The protein question

Discussion in 'Vegetarian' started by The Sandreckoner, Jan 3, 2005.

  1. I'm a meat-eater, but my Mom's a vegetarian and I do concentrate on vegetables, starches, leafy greens and the like. I would love to be a vegetarian, but I work in a very physical profession and need alot of protein and carbs in my diet. Where do vegetarians get protein from? My mom doesn't worry about it, she's gettign on in years, but I couldn't give up protein.
     
  2. squawkers7

    squawkers7 radical rebel

    Protein in the Vegan Diet

    by Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D.

    Help yourself and others.

    Click here for ways to support this website and The Vegetarian Resource Group.


    Summary: It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein, as long as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein combining is not necessary; it is more important to eat a varied diet throughout the day.



    Some Americans are obsessed with protein. Vegans are bombarded with questions about where they get their protein. Athletes used to eat thick steaks before competition because they thought it would improve their performance. Protein supplements are sold at health food stores. This concern about protein is misplaced. Although protein is certainly an essential nutrient which plays many key roles in the way our bodies function, we do not need huge quantities of it. In reality, we need small amounts of protein. Only one calorie out of every ten we take in needs to come from protein (1). Athletic performance is actually improved by a high carbohydrate diet, not a high protein diet (2). Protein supplements are expensive, unnecessary, and even harmful for some people.

    How much protein do we need? The RDA recommends that we take in 8/10ths of a gram of protein for every kilogram which we weigh (or about 0.36 grams of protein per pound that you weigh) (1). This recommendation includes a generous safety factor for most people. When we make a few adjustments to account for some plant proteins being digested somewhat differently from animal proteins and for the amino acid mix in some plant proteins, we arrive at a level of 1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight (0.45 grams of protein per pound that you weigh). Since vegans eat a variety of plant protein sources, somewhere between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per kilogram would be a protein recommendation for vegans. If we do a few calculations we see that the protein recommendation for vegans amounts to close to 10% of calories coming from protein [For example, a 79 kg vegan male aged 25 to 50 years. His RDA for calories is 2900 calories per day. His protein needs might be as high as 79 kg x 1 gram/kg = 79 grams of protein. 79 grams of protein x 4 calories/gram of protein = 316 calories from protein per day. 316 calories from protein divided by 2900 calories = 10.1% of calories from protein]. If we look at what vegans are eating, we find that between 10-12% of calories come from protein (3). This contrasts with the protein intake of non-vegetarians which is close to 15-17% of calories. So, in the US it appears that vegan diets are commonly lower in protein than standard American diets. Remember, though, with protein, more (than the RDA) is not necessarily better. There do not appear to be health advantages to consuming a high protein diet. Diets which are high in protein may even increase the risk of osteoporosis (4) and kidney disease (5).
     
  3. minjeig

    minjeig Member

    from what i understand there's protein in everything so you don't need to worry. most people get too much. i've been veggi for about 4 and a half years and i'm doin just fine!
     
  4. Duncan

    Duncan Senior Member

    I'm curious to know what "getting on in years" means :)
     
  5. Loki84

    Loki84 Member

    protein is in pretty much every food. vegetarians don't have to worry about it, unless they're in a heavy exercise regime.
     
  6. squawkers7

    squawkers7 radical rebel

    :eek: Osteoporosis. Diets that are rich in protein, especially animal protein,7 are known to cause people to excrete more calcium than normal through their urine and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Plant-based diets, which provide adequate protein in addition to calcium through the consumption of leafy green vegetables, beans, and fortified fruit juices, can help protect against osteoporosis.

    Cancer. Although fat is the dietary substance most often singled out for increasing one’s risk for cancer, animal protein also plays a role. Specifically, certain proteins present in meat, fish, and poultry, cooked at high temperatures, especially grilling and frying, have been found to produce compounds called heterocyclic amines. These substances have been linked to various cancers including those of the colon and breast.8-10 A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is important in decreasing cancer risk,4 not to mention adding more healthful sources of protein in the diet.

    Kidney Disease. When people eat too much protein, it releases nitrogen into the blood or is digested and metabolized. This places a strain on the kidneys which must expel the waste through the urine. Kidney problems may result in individuals who are susceptible to disease.

    Cardiovascular Disease. Diets high in fat and saturated fat can increase one’s risk of heart disease. High-protein diets often encourage consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products, which are all high in cholesterol, fat, and saturated fat. The most popular of the high-protein diets have been described as containing excessive amounts of these artery-clogging products.11 Adequate protein can be consumed through a variety of plant products which are cholesterol-free and contain only small amounts of fat.

    Weight Loss Sabotage. Many individuals see almost immediate weight loss as a result of following a high-protein diet. In fact, the weight loss is not a result of consuming more protein, but by simply consuming less calories. Over the long run, consumption of this type of diet is not practical as it can result in the aforementioned health problems. As with any temporary diet, weight gain is often seen when previous eating habits are resumed. To achieve permanent weight loss while promoting optimal health, the best strategy involves lifestyle changes including a low-fat diet of grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables combined with regular physical activity.

    [size=+1]Protein Checklist[/size]



    High protein diets are unhealthy. However, adequate but not excess amounts of protein to maintain body tissues, including muscle, are still important and can be easily achieved on a vegetarian diet. If you are uncertain about the adequacy of protein in your diet, take inventory. Although all protein needs are individual, the following guidelines can help you to meet, but not exceed, your needs.
    • Aim for 5 or more servings of grains each day. This may include 1/2 cup of hot cereal, 1 oz. of dry cereal, or 1 slice of bread. Each serving contains roughly 3 grams of protein.
    • Aim for 3 or more servings of vegetables each day. This may include 1 cup of raw vegetables, 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables, or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice. Each serving contains about 2 grams of protein.
    • Aim for 2 to 3 servings of legumes each day. This may include 1/2 cup of cooked beans, 4 oz. of tofu or tempeh, 8 oz. of soymilk, and 1 oz. of nuts. Protein content can vary significantly, particularly with soy and rice milks, so be sure to check labels. Each serving may contain about 4 grams to 10 grams of protein. Meat analogues and substitutes are also great sources of protein that can be added to your daily diet.
     
  7. :)

    the best explanation about protein I have ever been given is that protein is made up of amino-acids. The types of proteins in food are all different from what your body uses as it takes in the proteins, breaks them down to amino-acids and reforms them into the types of protein your body uses so as long as you are eating a wide and varied diet you should be able to get enough of the different types of amino acids to keep everything ticking over!
    I have been vege for 21 years now and I do notice that variety in my diet seems to be something that my body craves! The biggest issue at times has not been protein but rather iron however by listening to my body I have found that I tend to crave whatever my body is needing (like right now it is spinach lasagne so I figure I must be wanting iron and carbs!)
    Since I started going to the gym too I notice that I want more carbs and more legume things!
    mmm...now I am hungry from thinking about food!!
    :X
     

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