Simple Easy Guide for Getting Enough Protein Without Eating Meat
You do not have to be a vegetarian to enjoy a meal without meat a couple of times a week. You will be healthier and you will save money by skipping the meat a few times every week.
I hope the information in this article will be helpful, especially to people who are not confident about how to combine foods in order to assure that they and their families are getting enough high quality protein in their diets.
Lately, the word is that you do not have to worry about combining vegetable proteins to make sure they are complete proteins. Nutritionists are saying that if people just eat a wide variety of vegetables and grains daily, they will complete the proteins without having to think about it.
A while back I happened to be in the grocery store around dinnertime. A woman and a young boy of approximately 9 years were rushing around the store looking for things the boy could eat for his supper. They already had a TV dinner of macaroni and cheese. The woman suggested, “How about a cheese sandwich and some French fries?” That sounded good to the boy. Diet coke to wash it all down. That was to be his supper. Does anyone see a problem with this ‘meal?’ Mainly starch and fat. No vegetables or fruits.
So many people nowadays seem to know nothing at all about nutrition. They do not bother with real vegetables. They think they are getting their vegetables when they eat French fries and catsup! Yet nutritionists believe people can manage to get enough protein without actually knowing and making sure their vegetable protein is complete, and just eating whatever appeals to them in the moment.
Protect Your Health By Assuring Your Vegetable Protein Is Complete
Since my health is what will suffer, and in turn I will be the one to bear the results of that suffering if I do not get sufficient protein in my diet, I like to make sure I am getting the protein I need. One way to do that when relying on vegetable protein is to understand what a person needs to do to make sure the protein they are eating is a complete protein.
The human body cannot utilize incomplete proteins and will treat them like carbohydrates. If a person goes long enough without getting sufficient protein their body will start taking the necessary protein from its own internal organs and muscles. This is why anorexia is so dangerous. Going without proper nutrition for a long period of time, including insufficient protein, can permanently damage one’s internal organs or even cause death.
Rather than trust that I am, by happen chance, getting a sufficient mix of complimentary vegetables and grains, I prefer to know what vegetables and/or grains I need to eat at the same time, or at least on the same day, to make sure the protein I am getting is complete protein that my body can utilize.
Here Is a List of Just a Few Foods That Are Great Sources of Protein Instead of Meat
Lentils: Just one cup of lentils contains 18 grams of incomplete protein. Lentils are an excellent source of fiber and B vitamins. To complete the protein in 1 cup of lentils, mix the lentils with 1/2 cup of barley, or 1/2 cup of rice, or 1/2 cup of quinoa.
Make sure the lentils are cooked well. If they are still crunchy, they are undercooked. Undercooking your lentils will cause the magnesium, iron, and other minerals in lentils to be unavailable for absorption by your body. They will be hard to digest and could cause upset stomach. So be sure to cook them until they are done.
Barley: Just one cup of barley contains 3.5 grams of incomplete protein. Barley is also a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber (6 grams per cup), and vitamins, and it is all but fat free. Barley can reduce the risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes, and colon cancer.
Only choose hulled barley, pot barley, or pearled barley. Mix the barley with 1/2 cup of lentils, 1/2 cup of beans or 1/2 cup of peas (or a combination of these items) to complete the protein.
Rice: Just one cup of rice (brown or white) contains almost 8 grams of incomplete protein. However, brown rice is more nutritious because the process of producing white rice strips most of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber out of the brown rice. For the most nutritious benefit, choose brown rice or long grain rice. Mix rice with beans, lentils, or dairy products to complete the protein rice contains.
Peanuts: Most people do not realize that peanuts (sometimes referred to as “goober peas”) are not a nut at all, but a legume. One cup of whole peanuts contains 18 grams of incomplete protein, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contains 8 grams of incomplete protein. Peanuts and peanut butter are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Peanuts contain no trans-fats or sodium. Peanut butter may contain sodium because it is often added for flavor in the processing.
Mix peanuts with grains or dairy products to complete the protein. A peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread and/or eaten with a glass of milk makes a complete protein. (If you use whole wheat bread you can skip the milk and still have a complete protein, or you can put the peanut butter on white bread and drink milk with it and have a complete protein.)
