Protein, the golden child of macronutrients, is a major structural component of all cells in the body. Your body uses protein to make enzymes and hormones. It is an important building block of bones, cartilage, muscle, skin, and blood. Protein is necessary for tissue to be built and repaired. Not to mention your hair and nails are mostly made up of protein! Unlike fat and carbohydrates, your body does not have protein stores. So, it is essential to consume protein through the foods you eat.
You may be asking yourself what foods provide protein. To begin, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 9 amino acids that are essential for us to consume through the food we eat. A complete protein has all 9 of the essential amino acids and an incomplete protein does not have all 9 of the essential amino acids.
Complete Vegan Proteins
There is good news! For individuals who are vegetarian, vegan, or lactose intolerant complete proteins can still be consumed by combining incomplete proteins. A general rule of thumb is that grains, nuts, and seeds can be paired with beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts. Simple combinations such as rice/beans, hummus/pita bread, spirulina/nuts and bread/peanut butter can provide complete sources of protein. Researchers are finding that incomplete proteins do not have to be paired to form a complete protein in the same meal but can be consumed throughout the course of a day.
Remember that these foods provide us with more than just protein. Therefore, it is important for everyone, especially vegans, to consume a variety of foods that supply protein. I am an advocate of consuming foods that provide the body with the nutrients it needs first and then evaluating the need for supplements second. That now leads us to protein powder. One of the most frequently asked question I receive from my clients is…what protein powder should I buy? The answer….it depends. It depends on a number of factors and I am going to shed some light on the topic in next week’s blog!
Women's Physical Health & Wellness Coach
Positively Well, LLC
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