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Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil for Skin

Having polled a few people to get their take on the efficacy and usefulness of using Hemp Seed Oil topically, here are the results. We spoke with dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD; Dr. Raymond Schep, the Chief Chemist of Colonial Dames Co. and a Member of the CA Association of Toxicologists; Jennifer L. MacGregor, MD, at Union Square Laser Dermatology and estheticians Tammy and Amity Spiegel (CAP Beauty) and asked them to break down the benefits of Hemp Seed oil, from how great it is for dry skin to why we should mix it into a salad.

What is Hemp Seed Oil?

Hemp Seed Oil—not to be confused with Hemp Oil, which is a blanket term for all oils that come from hemp and can include cannabidiol (CBD) oil—is made by pressing the seeds to extract their oils .. hence, Hemp “Seed” Oil.

What makes is good for the skin?

It locks in hydration: According to Amity Spiegel, Hemp Seed Oil is high in Omegas (Essential Fatty Acids 3, 6, and 9 CLA, GLA and more –  all of which help repair the skin barrier and form a seal over the skin to keep moisture trapped inside.

It also works as a humectant, attracting moisture from the environment onto the surface of your skin.

Anti-inflammatory: Those same omegas and natural vitamin e in the oil also helps lower inflammation in the skin.

Dr. Zeichner was impressed that the oil helps to soothe the skin: “Hemp Seed Oil is rich in fatty acids, which help hydrate and soothe inflamed skin” and can act as an anti-acneic. Which means that  it “may modulate skin oil production, which is huge for people with skins prone to acne or overly oily skin.

How to Use It

Naturally, Hemp Seed Oil is being integrated into plenty of beauty products as a hydrator and anti-inflammatory. In particular, we love to use it with retinoids or after acids because it’s so effective at staving off inflammation. It works wonders for redness and acne, too.1 It’s pretty easy to know how much to apply—just use as much as you would any other oil. However, we would be remiss if we told you hemp seed oil’s effects ended at skincare.

Lisa Bronner, author of the blog Going Green with a Bronner Mom, wrote for the Huffington Post that because of the Amino Acids found in Hemp Seed Oil it is a good idea to apply it on and around your nails to help keep them supple, but also to build up the proteins in the nail. Which over time, helps to strengthen nails.

We are also a huge fan of incorporating hemp seed oil into your diet because its nutrients are so good for your body. We especially like to use raw hemp seeds in cooking, because they are in their natural state, so the body can absorb all the nutrients they offer more easily. Hemp seeds are great in salads, granolas, smoothies and mixed in with grains, deliciously delivering vitamins A and E, but also essential fatty acid, amino acids and trace minerals and a wealth of antioxidants.

It has a distinct, nutty taste and can be used on salads as a replacement for olive oil. “It is high in omegas and full of essential amino acids that help make younger, smoother-looking skin and reduces inflammation in the body.” says Tammy Spiegel, However, due to its high EFA content, it is a highly volatile oil, so it must be kept refrigerated never used in heating or cooking.

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Baby Massage

Although your newborn seems so delicate, don’t be afraid to start a massaging routine shortly after birth. Routine massage helps you grow your bond and leads to his happy, healthy development.

Touch is a powerful way to communicate your love to your baby. In fact, 25 to 120 minutes of skin-on-skin contact immediately after birth can positively affect interactions between you and your little one up to a year later!

In the first few weeks, use slow and positive strokes, not spending too much time on one area. Newborn babies may find their senses over-stimulated and most will seek solace in the arms of their parents for the first few weeks; some may just want a gentle stroke down their backs, over their clothes.

 

 

Resting Hands

If your baby says ‘yes’ to massage, begin with a resting hand. This resting hand technique is used before massaging any area of the body. It can also be used when your baby needs a break during the massage. This is a good way for your baby to feel secure and enjoy touch.

 

 

Legs

Check you have enough oil on your hands before you start. Begin on the legs with a newborn because it is an area that is usually accepted by babies. Downward strokes are more relaxing.

Legs “Milking”

With one hand, gently hold your baby’s ankle. Place your other hand at the top of your baby’s thigh, moulding it around the leg, then slide it to the ankle. Repeat with firm yet gentle rhythmic strokes, one hand after the other.

 

 

Feet

Babies usually love having their feet massaged. Watch your baby’s reactions in case of sensitivity. A little foot massage can have a positive effect on the whole body.

Gently squeeze and roll each toe between your thumb and index finger. Using alternate thumbs stroke the top of the foot from toes to the ankle. Repeat several times..

 

 

Tummy

When your baby’s umbilical cord is healed, a gentle massage on the tummy can help with digestion and tummy troubles.

Start by making contact with your baby’s tummy with a reassuring relaxed hand. If your baby is happy, make gentle paddling strokes, with one hand following the other.

 

Back

Skin-to-skin contact can enhance the bonding experience between baby, mom and dad.

Holding your baby close to your chest, massage your baby’s back beginning at the neck, swooping down to his bottom.

Through massage, you can gain increased awareness of how your baby communicates and ideas on ways to support your baby in his first few months. You and your baby will discover what is best for you both. It is important to be mindful that massage is something you do with, rather than to, your baby.

Postnatal Depression and Using Touch to Communicate and Bond

After the birth of their baby, many mothers and some fathers may suffer from some form of depression.

