What’s the beef people have with beef?
Protein. We all need it — we need it every day — as it’s an essential building block for both repairing and building our bodies.
In fact, amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are responsible for over 1,000 bodily functions, including regulation and creation of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Protein also helps to provide an important source of energy.
So why aren’t we getting enough of it?
The average Canadian gets less than 17% of their daily energy from protein, which is at the lower end of the recommended range of 10 to 35%. On a per-day basis, Health Canada recommends two servings of meat or alternatives a day for adult women (about 150g) and three servings for adult men (about 225g).
If your goal is healthy weight maintenance, studies show that our bodies naturally burn a few more calories when we eat protein-rich meals. Eating plenty of protein-rich foods may also help reduce fat around the middle.
With an estimated 1.6 million Canadians who are living with heart disease or the effects of a stroke, heart health is an important issue. Researchers have found that higher protein intakes may help lower risk of heart disease. As well, higher protein intakes may also reduce high blood pressure.
Now armed with the knowledge of a few key benefits of protein, you’re probably wondering the best places to get it. In today’s processed food industry, marketing takes over and food labels tout “protein XXg per serving,” many of these sources are added in during the processing but at the end of the day you have to ask yourself is that the way Mother Nature intended it? Heck, I can’t read half the ingredients on most packages today, can you? Hence, why I’m a big believer in single ingredient, whole food sources for my protein.
You can find single sources of protein in chicken, salmon, nuts, grains like quinoa and various plants — but keep in mind, not all proteins are created equal and some definitely pack more of protein punch, gram for gram, without all the additional calories. When selecting a protein source, keep in mind the difference between complete versus incomplete sources — our body can make many amino acids, but there are nine which we can’t and these need to be obtained in our diets through the foods we eat.
I always encourage people to enjoy whatever source of protein is right for them. I did want to mention my favorite source though — beef. I recommend considering this often overlooked protein source, as it’s a whole food and single-ingredient option that does not include artificial flavours or colours, or added salt. It’s also a good source of iron, zinc and has zero grams of carbs.
Beef isn’t right for everyone and I understand this, but there are a lot of misconceptions about this important protein source and I want to help clear these up. The current discussion around protein in the Canadian media has been primarily around alternative sources of protein. While a common trend today is to fortify foods with added protein, it is important to remember that meat is one of nature’s “original” sources of protein. From a health and nutritional perspective, beef is a protein powerhouse and as a single-ingredient whole food, it delivers a protein and nutrient punch. Gram for gram, beef is one of the richest sources of complete protein, containing all essential amino acids to build and repair muscle, and is full of essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12.
Did you know that one 75g steak has more protein than 100 almonds, more iron than five fillets of salmon and more B12 than six chicken breasts? Beef is also packed with zinc for healthy growth, iron for oxygen and protein to build and repair the body – something all Canadians need to perform at their optimal level.
Still not convinced?
Here are several facts that will blow your mind:
Beef is Iron King providing 2x more iron than chicken
A serving of cooked beef (75g) has only 184 calories
Only 6 per cent of the fat in the Canadian diet comes from fresh beef;
The average Canadian consumes almost ¼ of their calories from empty calorie foods like snack bars, chips and pop.
49 per cent of the fat in beef is the same healthy fat found in olive oil (monounsaturated fat)
Beef is one of the richest sources of complete protein, as it has all nine amino acids which are vital for growth and muscle repair, plus it is one of the top proteins for iron and zinc.
A calorie-wise, protein-rich choice for achieving healthy weight.
I wouldn’t be doing this article justice, if I didn’t acknowledge another term we’re hearing a lot about in the media, “Plant based eating”. It gives the impression that someone should avoid meat, but in reality plant based eating suggests we should eat more plant foods, not simply give up meat. Plant foods and meat complement each other nutritionally in the perfect way. It’s more difficult to get all the nutrients we need when we exclude a whole food category like meat, or any other category of foods.
I am an advocate for choice and I want you to choose what works for you. Whatever choice of protein you prefer, please remember there are lots of amazing overall benefits of a protein rich diet. Variety in protein will please your palette and keep you motivated to try new things and eat healthy.
I hope you embrace whole food sources of protein in 2016. From professional athlete’s to weekend warriors we should all be careful to make sure we are getting enough protein in our diet. Using the hashtag #BeefAdvantage, join me in an online discussion about how protein can give you the competitive advantage.
Keep moving with purpose daily and fueling your lifestyle with awesomeness (and beef).
Dai Manuel talks about health, fitness and lifestyle online at DaiManuel.com and on Twitter @DaiManuel.