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Filtering by Tag: Healthy Food

Protein: Animal vs. Plant-Based

Tom Pereira

Protein is protein right? Does it really matter where it comes from? Or is it more important that your overall requirements are met? Well, not all protein is created equal after all – there are actually many differences between animal and plant-based proteins. Knowing which to include more of in your diet can promote health and prevent deficiency. Let’s talk animal vs plant protein!

 

The Pros of Protein

It’s hard to be even remotely interested in health and fitness without hearing the hype about protein. It’s high protein this and added protein that, but is protein the wonder-nutrient it’s made out to be? Well yeah, it is!

Protein is a macronutrient, macro meaning we need it in high amounts, just like fat and carbs. Here’s just a few reasons why we all need lots of protein from our diet:

 

·      Source of Energy – Provides 4 calories for every 1g consumed, that’s the same amount of kcals/g as carbs!

·      Essential Nutrient – We must get it from our food because we can’t make it in the body

·      Provides structure – Protein is the building block for almost every cell in the body – including hair, skin, nail, bone, muscle, cartilage and blood cells

·      Creates Biochemical Reactions – That produce hormones and enzymes needed for digestion, blood clotting and muscle contraction

·      Supports Growth and Maintenance – Repairs damage to cells caused by injury and illness, as well as replenishing protein stores post-workout

 

So, there’s much more to protein than just gains bro! Whether you’re a Greek god (or Goddess) or a couch potato, meeting your protein requirements is vital. Lucky for us, there’s a whole host of foods to choose from when it comes to boosting protein intake.

But does it matter whether these foods are animal or plant-based? In short, yes it does. Let’s explore further.

grass fed ribeye steak yummy

Not all Proteins are Created Equal!

Proteins are made up of individual amino acids, which join together in a sort of biochemical daisy chain! The order and length of these chains varies from food to food. When protein from food is consumed, it is broken back down into separate amino acids. These are then absorbed and utilised to remake whole proteins which the body can use – and so the circle of life continues!

A protein can be complete or incomplete depending on which amino acids it contains in the chain. There are nine essential amino acids (EAAs), which can’t be made in the body and so must come from food. If a food contains all nine EAAs, it is classed as complete – and is a better match for the human body. Most complete proteins are derived from animal sources.

 

Animal vs. Plant-Based Protein

There are pro’s and cons to both animal- and plant-based diets. But when it comes to protein as a standalone nutrient, you’d be hard pushed to back team plant over team animal.

There are very few complete proteins that are entirely plant-based. This means that the majority of plant proteins are lacking one or more of the essential amino acids needed to build cells.

With modern lifestyles, convenience foods and hectic schedules – balancing your veggies to gain a spectrum of amino acids is likely going to fall down your list of priorities pretty fast!

Whilst it’s possible to hit your EAA targets by including a variety of plant-based proteins, it’s likely easier and more reliable to consume a complete protein. What’s more, some ‘complete’ plant-proteins only contain tiny amounts of some amino acids, making it debatable as to just how complete they are.

meat protein tasty

Animal-Based: The Pinnacle of Proteins

Foods derived from an animal source almost always contain a favourable balance of amino acids. That doesn’t just mean meat – single-source complete proteins include fish, poultry, cheese, yoghurt, milk, eggs and meat.

So whether you’re veggie, pescatarian or meat-mad – there’s heaps of choice when it comes to meeting protein requirements. Including just one of these foods with every meal is usually enough to give your body the daily EAAs it needs.

What’s more, animal-based proteins tend to be rich sources of the following nutrients, often lacking in a plant-based diet:

·      Vitamin B12 – Most people who follow a plant-based diet are deficient in Vit B12. That’s because the best sources are meat, fish, poultry and dairy. B12 is important for producing red blood cells and boosting energy levels. 

·      Haem Iron – Iron can be haem or non-haem – haem iron found predominantly in red meat is much more easily absorbed than non-haem iron you’d find in plants -  which is why many veggies and vegans develop iron-deficiency anaemia.

·      Zinc – Studies have shown that we absorb zinc from animal foods more so than from plant-based. Zinc is needed for wound-healing, fighting off infections and also for our senses of taste and smell.

·      Vitamin D – The active form of Vit D – D3 – is found in fish, eggs and dairy produce and raises circulating levels of Vitamin D almost twice as high as that from plant sources.