‘Baby Blues’ is common and can leave mom feeling elated one moment and very emotional the next. This usually disappears after a few days. Depression is a more serious and long-lasting condition and can show signs anytime from straight after the baby’s birth or later.

Research into postnatal depression shows that massage can enhance parent and baby attachment, through encouraging eye contact, skin contact, voice and sensitive interaction

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Direct Selling

Many people are scared away from network marketing, also known as direct sales/distribution, because of all the myths and misunderstanding about this type of business. Part of negativity comes from reported low direct sales success rates.

However, a direct sales business isn’t destined to fail any more than any other business. Regardless of the home business you start, success comes from putting in the effort and the work to build it.

For some reason, many people don’t view their direct sales business as a business, like they would if they opened a franchise or started a business from scratch. One of the most important things you can do to ensure your success is to treat your direct distribution venture as the business it is.

Here are a few other tips to help you improve your direct sales business and recruiting efforts within the world of direct selling:

Brush Up on the Realities of Direct Sales Networks

To stay safe from pyramid schemes and MLM scams, arm yourself with knowledge. Learn about the direct sales industry as a whole, research direct sales/distribution companies carefully – and determine if you’re a good match with your sponsor. The truth is, while you can get rich in direct sales, statistics show that less than one out of 100 MLM representatives actually achieve MLM success or make any money. However, that’s not necessarily the MLM business’ fault. Most athletes never make it to the Olympics, but that’s not the sport’s or the Olympics’ fault.

Any great feat requires knowledge, action, consistency and dedication.

Find a Company with a Product You Love

Too many people get caught up in the hype of potential big income from direct sales, that they don’t pay enough attention to what the product message is they are asked to sell. You can’t sell something or share your business if you don’t genuinely have knowledge of or pride in, what you are representing.  

Be Genuine and Ethical

One reason that direct selling gets a bad rap is that many representatives use hype and sometimes deception to lure in new recruits. This leads many to believe that the direct distribution companies themselves encourage this behaviour when in truth, they don’t.

Legitimate direct distribution companies want you to be honest in your dealings with customers and potential recruits. If you love your product, your enthusiasm is enough to promote it. Just make sure you’re not over-the-top or making exaggerated or false claims.

Good business conduct will ensure that your customers and recruits don’t feel duped and as a result, will stick with you.

Don’t Barrage Your Friends and Family

Nothing will annoy your family and cost you and friends, more than constantly pestering them about your business. There’s nothing wrong with letting them know what you’re doing and seeing if they have an interest, but if the answer is “no,” let it go.

Many companies suggest making a list of 100 people you know, and while that’s not wrong, you should consider that most successful direct sellers have very few people from their original list of 100 people in their business. And, in most cases, friends and family who are in the business often come AFTER seeing the direct seller’s success.

Success in a direct sales business comes from treating it like any other business in which you focus on the people who want what you have to offer. That means deciding who the target market is for your products / services, as well as the business opportunity.

Identify Your Target Market

One of the biggest mistakes new direct sellers make, is looking at everyone (including friends and family) as a potential customer or recruit. This is one area where the MLM industry gets it wrong. Like any other business, you’re going to have greater success and efficiency if you identify your target market and focus your marketing efforts at them.

Someone who doesn’t care about vitamins or health and wellness isn’t a good person to pester about your business.

Make an Effort to Share Your Product//Business Plan Everyday

Many direct sales sponsors will have you focus on recruiting new business builders; however, your income, in legitimate direct sales, comes from the sales of products or services (whether through you or your recruits). Further, customers who love the products or services can more easily be converted into new business builders.

So, engage with customers daily about the products. Tell them about it, answer questions. Stay engaged.

Just like any other business (home-based or otherwise), getting the word out about your product or service can benefit your target market is the key to generating new customers and recruits. Some ideas include sharing a product sample, inviting a neighbour to host a product party, or starting a website or social media account.

Sponsor, Don’t Recruit

One of the benefits of direct selling is the ability to bring in new business builders and profit from the sales they make in their business.  While some see this as “using” others, the reality is that you’re being rewarded for helping others succeed. But for them to succeed, you need to see your role not as racking up as many recruits as possible, but in being a leader and trainer. The focus then is on the success of those you help in the business, not on you.

That means you need to take time to train them, answer questions, celebrate their successes, and be a support when things are tough.

Set a Goal for Parties or Presentations

Direct selling is a person-to-person to business. While many people don’t like that aspect, especially in the digital age, the reality is that it’s the personal touch that sells the products and business and retains customers and business builders.

Based on your compensation plan and goals, determine how many people you need to show your products or business to, to reach your goals in the time you want. Doing so will ensure you grow your business rather than just sustain it.

Listen and Sell the Solution

Really understand the benefits of the products you are selling. Then listen to customers so that you can identify their needs and match your products, to their needs.   

Learn How to Market

Direct distributors often stick to the three-foot rule (everyone within 3-feet of you is a prospect) and other traditional marketing tactics. But direct sales is like any other business.

It can and should be marketed in a variety of ways that take into consideration your target market, what it needs, how you can help it, and where it can be found. To that end, you can use a variety of marketing tools including a website (check the company’s policies about websites), email and social media to increase product sales and interest in your business.

