Yesterday’s article was about vegan bodybuilder Kenneth Williams, and his busting of the myth that in order to build muscle and be an athlete you need to eat animal protein.
I wrote this article not necessarily to encourage you to become vegetarian or vegan as much as to show you that eating animal foods is not the key to feeling strong and vital, and that you can do the same (actually better) with a diet of less or no animal foods, because there are health issues inherent with a diet that stresses animal foods.
As I pointed out in the China Study article, a diet high in animal foods is detrimental to the health.
Also, a diet high in animal foods is not conducive to living a
Low Density Lifestyle.
Protein is synonymous with strength, and so it is assumed that in order to build strength and be an athlete, you need to eat protein, and since it is assumed that meat is the best source of protein, the thinking is that you need to eat meat to achieve your goals.
It is also thought that if you don’t eat meat, or don’t eat enough meat, whether you are an athlete or not, you will not get enough protein and therefore become protein deficient.
One of the most common questions anybody who doesn’t eat animal foods gets is “where do you get your protein?”
Like carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of the essential building blocks of the body. It is an essential nutrient needed by the body in order to function properly. Protein’s primary function is to build and repair muscles but it also keeps the immune system functioning properly and is involved with the synthesis of hormones and enzymes.
Protein may also be used as an energy source when there has been insufficient carbohydrate consumption.
Protein is made up of 20 building blocks, known as amino acids. Amino acids are classified as essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are not created in the body and therefore must be consumed through dietary protein.
How much protein do we need? There are two ways to calculate total protein needs. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.4g of protein for every pound of healthy weight (or approximately 0.8g per every kilogram of weight). For example, a man who weighs 150 pounds needs approximately 60g of protein per day (150 x. 0.4 = 60).
Alternatively, protein can be calculated based on total caloric intake. Generally, 15 percent of total caloric consumption must come from protein. For example, on a 2,000 calorie diet, 300 calories must come from protein. To determine the number of grams needed, divide the resulting number of calories by 4. Thus, on a 2,000 calorie diet, 75 grams of protein must be consumed.
Since one ounce equals about 28 grams, the body actually needs very little protein to function properly – we need less than three ounces a day of protein.
As I said above, protein is commonly associated with animal foods – meat, eggs and dairy products – but these foods are not the only sources of protein nor are they necessarily the best sources for protein. Protein is found in every food. Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes all contain protein.
It is impossible to become protein deficient eating a well-balanced vegan diet, largely due to the fact the body needs very little protein to perform. For example, one cup of black beans contains 15.2 grams of protein (roughly 30.5% of the daily value for protein), plus approximately 74.8% of the daily value for fiber. The total calories for a cup of black beans is only 227 calories and there is virtually no fat. Similarly, 100 calories of spinach contains more protein than 100 calories of steak.
Spinach also delivers a boost of fiber, anti-cancerous properties and iron for only a small amount of calories and no fat. Steak on the other hand, which not only provides less protein and no fiber, also contains saturated fat and harmful cholesterol.
I will be back with tomorrow with part 2 of this article. So tune in tomorrow…