The 4 Best Sources of Protein – Mind Pump

Check out the Mind Pump Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • A high-protein diet aids:
    • Muscle-burning
    • Fat-burning
    • Muscle/bone loss with old age
  • Protein is the most thermogenic and satiating macronutrient. To facilitate weight loss, eat more protein.
  • For maximum benefits, aim to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day (0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight at the minimum, even for women)
  • As best you can, try to get most of your protein from whole food sources. Then, use protein powders as necessary to fill in the gaps.
  • Overall, whey protein powder is most preferable (compared to plant-based and egg-based protein powders)

Products & Resources Mentioned

Intro                                                                      

  • Mind Pump consists of Sal Di Stefano (IG: @mindpumpsal), Adam Schafer (IG: @mindpumpadam) and Justin Andrews (IG:@mindpumpjustin)
    • The trio have 50 years of combined fitness experience as personal trainers

Why is protein important for the human body?

  • Protein is an essential macronutrient
    • Simply put: “If you don’t eat protein, your body will fail to thrive” – Sal DiStefano
  • A high-protein diet aids:
    • Muscle-burning
    • Fat-burning
    • Muscle/bone loss with old age

How does protein aid fat loss?

  • For one, protein is the most thermogenic macronutrient (discussed more below)
  • Secondly, as protein is also the most satiating macronutrient, the more you eat, the more your appetite for unhealthy processed food dissipates

How to Prevent Muscle Loss When Dieting

  • As some people lose weight/fat, they also lose muscle; why?
    • The human body is the product of thousands of years of evolution; when food was scarce, the body had to burn muscle for energy
      • Also: “It’s cheaper for the body to get rid of the muscle than fat. Muscle is an expensive tissue—it takes a lot of calories to support.” – Justin Andrews
    • To prevent this: When you reduce your caloric intake (when dieting), keep your protein intake high—this effectively serves as a signal to stop the body from burning muscle for fuel

Take Advantage of Protein’s Thermic Effect

  • First, what’s a “thermic effect”?
    • The amount of energy your body burns to process the food you eat
  • Compared to carbs/fat, gram for gram, protein’s thermic effect is 10-15% higher

Two Protein-Related Hacks to Fend Off the Effects of the Modern World

  • #1: Lift weights!
    • Food is everywhere—your best defense is a faster metabolism (the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate)
  • #2: Eat the foods that provide the most satiety and beneficial thermic effects (AKA protein)

How much protein do you need?

  • For maximum benefits, aim to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day (0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight at the minimum, even for women)
    • So, if you weight 200 lbs., that’s 200 grams/day of protein

The Best Sources of Protein

1. Whole Foods

  • Protein from whole foods is most ideal—it’s unprocessed, natural, and is delivered in conjunction with several other beneficial nutrients
    • For instance, red meat contains high amounts of creatine, which promotes brain and heart health
  • The one drawback of whole foods-based protein is inconvenience
    • For instance, a 130-pound female would have to eat four six-ounce chicken breasts per day to meet her protein requirements—this isn’t practical

2. Animal-Based Protein

  • On a per gram basis, animal protein (meat, eggs, and dairy) has the best amino acid profile
    • Branch-chained amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are beneficial for:
      • Muscle-building
      • Fat loss
      • Injury recovery

3. Plant-Based Protein

  • The best plant-based protein sources: spirulina, algae, and peas
    • Other examples: Hemp seeds, tofu, and edamame
  • The downside of plant-based proteins? They’re not very protein-dense

4. Protein Powders

  • Protein powders are a convenient way to boost your protein intake, but remember, always try to meet your protein requirements using whole foods first

The Pros and Cons of Different Protein Powders

1. Whey Protein Powders

  • “If you can digest it, whey is a phenomenal source of protein” –Sal Di Stefano
    • (Whey is dairy-based, so it tastes great, but many people are dairy intolerant. It’s also not vegan.)
  • Legion Whey Protein Powder is a Mind Pump favorite
  • Important notes:
    • Whey offers the least amount of calories for the most amount of protein
    • Whey is very high in branched-chain amino acids, which benefit cognitive function
    • Whey protein, compared to other powdered proteins, seems to reduce appetite more significantly

2. Egg-Based Protein Powders

  • A major upside: Eggs are a whole food source
  • Drawbacks:
    • Eggs are high in high sulfur—this can lead to digestive issues (gas!)
    • Egg-based protein powders don’t mix well with other foods—the egg taste is too strong
    • You might as well just eat eggs!
      • Egg-based protein powders predominantly contain egg whites, so you lose out on some of the benefits from the yolk

3. Plant-Based Protein Powders

  • For vegans and dairy-intolerant individuals, plant-based protein powder is a great option
  • Downsides:
    • On a gram for gram basis, single-sources of plant protein aren’t as effective as egg-based/whey protein powders
      • (Therefore, when choosing a plant-based protein, aim for one that combines several different plant sources)
    • Typically, plant-based protein powder doesn’t taste as good as whey
  • Organifi makes a great vegan/plant-based protein powder

Protein Formulations

  • In protein concentrates, 60-80% of the calories are protein—these products have less protein per gram, so they’re less expensive (i.e., protein meal shakes)
  • Whey isolates are formulated so that 90-95% of the calories are protein—they have fewer carbs per serving
  • If you’re training 2-3x a day, protein hydrolysates are a good option as they’re easier to absorb
    • BUT they may spike insulin levels
  • Soy protein is quite controversial—it can have an estrogenic effect
    • If you’re a guy with low testosterone or a woman with estrogen issues, limit your soy intake