Without protein, there would be no life since it forms the basic substance of our muscles, bones, brain, nerves, heart, and every other organ. Only protein contains nitrogen, an essential part of protoplasm. Without it, the cells would slowly wear away, unable to reproduce and form new cells. As previously mentioned, red blood cells have a life of only 18 weeks and must constantly be replaced. Without a supply of dietary protein providing the amino acids essential for the reproduction of new cells, this would be impossible. The same holds true for cells lining the intestine, which are renewed every W2 days. The synthesis of protein is also essential for anabolism, or the formation of new tissue, occurring at an even rate for the average person that is stepped up considerably with bodybuilders since they are continuously training, breaking down tissue, and building muscle mass Dietary protein is also essential to catabolism, a process through which the amino acids found only in protein are broken down, thereby liberating energy. Again, this would occur at an even rate for those not in intensive training but accelerates for bodybuilders and other athletes due to their increased expenditure of energy.
Proteins also serve a regulatory role in forming enzymes that trigger all chemical reactions in the body. The body is protected from infectious diseases by antibodies composed of proteins. And hormones like insulin that regulate our daily processes are also derived from our daily intake of protein
All protein foods are not equally efficient Their value is based on the type of amino acids they contain, which combine with nitrogen and form thousands of different proteins necessary to build and repair cellular tissue. This takes place during digestion when hydrochloric acid and enzymes break down the intact protein molecule into amino acids so they can be absorbed through the intestinal wall. Of 22 known amino acids, 13 can be produced by the body, synthesized by glands like the liver. These—alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, cystine, glucine, glutamic acid, glutamine, hydroxyproline, proline, serine, and tyrosine—are called nonessential amino acids. They can safely be omitted when enough nitrogen and other nutrients are supplied. Essential amino acids, used for building tissue and other functions just discussed, cannot be made by the body but mil si be rftkt n dircdK I mm tmr daily intake t>! tood. Eliey int histidine, isolcucint, ieucine. h-.sinc, mci hiimint. phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Those who are vegetarians should be aware that one amino acid cannot replace another.
When food conta ns the essential amino ac ds it is considered a complete protein. With the exception of soybeans, all complete proteins are derived from animal sources: meat, fish, eggs, poultry, cheese, and milk. Although most gelatin comes from an animal source, it does not fall into this category because it lacks the necessary amino acids. Protein foods derived from plants are considered incomplete since they lack the amino ac ds essential for building tissue and repairing the body. Certain plant foods, like rice, potatoes, nuts, breads, and grain cereals, contain the essential amino acids but in lesser quantities than animal foods. Many cereals and rice are low in lysine, while dry beans, peanuts, and brewer's yeast are low in methionine. It would be necessary to eat a pound of potatoes to provide the necessary amino acids found in only an ounce of meat. Keep in mind that the amino acids of most animal proteins are absorbed efficiently, their rate ranging from 90 to 95 percent, while the digestibility of some plant proteins may be as low as 73 percent. Vegetarians also run the risk of miscombin ng vegetable proteins and thus failing to form complete proteins containing all the essential amino acids. The growth and reproduction of cells demand that all the essential amino acids be ingested at the same time in the same meal. A missing amino acid cannot be supplied several hours later and still find the essential ones waiting to be assembled into a complete prote n before being digested. Eggs are a prime example of a complete protein, containing all of the essent al amino acids in sufficient amounts to maintain life and support growth.
The digestion of protein begins in the stomach and is completed in the small intestine. Enzymes from the pancreas actually cause the breakdown of the prote n you eat into amino acids. Following this, they are absorbed from the intestine and distributed to the body cells through the bloodstream. When more protein is eaten than needed for the funct ons mentioned at the beginning of this section, the excess is metabolized for energy. If your diet contains insufficient carbohydrates needed for energy, your body will draw on the protein vital to building body tissue. As mentioned earlier, this is a mistake many bodybuilders continue making, particularly before competition when they need to be in top form.
Another danger comes from depending on protein powders, tablets, and liquids to supply m^ior nutritional elements. Many bodybuilders using these concentrates believe advertisements that promote them as highly concentrated food products. Remember, it takes very little muscular weight to write an advertisement but a great deal to lift weights and train hard. Seeing 90 percent protein written on the label gives the impression that the stuff inside the can originates from a more valuable protein source than eggs, fish, poultry, or meat. However, this does not necessarily mean that 90 percent of the powder is protein. For example, a can weighing two pounds may contain one pound of pure protein, 90 percent of which has a nutrient value. The remaining pound consists of other ingredients added to stabilize the protein and prevent it from spoiling. At present, the average protein content of most brands ranges between 40 and 70 percent; some higher-quality products might supply as much as 65-75 percent.
