The fitness world is filled with superfoods and powerful proteins to fuel the body, but have you ever stopped to consider almonds?
These tiny, teardrop-shaped nuts pack a punch that can certainly lend a hand (or muscle) to those looking for help with muscle growth and recovery.
Do Almonds Have Protein?
When we talk about nuts and their protein content, many might wonder: do they all have protein and who has the most?
Let's break it down in simple terms. Macadamia nuts contain about 7.7% protein, while pecans have 9.2%. As we climb up the ladder, Brazil nuts offer 14.3%, walnuts 15.2%, cashews 18.2%, and pistachios 20.2%(1). But who's at the top? Almonds!
They pack a punch with 21.2% protein. In everyday terms, if you grab a handful - somewhere around 30 grams of almonds, you're getting ~6 grams of protein.
So next time you're craving a crunchy snack, remember almonds might just be the perfect addition.
What are Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)?
Amino acids act as the cornerstone of our body's health and wellness - from repairing and nurturing tissues and boosting our immune response to generating hormones and enzymes that maintain our bodily equilibrium.
These compounds are the fundamental building blocks of protein, essential for recovery, sustenance, growth, and peak performance.
There are 20 amino acids, and 9 of them are "essential." Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body, which means we must source them from our diet.
EAAs and Muscle Recovery
After a rigorous workout, your muscles aren't just tired; they're torn on a deeper level. EAAs come to the rescue by helping repair these tiny tears, allowing muscles to grow stronger and bigger.
A study by the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University focused on individuals with moderate exercise routines—less than three sessions a week to see the impact of almond snacks in comparison to high-carbohydrate cereal bars on inflammation and recovery after a 90-minute workout.
Those who ate almonds into their diet had lower levels of serum creatine kinase, an indicator of muscle damage. They also reported reduced post-exercise fatigue and tension(3).
Do Almonds Have All Nine Essential Amino Acids?
When we talk about the quality of protein, it’s not just about the grams of protein in each serving.
Two really important components define this quality: its amino acid (AA) composition and digestibility. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. For a protein to be labeled ‘complete’, it needs to have all nine essential amino acids in the right amounts.
Almonds, while rich in protein, don't contain all nine essential amino acids in the necessary proportions, making them an 'incomplete' protein source. However, this doesn't diminish their nutritional value.
How to Complete Almond Protein?
You can easily maximize the benefits of almond protein by combining it with other protein sources.
This is especially important for those on a plant-based diet. By complementing your almond intake with other protein-rich foods, you can make sure you’re getting a full spectrum of those essential amino acids. It's all about achieving a balanced and comprehensive nutritional profile!
Calories and Fat in Almonds?
Now, before you grab a bucket of almonds, remember they're also calorie-dense, mainly due to their fat content.
One ounce of almonds is around 165 calories, 6 grams of protein and carbohydrates, 14 grams of fat (80% monounsaturated, 15% polyunsaturated, and 5% saturated), and 3 grams of fiber(2).
But don't worry; this fat is primarily the healthy monounsaturated kind. It's heart-healthy and can help reduce bad cholesterol. However, moderation is key.
Those on a muscle-building journey might welcome these extra calories, but if you're watching your intake, be mindful of portion sizes.
What is Almond Powder?
Recently, almond-based products have been making waves in the health and fitness space.
These powders are an exceptional choice for those wanting to elevate their protein intake, especially on a plant-based diet. Rather than munching on handfuls of almonds, you can easily incorporate this powder into smoothies, oatmeal, or your favorite baked treats.
For example, our almond powder is crafted exclusively from whole almonds grown on California farms packing over 55% protein in each serving while only containing 70 calories and 2g of natural sugar.
Should I Eat Almonds for Muscle Growth?
While carbohydrates often steal the spotlight for exercise fuel, almonds can support muscle growth and strength.
The same study mentioned earlier, showed that those who ate 2 ounces of almonds noticed an increase in leg and lower back strength(3).
Also, keep in mind that almonds bring more to the table than just protein; they are a rich source of good unsaturated fats, the antioxidant vitamin E, and proanthocyanidins (a class of polyphenols). While they might not be the complete package in terms of EAAs, combined with other protein sources, they're a fantastic addition to your meals.
In conclusion, while almonds alone might not turn you into the next bodybuilding champion, they're a worthy addition to any fitness enthusiast's diet. They’re a testament to the fact that sometimes, big benefits come in small packages!
So, next time you need a post-workout snack, reach for a handful of almonds or a scoop of almond protein powder.