Stand Out from Other Distributors

One of the challenges of direct distribution is convincing prospects to buy or join with you as opposed to the other reps that live in the neighbourhood or they know online. You’re selling the same stuff as thousands of others, meaning consumers have a choice. You need to do something that makes you unique compared to everyone else. Give people a reason to choose you over other people. Some options include more personalized service, starting your own rewards program, or something that offers greater value.

Develop a System for Following Up

While you don’t want to pester and annoy people, in many cases, with good follow up, you can make the sale or recruit at a future time. Sales are often about timing and ‘no’ in sales doesn’t always mean ‘never.’

If someone tells you no, but there was something in the dialogue that suggested they might be interested in the future, ask if you can put them on your mailing or email list, or if you can call in six months to follow up etc. Many will give you their email or phone number just because they want to be nice.

Even so, use your calendar or contact system to remind you when to call.

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The Benefits of Maca and Cacao

Maca

Here are a few reasons why I use raw maca root powder every day!

Lepidium meyenii (maca) is a Peruvian plant of the Brassicaceae family cultivated for more than 2000 years, which grows exclusively in the central Andes between 4000 and 4500 m altitude. Maca is used as a food supplement and also for its medicinal properties described traditionally.

Experimental scientific evidence showed that Maca has nutritional, energizer, and fertility-enhancer properties, and it acts on sexual dysfunctions, osteoporosis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, memory and learning, and protects skin against ultraviolet radiation.

Clinical trials showed efficacy of Maca on sexual dysfunctions as well as increasing sperm count and motility. Maca is a plant with great potential as an adaptogen and appears to be promising as a nutraceutical in the prevention of several diseases.

It contains over 20 amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids, vitamins B1, B2, C and E, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, and manganese.

Maca has been shown to be effective at increasing fertility and libido in both men and women, decreasing levels of anxiety, mood swings, stress, and depression, regulating estrogen levels in the body, and improving energy, stamina, and overall mood. Maca has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance (aka insulin sensitivity), which is especially important for diabetics and/or those with metabolic syndrome.

Maca is no joke. Many people who regularly use maca report increased energy, stamina, and endurance levels within the first few days of its use. This may be why many athletes use maca for optimal performance. Supplementing our regular workout regime with maca may preserve our muscle mass.

 These benefits help to explain why maca has appropriately earned its status as a superfood and adaptogen.

Cacao

Cacao is “The Amazonian Antioxidant King.” So what exactly happens when you regularly use raw cacao?

You take in 40 time the antioxidants of blueberries. With an ORAC score of 98 000 per 100 g (vs. 2 400 per 100 g of blueberries), raw cacao powder is impressive. ORAC scores measure the ability of antioxidants to absorb free radicals, which are unstable molecules that wreak havoc on our bodies.

You take in more calcium than if you were drinking cow’s milk. 160 mg of calcium per 100 g of cacao (vs. 125 mg per 100 g cow’s milk)!

You take in one of the highest plant-based sources of magnesium, which is one of the most deficient minerals in North America. VERY important for energy production, brain health, and healthy heart

You take in a great plant-based source of iron (molasses may be the best source), which is incredibly important for the health of our red blood cells and allows proper carrying of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Cacao contains 7.3 mg of iron per 100 g while beef and lamb contain only 2.5 mg per 100 g. The important thing here is that plant sources of iron are Non-Heme iron, meaning they should be combined with a source of vitamin C for better absorption (oranges, kiwi, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli, and berries, among others).

You get your blood pressure in check. Cacao is rich in flavonoids and its antioxidants stimulate nitric oxide production, which aid in lowering blood pressure and improve blood vessel elasticity.

The most important thing though? No negative side effects.  It’s a powerful food, so throw some in your coffee and/or smoothie….right now!

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Nootropics and Sports Nutrition for the weekend warrior

 

Nootropics, including BCAAs and botanicals, can help weekend warriors meet their athletic and cognitive competitive goals.

Paul H. Falcone | Jun 03, 2019
Nootropics are compounds that improve cognitive function, and in some cases, brain health. They have been gaining buzz lately, which is not surprising since we are all striving to work harder and achieve more, and sustained focus is required to maintain that high watermark. One group that exemplifies the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle is “weekend warriors.” These individuals—who are tough competitors both at work and at play—are familiar with sports nutrition to optimize their bodies, but now it is time to “focus” on their brains.

When considering how sports nutrition can affect the brain, it is important to start with the basics of hydration and fueling, which can affect a wide range of cognitive domains. These topics have been addressed in research1,2,3 while two other important cognitive areas stand out for weekend warriors: focus and reaction time.

For people who compete in all aspects of their life, laser-like focus is paramount. For example, many weekend warriors engage in CrossFit or other types of high-intensity interval training, which demand pushing past physical and mental limits. Not only do they want to finish those workouts, they want to achieve new PRs (personal records) and feel the rush from knowing they just crushed that workout. In those situations, fatigue can dramatically reduce focus, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are one nutrition solution. It has been suggested BCAAs may delay fatigue by reducing transport of tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin that contributes to feeling tired.4 In a study of cyclists, the rate of perceived exertion and mental fatigue while cycling was significantly lower when they drank BCAAs vs. placebo.5 In soccer players, psychomotor performance was improved with BCAA consumption during intense interval training.

