Another day at the gym. Like myself, I’m sure you’ve frequently overheard a trainer turn to his buddy and say “it’s all about protein shakes bro.” While one can’t dispute the healthy benefits of protein, many fail to understand what protein is and how it works.
Protein is a macronutrient composed of building blocks called amino acids. These link together to form protein chains in different combinations. The amino acid chains must be broken down in order for us to reconstruct their order in a specific way for our bodies.
WHAT DOES PROTEIN DO?
Protein gives you energy, helps maintain and build large muscle mass, cultivates the growth of your cells, regulates your electrolyte balance, and creates essential antibodies and hormones.
HOW DOES OUR BODY USE PROTEIN?
Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet promotes high protein consumption and gives whole grains and fruits a bad rep, saying they are the culprits of weight gain. Even worse we are taught that we can never consume too much protein. We think that by eating steaks, eggs and bacon we will have a lean body and defined muscle tone. However, lets learn how our body really uses protein.
First off, our body doesn’t exactly use protein, it uses amino acids. Theses long chains of amino acids make up proteins. Inevitably, these chains wear out and need to be replaced. The way we produce these replacements for protein is by consuming foods that are rich in amino acids. Our body cannot use a complex amino acid chain without rebuilding it first.
We cannot just eat animal protein (which is basically just the muscle of the animal) and expect it to turn directly into muscle in our body. Our body has to break down the amino acids from the meat and then restring the amino acids into protein chains that are specific to humans.
VEGETABLES CAN GIVE YOU PROTEIN TOO
Some of the strongest animals are vegetarians like gorillas, horses, hippos and rhinos! How can they be so strong on a non-meat diet? Well, they are able to build up muscle from the amino acids they eat in greens.
There are 23 different amino acids, 15 the body creates itself and 8 that cannot be manufactured by the body and must come from diet alone. When foods contain all eight of these amino acids (aka known as Essential Amino Acids) it is called A Complete Protein.
Amino Acids can be found in:
- Sprouted grains such as buckwheat, oats, quinoa, and millet.
- Vegetables including dark greens, mushrooms, peppers, and yams.
- Legumes like pinto beans and lentils.
- Raw nuts and seeds, including hemp, almonds, and pumpkin seeds.
THE JOY OF SHAKES
Protein shakes present a great way to get your fill of muscle-building nutrients. You can choose from a variety of great tasting, protein mixes that just require the addition of your prefered liquid (water, milk, juice), or you can make your own protein shake from scratch.
Here’s how to make a healthy, delicious shake that will give you the amino acids you need to power through the most brutal of muscle-building workouts.
RAW CACAO HEMP SHAKE
2 Cups of Almond Milk
1 tablespoon of hemp seeds
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
½ tablespoon of nutmeg
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
First Step. While making a Hemp Shake, put on some Bob Marley. Then place all the ingredients in blender and mix till smooth. You can add some ice if you like your shake nice and cold. Sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on the top and enjoy!