Let’s Talk Turkey About Amino Acids

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I used to hate eating turkey. It seemed flavorless compared to chicken and beef. When I started on my transformation diet, I was forced, however, to incorporate turkey into my meals each day.

Suddenly, I began to actually want it. It didn’t matter what seasoning I put on it, it always tasted great.

Pretty soon turkey became my protein of choice. What was turkey doing for my body that made me crave it so much? The answer is in the protein.

When we look at the nutritional make-up, we see turkey includes a good balance of protein versus carb, 19 different amino acids, a very small amount of fats and good dose of Omega 6.

There are a lot of advantages in eating turkey. Finding a protein that has a good balance of protein to carbs is essential when you are trying to loose some extra body fat. The protein carb ratio is 1:4. So for every gram of carb, you have four grams of protein. This allows you to eat it for a non-carb meal in the evening, but still get a little bit of carb energy to get you through the night.

But most importantly, let’s look at the protein and amino acid profile in a 4 oz. serving of turkey.

The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of our bodies. A protein is complete when it includes all nine essential amino acids. Turkey doesn’t just include the nine essentials, but also the nine non-essential amino acids, too. It actually scores a 145 on the Protein Quality Scale.

A protein needs to score at least 100 to be considered complete. Amino Acids are crucial to staying healthy since they contribute largely to the health of our nervous system, hormone production, and muscular structure. In addition, they are required for vital organs and cellular structure.

If a person experiences low levels of the essential amino acids, this may cause: hormonal imbalances, lack of concentration, irritability, depression, and perhaps even addiction problems. The nine essential amino acids have to be obtained through your diet in adequate quantities in order to meet the needs of your body.

Many non-essential amino acids require the presence of essential amino acids to help create them, so not getting the essential amino acids is detrimental to your health.

The funny thing is, the most famous amino acid in turkey is tryptophan, which turkey has actually quite little of. You will be excited to start eating more turkey after you read what an awesome protein it is!

Here is a list of the amino acids present in a 4 oz. serving of turkey and what important role the amino acid plays in your body:

Tryptophan 200 mg – an essential amino acid
Ahhh, my favorite animo acid. Tryptophan is the essential building block for numerous life-giving biomolecules. Enzymes, structural proteins, serotonin, melatonin and neurotransmitters wouldn’t be the same without tryptophan.

We know serotonin is responsible for lots of physiological functions, such as affective disorders, pain perception, sleep, temperature and blood pressure. Tryptophan is recognized as a possible mediator of central fatigue and is widely used as an alternative medicine to treat insomnia, anxiety, depression, PMS, and smoking cessation. It also enhances relaxation and sleep, soothes nerves and anxiety, and reduces carbohydrate cravings.

Tryptophan also helps treating menopausal depressive conditions, alleviates the symptoms of restless leg syndrome and assists in controlling the hyperactivity in children.

Threonine 875 mg – an essential amino acid
When it combines with aspartic acid and Methionine, it reduces the accumulation of fat in the liver. Threonine helps the digestive and intestinal tracts to function more smoothly. It supports the central nervous, cardiovascular, liver, and immune system functioning.

Plus, it helps in the synthesis of glycine and serine, which then assist in the production of collagen, elastin, and muscle tissue. Threonine also boosts the immune system and aids in building strong bones and tooth enamel. Interestingly, it’s also used in helping treat Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Isoleucine 1000 mg – an essential amino acid
Isoleucine increases endurance and helps heal muscle tissue and boost up the energy levels. This amino acid participates in hemoglobin synthesis, as well as in the regulation of blood sugar and energy.

Leucine 1000 mg – an essential amino acid
Leucine aids in burning fat without burning muscle. It spares the muscle proteins, leaving them to help in building and increasing muscle gain and mass. Additionally, it helps in regulating blood-sugar levels, promotes the growth and recovery of muscle and bone tissues, as well as the production of the growth hormone. It is also beneficial for people with phenylketonuria.

Lysine 1800 mg – an essential amino acid
Lysine is important in calcium absorption and in help building muscle protein. Lysine also aids in recovering from surgery or traumas and helps your body produce hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. A lack of Lysine can cause symptoms as slow growth, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and even reproductive disorders.

Methionine 600 mg – an essential amino acid
Methionine is important in metabolism and helping detoxify the liver. It can be used to treat depression, inflammation, liver diseases, and some muscle pains. This amino acid is particularly helpful for those suffering from estrogen dominance or those using oral contraceptives. However, improper conversion of Methionine can lead to atherosclerosis.

Phenylalanine 800 mg – an essential amino acid
Phenylalanine is most important because it is a precursor of Tyrosine. Tyrosine leads to the formation of adrenaline. The adrenaline is then converted into a brain chemical utilized to produce noradrenaline which is responsible for promoting mental alertness and memory, and also for the elevation of mood and for the suppression of appetite.

Phenylalanine has been used to treat conditions such as lack of energy, memory problems, depression, confusion, decreased alertness, and lack of appetite, all of which may be caused by a phenylalanine deficiency. Phenylalanine has also been shown to improve walking disabilities, rigidity, speech difficulties, and depression caused by Parkinson’s disease, as well as depression because it stimulates brain chemicals like norepinephrine and dopamine.

