Today, a topic that confuses us all, including (and sometimes, especially) me, PROTEIN. How much do we really need? How much is too much? Do I get enough to build muscle? Where do vegans get theirs from? Do they make me fat? Skinny? Didn’t Dr. Atkins teach us all that protein is THE answer for weight loss? Didn’t The China Study and then Forks Over Knives tell us that too much protein is what’s causing cancer?
With so many questions, I will use this Vegan Feast Thursday to try to share some of the answers that I have found, that make sense to me. The rule of thumb for gym rats like myself, has always been to get about 20% of daily calories from protein. Some have suggested that body-builders need as much as 2 grams for every pound of body weight. Just 1 gram seemed even overly aggressive for me, personally. What about all the calories and fat in much protein? ANY fuel we eat too much of, gets stored. Plain and simple.
Over the last few decades, especially much more recently, we have become aware of a great big link between too much animal protein, and cancer. In fact, in the China Study and Forks Over Knives, we see the incredible health benefits of lowering animal protein intake, to less than 5% of our daily consumption. In fact, in people keeping their intake less than 5%, cancer is basically non-existent.
So how do we get or stay both strong, fit AND healthy? If you must eat animal protein, keep it minimal. A half-pound burger supplies about 42 grams of protein. That’s A LOT!! And while red meat is considered a good choice, Men’ Journal Magazine, considers soy an excellent choice! Studies prove that soy protein builds muscle just as effectively as animal protein and has the added bonus of being a cancer fighter. Beans, which also provide much fiber (meat has NONE) have up to 18 grams (lentils) in a cup and although they are not a “complete” protein, beans will combine with other foods you eat through the day to build a complete chain of amino acids. Combining say beans and rice at a meal is a great way of having a complete protein but it’s old school to think we NEED to combine them at each meal. Quinoa, which is actually a seed, IS a complete protein and provides about 8 grams per cup. Even a cup of cauliflower has 5 grams of protein and next to NO calories!
I found a great new Gardein product this week. Its a burger and though it takes a few minutes to prepare, it is definitely a lot more hamburger like, than a Boca Burger. One patty has 130 calories and provides 17 grams of protein. They are in the freezer section of the grocery store and a bag of 4 of them is $3.99. Just watch the sodium when eating these or any frozen foods!
We’ll be eating tacos tonight. I never make them, but Derek put in a request. I pulled a pineapple out of the yard last night, so we’ll be sharing that, too. Nothing beats eating something home-grown.
Have a great VFT. Remember that even Men’s Journal suggests that all of us should be amping up our intake of NON-animal protein as they offer us the important muscle building amino acids, with the bonus fiber, no cholesterol, less fat and NO carcinogens.
As always, make wise, healthy choices that best support you, your loved ones, and the world around us. And, oh yea, the guy in the picture with all the muscles…that’s Robert Cheeke and yes, he really is a vegan!