Protein can be a confusing subject. Some people don’t realize how much they need and how important it is while others seem to consume very high quantities, and often times, not the best sources of protein.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and there are 9 amino acids which are essential, meaning that they need to come from our diet. But don’t worry – there are a lot of foods that contain a spectrum of amino acids and you can get them from vegetables, animal products, legumes, nuts and seeds. It is important to eat a varied diet to ensure you are getting all your amino acids which help repair and grow tissue in all parts of our body.
So what do we need protein for? Protein is essential for, again, tissue in our body, muscles, hemoglobin, antibodies, blood sugar levels, organs, and some hormones.
Below is a basic calculation you can use to get a basic idea of how many grams of protein you should consume per day but its also important to remember that this differs from person to person based on genetics, metabolism and level of physical activity.
- Take your body weight (lbs) and divide by 2.2 = your weight in kg.
- Then take that number and multiple it by 0.8 to get grams of protein/day
- For example 150lbs/2.2 – 68 kg x 0.8 = 54 grams/day
Again this is just a rough calculation so you may be wondering: how do I know if I’m getting enough protein? Well, if you are deficient you may be suffering from various symptoms such as fatigue, muscle wasting, poor memory, blood sugar fluctuations, poor immune function, etc. In this case, this could be a sign of protein deficiency and you should look at ways to increase it and also consider visiting your health care practitioner.
Don’t fret – there are so many great sources of proteins! Whether you’re a vegan/vegetarian, or not, there are a lot of great sources of healthy protein. There are beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, grains, spirulina, collagen, grass-fed animal protein, fish, eggs, and sprouted protein powders.
One thing I get asked about a lot lately is collagen, which seems to be gaining a lot of popularity lately. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and has be been linked to improving joint, skin, hair, nail and gut health. It is important that we have enough collagen in our body since production decreases as we age which can lead to loss in bone density and skin elasticity. You can buy collagen in a powdered form which can be added to drinks, smoothies, protein balls, and baked goods.
What Does it Mean to be Plant-Based?
A plant-based diet focuses on foods that come from plants such as nuts, needs, legumes, grains, and of course vegetables. Some people who follow a plant-based diet still have some animal product whereas others do not. There is no one way to define plant-based.
What are the benefits?
Many people decide to follow a plant-based diet due to the added health benefits. I am not a fan of labels because they can create unnecessary restrictions and guilt for some individuals. However, plant-based is a bit more of a flexible label that can be tweaked for individual’s health needs. Since this type of eating limits the consumption of foods, like red meat, it has been linked to decreased in blood pressure and heart disease. If you are eating plant-based and also avoiding other unhealthy foods like processed, refined and packaged foods, this may help with energy levels, mental clarity, sleep and overall health.
Now, this is a diet consists of mostly plant-based foods but whether or not you prescribe to a plant-based diet, its important to incorporate lots fruits and veggies into your meals. Check out some plant-based protein sources below:
- Black beans
- Nutritional yeast
- Edamame and soy products
- Sea vegetables
Protein Banana Pancakes
- 1 banana, mashed
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 2 tbsp collagen
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- maple syrup to top
- Mix banana and eggs well
- Then add remainder of the ingredients except the avocado oil to a bowl and mix well
- Add the avocado oil to a frying pan over medium
- Pour the batter and flip half way through