A good fitness plan will have a healthy balance between protein, carbohydrates, and fat. If you go in a health store or down the fitness aisle, you’ll likely see protein bars, shakes and other forms of protein. Unless you’re trying to put on weight, don’t waste your money on these products.

Protein is a nutrient made up of essential and non-essential amino acids. Our bodies manufacture 13 non-essential amino acids, which aren’t available from food. For our bodies to properly process protein, we must ensure that our diets include the 9 essential amino acids that are only available from dietary sources. Good sources of protein include: beef, poultry, pork, fish, dairy products, eggs, beans, oats, nuts and seeds. The food pyramid recommends that we get 2-3 servings of protein a day. A serving of meat is usually 3-4 ounces. Most Americans get more protein than they need in their daily diets.

Protein is not directly used as a fuel for exercise. Protein is used to build and repair cell walls, muscle and tissue in the body. The excess amino acids from protein that are not needed by the body are converted to sugars and stored as fat. Be careful with high protein diets as this increases the risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and getting a joint disease called, “gout”. Many foods high in protein are also high in fat and cholesterol. The best ‘diet’ out there is one of moderation and balance. Make sure you implement changes that you can sustain for the long haul, or risk the likelihood of reverting back to old habits after the ‘diet’ is over.

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