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Stock Your Kitchen with Power Proteins

Protein builds you up. Growth and repair are protein's major roles; your body uses the protein you take in from foods to build cells, synthesize new proteins, and keep your tissues healthy. Eating adequate protein between fasts supports your physique and keeps you full for a long time.

Food quality is particularly important when dealing with protein. Getting the best quality proteins can provide you with tons of nutrition. Focus on knowing what to buy and start incorporating higher quality foods into your budget whenever you can. If you can't do the highest quality right now, just remember how much good you're doing your body getting rid of all the processed foods and eating more non-inflammatory foods.

Here's what's really awesome: Protein burns fat! When your body gets enough protein, you can increase the rate at which your metabolism burns calories. Your body requires more energy to break down protein because the protein isn't readily available to use for energy as carbohydrates are. This extra work your body has to do to efficiently use fat for fuel promotes fat burning.

Egg quality

Nailing down the quality of eggs is extra important because eggs are such a common protein. This list helps you decode labels when you’re shopping for eggs:

  • Pasture raised: Chickens can roam freely. Their diet consists of nutritious grasses and other plants and bugs.

  • Cage free: These chickens aren't roaming around freely in the great outdoors. In other words, they're kept inside barns or warehouses with no access to the outdoors; they're allowed to roam only inside the barn or warehouse. The living conditions can vary greatly.

  • Certified organic: Chickens are given organic feed, and no antibiotics, unless they're ill and require them. They must be uncaged and have some access to the outdoors. There is compliance through auditing.

  • Natural: This label is somewhat sketchy because it means absolutely nothing. What it really means is the chicken is minimally processed.

  • Free range: This label means the chicken has access to outdoors at least 51 percent of the time. There are no restrictions on what the birds are fed. Because this label isn't certified, there really is no way of knowing how long these chickens are roaming around outside.

  • Omega-3: Chickens were fed fish oil or flaxseed, but who knows how much because it's not regulated.

  • United Egg Producers Certified: This labeling is extremely misleading because it permits routine cruel and inhumane farm practices and caging. It has no value whatsoever.

  • Vegetarian: This label means that hens are fed a diet free of animal byproducts, which is a bit nonsensical because chickens aren't vegetarians, so they aren't being fed what is actually a natural diet to them.

  • No antibiotics/No hormones: This is more of a marketing ploy because if you're buying certified organic, Animal Welfare Approved, or Humane Certified eggs, neither antibiotics nor hormones are allowed anyway. Knowing the validity of the label is difficult because the term isn’t regulated.

  • Animal Welfare Approved: This label is a very high welfare standard, reserved mostly for family farms. The hens have continual access to shelter and pasture with no antibiotic use. This term is regulated.

  • Food Alliance Certified: Hens are uncaged and have access to the outdoors. This label is also regulated.

  • American Humane Certified: This label allows for cage confinement and cage-free systems. The problem though is there is no way of knowing which one you're getting — cage confined or cage free. If the hens are caged confined, the space the hens have is the size of a legal sheet of paper.

Meat quality

Meat obviously is a great source of protein. Here are some quality guidelines when selecting different types of meat:

  • Beef: Selecting local, pasture-raised, grass-fed beef is your best choice. If you aren't purchasing organic, grass-fed, then be sure to choose lean cuts, and trim all visible fat off beef as well as drain all excess fat. Selecting mainstream, traditional, lean cuts with the visible fat trimmed is an okay choice.

  • Poultry: The best cuts are organic, pasture-raised chicken or turkey that's also free of antibiotics and hormones. All cuts, including the tasty chicken livers, are good choices. If your chicken or turkey isn't organic and pastured, remove the skin prior to eating.

  • Pork products: Focus on buying local, pasture-raised pork because you can avoid the hazards of the omega-6 fatty acids (inflammation-producing fats) found in factory-farmed pork. If you can't purchase at least organic, free-range pork, avoid commercial pork and select another protein. US Wellness Meats is a fantastic resource.

  • Lamb: Pasture-raised, grass-fed cuts are healthy and laden with nutrients. The nutrient-dense organ meats are a great source of B12 and zinc as well, good for healing during your eating window.

  • Wild game: All game including bison, goat, elk, venison, duck, wild boar, ostrich, and rabbit.

  • Fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, and so on), seafood, and shellfish: To find the healthiest, highest quality seafood, shellfish, and fish, look for wild fish (caught in the wild), wild caught fish (may have spent some time in a fish farm), or fish that was humanely harvested.

    Most companies use very poor quality oils in their canned fish. You should also always check the labels for soy. Also, don't buy canned fish with anything but water added. It's best to just add the oil at home.

  • Deli meats, or chicken or turkey sausage: These meats should be antibiotic and gluten-free with no nitrates or nitrites.

If you're on a strict budget and have to pick and choose where you spend any extras, throw down the extra bucks on meat. Getting healthy meat on a budget is more difficult than finding other healthy conventional foods. If you buy conventional meats, make sure you chose the leanest cuts and trim all visible fats before cooking.

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