Plant Versus Animal Protein
Protein is made up of chains of molecules known as amino acids.
There are 20 amino acids found in nature that your body can use to build protein. Out of these 20 amino acids, 9 are considered essential, which means that your body cannot produce them itself, so you need to get them from your diet.
The remaining 11 are considered non-essential, as your body can produce them from the 9 essential amino acids.
Animal protein contains all nine essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. Plants also contain all nine essential amino acids however, besides a few exceptions, most typically offer a limited amount of at least one essential amino acid.
For instance, beans, lentils, peas, and many vegetables tend to contain low amounts of cysteine and methionine. On the other hand, grains, nuts, and seeds tend to be low in lysine (
However, as long as you eat a variety of plant-based proteins, this shouldnt pose a problem. You can still get sufficient amounts of all the essential amino acids your body needs.
Despite being considered incomplete source of protein, plant foods can be easily combined throughout the day to provide you with sufficient amounts of all amino acids.
Struggling To Cook Healthy We’ll Help You Prep
Some say Americans get adequate or even too much protein others argue we could safely eat more than whats recommended .
If youre looking to up your protein intake, that doesn’t necessarily translate to eat more meat. Plus, youre likely aware of ways to add meat-based protein to your diet with beef, chicken, turkey, seafood, etc. Though animal-based protein delivers all of the essential amino acids we need, you can absolutely get sufficient protein from plant-based sources.
What Is That Somethings Missing Feeling Really Telling You
The subject of getting enough protein is probably the most over-rated piece of misinformation put out by the American Medical Association and the meat & dairy industries. Many health foodists, vegetarians & omnivores alike, have mistakenly attributed that low energy feeling to a low protein sign. However, if you are interested in getting more protein into your body. Then luckily there are websites like to help you with this sort of thing.
The typical response for getting protein into your body though is to reach for nuts, soy products, protein shakes, meat, cheese, and the like. The subsequent digestive disturbances, fuzzy brain, and even lower energy over the next 1-3 days is not always associated to yesterdays high protein intake.
If low protein is not the real cause of low energy , then what is it really telling us, and how do we regain our energy in ways that do not compromise our health?
Such is the subject of the following article with a few surprising nutrition facts from several health studies.
Topics in this article include:
After being an avid meat eater up through my mid 50s , I slowly lost interest in the consumption of meat. Consuming more sea vegetables, clay minerals, and our superfood herbal blends seemed to satisfy the craving for meat in general.
What follows now is a summary of what has become obvious over the years on the subject of protein requirements.
Here is the conclusion of their analysis:
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Alternative Sources Of Protein
The thing about protein is that unlike carbohydrates and fat, our bodies don’t store protein, so we need a new source of it regularly so we can continue to function. That means that to stay healthy, we should be consuming some form of protein every single day, at every meal.
While we may naturally think of red meat as the ultimate source of complete protein, Zeratsky points out that there are many other alternative sources, including dairy products , fish and shellfish, and poultry. There are also several complete proteins that you can get from legumes or beans, and various types of whole grains.
Some non-animal forms of complete proteins that Zeratsky recommends include:
Complete soy products
While there are only a handful of standalone plant-based complete proteins, there are plenty of plant-based incomplete proteins that you can combine with whole-grain goods to create a meal that forms a complete protein. “Think of items like rice and beans, Zeratsky suggests.
Zeratsky says that lentils, in particular, are a great alternative source of protein, especially when paired with a whole grain. “You can cook lentils and blend them into baked goods,” she says.
Zeratsky also addressed the issue around soy products, which, in excess amounts, have been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers in animals, but do not increase the risk in humans.
What Is A Complete Protein
Protein is the macronutrient in your body that builds and repairs muscle tissue. Its essential for digestion, metabolic function and creating infection-fighting antibodies. Your brain, heart, liver and muscles consist of protein. In short, a healthy body and mind really need it.
So, what makes a protein complete? It depends on whether it has all 22 amino acids. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein. Our bodies naturally produce 13 amino acids, but the nine others need to be sourced elsewhere.
A protein is considered complete when it has nine essential amino acids in somewhat equal amounts, says Meagan Ballard, a registered dietitian at INTEGRIS Health. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be made by the body and therefore must be eaten in our diet.
Animal proteins are the richest food source for complete proteins, but there are also options for vegetarians and vegans. Of course, there is no right or wrong way to consume complete proteinswhether youre a meat-lover or veganas long as you are eating enough complete proteins.
