Sunday, September 30, 2012

You're vegetarian, where do you get your protein?

My son, he's such a goof-ball. :>) 

I get my protein from plants of course. 

A grade 9 biology refresher might help.  The adult human body needs 8 essential amino acids to produce protein. Children need 9 essential amino acids.

According to Wiki...

9 of the 20 standard amino acids are called "essential" amino acids for humans because they cannot be created from other compounds by the human body, and so must be taken in as food...

Protein is one of the basic building block of the human body making up for about 16% of total body weight. Without protein we enter a negative protein balance (aka starvation). Complete protein are foods that contain all essential amino acids.  Meat eaters have it easy because meats are complete proteins.  In fact, meat eaters tend to consume more protein than needed.  Much of the protein consumed by meat eaters passes through with zero benefit. 

Vegetarians aren't so lucky. Plants contain proteins, but most are not complete proteins.  Vegetarians need to eat a variety of plant based food to ensure they consume all essential amino acids.  Unlike meat eaters, vegetarians cannot rely on a single food source for protein.  Plant based food contain some, but not all essential amino acids.  

How much protein do we need? Good question. 

It depends on our level of activity.  For example, a sedentary male my weight needs about 51 grams of protein to maintain a positive protein balance. Compare this to a very active male of my weight who needs upwards of 115 grams of protein.  

There's many protein formulas online but this one seems to be the most reasonable.  As with anything you read on SMR consult your doctor... don't take my word at face value!
  • Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg. 
  • Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.
  • Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). 
  • Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.
Where is this blog post going?  Another good question.

My son thinks my vegetarian diet coupled with my level of my endurance training puts me in a negative protein balance. I suspect he's bang-on. He bought me the whey protein mix above for my b-day several weeks ago (he also doctored the photograph in case you haven't noticed).  I have included one drink a day which provides me with an additional 35 grams of complete protein and I feel wonderful! Really, I can instantly feel the positive effects and they last the entire day.  

I realize this is a quick fix and I should really be getting my protein from food but, heading into Twin Cities Marathon, I'm using this stuff!  

So yes, my son's a goof-ball, but he's also the sweetest lad that has ever walked this planet. I love him dearly.

Perhaps you've seen this?  

On a sadder note, my thoughts are with wee Scarlet who slipped away having never felt the softness of her mother's arms or the warmness of her father's breath. Scarlet is on my mind and in my heart. 

It's a good day to be alive but sadly, some days it just doesn't feel so.