Debunking the protein myth
Over the years there has been a lot of hype, debate and confusion surrounding protein. It’s taken centre stage in the spot light overshadowing most of all the other macronutrients and micronutrients.
Let’s take a look
Protein is a complex molecule which is made up of 20 different amino acids; these amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein, 12 of the 20 amino acids the body can synthesise whilst the other remaining 8 known as ´essential amino acids´ need to be obtained through diet so technically our body requires amino acids not protein per se.
All protein is initially made by plants; only plants have the ability to take nitrogen from the air break the molecules apart and incorporate that nitrogen into amino acids making protein, if we take a look at the largest and strongest mammals on the planet such as the gorilla, elephant and rhino they all consume a plant based diet- no problem with protein deficiency for these big guys.
Protein is an essential nutrient critical not only in building and replacing muscle tissue but in taking part in other vital roles in the body such as transporting nutrient, supporting a healthy immune system, producing enzymes and hormones and being a key component in metabolism.
Many people are switching from the traditionally animal based sources of proteins and are swapping over to plant based proteins, by skipping out the middle man “animal” and going straight to the plant source for the energy and protein. Many athletes are reaping the rewards and health benefits of a plant based diet and are seeing phenomenal results including Ultra marathon runners, Ironman champions, pro surfers, MMA fighters and even the famous tennis Williams sisters.
Most people believe that meat and dairy products are the sole source of dietary protein worthy of mention but plant sources of protein tend to be overall healthier especially when multiple plant sources of protein are combined as in many global food traditions do such as beans and rice.
Grains, beans, vegetables, nuts and seeds are all surprisingly loaded with protein; here are a few examples of complete protein food combinations
Nut butters on whole grain toast
Peanut butter and banana oatmeal
Hummus and pita bread
Quinoa, tofu and veggies
Brown rice and broccoli
Animal sources of protein tends to provide all the essential amino acids but they also tend to have a high amount of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol which have both been linked to cardiovascular diseases.
Replacing animal protein with plant based alternatives dramatically increases the antioxidant, fibre and mineral intake, since animal foods are almost completely devoid in several of these important nutrients, another added bonus is that plant based protein is also usually cheaper and overall healthier and more environmentally friendly than animal protein.
A diet focused around plants is preferable since they are alkalising on the body whilst animal based products tend to be acid forming putting stress on the body, causing inflammation and disease.
Beans, peas and pulses are fantastic substitutes for meat since they are a high source of protein but contain little to low fat and no cholesterol.
Lentils may only be small in size but they pack a big punch nutritionally with 1 cup providing…
- Contain 18grams of protein
- Rich source of dietary fiber
- Stabilize blood sugar whilst providing energy
- Helps to control diabetes
- Aids in digestion and boosts metabolism
- Good sources of trace minerals such as magnesium , iron, potassium and calcium
- Aids in weight loss
- Reduces the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer.
- Prevents constipation
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
So why not incorporate more of these foods into your diet whilst gaining all the health benefits for a fraction of the cost, it’s a win win situation.