Ways To Get The Most Out Of Animal Protein

Protein is the second-most important nutrient required by all living organisms, coming only after water.  

Protein is the primary structural component of virtually all tissues in the body, from the skin and hair to the nails, muscles, bones, and visceral organs. No wonder many fitness supplements are usually fortified with this nutrient.  

Consuming foods that are high in protein may also help escalate the recovery from wounds. And depending on the source, this nutrient may also aid weight loss by curbing hunger pangs. Multiple studies have established a close relationship between protein-rich foods and reduced cravings.  

Now, there are two major protein sources – animal and plant protein. In this article, we focus our attention on animal protein and how to get the most out of it. 

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1. Understand the Benefits of Animal Protein 

You’ve probably read numerous publications claiming that animal protein is superior to plant protein. Well, this isn’t technically true.  

Both plant and animal protein can offer remarkable benefits to your health. However, each source has specific properties that make it preferable in certain situations.  

Animal protein produced organically through sustainable methods outlined by industry leaders like U.S. Soy is considered superior to plant protein in terms of building muscle mass. On the other hand, plant-based protein sources like soybeans are your best bet when looking to shed a few extra pounds or reduce your blood pressure.   

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Top Animal Protein Sources 

Once you’ve appreciated the significance of incorporating animal protein into your diet, the next step is to familiarize yourself with the popular sources.  

All animal products, including meat, milk, and blood contain decent amounts of protein. But as you probably already know, the protein content differs considerably from one organism to the other.  

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 100-gram serving of popular animal protein sources provides the following amounts of this crucial nutrient; 

  • Turkey – 29 grams 
  • Chicken – 27 grams 
  • Pork – 27 grams 
  • Beef – 26 grams 
  • Salmon – 20 grams 
  • Eggs – 13 grams 
  • Fresh milk – 3.4 grams 

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3. Know What Constitutes Complete Protein 

Protein sources are considered complete if they contain all nine essential amino acids.  

Essential amino acids are amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Unlike their non-essential counterparts, this type of amino acids must come from the foods that we eat.  

Below are the nine essential amino acids, along with their respective functions; 

  • Phenylalanine – A precursor to several ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters, including dopamine, tyrosine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.  
  • Tryptophan – Acts as a precursor to the famous pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter serotonin.  
  • Histidine – Aids the secretion of the neurotransmitter histamine.  
  • Lysine – Plays a key role in protein synthesis, energy production, calcium absorption, and the production of collagen, elastin, enzymes, and hormones.  
  • Valine – A three-branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) which supports energy production while also stimulating muscle growth.  
  • Threonine – A core component of structural proteins like collagen and elastin. This amino acid also ramps up metabolism while boosting overall immune functions.  
  • Leucine – Also a BCAA, leucine plays a key role in protein synthesis, wound healing, and muscle regeneration.  
  • Methionine – Supports food metabolism and detoxification, as well as the absorption of zinc and selenium.  
  • Isoleucine – Yet another BCAA, isoleucine promotes muscle metabolism, energy regulation, hemoglobin production, and immune function.  

It’s imperative to research an animal product extensively to establish that it contains decent amounts of all the above amino acids. That’s because each compound plays certain crucial functions in the body. Besides, these amino acids combine to make up your required protein intake. 

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4. Differentiate Between Collagen, Whey, and Casein  

Collagen, whey, and casein are all major types of protein found in many animal products. These proteins may boast all nine essential amino acids. However, they differ in their overall functions.  

Collagen provides the structure, support, and strength for all muscles and tissues in the body. This particular protein makes up 30% of your body’s protein content. Seafood, poultry, beef, and eggs are all excellent sources of collagen.  

Casein is a type of protein that moves through the digestive system slowly. It creates the feelings of satiation for much longer, making it the best protein type for curbing dangerous food cravings. Casein is also effective at accelerating post-workout recovery. According to research, administering this protein about half an hour before bedtime might significantly improve post-exercise recovery.  

Dairy products are the best casein source, with cow’s milk providing around 80% of the protein. This is actually the protein responsible for the white color in milk.  

Lastly, whey protein promotes muscle growth while also combating inflammation, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Whey protein constitutes 20% of cow’s milk. It’s the watery portion of milk typically visible after coagulating fresh milk. 

5. Determine Your Portions 

Despite being the second-most essential nutrient, consuming too much protein may trigger a range of health issues, including fatigue, dehydration, and abdominal discomfort.  

Therefore, it’s paramount to stick to your recommended daily intake (RDI) of protein, which is 0.36 grams of protein per pound or 0.8 grams per kg of body weight.  

In the same vein, consider lean cuts. Animal protein is deemed lean if it contains less than 10 grams of total fat, a maximum of 4.5 grams saturated fat, and less than 95 micrograms of cholesterol. 

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Most animal protein sources are rich in all essential amino acids. They also provide decent amounts of collagen, casein, and whey.  

However, remember to follow the above guidelines if you wish to make the most of animal-based protein sources. 

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