animal-based proteins contain few if any carbs, giving you a high percentage of your total calories from protein. Many protein-rich, animal-based foods such as red meat, egg yolks and dark-meat poultry, are also rich in zinc and heme iron, which is more readily absorbed in your body than the iron in plant-based foods.

Getting your protein from plant-based foods such as soy, quinoa, other whole grains, legumes, as well as nuts and seeds, means less unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol and saturated fat! Proteins from soy and quinoa are classified as complete proteins because they contain all essential amino acids, much like the proteins from animal-based foods.  Although not all plant proteins are complete proteins, you can still obtain all the essential amino acids by eating a variety of plant proteins during your day.

The bottom line is that you do not have to choose between animal and plant protein to maintain good health. And you don’t need mounds and mounds of it to be healthy either. Your daily protein consumption need not be bigger than a deck of cards.

Here are some healthy protein-based snack choices I recommend:

  • nitrate free jerky
  • hardboiled egg
  • cottage cheese
  • black beans and rice
  • hummus and whole wheat pita
  • Greek yogurt
  • whole wheat bread with peanut butter

I hope you found this information helpful. Keep everything in balance. Don’t consume too much of any one thing and you’ll be on your way to a beautifully healthy lifestyle.

 

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The Power of Five

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How good are you at assuring that you get the five powerful foods in your diet every single day? I’m talking about protein, dairy, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains? My guess is that you may have the protein part down (specifically if it is meat), but the other groups are more challenging.

Let’s go through each group and I will provide some suggestions about how you can incorporate these essential foods into your everyday-life.

I’ll start with whole grains. Too many people turn to refined grains and this is not smart because refined grains (pasta, white bread, cookies, crackers, etc.) are devoid of nutrients. Whole grains, on the other hand, have fiber, helping you to feel full longer, not to mention protecting your heart! You are supposed to aim for 6-8 servings of whole grains a day.

  • Make sure you sandwich bread is whole grain.
  • When you cook brown rice, wild rice, or quinoa, cook extra for another meal!
  • Oatmeal is a great choice for a whole-grain breakfast.
  • There are whole grain crackers too—look at the fiber content; if there is a decent amount of fiber, it’ s likely whole grain.

Dairy isn’t too hard to work into your daily regimen and dairy is a great source of calcium and protein. Always choose low-fat or skim (otherwise, you have to worry about bad cholesterol). Use cheese as a condiment on your salads or as a flavor enhancer to your meals. Try cottage cheese or yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Smoothies made with skim milk are delicious as well.

Protein is an easy group for people. Did you know you only need 6 ounces of protein a day? My suggestion is to turn to lean options like chicken breast, lean ground beef or turkey, and definitely fish! I also recommend eggs and plant protein (nuts, seeds, beans, etc.).

As for vegetables, aim to get 4-5 servings a day! Sometimes you just do not have the energy to cook a veggie at the end of the day so stock your freezer. Frozen veggies are as nutrient-rich as fresh and they last way longer! Keep salad greens on hand and veggies that last a while in the fridge like peppers and carrots.

Fruit is the dessert of food. You should try to consume 4-5 servings of fruit a day. Always have a fruit bowl near you—at work and home! Add fruit to your lunch or dinner salads and to your breakfast cereal.

The best way to assure you get the power of five in your day-to-day life is to go for combinations, like these in your meals:

  • Strawberry spinach salad
  • Tarragon chicken salad
  • 3-bean salad with kale
  • Fresh mozzarella and tomato salad
  • Healthier cobb salad
  • Blueberry overnight oats
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies
  • Hard- boiled egg
  • Berry and yogurt smoothie

And skip the candy bar or cookies for your snack! Look to the power of five. Here are more than a dozen options:

  • Mixed nuts
  • Trail mix
  • Edamame poppers
  • Hummus dippers
  • Greek yogurt and granola
  • Tuna and whole grain crackers
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Popcorn
  • String cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Greek yogurt & berries
  • Dried fruit
  • Frozen watermelon kiwi or grapes
  • Melon kabobs
  • Cherry tomato & cheese kabobs
  • String cheese
  • Whole grain cereal dry

I hope these suggestions help you! The power of five is the best way to assure a balanced and healthy life!

