Posts Tagged ‘healthy dinners’

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By Tom Nikkola, CSCS, CISSN, Pn1

For years, outside of the sports nutrition community, protein’s importance was overlooked as the debates about nutrition focused on carbohydrates and fat.

More recently, higher-protein intakes have been shown to be very powerful for supporting weight management programs. They seem to play a role in improving a number of other health outcomes as well, but there are still a number of myths surrounding higher-protein intakes.

The following are six of the most common high-protein myths I still come across. Now you’ll know the truth behind these myths.

1. You can only use 30 grams of protein in a meal

As it relates to maintenance or development of lean body mass, protein both increases protein synthesis and decreases protein breakdown. The more you can increase protein synthesis and/or decrease protein breakdown, the more lean body mass you can build.

Protein synthesis is maximally stimulated after consuming 20-30 grams of high-quality protein. But research shows that protein breakdown is further reduced at higher levels.

A study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition addressed this 30-gram-per-meal myth.[i]

First, the researchers found that when individuals consumed 80% of their daily protein in a single meal, it caused a greater overall anabolic response for the day than when the protein was split up over several meals. This could be because the total protein intake for the day wasn’t excessively high.

Second, they found that the greater the amount of protein individuals consumed, the greater the overall anabolic response was. Greater protein intakes in a meal caused protein breakdown to slow even more. Clearly, the higher amount of protein from a meal was digested and absorbed, and it had a greater impact than a lesser amount, such as the often espoused 30-gram recommendation.

There is a likely a cap at which the total protein intake for the day reaches a limit on its anabolic effect. It’s probably closer to the “one gram per pound body weight” often recommended by sports nutritionists. Split that up over 3-4 meals, and you’ll need to eat a lot more protein than just 30 grams with each meal.

2. Excess protein just turns to fat

To be clear, we’re talking about pure protein. Often, when people envision protein, it’s protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. You can’t get away with eating as much filet mignon, cooked in butter and topped with crabmeat and hollandaise sauce as your stomach can hold. There’s a lot more in such a meal than just protein.

However, assuming carbohydrates and fat are kept in check, it seems that eating more and more protein has virtually no effect on fat gain. After a certain point, it doesn’t help in adding more lean mass either.

To test the effects of a super-high protein diet, Dr. Jose Antonio and his team studied two groups of resistance-trained men and women. One group followed a diet that included 1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight. The other group doubled that amount, eating 2.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That’s a lot of protein!

It would be nearly impossible to eat such large amounts from whole food, so a large amount of the extra protein came from protein shakes. This also helped minimize the introduction of additional carbohydrates and fat.

The second group ate an average of 145 grams of protein extra per day and did not gain any weight. Also, they did not eat less carbohydrate or fat. That’s right. They ate 145 grams more protein than the other group and didn’t gain weight. In fact, they averaged about 800 calories more than their maintenance level and didn’t gain body fat. They also didn’t gain any extra muscle from that much more protein. It’s a good example of why You Can’t Count on Calorie-Counting for Weight Management.

Eating too much protein-rich food, with all the fixings and side dishes will surely pack on the pounds, but excess protein itself isn’t a cause of fat gain.

3. Too much protein is hard on the kidneys

One of the byproducts of protein digestion is urea. Urea is filtered by the kidneys, so the theory is that as protein intake goes up, urea goes up which puts an excessive load on the kidneys. While it’s true that urea increases, there is not evidence to show that it’s bad for those with healthy kidney function.

After two years of tracking participants on either a higher-protein, low-carb diet or a lower-fat, low-protein diet, those who ate a higher protein diet experienced no negative impact on kidney health.[ii]

Another study followed three groups over two years. They followed a low-fat, a Mediterranean, or a higher-protein, low-carb diet. After two years, there was no difference in kidney function for any of the groups. The participants were moderately obese individuals, some of who had type II diabetes and some of whom did not.[iii]

Those with a pre-existing kidney issue may need to limit protein intake, but for those with healthy kidneys, evidence suggests higher protein intake is fine.[iv]

4. High protein diets decrease bone density

Just as higher protein intakes help maintain or even increase muscle tissue, they also support greater bone density. High-protein diets do not leach minerals from bone and decrease bone density. To the contrary, they’ve been shown to enhance mineral reabsorption and increase bone density. The greater issue when it comes to bone density is taking in enough calcium, magnesium and vitamin D to support good bone health.[v],[vi]

Women are more likely to follow a low-calorie diet, which is often low in protein. Low protein diets, rather than high-protein diets can contribute to decreased bone density.[vii] Women are already more prone to bone density loss as they get older, so adding a low-protein diet to their lifestyle could accelerate the loss of bone density. The importance of higher protein intake should be stressed to support optimal bone density.

5. Too much protein raises insulin and increases fat storage

Protein consumption does cause a small rise in insulin levels. Insulin is necessary to help shuttle amino acids into muscle cells. The rise in insulin is nowhere near the rise that carbohydrates cause, but protein does cause a rise in insulin.

If someone is following a ketogenic diet as part of cancer therapy, to enhance endurance performance or to address significant blood sugar regulation issues, a higher-protein intake may temporarily take him or her out of ketosis.

For most people, even those with type II diabetes, the increase in insulin from protein is not significant compared to the benefits of the higher-protein intakes. If there was an issue, we would not consistently see the improvements in metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes that we see in research using higher-protein diets.

6. You only need the RDA for protein, which is 0.36 g/lb per day.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is amusingly small: 0.36 grams per pound body weight.

For a 150-pound adult, that would be 55 grams per day, about 8 ounces of lean meat.

