Friday, September 9, 2011

As a Vegan, are you getting enough protein?

This is one of the things I hate the most when people ask me about being Vegan! I often hear things like "How do you get protein?", "You can't be eating enough protein?", etc. Especially from meathead weight lifters that think you can only sustain health, strength and muscle building on JUST protein!! Don't get me wrong, I know how important protein is to all of those things, but the fact is you need far less than everyone thinks you really need.

For instance, take a look at a large muscular animal such as an elephant, who only eats plants. They are able to get all the nutrients they need from a plant based diet to support and maintain their shape and muscular makeup. If you think about it even further, plants (which have all of the important amino acids your body needs) are often eaten by animals, and which in turn humans are eating. So you are essentially get a diluted source of natual amino acids. Why not go right to the source? Plants!!

So how much protein do we really need? The RDA, set by the Food and Nutrition board recommends 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight! I've seen/heard of many bodybuilders eating WAY more than this. Even has an athelete you don't need much more than this! So for me, being 6'4", weighing 205 and being an endurance athelete (of sorts) and training to run long distances, I need to shoot for a daily intake total of 75-130 grams of protein. 75 grams of protein being the bare mininum. You can easily remember this too by thinking that 10% of your daily calories should be protein.

Let's also take into consideration that eating TOO MUCH protein can actually be a bad thing! The more proetin you eat, does not a bigger muscle make! Taking in too much protein can eventually cause stress in your body as it works to break it down. Too much protein causes keytone buildup and the liver and kidneys work to flush those out. This can cause dehydration, and bone calcium loss, as well as further issues with the liver and kidneys in the future.

"How do you get enough protein as a vegan?" Easy!! Your body actually takes something like meat proteins and further works to break them down into the amino acids your body needs. So one step nutrition would be to eat something like a green that is chock full of amino acids and doesn't recquire being broken down further like a meat!

Some of the best sources of Vegan proteins (other than beans, nuts and seeds) is Hemp, Quinoa and Chlorella. Hemp is a complete protein, containing 10 essential amino acids, which aids in muscle and tissure recovery! Hemp is also a complete renewable source (let's save the eco topic of veganism for another blog post) that is raw and keeps all of it's active enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! Quinoa is 20% protein and is great to serve with beans for even more protein intake! Chlorella is known as a superfood because it contains 19 essential amino acids making it 65% pure protein!! It also provides tons of essential fats, minerals and vitamins including B12!

As far as the protein you need for an activity like endurance running, you have to remember two simple things: simple carbs for fueling before and during runs, and protein for recovery! It's not great to ingest too much protein prior to your runs. Protein (especially from an animal source) recquires a lot of water to break down, leaving you possibly dehydrated during runs, and can causing cramping. Save the protein to have within 30 minutes after your run to help with recovery and repair of muscles and tissues!

The best source I've found for Vegan nutrition, especially for athletes is Brendan Brazier's "The Thrive Diet"! Check it out!!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting...I agree that many people try to get too much protein and that can be detrimental to your health.