Delaying exercise-induced fatigue is awesome, but weekend warriors do more than just exercise. They need optimal focus while at work and at play, which is where botanicals can play a role. Consumers who want to “hit a PR” at work, at home, at the gym or on the field (whatever “field” they choose to play on) must stay locked-in and on task wherever they are. Researchers demonstrate this by testing “sustained attention,” a cognitive domain we are all familiar with: sit down and do your work (or play with your kids) and don’t get distracted by your phone, calendar, Facebook or getting another cup of coffee. Studies have shown sustained attention can be improved by ingesting certain botanicals,7 allowing focus to be improved and maintained throughout a hectic day.

Another cognitive area to consider for weekend warriors is reaction time, or quick reflexes. Reaction time becomes important in a variety of popular, athletic contexts, such as mountain biking (to avoid major spills), HIIT (high-intensity interval) training or obstacle course racing . Reaction time testing is generally done on a computer, which means full-body reflexes are not being captured, but only the contribution of the brain (and maybe a finger or two for keyboard tapping). Active choice reaction performance (ACRP) is more applicable to sports since it involves reaction time while moving the whole body. Certain botanicals have been shown to improve ACRP by testing people’s reflexes while moving their whole body.8
To sum things up, we could all use a brain boost. Weekend warriors are especially vulnerable because they are highly competitive, and their competitive drive never stops since they take it from work to home to leisure activities. Even their choices for leisure are both active and competitive, taxing the body and the brain. Therefore, supplements—and specifically botanicals—can be added to the diet to optimize focus, sharpen reflexes, and support overall brain health.

Paul H. Falcone is senior clinical research associate at Kemin Human Nutrition & Health.

References
 Goodman S, Moreland A, Marino F. “The effect of active hypohydration on cognitive function: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Physiol Behav. 2019.
Baker L e al. “Acute Effects of Carbohydrate Supplementation on Intermittent Sports Performance.” Nutrients. 2015;7:5733-63.
Falcone P, Tai C, Carson L. “The effect of mild dehydration induced by heat and exercise on cognitive function.” Psychol. Cogn. Sci. 2017;3:17-2
Blomstrand E. “A role for branched-chain amino acids in reducing central fatigue.” J. Nutr. 2006;136:544S-7S.
Blomstrand E et al. “Influence of ingesting a solution of branched‐chain amino acids on perceived exertion during exercise.” Acta Physiol Scand. 1997;159:41-9.
Wiśnik P et al. “The effect of branched chain amino acids on psychomotor performance during treadmill exercise of changing intensity simulating a soccer game.” Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011;36:856-62.
Falcone P et al. “Efficacy of a nootropic spearmint extract on reactive agility: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel trial.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15:58.
Falcone P et al. “The attention-enhancing effects of spearmint extract supplementation in healthy men and women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel trial.” Nutr Res. 2019;64:24-3

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Hack the Holidays

The holidays are approaching  and many will indulge, skip workouts, be stressed and gain weight during this jolly season. You don’t have to be one of them. Instead of denying yourself the fun of holiday treats, or beating yourself up for indulging in them afterward, allow yourself to splurge when it’s really worth it. Here are some strategies to hack the holidays.

Pack in the Protein

Be sure to always have some protein at a meal, especially if your splurge food is sugar or really any high carb based foods. This will help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you full for longer. Keep track of what you’ve binging on and make it up in your workout the next day. Start your day with a protein-packed shake. This will help stabilize your blood sugar, as well as getting a dose of probiotics that will aid in digestion and keep your stomach from bloating.

Plan to get some burn, baby!

Plan to get some exercise in on the morning of a big holiday, like Christmas or Boxing Day. Go for a run, take an Aerobics, Zumba or Spinning class .. just get moving!
Plan it as something you have to do, not just something you may or may not have time for.

Combat the Food Coma

Go for a walk after a big meal to speed up digestion and avoid the crash. The dishes can wait and you can PVR the rugby or cricket game. What will really help you feel better after a big meal is a nice brisk walk around the neighbourhood. Rally your family and make it fun group activity.

Preempt the Party

Make yourself a protein shake full of nutritious ingredients, before you head out to a holiday party. It is a great way to avoid hunger and overindulgence when you arrive. Watch as everyone else dives into the appetizers while you just calmly wait for the main course.

Drink Cleaner Cocktails

The amount of sugar in most store-bought mixers is a sure-fire way to spike your blood sugar and set you up for a hangover. Stick to cocktails that only use clean ingredients like freshly squeezed lemon, lime, or other citrus fruit juices and/or club soda. When choosing clean-burning alcohol, put tequila, vodka and organic wines at the top of your list. Don’t forget to put a limit on your drinks and stick to it, while including a glass of water between every drink you have.

Ask for New Workout Threads

Put some new fitness gear on your wish list for Christmas. Not only will this keep you motivated before you get them, it will be a big motivation to get to the gym before the New Year’s resolutions begin. New workout clothes, a gym bag, lifting gloves —what will motivate you most?

Meditate

The hustle and bustle of the jolly season can tire one out.
Download a meditation app and squeeze in a 10- or 20-minute meditation to help focus and relax your mind. After all, the holiday season is better for you and everyone around you if you are relaxed and gracious.

