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  • Healthy eating during Ramadan

    Ramadan is a season of tradition and celebration with your families. It can be extremely challenging to stay healthy and avoid gaining weight during the feasts of Ramadan. After fasting for the entire day, it is almost unavoidable to binge once the f...
  • Healthy Lebanese snacks

    by – When you are stressed you usually go for emotional eating. The problem is that junk food will make you feel worse than you already do The Healthiest Leba...
  • Healthy and Light Lebanese Vegetarian Dishes

    Written by guest author Talar Demirdjian  Sometimes being a vegetarian means that you can’t be as diverse in your food choices as other diets, or so you might think… Being Lebanese, and living in the Mediterranean, means that we have access to amaz...
  • Top Five Healthiest Lebanese Dishes

    Written by guest author Talar Demirdjian  We all know that as Lebanese we’re blessed with a great variety of colorful and delicious food. In Lebanon, we have the best of what the Mediterranean can offer, and we take advantage of it at any chance we ...
  • Best Vitamins and Supplements to Take For Mental Focus

    Written by guest author Brenan Quirante Peak nootropics Noopept Nootropic Supplements Some people search for supplements and vitamins to help them improve their memory, cognitive ability and focus. It's not easy focusing on tasks that don't seem i...
  • Does eating late at night cause weight gain?

    Many people have emailed me with the belief that eating late at night is causing them to gain weight. However, this is nothing more than a myth. This old wives' tale propagates that our metabolism slows down at night because we are inactive and there...
  • The Difference Between Water and Sports Beverages

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Working up a sweat can feel great, especially if you have trained really hard. However, it is also very important to keep hydrated before, during and after your workout. Dehydration during your workout can easi...
  • Ten Reasons to Eat More Avocado

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Smoothies, salads and dips… you can have it all with avocados. This green fruit's name is derived from the Nahuatl Indian language which ironically means "testicle". Avocado is considered a healthy fat which no...
  • Health Benefits of Salmon

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Delicious and nutritious Along with being incredibly tasty, salmon offers many health benefits you might not be aware of. Though salmon contains quite a lot of fat, you can indulge without feeling guilty as t...
  • Healthy Eating on a Budget

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Some readers have emailed the website saying that eating healthy is expensive and this makes it difficult for them to keep up a healthy lifestyle. Even though nutritious food can be very expensive, it is defini...
  • Leptin and How it Facilitates Fat Loss

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff There are countless diets available on the market. A current popular diet is the so called "leptin diet." In this article, I'll explain what leptin is and how you can make leptin work to your advantage. What i...
  • How Healthy is Sushi?

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Sushi is known to be one of the healthiest meals. Sushi contains some great nutrients like omega 3 from the fatty fish, vitamins from vegetables and minerals from seaweed. Does this mean you can binge on sushi ...
  • 10 Reasons Why You Are Not Losing Weight

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff 1. Olive oil/healthy oils Olive oil is a healthy fat and fits perfectly into a healthy diet. However, although it is a healthy fat, it is also high in calories and can slow down your weight loss if you consu...
  • The Truth About Diet Soda

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff Regular sodas are loaded with sugar Regular sodas are known to contain a LOT of sugar. How much you may ask? Did you know that a can of regular Coke contains 39 grams of sugar? This is equivalent to 3 tables...
  • Glycemic Index Explained

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff I'm sure you've heard a buzz going around about the glycemic index. A lot of people are adjusting their food intake according to low Glycemic Index (GI) values. But what exactly is the glycemic index? Defin...
  • Natural Sugar Alternatives

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff Luckily I am not a sweet tooth, but I know many of you are! The main ingredient to provide sweetness in foods and drinks is of course sugar. There are countless reasons why it would be better to cut out, or a...
  • Is Coconut Oil The New and Improved Olive Oil?

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff For years and years, the media and health gurus have educated us about the countless benefits of olive oil. Olive oil has become a staple in many households and for good reason; it is both healthy and tasty. ...
  • Guilt-free Healthy Snacks

    Snacks help to control our cravings, maintain our blood sugar levels and keep us energized throughout the day. It is recommended that people do not go more than four hours without eating and should always have snacks in-between meals. Many people go...
  • Habits of Successful Dieters

    When it comes to successful fat loss, your hard work will not end once you reach your goal. The next step is to successfully maintain your results with a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you maintain your weight and avoid relapsing. Lo...
  • How to Read Nutrition Labels

    Deciphering the information found on nutrition labels can be extremely confusing. Here is your quick and easy guide to understanding the basics Serving sizes The serving size always appears at the top of nutrition labels. Serving sizes can be misle...
  • How to suppress your appetite

    One of the hardest things about sticking to a diet is keeping a raging appetite under control. There is nothing more frustrating than being hungry and not being able to eat as much as you’d like. Here are some natural techniques to suppress your appe...
  • Top foods to eat daily

    Many people starting out with a body transformation program might not know the difference between clean food and the junk you should avoid, which means they risk eating food they believe to be healthy when in reality it is causing more harm. Familiar...
  • Low Calorie Diets

