Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Nutrition - Protein

I went a bit nuts at Safeway last night. It was the last day of their weekly sale, and I knew I had to stock up on a few must-haves. 4 tubs of Weis sorbet and 4 blocks of Whittaker’s dark almond chocolate later… I left a happy lady!

I’m really keen to write about omega 3 and essential fatty acids - I’m concerned about vegans who may not be getting enough, even if they think they are. But to write about it, I need to get my head around it properly. There are 4 types/categories of omega 3 (ALA, EPA, DHA, GLA) – and some are better than others. I will endeavour to get my head around it all ASAP so that I can share.


But today I will write about an easier essential nutrient (although now that I’ve read more, it’s not so easy!). But I shall summarise what I have learnt.

‘Proteins are digested to release amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that, in different combinations, make up the countless millions of proteins available in nature.

A protein can consist of between 50 and tens of thousands of amino acids, linked together by a kind of ‘glue’ called a peptide bond. There are two broad classes of amino acid: those that can be made by the human body (non-essential amino acids) and those that can only be supplied by food (essential amino acids). [1]

In the body the amino acids are used to make new proteins, converted into hormones such as adrenalin or used as an energy source. Brain cells, muscle, skin, hair and nails are just some of the body parts that are protein-based.

The amount of protein you need in your diet depends on your weight, age and health. As a rough guide, the recommended dietary intake (RDI) is;
64g for males
46g for females

The following vegan foods provide our bodies with approximately 10g of protein[2]
4 slices (120g) wholemeal bread
3 cups (90g) wholegrain cereal
2 cups (330g) cooked pasta
3 cups (400g) cooked rice
3/4 cup (150g) lentils or kidney beans
200g baked beans
120g tofu
60g nuts or seeds
300ml soy milk
100g soy meat

Apparently spirulina is also an excellent natural source of protein (this was recommended to me by the naturopath at Evelyn Faye Nutrition in South Melbourne), however the only information I can find online about spirulina is through various companies who sell it as a product – I want to find out non-biased, scientific information on something when it relates to my health. I don’t want to believe just anything that is fed to me by companies who want me to buy their product. Wikipedia has some information on spirulina as a dietary supplement, but anything posted on Wikipedia I take with a grain of salt…

From reading lots of information, and picking the good info from the bad, I would suggest the best way to get all your protein requirements is to eat a variety of food throughout the day.

Now, we’re all aware of the Mr Muscles who grunt, intimidate you at the gym and who can’t seem to walk around without pretending they own the world – these ‘men’ (and the occasional ‘lady’) consume copious amounts of protein powders, shakes and countless other supplements to bulk up to this size. Most of them also poison their bodies with steroids, and other toxic substances.

Do not think that if you consume a lot of protein that you will end up looking like that. Or this!


1 comment:

  1. Protein is important, but I've been a vegetarian for 8 years and never had to supplement. Pretty much everything in a vegan/veg diet has a decent amount of protein, or certain meals compensate for lack of protein in other meals.

    But I can highly recommend legumes and quinoa for decent doses of the good stuff.