Despite what some people may think, there are many ways to get enough protein on a vegan or vegetarian diet. However, not all plant-based proteins are complete proteins, meaning protein sources that contain adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. While your body can make some of them, nine have to be obtained through your diet. These are referred to as essential amino acids and include:
Animal products like beef, fish, dairy, and eggs contain enough of every one of these essential amino acids. Thus, they’re considered complete proteins. However, many plant sources of protein are too low in or missing one or more of these essential amino acids. They’re considered incomplete protein sources. Still, given that plant foods contain varying amounts of amino acids, you can manage to get enough of each essential amino acid throughout the day by eating a varied diet, and in a diverse range of amino acid profile foods.There are also a number of plant based foods which do contain all 9 essential amino acids and therefore are considered complete proteins such as Spirulina, quinoa, soy products, buckwheat, hemp seeds, chia seeds and nutritional yeast.
Quinoa is an ancient grain that looks similar to couscous but has a crunchy texture and nutty flavor. As it doesn’t grow from grasses like other cereals and grains, it’s technically considered a pseudocereal and naturally gluten-free. One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa provides approximately 8 grams of protein. In addition to being a complete protein, quinoa provides more magnesium, iron, fiber, and zinc than many common grains. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that contains 8 grams of protein per 1 cooked cup (185 grams). It’s also a good source of several minerals, including magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Tofu & Tempeh & Natto
Tofu, tempeh, and natto are all made from soybeans and make for excellent plant-based protein sources. Tofu is made from coagulated soy milk that’s pressed into white blocks and comes in a variety of textures, including silken, firm, and extra-firm. As it’s quite bland, tofu tends to take on the flavor of the foods with which it is cooked. A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of tofu provides approximately 8 grams of protein. It also offers 15% of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium, as well as smaller amounts of potassium and iron. Tempeh is much chewier and nuttier than tofu and made from fermented soybeans, which are often combined with other seeds and grains to form a firm, dense cake. Three ounces (85 grams) of tempeh contain 11 grams of protein. This serving is also a good source of fiber and iron and contains potassium and calcium. Tempeh and Natto are delicious fermented soy foods which contain other incredible compounds which are discussed in great detail in module 1 & 3. These compounds are Spermidine, PQQ and SOD ( SuperOxide Dismutase). The are powerful activators of the NrF2 detoxification pathway, autophagy and sirt1 longevity pathway. This proposes a powerful reason to include these foods for great protein source, great source of probiotics and a great source of antioxidant promoters. As with autophagy promotion, tempeh and natto work as Caloric restriction mimetics.
While it’s not as high in protein as quinoa or amaranth, buckwheat is another pseudocereal that’s a plant-based source of complete protein Nutty in flavor, the hulled kernels, or groats, can be cooked similarly to oatmeal or ground into a flour and used in baking. In Japanese cooking, buckwheat is most commonly consumed in the form of noodles, which are called soba. One cup (168 grams) of cooked buckwheat groats provides approximately 6 grams of protein. This pseudocereal is also a good source of many essential minerals, including phosphorus, manganese, copper, magnesium, and iron
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that’s a popular supplement among those on vegan and vegetarian diets. While it can be purchased as tablets, the powdered form of spirulina can be easily added to smoothies, granola bars, soups, and salads for a boost of nutrition. Just 1 tablespoon (7 grams) of dried spirulina provides 4 grams of protein. In addition to being a source of complete protein, spirulina is rich in antioxidants and a good source of several B vitamins, copper, and iron. Spirulina, a supplement made from blue-green algae, is a source of complete protein. One tablespoon (7 grams) provides 4 grams of protein, as well as good amounts of B vitamins, copper, and iron.
Coming from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, hemp seeds are members of the same species as marijuana, but they contain only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana As a result, hemp seeds are unlikely to contain enough THC to cause a high feeling or any of the other psychoactive effects that are associated with marijuana . However, there is concern that hemp seeds could become contaminated with TCH from other parts of the plant during harvesting or storing. Therefore, it’s important to purchase seeds from trusted brands that test for THC . Technically a nut, the edible whites inside of hemp seeds are referred to as hemp hearts and incredibly nutritious. In addition to being a source of complete protein, hemp hearts are particularly rich in the essential fatty acids linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). Three tablespoons (30 grams) of raw, hulled hemp seeds have an impressive 10 grams of protein and 15% of the DV for iron. They’re also a good source of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Hemp hearts have a mild nutty flavor and can be sprinkled over yogurt or salads, added to smoothies, or included in homemade granola and energy bars. SHemp seeds are often sold as hemp hearts and incredibly nutritious. In addition to providing 10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons (30 grams), they’re a good source of essential fatty acids, iron, potassium, and several other essential minerals.
