Welcome back, Partisans! It seems like AP readers were really getting into this series, so today, we’re back with the next installment of the American Partisan Nutritional Empowerment Guide. This post will get into the practical side of choosing macronutrients, specifically, protein.
The American Partisan
Nutritional Empowerment Program Guide
NEP III: The American Partisan Nutritional Empowerment Program’s Recommended Shortlist of Macronutrients
An Overview of Proper Nutrition – Giving the Body What It NEEDS
The information in the upcoming sections is intended to provide the basic information American Partisans need in order to better understand how to make more informed, specific food selections and also what actions to take with their eating lifestyle.
To reiterate, the body satisfies all of its basic input needs from a mix of macronutrients and micronutrients, as explained in the upcoming sections, which will expand upon the general information previously covered in my post on macronutrients. The information below can immediately be put to use in getting your eating lifestyle change underway. Once again, “macronutrients” are “big” nutrients, measured and eaten in quantities of grams or ounces. Before we go on, please take note of these generally applicable and important rules:
NEP General Rule #1: KEEP THINGS SIMPLE! If it’s not on this list, you probably shouldn’t have it. However, I don’t ever claim to be the guru on nutrition, so I might have missed some stuff and/or readers may find viable options out there to substitute with that I am simply unfamiliar with. If you have any questions or concerns, write a comment below or email me at [[email protected]] for clarification – I’ll be glad to help!
NEP General Rule #2: Frying is not recommended on your NEP, period. Animal proteins (i.e., beef; chicken, pork; fish; venison; etc.) should be grilled, baked, steamed, simmered, or stewed. Light sautéing is acceptable if using butter, coconut oil, or lard. NO HEAVY OR DEEP FRYING!!
Macronutrients Part I: High-Quality Sources of Proteins
High-Quality Proteins I: General Overview
Protein provides the bulk of the raw materials from which the body builds and repairs itself, which makes it of paramount importance to health and fitness. The body’s building and repair activities are going on 24/7/365, so a steady stream of high-quality protein is obviously of primal importance for every aspect of health: growth, repair, anti-aging, disease-fighting… everything!
Partisans need high-quality protein, which means that when selecting your protein source, you should choose a protein source that is the following:
- Proper Protein: The selected protein source provides everything that is beneficial about protein and without attached junk, meaning that a hot dog, salami, or Slim Jim – theoretically sources of protein, but in reality, just tasty shit and not proper protein – don’t fit the bill.
- Predominantly Protein: The protein source has more protein in it than anything else, meaning that a bean (around 35% protein, 51% carbohydrate) is not a good source of protein vs. tuna fish, which is 94% protein (obviously a far better source of predominantly protein). Nothing wrong with beans if you can digest them, but I don’t consider beans to be a proper source of protein for reasons just mentioned.
On top of its primary function as a building nutrient, any high-quality protein – whether whey, meat, fish, eggs, etc., will also provide the body with slow-burning energy as well as help control sugar cravings – this is very important and powerful knowledge! So next time you get a sweet tooth… go have some high-quality protein instead! By doing so, you’ll be giving yourself materials to stay healthy and lean instead of consuming some food that is going to get stored in your butt or love handles while potentially harming your health. As such, high-quality protein is a vital tactical nutrition tool you can use to bust sugar cravings, and stay on the path of health and fitness, instead of having your progress busted by eating candy/junk food. All you need to do is reach for the protein next time you have a sugar craving – the choice is yours…
As far as how much high-quality protein to consume, in most fitness circles, the recommended average daily intake of protein is 1/2 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body. For whatever it’s worth, these are numbers I consider legitimate; when I was lifting heavy weights in my 20’s and 30’s, I was eating over 1 gram of protein per lb. of body weight, but now, I am probably closer to 1/2 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Listed below are my recommendations for a source of high-quality protein, defined as source of protein that is proper and predominantly protein.
The American Partisan Nutritional Empower Guide:
List of High-Quality Protein Sources
Whey Protein – The Purest Protein
Whey protein is the best source of protein available, in terms of its purity and potential quality. Whey is highly supportive of the body’s building, growth, repair, and anti-aging functions, among many other properties.
- Whey protein is very rapidly absorbed by the body since it is essentially pure protein
- The liquid form of a whey protein smoothie/shake allows it to be immediately absorbed by the small intestine and go right to work on growth and repair
- Whey is a low-residual food, which means it doesn’t have a lot of “stuff” attached to it (unlike, say, a fatty steak) that the body then has to process using its limited digestive resources
- Whey protein is useful for overcoming every health issue you can name; anyone can benefit from using whey protein, except in cases of a dairy intolerance or allergy (if this is the case, you might try taking digestive enzymes such as lactase beforehand to aid in digestion – this may help). Whey protein:
- Builds muscle
- Is good for blood pressure and is anti-hypertensive
- Contains peptides (think of these as mini-proteins composing larger protein molecules) that have a blood-thinning effect
- Is anti-inflammatory, has anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and anti-viral properties
- Whey protein is one of nature’s best sources of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) – BCAA’s are especially important for building tissue, which is in everyone’s interest; professional athletes of all kinds use BCAA’s in nutrition lineup.
- BCAA’s can be obtained via whey protein, as well as separately as supplements in either capsules or powder
- One of the BCAA’s, called tryptophan, is one of the best natural appetite suppressants of all – the brain scans the blood for tryptophan to see if it’s time to eat; appetite sensors get activated when tryptophan levels are low, so get more tryptophan by eating whey to diminish cravings
- Whey protein is a super-food for people on the go
- Buy yourself a plastic shaker, keep a bottle of flax oil or some ground flaxseed handy to go with the whey powder, add some water and mix, and you’re in business!
- Whey protein is easily measured, allowing you to get your recommended daily intake of protein much more easily
- Whey protein is convenient for when you don’t have time to prepare a more filling high quality food at home to take to work, or for when you are on the go and can’t get to a restaurant; at the basic level, all you need is whey powder, a shaker, and water
- Whey protein is good for when you don’t feel like spending $10 – $15 on the same amount of “protein” content at a restaurant, which would probably be of lower quality anyway!
- Protein consumption via liquid nutrition is a sure-fire way to lose body fat very quickly and then stay lean while feeling satisfied and energetic – a winner all around
- When selecting whey, go for whey concentrate, which is the least processed, cheapest (usually), and most cost-effective form of whey – this works best for people who are able to tolerate dairy foods
- Stick with simple whey concentrate – ignore products with all sorts of bells and whistles thrown in there besides the whey, especially proprietary blends of this and that; they aren’t needed and only increase the product price without giving much added benefit. Just the whey, please.
- Beware of artificial sweeteners – the vast majority of flavored whey products contain sucralose, which is a nasty chemical-based artificial sweetener whose long-term health effects are not yet known. Stay away from this junk, even if you have to pay extra for your whey!
- For people with mild dairy intolerance, whey isolates work well; this type of whey has had the fats removed while still retaining many of whey’s biologically active (and beneficial) compounds
- Hydrolyzed whey protein is a significantly more processed form of whey, but may work best for people with serious problems digesting dairy or other digestive issues; hydrolyzed whey is typically the most expensive form of whey
- Again, the issue with whey isolates and the hydrolyzed versions of whey is that, the more whey protein is processed, the more bioactive compounds are lost, as well as the more expensive the product becomes – choose wisely!
Other Key Sources of High-Quality Protein
You can also obtain your protein from mixed sources with different nutrient profiles (organic is always best for all protein sources, whether whey, animal protein, eggs, or other) for more variety and flavor.
- Eggs are a truly excellent power food, and are simply nature’s best unprocessed source of protein (as good as it is, whey is still processed). With their lifegiving mix of nutrients, might say that eggs are the perfect food!
- Best to cook your eggs as little as possible, so have them raw, soft-boiled, or poached. The cooking process destroys the sensitive protein structure of the egg and can render its fats inflammatory and toxic to the body
- Eggs rank closely with whey in terms of their high rate and ease of absorption by the body, as well as their wide range of protein building blocks (called amino acids)
- The yolk contains the large majority of the egg’s nutrients and all of its fats, which the body needs! Do not make the awful mistake of throwing out the yolk. Don’t worry about cholesterol – dietary cholesterol is not to blame in high blood cholesterol (one of the greatest lies of our time)!
- Fresh fish is very good too, but one must be careful about the filth and toxicity present in modern waterways and fishing practices, both of which will affect the quality of the fish
- Salmon – very rich in healthy and essential fats; salmon is probably the best choice, as far as fish are concerned (quick review: “essential” in the world of nutrition refers to nutrients that the body cannot make on its own, yet requires the nutrient from the diet in order to live. A lack of essential nutrition leads to potential for diseases of nutrient deficiency.)
- Mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring, haddock
- Shrimp, lobster, scallops, octopus, squid – try your best to buy wild-caught, especially when it comes to shrimp – farmed shrimp is loaded with junk!
- Generally speaking, wild-caught is almost always better than farmed fish; stay completely away from genetically-modified organisms when it comes to all foods!
- Land animal meat (pork, beef, chicken, etc.) is a relatively high-residual food (in contrast to whey protein), which means that it contains a number of elements attached to the nutritious part of the protein that require more digestion (like gristle and fat); fish is probably a better choice in terms of protein quality in that fish is a purer protein with less residual content
- Venison and organic, grass-fed meats are the best options when it comes to land animals, hands down
- Organ meats (again, preferably grass-fed and organic) are extremely healthy and packed with nutrients for those who like them
- Generally stay away from all processed meats (i.e., meat with a long shelf life that comes in a wrapper, box, can, or package of some sort) such as pre-made meat dinners, bacon, sausage, all sandwich meats, packaged jerky, etc.
- In general, processed meats of any types – especially the types listed above – are mostly not worthy of consumption and can lead to a wide variety of health problems down the lin
- PLEASE NOTE: I am not referring to use of processed meats as emergency or survival food! This is where processed meat serves a vital role.
- Plant-based proteins (particularly grains and beans) offer varying amounts of protein of different levels of quality, but are generally inferior to the animal-based protein powders
- Many plant-based proteins can create digestive issues for many people and, for this reason, plant-based proteins are problematic and best avoided
- While animal proteins offer a full array of essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins – there are 20 essential amino acids), plant sources of proteins must be mixed and matched to get a full profile of all the specific amino acids the body needs to live and function properly (i.e., essential)
- Vegetarians (and vegans in particular), who obtain their essential amino acids from plant-based proteins, have to pay particularly careful attention to their selection of grains and beans in order to get all the essential amino acids, and even still, vegetarians may be missing out on many of the building factors found in animal protein that are simply not present in plant-based proteins at all
- Where possible, it is best to get your protein from animal sources (especially whey and eggs), but for those unwilling to consume any animal products (I wonder… is there such thing as an American Partisan vegan? LOL), hempseed or pea protein are also available (although these are quite inferior in protein content to whey/egg)
High-Quality Proteins II: List of Specific Recommendations for High-Quality Protein
Once again, most Partisans should be getting ½ to 1 gram of protein per lb. of bodyweight per day, depending on your age, level of activity, and need.
Please Note Carefully: Despite the recommended portion sizes below for proteins, these numbers are not hard and fast, and are merely provided as a reference guide for AP readers. This means you should eat the proteins listed below to taste until any cravings are suppressed and/or your hunger is satisfied!
Gauging the “proper” amounts of protein will happen over time with experimentation and observation, so pay attention! You will eventually settle on some average amount that will satisfy and work for you.
- Whey Protein (My personal recommendation: Designer Whey Purely Unflavored)
- Portion Size: 1 – 3 scoops per protein smoothie (also known as “protein shake”)
- Designer Whey Purely Unflavored is recommended here because it has no artificial sweeteners in it, even if it is not of organic, grass-fed cows. It’s a great value for the money, in my humble opinion, and I’ve used this a lot to save money while getting in the high-quality protein).
- Because of its “natural” unflavored state, many dislike the dull, milky aftertaste; Designer Whey Purely Unflavored can be mixed, ground chia/flax seed, and/or berries and Stevia to add taste
- Animal Protein (any protein yielded by the flesh of an animal)
- Portion Size: 5 – 8 oz. per meal, depending on bodyweight and need; larger and more active people, as well as those who eat fewer daily meals may need to consume a larger serving
- Fish (purest form of animal protein; wild-caught is always best vs. farmed fish)
- Salmon – the best of the fish options, if fresh. Rich in omega-3 essential fats.
- Pretty much any type of unprocessed fish filet – preferably fresh
- Shrimp, lobster, crab, squid, and octopus are very nutritious, if wild-caught
- Grilling, roasting, or simmering is preferred; frying is not acceptable if you’re serious about health and fitness!
- Tuna or salmon in a can (oil or water-packed) – an inferior last resort, but it works in a pinch (and is clearly a great survival/emergency food)
- Beef or Pork (Organic, grass-fed beef or pork is always best)
- ONLY unprocessed: stick with fresh cuts of meat
- Grilling, roasting, or simmering is preferred; frying is not acceptable!
- Pre-made meat dinners, sausage, sandwich meats, and otherwise processed meats do not classify as proper animal protein. Stay away from these, period (except as survival/emergency food)
- Chicken (whatever type you like – it doesn’t have to be lean breast; organic and grass-fed is always best)
- Fats present in chicken skin and the fattier parts of the meat are great for satiety and have much fat-based nutrition; ditch the “lean chicken breast” thing, and worry more about carbs!
- Grilling, roasting, or simmering is preferred; frying is not acceptable!
- A superb source of meat due to its origin – wild deer eat plants, and are largely untainted by modern animal husbandry practices
- Homemade venison jerky works great as an emergency source of protein
- Grilling, roasting, or simmering is preferred; frying is not acceptable!
- Eggs (Do not throw out the yolk!!! That’s where the egg’s real nutrition is located!)
- Portion Size: 2 to 4 jumbo eggs –OR– 3 to 5 large/extra-large eggs –OR– 4 to 6 medium eggs (again, this varies by body weight, activity level, and frequency of daily meals)
- Raw, poached, or soft-boiled is best, but may not always be possible or desired – some people don’t like the snot-like consistency of soft-boiled eggs
- Hard-boiled will work if you don’t like raw, poached, or soft-boiled, but boil as little as possible! Cooking the yolk to a hard state destroys some of the healthy fats within, so be careful.
- Fried eggs are not an acceptable way to prepare eggs, if you are trying to clean up your health and appearance.
- Cottage Cheese (for those that can tolerate dairy)
- Portion Size: 4 – 8 oz. per meal, depending on bodyweight and need
- A stellar source of easy-to-absorb protein and other powerful nutrients (sulfur; amino acids)
- Cottage cheese + healthy oil + ground flaxseed + salad is an extremely satisfying and light meal option that will satisfy hunger, bust cravings, and provide prime nutrition
- Bone Soup (a.k.a. “bone broth”, which is like a tasty salve for a digestive system in distress; very rich in protein and connective tissue-building factors; liquid nutrition is great for losing weight too!)
- Portion Size: Unlimited – this is a self-limiting food, so have at it
- Make bone soup by taking a whole chicken, turkey, or even a cooked rotisserie chicken, putting it in a pot, throwing some vinegar in there, bringing it to a boil, letting it simmer for 12 – 24 hours, and letting the meat fall off the bone (eat this meat for protein!). Season with spices as desired.
- The cartilage and complex sugars in the knobby ends of the chicken’s bones and in the marrow will dissolve into the broth, and you’ll have a delicious bone soup filled with the dissolved cartilage and restorative complex sugars that your body can absorb and then use very rapidly for its own needs
- Due to its high cartilage content, bone soup has the bonus of being good for your skin and collagen (a type of connective tissue); most importantly, the long-chain complex sugars in the cartilage will coat your digestive system to also help resolve digestive distress.
- If you throw some vegetables in towards the end of the simmering process, you’ll get all the nutrients from the vegetables, which is also great for digestive and overall health
That’s the Nutritional Empowerment Guide lowdown on protein! Stay tuned for Part 3, which will cover the macronutrient category of dietary fats. Thanks for reading!
The American Partisan Nutritional Empowerment Guide Series