An Omnivore’s Guide to Clean Protein

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Meat consumption has dramatically increased in the US over the past century, and sadly, the quality of meat has declined. A large amount of the meat consumed is of poor quality, originating in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where animals are kept in unclean and inhuman conditions. These animals are fed a diet of mostly GMO grains instead of grass, resulting in meat that is full of Omega 6’s. Furthermore, these animals are injected with hormones and antibiotics that also end up on your plate.

Grass-fed and pastured meat (as well as dairy and eggs) is superior to that from animals raised in CAFOs in many ways:

  • Higher in total Omega 3’s
  • Higher in CLA, a potential cancer fighter
  • Higher in vitamin E
  • Higher in B vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
  • Higher in minerals magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • Higher in beto-caroten

When you are next faced with the decision between the factory farmed meat and the organic, pastured meat, remember that a healthy animal means a healthy you.

Your Healthy Meat Eating Guide:

  1. Choose grass-fed, pasture raised organic meats.-By choosing these meats you are getting healthy Omega 3’s which fight inflammation, you are also skipping out on all the added hormones, as well as antibiotics that destroy your healthy gut bacteria.
  2. Avoid all processed meats-The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed processed meats as carcinogenic. This includes deli meats and bacon.
  3. Eat the correct portion size- The healthy portion size is the same size of a deck of cards. Stick to this portion, and fill the rest of your plate with vegetables. You will also find that when eating the correct portion size, your grocery bill will significantly lower. It doesn’t have to be expensive to eat organic, grass-fed or pastured meat. Just eat the correct portion and your pocket book will not suffer.
  4. Limit your intake of red meat. –The WHO also disclosed that high levels of red meat can be carcinogenic so it’s best to limit your intake. Instead, try replacing with lean protein such as chicken, fish, or plant based protein. And don’t forget about the power of eggs! Each egg has six grams of protein.
  5. Prepare the right way-Studies have shown that high-temperature cooking methods such as charring, smoking, frying, or grilling leads to the production of compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which have been shown to cause cancer in animals. As an alternative to cooking your meat at high-temperature, I encourage you to cook with low-temperature, slow-cooking methods such as baking, poaching, stewing, and roasting.

 And don’t forget plant based sources of protein!!

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One of the most popular misconceptions that people have about a plant based diet is that it is impossible to get enough protein without meat. Well guess what? I’m here to inform you that this is a myth!

It is entirely possible to get your daily requirement of protein without eating meat. In fact, the leanest, cleanest sources of protein are beans and other legumes, as they are free of  hormones and antibiotics.

To find out all the complete plant based proteins available, click HERE. I encourage you to have at least one meat-free day a week. It will do a world of good for the environment.

Happy Clean Eating!

Health Coach Jenna

Are You Getting Enough Protein?

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Protein. It’s vital for our health. But did you know that too much protein can actually increase the rate of chronic disease and weight gain? The other day I was at a popular “healthy” chain where they offered a gluten-free, hemp-seed brownie, advertised to have tons of protein. First of all, not only was this thing laden with sugar, but after eating a balanced meal, more protein is redundant. It can actually be detrimental to your health, as studies have shown that eating more protein than your body needs causes weight gain, inflammation, dehydration, stress on your kidneys, and loss of important bone minerals.

How much protein do I need?

Well, it all boils down to the individual. How frequently do you work out? Are you male or female? How much do you weigh? Are you under stress or are you pregnant? These are some of the factors that contribute to determining how much protein you need. A simple 0.45 grams of protein per pound like the USDA recommends may not be enough.

According to women’s hormone expert, Dr. Sara Gottfried, you should eat an average of 0.75-1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. If you are an athlete, or under extreme stress, or lactating, or pregnant, you should eat on the higher end. If you lead a more sedentary life, or work out less than 3 times a week, aim for the lower end.

I agree with the amounts listed by Dr. Gottfried, but with one exception: if you lead a more sedentary lifestyle, 0.4-0.5 grams per pound of lean body mass should be sufficient for your needs (per Dave Asprey).