·      Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Found in abundance in oily fish, Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA have been shown to promote brain, eye and heart health as well as having mood-boosting properties.

galician beef fillet

Getting your protein from animal-based foods has the added bonus of avoiding refined grains that are commonly used as a protein source in plant-based diets. Grain-free diets have been shown to reduce inflammation, promote gut health and alleviate allergies.

For the best of both worlds, pair your animal-based protein with some fresh, seasonal and organic veggies for an overall protein, vitamin and antioxidant boost!

 

Meat-ing Your Requirements with Premium Animal Protein

As with all foods, there’s going to be cheaper, less healthful and poorer quality alternatives out there when it comes to animal produce.

Avoiding foods which are heavily processed and choosing those which are as natural and as close to their whole-food origins as possible will help to boost your intake of protein whilst supporting overall health.

  •  Support your local butcher

  • Reduce food waste by choosing less-common cuts

  • Choose organic and free-range

  • Go grass-fed and look out for Pasture for Life certification

The Bountiful Benefits of Drinking Bone Broth!

Tom Pereira

Bone broth is a nutritious, delicious and health-boosting meal that can transport you back to your dietary roots and allow you to reap the benefits! The nutrients it contains help to support the health of bones, joints, skin, hair, nails and all kinds of bodily tissues. As a bonus, you get to reduce food waste by using up animal by-products that usually go to waste. Winner winner bone broth dinner!

 

The Skeleton Argument for Bone Broth

·      The modern diet is drastically different to that of our ancestors - lots of nutritious meals haven't stood the test of time and are no longer eaten by most

·      Demand for convenience products and a taste for processed junk food is driving the obesity epidemic and plaguing the population with chronic health conditions

·      Even for those of us striving towards a healthier diet, we are missing some key nutrients that used be eaten pretty routinely centuries ago - and our bodies miss them!

·      Bone broth is a cheap, sustainable and simple recipe to boost levels of certain nutrients commonly deficient in the modern diet

grass fed bones

Health- Boosting Nutritional Benefits

 Bone broth is packed with health-boosting nutrients that support both physical and mental health – let’s take a closer look…

·      Strong Bones

Thinking along the lines of you are what you eat, it makes sense that bone broth would be good for your bones! Our bones need to be incredibly strong but also slightly flexible to avoid breakages. Bone broth is a rich source of collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, which is prominent in bones and connective tissue. Its crisscross formation makes it the perfect ingredient for maintaining strong and sturdy bones.

 ·      Durable Joints

Joints are the connective tissue between bones, think of them as the glue that holds your skeleton together. Over time, joints can get worn down and become inflamed - which is not only painful but degenerative to bone health. Bone broth simmers down the connective tissue of the animal, making the joint-healthy nutrients it contains more digestible. It also provides a good dose of collagen, elastin and proteoglycans - which can be used by our own bodies to repair and maintain joints.

·      Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails

Our skin, hair and nails are all made up of a matrix of proteins including collagen, keratin and elastin, which helps to keep them strong and healthy. Some beautiful benefits of eating bone broth include shinier hair, stronger nails and plumper skin. As we age, our body's natural production of collagen drops. This contributes to the visible signs of ageing including sagging skin, wrinkles and furrowed brows. Boosting collagen in the diet helps to minimise these effects by giving your skin the tools it needs to stay youthful for longer.

·      Gut Health

Proteins found in the connective tissue of animals are broken down into amino acids when consumed and can then be reused to make our own proteins. These are then used to structure and regulate all kinds of bodily tissues, including the gut.

The gut is an incredibly intelligent organ, capable of communicating with the brain via something called the gut-brain axis. This communication regulates mood, emotion, stress levels and sleep patterns. So, providing your gut with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy can promote mental as well as physical health.

Nutrients found in bone broth also help to maintain the gut lining, reducing inflammation and preventing digestive conditions like leaky gut syndrome - which causes toxins and waste products to leak into the bloodstream, as well as nutrients to be lost through the intestinal wall.

side order to a grass fed steak

Bone Broth uses up Food that would Otherwise go to Waste

When animals are slaughtered for meat only half the animal ends up on supermarket shelves, with the rest separated out into animal by-products. These aren't commonly eaten but are packed with health-boosting nutrients.

Bone broth turns the connective tissue, bones and marrow often wasted in the meat industry into a nutritious meal. What's more, because of low demand for such products these are incredibly cheap to buy. As if this wasn't good enough, you can also reduce your own food waste by keeping off-cuts of meat and bones that you'd usually discard and freezing them until you've got enough for a fresh batch of broth! 