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How to Make A Comeback—Even If It’s Been a While

Most competitive athletes, no matter their age, can recall a defining personal athletic moment: sprinting across the finish line ahead of the field; dodging epic tackles to score the winning touchdown; swishing an unbelievable three-pointer at the buzzer. You got up early, practiced hard and stayed late. You slept well and ate right because you knew it would improve your performance.

These are the proud stories we tell around the dinner table—but they might have taken place 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years ago! Today, your fitness focus might be a good deal different, or nonexistent. But in your chest, there still beats the heart of an athlete. You just need to find your way back.

The good news is that, for most of us, there’s still plenty of time to get strong, play hard and have fun! However, it will involve setting new goals and renewing a healthy relationship with your current body. Whether you’re thinking about getting back into your sport or trying a new one, it’s important to take a long-term approach to your training and health.

Below are four principles of training you should tackle before coming back to competitive sport:

Define Your why

The secret to staying motivated is getting your priorities in order. Why do you want to start training again? Why do you want to train for this particular race? These questions are essential for any athlete. When you inevitably get sucked into pace times, sweaty workouts, fancy gadgets and the latest equipment, you’ll need to keep track of your personal why.

Walk before you run

This simply means to take your time learning how to run/swim/bike etc. before trying to go fast. Learning new movements and techniques don’t just require your physical presence, but also your mental awareness. It’s important to understand your body’s movements, how they feel and how to improve. Those initial months of training are for accumulating physical knowledge and creating good habits—developing discipline for both your body and your mind.

Assess, don’t test

First things first, find a good coach! Effective coaches balance rationale and logic with empathy and emotional awareness. Ultimately, a long-term program should be individualized and should start with finding your baseline with a coach. What’s your athletic background? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your goals? A good coach will also assess rather than test when determining your program.

The words “test” and “assessment” are used interchangeably, but they do mean something different. A test measures a particular set of objectives, while an assessment is used during and after the instruction has taken place. Learning a sport takes individual effort, interaction, inspiration and thought—and especially as you are coming back into a sport, “testing” can sometimes undermine the best learning environment. “Assessing” your abilities instead is an encouraging method to help outline your training and monitor your improvement going forward.

Socialize!

You might be participating in an individual sport, but it takes an army to get it done at the end of the day. Having a supportive base at the home front and a cheer squad on race day can mean the difference between a PR and a DNF.
Groups and clubs create a positive training environment and can also help you get involved with a community. There will be some people who can push you and others you can challenge along the way—and very possibly some new lifelong friends.

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The Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians

A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they might lack sufficient protein.
However, many experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can provide you with all the nutrients you need.
That said, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others.
And higher-protein diets can promote muscle strength, satiety and weight loss.
Here are 17 plant foods that contain a high amount of protein per serving.

Seitan

Seitan is a popular protein source for many vegetarians and vegans.

It’s made from gluten, the main protein in wheat. Unlike many soy-based mock meats, it resembles the look and texture of meat when cooked.

Also known as wheat meat or wheat gluten, it contains about 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). This makes it the richest plant protein source on this list (8).

Seitan is also a good source of selenium and contains small amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus.

You can find this meat alternative in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, or make your own version with vital wheat gluten using this recipe.

Seitan can be pan-fried, sautéed and even grilled. Therefore, it can be easily incorporated in a variety of recipes.

However, seitan should be avoided by people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Re-cap :

Seitan is a mock meat made from wheat gluten. Its high protein content, meat-like texture and versatility make it a popular plant-based protein choice among many vegetarians and vegans.

Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame

Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans.

Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide the body with all the essential amino acids it needs.

Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled prior to consumption and can be eaten on their own or added to soups and salads.

Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking. Tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans prior to pressing them into a patty.

Tofu doesn’t have much taste, but easily absorbs the flavour of the ingredients it’s prepared with. Comparatively, tempeh has a characteristic nutty flavour.

Both tofu and tempeh can be used in a variety of recipes, ranging from burgers to soups and chilis.

All three contain iron, calcium and 10-19 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).

Edamame are also rich in folate, vitamin K and fibre. Tempeh contains a good amount of probiotics, B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus.

Re-cap :

Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans, a complete source of protein. They also contain good amounts of several other nutrients and can be used in a variety of recipes.

Lentils

At 18 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), lentils are a great source of protein (12).

They can be used in a variety of dishes, ranging from fresh salads to hearty soups and spice-infused dahls.

Lentils also contain good amounts of slowly digested carbs, and a single cup (240 ml) provides approximately 50% of your recommended daily fibre intake.

Furthermore, the type of fibre found in lentils has been shown to feed the good bacteria in your colon, promoting a healthy gut. Lentils may also help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, excess body weight and some types of cancer (13).

In addition, lentils are rich in folate, manganese and iron. They also contain a good amount of antioxidants and other health-promoting plant compounds.

Re-cap :

Lentils are nutritional powerhouses. They are rich in protein and contain good amounts of other nutrients. They may also help reduce the risk of various diseases.

Chickpeas and Most Varieties of Beans

Kidney, black, pinto and most other varieties of beans contain high amounts of protein per serving.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are another legume with a high protein content.

Both beans and chickpeas contain about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml). They are also excellent sources of complex carbs, fibre, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, manganese and several beneficial plant compounds.

Moreover, several studies show that a diet rich in beans and other legumes can decrease cholesterol, help control blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and even reduce belly fat.

