How to Eat Well and Still Get Enough Protein
Do you think you can't eat healthy foods because you "need protein?" Or "I have to have lots of protein so I must eat meat." It's untrue. Read to find out how you can be healthy and get enough protein. Start taking care of your body today!
Protein. You can eat nutritiously, you can even be vegan if you want, and easily get enough of it. So, relax, look at the facts, and eat your way to a long life, and ripped calves at the same time.
You can’t blame yourself for thinking otherwise. The food lobby has made it a number one concern of practically every athlete, even of every couch potato.
A little bit of lobbying history.
Before the 1980s, people in the United States ate food. They ate broccoli, they ate bread. They ate apples, and on occasion, they ate lambs and pigs too.
After the meat and food lobbies came under attack for pushing the American people to eat too much meat, and drink too much milk, they were able to change the story. No longer would Americans eat food. Instead, they would eat carbohydrates, fat, or protein. That allowed the large meat and food companies to avoid being vilified for specific foods.
One result of that push was a concern among athletes that they needed to increase their amount of protein. The meat lobby and Washington DC can be as forceful as the gun lobby.
Recently, however, many studies have shown that the amount of protein that active people need is much less than originally reported. In fact, if one eats a varied whole food plant-based diet, it should not even be a concern.
100 grams of this, 100 grams of that.
Let’s look at the facts. A 100-gram serving of pig meat contains 22.4 grams of protein. A 100-gram serving of sheep meat is 20.4 grams. Cheddar cheese ups that number to 24.9 grams. A similar serving of a piece of a chicken, a very large piece, gives you 23.1 grams of protein.
Now, if you were to instead eat a varied whole food plant-based diet the numbers would look very different. And you may be surprised, to find that they look much better.
A 100-gram serving of soy gives the athlete 36 grams of protein.
Peanut butter, 25.
Nutritional yeast, a walloping 50 grams!
Even greens and vegetables add to a healthy daily intake of protein.
What are the servings sizes we are talking about? Kale, 1.5 cups. A piece of a chicken needs to be a whole thigh or breast. Or multiple wings. Tofu or soy? Just under 1/2 cup.
In total, you only need about 45 grams of protein a day. And that is on the high end. That is the American recommended dietary allowance. The RDA for protein is only .8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
That means that for me, a 125-pound 5'4" woman, I need 45 grams of protein. And that’s, again, according to the USDA which is beholden to food and meat lobbyists.
So I get half of that in our morning smoothie. Beyond that, my wife makes fabulous vegan cheese with nutritional yeast to give it a nutty punch. It also skyrockets the protein a serving of that cheese gives. Let’s simplify the numbers.
If you make yourself a healthy smoothie or salad that will fill you up with about half of your daily requirement of protein or 26 grams worth. That is, throw in some spinach, cucumbers, nuts, and a bit of raw broccoli. Add either homemade cheese or store-bought cheese that maybe has nutritional yeast added.
I used to think I hated salad. I hated it because I was so hungry when I was done.
But that salad that you receive in a restaurant before the main course is, one, too small and, two, lacks some of the things that fill you up like nuts, cubes of fried tofu, vegan cheese, etc.
In our home, the smoothie route is the way to go. It’s faster and easier. After we’ve had one for breakfast, feel free to eat more if you’re still hungry. But be happy to know that your kale/pineapple/banana smoothie gave you a healthy dose of much-needed nutrients and yes even protein, to start your day.
If you eat meat, here’s why you shouldn’t eat more.
Since the 1960s the average man eats more than his weight in meat every year even though his weight has increased by 30 pounds since the 1960s. Americans eat meat in quantities that are doubled the global average according to the USDA.
And it’s not just the United States. The average Chinese person ate 30 pounds of meat annually in the early 1980s. Today, nearly 140 pounds. That in a country that has grown to more than a billion people.
The more meat you eat, the higher your risk of heart disease. Plain and simple.
If that is not reason enough, the more meat you eat, the fewer nutrients you are receiving because you are foregoing the cornucopia of nutritious food available to you from the earth.
Finally, if protein deficiency were a real issue, don’t you think we would’ve heard about it? No one has even heard the word for protein deficiency.
It’s kwashiorkor. We learned about scurvy in school and a lack of citric juices. But we didn’t learn about kwashiorkor. The reason is simple: it isn’t an issue for the developed world.
What about vegans who eat no meat?
What does this information mean for vegans? It means that you can relax. It means that when someone asks you where you get your protein you can answer “ I get my protein the same place the cows you eat get theirs. “
Eat a whole food plant-based diet. If you eat meat, eat it in moderation and vary the rest as whole food plant-based. Rest assured that you are getting the protein that you need.
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At the end of the day, what do you want your obituary to say? It's not too late to change it.