Even so, an important difference should be noted between protein from animal sources and protein in powdered concentrates, tablets, and fruit- and chocolate-flavored liquids. I have come to define the first as live protein and the second as dead protein based on the condition of DNA molecules found in the cells. These molecules work as an information center, having the codes and blueprints necessary to assemble hundreds of different proteins needed by the body. Each day they send out thousands of messages on building and repairing tissue. The DNA in animal protein, even when the animal is slaughtered, remains alive and unbroken. In the case of protein powders from animal sources, however, the DNA is broken down during the manufacturing process, and its ability to build body tissue is impaired.
Also, the protein in concentrates is not absorbed into the bloodstream to the same extent as is dietary protein. This point is one of the chief considerations in the selection of high-quality protein in the bodybuilder's diet. The fillers and waste products contained in the concentrates contain substances that inhibit enzyme action in the digestive tract, resulting in effective utilization of the protein. For example, in comparing 4 grams of protein from an egg yolk with an equal weight of powdered protein, you will absorb about VA grams of protein from the egg, but less than
2 from the powder Therefore, concentrates should never be considered substitutes for fresh food, most particularly from animal sources. Any dependency on them can only set you on the road downhill as a competitive bodybuilder.
Those who are underweight may gain an advantage by taking the powders as a pick-me-up between meals, perhaps using them to spare protein needed for building muscles, but not to replace eggs, fish, meat, or poultry. Then it is best mixed with milk or water rather than fruit juice, since the high concentration of sugar does not combine well with protein and may putrelv in the colon without being digested.
PROTEIN UTILIZATION: HOW MUCH IS ABSORBED
As a bodybuilder, you must consider the net protein utilization (NPU) or rate of protein absorption into the bloodstream. For those who are trying to shed pounds this should be highlighted because some meat items are much higher in fat than others. For example, beef and chicken both have an absorption rate of 68 percent, yet chicken has the advantage of easier digestibility and contains almost half the calories of an equal weight of beef, pork, or lamb.
The protein utilization rate of some common foods follows.
Dairy products 76%
Natural brown rice 40%
Red beans 39%
White beans 33%
Whole wheat bread 21%
White bread 20%
The average person needs a daily quote of I gram of protein for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Adult males should consume 75-100 grams per day; however, an extra allowance of protein is required to build muscular weight for those in heavy training. The food intake tables found at the end of this chapter were calculated to accommodate both male and female bodybuilders whose goals range widely from training for good health and a vigorous appearance to entering competition at championship levels. My own intake of protein is high due to a schedule of heavy weight training, so I always take care to choose the best sources. In addition to eating only prime cuts of meat and making a point of having fresh fish, I also include eggs in my daily food intake since they have the highest protein utilization rate, as noted above.
When the consumption of protein is increased, the body does not automatically secrete more hydrochloric acid (HC1) to aid digestion. Therefore, if you are in heavy training and have increased your intake of protein, it may be necessary to take HC1 and digestive enzyme supplements. The role of enzymes during the digestive process is discussed in greater detail later Most importantly, you must learn to judge what is best for your own body because it is essential to the learning process, and you learn to see yourself as a unique individual, a point of great value when you are in competition, standing on that stage and posing for the judges and the crowd.
Protein foods from animal and plant sources are listed in the appendix Study these charts carefully, particularly noting the fat content of different food items. Those having problems with excess weight should select items high in protein but low in fat. For instance, there is little difference between the protein content of sirloin and round steaks, yet sirloin contains approximately 2Vi times more fat. Bear in mind that not all fat in meat is visible and that some cuts may contain over 40 percent fat even if you have been very careful to trim it off before beginning to eat Hamburgers sold in fast food chains have a notoriously high fat content, which may be the reason you feel more satisfied after eating one out than after eating one at home. Being more difficult to digest, fat remains in the stomach longer and gives a feeling of being full for an extended period of time.
Regarding foods from plant sources, keep in mind that only soybeans contain a significant amount of essential amino acids, but their balance is not the same as that found in meat, eggs, and fish. Since they have a limited amount of methionine, one of the essential amino acids, more grams of soybeans than meat are needed to furnish the complete proteins necessary for building muscle tissue.
If a favorite fruit or vegetable is not listed with protein foods, refer to the tables of carbohydrates in the appendix. Many produce items contain less than 3 grams of protein, so they cannot be considered an efficient source of this nutrient.
Be advised that I do not recommend all foods listed in the tables, but many popular food items are given, so you may see my reasons for excluding them from my diet programs. Frozen, breaded fishsticks, for example, do not meet my requirements for high-quality protein, no matter what the manufacturer has chosen to claim on the label. Fresh food in its most natural form always takes first place. Also, it is doubtful if an 8-ounce package of fish sticks actually contains 38 grams of protein from the fish itself. More likely, a high percentage of this amount comes from substances used for breading. The tables are intended mainly to provide an awareness of protein sources, and my preferences are stated clearly throughout the book
In summary, the best bodybuilding foods from animal sources are fish, meat, eggs, and poultry. Dairy products like cheese are high in protein but also in fat, which tends to form fat deposits under the skin, causing a loss of definition. The best foods from plant sources are beans, nuts, seeds, and grain products.
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