Add beans to your diet by making a tasty bowl of homemade chili, or enjoy extra health benefits by sprinkling a dash of turmeric on roasted chickpeas.

Re-cap :

Beans are health-promoting, protein-packed legumes that contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, sold commercially as a yellow powder or flakes.

It has a cheesy flavour, which makes it a popular ingredient in dishes like mashed potatoes and scrambled tofu.

Nutritional yeast can also be sprinkled on top of pasta dishes or even enjoyed as a savoury topping on popcorn.

This complete source of plant protein provides the body with 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fibre per ounce (28 grams).

Fortified nutritional yeast is also an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese and all the B vitamins, including B12.

However, fortification is not universal and unfortified nutritional yeast should not be relied on as a source of vitamin B12.

Re-cap :

Nutritional yeast is a popular plant-based ingredient often used to give dishes a dairy-free cheese flavour. It is high in protein, fibre and is often fortified with various nutrients, including vitamin B12.

Spelt and Teff

Spelt and Teff belong to a category known as ancient grains. Other ancient grains include einkorn, barley, sorghum and farro.

Spelt is a type of wheat and contains gluten, whereas teff originates from an annual grass, which means it’s gluten-free.

Spelt and teff provide 10–11 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), making them higher in protein than other ancient grains (23, 24).

Both are excellent sources of various nutrients, including complex carbs, fibre, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese. They also contain good amounts of B vitamins, zinc and selenium.

Spelt and teff are versatile alternatives to common grains, such as wheat and rice, and can be used in many recipes ranging from baked goods to polenta and risotto.

Re-cap :

Spelt and teff are high-protein ancient grains. They’re a great source of various vitamins and minerals and an interesting alternative to more common grains.

Hemp Seed

Hemp seed comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is notorious for belonging to the same family as the marijuana plant.

Hemp Seed contains no THC, the compound that produces the marijuana high.

Although not as well-known as other seeds, hemp seed contains 10 grams of complete, easily digestible protein per ounce (28 grams). That’s 50% more than chia seeds and flaxseeds.

Hemp Seed also contains a good amount of magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and selenium. What’s more, it’s a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the ratio considered optimal for human health.

Interestingly, some studies indicate that the type of fats found in hemp seed may help reduce inflammation, as well as diminish symptoms of PMS, menopause and certain skin diseases.

You can add hemp seed to your diet by sprinkling some in your smoothie or morning muesli. It can also be used in homemade salad dressings or protein bars.

Re-cap :

Hemp seed contains a good amount of complete, highly-digestible protein, as well as health-promoting essential fatty acids in a ratio optimal for human health.

Green Peas

The little green peas often served as a side dish contain 9 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), which is slightly more than a cup of milk.

What’s more, a serving of green peas covers more than 25% of your daily fiber, vitamin A, C, K, thiamine, folate and manganese requirements.

Green peas are also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and several other B vitamins.

You can use peas in recipes such as pea and basil stuffed ravioli, thai-inspired pea soup or pea and avocado guacamole.

Re-cap :

Green peas are high in protein, vitamins and minerals and can be used as more than just a side dish.

Spirulina

This blue-green algae is definitely a nutritional powerhouse.

Two tablespoons (30 ml) provide you with 8 grams of complete protein, in addition to covering 22% of your daily requirements of iron and thiamin and 42% of your daily copper needs (33).

Spirulina also contains decent amounts of magnesium, riboflavin, manganese, potassium and small amounts of most of the other nutrients your body needs, including essential fatty acids.

Phycocyanin, a natural pigment found in spirulina, appears to have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Furthermore, studies link consuming spirulina to health benefits ranging from a stronger immune system and reduced blood pressure to improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Re-cap :

Spirulina is a nutritious high-protein food with many beneficial health-enhancing properties.

Amaranth and Quinoa

Although often referred to as ancient or gluten-free grains, amaranth and quinoa don’t grow from grasses like other cereal grains do.

For this reason, they’re technically considered “pseudo-cereals.”

Nevertheless, they can be prepared or ground into flours similar to more commonly known grains.

Amaranth and quinoa provide 8–9 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml) and are complete sources of protein, which is rare among grains and pseudo-cereals.

Also, amaranth and quinoa are good sources of complex carbs, fibre, iron, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.

Re-cap :

Amaranth and quinoa are pseudo-cereals that provide you with a complete source of protein. They can be prepared and eaten similar to traditional grains such as wheat and rice.

Ezekiel Bread & other Breads made from Sprouted Grains

Ezekiel bread is made from organic, sprouted whole grains and legumes. These include wheat, millet, barley and spelt, as well as soybeans and lentils.

Two slices of Ezekiel bread contain approximately 8 grams of protein, which is slightly more than the average bread.

Sprouting grains and legumes increases the amount of healthy nutrients they contain and reduces the amount of anti-nutrients in them.

In addition, studies show that sprouting increases their amino acid content. Lysine is the limiting amino acid in many plants, and sprouting increases the lysine content. This helps boost the overall protein quality.

Similarly, combining grains with legumes could further improve the bread’s amino acid profile.

Sprouting also seems to increase the bread’s soluble fibre, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene content. It may also slightly reduce the gluten content, which can enhance digestion in those sensitive to gluten.

Re-cap :

Ezekiel and other breads made from sprouted grains have an enhanced protein and nutrient profile, compared to more traditional breads.