 

 

Settle your Milk Confusion

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17134291469_71480bd560_oThere are so many different types of milk on the supermarket shelves; it’s confusing as to which one you should drink, right? You may like a certain type in your coffee, but a different type on your cereal. Some may not settle right in your stomach; some may settle just fine.

I will review the differences with you in this blog.

Cow’s Milk

Let’s start with cow’s milk and I will explain the differences between whole, 2 percent, and skim.

An 8-ounce glass of whole milk has 8 grams of saturated fat and 150 calories per cup, while the same amount of two-percent milk has 5 grams of saturated fat and 120 calories per cup; the same amount of skim milk has no saturated fat and only 100 calories. All of these types of milk have about 8 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving.

This means that skim milk is best for your waistline.

However, 2 percent and whole milk have more calcium and vitamin D for your bones. Vitamin D is fat-soluble so you need the fat in two percent and whole milk to absorb this superstar vitamin!

And then you have the cholesterol to think about; with more saturated fat, there’s more cholesterol!

Lastly, you may very well be lactose-intolerant and unable to handle any type of cow’s milk!

Don’t fear! I have more types of milk to review!

Sheep or Goat Milk

Both of these types of milk are friendlier on the stomach, but they have a strong flavor that some find hard to acclimate to. I do recommend trying them for their rich nutrition!

Plant-Based Milks

There are a plethora of plant-based milks. The only one with a decent amount of protein is soy, but keep in mind that soy is a common food allergy. Also, go organic with soy, otherwise, there’s a strong chance that it is genetically-modified.

Almond milk is a popular choice; it is a good choice of vitamin e and magnesium, low in fat, and has a pleasant, sweet taste. The texture is nice and late too.

Coconut milk is becoming quite trendy. It is low in carbs and rich in lauric acid; this converts to monolaurin in your body, which helps your body fight bacteria and viruses.

Rice milk has a nice taste; it doesn’t have much nutritionally, but is great for people who have nut allergies!

Hemp milk is the only plant-based milk with a good amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the GOOD FATS, which your brain indulges in!

There you have it…just a few of the milk choices you have! Which will you choose?

 

 

 

Seven Tips for Vegetarians

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While my diet is pretty plant-based, I am not a vegetarian. Many of my clients are vegetarians or have children who have recently become vegetarian.  Some complain that vegetarian diets get boring or do not feel filling; parents show concern that their veggie kids aren’t getting the nutrients they need.

Let me dive into some tips that can help you maintain a vegetarian diet that is fun and healthy!

  1. Be sure to get enough protein

My number-one question for all vegetarian diets is: Where do you get your protein from? If you are a vegetarian and feel sluggish at all, it may just be that you are not getting enough protein. Protein feeds your muscles and your blood.  Consider it the fuel that keeps you moving.

Sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, tofu, tempeh, and some whole grains like quinoa. Low-fat dairy (Milk, cheese, Greek yogurt for example) and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

You may have heard that you need to eat a combination of proteins in each meal to get complete proteins, but that is not true as long as you have a decent amount of protein in every meal.

  1. Eat the colors of the rainbow

One way to assure you are getting enough nutrients is to eat as many colors of fruits and veggies as possible. This blog goes into detail of what nutrients are found in each color.vege-1-1

  1. Try a new recipe each week

You don’t need to eat a salad every day to be a vegetarian. There are so many fantastic vegetarian recipes out there. Hop on to Google or Pinterest and you will certainly find hundreds of easy recipes to try!

