Little Miss Muffet: Nutrition Guru or Just a Quack?
“Little miss muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey”
Admit it, you didn’t know curds and whey are actually cottage cheese, did you?
But what we all know is that building muscle is the number one priority in fitness, if not life, right? A recent edition of New Scientist has a cover feature extolling the benefits of strength training over aerobic exercise. Actually, you don’t have to chose between the two, but I do think being ‘strong first’ is a great mindset. Developing the foundational strength in your bones and joints will allow you to then go on to enjoy the further benefits that aerobic activity has to offer.
Sarcopenia is not only a big word that people like me try and use to convince you we are smart…it also derives (in the literal sense) from the Greek for “poverty of the flesh” and is the natural, aging-related process of losing lean mass or muscle. Actually it is a real health concern, after all there’s no point telling someone to walk or run 3x a week (like many of the government guidelines do) if they can’t get out of their chair right?
From my perspective, it’s always been one of the most important hallmarks of wellbeing and how we get older. Losing strength and more importantly muscle leads to a loss of mobility and eventually independence. This loss of independence can often lead to a ‘chorus like’ affect where we start to lose multiple aspects of our wellbeing at the same time.
How to fight against sarcopenia
Back to Miss Muffet. What can we do to maximise our ability to hang onto our vital lean body mass and avoid becoming Freddie Frail? One great way is to increase protein intake. It has been suggested that 38% of men and 41% of women don’t get enough protein in their diet. Protein is necessary to repair cells, make new ones, support muscle growth, maintain lean muscle mass, and stabilise blood sugar and insulin levels (which also helps to control hunger). Every cell in the human body contains proteins: they are the building blocks of life.
The best choices for protein sources come from lean meats, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy and eggs. Plant-based foods such as nuts, legumes, beans, tofu and grains also contain sources of protein.
Animal sources tend to be generally better (in my opinion) as they are what we call “complete proteins” and have a better biological value (bv). Choosing protein from grass-fed and free-range animals and poultry is encouraged for meat eaters. It is lower in toxins and also higher in omega-3 fatty acids versus protein from corn-fed and caged animals and poultry. Given its vital role in bodily functions, protein should be included with every meal and snack. Looking for more foods that are high in protein? Check here.
While Muffet was ahead of her time in going for whey protein, choosing a top quality whey protein powder can be tricky – I like this one from AminoMan. And yes – cottage cheese is actually a combination of both casein and whey protein, and if you don’t have any issues with lactose/dairy it can be a good protein choice.
So how much protein should we take? One of my favourite resources for all things nutrition is examine.com. They have created a great quick guide to working out your protein requirements. You can check it out here.