Chia seeds are tiny round seeds that are often black or white. They’re unique in that they can absorb liquid and form a gel-like substance. As a result, they can be used to make puddings and pectin-free jams. They’re also commonly used as an egg substitute in vegan baking. However, chia seeds can also be used raw as a topping for oatmeal or salads, mixed into baked goods, or added to smoothies. Two tablespoons (28 grams) of chia seeds provide 4 grams of protein. They’re also a good source of omega-3s, iron, calcium, magnesium, and selenium.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that’s grown specifically to be a food product. Commercially, nutritional yeast is sold as a yellow powder or flakes and has a distinctive umami flavor that can be used to add a cheese-like flavor to vegan dishes, such as popcorn, pasta, or mashed potatoes. A 1/4-cup (15-gram) serving of nutritional yeast provides 8 grams of complete protein. When fortified, nutritional yeast can also be an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, and all the B vitamins, including B12. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of yeast that imparts a cheesy, umami flavor to vegan dishes. Just 1/4 cup (15 grams) provides 8 grams of protein.
Protein Intake daily:
This is a highly contested and controversial topic on how much protein we need and should take per day. In the context of the course we may assume that this is variable based on a number of influencing factors which we will discuss in more detail in class. Remembering also that increasing protein intake will activate IGF1 and Mtor which will deactivate and inhibit autophagy and AMPK and this is linked with metabolic disease and aging.
If you are below the age of 65, keep protein intake low (0.31 to 0.36 grams per pound of body weight). That comes to 40 to 47 grams of proteins per day for a person weighing 130 pounds, and 60 to 70 grams of protein per day for someone weighing 200 to 220 pounds.- Prof. Valter Longo ( one of the world’s experts on longevity research)
Other experts such as Dr. Chris Masterjohn who is one of the world’s experts on nutritional science recommends an upper limit of 1g per LB of target body weight. An example of protein intake based on the amount suggested by Prof. Valter Longo would be the following for a person weighing 130lbs and taking upto 50g of protein.
100g of Organic Tempeh + 30g Organic ChiaSeeds + 10g Organic Spirulina + 50g Organic Hemp Seeds + 100g Organic Pickled Tofu
The Science On Protein, Detox, MTHFR, Fatty Liver (And How To Fix It) and More with Dr. Chris Masterjohn Ph.D.
Amino Acids & Essential Amino Acids :
Amino acids are organic compounds composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, along with a variable side chain group. Your body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function properly. Though all 20 of these are important for your health, only nine amino acids are classified as essential. These are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Unlike nonessential amino acids, essential amino acids can’t be made by your body and must be obtained through your diet. It is thought that The best sources of essential amino acids are animal proteins like meat, eggs and poultry however we are many vegan sources which are complete proteins and in a much more natural easily absorbable state. When you eat protein, it’s broken down into amino acids, which are then used to help your body with various processes such as building muscle and regulating immune function .
Conditionally Essential Amino Acids
There are several nonessential amino acids that are classified as conditionally essential. These are considered to be essential only under specific circumstances such as illness or stress. For example, although arginine is considered nonessential, your body can’t meet demands when fighting certain diseases like cancer . That’s why arginine must be supplemented through diet in order to meet your body’s needs in certain situations.
The nine essential amino acids perform a number of important and varied jobs in your body:
As you can see, essential amino acids are at the core of many vital processes. Though amino acids are most recognized for their role in muscle development and repair, the body depends on them for so much more.That’s why essential amino acid deficiencies can negatively impact your entire body including your nervous, reproductive, immune and digestive systems.
The US recommended daily allowances per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight for the nine essential amino acids are:
Soy, quinoa and buckwheat are plant-based foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, making them complete protein sources as well. Other plant-based sources of protein like beans and nuts are considered incomplete, as they lack one or more of the essential amino acids. However, if you’re following a plant-based diet, you can still ensure proper intake of all essential amino acids as long as you eat a variety of plant proteins each day. For example, choosing a variety of incomplete proteins such as beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and vegetables can ensure that your essential amino acid needs are met, even if you choose to exclude animal products from your diet.