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Part 3: Are You Taking the Right Protein for Fat Loss and Muscle Growth?

Have we finally reached the Holy Grail of fitness? Scientists from McMaster University seem to think so. Researchers believe they have discovered what it takes to accomplish the most popular exercise goal in the fitness community: how to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.

Pea protein can promote muscle growth by preventing breakdown, but its benefits for exercise recovery are distinct.

The secret ingredient for fat loss and muscle growth

A fermented pea protein provides maximum bioavailability of nutrients: My Immune Power Protein Shake is fermented for four months to make these nutrients readily available.

This study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016, was an interesting one. Researchers started by asking 40 young men to exercise intensely for a month while cutting calories by 40 percent.1 The experiment was called  “grueling,” and for good reason. The researchers were putting the subjects’ feet to the fire to see how quickly they could get the men to lose fat, retain muscle, and improve fitness.

Here’s what happened:

  • Subjects were divided into two low-calorie groups.
  • One group consumed high protein; the other group consumed low protein.
  • Even with the calorie cut, the higher protein group showed muscle gains after a month: an estimated 2.5 extra pounds of muscle.
  • The low protein group did not show muscle gain, though they didn’t experience muscle loss.
  • The high-protein group lost the most body fat: 10.5 pounds of fat compared to 8 pounds in the low-protein group.

Researchers caution that this rigorous program may not be sustainable for the long-term, but we can glean some key takeaways from the study. By exercising at high intensity, managing their diets, and eating enough protein, one group of men saw notable muscle gains and fat loss.

The good news is, there’s a simple way to translate the truths of this study into a plan that will work in your daily life. If you want to support muscle growth, lose fat, and maintain a healthy weight, getting enough protein is critical. What’s even more important? Getting the right protein that your body can use can make achieving this fitness goal seem almost effortless.

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6 ways pea protein is going to change your fitness

I talked in my previous articles about how important it is to really digest the protein you’re eating. You can read more about that in Part 1 here. Part 2 also covers how the right protein can help to control blood sugar and encourage healthy weight loss. When you truly digest your protein, you’re most likely to see weight and fat loss, accompanied by simultaneous muscle growth.

So what’s this “perfect protein” I’m talking about?

The pea protein found in my Immune Power Protein Shake is easy for your body to use. This complete vegan protein, with 15 grams of fermented pea protein per serving, is one of your best options for shedding extra weight as you build muscle.2, 3 It also contains eight medicinal mushrooms to further balance blood sugar (necessary for weight loss), while strengthening immunity.4

The proof is in the protein. There are some big changes you may see after including fermented pea protein in your fitness plan:

1. Pea protein for weight loss.

Not only has eating one serving of peas a day been linked to long-term weight loss, but controlling blood sugar with protein can encourage weight loss and prevent diseases like metabolic syndrome and diabetes.5, 6 Fortunately, my Immune Power Protein Shake was designed to do both. It contains plenty of vegan pea protein to keep you full so that you naturally eat less. As I mentioned, I also added eight medicinal mushrooms to the blend to help lower blood sugar -- promoting weight loss, while boosting immunity.7 These medicinal mushrooms can protect against obesity by actually changing the composition of bacteria in your gut.8

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2. Pea protein for muscle growth.

Pea protein has an exceptional amino acid profile, making it a popular protein pick for exercise and fitness. It’s full of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that can reduce or prevent muscle breakdown during exercise. In a 2012 placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BCAAs helped to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage in a group of men who were resistance training.9 Fermented pea protein can better support muscle growth since it’s made bioavailable by the fermenting process. As your body uses and digests this fermented pea protein, long, lean muscle growth -- instead of muscle breakdown after exercise -- becomes automatic.