Where should I get my protein from?

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Whether you choose to get your protein from animals or plants is completely up to you. Being vegetarian is a lifestyle choice that should come from a genuine desire to change your diet, not because someone told you to do so. Alternatively, if you are eating meat, it is important to get it from a healthy and sustainable source.

Is it possible to get enough protein without eating meat?!

One of the most popular misconceptions that people have about a plant based diet is that it is impossible to get enough protein without meat. Well guess what? I’m here to inform you that this is a myth!

It is entirely possible to get your daily requirement of protein without eating meat. In fact, the leanest, cleanest sources of protein are beans and other legumes. They are also free of cholesterol, hormones, and antibiotics. A variety of plant-based protein powders can also be found on the market today. This is an excellent way for vegetarians and vegans to make sure they are covered. I put a heaping scoop everyday in my morning smoothie.

What about protein from meat?

milk

Meat consumption has dramatically increased in the US over the past century, and sadly, the quality of meat has declined. A large amount of the meat consumed is of poor quality, originating in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where animals are kept in unclean and inhumane conditions. These animals are fed a diet of mostly GMO grains instead of grass, resulting in meat that is full of Omega 6’s. Furthermore, these animals are injected with hormones and antibiotics that also end up on your plate.

Grass-fed and pastured meat (as well as dairy and eggs) is superior to that from animals raised in CAFOs in many ways:

  • Higher in total Omega 3’s
  • Higher in CLA, a potential cancer fighter
  • Higher in vitamin E
  • Higher in the B vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
  • Higher in the minerals magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • Higher in beta-carotene

When you are next faced with the decision between factory farmed meat and organic, pastured meat, remember that a healthy animal means a healthy you.

Happy clean eating!

Health Coach Jenna

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A Guide To Reading Grocery Labels

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Guest Post by Kate Morin

The number of health claims on food packaging continues to grow. It’s no longer just the nutrition label that matters. From “all natural” to “cage free” and “pasture raised,” food claims can be confusing and even misleading. Here’s how to read those labels and fully understand what you’re buying – and eating.

Who’s in Charge?

There are two government agencies responsible for food labeling in the U.S.: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The FDA is responsible for regulating most of the food we eat, including produce, most packaged foods, and eggs still in the shell. The USDA is responsible for all meat, poultry, and egg products.1

Food Packaging Terms, from A to Z

Cage Free

Found on: Eggs, poultry

Eggs or poultry labeled “cage free” come from birds not confined to cages, with access to open space.2 However, just because they have access to open space does not mean they can run free. Each bird is allotted an average of one square foot of space; the most common environment for these birds is within a large open barn or aviary.3These birds are not required to have access to the outdoors.

Cage Free Labels

Free Range

Found on: Meat, poultry, eggs

Free-range eggs and poultry come from cage-free birds that also have free access to the outdoors.4 That access is typically a few small doors on the wall of a giant warehouse or aviary that leads to a small screened-in area with a cement or dirt floor, so it’s not exactly the open pasture you may imagine.5 While companies are allowed to label eggs “free range,” the USDA only regulates the term for poultry raised for its meat, not egg-laying hens or other animals.6

Free Range Labels

Gluten Free, Free of Gluten, No Gluten, or Without Gluten

Found on: Anything

Any food labeled “gluten free” must contain no more than 20 parts per million of gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Use of the “gluten-free” label and logo are voluntary. But if a company includes this label, it is fully responsible for adhering to the standard and must not use the label in a misleading manner.7

Grass Fed

Found on: Cattle, sheep, goats, bison

Grass-fed cows have been raised primarily in pastures, where they eat grasses, forbs (such as legumes and brassica-family vegetables), and cereal crops (before they produce grains), rather than on a feedlot where they would be fed corn or other grains.89 Grass-fed animals do not have to live on only grass for their entire lives – just for most of it.

