Plant based proteins 5 facts you should know

“Ditch sausages for a longer life,” says a Harvard scientist in an published article by the Telegraph. They base their conclusion from a recent study, that says a vegan diet increases lifespan.

PROTEIN

Protein is an essential constituent of all living organisms. Muscles, hormones, enzymes, and blood are all made of protein. Proteins can also be an energy source, although it is not recommended.

We need to ingest at least 0.8g/kg of protein everyday to reconstitute our daily loss. Proteins issued from alimentation need to be broken down in small particles, called amino acids (AA), in order to be metabolized by our body. 20 types of amino acids are needed to grow our own proteins. Among these 20 AA, only 9 AA are considered essential since our body cannot produce itWe need to find them in our alimentation. If we don’t provide the right quantity and type of AA, our body will suffer major issues like muscle loss, hair loss, hormonal dysfunctions, and more.

480px-Protein_primary_structure_zh_(zh-tw).svg

Protein primary structure by zh (zh-tw).svg. It looks like complicated isn’t it?

 

 

Even though plant-based proteins are predominantly incomplete by themselves, they are complete if combined smartly.

Generally plant protein are incomplete if consumed independently. Why generally? Because soy, amaranth, and quinoa have been proven to be complete proteins in recent scientific studies. Even though they are not as efficient as eggs, the easiest source protein to digest and assimilate, they still can bring you all the AA you need in your diet.

amaranth-1112988_960_720

Amaranth a gluten free grain with complete proteins

The other plant proteins mostly issued from grains, nuts, legumes, and vegetables are incomplete by themselves–they lack 1 or 2 different essential AA. We need to combine these plant proteins together to get all these essential AA. Let me clarify how and why.

Here are a list of the essential AA:  phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine.

To be honest, no one needs to know their names, that’s not as important. What you need to know is that some of the plant proteins don’t have one or two essential AA. By combining it with the additional plant protein source, you get all of them at once.

 

Aliments and their limited Amino Acids Complements
Grains: Lysine, Threonine Legumes
Legumes/ Beans: Methionine Grains, nuts, seeds
Nuts/ Seeds: Lysine Legumes
Vegetables: Methionine Grains, nuts, seeds
Corn: Tryptophan, Lysine Legumes

Table 1: Correct Aliments combination in a plant-based diet.

 

According to scientific studies, combining plant proteins in the same meal is no longer necessary. You only need to consume all your essential AA within a day. Basically if you eat lentils at lunch and pasta for dinner, you’re good! But don’t forget to add some vegetables on your plate.

One exception: For kids, they have to get all the essentials AA within one meal.

Plant based proteins are full of macronutrients

Since they are issued from vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts. Plant proteins contain way much more vitamins and minerals than animal protein. Vitamins and minerals are necessary to maintain our body in a good health. If you want to have a good skin or strong bones you’d better care about what you ingest. As Feuerbach said: ” you are what you eat”.

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Make your plate full of colors to receive as many vitamins as you need

 

Plant based protein aliments are also full of antioxidants, molecules neutralizing the oxidation of other molecules. Antioxidants are known to reduce chances of developing cancer later in life.

Plant based proteins are low in fat

That’s a fact. A bacon and egg diet will not help you reduce cholesterol, unlike a plant-based protein diet. Most of the food included in plant-based diet are low in fat and cholesterol. Beans, grains, and vegetables contains few or no fat at all. Of course, if you are making the wrong choices…(erae es humanicum) like eating only vegan chips, pretzels, crackers, margarine, you will not reduce your fat intake. But let’s be honest you don’t need to be vegan to make these choices. Nothing bad about it, but these aliments need to be eaten occasionally for your own pleasure.

Now, if you are smart, you are gonna ask: “nuts and seeds aren’t they extremely rich in fat?” Yes they do,  but it is healthy fat: low in saturated fat and generally high in unsaturated fat.  Actually, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines edition “encourages eating styles that emphasize unsaturated fats and are low in saturated fat”.

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FYI walnuts are one of the richest source of Omega 3 acid

Plant based proteins are good for weight loss and weight management

One of my friend one day told me: “if I am not eating any meat, I feel I didn’t eat”

Guess what, that’s all in your head. Plant proteins can provide all you need on the nutrient plan. Even more, their fiber content will help you to feel full for longer period of times.images

Fibers are the master-keys in weight loss management and even more in blood sugar management. By including more fibers in your meal, you will create a “net”, slowing down the digestion and increasing the sensation of satiety. You will eat and snack less and lose weight.

Plant based proteins are sustainable for our planet and inexpensive.

Fist of all, look at this comparison table.

Food Prices
organic tofu 15oz (425g) $1.69
Red meat 1 Lb $5.88
Eggs dozen (12oz) $3.22
Lentils 1 Lb (dry) $1.80
Price comparison table of 4 different protein sources ( elaborated according to recent economic data).

Impressive isn’t it? The two cheapest protein sources are plant-based proteins. Eggs are vegetarian proteins and are still pretty affordable but when you look at red meat $5.88 it starts to be really expensive. So if you want to save money think “plant”. Moreover, in 1lb of dry lentils you have 2.5 lbs of cooked lentils, so you pay only $1.80 for 2.5Lbs.

Besides prices, plant-based proteins are environment friendly. Do you know what it takes to make a 1/4 pounds of hamburger? Look at this scheme issued from  J.L. Capper, Journal of Animal Science, December, 2011.

Credit: Producers: Eliza Barclay, Jessica Stoller-Conrad; Designer:Kevin Uhrmacher/NPR

According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals):

  • It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce just 1 pound of meat.
  • Only 25 gallons of water are required to grow 1 pound of wheat.
  • You can save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you can by not showering for six months!

Instead of feeding animals with grains to eat them later, why not grow grains and eat them? It will cost less water, less land, and create no fossil fuel energy.

 

Conclusion

Plant proteins are nutrient dense, complete if combined smartly, low in fat, useful for weight management, and above all accessible and planet friendly. That’s why many doctors recommend their patients to adopt a new lifestyle based upon a plant based diet. Even though plant proteins are extremely beneficial, I do not recommend to rely only on them. Mainly because they lack in vitamin B12. Of course, you can find some minor Vit B12 vegetal sources like Nori (dry purple laver) but they are sold in small quantities. If you really want to follow a strict Vegan diet, you will need to use Vit B12 supplements, which makes your diet a little bit less natural. Don’t worry, a vegetarian diet still provides you enough Vit B12  to cover your needs.

 

If you have any question about how to elaborate a sustainable and healthy diet, please feel free to contact me at: frenchfitdiary@gmail.com. 

 

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/protein

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905294/

https://www.uhc.com/health-and-wellness/nutrition/power-of-plant-protein

https://authoritynutrition.com/animal-vs-plant-protein/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19145965

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/five-grains-to-keep-your-family-healthy

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