3. Pea protein for exercise recovery.

Pea protein can promote muscle growth by preventing breakdown, but its benefits for exercise recovery are distinct. Remember, the BCAAs in fermented pea protein are especially bioavailable for muscle repair after exercise. Researchers have also discovered that these BCAAs can encourage post-exercise recovery and protect against injury.9, 10 Some studies even indicate that taking a protein supplement like this could help athletes and exercisers to reduce soreness, improve recovery time, and encourage muscle gains after a workout.11 Since the muscle-building protein, minerals, and phytonutrients in my Immune Power Protein Shake are so easily digested and do not sit heavy in the stomach, you can use it as you like it. Try it as a pre- and/or post-workout recovery shake.

4. Pea protein for cravings.

Pea protein can help you to feel fuller for longer to support healthy weight loss, but how does this translate to cravings? In a study conducted on satiation in 2011 in the Nutrition Journal, pea protein was found to be one of the highest-rated proteins to promote satiety and reduce food intake.12 If you are among the many people who struggle with cravings, this is excellent news. Constant cravings can affect your mental health and can make it difficult, if not impossible, to successfully lose weight. Pea protein helps with cravings by naturally lowering levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone in the body. Pea protein contains a large number of peptides that keep the stomach fuller for longer and keep ghrelin release at bay. This effect makes it much easier to resist tempting foods as you choose gut-friendly, workout-fueling foods instead.

5. Pea protein for heart health.

While not as exciting as long-term weight loss, improved heart health is a big long-term benefit for exercisers and athletes alike. Pea protein may help to lower blood pressure, thanks to its high arginine (amino acid) content that maintains healthy blood vessels. 13 In a 2010 rat study, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research scientists also discovered that taking a pea protein supplement can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels better than a casein protein supplement -- thus, protecting the heart.14 The American Heart Association recommends regular exercise to help prevent heart disease and stroke. Taking a fermented pea protein can fuel a workout while providing added heart health benefits.

6. Pea protein to prevent muscle atrophy with age.

One frightening reality that can come with age is the possibility of sarcopenia. Thankfully, my Immune Power Protein Shake helps protect against this so-called “natural” part of the aging process: It buffers common muscle loss that can comes with age. Now that I’m in my 70s, I add my Immune Power Protein Shake to three meals a day for this reason -- to provide a bioavailable nutritional boost I can’t get anywhere else. As a 2012 study in the Journal of Aging Research pointed out, preventing age-related muscle atrophy will help keep you physically capable and independent as you get older.15 Getting enough protein, and especially an easily digestible protein, is key. Start this fermented protein habit young, and you may not have to worry about sarcopenia as you age.

How to reap these pea protein benefits (and more)

If you’re wondering where to begin, I’ve included one of my favorite pea protein smoothie recipes for you to try. It’s delicious and nutritious, though you can still shake up a scoop of my Immune Power Protein Shake with water on the days when you’re pressed for time.

Recipe: Pea protein power smoothie

Adapted from The Body Ecology Living Cookbook

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Enjoy for breakfast, as a meal replacement or supplement, or as a pre- or post-workout refueling snack.

You can find this refreshing smoothie recipe and many more in the full collection: The Body Ecology Living Cookbook.

Weight loss, reduced cravings, muscle growth and recovery, improved heart health, and less muscle atrophy with age -- one of the easiest ways to achieve these benefits and many more is by adding my Immune Power Protein Shake to your daily diet.

You can enjoy it in the morning, afternoon, or night and as a pre- or post-workout recovery snack. For those hoping to lose weight, try it as a meal replacement. For those hoping to build muscle and gain weight, add it as a supplement to your meals. I also recommend taking a scoop several hours before bed to improve sleep and promote a deeper recovery. An evening snack of fermented pea protein may prevent the blood sugar crashes that can wake you up in the middle of the night.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

As an athlete or exerciser, you know you must give your body the right fuel to compete. My Immune Power Protein Shake helps to sustain energy, weight loss, muscle growth, and gut health at any activity level.

You’ll be getting all the essential amino acids your body needs to form a complete protein. The 100 percent fermented and bioavailable protein in the shake also removes harmful anti-nutrients that can bind to essential minerals and strip food of its nutritional value.

