Just about every part of our body is made up of protein, our hair, skin, organs, muscles etc and you see those little pictures people are always posting on Facebook that our skin regenerates every 2-4 weeks, lungs 2-3 weeks, taste buds 10 days, intestines 2-3 day, etc. etc. Doesn't it make sense that we are feeding our body’s good quality protein? We all want shiny hair, healthy vibrant skin and nails... Yes, collagen is made from the amino acids in protein; we need as much of that as we can get as we age! In fact collagen is made up of 30% of the protein in our bodies
This doesn't mean you have to pig out on it. Just like our bodies require healthy fats and carbohydrates it needs protein. Protein is the building block of all life and is essential for the growth of cells and tissue repair. Proteins are made up of different combinations of 20 compounds called amino acids.
Depending on which amino acids link together, protein molecules form enzymes, hormones, muscles, organs and many other tissues in the body.
There are two types of amino acids:
· Non-essential amino acids - these can be made by the body
· Essential amino acids - which cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from food. There are eight essential amino acids for adults and a further seven that children need*
* Anyone trying to raise vegan children should read this article by Shazzie, a long to raw vegan who has done a lot of research on the subject and is very honest… actually I would say it’s a Must read.
Protein is also fantastic at giving you that satisfied feeling after a meal. You know how it is when you only eat carbohydrates. It’s like there’s no end to it even when you know you've eaten enough, your body just seems to want more, add protein and voila.. Satiety strikes!! Guilt diminishes and it’s just so much easier to eat a healthy portion controlled diet without having to think too much about it.
Another thing to remember is that we all exercise, (and if you're not you should be!) and if you're doing intense exercise you are breaking down muscle fibers, this is healthy because when they repair they come back stronger, harder, leaner and healthier and it’s the protein that is essential for the growth and repair of these muscles, that’s why bodybuilders generally require a bit more than most of us. Yes, exercising breaks down muscle fibers, protein repairs them. This is what muscle growth is all about, not huge muscles, just regenerated. I was on a low protein diet for about 4 years, at the end of it I had a live blood analysis done. The result.. Poor lean tissue mass!! I worked out, I looked fit and lean but I can tell you my muscles were nowhere near as firm and healthy as they are now that I eat adequate amounts of good quality protein.
How much do we need, well, we are all different and our requirements will depend on out size, sex and how much we exercise. The easiest way to work out you own portion is by a method I read about in the mid 90’s and still use it to this day.. the size of your palm is how big your protein portion should be at each meal. So if you eat fish then your piece of fish would fit on the palm of your hand. Another way is to calculate it with a simple formula.
The Institute of Medicine recommends .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but here's a simpler way to break down your protein needs:
.6 - .8 grams per kg of your total body weight depending on your activity level
Easy to do with good quality protein such as meat, fish, chicken, turkey, seafood, game, eggs, protein powder or Spirulina – yes Spirulina is approximately 60-75% protein.
Body builders generally require more, about 1-1.2 grams per kg. Work out your daily total then divide it into the number of meals you have. Ingesting your daily requirement in one meal is useless as the body will not be able to use it all and will only turn to fat. Just like the other macronutrients, excess carbs and fat will do the same.
Good vegan proteins are raw sprouted rice protein powder, pea protein powder, hemp protein and Spirulina. These are the most concentrated forms so you get more bang for your buck!
I see many vegans using nuts and seeds as protein; they are primarily fat just as beans and legumes are primarily carbohydrates.
But hey, if you want to get all your protein requirements from fruit and veg go ahead, you'll have to eat mountains of it, spend half your day eating it and the other half exercising all the sugar out of your systems to keep yourself healthy. And if you choose nut and seeds then be prepared to live on a very high fat diet where you will have to keep an eye on you weight.. It’s just not necessary on a well-balanced diet.
Banana, apple and cinnamon alkalizing protein smoothie
Makes: 2 large
1/2 cup activated nuts - I used mixed nuts
1 tbs chia
1 tbs Green Superfoods powder and/or spirulina.
1/2-3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large ripe banana
2 small organic apple or if non organic peel them! - roughly chopped
1 cup ice cubes
1-2 cup water
1 scoop of your favourite protein powder
Throw the lot into a high speed blender and whizz away at top speed until absolutely smooth and creamy with no lumpy bits!! Lumpy bits are the natural enemy of a good smoothie!!
- All of my nuts are sprouted and activated then rinsed and dehydrated as soon as I get them home so that they are ready to use when needed.
- I like the mixed nuts because you get a variety of nutrition, especially the Brazils for selenium, almonds for calcium and walnuts for Omega 3.
- Add some pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels) for zinc and sunflower seeds for vitamin E if you wish.
- Green superfoods (Green nutritionals) powder contains spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, alfalfa and marine plant minerals, 3gm contains 1.4gm protein.
- 3.5gm or 1 tbs spirulina contains 2.5gm protein.
- Yes, I do add extra protein to these smoothies. I make them for my boys who are all very active and also do weight training so there bodies have a need for a little extra protein to help with recovery. I never give them more than their bodies need though as you can only assimilate approx 30-40 grams per meal. Like all good things, you can overdo it.
I truly believe that we should eat a well balanced, stress free diet. Eat whatever you want as long as it is in its most natural form just as nature intended and definitely NOT processed!! There are so many great things you can make with wholesome natural foods that there is absolutely no need for fast, processed food that comes in coloured boxes!! Namaste! ;-)
I'll be back!.....