  1. Be careful with refined flour and sugar

It’s so easy to become a junk food vegetarian. Try not to rely too heavily on boxed food; the refined flour and sugar can spike your blood sugar and cause inflammation throughout your body.

  1. Check out fortified foods

While I just told you to be careful about packaged food; there are some healthy options like whole-grain bread. Look for foods that are fortified with vitamins to give you a boost in nutrients. If you are lacto-ovo vegetarian, milk is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

  1. Pump some iron

Sadly, your body doesn’t absorb iron from plants as well as it does from menuts2at so it is essential that you get plenty of high-iron vegetarian foods in your diet such as beans and legumes, dried fruits, molasses green vegetables, and whole grains. Many cereals are fortified with iron just make sure that the cereal of choice is low in sugar (5 grams or less) and high in fiber ( 4 grams or more) as well.

  1. Consider a vitamin B-12 supplement

Getting enough B-12 is very difficult in a vegetarian diet. I highly encourage vegetarians to take a B-12 supplement.

If you have any questions about a vegetarian or vegan diet, please feel free to email our team and we’ll help you out!

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

 

 

Simple Solutions for your Morning Workout Recovery

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I know, I know. Your workouts are crammed into your already hectic life. You have finally mastered the art of getting to bed early so that you can rise with the sun and squeeze in your daily workout. But once you finish, you don’t have time to prepare an elaborate breakfast; you have to shower, shave, dress, and look your best for the day ahead!

But listen to me, after a workout, your muscles are damaged and depleted. In order to build the strength that you are seeking, you need to feed those depleted muscles with glycogen. The best way to do this is to consume a breakfast that has a 2:1 carb to protein ratio. An ideal amount of protein is 10-18 grams. This will shuttle plenty of glycogen to your muscles and energize you for the day!

I hear ya! You don’t have time to calculate these numbers AND eat on top of it. That’s what you have me for! Here are my top-3, quick and easy breakfasts for workout recovery (and they’re a great way to start your day even if you don’t work out in the morning)

#1: Almond butter on whole grain toast with two types of fruit

A banana is one of my top choices and then for the second type of fruit, I usually choose something seasonal. In summer, berries are my favorite. Make sure your bread’s first ingredient is whole ground wheat or sprouted wheat; if it simply says wheat flour, it is not truly whole grain! And spread on that almond butter generously—think two tablespoons…that’s some yummy fiber, protein, and healthy fats for you!

#2: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup granola and a handful of fruit        

Nothing beats Greek yogurt with granola and blueberries! Watch out for sugar in both the yogurt and granola. I usually buy plain Greek yogurt to minimize the sugar and there are plenty of granola varieties with less than 10 grams of sugar. Muesli is a good option instead of granola as well.

#3: A Succulent smoothie

Mix 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup of frozen berries and a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder.

If you’re like me, you may not like messing with a blender in the morning, so make your smoothie the night before and store it in a mason jar of smoothie shaker cup and you can even have it on the go the next morning.

What’s the best part about these three recovery breakfast options? You can use mix and match the fruits to come up with entirely different choices every day

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

Hey Athletes, Don’t Fear Fat

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I can’t even count how often I hear athletes discuss ways to reduce fat in their diet. I am here to debunk the myth that fat in your diet will make you fat. In fact, the opposite is true—fat can make you stronger, leaner, more alert, and a better overall performer. Fat is your friend, not your enemy!

This does not give you free reign to go eat a bacon cheeseburger every day. Let me discuss the fats you should welcome into your diet daily!

Let’s start by discussing omega-3 essential fatty acids; these are found primarily in fish like salmon and tuna. They are also found in walnuts and flaxseed. Study after study has proven that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation to the point of helping to prevent chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer. They also help with cognition—some studies have even proven that they delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. What does this mean for you as an athlete? It means that omega-3s will help you be more alert on the field and will also help you to recover quickly and be on your best-game more often.

