Well, well, here we are addressing the final 30 percent of the 40/30/30 balanced diet, Proteins. Proteins are important to our health and vitality because they are the building blocks of our body and contribute enormously to its communication and management systems. In addition to using and and assembling around 50,000 different proteins to form our organs, nerves, muscles, and flesh, proteins also play the following crucial roles as:
● Enzymes: These specialized protein molecules act as the managers and catalysts for all our biochemical processes. Think of enzymes as the spark plugs within our body that allow communication to happen across different bodily systems.
● Antibodies: These protein structures help fight infection and destroy foreign invaders.
● Hemoglobin- Red blood cells are specialized protein molecules that deliver oxygen around our body.
● Hormones-These proteins regulate metabolism and almost every key function in the body. These proteins are all about communication within the body.
As athletes, it is especially important to keep our body running on high quality proteins. They are crucial to recovery, maintenance, and the integrity of a healthy body.
Just as all fats are a combination of different types of fat molecules, all proteins are a combination of different types of protein molecules. These molecules are called amino acids and there are 20 different kinds. Of the 20, 10 our body can synthesize (make) from within, but 10 are essential and we must consume from our foods.
In addition to forming proteins, like we needed another reason to love amino acids, these building blocks are key players in the production of :
-Neurotransmitters- Serotonin, Norepinephrine, GABA, acetylcholine, aspartate, and glutamate.
-Hormones- Many hormones depend on amino acids for their structure! (ie: sex hormones are made up of amino acids and fats. (Bacon wrapped steak anyone ? ;) )
-RNA & DNA Regulation- Amino acids are necessary for our genes to function properly. 80-90%of your genetic code is expressed in reaction to how you interact with your environment.
-Muscle Production- 95% of muscle mass (including the heart) ismade of amino acids.
As athletes using, working and building our muscles, our daily consumption of quality sourced, complete proteins is essential to a strong and healthy system.
Good sources include:
-Wild caught fish and seafood.
-Organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised ruminant animals (ie: beef, bison, lamb, elk)
-Organic, pasture-raised poultry and eggs (ie: chicken, turkey, duck)
-Organic, full-fat, grass-fed, or pasture-raised raw (if you can get it) milk products. (ie: cheese, cottage cheese, milk)
-Nuts, seeds, and Legumes (ie: pumpkin, sunflower, almond, walnut, macadamia, pistachio)
Here is a recipe I like to use to ensure my family gets a good quality protein on our busy mornings. This recipe is highly adaptable. Pop in peppers, zucchini, a different meat, or cheese to suit your palate.
● 8 large eggs
● 1/2 cup whole milk
● 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
● 1/4 teaspoon salt
● 4 ounces thinly sliced ham, chopped (or other meat of your choice)
● 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (or other cheese of your choice)
● 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
● Feel free to add any veggies that you like, or may compliment your meat/cheese choices. (We like bacon/spinach/feta, or cheddar/sausage/red pepper)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease 2 mini muffin tins (each with 24 cups), or 1, 12 cup muffin tin. Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt in a large bowl to blend well. Stir in the ham, cheese, and parsley. Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups and slide the frittatas onto a platter.