You might be wondering: what really is the best supplement or multivitamin to support optimal health?
The market, as you probably know, is SATURATED with both supplements and multis that claim to be the best option or the “one thing you’re missing out on.” And you’ve probably purchased some here and there because they sound amazing. (that dang marketing!)
I actually do think that there are some fantastic vitamin and supplement options out there depending on your needs and situation….but I also think there’s something that you might be forgetting about that doesn’t get enough credit….
Yup, the protein you eat in your diet every day is such an underrated multivitamin, and I would encourage you to evaluate how your protein game has been first and foremost.
**Prioritizing protein is the equivalent of prioritizing your metabolism and your lifespan**
This is a big claim, so let me explain why…
Think about protein like your daily multivitamin.
If we back up the truck here: you don’t necessarily need a multivitamin in the first place. Your body just needs the vitamins from said multivitamin – which you can totally just get from the food you eat every day (assuming you’re prioritizing really nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, high-quality protein, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, etc.)
Same concept goes for protein – it’s not just the protein in general that we need every day, it’s the amino acids that are the real MVPs for protein.
When we think about amino acids, we can sort of split them up into essential and non-essential. Some amino acids (which are the building blocks for protein) are essential in that we absolutely need to get them from the foods we eat because the body is not going to make them on its own.
The others are considered non-essential because we don’t HAVE to get them from the foods we eat – our body can make them on its own and we’re good to go.
If you want to get really science-y, some examples of essential amino acids are arginine, leucine, and threonine. Some examples of non-essential amino acids are glycine, cysteine, and tyrosine.
What I want to point out is the amino acid leucine specifically (an essential amino acid, meaning we need to get it from food). Leucine is a huge star of the show when it comes to building muscle. Leucine is able to trigger the process of muscle protein synthesis in the body, meaning when you strength train and eat enough high-quality protein sources, you can actually put more muscle on your body! Muscle protein synthesis is specifically the process the body uses to build new muscle tissue.
This is HUGE for metabolism. More muscle = higher metabolic rate = healthier metabolism = being able to burn fat efficiently. You should absolutely not be sleeping on the power of protein in your diet!
How much leucine do I need?
2.5g of leucine per meal is a great goal because that is the “leucine threshold.” We need a certain amount of leucine to trigger muscle protein synthesis.
Instead of tracking specifically how much leucine you’re consuming – you can simply think about how much protein you’re getting per meal, which ideally would be 30 grams of protein in general.
When you strive to get at least 30 grams of protein, the chances are very high that you’re also getting at least 2.5g of leucine, and it’s honestly much easier to think about!
What are the best ways to eat more leucine?
High-quality animal proteins are some of the best ways to include leucine in your diet. If you do eat animal proteins regularly, that is going to be the best bang for your buck.
What if you don’t eat meat?
If you are vegetarian, vegan, or just don’t prefer animal proteins often, some great sources include beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu!
I really want to emphasize how impactful this amino acid/leucine and muscle connection is because we often start to lose muscle mass every year after the age of 30. If you have the goal to age gracefully with a revved metabolism – you cannot afford to be under-eating protein and not getting the amino acids your body needs for healthy muscle mass.
Having more muscle on our body is also massively related to how well we can manage our blood sugar levels throughout the day. Think about it, when you consume carbohydrate-containing foods, your hormones (AKA: insulin) go around and scoop up those glucose molecules from digested carbs and bring them to either your muscle, liver, or fat stores to be used for immediate energy or to be used later.
If you don’t need a lot of energy right now, then your body is going to make sure your liver and muscles are fully stocked with glucose to use later. If you don’t have a lot of muscle tissue, it’s not going to take much glucose to fully stock those tissues and the rest goes to adipose tissue to be stored (our stored fat stores). The more muscle you have and are using on a regular basis (strength training!), the less glucose has to go to your body’s fat stores.
Fun fact: our muscles are the best at picking up glucose from the foods we eat right after a strength workout! Our muscles LOVE carbs after a workout, so if you find yourself dragging after exercising, make sure you’re eating something with carbs to refuel properly.
Moral of the story: having lots of muscle helps us regulate blood sugar levels, which is extremely helpful for our health in general, as well as preventing excess glucose from going to body fat stores and affecting our body composition over time.
Back to my point though – aging without enough muscle mass can be a recipe for disaster. Eating enough protein and doing what you can to keep and build muscle is beyond beneficial for your longevity. No multivitamin from the store has this much influence on our health long term.
What could it look like for you to age with good muscle mass?
You stay independent much longer in your life
You can play with your kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids
You have energy to travel the world in your 50s, 60s, 70s+
You avoid many chronic health conditions later in life
You don’t struggle with your weight the rest of your life
You feel good! You don’t feel “old”
Muscle is money, my friends.
So, what should you be thinking about when it comes to protein and muscle?
Eating at least 30 grams of protein with every meal
Regular and consistent strength training to support building and maintaining lean muscle tissue as your age
If you need more individualized support and guidance for protein recommendations and weight loss, our VIP team is ready to help. Follow this link for more information and to fill out an application to see if you’re a good fit.
Cheers to protein – the OG multivitamin for our health.
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