Beans: One cup of beans contains 15 grams of incomplete protein. WebMD calls beans a superfood and says they are not only a good food if you are trying to lose weight, but they are packed with fiber and antioxidants (fight cancer and heart disease). Beans are a legume, and when mixed with grains (corn, wheat, etc.) or nuts (almonds for example) they become a complete protein.
Oats: One cup of cooked oatmeal contains 6 grams of protein. Oats are a good source of minerals and vitamins. Oats are sometimes referred to as the cleansing grain because oats cleanse the intestinal tract and blood.
Wikipedia reports, “Oat protein is nearly equivalent in quality to soy protein, which World Health Organization research has shown is equal to meat, milk, and egg protein.”
According to WebMD, “Oats might help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels and control appetite by causing a feeling of fullness. Oat bran might work by blocking the absorption from the gut of substances that contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes.”
The ‘Quick Oat” products are not as beneficial as ‘old fashioned’ oatmeal that must be cooked. Elements4Health.com says the more that oats have been processed, the more nutrition that has been removed. In some cases quick cooking or instant oat products have had sugars, artificial sweeteners, and/or salt added.
Vegetables: The following list of vegetables contains incomplete proteins that can be made complete by mixing them, or eating them, with grains or dairy products. This is just a partial list of vegetables that contain a fair amount of protein. The number of grams of protein they yield is based on one cup.
Asparagus – 7 grams
Broccoli -- 7 grams
Brussels sprouts – 7 grams
Cauliflower – 7 grams
Collard greens -- 7 grams
Green peas – 9 grams
Okra – 7 grams
Spinach – 5 grams
Yams – 5 grams
What Are Legumes?
Legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts, tamarind, and the woody climbing vine wisteria.
Complete Protein Combinations
Mix two or more of the items on each line below together to make a complete protein.
· Legumes with Grains like pasta or bread
· Legumes with Nuts
· Legumes with Seeds
· Legumes with dairy Products
· Grains with dairy Products
· Vegetables with grains or dairy products
. Nuts/Seeds with dairy Products like milk, cheese, or yogurt
Types of Protein
A complete protein includes all of the essential amino acids. Our own bodies can make about half of the necessary amino acids we require to be healthy, but we must get the other half from the food we eat. The proteins we must get from our diet are called, “essential amino acids.” Sometimes people may refer to sources of complete proteins as “high quality proteins.” High quality proteins and complete proteins are the same thing.
Animal based proteins are complete proteins. Examples are, eggs, milk, cheese, poultry, fish, and meat.
Incomplete proteins are those proteins that do not contain all of the essential amino acids our body requires and which we must obtain from our diet. Examples of incomplete proteins include grains, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Complimentary proteins are 2 or more incomplete protein sources that when combined, provide a complete protein mix containing all of the essential amino acids our diet must provide.
For example, neither corn nor beans are a complete protein by themselves, but when combined provide the essential amino acids our bodies require (refried beans in a corn tortilla, for example). Neither rice nor beans alone provide the essential amino acids our bodies require, but when combined they form complete proteins.
Recommended Daily Protein Allowance
The following chart applies to people who are normally active. If you are a person who works out regularly, or engages in sports or any arduous physical activity, you will need to add at least 10 more grams of protein to your diet beyond what is listed here to provide your body with enough protein to stay healthy. Depending on how often and how rigorously you engage in physical activity such as weight lifting or body building, but not limited to those activities, you may need to add even more than 10 grams of protein to the amount of protein recommended on the list below.
Age and Grams of protein needed each day
- Children 1-3 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 grams
- Children 4-8 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 grams
- Children 9-13 years . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 grams
- Girls 14-18 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 grams
- Boys 14-18 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 grams
- Women 19-90 years . . . . . . . . . . . 46 grams
- Men 19-90 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 grams
More About Protein
- Soy May Be Dangerous To Your Health!
If you are not already aware, there is a controversy between nutritionists and the medical community regarding whether or not soy products are dangerous to your health, or beneficial to your health. It is non-formented soybeans that are at issue.
© 2012 C E Clark