The Unique Paradox of Protein Consumption


As a nutritionist and athlete, the most frequent question I get asked is, how much protein do I need? This question is relatively easy to answer compared to the, what should I eat, impossible to answer question, simply because as we are all unique snowflakes, and what to eat varies from person to snowflake.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of conducting a nutrition workshop for a local fitness gym. I designed the lesson plan according to what the members had requested, this included nutrition concepts regarding metabolism of carbs, protein and fats; other topics included, how to read a nutrition label, carbohydrate timing pre-post training, and label claims. The last topic was more specific…What protein supplement is good to take? I read this question two ways: “I don’t know how much protein I need”, and “I am confused about protein supplements”. Thus, with much excitement, I delved into designing that section of the workshop to best answer the question(s). However, a interesting thought came up, or rather a paradox of protein consumption among the “active” and sedentary populations. 

Read Below for Protein Requirement Details

We are all unique snowflakes. That being said again. The standard requirement for a non active adult, termed sedentary, for protein can be determined by multiplying weight in KG by .8 grams (protein). For an average size male (guess around, 175), or female (135) that is 50 – 60 grams of protein daily, this is considered the minimum. For the active adult, active meaning engaging in physical activity on a consistent weekly basis totaling around the 150 min mark of low intensity, think aerobic type training, or 75 min. of high intensity training, think sprinting, that protein requirement can jump as high as 1.8 grams, so for the female 135 and male 175 that’s 110-143…yeah, it jumps that much higher.

 Now, Here Comes the Paradox

As the literature of average protein consumption among adults states, there is a clear over consumption of protein from all sources, now this due to advent of the Western Diet, that consists of red and process meats, as well as eggs, and dairy at nearly every meal turn. Breakfast: three eggs, bacon, sausage. Lunch: deli ham sandwich with salami, cheese, ham, and probably more bacon. Dinner: Fast food of KFC, or McDs of all meat/triple patty burgers in between two chicken breasts(its probably a real thing!). All just an example, of how much protein overkill a plausible Western diet can consist of…and they didn’t even jog to the fast food place! Now as a person becomes more involved with fitness, i.e. runs, joins a gym, attends group classes; their eating patterns starts to shift as they become more mindful of what they are eating: eating smaller portions, salads, and skipping desert for examples. Another interesting thing happens…their protein consumption goes down, or rather veggies and fruits become the stars, which is AWESOMENESS! Red meat consumption also tends to plummet, as the saturated from the meat becomes a losing weight antagonist. However, the protein is the innocent bystander that doesn’t get replaced. So…protein requirements are not being meet by the active person.

A side note: eggs, and dairy also get the mug shot of being “bad”, due to cholesterol (click here for the truth to that myth), and peoples vendetta against cows milk (for many reasons discussed in a future blog).

So as it goes, runners, weight lifters, group fitness members, and all active people in between…EAT PROTEIN!!! You will build more lean body mass, which leads to a more defined athletic build, and better recovery from workouts, so you can hit the gym harder, because you recovered faster!!


Food Company’s Best Trick: “Natural Flavor”

chpOn my way to my dietetic internship rotation, I was listening to a very interesting podcast(I do this every morning). The podcast was interviewing the author of a book called the “The Dorito Effect”, his name is Mark Schatzker. (click here for podcast)

The main topic of the interview was the history of flavors in food, how they changed over the years in real food, and how they manipulate/create flavors using real fruits and veggies to make process foods more palatable; but also how modern agriculture has striped foods such as fruits, veggies, and animal protein of their flavor over the years.

There is another aspect of Nutrition & Dietetics that most people are unaware of…Food Chemistry. The people involved in that area do not deal with patients in a clinical setting, nor clients in a private/counseling, or work in community settings with kids or families. Their “patients” are food, and their office is a lab with beakers and test tubes. They create flavors that are similar or exactly like what we taste from real food; they extract volatile natural flavor compounds from food, mix them, increase the “intensity”, and create flavor profiles that are then injected into processed foods; hence a Doritos chip tastes like a taco…or close enough. And minus any of the essential nutrients found in the real thing!

The main issue with this should be obvious…but maybe not. Food companies are creating a high palatability issue where they are over saturating taste buds with intense flavors, causing the population to eat more food then required. The second half to this is that kids, and adults are craving these “intense” flavors, that they lose taste and appeal for the real natural flavors of fruits and vegetables, and protein sources of food. Yet another issue is modern agriculture that has destroyed the taste of whole foods (aka not processed #notinbox). Examples would be a tomato, which in the past was very tasty, and could literally be eaten like a apple; but now has a very bland cardboard taste. Reason? Along the way, in the 70’s, food agriculture was pushed in the direction of growing food bigger, faster, and cheaper…the sacrifice? TASTE. Chicken is another example; chicken is probably the blandest animal protein source because chickens are “mass produced” in barns to grow to adult size in a few short weeks using selective breeding practices, and high calorie feed that make hens big and plump to increase the yield; taste again is sacrificed where common practice is to spice rub chicken, batter it in buttermilk, then panco bread it, and deep fry to get any flavor into it.

