Thursday, December 10, 2009

Protein, a macronutrient.

Being vegetarian, a common question I get asked is, how do you get enough protein?

The average person (non-athlete) needs 0.8 g per kg. So a 150 lb person needs about 55 g of protein each day. This isn't a tremendous amount. For example, 3 oz of salmon delivers almost 22 grams of protein. It's easy to see how people can over consume protein if they're not conscious of what they are putting in their bodies.

The quality of protein matters as much as the quantity. Sources of protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, fish, poultry, eggs and meat. Eggs have the highest biological value of protein of any whole food.

A complete protein is comprised of the 8 (or 9) essential amino acids. These essential amino acids are Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine, and Histidine. Animal products are rich with all of these essential amino acids. But vegetable proteins must be combined to form a complete protein. For example: legumes + grains (black beans + rice), legumes + nuts/seeds (chickpeas + tahini), grains + dairy products (granola + yogurt).

Additional protein can be found in booster foods such as bee pollen, algae and nutritional (brewer's yeast). Protein powders and bars are another way to get more protein in the diet especially during or after an intense workout. Selecting protein bars that have the lowest sugar and least amount of processing is optimal. This Cherry Pie Larabar only contains unsweetened cherries, almonds, and dates.

Remember everyone's intake of protein (fat and carbohydrates) varies based on stress, age, genetics, and activity level. Pregnant women, children, athletes, fast metabolizers and people recovering from injuries will need more protein in their diet than the average person.


mrlunch said...

Wondering what you think about Quinoa? Isn't Quinoa a complete protein, yet a grain? I've got friends that love it, but I never prepare it. Any recipes or thoughts?

Unknown said...

Yes quinoa is the only grain that is a complete protein! Thanks for mentioning this. It's gluten-free which makes it easier to digest too.
I love the versatility of quinoa, breakfast ( or lunch (
These will get you started. Hope you're well MP :)