Regardless of what you cal yourself; a vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or a meatitarian, our bodies all require sufficient protein and a balance of macronutrients to ensure optimal performance. Although protein is a vital part of your daily diet, choosing a healthy source of protein and not over-eating protein is important for many reasons. According to the U.S department of Agriculture and Mayo Clinic, the average person consumes double the recommended amount of poor protein choices. This may put you at risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer. Talk to a certified practitioner to see what kind of source agrees with your body the best!
Why do we need protein?
Proven by physicists, nearly 98% of our atoms get replaced every year. Every six months, the liver replaces its cells, our stomach lining is regenerated every fives days, our red blood cells have a lifespan of 120 days and so forth. This means that protein is essential to aid in the growth and repair of each and every type of cell. Proteins are made up of many amino acids. Although our body is able to produce non-essential amino acids, we depend on essential amino acids to come from our everyday diet. Below is a brief list of important roles protein plays in our body:
- Proteins are building blocks in our body. Our nerves, tissues and bones are all made up of proteins, making it vital for growth and repair (premature aging, organ function)
- Hormone function
- Antibodies (immunity)
- Enzyme function
- Stabilizing blood sugar (sugar cravings, hypoglycemia, diabetes)
- Intrinsic factor (absorption)
How much protein do I need?
An easy way to estimate your protein portion is simply by the size of the palm of your hand. To calculate your daily protein requirement, it is determined as one gram of protein per two pounds (or one kilogram) of body weight.
Grams of protein per meal = (your weight in pounds divided by 2.2) divided by 3
Common sources of complete proteins
- Red meat
- Protein powders (whey protein powder with a natural sweetener ie. stevia, with at least 20 grams of proteins and about 3 or 4 grams of carbohydrate per serving)
- Protein bars
- Cottage cheese
- Ricotta cheese
- Protein breakfast cereal
- Wraps, bread, or bagels made with protein flours
How much protein am I getting in eggs?
2 whole eggs or 4 egg whites – 15 grams
3 whole eggs or 6 egg whites – 20 grams
4 whole eggs or 8 egg whites – 25 grams
Common sources of incomplete proteins (vegetarian sources, high carbohydrate, low protein)
- Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, lima beans, green peas, split peas, pimento beans
- Grains: barley, bulgur, cornmeal, oats, buckwheat, pasta, rye, wheat
- Soy products: tempeh, miso
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, etc.
- Seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
To create a complete protein, combine in one of the following ways:
- Combine a grain with a legume
- Combine a grain with a nut or seed
- Combine a legume with a nut or a seed