While such a paltry amount of protein might be enough to sustain life, it’s certainly not enough to have achieve optimal levels of health and fitness, or to achieve a superior level of quality of life.

As Bosse and Dixon stated in their JISSN paper:

The “lay” recommendation to consume 1 g protein/lb of bodyweight/day (2.2 g/kg/day) while resistance training has pervaded for years. Nutrition professionals often deem this lay recommendation excessive and not supported by research. However, as this review shows, this “lay” recommendation aligns well with research that assesses applied outcome measures of strength and body composition in studies of duration > 4 weeks.[viii]

 

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Tom Nikkola, CSCS, CISSN, Pn1
Tom is the Senior Director of Fitness Strategy and Business Development at Life Time Fitness. He began his fitness career in 2001 as a personal trainer and played a number of roles at Life Time, including Senior Director of Nutrition and Weight Management. In that role, he helped evolve and develop Life Time’s lab testing, nutritional products, and nutrition coaching services, while also helping to launch the brand Life Time Weight Loss.

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Here is a tasty and quick recipes to keep you on track with your fitness goals!

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Serves 4-5
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

1 Zucchini
1 Yellow Squash
Mushrooms
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 Cup Cottage Cheese or Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lbs Italian Sausage
1 pkg Organic Pepperoni
1 Jar Marinara
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp Grape seed oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a skillet cook the Italian sausage until done. Meanwhile, slice the zucchini and the yellow squash in thin slices or use a mandolin to cut. Take cottage cheese, parmesan and Italian seasoning and mix together.  In a 9×9 (it will be tight) or an 9×12 baking pan (you may need another zucchini) place the Grape seed oil on bottom of pan and spread evenly. Place one layer of zucchini/yellow squash on bottom of pan. Follow with a thin layer of cottage cheese mixture, pepperoni, mushrooms and marinara. Top with another layer of zucchini/yellow squash. Follow with Italian sausage, remaining cottage cheese mixture, marinara and cover with mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven for 35 minutes or until cheese is completely melted on top.

Cauliflower Pizza

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Time: 60 mins cook time
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 small to medium sized head of cauliflower – should yield 2 to 3 cups once processed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crust it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
optional a few shakes of crushed red pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg
optional 1 tablespoon almond mealPlace a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don’t get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets, you don’t need much stem. Just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. See above photo. You should end up with 2 to 3 cups cauliflower “snow”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the heck out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.Dumped cauliflower into a bowl. Now add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt), and a dash of red pepper if you want. I also added 1 tablespoon almond meal because my cauliflower yielded closer to 2 cups of cauli snow, this is optional and I would not add the almond meal if you have closer to 3 cups of cauli snow. Now add your egg and mix away. Hands tend to work best.

Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.
Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8 – 11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.
Add your own personal toppings. Slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.

Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 69
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2 g 4 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 6 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 35 mg 12 %
Sodium 171 mg 7 %
Potassium 448 mg 13 %
Total Carbohydrate 8 g 3 %
Dietary Fiber 4 g 14 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 6 g 12 %
Vitamin A 3 %
Vitamin C 108 %
Calcium 9 %
Iron 5 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Cauliflower crust recipe pulled from http://www.theluckypennyblog.com/2013/02/the-best-cauliflower-crust-pizza.html

Zucchini Lasagna

  • Servings: 9-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 lb Ground buffalo
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage
half onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsps tomato paste
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes with the juice or 1 ¾ pound of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
3 cups spinach
15 oz part-skim ricotta
1 large egg
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 medium zucchini, sliced ⅛” thick
16 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions

In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add onions and cook 4-5 minutes until they are soft and golden.
Add garlic and sauté, being careful not to burn.
Add tomato paste and stir well. Add crushed tomatoes, including the juice in case you are using tomato cans.
Add salt and pepper.
Cover and bring to a low simmer for 25-30 minutes.
Finally remove from the heat and add fresh basil, spinach and stir well.
Adjust the seasoning if you think it is necessary.
Preheat oven to 375°.
In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and an egg. Stir well.
In a 9×12 casserole spread some tomato sauce on the bottom.
Layer 5 or 6 zucchini slices to cover.
Place some of the ricotta cheese mixture and top with the mozzarella cheese.
Repeat the layers until all your ingredients are all used up.
Top with sauce and mozzarella.
Bake 50 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.
Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Time: 60 mins cook time
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients:
1 cabbage head
1 lb lean grass-fed ground beef
1 lb ground turkey
½ onion diced
½ carrots thinly sliced
1 cup Quinoa
2 eggs
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

Sauce:
1 (15oz) can organic tomato sauce
1 (15oz) can organic tomato chunks
3 garlic cloves
½ onion diced
2 tbsp grape seed oil
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Prepare the cabbage leaves. Carefully separate the leaves from the head. Blanch 16 large leaves in boiling water for about 1 minute, or until bright green and just softened. Immediately refresh the blanched leaves in ice water. Drain and reserve.
  2. Place all filling ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly (I use my hands).
  3. In a sauce pan put your grape seed oil, minced garlic and onions. Sauté on medium high heat until onions are golden. Place tomato sauce, tomato chunks, salt and pepper into the pan. Bring to boil for 1 minute and let simmer until ready to place on cabbage rolls.
  4. Divide this mixture into sixteen 2-ounce balls. Using moistened hands, form the balls into cylinders. Place a cylinder of filling near the bottom of a cabbage leaf. Begin to roll it up, folding both sides over the filling, and finish rolling to enclose the filling, like an eggroll. Continue, filling and rolling all the cabbage leaves. Place them, seam side down, on a tray or baking sheet.
  5. Pour sauce over rolls evenly and place in oven for 1 hour at 475 degrees.

Enjoy!