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Questions #1: Bad Protein?

I often get a few questions per week, that I know other people might have.  With that said, here are a few from last week.  If you have any questions that you would like answered, please feel free to email me at John@HobokenFitness.com

Question #1:  I find myself plateauing at the gym. Haven’t been able to add more weight to most of my lifts. Would it have anything to do with my inconsistent protein intake? I’ve read many times that the 1 gram/lb of body weight is too high. So I’ve been shooting for about 80%. But that’s only on good days. If I track my macros will that help my progressions?

Answer:  It could be the inconsistent protein intake, but what does your normal everyday eating look like?  Are you sleeping enough?  How much are you drinking?  How long have you been at a plateau and what exactly is the plateau?  Is it a weight loss one, a strength one, a hypertrophy one?

In other words, I’m not sure.  Normally, plateaus are usually a combo, if hypertrophy from lowered carbs, and lifestyle factors (sleep, stress, and alcohol).  If it’s fat loss, then it might be protein and lifestyle factors.  If it’s a strength one, it might be from a workout programming perspective.

So the inconsistent protein might be the most important, but it might not be.  Let me know what type of plateau, what a normal (not idea) day of eating looks like, what your goal is, and what you’ve been doing in the gym (overall weekly routine).

There were follow-ups to this question and in the upcoming weeks, I will be discussing calories and workout programming, no matter the fitness goal because of those questions.  ​

Question #2:  I understand that my nutrition strategy should be geared toward high protein intake combined with single ingredient carbs and vegetables.  What I don’t know is this:  Is there bad protein? 

Answer:  Overall no, yet there are better or worse protein sources depending on your goals and health.  Here’s a quick breakdown:

1 – There are complete proteins and incomplete proteins.  Your body needs certain amino acids that it can’t manufacture from other ones, and a protein source that has all of them, would be considered a complete protein.
2 –  When it comes to muscle growth, leucine tends to be the one that stimulates muscle protein synthesis (MPS) best,so ones high in leucine, along with other Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) tend to be higher quality proteins for growing muscle.  With that said, all animal products (including fish, meats, dairy, eggs, etc) are all complete proteins.  There are some complete protein plant-based sources, but they tend to deliver a lot more carbs than protein.

3 – With that said, protein, in general, from a health perspective has more to do with methionine versus glycine ratio. The answer for this is a lot more complicated than I have time for, but you can go to this site (don’t fall down the rabbit hole of this though), where he explains why it’s important.  As a basic summation, basically high methionine without a correspondingly high glycine intake has been shown to increase cancer rates and overall early deaths.

As a take home message, you might consider adding some collagen protein powders into your shakes and that will help to balance out the two.

4 – Certain people with bad gut bacteria, can also be at risk for higher cardiovascular health issues by eating too much meat, specifically cured meats (think bacon, deli meats, etc) and some red meats.  This is more common with people who have chronic health issues along with correspondingly low types of certain bacteria (you can’t get this tested at your doctors yet, but hopefully in the future).   In this case, vegetables become even more important for their health and weight loss efforts than protein.

5 – Protein from meat sources are usually packed in animals with varying levels of fat.  You have the leaner cuts such as chicken breasts to the fattier cuts which can have gram for gram the same or more fat than protein (think 80/20 ground beef, bacon, etc).  Obviously, the leaner the protein, the better.  So if you have a choice between lean beef or full fat, go lean.  If you’re going to go full fat, try to get it grass-fed.

6 – This goes into a whole other explanation of the balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and how most conventionally raised beef, will cause slight systemic inflammation because of the skewed Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acid ratio.  You can try to take some fish oil to help balance it out, but you should probably just avoid eating that much fat in one sitting from conventionally raised beef (steak houses are tough because of this – they also tend to butter their steaks, adding even more fat).

7 – Also, if you’re eating a cheeseburger with 8 ounces of beef (not that uncommon), cheese, and some fries (even if you only have a handful), you would easily be consuming over 50-55 grams of fat in one meal.  Most individuals don’t process that much fat in one sitting very well and you should try to limit your fat intake to 40 grams at any one meal (that is still a high amount).  If you do go over that amount, it’s fine, just be careful not to do it too often.

Question #3:  When I finish a really intense workout I sometimes go and get a double bison burger at Bareburger with cheese and the works. Is that good or bad?

Answer:  It sounds like it’d be alright.  You would be basically at the cusp of the total fat with about 30-40 grams of fat, but should have about 50 grams of protein.  I wouldn’t get any fries or anything that adds to the total fat amount, but the burger itself is pretty good.  You can go to this link to find how much protein/fat your burger has: (http://www.nutritionix.com/bareburger/nutrition-calculator/premium)

It says that they give you 5 ounces per burger and that each burger is 14 grams of fat, for a total of 28 grams, and then the cheese varies from 0 to 10 grams of fat with the aged cheddar having the highest amount with 10 grams per slice.

Question #4:  What about milk based things like yogurt? They seem to have a lot of protein is it good to add that at the end of a meal? I sometimes have them at 2 meals per day. 

Answer: Yogurt tends to be a very good source of protein.  Greek yogurts have on average about 2.5 times the amount of protein as regular yogurts though, so you would want to stick with those or Icelandic ones (Siggi’s brand is another).  I do like organic, grass-fed yogurts (Wallaby’s brand) a bit more, but from a nutritional perspective, it shouldn’t matter.  Here, again, just note how much fat is in the yogurt, but overall, you can find one that is pretty good without that much fat.  ​

What Questions Do YOU have that have been gnawing at you? 
Let me know and I’ll try to get them as best as I can.  If you have any questions about these answers, please feel free to email me at John@HobokenFitness.com.