Beat The Winter Blues Pt. 1 – Optimum Protein Uptake
Misconception of protein requirement is a recurrent ailment of the uninformed; protein is a macronutrient requisite not only for the Herculean gym-goer, but also for every man, woman and child alike.
During digestion, protein is broken down into an amino acid spectrum, aka essential building blocks for the repair and maintenance of muscle mass.
As far as physical conditioning is concerned, whether you’re a Wall Street desk-jockey or an avid sportsman, you should pay attention to personal protein requirement to ensure optimum physical performance and reliability.
The precise quantity of protein that an individual requires daily, is subject to great disparity across the nutritionist community; mainstream advice is that for muscle mass maintenance and anti-catabolic provision, one gram of protein should be consumed for each pound of body weight.
Optimum protein is an essential commodity, not simply to define physical stature, but to enhance mood, positive outlook, and general sense of well-being.
During the winter months we tend to hibernate, not just physically but also mentally; whether you’re of the Seasonal Affective Disorder demographic, or you’re a budding hypochondriac. Diminished daylight hours, coupled with cold and wet conditions, wreak havoc upon psychological well-being.
During this time more than ever, we rely on nutrition to provide us the support and stability required to function at optimum cognitive performance. Protein is a fundamental tool in the war against emotional instability, as healthy brain function relies upon amino acids, protein derivatives, to manufacture elements required for production of mood-stabilizing chemicals.
Neurotransmitters that directly affect our mood include:
Dopamine: responsible for perceived energy and mental focus. Serotonin: responsible for sleep promotion and mood stabilization. Endorphins: responsible for pain reduction and a sense of happiness. GABA: responsible for nocturnal sedation, facilitating restorative sleep.
Incurring deficit in any of these brain chemicals can produce a pseudo-emotional-impact, whereby the individual experiences psychological symptoms that are unrelated to their actual circumstances; these are mere manifestations created by the chemical imbalance, which can lead to perceived tiredness, depression, anxiety and stress.
The common denominator connecting these neurotransmitters is that they are nourished through amino acid supplementation, whether individually or resultant from a protein rich diet that delivers the entire spectrum of amino acids at regular intervals throughout the day.
Individuals should eat a balanced diet, incorporating protein, carbohydrates and fats on a regular basis, whilst maintaining hydration at the same time. I recommend eating at least five small meals throughout the day, with protein as the most prevalent nutrient in at least three.
Omnivores can achieve this through inclusion of meat, fish, eggs and dairy. For the vegetarians out there, it is worth talking to a nutritionist to identify protein rich alternatives that support you in a comprehensive diet, as most plant-based protein rich foods do not contain the full spectrum of essential amino acids.
However, they can be combined with one another, filling in the amino gaps and delivering a complete protein; you need to incorporate every piece of the puzzle to achieve the full picture.
Implementing a high protein diet through natural food source and amino acid supplementation has been shown to have dramatic and often immediate mood enhancing effects; so if you’re looking for a quick fix to beat the winter blues, look at nutrition as your first step.