Soy Milk

Milk that’s made from soybeans and fortified with vitamins and minerals is a great alternative to cow’s milk.

Not only does it contain 7 grams of protein per cup (240 ml), but it’s also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 (50).

However, keep in mind that soy milk and soybeans do not naturally contain vitamin B12, so picking a fortified variety is recommended.

Soy milk is found in most supermarkets. It’s an incredibly versatile product that can be consumed on its own or in a variety of cooking and baking recipes.

It is a good idea to opt for unsweetened varieties to keep the amount of added sugars to a minimum.

Re-cap :

Soy milk is a high-protein plant alternative to cow’s milk. It’s a versatile product that can be used in a variety of ways.

Oats and Oatmeal

Oats are an easy and delicious way to add protein to any diet.

Half a cup (120 ml) of dry oats provides you with approximately 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. This portion also contains good amounts of magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and folate.

Although oats are not considered a complete protein, they do contain higher-quality protein than other commonly consumed grains like rice and wheat.

You can use oats in a variety of recipes ranging from oatmeal to veggie burgers. They can also be ground into flour and used for baking.

Re-cap :

Oats are not only nutritious but also an easy and delicious way to incorporate plant protein into a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Wild Rice

Wild rice contains approximately 1.5 times as much protein as other long-grain rice varieties, including brown rice and basmati.

One cooked cup (240 ml) provides 7 grams of protein, in addition to a good amount of fiber, manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and B vitamins (52).

Unlike white rice, wild rice is not stripped of its bran. This is great from a nutritional perspective, as bran contains fibre and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Washing wild rice well before cooking and using plenty of water to boil it is a necessity.

Re-cap :

Wild rice is a tasty, nutrient-rich plant source of protein. Those relying on wild rice as a food staple should take precautions to reduce its arsenic content.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are derived from the Salvia hispanica plant, which is native to Mexico and Guatemala.

At 6 grams of protein and 13 grams of fibre per 1.25 ounces (35 grams), chia seeds definitely deserve their spot on this list (58).

What’s more, these little seeds contain a good amount of iron, calcium, selenium and magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and various other beneficial plant compounds (59, 60).

They’re also incredibly versatile. Chia seeds have a bland taste and are able to absorb water, turning into a gel-like substance. This makes them an easy addition to a variety of recipes, ranging from smoothies to baked goods and chia puddings.

Re-cap :

Chia seeds are a versatile source of plant protein. They also contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds.

Nuts, Nut Butters and Other Seeds

Nuts, seeds and their derived products are great sources of protein.

One ounce (28 grams) contains between 5–7 grams of protein, depending on the nut and seed variety.

Nuts and seeds are also great sources of fibre and healthy fats, in addition to iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin E and certain B vitamins. They also contain antioxidants, among other beneficial plant compounds.

When choosing which nuts and seeds to buy, keep in mind that blanching and roasting may damage the nutrients in nuts. So reach for raw, unblanched versions whenever possible.

Also, try opting for natural nut butters to avoid the oil, sugar and excess salt often added to many household brand varieties.

Re-cap :

Nuts, seeds and their butters are an easy way to add plant protein, vitamins and minerals to your diet. Opt to consume them raw, unblanched and with no other additives to maximize their nutrient content.

Protein-Rich Fruits and Vegetables

All fruits and vegetables contain protein, but the amounts are usually small.

However, some contain more than others.

Vegetables with the most protein include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

They contain about 4–5 grams of protein per cooked cup.

Although technically a grain, sweet corn is a common food that contains about as much protein as these high-protein vegetables.

Fresh fruits generally have a lower protein content than vegetables. Those containing the most include guava, cherimoyas, mulberries, blackberries, nectarines and bananas, which have about 2–4 grams of protein per cup.

Re-cap :

Certain fruits and vegetables contain more protein than others. Include them in your meals to increase your daily protein intake.

In Conclusion

Protein deficiencies among vegetarians and vegans are far from being the norm.
Nonetheless, some people may be interested in increasing their plant protein intake for a variety of reasons.
This list can be used as a guide for anyone interested in incorporating more plant-based proteins into their diet.

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Amino acids – What role do they play in muscle building, weight loss and fitness?

Amino Acids. What role do they play in muscle building, weight loss and fitness? Learn what Aminos are an how the effect your body.

Why do the majority of people who go to the gym to build muscle know so little of amino acids and protein, and their importance in achieving our goal of muscle building? Amino acids; everyone has heard of them, protein powders list them. So what is the importance of them? Do we really need them?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and also muscle tissue. And they also play a major part in physiological processes relating to our energy, recovery, mood, brain function, muscle and strength gains, and also in our quest for fat loss.

There are 23 amino acids and 9 of these are classed as essential or indispensable amino acids (IAA) that must be obtained from our nutritional intake. The others are termed dispensable amino acids (DAA) or non-essential due to the body being able to synthesise them from other amino acids.

When we eat a meal we don’t pay much attention to the content and balance of amino acids but the content of the meal determines the body and health building value of the protein food or supplement. In addition the importance of the amino acids content of our meal is important to support maximum growth we also have to take another factor into account which is to what extent these amino acids are actually delivered to the tissues when they are needed which takes us to the issues of digestion, absorption and also the bioavailability.

