Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Where do you get your protein?

Many of you may know that I am a mostly-vegan. I occasionally have dairy, but only when I'm not home and the “vegetarian” choices are limiting.

The most common question asked of us vegans is, “Where do you get your protein?”

Protein is easy! You don't have to eat flesh or eggs to get enough a protein, as many vegan athletes can attest! As a matter of fact, the developers of Shakeology, Isabel Daikeler and Darin Olien, are vegans!

But before I go on, let's decide how much protein we need. In essence, the more you exercise, the greater your protein needs will be.

How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:

1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.
Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.

154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights
154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day

Another (easier) way to calculate how much protein you need is by using daily calorie intake and the percentage of calories that will come from protein. The percentage you choose will be based on your goals, fitness level, age, body type and metabolic rate. Most experts recommend that your protein intake be somewhere between 15 and 30%.

For a 140lb female, calorie intake=1800 calories, protein=20%:
1800 x .20 = 360 calories from protein. Since 1 gram of protein = 4 calories, divide protein calories by four:
360/4 = 90 grams of protein per day.

My foremost source of protein is my daily Vegan Shakeology. It provides me with 16 grams of plant-based protein. Sometimes I add some PB2, which boosts the protein count by 5 grams.

The highest sources of vegan protein are tempeh and seitan. Tempeh has 31 grams per cup, and seitan has 21 grams per 3 ounces—almost double the amount in beef!

Us vegans eat a lot of beans and lentils. Yes, they contain carbohydrates along with their proteins, but they also provide fiber and are so versatile! Lentils provide 18 grams per cup, and depending on the type of beans, 12-15 grams per cup. I use lentils to make tacos, and shepherd's pie, and lentil bread, among other things. Beans can be found in my homemade veggie burgers, hummus, soups, salads, and more!

Quinoa (9 grams/cup of COMPLETE protein), oats, nut butters, leafy greens (especially kale!) and broccoli all are great sources of protein.

Just look at how the protein stacks up in this sample vegan day:

Meal           Food                Protein     Calories
Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal        6g          158
              1 T almond butter     3.5g       100
             1 sliced peach            1.5g         59
             ½ C almond milk        .5 g        15

Snack: Vegan Shakeology      16g         170

         3 cups mixed greens        3g           25
         1 oz pepitas                     5g           126
        1 cup sweet potato cubes 2 g           114
        ½ cup chickpeas               8g           134
        2 T tahini dressing            6g           178

             Apple                            .5g          90
            1 T peanut butter            4g          94

            ½ C tempeh                 15.5g        160
           1 C broccoli                   2.5g           31
             ½ C quinoa                   4.5g         111

Oh my gosh, that's 1565 calories and 78.5 grams of protein about 20%)! Without any animal products.