Relishing the Recipe 

Bone broth is an up and coming concept, so there's heaps of products out there presenting you with a readymade or concentrated broth. But making it yourself is a doddle, not to mention cheaper and more sustainable – so why not give it a go?

There are many variations of bone broth and there's no right or wrong way to make it. You can add meaty off-cuts, the bones from any animals and a variety of vegetables to your broth - just experiment until you find the right mix for you – you can also buy our bone broth in the shop ;).

Whatever you choose to use, roast everything first and then simmer in a large pan with some good old water for up to 3 days to let the ingredients break down and the flavour develop. Many recipes recommend adding some vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar, to help release the nutrients and make them easier to absorb. You should only need a couple of tablespoons to help this along.

Embrace your Inner Chef

Bone broth can also be enjoyed as a base for soups, sauces, stocks and gravies. If you're cooking up a pan's worth you can freeze in batches for handy little stock pots that can be added to any meal. And f you're feeling brave you can even add a dose of bone broth to shakes and smoothies for a potent protein boost!

Here are just four reasons why you should give the broth a go :)

·      Reduce Food Waste

·      Support your Local Butcher

·      Boost your Physical and Mental Health

·      Get Creative in the Kitchen

So what are you waiting for?! - get simmering, sipping and savouring to enjoy the many benefits of a hearty bone broth!

In the shop you can find our pure beef bone broth made from grass fed bones. We roast our bone broth for an hour and a half then simmer for 72 hours to really pull all of the goodness out. We refrain from sending it out via courier as we have had some issues, needless to say we are working on a resolve, watch this space!

Team CGF x

The Big Fat Surprise!

Tom Pereira

Fat has always been a topic of hot discussion in the world of health and fitness. Once dubbed the devil of all nutrients, its reputation has gone full circle with more and more of us are adopting high-fat diets. Incorporating a range of healthy fats into your diet will provide a whole host of health benefits, but knowing which foods contain them is a must. Read on to clear the confusion and get your fat facts right!

At a Glance:

·      Fat is an Essential Nutrient

·      High Fat Diets can Prevent Disease

·      Healthy Fats can Support Weight Loss

·      Dietary Fat Provides a Whole Host of Health Benefits

Grass fed organic butter

Forgetting Fat’s Bad Reputation

Just the hearing the word fat used to be enough to make your clothes feel tighter! The fact that we store excess fat on the body in the form of wobbly bits is likely why. This negative association goes deeper in that most heavily processed, so-called ‘junk’ foods are laced with added fats. It can be hard to get your head around the fact that fat is good for you.

In the 1950’s a huge study found a link between high-fat diets, high cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease. From then onwards the low-fat approach was pushed for the population in general.

Fast-forward ten years and the nation was in the grips of an obesity epidemic, with heart disease remaining the number on killer – which didn’t add up. Reanalysis of the study has since shown that sugar was in fact the key correlation with heart disease.

More recent research has gone on to evidence the many vital functions of fat for humans – further curtailing its bad rep! So, fat has had to fight its corner over the past few decades but we now know that fat is an essential nutrient providing a whole host of health benefits.

to go with a grass fed steak

We Need Fat!

Forget fat-free diets, we need fat to survive! Fat is not the extra few pounds you’re trying to trim, that is merely how your body stores excess. Fat is a nutrient which is needed throughout the body to carry out many functions necessary for survival.

Consider this, fat makes up around 60% of your brain

Hang on, let’s say this, one more time…

Consider this, fat makes up around 60% of your brain – and the fatty acids we need to maintain this can’t be made in the body, so must come from our diet. Bottom line: FAT IS OUR FRIEND!

Fat is a Macronutrient, which means that the body needs it in large amounts. Just like its macro counterparts carbs and protein, fat has many important physiological functions. 

·      Source of Energy – Provides 9kcal per 1g fat, which is why high fat foods are calorific

·      Absorbs Vitamins – Needed to absorb and distribute vitamins A, D, E and K

·      Provides Structure – Makes up cell membranes, helping to control what goes in and out

In the UK it is currently recommended that we get ~35% of our food energy from fat. Having said this, the benefits of high-fat and low-carb diets are widely evidenced and advocate increasing fat intake to around 70%.

Either way, fats should be a key player in any diet – and avoiding them at all costs will only drive deficiencies.

Not all Fats are Equal!