What is Bioavailability?
Eating our protein foods such as lean meats and non-fat dairy products, or having our protein drinks are the most common ways that we get our amino acids, we also can obtain amino acids from vegetables, and legumes also have levels of most amino acids. We can also use protein drinks and amino acid supplements as a convenient means to supplement our dietary needs.

The reason we use these supplements is the bioavailability of the amino acids. Bioavailability is a measure of the efficiency of delivery and how much of what is ingested is used for its intended use by the body. There are factors which determine the amino acid bioavailability. One is how much fat is contained in the protein source and the length of time it takes for the amino acids to be available for use by the body.
Cooking also can affect the amino acids; some are more or less sensitive to heat and cooking may cause decomposition of some amino acids. The physical nature of the particular food is also a factor, whether it is solid, liquid, powder, or even tablet, and to what extent it is chemically pre-digested as some amino acid supplements are, fillers and binders also can have an affect on the digestion of the amino acid. The condition of our digestive system can also have an affect on amino acid digestion, genetics, age, health, specific diseases and illnesses all have an affect on our digestion.

Amino acids and Bodybuilding
Exercise, hormones and nutrients will all cause muscle growth. As will supplementation of free form amino acids high in the branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. The best time for us to get our amino acids is immediately after our training when the muscle is especially receptive to nutrients and also blood flow to the exercised muscles which still remains high. The solution to optimising our recovery and growth after training is a s meal composed of protein with both simple and some complex carbohydrates. This is the time when ideally we require a fast digesting protein such as whey protein.

Amino Acid Supplementation
The popularity of amino acid supplements has increased dramatically. Packaged workout and recovery drinks that contain hydrolysed (pre-digested) proteins and often some free-form amino acids can be found in most gyms. Also tubs of powdered or capsulated amino acids are being used by an increasing number of weight trainers. The good thing about these supplements is that they don’t require digestion like food does. The term free-form means that they are free of chemical bonds to other molecules and as such move quickly through the stomach, into the small intestines where they are very rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. When absorbed, amino acids are processed by the liver. The liver can only process so many at one time, so by taking a dose of 3-4g of amino acids these will be rapidly absorbed and would exceed the liver’s capacity which would result in the amino acids being directed to the tissues that would require them such as muscle that is recovering from your training.

Amino Acids and Energy
A lot of misconceptions exist about the muscle contraction and the use of energy substrates during heavy high intensity weight training. When performing your training using repetitive power workouts a substantial portion of your energy comes from non-carbohydrate sources. When your muscles contract they use stores of adenosine triphosphate (ATP, a substance vital to the energy processes of all our living cells) for the first few seconds. The compound used to immediately replenish these stores is creatine phosphate (CP). This is how the supplement creatine, became so popular to bodybuilders and strength trained athletes. Creatine is made from three amino acids: arginine, methionine and glycine.

To keep our CP and ATP levels high, these amino acids must be kept elevated in our blood stream. The amino acids in creatine supplements can be supplied by foods in our diet but the process of elevating these amino acids takes a great deal of time in digestion, and also would be accompanied by fats and carbohydrates which may or may not be desired. So the use of free form amino acids, either alone or in combination with creatine supplements can provide direct source of energy for power and strength.

Amino Acids & Fat Loss
In fat loss two major processes must occur (1) the mobilisation and circulation of stored fats in the body must be increased; and (2) Fats must be transported and converted to energy at the mitochondria (the powerhouse site of cells). Several nutrients can assist in the conversion of fat to energy including the amino acid methionine, which in sufficient amounts can help improve the transport and metabolism of fat. When attempting to keep our total calories down during dieting, amino acid supplements including BCAA’s and glutamine can also help to keep our food volume down but still provide support directly to the muscles, liver and our immune systems which are critical to optimising our body composition.

Amino Acids & Muscle Catabolism
Our body has the ability to breakdown our muscle tissue for use as an energy source during heavy exercise. This is part of a bodily process called gluconeogenesis which means producing or generating glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. The part of this reaction that is important to us as bodybuilders is known as the glucose – alanine cycle, in which the BCAA’s are stripped from the muscle tissue and parts of them being converted to the amino acid alanine, which is then transported to the liver and converted into glucose. If we consume supplemental BCAA’s the body does not have to breakdown our muscle tissue to gain extra energy. Studies have concluded that the use of BCAA’s (up to 4g) during and after training can result in a significant reduction of muscle breakdown during training. Catabolism of muscle can cause shrinkage of our muscles and muscle soreness and may also lead us to injury.

Amino Acids and the Anabolic effect
Resistance training generally stimulates both protein synthesis and protein degradation in exercised muscle fibres. Muscle hypertrophy (growth) occurs when an increase in protein synthesis results in the body’s normal state of protein synthesis and degradation. The normal hormonal environment (e.g, insulin and growth hormone levels) in the period following resistance training stimulates the muscle fibres anabolic processes while blunting muscle protein degradation. Dietary modifications that increase amino acid transport into muscles raise energy availability or increase anabolic hormones should augment the training effects by increasing the rate of muscle anabolism and/or decreasing muscle catabolism. Either effect should create a positive body protein balance for improved muscular growth and strength.

References:
Amino acids. Barry Finnin, PHD. and Samual Peters .
Exercise physiology. 5th Edition, William D, McArdle. Frank I Katch, Victor L Katch.