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Picking Healthy Proteins
Top nutrition coach addresses consumer’s continuing confusion
4/25/2013
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By Chris Mohr, Ph.D.
 
I just got back from a trip to NJ with my daughter, Ella.
 
I was there speaking. She came with me, stayed with my parents, and 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, and I got to play with some of my childhood toys.
 
I digress …
 
On the way back from our NJ mission 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. (From what I gathered, he was trying to get the other person involved in a multi-level marketing or “pyramid” sales firm like Amway or Herbalife).
 
As we sat and enjoyed our food -- an omelet, some fruit, smoke salmon and oatmeal … their conversation to our left got me thinking.
 
About Chris Mohr
Christopher Mohr, Ph.D., RD is a consulting sports nutritionist for the Cincinnati Bengals and Under Armour’s TNP Training Council. Through his company Mohr Results (www.mohrresults.com), he works with everyone from soccer moms to collegiate and professional athletes.

Dr. Mohr often appears on TV as a nutrition expert, provided nutrition expertise for the NY Times bestseller, LL Cool J’s Platinum Workout and worked closely with fitness celebrity Denise Austin on the nutrition component of her latest book.

Chris also serves on the Advisory Board for Men’s Fitness magazine and has written over 500 articles for consumer publications such as Men’s Fitness, Weight Watchers, Men’s Health and Fitness.
 
He earned his Master of Science degree in Nutrition from the University of Massachusetts, and his doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Pittsburgh. He’s also a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
What IS the best source of protein?
 
Eggs are often touted as such.
 
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.”
 
Of course, you can’t go wrong with wild salmon, which abounds in healthful omega-3s and vitamin D as well as complete protein ... while beef, chicken, turkey, and other animal meats also provide complete protein and essential vitamins and minerals. 
 
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, research proved that 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.
 
The other message I’ve been saying for a while when it comes to different protein choices, when it comes to animals and fish is, “The fewer legs the better.”
 
In other words, wild fish, 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 and nut butters
  • Whole grains, like quinoa and barley
We try to do at least a couple of vegetarian dinners each week and mix it up with fish and the occasional chicken, turkey, and other sources.
 
Variety is key!
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