I spent nearly a decade living off of carbs and dairy. Can you say “Hello autoimmune disease?” Those were my dark days. I also smoked cigarettes like a chimney and drank like a fish. I was young and foolish. When asked, “if you could go back in time and tell your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?” My answer is always the same, I would tell poor little malnourished 16-year-old Tyna to EAT BETTER.
Bottom line, we need protein and healthy fats. I don’t want to offend any vegetarians here, but what pulled me out of my autoimmune tailspin and what has helped countless patients over the years is the re-introduction of animal protein into our diets. Never an easy discussion, but sometimes a necessary one. I’ve lost patients over it and I understand that I’ll lose a few fans with this post.
Protein is a necessary component of healthy muscle and ingesting adequate amounts is very helpful in building and maintaining healthy muscle mass. As I mentioned last week, building muscle is the key to effective and sustained fat loss. Muscle eats fat.
It also holds your joints together and joints need collagen and protein too for optimal health.
When strength training the advice is all over the place but I encourage people to shoot for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight when strength training. I wouldn’t know how to, nor can I legally, advise any of you individually so can’t help there.
Quality is VERY important when it comes to protein. You are what your food eats (and gets shot up with). So grass-fed, hormone-free, pastured is best when it comes to meat and dairy. Grass-fed, finished beef has the same omega profile as wild salmon! When you eat up the food chain you also ingest toxins and hormones up the food chain. Eat clean sources and know that it’s money well spent.
Fats are wonderful and should not be feared. Anyone who tells you that cholesterol is dangerous is not paying attention to the scientific literature of the past few years. Even the American Medical Association has come out and said that they were wrong. When fats were villainized in the 80’s and everyone went from butter to margarine and other fake/trans fats, our entire country GOT FAT. Think about the time line if you are my age or older, you saw it happen too. Maybe it happened to you. It happened to my entire family honestly.
I decided early on that butter was too good to be bad and kept eating it, only to learn later about ketosis and the benefits of fat a few years later in Naturopathic school. Vindication.
I firmly believe that all foods are simply a carrier for delicious pastured butter. My absolute favorite is Kerry Gold. It puts all others to shame, IMHO.
Most importantly for all of you ladies especially. I see a LOT of chronic joint and spinal pain in women stemming from protein malnourishment. A very skilled and elderly doctor gentleman once told me that if I simply boosted the protein in all of my female patient’s diets I would take care of a whole lot of chronic pain issues. I’ve found this to be true.
People get into trouble when they boost the protein and fats and don’t cut the carbs, alcohol, and sugars in their daily life. However, if you were to boost your healthy protein and fat intake as a priority, while earning your smart carb choices, you would likely take on a better body composition.
General guidelines for protein: Women 1 palm sized portion per meal, Men 2 palm sized portions.
Guidelines for healthy fats: Women 1 thumb sized portion per meal. Men 2 thumbs.
Fat is your friend!
My favorite protein sources are animal sources. I go with as humanely raised as possible. I’ve seen veganism and vegetarianism work for only a very few, but that is just my experience. It definitely can work for some, but it’s hard work to maintain a balanced diet.
For a quick protein snack, try a high-quality protein powder. My favorites and a better discussion on the topic can be found on my blog HERE.
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