In addition to omega-3 fats, I highly encourage you to incorporate dairy into your diet. I have heard of athletes avoiding dairy because of the fat content, but truly, dairy is so awesome for you to include in your day-to-day life and right after your workouts.

One dairy product I encourage you to consume every day is yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt is the best because it is high in protein and doesn’t have a lot of added sugars like many yogurts on the market. The probiotics in yogurt help increase the healthy bacteria in your gut, which optimizes your digestion. You need optimal digestion in order to absorb the antioxidants that help you recover from tough workouts. Athletes need more nutrients than the average person and these needs are best met with optimal digestion. Go for yogurt every day!

Dairy is excellent for your recovery as well. Milk will rehydrate you after a workout—did you know that it is 90 percent water AND it has electrolytes? Milk is an excellent source of carbohydrates, which replenishes the glycogen that your muscles lose during a workout. Milk is also a great source of protein, which helps your muscles to recover. Studies show that milk may help reduce muscle damage and improve muscle recovery, which can help you perform better during your next workout.

Personally, I am a strong proponent of chocolate milk for a post-workout drink—it has that perfect ratio of 3 to 4 grams of carbohydrate for every gram of protein. This is the ratio you want for optimal recovery.

Eat your fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and the healthy fats I described here and you will come out a winner on the field, court, pool, or track!

 

 

My New Favorite Treat: Setton Farms Blueberry-Flavored Pistachio Chewy Bites

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One of my favorite things about being in the nutrition business is that I get to try nutritious foods before they hit the market.  I am so excited about a nutrient-dense treat that hits the market TODAY: Setton Farms’ blueberry-flavored Pistachio Chewy Bites. And I am going to GIVE AWAY three bags of them to one lucky reader! Keep reading to find out what you have to do to be a contender for this awesome prize!

First of all, let me get it straight about what it means for a treat to be nutrient-dense and then I will tell about how yummy these treats are, how they qualify as nutrient-dense, and I will also give you some scenarios where it would be PERFECT for you to have these treats on hand.

Nutrient-dense foods are food choices that are loaded with nutrients but relatively low in calories, saturated fat, and trans fat. It’s often difficult to find nutrient-dense snacks. Virtually all fruit and veggies would be considered nutrient-dense as would raw nuts and seeds.

But what about packaged food? Sometimes you just crave a candy bar, right?

When examining a nutrition label, some markers of a good, nutrient-dense selection in my opinion are: less than 250 calories per serving, less than 4 grams of saturated fat, at least 5 grams of unsaturated fat (these fats are GOOD for you), at least 3 grams of fiber, and at least 4 grams of protein.

I can’t think of a candy bar that qualifies as nutrient-dense, but Setton Farms’ brand-new blueberry-flavored Pistachio Chewy Bites are the perfect alternative. They’re so sweet and yummy. Made with pistachios, blueberry-infused dried cranberries, maple brown-PCB BLUEBERRIES - IMG_5843-Edit-2rice syrup, and coconut, you cannot go wrong with this treat. And here are some markers of their nutrient density!

Each serving (2 chewy bites) has:

  • 200 calories
  • ZERO trans fats
  • Only 2 grams of saturated fat
  • 9 grams of unsaturated fat
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 5 grams of protein

Here are some scenarios where these treats would be great to have on hand:

  • Great to have in your desk drawer at work for that 3:00 dip in energy.
  • Keep them in your purse for when you are out and about longer than planned and need something to hold you over before your next meal.
  • Attention athletes! These are the perfect fueling snack and can also work effectively as a recovery snack!
  • Got kiddos? These are a great choice to add to their lunches! My girls even asked for them for dessert one night!
  • These are also perfect to pass around as an appetizer at a dinner party!

In the comments below, by Friday June 9 at 8:00 PM EST, tell me why YOU would love to try these tasty snacks for a chance to win three bags (9 servings) of Setton Farms’ blueberry-flavored Pistachio Chew Bites. I will announce the winner over the weekend!