High palatabililty processed foods causing the population to crave the “intense” flavors, that they lose taste and appeal for the real natural flavors of fruits and vegetables, and protein sources of food

The solution to all of this? Heirloom produce such as tomatoes, or grassfed beef, and free range chickens that are feed plant based feed not highly processed GMO grains. Food should satisfy the flavor/taste buds where eating a piece of chicken is filling, not from a macro carb, protein, or fat prospective, but simply off the flavor creating a sense of “that was great, I feel good, my appetite has been met”. Not being able to stop eating because the food consist of a overly addictive flavor is not ideal, or to stop eating because the food is overly sweet and its too much to handle. Clearly a middle ground has to meet for what food is, enjoyment!


Why Cholesterol is not all that bad: Explained

Cholesterol comes in different types that may be beneficial in cardiovascular health. The type of LDL you have affects how it acts in the body

Your genetics plays a role in what kind of fat you can have

Hello All,

Lets talk about CHOLESTEROL. There has been a recent change you may of heard about, how the medical community views dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol. Hint: One does not affect the other…much.

But first some basics of cholesterol:

  • Needed for production of sex hormones, and adrenal glands
  • Needed for production of Vitamin D, and thus important for the immune system, and bone health
  • Brain function, nerve impulses
  • A structural component of cell membranes, to give it rigidity, but also plays a role as a antioxidant
  • LDL brings cholesterol from liver to tissues/organs; HDL recycles the used cholesterol, and other byproducts back


I want to explain the mechanisms of why this is so, and why people with cardiovascular disease are sometimes unaffected by dietary cholesterol. According to recent studies, 75% of patients hospitalized with heart attacks, have normal LDL levels. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology actually recommends that doctors not prescribe cholesterol lowering medications (Statins) based on cholesterol ALONE!  More information is needed.

As nutritional sciences advance, we now know that LDLs come in different shapes, sizes, and densities. LDLs come in different particle sizes: big buoyant particles, and small dense ones, they are termed PATTERN A, and B. Pattern B, tends to be oxidase more easily in the blood vessels as LDLs are delivering fat, and cholesterol to tissues, basically this oxidization is what is causing fatty plaque build up in arteries, thus leading to blockages, and down the road, Heart Disease. Pattern A is linked with good cardiovascular health

This Pattern of LDL is mainly determined by genetics, sorry.

So here is the rundown:

  • When possible get a LDL particle lab test down, some medical offices do it
  • Know your Pattern, either A or B. Called Sub-Fractionated cholesterol panel
  • Pattern A = you would do well on a high fat diet, with saturated fats: grass fed butter, or coconut oil, grass fed beef
  • Pattern B: you would be better off on a low fat diet, very little saturated fats
  • Insulin Sensitivity
  • C-reactive Protein, a marker of inflammation
  • Fibrinogen, measures blood clot formation
  • Overall, carbs monitored base on what fitness/weight goals are

Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before altering any diet plan

However, due to genetics, a person with a family history of high cholesterol, consuming dietary cholesterol may increase it further. Others may not be affected at all.

The common rule still holds true but with more detail.: Know your number, know your risk…or know your particle sizes, and pattern, and genetic make up.

Facts on Snacks

Hello All, 

Today I want to post about a recent webinar I saw about Snacking Trends in America. Below is a review. Enjoy!! IMG_0009

The Nutrition of Snacking; and Snacking Behavioral Trends

Snacking has increased in the past years where adults are snacking up to 4x a day; and an increase snacking among kids. The trends, people snack more often, and in different situations such as when at lunch, or at events; but also people snack when bored, lonely, hungry, for fun, and in social situations. One very interesting dynamic is snacking has progressed to include traditional meals as snacks, such as a slice of pizza or a smaller (slider) burger now constitutes a “snack”…this made me gasp!

Nutritionally, there is a lack of evidence that frequent snacking is a healthy eating practice.

Chips, and salty snacks tops the list of food items most snacked, but fruits are not far behind. A report cited by the presenters showed that people seek snacks that are high in fiber, low in sugar, high in protein, and an absence of HFCS.

For kids and adults, there is a snacking paradox. A child gets 27% (500 calories) from snacks, and this is actually correlated with a lower BMI, meaning kids who snacked more often was associated with healthy BMI; whereas, adults who snacked more increase their risk of an unhealthy BMI. There were also no positive correlation with frequent snacking and lower risk of diabetes, this was partly due to the very low sample size of studies that showed otherwise.

One positive aspect is that snacking could fill nutritional gaps in a person’s diet, eating fruit as snacks can fill those nutrient holes; this is most essential in the older population that need to increase their daily caloric intake.

The more interesting aspect was the consumer behavior portion. A PHd professor of psychology at Cornell presented this topic. The highlight was this concept/theory of “Hot” and Cold Decisions”, where people tend to make unhealthy food decisions/purchases when: stressed, hungry, angry, or craving food; also if crunched for time. The opposite being of the “Cold” decisions was being calm, cool, taking the time to choose, and considering price.

