January 2, 2019

What are proteins

Note: this post has been updated in December 2020.

Proteins – Necessary for life

What are proteins? We get most of our protein from foods, and protein from foods is the primary energy source after carbohydrates and fat. Protein is necessary for bodybuilding, growth, defense mechanism (as antibodies), nutrient digestion, metabolism, and tissue renewal. Protein also has a significant role in making cell structure, synthesis of enzymes, nucleic acid, blood proteins, and hormones of protein nature.

The government recommends a daily intake of protein is 10-15 percent of the total calories, and however, most individuals get far too much protein. On plant-based diets, the government recommends not exceeding 10 percent of protein daily.

Plant-Based meat alternatives for protein

Erin Pearson, a blogger at Seriously Smoked, a website specializing in grilling, smoking, and BBQ, has authored an article on plant-based meat that fits well into the discussion on protein.

Plant-based meats are all the rage now, every restaurant offering either the Beyond or Impossible burger. There has been a lot of discussion about how the two of them stack up against the real thing. Erin wanted to see how they compared beef burgers when it came to taste, health, and environmental impact (as well as a variety of other categories, including protein). Erin’s article The Complete Guide to Plant-Based Meats & Meat

Did you know Protein Deficiency is Rare?

How many individuals do you know of that have been diagnosed with protein deficiency? You may be surprised to hear, but protein deficiency is virtually nonexistent in the United States and other industrialized countries. Most American adults eat substantially more than the recommended amount, averaging over one hundred grams of protein per day.

Yet the question I get most of the time when discussing plant-based diets is Where Do You Get Your Protein? The question always seems to be individuals concerned that they will not get enough protein on a plant-based diet, and nothing could be further from the truth, look at How Much Protein do we need for more discussion on what proteins foods are.

What are Amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and twenty amino acids are required to synthesize all human protein necessary for the body. Of the twenty amino acids in our bodies, eight amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, lysine, phenylalanine, valine, threonine, methionine, and tryptophan) are essential amino acids that the body cannot synthesize. These amino acids must be obtained from the food eaten. What are proteins in foods? Some examples of protein foods are soybean, cereals, lentils, peas, greens, etc.

What are protein foods?

What Is Protein, really?

Protein is something you need to eat every day. Why? Because your body doesn’t store it the way it stores fats and carbs — the other two main “macronutrients” in food.

OK, but what is protein?

Protein is an essential nutrient for the building, maintenance, and repair of all the tissues in your body, including your bones, muscles, blood, hair, nails, and organs.

Protein also gives your body energy, although that’s not its key role. In addition, protein helps keep your immune system strong (because your immune system is made up of proteins), and eating protein can help keep you feeling full longer – via Can You Get Your Protein From Plants

Complementary and Incomplete Proteins

A common and prevailing myth is that one must work “hard” to get enough and the “right amounts” of protein if eating a whole food plant-based diet. The lack of protein started with the myth of the complementary proteins, which Frances Moore Lappe invented in her book Diet for a Small Planet, which was supposed to make it easier for people to become vegans. She has since reversed her views on the idea. Plus, science doesn’t work.

The truth is that if you eat enough plants that make up enough calories to support your body in maintaining an average weight for you, you’ll get plenty of protein. Plants contain all the essential amino acids needed for building a perfectly healthy human body. The fact is the CDC’s recommendation is twice the amount required to maintain health. Very few people have ever experienced protein deficiency unless they were deficient in many other vital nutrients.

Science and Protein

Science confirms that a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods can help you live to the fullest and still get adequate protein. A growing number of physicians advocate an entirely plant-based diet for many of their patients who have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Check out these great sources:

Plant-Based Nutrition, 2E (Idiot’s Guides),

Nutrition Facts: The Truth About Food

The Forks Over Knives Plan -  

Forks over Knives is a simple plan that focuses on hearty comfort foods and does not involve portion control or worrying about obtaining single nutrients like protein and calcium.

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