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Hi Dr. Bell, is it really necessary to eat fish? I honestly don’t like it. Can’t I just eat chicken or eggs for protein? Or should I suck it up and add fish to my meal planning once or twice a week?
Fortunately for you the only thing you have to do is pay taxes and die!
Of course, there is a lot of evidence that eating smaller, cold water, wild-caught fish could prevent numerous chronic disease, disability, and dysfunctions and actually increase your life span.
Question: Can you just eat chicken or eggs for protein?
Answer: Yes, of course! But is that the wisest choice?
Different foods have different nutrients and you need a wide variety of foods to provide all the nutrients you need for optimal health and athletic performance.
Since your question is about protein, you should first consider Biological Value (BV). The higher the BV, the more amino acids (basic protein building blocks) and nitrogen your body is retaining from any food item you consume. The initial BV Scales were based on nature’s perfect protein food: Whole Eggs that were BV rate 100; Egg Whites, which greatly reduces both the calories and fat consumed was scored a BV of 94. All other protein foods scored below 94.
The BV Scale is used to measure what percentage of a given nutrient source is used within the body. BV also takes into account nitrogen intake versus nitrogen excretion.
Daily protein consumption and the BV of the foods you consume is a critically important consideration if you are trying to increase muscle size or strength. Your body can easily store excess fat and carbohydrate. Obviously, storing fat is a “Piece of Cake” for your body. Unfortunately, the body cannot store excess amino acids. Therefore, you will need to plan both the quantity and quality of your protein intake on a daily basis.
Depending on which BV Chart you reference, BV will change. Most BV Charts rate the animal proteins very high.
Whole Egg: 100 Soybean: 42-72
Egg White: 94 Polished Rice: 34-64
Milk: 93 Whole Wheat: 33-63
Beef: 92 Corn: 30-60
Poultry: 91 Dry Beans: 28-58
While all of these proteins range in BV, it is important to mention once more that they all contain different nutrients. While Poultry might have a higher BV and Vitamin B-6 and B-3, and minerals such as iron, the consumption of Fish adds numerous and other nutrients that Poultry does not, such as Omega 3 Fatty Acids, (unless you buy Grass Fed Poultry) Vitamins D and B-2, zinc, iodine, magnesium, potassium, etc. You need to consume all of these foods for optimal performance.
I am sure you are curious about Whey Protein and other commercial Protein Supplements. Some of the supplement companies claim BVs between 106-159 for their supplements. These claims may be true, but it is often difficult to verify the validity of these claims. I am also extremely reluctant to recommend any of these supplements since a few years ago “Consumer Reports,” a highly-respected magazine, reported finding toxic levels of metals in their products. These were not some small, unknown companies, these were among the biggest, most well-known companies in the supplement business.
I reported on this in a previous IFPA FitBit and I highly recommend you go back and read the details on which companies to avoid, and which passed the “Consumer Reports” testing. High levels of heavy metals can have a devastating effect on your body.
I also highly recommend you increase your knowledge of sports nutrition by completing the IFPA Sports Nutrition Certification Course and consider the advanced courses available to you in Sports Nutrition. Your goal for yourself and all your personal training clients should be to help them (and you) live a longer, healthier, and happier life.
Remember Rule #1 for an IFPA Personal Trainer: DO NO HARM!
Dr. Jim Bell,