The word fat is an umbrella term, encompassing all of the different varieties. So when we talk about fat in terms of nutrition, it’s important to distinguish what kind it is.

Fats can be saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, and most foods containing fat provide both in varying proportions. These sub-groups can also be separated out into individual fatty acids, which have different properties depending on their chemical structure.

Without getting too science-y, the point is that not all fats are the same – and it is for this reason that some are good for us and others not-so-good.

free range, pasture raised pork

Calories are not the Enemy

Fats contain more than double the amount of calories per gram when compared with carbohydrates and protein. For this reason, foods containing a lot of fat will provide a lot of energy. This can be off-putting to some people, particularly when the traffic light system warns us away from high fat foods with a red light! This gives us no indication of which fats the food contains and how many calories come from good fats. We need to open our minds to nutrients within nutrients and ditch the whole calorie-counting idea.

I cast my mind back to early last year, when the headline “Strongbow Dark Fruits is Healthier than an Avocado” went viral for obvious reasons! If you don’t recall this then you can read more here. Long story short, someone had stumbled across the fact that when using the ‘syns’ calculator to monitor food intake with the Slimming World plan, avocados came out as being worse for you than a can of cider. Needless to say – this is not true! It was merely the higher calorie content of an avocado that gave it a more sinful label.

As a general rule, if you’re eating real food that is as unprocessed as possible, you don’t have to worry about counting calories or fat.

 

Healthy Fats

Dietary fat can be found in both plant and animal-based foods. We’ve mentioned that this will be present as a mixture of fatty acids, but it is the predominant fatty acid which will determine if that food is to be avoided or included in the diet.

Fats found naturally in real foods are always better for us than those added to processed foods. Let’s take a look at some of the healthier fats and where to find them.

·      Oleic Acid – An Omega-9 fatty acid which has been shown to reduce inflammation and may also have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.

Find me in: Olive oil, nut oils, meat, poultry and cheese, avocados and cold-pressed veg oils.

·      Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Promote heart, brain and eye health, are anti-inflammatory, reduce blood pressure and maintain a healthy balance of cholesterol.

Fine me in: Fatty fish, seafood, nuts, seeds, plant oils and microalgae.

·      Medium-Chain Triglycerides – More commonly known as ‘MCTs’ these are a type of saturated fat that can support weight loss, increase exercise performance and support a beneficial balance of cholesterol.

Find me in: Coconut oil, cheese, butter, milk and yoghurt. 

·      Saturated Fat – That’s right! The concept of sat-fats being the root of all evil has long been abandoned. Forgetting the sketchy and misinterpreted research of the 1950s, more recent (not to mention bigger and better) studies have found that there is NO link between saturated fat and heart disease. What’s more, there’s also evidence to show that saturated fats raise levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol, which is actually beneficial for our heart and cardiac system!

Find me in: Good sources of sat fats tend to be healthy and nutritious, as they are found naturally in unprocessed foods, such as: Grass-fed meat, full-fat milk and cheese, coconuts and dark chocolate.

 

Fats to Avoid

Processed and junk foods are packed with fat, which is added during the manufacturing process to add taste and texture.  Most ‘bad’ fats will fall under this category, but some unhealthy fats occur naturally too.

·      Trans Fats – Added to processed foods, have been shown to raise ‘bad’ cholesterol and lower ‘good’ cholesterol, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Foods to avoid: Most processed baked goods – cakes, biscuits, pies, pizzas, cookies, as well as margarine.

·      Omega-6 Fatty Acids – Increase inflammation – the root cause of many diseases, also elevate blood triglycerides and impair insulin sensitivity.

Foods to avoid: Refined vegetables oils and foods cooked in this oil, mayonnaise (not the mayo made by our friends @ Hunter and Gather though!), seeds and nuts.

 

Choosing foods that are minimally processed and avoiding junk foods is the best way to keep on track with your fat intake. Fats found naturally in meat, cheese, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds and plants are not harmful in moderation.

nuts to go with a steak

We hope you can now see that fat isn’t the devil it was once made out to be. Knowing which fats to avoid and which to include in moderation is the key to enjoying their many health benefits.

·      Eliminating fat from the diet off the back of some controversial research has led to the increased consumption of sugar, refined carbs and processed junk food

·      Research has indicated that it is these foods which are driving disease and inflating the obesity epidemic

·      Incorporating healthy fats into your diet will help you to stay healthy, energised and nourished

:)