In this profession, I feel obligated to know as much as I can about the body and am always encouraging curiosity when it comes to movement, food and function. That’s why this month I’m giving you a little protein 101!
Protein is a macronutrient composed of amino acids that participate in every process within the body’s cells. It provides the foundation for cells and tissues that are needed to keep us strong and is crucial for vital functions such as metabolism, biochemical reactions and immune responses. The word protein actually comes from the Greek word “prota” meaning of primary importance.
Before you go loading up on a super-sized steak dinner, it’s good to know a few things. The current American trend is to encourage an increase in protein consumption and many of us tend to eat entirely more than needed. Too much protein causes low energy, constipation, dehydration, lethargy, weight gain, stiff joints, decreased kidney function, foul body odor, and calcium loss. On the other hand, too little produces symptoms of sugar cravings, feeling spacey, jittery, tired, and weak.
A little known fact is that you many options beyond meat to choose from. As a vegetarian and dancer that was raised in a meat and potatoes family, my dad is always convinced that I’m starving and malnourished. The fact that I’m a certified health coach doesn’t seem to have any pull. Non-animal protein sources are abundant and as follows: grains, beans, soy, nuts, seitan, leafy greens, dairy, bee pollen and my personal favorite-quinoa! Quinoa contains all 8 amino acids thus making it a complete protein. If you aren’t eating it yet, it’s time to work it into your diet.
Experiment with more non -animal protein sources and start to take note of the above symptoms in your body. The important thing to remember is that you need to find the amount that is right for you. It is going to be different for everyone depending on heritage, body type, blood type and activity level.
I’ve noticed that many of my dance colleagues and older students are misinformed, unaware or completely disengaged from what it is they are consuming as fuel. As a professional that genuinely cares about the bodies and minds I am shaping, I have found a way to lightheartedly approach colleagues and students when I witness catastrophic disasters like Big Macs and greasy fries before class or rehearsal. For the most part my advice has been received with genuine thankfulness and curiosity to know more. I do however receive an occasional eye roll from the pre-teens and that’s ok too. I’m convinced that is sinking in on some level!
Do your students ever come to you for nutritional advice? What are your ideas for encouraging healthful out of the studio habits?