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What’s the Best Protein Source?

I just got back from a trip to NJ with Ella.

I was there speaking.  She came with me, stayed with my parents, and then when I was done each day I’d go and hang with them, have dinner and head back to my hotel.

It was a blast.  She had fun with her grandparents.

I got to play with some of my childhood toys (helloooo, WWF Wrestlers circa 1985).

I digress.

On the way back from our NJ solo mission — well, of course we had one of her babies with us that I got to cart around the airport — we were eating in the airport and I overheard a person at the table next to us telling the person he was with about the BEST protein source out there.  I wasn’t paying attention, until I heard this statement, then from what I gather he was talking about a MLM company and trying to get the other person involved.

We sat there enjoying our buffet (hint, if you have a long layover in the Philly airport, head over to the Marriott that’s attached – it’s much more comfortable, cleaner than the airport (particularly the restrooms) and it’s good to get out of the hustle and bustle, particularly when you have a 3 year old in tow.

Anyhow, we’re at the restaurant and Ella and I were sharing the buffet.

I had an omelet, some fruit, smoke salmon and oatmeal.

Ella has tried and likes smoke salmon, so asked to have some again …

… but then that, with the conversation to our left, got me thinking.

What IS the best source of protein?

Eggs are often touted as such.  Of course you can’t go wrong with wild salmon.  Beef, chicken, turkey, etc.

But let’s take a step back for a minute.

All proteins are made up of amino acids, the building blocks of protein.  Some proteins — like animal based protein — have a nice variety of all essential amino acids and are called "complete proteins." Plant proteins are usually missing one or more amino acids and are called "incomplete proteins."

When I first started school it was taught that incomplete proteins had to be eaten at the same meal to "count" – more recently, people realized the timing didn’t matter as much as the overall variety within each day.

The key is that you are eating a variety of different sources; each is unique and has advantages.

Back to the point about eggs.  Eggs are in fact a fantastic source of complete protein.  They’re also one of the cheapest forms of protein, gram for gram, giving you the most bang for your buck.

We’ve written a lot about the health benefits of eggs lately.  Eat whole eggs regularly and enjoy them.

The other message we’ve been saying for awhile when it comes to different protein choices is, "The less legs the better."

In other words, fish is fantastic (with no legs), then chicken and turkey, followed by beef and pork.  Sure, all are great and all have different nutrient profiles, but the ones with less legs are traditionally a bit leaner.  That’s a good thing.

And tossing in some vegetarian based proteins throughout the week is smart, too.

Beans
Nuts
Tofu
Nut butters
Whole grains, like quinoa and barley

We try to do at least a couple vegetarian based nights each week.  Sometimes we do.  Sometimes we don’t.  The effort is always there, though!

What’s YOUR favorite way to eat protein?

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