This is another topic brought up: when to stop snacking. Visibility was one aspect; for example, seeing bones of chicken wings pile up tells a person to stop eating. When there is a appearance of a lot of food, people tend to eat more.  

Runners Nutrition: Running Against the Grain

Did you all catch that awesome nutrition/running pun? It will make sense soon…

Happy Sunday!! (If you want, you can skip to the Nutrition Section below)

I was treated to some great running weather here in NYC Saturday morning as I completed a 15K (9 mile + some change) race in central park. Aside from the occasional horse poop smell, the race was smooth. I ran a good pace of 7:25, and knees held up pretty good. I say a good pace because I accumulate no mileage per week…I DON’T RUN…at all for these races, which is 9 total since the summer. I run the races as part of the New York Road Runners 9 + 1 program to earn guarantee entrance into the NYC 2016 Marathon…and Saturday marked my completion of the program ans


Now, the reason I said all of that is because I have trained in the realm of strength and power for years, as I competed and trained in wrestling, and more recently MMA. I ran decent times considering the training I have been doing for those months have been based on strength and hypertrophy…basically being built like a fire hydrant. As I make my transition to be a runner, the training will switch to a more endurance based training, which traditionally includes using higher set and rep schemes, and lower weight(intensity). I plan to train differently…more on that in a later post.

Nutrition for runners has been, traditionally high carbs…so eating grains. There is an upcoming trend that runs against this traditional diet.

That trend is eating a diet compromised mostly of fats; healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats, or even polyunsaturated to a lesser extent. Side note: POLY-fats are associated (not cause and effect) to the progression of heart diseases via plaque formation in blood vessels i.e. canola oil.  The idea behind consuming a diet largely based on fats is that it fuels the energy demands of long distance running. The energy being used is mostly fats; carbs and protein are being used too but, to a lesser extent. So the theory goes: consuming more fat can increase the energy substrate needed for improved running. The Actual Science points otherwise. Studies show switching from a high carb to a low carb/high fat diet did not improve performance, it actually decreased performance numbers, and athletes fatigued quicker. Darn! But…

There is other new research looking into the possibility of going super low carb i.e. ketogenic. That study looked at short term explosive athletes. This study looked at the long term affects for obese patients. Long term use of ketogenic diets, which is consuming carbs below 50 grams, in order to produce ketones which the body can use for energy. The process can take 1 week to 3 weeks to “fat adapt” where the body becomes more efficient at converting fat to energy. And…that’s the key: the adaption for some can be easy but for others it can take a while, with plenty of hangry pains.

Because we are all different, certain people can thrive on a high carb diet, others will get fat, same goes for high protein, or high fat.

Here is where come in: I plan to follow a very low, not technically keto, diet when I begin marathon training in the new year…details to come. I am interested to know if I perform better on a traditional high carb or high fat/very low carb diet.

Insect Protein: The Future of Gainz

Tis’ the Season of Gainz!!

This is my first official blog post!! I have been using my Facebook profile  to post nutrition and fitness related content that I come across in either my nutrition work as a dietetic intern, or what I come across as a personal trainer and coach. I felt creating an actual blog was needed to better spread the great nutrition and fitness information I research.  My goal structurally is to keep my blogs short and concise, I’d rather not “intimidate” anyone with any long reads. So lets begin!

cricket-protein-bar-maker-seeks-to-normalize-the-consumption-of-insects_strict_xxlI came across this article in the New York Times researching for a paper for class. The article talks about insect protein as a sustainable novel (new) protein. The sustainable aspect comes from the premise that in order to raise crickets for protein, than can feed off waste products, such as crop residue after a harvest. And the insects emit far fewer greenhouse gases “aka” less of a carbon footprint; and can survive a nuclear explosion (doubt anything would survive that). Unfortunately, the amount of protein you would get from feeding crickets, for example, is very little. In order to have the same amount of protein yield, insects would have to be feed the same grain based feed as domestic animals, like cows and chickens. 

But what about the GAINZ??? Yes, the protein content in insects is comparable to that of our traditional protein rich food stables: Fish, Beef, Turkey and Chicken. At 40–75 g/100g dry weight, and a high digestibility, insect protein could be the protein of the next generation. The issue is really the YUCK FACTOR. Are you willing to snack on a baked cricket for a afternoon snack to pair with that apple?…most likely only the most extreme foodie would venture that far. But HEY…there are many countries that are eating insects, it is part of their culture, and we should respect their preference of GAINZ. There is another option for those of us willing to try something new, but can’t stay a bug in the face and think YUM. There are food companies that made , that incorporates insect protein powder into their supplemental bars. 

What a sight that would be…seeing farmers raising not cattle, but crickets in the barns of the future. 

Verkerk MC, Tramper J, van Trijp JCM, Martens DE. Insect cells for human food. Biotechnol Adv. 2007;25(2):198-202.