A little diatribe on Protein

I am in some PAIN today! I’ve been working out like a maniac lately… not so much because I’m super athletically awesome and inexhaustible, but because I’ve been finding different types of workouts and kind of combining and trying new things. Some of my favorite sources for workouts:

Zuzana Light

Tone It Up!

Bodyrock.tv
And of course, I do some good-old-fashioned running, bike riding, plenty of walking, yoga, etc. I’ll go in-depth at another time.

For now, we have bigger issues to tackle:

Let’s get it out of the way, shall we? #1 question most vegetarians and vegans are asked is: how do you get enough protein?

Well, I eat protein. And enough of it. That’s how.

Check out my breakfast this morning! I’m an oatmeal ninja-master (why ninja? I just like ninjas…)! Like my Vega-brand water bottle in the background?

Okay, for real though, this question stems from a lot of misinformation and of course, for every one person who adopts a lifestyle—especially one that has become trendy—there’s always someone who doesn’t do their research and fucks it up for everyone else.

So, there are a few issues we need address first before getting into the nitty-gritty of protein consumption. (Ultimately, you cannot rely on others to do your research for you. Use blog posts, news articles, and research as a guide. This is a just a little overview so as to correct some misinformation.)

#1 Most people eat too much protein because of the emphasis on protein and muscle building that certain fads have promoted, and the fact that the FDA is funded by the large meat and dairy companies—a conflict of interest when it comes to the full disclosure of what’s healthy and what’s not.

#2 Most people don’t associate vegetables with protein. This is a problem because while they aren’t protein rich the way that meat and legumes are, some such as kale and spinach, contain relatively high levels of protein AND many other vitamins and minerals to boot.

#3 Quality of protein: While it is true that meat is a quick and efficient source of protein, particularly in the case of factory-farmed meats, the nutritional profile is severely lacking and there may be more risks than benefits to getting protein in this way. Meat eaters are often significantly deficient in some of the same vitamins and minerals that vegans struggle with, also.

So, then, how about vegans and protein:

In terms of the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of protein, it is fairly easy to get enough protein IF your diet is varied.

NEWSFLASH: You cannot be a picky eater and be a vegan. Nor should you be a picky eater, anyway, because food is awesome and you’re probably missing out on a lot of nutrients and flavors as a result. Stop. Being. A. Child.

(Also: do I have to sit here and tell you about how there are plenty of people in the world—in AMERICA—who don’t have enough to eat? Quit your bitchin’ and eat your broccoli.)

The problem seems to lie more within your daily intake of amino acids. Your body produces some amino acids itself, but the ones it cannot produce and must take in are referred to as “essential” amino acids.

According to veganhealth.org, one of the main issues is consuming protein sources that contain adequate amounts of the amino acid lysine. Legumes, especially soy products, are highest in lysine thereby serving as your best bet. Another source, though lower in lysine, is the grain quinoa (easy to cook and put with a million things—check it out!), which boasts a full essential amino acid profile (referred to as a “complete protein”).

A bigger issue in general, goes back to eating a varied diet and eating locally and seasonally which is something you can do regardless of your animal product intake or lack thereof. Also, there is no need for anyone to sit there and boast that their particular diet provides everything they need, because it is simply not true of any diet, especially if you are not willing to do your research.

Also, remember that our meals must contain all three macromolecules in proper proportion: protein, fats, and carbs (perish the thought! I know… carbs are scary in America).

Examples:

Proteins: legumes, kale, spinach, hemp seeds

Fats: nuts, high quality oils such as flax, hemp, cold-pressed olive oil, raw coconut oil

Carbohydrates: fruits and vegetables!

You may notice, too, that if you’re obsessive compulsively looking at every article online that touts information that well help with weight loss, this list of foods is there every.single.time. There is nothing so problematic about this list the way that animal products and highly processed bars and mixes are.

Regardless of your diet, keep it simple: whole, unprocessed foods. Combine all three macromolecules with an emphasis on vegetables at every meal, and you’ll be on your way to better health.

Sources:

Dr. Mark Hyman Make sure to check out his blog posts and he often writes for several news outlets, often for Huffington Post

Gabriel Cousens, MD Deficiencies in a Meat-based Diet

Too Much Protein

Vegan Health

*NOTE: I am not a certified nutritionist or personal trainer. Take this information with a grain of salt, and use it to expose yourself to new possibilities and more information.

*These links are just a few sources that I’ve used recently; go browse through your local bookstore or library and you’ll find lots of books from various people of various disciplines and diets that are great sources to compare and contrast! We’ll talk about some of my favorite books in another post 🙂 (Keep ya’ comin’ back for more!)

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