Whether you have health issues like gut dysbiosis or celiac disease, struggle with cravings and blood sugar spikes, need more fiber in your diet, or want to improve your muscle recovery to improve your fitness, fermented pea protein can help. And from my experience, it doesn’t hurt that my Immune Power Protein Shake tastes great too. Just one scoop can leave you feeling lighter and more energetic as you tackle or recover from your next workout.

REFERENCES:

  1. Thomas M Longland, Sara Y Oikawa, Cameron J Mitchell, Michaela C Devries, and Stuart M Phillips. Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2016 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.115.119339.
  2. Moore, D. R., Camera, D. M., Areta, J. L., & Hawley, J. A. (2014). Beyond muscle hypertrophy: why dietary protein is important for endurance athletes 1. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 39(9), 987-997.
  3. Neacsu, M., Fyfe, C., Horgan, G., & Johnstone, A. M. (2014). Appetite control and biomarkers of satiety with vegetarian (soy) and meat-based high-protein diets for weight loss in obese men: a randomized crossover trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100(2), 548-558.
  4. Wang, X. C., Xi, R. J., Li, Y., Wang, D. M., & Yao, Y. J. (2012). The species identity of the widely cultivated Ganoderma,‘G. lucidum’(Ling-zhi). PLoS ONE, 7(7), e40857.
  5. Shana J Kim, Russell J de Souza, Vivian L Choo, Vanessa Ha, Adrian I Cozma, Laura Chiavaroli, Arash Mirrahimi, Sonia Blanco Mejia, Marco Di Buono, Adam M Bernstein, Lawrence A Leiter, Penny M Kris-Etherton, Vladimir Vuksan, Joseph Beyene, Cyril WC Kendall, David JA Jenkins, and John L Sievenpiper. Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2016 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.115.124677.
  6. Y.-M. Park, T. D. Heden, Y. Liu, L. M. Nyhoff, J. P. Thyfault, H. J. Leidy, J. A. Kanaley. A High-Protein Breakfast Induces Greater Insulin and Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Peptide Responses to a Subsequent Lunch Meal in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of Nutrition, 2014; 145 (3): 452 DOI: 10.3945/jn.114.202549.
  7. Kubo K, Aoki H, Nanba H. Anti-diabetic activity present in the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake).I. Biol Pharm Bull 1994;17:1106-1110.
  8. Chang, C. J., Lin, C. S., Lu, C. C., Martel, J., Ko, Y. F., Ojcius, D. M., ... & Lai, H. C. (2015). Ganoderma lucidum reduces obesity in mice by modulating the composition of the gut microbiota. Nature Communications, 6.
  9. Howatson G, Hoad M, Goodall S, Tallent J, Bell PG, French DN. Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Jul 12;9:20. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-20. eCollection 2012. PubMed PMID: 22569039; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3395580.
  10. Thomson R, Buckley J. Protein hydrolysates and tissue repair. Nutr Res Rev 2011;24:191-7. doi: 10.1017/S0954422411000084. Epub 2011 Nov 21.
  11. McLellan T. Protein supplementation for military personnel: a review of the mechanisms and performance outcomes. J Nutr 2013;143:1820S-1833S. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.176313. Epub 2013 Sep 11.
  12. Abou-Samra R, Keersmaekers L, Brienza D, Mukherjee R, Macé K. Effect of different protein sources on satiation and short-term satiety when consumed as a starter. Nutr J. 2011 Dec 23;10:139. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-139. PubMed PMID: 22196620; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3295702.
  13. Dong J, Qin L, Zhang Z, et al. Effect of oral L-arginine supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Am Heart J 2011;162:959-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2011.09.012. Epub 2011 Nov 8.
  14. Rigamonti E, Parolini C, Marchesi M, et al. Hypolipidemic effect of dietary pea proteins: Impact on genes regulating hepatic lipid metabolism. Mol Nutr Food Res 2010;54 Suppl 1:S24-30. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200900251.
  15. Siân Robinson, Cyrus Cooper, and Avan Aihie Sayer, “Nutrition and Sarcopenia: A Review of the Evidence and Implications for Preventive Strategies,” Journal of Aging Research, vol. 2012, Article ID 510801, 6 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/510801.

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