Protein: A Primer on 2 Aspects


Parkour athletes require good fuel to drive their training and have it make a positive effect on the body. This is an introduction to two facets which are important in considering your dietary sources of protein: bio-availability and amino acid content. It is not meant to be exhaustive, just a push in the right direction. Click "Read more" for the full article.


The human body is not a Bunsen burner. If you only get this far, realize that the important point is this: What is on the label does not go into your body exactly in the amounts listed, and if anything, err on the side of worst case scenario.
That is, imagine the package says 8 grams of protein and 14 grams of carbs, then at worst, you get no protein and 14 grams of carbs. Is that possible? Yes. The most popular work done on the subject was by Barry Sears and his "Zone Diet" (which works, and I advocate it). I'm going to leave Fat out for another day, it is it's whole own topic. Today I'll focus only on protein.






EggTofuWhat is Bio-availability? It is the body's ability to break down and use the nutrients in a given food source. Eggs are #1, they are what other protein sources are compared to, and rank at 100 on the bio-availability scale. Beef sits at 80 on the scale. Whey isolates can be above the 100% mark because your body can absorb them more easily than the whole-egg benchmark. Soy, or tofu it sits at just 59-64 on the Bio-Availability chart, meaning that you need to eat 2X as much to get the protein out of it. There are other factos when considering Soy as a protein source, because soy has Anti-Nutrients that latch onto proteins making them even less usable. Vegetable protein sources are less desirable than animal protein sources for a few reasons, the most prevalent are that vegetable sources contain anti-nutrients (toxins which the plant uses as a defense against being eaten) and because plant sources have less essential amino acids. More info on Bio-availability can be found here. More info an anti-nutrients can be found here.




LysineAll proteins are made up of Aminos Acids. The body can manufacture 12 of the Aminos, but there are 9 more which we must intake from food source, these are called "Essential" as we cannot manufacture them from other parts, not matter what we eat.  People will combine several foods such as beans and rice to get "complete proteins" but by the time you've done this, you have a much greater volume of food and carbohydrate than you do of the protein itself. Any information I find on this subject seems counter-intuitive, being in favor of vegetable proteins and even stating "you don't need to eat them at the same time, just get a variety of protein sources a day" citing rice as a good source of protein. I would tend to disagree. If you wanted to eat .5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day (this would be a muscle-maintenance, not building amount) then you'd need to eat 20 cups of white rice a day for a 160LB male. If you did that, you'd be getting 800 grams of carbs. you still need to eat some beans or nuts to get the Lysine which was missing from the rice protein. More info on amino acids can be found here.





So, meat is the perfect answer right? Probably not. There are issues with the way meats are raised now, setting aside ethical concerns, there may be health concerns from anti-biotics and eating animals which have been raised on feed instead of what the animals are intended to eat.

In the end, my advice is this: know what you are doing and understand the implications on you and the environment. For me, that means 4-6 oz of animal protein 3X a day, plus green veggies, good vegetable fats, nuts, seeds, and fruits.

Eating consciously is a great step in the right direction - just like Parkour, where you take it from there is up to you.


Mark ToorockWritten by Mark Toorock, Founder - American Parkour, Primal Fitness, and The Tribe

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Written by Mark Toorock   
Monday, 09 July 2012 09:31
Last Updated on Monday, 09 July 2012 10:14