The USDA’s definition of grass-fed still permits some confinement of the animals as long as they are also allowed to graze. However, the American Grassfed Association’s standards are more strict, stating that the animals must not be confined to a pen, feedlot, or any other area during the growing season and must have continuous access to open pasture during the season.10

Grass Fed Labels

Grass Finished

Found on: Meat from herd animals, primarily beef

While grass-fed animals may either start or end their lives eating grain on a feedlot, grass-finished meat comes from animals that have been raised on a forage diet consisting of grasses and other plants for their entire lives.11

Grass Finished Labels

Light or Lite

Found on: Packaged foods

Foods labeled “light” or “lite” have fewer calories than their conventional counterparts.12 If 50 percent or more of the calories in the food item come from fat, the fat must be reduced by at least half, per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) or a typical serving size of a certain food.1314 If less than 50 percent of the calories in the food come from fat, it can mean the food has been changed to contain either one-third fewer calories or no more than half the fat of the regular version.15

Light Food Labels

Local

Found on: Produce and animal products

While there is no legal definition of what “local” means in terms of food labeling, it’s a common word to see on food labels, and especially on produce in grocery stores and farmers’ markets.16Some grocers define “local” as food sourced from within 200 miles of a specific store, though others say 100 miles and others even say 400 miles. The best bet for understanding this label is to find out the specific town or area the item comes from, then take a peek at a map and judge for yourself.

Local Food Labels

Low Calorie

Found on: Processed/Packaged foods

The FDA defines “low calorie” as foods containing 40 calories or less per RACC.17 Whole meals and main dishes labeled “low calorie” contain 120 calories or less per 100 grams of food.18

Low Calorie Labels

Low Cholesterol

Found on: Packaged foods

A food labeled “low cholesterol” must contain 20 milligrams or less of cholesterol per RACC, or per 50 grams of food if the RACC is small. Whole meals or main dishes labeled “low cholesterol” contain 20 milligrams of cholesterol or less per 100 grams of food.19

Low Cholesterol Labels

Low Fat

Found on: Packaged foods

Low fat foods contain less than 3 grams of fat per RACC, or per 50 grams of food if the RACC is small. Meals or main dishes labeled “low fat” must contain less than 3 grams of fat per 100 grams, and no more than 30 percent of the calories can come from fat.20

Low Fat Food Labels

Multigrain

Found on: Packaged foods, bread, grain products

Multigrain products contain more than one type of grain. For example, whole-wheat bread is not considered multigrain because it only contains one type: wheat. Just because something is labeled “multigrain” does not necessarily mean it’s healthier, because the multiple grains may still be broken down and separated, meaning they are no longer whole grain.21

Multigrain Food Labels

Natural, All Natural

Found on: Anything

While there’s no real government regulation of the term “natural” on food labels, the FDA does require foods with this label to contain no artificial colors, flavors, or synthetic ingredients.222324 However, genetically modified foods and foods that contain antibiotics, growth hormones, or other chemicals are allowed to carry the label.2526

While one may seem better than the other, it’s important to realize that the government does not differentiate between the terms “natural” and “all natural” on food packaging.27

All Natural Food Labels

Organic and USDA Organic

Found on: Anything, including produce, animal products, and packaged foods

The “organic” claim is the most highly regulated term used on food packaging.2829 Any food product with the “organic” label must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. The other 5 percent must be on the list of approved ingredients published by the USDA. These products must also not use any antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, petroleum, sewage sludge-based fertilizers, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation at any point during their production.30

The rules get more specific, too. Organic farms are held to strict regulations. Organic produce must not use any synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or GMOs. A USDA-certified organic farm must not have had any prohibited substances (most notably pesticides) used on the land for three years prior to harvest for the produce to qualify as organic. Organic meat and dairy products cannot have ever been treated with growth hormones or antibiotics. In addition, organic livestock is required to have year-round access to a pasture to graze and must be fed non-GMO food.31 Organic eggs must come from free-range, hormone- and antibiotic-free chickens raised only on organic feed.32