Valine 1000 mg – an essential amino acid
Valine is essential in creating a smooth nervous system and cognitive functioning. Valine aids in the improvement in insomnia and nervousness. Plus, it is also helps alleviate disorders of the muscles, works as an effective appetite suppressant and helps to regulate the immune system. However, it is especially helpful to athletes for muscle tissue recovery, muscle metabolism and increasing exercise endurance.

Histidine 600 mg – an essential amino acid
Your body needs Histidine to regulate and to utilize essential trace elements like iron, copper, molybdenum, zinc, and manganese. Children tend to lack this amino acid. This amino acid is the precursor to histamine, a compound released by the immune system to combat an allergic reaction. Histidine is an animo acid required by the body to produce Metallothionein. Without metallothionein, a person can develop mineral-enzyme deficiencies and other mineral related dysregulations.

Cystine 200 mg
Cystine it is essential for reducing the effect of aging, the detoxification and renewal of skin and recovery of hair and nail tissue. Cysteine is used in creating antioxidants and protecting your brain and liver from damage made by alcohol, drugs and cigarette smoke. This amino acid also helps protect against toxins and damages caused by radiation.

Tyrosine 800 mg
Tyrosine supports and assists neurotransmitters in the brain. It increases plasma neurotransmitter levels, especially noradrenalin and dopamine. This amino acid, if used in full, helps reduce stress, improves mental alertness and mood, and even acts as an appetite suppressant. Tyrosine is essential for the production of hormones like thyroxin, which plays an important role in regulating metabolism, mental health, skin health, and human growth rate. Plus, it is helps to reduce body fat content, to produce skin and hair pigment and for positively influencing the thyroid, pituitary and adrenal gland.

Arginine 1300 mg
Arginine helps healing wounds, release hormones, and remove ammonia from your body. Arginine helps in the treatment of high blood pressure, migraines, congestive heart failure, and even erectile dysfunction and male infertility, and sexual dysfunction in women. Many people use Arginine in order to boost up the immune system and to improve the athletic performance.

Alanine 1200 mg
Alanine helps your body convert simple sugar (glucose) into energy, while eliminating excess toxins from your liver. Alanine is key to building muscles. It helps protect cells from being damaged during intense exercise. May also help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlargement of the prostate)

Aspartic acid 1800 mg
This amino acid is necessary for stamina, brain and neural health. It also plays an important role in the forming of other amino acids. Aspartic acid increases your body’s metabolism and is also used to treat depression and fatigue.

Glutamic acid 3100 mg
Glutamic Acid is considered the brain’s primary “food”. When it passes the blood-brain barrier, it utilizes all the excess ammonia, which is a toxic waste, and transforms it into Glutamine. Glutamic Acid also increases mental clarity and is used in the treatment of Parkinson’s, fatigue, mental retardation, schizophrenia, muscular dystrophy, and alcoholism. Additionally, it helps detoxify muscle cells and is important for metabolizing carbohydrates.

Glycine 960 mg
This amino acid is responsible for keeping your skin firm and flexible. It helps prevent the breaking down of muscles, since it boosts your body’s levels of creatine. it is also vital for maintaining a healthy central nervous and digestive systems. Additionally, it can also provide protection against some types of cancer through antioxidants.

Proline 800 mg
There are two thing Proline responsible for. One, it is an essential ingredient of collagen, so is necessary for proper functioning of joints and tendon. And two, it helps diminish arterioscleroses. If you body does not get enough proline, your blood vessels can not expand and contract as your blood circulates throughout your body. The amino acid is created from Glutamic Acid. So having the proper amounts of Glutmic Acid in your body is important for Proline to be created.

Serine 850 mg
Serine is obtained from the amino acid Glycine. Serine is particularly essential for proper functioning of your brain and central nervous system. Serine’s function is to help form the phospholipids which are necessary for creating every cell in your body. Additionally, it plays a role in muscle formation and supports the immune system. Tryptophan cannot be made without Serine, so getting the right amount of it in your diet is very important. Serine requires a sufficient amount of vitamin B and folic acid to effectively produce it.

So as you can see, the role of amino acids in our diet is crucial for our body to function properly. But how much do you need?

According to the Institute of Medicine, a non-pregnant or non-lactating adult woman should be getting at least 46 grams of protein a day and an adult man should be getting at least 56 grams a day. When you calculate it out, you can see, based on how much protein is in four ounces of turkey (19 grams), and how many amino acids that 4 ounces provides, how much animo acids your body needs on a daily basis. So for a women, you would need to eat at least 2 ½ servings of turkey a day to get all the amino acids you need.

Luckily, Turkey is a perfect low-fat and low-carb source of protein to get your necessary amino acids from. So eat up!

Hope Bundrant is a home school mom, co-founder of the iNLP Center and nationally qualified bodybuilding competitor. If you like this article, then visit Hope at BikiniHope.com for more fitness tips, recipes and personal development articles.

Sources:
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sausages-and-luncheon-meats/1390/2#ixzz2ljBZMOvy
http://www.aminoacidsguide.com/Val.html
http://www.iom.edu/Global/News%20Announcements/~/media/C5CD2DD7840544979A549EC47E56A02B.ashx

  • Laura

    Hi Hope, great article! This feels like a dumb question but—what form of turkey do you usually recommend? Roasting a whole one (a la Thanksgiving)? High-quality deli meat? I wouldn't mind incorporating turkey into my diet, but I don't see much of it around except during holidays…or maybe I just haven't been looking?