RSS Feed

What’s up with a meat-free diet?

Where’s the protein?

This is one of the first question people ask when considering vegetarian or veganism. However, contrary to popular belief, these diets don’t have to involve complex recipes and food combinations to stay balanced. Vegans and vegetarians certainly need to make sure they’re following a healthy diet – but so does everyone, including omnivores!

Why protein?

Protein is an important macronutrient that maintains muscle, bone, hair and nail health, as well as supporting a strong immune system and energy production. Protein is made up of compounds called amino acids – these are often referred to as the ‘building blocks’ of life. Nine of these amino acids are called essential amino acids because we need them to survive and can’t manufacture them ourselves – which means we have to get them from our diet. Meat, eggs, dairy and fish contain all nine essential amino acids and are often referred to as complete protein. But what about plant foods?

Complete protein for vegetarians and vegans

A number of plant sources contain the essential amino acids, including soya bean and quinoa. Other protein sources from plants usually have all of the essential amino acids but their amounts are very low. For example, grains are lower in lysine (an essential amino acid) and legumes are lower in methionine (another essential amino acid). As long as vegans and vegetarians eat a variety of plant proteins throughout the course of a day, they will meet their protein needs.

How much protein does one person need?

The amount of protein each person needs depends on their weight and level of physical activity. It is generally recommended that the base level (for someone leading a sedentary life) is around 0.9g protein / kg of body weight. People who exercise regularly will need more, and this will vary depending on the type and level of training – anywhere from 1.2 – 2g protein / kg body weight.

Example: a 65kg person who exercises 3 – 4 times per week will need around 70-75g protein, spread out over 3 – 5 meals, each day.

This can change depending on other health factors, but the above example gives you an idea of intake for an ‘average’ person with no major health complaints.

How do you know how many grams of protein a meal contains? Here are some examples:

EXAMPLE FOOD SOURCES

AMOUNT OF PROTEIN

1 egg

½ cup cottage cheese

½ cup natural yoghurt

½  cup tofu

100g tempeh

½ cup cooked beans

½ cup cooked lentils

½ cup cooked quinoa

6-8g protein

15g protein

11g protein

16g protein

18g protein

7-10g protein

9g protein

4g protein

Advertisements

About Kathleen Murphy

Australian naturopath and freelance writer, based in Sydney. I love working with people from all walks of life, helping them institute changes that can become life-long health habits. I can be found at Uclinic | 421 Bourke Street, Surry Hills | Ph: 02 9332 0400 |

One response »

  1. If you wish for to increase your know-how just keep visiting this site
    and be updated with the most up-to-date gossip posted here.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: