The human body is constantly reinventing itself. Every cell is constantly being replaced with a new version of itself. All of the material required for this awe inspiring building work is supplied by the food we eat. An understanding of this process should make us think a little more seriously about the foods that help burn fat and foods that we consume. After all ‘we are what we eat.’ The key nutrient in the body building process is protein. Protein provides the raw construction material for all of the building and repair work that goes on inside your body. After water, protein is the most abundant material in your body, making up 15% of your body weight. 65% of that protein is contained in the skeletal muscles.
The smallest protein unit is the amino acid. Amino acids come together in a huge range of combinations to form proteins. To complete all of our bodily functions maximally we humans rely upon 20 proteins. Of these 11 are manufactured within our body. The other 9 need to be provided by the foods we consume. They are known as essential amino acids.
Foods that contain all 20 amino acids are known as complete proteins. Because your body is not very efficient at storing protein, it is vital that you keep a steady supply of protein foods – especially those containing the essential amino acids – flowing into it.
Protein burns calories
Eating protein makes sense for another reason. Protein has a far higher thermic effect than either carbohydrate or fat. That means that it takes up more calories to digest protein. You will burn 20% more calories in this process on protein than on carbs. In addition, people who engage in resistance training will force the ingested protein to work on repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue. As a result their muscles will become bigger and stronger. To maintain that extra muscle requires more calories – 5 times more than stored fat. So, a person who increases their lean mass will be giving their metabolism a super charge, allowing them to burn more calories 24 /7. If you are looking for foods that help burn fat then look no further than proteins.
Scientists are able to test the efficiency (bioavailability) of protein in the human body. They have identified that the best sources of protein derive from animals. They are milk, eggs, fish and meat. Each of these sources contain complete proteins with all of the amino acids in the correct ratios for maximum uptake by the body. These sources should form the basis of the protein component of your nutritional plan.
What about protein powders?
Whole food sources of protein are always going to be preferable to protein supplements. There is no denying, however, that protein supplements can provide a convenient option for busy people who are trying to maintain their protein intake while on the go. A whey protein smoothie is quick, nutritious and fat free. Avoid having more than one of these a day. Keep in mind that you body was designed to process whole foods and that doing so will allow it to work optimally.
How much protein
A physically active person should aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. So a 200 pound man will be taking in 200 grams of protein per day. If he is eating six small meals per day, he will be averaging about 33 grams of protein at each meal. This should equate to close to 30% of your total calories coming from protein sources. Thefollowing list should form the basis of your protein selection.
Milk, egg, casein and whey protein powders