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  1. Plants make their protein by taking nitrogen from the soil to make amino acids.
  2. Animals don’t have the ability to manufacture a protein and must get their protein from ingested food.
  3. A specific amino acid from an animal source is not better than the same amino acid from a vegetable source.
  4. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein; there are 20 different ones required by the body. Eight of these (9 in children and stressed older adults) cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from food sources. These are called essential amino acids.
  5. There is an infinite number of possible proteins based upon the combinations of the 20 amino acids.
  6. A complete protein is one that contains all of the essential amino acids in the right quantity and ratio to maintain nitrogen balance which allows for tissue growth and repair.
  7. An incomplete protein lacks one of the essential amino acids. If you diet is primarily made up of incomplete protein it can result in protein malnutrition, even if the caloric value is correct and protein quality is good.
  8. The best sources of complete protein are eggs, milk, meat, fish, and poultry. Eggs have the best mixture of essential amino acids and are considered the best among food sources.
  9. Eighty+ years ago protein came equally from the animal and plant kingdom. Today, almost two-thirds comes from animal sources.
  10. The term “biologic value” of food refers to how well the food supplies essential amino acids. High quality protein comes mostly from animals whereas vegetable proteins (dried beans, and peas, nuts and cereals, and lentils) are incomplete because one or more of the essential amino acids is missing which lowers its biologic value. However, if you consume a wide variety of plant foods (grains, fruits, and vegetables) all of the amino acids can be obtained because each of these has a different quantity and quality of amino acids.
  11. The number of competitive and champion athletes whose diets consist primarily of plant sources as well as some dairy products in increasing.
  12. Large amounts of carbohydrate can be supplied to the endurance athlete and others involved in heavy training with a well-balanced vegetarian type diet.
  13. There is no benefit from eating excessive amounts of protein despite the beliefs of many trainers and coaches; there is little scientific evidence to support this theory. Muscle mass is not increased by eating high-protein foods or by taking protein supplements. If extra calories are ingested in protein they are either used for energy or are converted to fat and stored. Excess protein can even be harmful because of metabolic strain on liver and kidney function. Athletes may need additional protein intake, but this can be met by increased food intake to compensate for the increased energy expenditure associated with training.
  14. The recommended daily amount of protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. You can determine your protein requirement, multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.37.
  15. Infants and growing children need more protein, 2.0 – 4.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.
  16. It is suggested that pregnant women and nursing mothers increase their protein by 20 and 10 grams respectively.
  17. About 2-5% of the body’s energy requirement comes from the breakdown of protein; but the main role of protein is in the tissue building process.
  18. All cells are composed of some form of protein. About 12-15% of body mass is protein. A brain cell is about 10% protein, while muscle cells and red blood cells may contain as much as 20% of their total weight as protein.
  19. Protein content of skeletal muscle (65% of the body’s total protein) can be increased significantly thru resistive exercise training.
  20. Loss of glycogen reserves, muscle tissue and protein deficiency are the result of starvation diets or diets with reduced carbohydrates.
  21. Weightlifters, body builders and power athletes, both male and female, often consume up to four times the recommended daily allowance for protein, mostly in the form of liquids, powders and pills. Advocates of this will tell you the body absorbs the amino acids faster to enhance muscle growth or to improve strength, power or energy. However, this does not happen and is not supported by well designed research studies.
  22. If an athlete has difficulty reaching the recommended protein intake thru normal eating habits, then a high quality protein supplement would be beneficial.
  23. A male athlete can expect about a 20% increase in body mass from heavy resistance training over one year. For women, this gain could be as high as 50-75%, probably from women’s smaller initial amount of lean body mass. Individual gains are subject to genetic, age and training factors.
  24. If you increase your daily caloric intake by 700 – 1,000 per day it could support a weekly gain of 0.5 to 1.0 kg (2.2 pound) in lean tissue. Once again, genetic, age and training factors can influence results.
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Author/speaker and an expert in ”Sports Performance Enhancement”. Jack Medina is available for speaking engagements, consultation and personal training of athletes in various sports, professional and amateur. Jack has written a new book, “The Winning Edge: Fueling & Training The Body For Peak Performance” with Dr. Roy Vartabedian, an internationally known New York Times Best Selling Author of the “Nutripoints” program for optimal nutrition. Both books are available online at Jack also has a monthly ezine (newsletter) available free which can be subscribed to on his website. All subscriber’s addresses will be confidential and not sold or given to any other organization or group.

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