The Protein Factor

“Life is a series of moments but the trick is to be in the moment.” –Richard Carlson

Your body must direct as much blood as possible to your muscles to maximize snowshoeing proficiency. This is easily accomplished by the consumption of nutrient-dense plant-based foods.

“One-step nutrition” refers to foods that contain nutrients in a form instantly usable by your body. The term was coined by professional triathlete, author, and formulator of Vega nutritional products, Brendan Brazier. The key is to quickly pump oxygen and fuel to your musculature versus digestive processes.

The typical North American diet consists of foods that are neither easily assimilated nor readily usable by your body to fuel your muscles. This will sabotage your energy for snowshoeing because your body must first expend energy to break down nutrients in order for your body to use them. This vicious circle is a waste of time.

Protein is integrated in the membrane of each cell. Its role is to facilitate growth and repair tissue not fuel your muscles. Fruit should be your first choice for fuel. Your body will choose to use protein as fuel only as a last resort. Consuming too much protein before you snowshoe will likely result in muscle cramping among a myriad of other hassles detrimental to your plans. Protein requires more fluid in order to metabolize, and will inevitably drain your reservoir in short order while creating toxins, to further zap your energy.

Protein represents the building blocks of life. It is usable only when its amino acid profile is intact. There are 20 amino acids involved in human nutrition. Eight amino acids are essential to our diet because they cannot be synthesized by the liver. A diet rich in whole plant foods will provide all essential amino acids.  Animal protein typically takes two or three days to snake through your digestive tract. Keep in mind that protein in foods heated at 161 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will become useless to your body because of toxicity.

The body must break down protein into usable form (amino acids). Regeneration of tissue is expedited by eating foods rich in amino acids. Greens have the highest percentage of amino acids per ounce of any food. Find below a brief list of plant-based foods readily assimilated by your body to bypass the unnecessary expenditure of energy (and chronic diseases) associated with animal protein consumption.

  • Hemp;
  • Sprouts;
  • Legumes;
  • Spinach and leafy greens;
  • Asparagus;
  • Broccoli;
  • Cabbage;
  • Nuts;
  • Chlorella (Superfood);
  • Pseudograins and much more

The fact that most protein consumed is not in usable form is a tell-tale sign that the need for protein is low. The root issue is consumption of too much protein – and what type(s). Excess protein has been linked to a number of chronic diseases. Animal foods high in protein are often accompanied by high levels of fat. Snowshoers will generally require more protein than the average person but only in direct correlation to an increased caloric intake. These needs are easily met with plant-based whole foods.

Sports nutritionists often recommend as much as 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is mistakenly interpreted to mean that an athlete ought to consume concentrated protein foods or supplements. It takes 2,700 calories of energy to produce one pound of lean muscle. A more sound approach is to increase total food consumption versus the ratio of protein to fat or carbohydrate in the diet.

The latest research suggests that protein needs per calorie consumed do not seem to rise as a function of athletic participation. Protein requirements do rise in accordance to amplified caloric intake but do not impact athletic performance.

The consumption of an array of fruits and vegetables more than adequately meets the protein requirements of the snowshoer. Raw nuts and seeds among other plant sources are readily available to facilitate intensified strength training objectives.

The marketplace is jammed with protein supplements heralded as the next recovery or muscle enhancement elixir. Most supplements are perfect examples of denatured foods offering little nutritional value after the refining process.

Types of protein supplements include whey, soy, casein, rice, egg white, or a similar base. The objective is to locate a natural protein with a high pH to ensure bioavailability. The clear choice is hemp protein because it is raw, has a high pH balance, high bioavailability, a great source of Omegas 3-6-9, fiber, enzymes, and its extremely low carbon footprint.

Whey and soy proteins (among others) are processed – thus killing its pH balance and enzymes. Isolating the proteins, by the removal of carbohydrate and fat, incurs high temperatures and chemicals which does serious damage to its health benefits.

Look for raw protein or “flash pasteurized” protein at the very least. The latter is a process whereby only enough heat is implemented to kill bacteria. Make certain your protein supplement contains chlorophyll to optimize alkalinity. Be mindful of the energy draw protein supplements other than hemp have on the environment.

Daily consumption of protein with a relatively high pH balance will minimize the body’s acidity. Nuts, seeds, legumes, spirulina, wheat, oat, and barley grasses, dark green leafy vegetables, seaweeds, and many other sources in addition to the aforementioned offer a rich amino acid profile. You can choose to repair tissue by clogging your internal plumbing system with slowly rotting animal protein or with instantly usable vibrant phytonutrients from plant-based whole foods. Like it or not, you are what you eat.

Protein remains the most misunderstood concept pertaining to a plant-based whole foods diet. The concept is simple: eating whole, unrefined, plant-based foods will be assimilated, absorbed, and utilized much more efficiently and effectively than animal foods or proteins. It also promotes environmental stewardship. I encourage you to truly examine what food types you ingest in your effort to attain optimal sports performance, regeneration, and wellness.

A plant-based whole foods lifestyle offers enormous benefits to your wellness which will invariably transcend your snowshoeing efforts. Challenge yourself to merge with and become each moment with heightened awareness.

About the author

Jeff Kildahl, Wellness Editor

Jeff Kildahl is a writer, author, wellness consultant and philanthropist advancing preventive health care by synthesizing primary source nutrition and fitness as the principal components of the practice of medicine.

Kildahl is a sponsored vegan ultra-endurance athlete credentialed in bioenergetics, biomechanics, metabolic efficiency™ testing, sport nutrition, and natural medicine. He is a dynamic member of CUBE™ ~ a professional speakers group ~ empowering others to harmonize the "Keys to Living in the Song of Life."

He is the wellness editor at Snowshoe Magazine, United States Snowshoe Association columnist, and contributor to health, fitness and wellness sites, blogs and publications. He is a US-based ultra-endurance athlete and philanthropist for the 100 FOR 100 Movement ~

Kildahl is the creator and president of The Wholistic Edge® ~ a visionary firm providing synergistic solutions to transcend health, performance, and potential in life and sport from the inside out via the principles of Performance Medicine™ ~