While many foods use the word “organic” on their labels, not all items include the coveted USDA Organic seal. There are two main reasons: first, it’s expensive to get the USDA to certify a farm and many small producers just can’t afford it or choose to put their funds elsewhere. Second, farms that produce organic goods not labeled by the USDA may not meet the three-year pesticide-free requirement quite yet, and therefore are not eligible for the USDA certification.33

Organic and USDA Organic Labels

100 Percent Organic

Found on: Anything, namely animal products and packaged foods

Foods labeled “100 percent organic” contain only organic ingredients, unlike “organic” foods, which only have to contain 95 percent organic ingredients.34

100% Organic Labels

Made with Organic Ingredients

Found on: Packaged foods

Packaged foods containing at least 70 percent organic ingredients can be labeled “made with organic ingredients.” However, none of the ingredients – even the non-organic ones – can have been processed with sewage sludge-based fertilizers or ionizing radiation. While none of the main displays for these products can include the word “organic,” the displays can list up to three of the organic ingredients, and all of the organic ingredients should be identified in the ingredients list.35

Made With Organic Ingredients Food Labels

Pasture Raised or Pastured

Found on: Meat, eggs, poultry

The term “pasture raised” is not regulated by the USDA. But pasture raised or pastured is very similar to free range, except that pastured animals typically have more free access to open outdoor space.36Pasture-raised birds could be considered the best type, since this method of raising best replicates poultry’s natural environment. These birds spend most of their lives outdoors, with a good amount of open outdoor space and access to a barn. In addition to corn feed (sometimes organic, sometimes not), these birds often enjoy a diet of worms, insects, and grass.37 Pastured cattle are raised outdoors in a pasture, where the animals are allowed to roam and feed on the grass. Pastured animals may be fed a small amount of grain to supplement their grass-based diet, especially in the winter (unless it is for pastured, grass-finished meat).38

Pasture Raised Food Labels

Raised Without Antibiotics

Found on: Dairy products, animal products

If an animal is given antibiotics for any reason over the course of its life, its meat, eggs, or milk may not be labeled “organic” or “free of antibiotics.”39

Raised Without Antibiotics Food Labels

Raised Without Added Hormones or Not Treated with Hormones

Found on: Dairy products, beef

While it’s illegal to use hormones in pig or poultry production, the USDA does permit producers to give beef and dairy cattle hormones, most commonly recombinant bovine growth hormone (aka rBGH or rBST), which is often used to increase milk production. Any beef or dairy product with this label comes from an animal that was never given synthetic hormones.40

Hormone Free Food Labels

Vegetarian Fed

Found on: Eggs, chickens, pork

In the wild, hens eat worms and insects in addition to grass and seeds. The poultry and eggs labeled “vegetarian fed” in the grocery store come from birds that consumed an entirely vegetarian diet. Specifically, the hens that produce eggs labeled “vegetarian fed” likely ate a diet of corn fortified with amino acids. There is no proven health benefit to eating eggs produced by vegetarian-fed hens.41

The “vegetarian-fed” label can also appear on pork products such as bacon or cuts of meat from animals that have been raised on an entirely vegetarian diet.

Vegetarian Fed Food Labels

Whole Grain

Found on: Grain-based items, processed foods

Whole grain products use all parts of the grain, no matter what they are made of, including the nutritious bran and germ, rather than just the starchy endosperm like most other processed grain-based items. These items are higher in vitamins, minerals, and fiber than their conventional counterparts.42

Whole Grain Food Labels

The biggest takeaway? While food labels are meant to help indicate what’s inside, they can also be pretty misleading. Don’t be tricked by flashy claims of “all natural!” and “low fat”: Take the time to understand exactly what those labels mean, what ingredients are hiding inside the packaging, and how the animals and animal products you’re purchasing were raised or produced.

This article was originally published on FIX and shared with permission.