Using Protein in your Diet
Fresh 'n Fit Cuisine
Julia Lott Julia Lott

Get the Skinny on Protein

Are all proteins created equal?
No. The method for determining the quality of a protein is called the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS). This score compares a protein's amino acid quality based on both the amino acid requirements of humans and their ability to digest the protein. The highest value a protein can have is 1 and the lowest is 0. For example, eggs have a high PDCAAS since they contain the perfect balance of the nine essential amino acids (phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, leucine, lysine, histidine). Other examples of foods with a high PDCAAS score are casein (milk protein), soy protein, whey (milk protein), mycoprotein (protein from fungi), beef, soybeans, chickpeas, black beans and legumes.

With so many sources of protein available today (protein bars, shakes, powders, etc.), how do you choose the right one for your workout?
There are a variety of proteins that would be appropriate to have before a work out. In general, try to have a combination snack that has both carbs and protein, such as an apple and almonds or blueberries with a piece of cheese. If you don't have time to prepare a healthy snack before or after your workout, it is perfectly okay to occasionally have a protein bar or protein shake. When choosing your bar, shake, or powder consider that they are not all the same. Some may be high in sugar or artificial flavors, sweeteners, and sugar alcohols. So always read the label to know what you are getting. Carefully read where the protein is coming from such as casein, whey, or soy.

What are the best proteins for building muscle?
The best way to build muscle is to eat a high protein food after working out. Choose proteins that are lower in sugar and fat such a Greek yogurt and hummus. When trying to build muscle the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a protein intake ranging from 1.4 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. Each individual's protein needs can vary depending on their health status. People sometimes have a misconception that more is better, which is not necessarily the case when it comes to protein. Keep in mind that having too much protein can put stress on our kidneys.

What are the best proteins for losing weight?
Choose proteins that are lower in fat and calories. For example, chicken breast and fish are lower in calories and fat than beef, although they may all have approximately the same amount of protein per ounce.

What are the best sources of protein for vegetarians?
Some examples are soy and mycoprotein (Quorn products). Additionally, legumes can be a great source when consumed with a grain such as quinoa or rice. At Fresh 'n Fit Cuisine TM, we provide Quorn products that are a great alternative to soy protein.

Is there an optimal time to consume protein to get the most out of a workout?
It's best to have a small snack 30 to 60 minutes prior to working out. This snack is usually higher in carbohydrates, lower in fat and low to mid-range on protein. Post workout, have a snack within 30 minutes of finishing. This snack should be high protein and mid-range carb to optimize muscle building and repair.

Fresh 'n Fit Cuisine
(678) 208-0341
6080 Parkway North Drive
Cumming, GA 30040

Julia Lott is a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in Nutrition and a BBA in Marketing from Georgia State University. Prior to joining Fresh 'n Fit Cuisine, she worked as a clinical dietitian for the Wellstar Hospital system where she helped develop and maintain nutritional guidelines for their patient menus. Julia specializes in counseling individuals with a variety of nutrition concerns such as diabetes, renal disease, cancer, and weight loss.