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How Much Protein Do Vegans Need
Not as much as people would have you believe. Somehow, everyone got the idea that we need exorbitant amounts of protein, way more than is even recommended. I know, its fun to blame government agencies and cry conspiracy, but if you actually look at the recommendations, theyre not that high at all.
For example, the U.S. recommended daily allowance of protein is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight for the general population.
Protein for vegan athletes is somewhat more complicated, as greater tissue-repair need require more protein and general, and athletes tend to pay more attention to amino acid balance.
Some successful endurance athletes get as little as 5% of their calories from protein and since a gram of protein contains about four calories, thats less than 35 grams of protein a day for a 2500-calorie-per-day diet!
At the other extreme are vegan bodybuilders and those new to the plant-based diet who are accustomed to higher amounts of protein and worried about what will happen when they stop eating meat. They aim for higher amounts of protein, often 25 to 30 percent of calories. Its hard to get this amount from whole plant-foods, so they often turn to vegan protein supplements to get the extra boost theyre looking for.
Why You Should Not Be Concerned About Consuming Complete Proteins
There is no advantage to consuming all 9 essential amino acids in one particular food over consuming the 9 essential amino acids in a variety of foods throughout your day.
Amino acids can usually be recycled in the gut and stored in the body. You will very rarely hear of an amino acid deficiency because it is so unlikely.
Including a wide variety of plant foods such as legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains on a daily basis will allow for you to get the complete protein you need.
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Tofu Tempeh And Edamame
Tofu, tempeh, and edamame all originate from soybeans and are especially popular in East Asian cuisine.
Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide your body all the essential amino acids it needs.
Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled before you eat them. Then, they can be enjoyed on their own or added to soups, salads, sushi, wraps, stir-fries, or rice rolls.
Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking. Meanwhile, tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans, then pressing them into a block.
Tofu doesnt have much taste on its own, but it easily absorbs the flavor of the ingredients its prepared with. Comparatively, tempeh has a characteristic nutty flavor.
Both tofu and tempeh can be used in a variety of recipes, ranging from burgers to soups, stews, curries, and chilis.
All three soy-based proteins contain iron, calcium, and 1220 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving (
They can be used in a variety of dishes, ranging from fresh salads to hearty soups and spice-infused dahls.
Lentils are also a great source of fiber, providing over half of your recommended daily fiber intake in a single cup .
In addition, lentils are rich in folate, manganese, and iron. They also contain a hearty dose of antioxidants and other health-promoting plant compounds .
Does Fda Classify Honey Is Raw Meat
I was genuinely surprised to discover a peculiar myth that the US FDA classified honey as a raw meat it does not! There is absolutely no evidence for this at all. To be clear, the FDA defines honey as: a thick, sweet, syrupy substance that bees make as food from the nectar of flowers and store in honeycombs.
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Getting Enough Protein Is Not Likely Something To Stress Over
Overall, what Ive discovered is that for most of us, the issue of getting enough protein in the perfect combinations as diabetic vegetarians is one less thing we need to worry about. Its more important to focus on getting a variety of whole, plant-based foods into our diet and eating enough of those to keep our caloric intake where it should be. We have enough on our plate, we neednt make it heavier with worries about our protein intake.
However, if you are still concerned, especially if youre having unexplained symptoms, its totally worth it to consult with your doctor about your diet and perhaps request a test of all your nutrient and protein levels. Once youve done that and gotten any necessary recommendations for better balancing your nutrient intake, you can relax.
So release that stress, you dont need to carry it anymore. And you can reassure your loved ones that youre fine and that you are indeed getting enough protein.
I Pair Lower Protein Sources With Higher Protein Sources Because It Really Does Add Up
Something I had to come to terms with when I started increasing my protein was that not every food out there is high in protein. Obvious, I know, but in the beginning I only ate foods that had the most grams per bite: protein powder, eggs, lentils, yogurt, anything that had 10 to 20 grams. As you can imagine, that strategy lost its sparkle fast, and I was eating large quantities of the same foods .
So instead, I began adding smaller sources of protein like chia seeds , hemp hearts , almond butter , and pumpkin seeds to my meals. Of course, I thought that 4 grams wouldn’t make much of a difference, but if I add some chia seeds to my smoothie, a tablespoon of hemp hearts to a salad, and snack on some pumpkin seeds, I’ve now consumed 17 grams of plant-based protein without tryingand that definitely makes a difference.
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Is Lamb Meat Low In Fat
While thats good news, lamb is also a source of saturated fat. Cooked lamb delivers just about equal amounts of monounsaturated fats and saturated fats. Monosaturated fatty acids can lower cholesterol levels, but saturated fatty acids can increase them. And many cuts get over half their calories from fat.
