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Powerful Protein

07.13.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

Shrimp and edamame are both excellent sources of Protein! Courtesy AP Photo

Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN; Redskins Team Dietitian

I mentioned in my previous blog entry that I am teaching a sports nutrition course this summer. We began by studying the master nutrient, also known as carbohydrates (click here to read about the master nutrient in a past blog post). Now, my students and I have moved on to another very important nutrient: Protein.

Protein has always enjoyed high esteem in the nutrition world. Both fats and carbs have had their time in the villain spotlight, a very misguided reputation on both accounts I need to add. Protein has somehow avoided this negativity.

The pedestal protein stands upon means that as a dietitian; I don't have to work as hard to convince my clients, especially football players, to consume this power nutrient. What I like to spend my time on instead is teaching them all the benefits of protein above and beyond muscle building.

Protein plays an important role in...

Providing structure for tissues including muscles, tendons, bones, blood etc. Not only will lack of dietary protein reduce your ability to build strength it can increase injury risk and slow injury recovery.
Whether you are a professional football player or a weekend warrior, keeping your tendons, bones and muscles strong will keep you out on the court, trail or field instead of injured on the sidelines.

Important component of enzymes and hormones. You think today's multiple communication channels (text, email, facebook, twitter, etc.) are complicated? You should see the information highway happening in your body! For the body's messaging system to work optimally enzymes and hormones need to be formed and maintained and protein plays a crucial role.

Supporting the Immune System. Antibodies are your body’s defensive line against invaders such as bacteria, virus and other infectious agents. Much like a football team's need for a strong defensive line to protect the quarterback, we need a strong team of antibodies to fight off every cold, flu and other diseases we are exposed to everyday.

So, how much protein do we need?

The average American consumes more than twice the amount of protein than needed. I am more concerned with my clients getting a variety of protein sources rather than not getting enough.

We tend to gravitate towards easy and habitual which often spells C-H-I-C-K-E-N. Skinless chicken breast is a great source of protein but I encourage you to "mix it up" to ensure you get the whole spectrum of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Try to rotate through the list of protein foods below.

Other Protein Sources:

For more information on protein foods, click here!

Striving for a good source of protein at each meal plus 3-4 servings from the dairy group a day should provide most people with ample protein intake.

Enjoy!
Jane

Have your own questions for the team nutritionist? Leave them below!

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