    One of the most frustrating aspects of starting a weight loss program is how long it takes to see actual results. Many infomercials try to sell you products and supplements promising fast results, but these are nothing but weight loss scams, or are b...
  • Healthy Fats Explained

    Many people view “fats” as unhealthy and best avoided. They link them to high levels of cholesterol, clogged arteries and major health problems. However, in reality healthy fats are essential for overall health and nutrition, provided you eat the rig...
  • Alcohol & Fat Loss

    One of the hardest things for people to give up during a fat loss program is alcohol. Some people find it impossible to go out and not enjoy a few drinks. The good news is drinking occasionally and in moderation will not likely affect your results; h...
  • How to dine out

    A healthy lifestyle means being healthy no matter where you go. Many people overeat, cheat on their diets or are not aware that they are making poor food choices in restaurants. Many people dine out regularly or eat out often for business meetings an...
  • Eat smarter

    Fat loss expert Tom Venuto proposed a fun and easy method for others to improve their food choices in a free special report he wrote. He suggested categorizing your food choices into grades. If you want to be healthier and leaner, you need to work on...
  • Calculate Calories

    What is a calorie? Calories can be defined as measures of heat energy stored in food. The higher the number of calories in a specific type of food, the more energy will be released to perform biological functions or sustain physical activity. When w...
  • The essentials about protein

    Protein is your body's preferred muscle building fuel and can help you reach super-human levels of leanness.  What is protein and what role does it play in your body? Protein is a combination of essential and nonessential amino acids in the body.  ...
  • Water & Liquid Calories

    Water in our bodies One of most important compounds in our body is water, which constitutes around 60 – 70% of our total bodyweight. Water excretes waste from our cells, aids in digestion and brain functions, transports nutrients around the body and...
  • Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are our preferred source of energy and are used most efficiently by the human body. The brain utilizes carbohydrates to perform normal bodily functions, requiring a minimum of 100 grams of carbohydrate per day. Following a severely low ...
  • Repair a Damaged Metabolism

    If you’re someone who has a history of unsuccessful dieting, you may fear that you’ve damaged your metabolism permanently. One example of something that could cause this kind of damage is going on a low-calorie diet for a prolonged period of time, ex...
  • Your basic guide to supplements

    Nowadays we are constantly bombarded by supplements and products purporting to be from the fitness industry and promising quick fat loss and muscle building results. Although many of these products do have some nutritional value it can be hard to tel...
  • Create Your Own Meal Plan

    There’s nothing better than being in control of your diet, customizing it with the foods you like and tailoring it to fit your goals. It only takes one afternoon It might all seem exhausting and confusing at first, but all it really takes is one a...

The essentials about protein

Protein is your body's preferred muscle building fuel and can help you reach super-human levels of leanness. 

What is protein and what role does it play in your body?

Protein is a combination of essential and nonessential amino acids in the body.  When you consume animal or plant protein, the molecules are cleaved into amino acids, which are used to construct new cells, muscle tissue, hormones and many other molecules. Protein is one of the most abundant sources in our body, responsible for 15% of our total body weight. It also makes up many of our bodily components, including hair, skin, bones, nails and muscle. 

Some of the benefits of eating protein are decreased hunger, an improve body composition and maintenance of lean muscle mass.

Amino acids and supplements

An amino acid is the smallest form of protein in the body. In order for protein chains to be formed, the body needs a total of 20 different amino acids to be linked together. The body is able to produce 11 of these amino acids on its own - these are known as nonessential amino acids. However, your body is unable to manufacture the other nine amino acids (known as essential amino acids) and these must be supplied by food sources or supplements. This is why you’ll find many supplements available on the market, including fish oil, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and glutamine. Fish oil contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which enhance your overall health, protect against disease and indirectly improve the quality of your workouts. Branched chain amino acids are made up of essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine, which promote muscle synthesis in the body. Another popular supplement is glutamine, which alleviates the body during times of stress (such as exercise) and builds, protects and repairs muscle tissue.

Protein for energy

Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts increase their protein intake when they’re trying to get leaner, to ensure they maintain their muscle mass. Although protein is not usually a source of energy during workouts, it can be burned for fuel if you’re on a restricted diet and don’t consume an adequate intake of protein. In order for the body to synthesize muscle, it must have access to all nine of the nonessential amino acids simultaneously. The body will break down its own protein if any of the essential amino acids are missing. Ensuring you consume enough dietary protein, conatining all the essential amino acids, will prevent muscle breakdown in the body. Proteins that contain all the essential amino acids include eggs, nonfat dairy products, chicken and turkey breast, seafood and protein powders.

Plant proteins

Soy Protein

Soy is promoted as a health food, which is low in cholesterol, and is popular with vegetarians who don’t want to consume animal based protein sources. However, research has demonstrated that milk based protein powders such as Casein and Whey are superior to soy based products when it comes to stimulating protein synthesis. Vegans can achieve low levels of body fat, but will need to pay close attention to their diet and make sure they’re meeting all their nutrient and protein requirements. They will also need to pay attention to carbohydrate intake, to avoid weight gain. When it comes to bulking, animal based protein sources are always the better choice. Robert Kennedy, author of Rock Hard, Super Nutrition for bodybuilders explains: “The bodybuilder would be ill-advised to adopt a true vegetarian diet. In the bodybuilding world of champions, that percentage is currently zero.”