The Importance Of Protein
Protein is vital for human health and proper organ function. Protein is broken down into things called amino acids and these are necessary to build muscle, produce enzymes and hormones, and repair damaged tissue. Since the body isnt able to store protein, it must be consumed every day.
The recommended daily protein intake is generally .8g for each kilogram of body weight for sedentary individuals and around double that for athletes and bodybuilders. But in our meat-obsessed modern societies, could most people simply be getting too much of it?
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Complete Vs Incomplete Proteins
Every single food is made up of different combinations of amino acids and is characterized according to how much of each EAA they provide.
Foods that contain adequate amounts of all of nine EAAs are called complete proteins. Meat and other animal foods are considered complete sources because they have complete EAA profiles.
Foods that are missing one or more of the EAAs are called incomplete proteins. Most plant foods have incomplete protein profiles, which means that you must combine them with other plant foods that have different EAAs to make a complete protein meal. To complicate matters, the body isnt always able to absorb all the protein we eat. The bioavailability of plant EAAs is lower than that of animal sources. If the label says there are 13 grams of protein in a veggie burger, it doesnt mean that your body will actually be able to absorb and use all 13 grams.
Here is where strategic planning is involved. To meet your protein needs, you need to know which plant foods provide which EAAs and which can be combined to balance out the missing amino acids.
Why Is Protein Important
- It is an essential nutrient that helps your body build and repair all kinds of tissue from bone and muscle to skin and cartilage.
- Protein is also used to produce various chemicals, such as enzymes and antibodies to keep your hormones in check and your immune system up.
- Upon consumption, protein gets broken down into amino acidsthe building blocks of life.
- Your hair and nails are mostly protein.
- Unlike fat, protein is not stored in your bodyit is used up as it comes.
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I Have A Protein Powder That I Loveand I Mean Really Love
My best advice to anyone looking to increase their protein is to find a protein powder that you love, now. Protein powder is one of the easiest ways to add more protein to your dietwhat’s not easy is finding one that you love the taste of, especially one with clean ingredients. After years of sampling, I’ve found my go-to’s: specifically PEScience Vegan Select or the chocolate ALOHA protein, which are both plant-based. A shake or smoothie in the morning or post-workout will typically deliver anywhere from 20 to 30 grams of protein, which is crucial for muscle repair and recovery and, for me, knocks out a large chunk of my goal. I always have at least one protein shake a day, and sometimes I end up having two . I usually mix protein powder with almond milk post-workout, and add spinach, banana, and chia seeds if I want something more substantial.
Learn To Love Lentils
Many of you may already know that lentils are a great source of protein and theyre one of the best to choose if youre not eating meat, eggs, or dairy. Lentils are high in amino acids, fiber, and many key minerals you need to build lean muscle including iron, zinc, and magnesium. Lentils are also high in potassium, a mineral that helps reduce high blood pressure and can reduce water weight gain from excessive sodium or processed foods.
Lentils contain 11 grams of protein per ¼ cup which equals about ½ cup once prepared. They also include 13 grams of fiber and only 1 gram of fat per ¼ cup of dry lentils which makes them an incredibly lean source of protein that will also promote a healthy heart and digestion.
Try Them Out In
Opt for lentils next time you make a chili, soup, stew, or even a meatless casserole. You can also use them to stuff tacos with in place of meat, top salads with them, or use them anywhere you would normally use ground beef since they have a similar texture and hearty flavor.
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Healthy Meatless Lunch & Dinner Options
High protein lunch meals that do not contain meat will take some getting used to, but the taste adaptation is well worth the health pay-offs.
Some people choose to simply swap out meat-based meals with beans , lentils, tofu, or tempeh. For example, instead of preparing beef burritos you can make brown rice and black bean burritos.
Or you can use chickpeas and edamame in place of chicken in stir fry, green lentils instead of ground beef in chili, red lentils in place of beef in spaghetti and lasagna, and kidney or cannellini beans as a meat replacement in soups and stews.
If you like to pack sandwiches for work try a tasty hummus spread on Ezekiel bread with tomatoes, cucumbers, and broccoli sprouts.
My favorite vegetarian meal is a giant salad or Buddha bowl full of colorful fruits and veggies, then topped with some kind of bean, lentil, and whole grain.
I alternate my legumes and grains every few days to include varying vitamins and minerals. Some of my usual combos are jasmine rice with edamame, teff with green lentils, chickpeas and quinoa, and sorghum with red lentils.