Probably the most asked question and myth around Plant-powered diet is about our favorite macro nutrition, protein. ‘How can you possibly get enough protein when you do not eat meat and diary?‘ I too was concerned about this element at the start of my Plant-powered journey, however, I found out that the contrary is true.
We live in times in which we are possessed by protein consumption. ‘Proteinaholic’ by Garth Davis, MD , presents us with an evidence – based case of why such an obsession for protein, meat protein in particular, takes place and makes us ill, fat and tired. The fact is that whether you are an athlete or a couch potato the copious amounts of meat protein are not going to do you any good. The animal protein is a circus of factory farmed, hormone and pesticide fueled, low in fiber foods that are extremely high in saturated fat.
However, let’s not be mistaken. Protein is essential nutrient. It is not only critical to repair or build muscle tissue, but its role in wide range of important body functions is crucial. So does it make really any difference if our protein comes from meat or plants? And how much do we need?
Protein consists of twenty different amino acids. Eleven of which can be naturally produced by our bodies. The remaining nine, that are called essential amino acids, must be derived from foods that we eat. From technical point of view, we require certain amino acids, not protein in itself. In spite of that, these nine essential amino acids are not available only from animals. Actually, they are synthesized by plants and found in meat and dairy products just because these animals have eaten plants. In fact, they are found in bountiful amounts in a wide variety of grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and legumes. So in common sense, if your diet contains well rounded variety of these plant based foods, it is impossible for our bodies to be deficient in ability to properly digest all the proteins it needs for correct tissue maintenance and repair.
Let’s just skip the fact that most people procure their protein consuming animal foods, which tend to contain a whole shebang of unhealthy byproducts. On the other hand, with Plant-power diet, one needs to obtain the nine essential amino acids from plant based foods, which are digested much easier and processed differently by our bodies from animal based proteins. Now, let’s get nitty gritty here. Recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 0.8 grams per kilogram of protein. Meanwhile, studies show that the requirements of the athlete don’t exceed RDA recommendation. The World Health Organisation even recommends that men and women only need 5 percent calories as protein, which is a half of RDA amount. And still, most of the people, of whom are mainly sedentary, manage to have intake 2 – 5 times higher than RDA.
‘So how do I get protein that I need without animal foods?’ Simple. If we spread it over a course of the day, having a homemade green smoothie and toast with peanut butter for breakfast, bean salad with quinoa for lunch and lentils, edamame beans, barley, tofu and spinach and broccoli is going to take you where you need to be. And to really hit the nail on it’s head, even if you would eat nothing else than variety of fresh fruits, you still would not suffer protein deficiency nor missing out on particular amino acid. Even though eating only fruits is a little bit extreme, but enjoy diet of legumes, grains, seeds, nuts, fruits and green vegetables throughout the day and there is no way that you are not going to meet your daily requirements of essential amino acids.
On the days when I train and feel fatigued, travel a lot, or when I didn’t eat enough plant based foods high in protein, I do include a small amount of plant based protein powder in my smoothie as a safeguard. Personally, I use Nutrilite All Plant Protein, which is organic, made from soy, wheat and peas. They can actually trace all the nutrition from the product to its very origin as a seed in a soil, as well as time and date when it’s been planted, harvested and turned into a supplement. And I started to include spirulina in my green smoothies. It is a fresh water algae phytonutrient super food, which boosts protein content of 60 – 65 percent by weight.
With respect to all athletes and people of all possible activities, I could not find a scientific study, which would show that protein consumption beyond RDA advised minimum, helps additional growth nor physiological repair induced by exercise stress. On the other hand, there are numerous studies proving that excess protein intake from animal based sources can significantly contribute to set in motion a variety of diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, kidney malfunction as well as heart disease.
Proteins found in milk are not only packed with hormones, as they meant to serve as feed for baby kettle, but also high in casein, which can be a huge contributor to several maladies, including cancer. What makes me sick as well as admire the industry for their genius is invention of whey protein. Whey is nothing less than a low grade, highly processed discard of cheese production. The diary industry created billion dollar business out of stuff that had been previously tossed into unwanted rubbish. Yet, many stores sell these giant cans with packed up muscle man on its cover in bulk for ridiculous money, when its value production as well as nutrition wise is worth nearly big fat nothing.
The protein craze is over hyped and harmful. Why instead of steak, chicken, eggs, milk and whey supplements not to try plant based sources such as black or kidney, and many other beans, Brazil nuts, almonds, legumes, linen, chia or hemp seeds, spirulina or tempeh.
And if you are still unsure, consider this . The most ferocious animals on the planet like an elephant, gorilla, rhino and hippo, they all get their protein from plants, one hundred percent of it.
Peace & Love