Protein intake

Protein needs vary according to your current height, weight, activity levels and goals. Scientific research has proven that it’s optimal to increase protein intake when looking to sculpt lean muscle or burn fat.

One popular guideline, proposed by researchers, it that you should eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kgs), you would need to consume 150 grams of protein each day. Although this is a good starting point, it doesn’t take your goals into account (bulking, losing fat or maintenance) and it also fails to take overweight or obese people into consideration. For example, a man who weighs 300 pounds would not need to consume 300 grams of protein a day. Tom Ventuo suggests that overweight individuals should eat one pound of LEAN bodyweight or target bodyweight per day.

Protein intake for fat loss

A better approach – one that I use myself - was adopted from Tom Venuto’s Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle program, which recommends a baseline of 30% of protein for total calories consumed a day. This is a baseline starting point for anyone who is starting a fat loss program for the first time. You can then manipulate your diet and play around with the percentages as you go along. Once you know your caloric intake, you then divide the calories by four (since there are four calories in every gram of protein) to calculate your overall intake.

The formula is as follows: estimated total caloric intake x 0.30 (baseline starting point is 30%) = total number of calories. Total number of calories ÷ 4 = total number of grams per day.

Here is an example to make this clearer. If your goal is fat loss and you’ve estimated your caloric intake to be 1600 calories a day, your total number of calories for protein would be 30% of that. This would be 480 calories (1600 x 0.30 = 480). If you want to calculate how many grams of protein you should aim to be eating, divide total calories by four, which gives you a total of 120 grams (480÷ 4 = 120).

This percentage may change depending on your goals, as you go along. If you would like to decrease your carbs further (to accelerate fat loss or if you’re carb intolerant) and increase protein, you might bump the figure up to 40% of total calories. When training for my bikini fitness competition I ate 45% of protein! If, for example, you’re male, consuming 40% protein, and have calculated your total caloric intake to be 2200 calories a day, that would consist of 880 (2200 x 0.40) calories of protein and 220 grams of protein (880 ÷ 4).

Click here to estimate your total caloric intake for your goals. 

Protein intake for muscle gain

In order to gain muscle mass you need to increase caloric intake so that you’re eating more than you burn. Once you’ve estimated your total calories for muscle gain, follow the same baseline of 30% of total protein intake and you can gradually increase this as dictated by your results. Some bodybuilders consume up to 50% of their total calories in the form of protein! It’s ideal to increase protein intake for muscle gaining programs in order to avoid over consuming carbs and to reduce the risk of storing fat.

The formula is as follows: estimated total caloric intake x 0.30 (baseline starting point is 30%). Total number of calories ÷ 4 = total number of grams per day.

A man that is looking to bulk up might estimate his caloric intake to be 3500 and chose to eat 45% of them in the form of protein. This would total 1570 calories of protein a day (3500 x 0.45) and 393.75 grams of protein (1570 ÷ 4).

High protein diets

It’s always optimal to increase your total percentage of protein intake when:

1- you are looking to gain muscle mass

2- you are following a low carb diet for fat loss 

3- you are carb intolerant.

It’s important to note that you do NOT need to start off with a low carb diet for fat loss, but may eventually decrease your carb intake and increase protein intake as you get closer to your goal and your fat loss starts to slow down. If you cut your overall calories in the form of carbs low, you would need to increase your total number of calories in the form of protein if you want to avoid a low-calorie diet and maintain your muscle mass.

Individualistic protein intake

As Tom Venuto explains in his program, protein intake varies for all individuals and should be customized according to your goals and your results. As long as you’re getting results by following the baseline of 30% of total protein calories, don’t change anything. If you’d like to accelerate fat loss or increase muscle gains further, increase this figure.

Are high protein diets bad?

A high protein diet is ideal for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. As Tom Venuto says, it’s better to err on the side of too much protein in a diet than too little. A high protein diet can do no harm to a healthy and athletic person, unless you suffer from kidney disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. 

No scientific evidence to date has proven that high protein diets cause kidney disease – and if this were the case, physique athletes would have started suffering from kidney problems a long time ago.




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Maya Nassar
2014-04-02 13:08
Hi Nynke,

Whey protein is a protein source just like any other lean protein, such as chicken, fish or steak. It's advantage is that it is usually very low in carbs and fat, making is a pure source of protein that is quickly absorbed by your body. It is not a requirement to add to your diet, however, it can make a great post-workout drink and comes in many different flavors. Since whey is a source of protein like all others, you can still achieve great results with or without it included in your diet. The choice is yours :) I hope this is helpful!

2014-02-22 12:30
Hi Maya!! I was just wondering how essential is it to add whey to your diet!

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