Let’s Talk Protein
When transitioning into a vegan or live-vegan eating plan, sometimes it can be difficult to understand how to get all the essential vitamins, minerals, sugars, proteins and fats your body needs as it is accustomed to receiving from other sources. There is an entire shift in lifestyle and mindset that occurs during such a transition. With so many diet fads and fast cure-alls becoming popular, it can be even the more difficult to sift through the gimmicks and quick fixes to discover the bounty of real solutions that will be long-lasting.
One main concern many people have when considering transitioning into a vegan or live-food lifestyle is how to obtain sufficient protein. Believe it or not, most individuals do not fully understand what protein is, how the body processes it nor what the body uses it for. Because of this, many people are left discouraged and return to old dietary habits.
But as they say, knowledge is key. In knowing some basic facts about protein, you can better analyze and implement various approaches and philosophies to improve your health and transition into a vegan or live-vegan lifestyle.
WHAT IS PROTEIN?
Proteins are chains of large molecules that are made up of a number of simpler units called amino acids. Everything that is present in nature contains and is comprised of amino acids. There are 23 different amino acids present in nature that can be used to form proteins. So, it’s fair to say that proteins in their simplest forms are really amino acids.
There are 8 essential amino acids, which are not manufactured by the human body and must be taken in from outside food sources. Plant sources contain the most significant amounts of essential amino acids and is the best source for consumption. Our bodies use the 23 amino acids to make more than 50,000 different proteins that the body uses to heal, build and rejuvenate itself.
Every organic, physical structure is comprised of amino acids. Animal meats and products do have amino acids as well as plants. However, the sources of plant-based amino acids are more readily used by the body because it lacks added hormones, chemicals as well as significant amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. Compare this to your car for example, does your car burn clean or dirty fuel more efficiently?
Because amino acids are easily destroyed by high heat, and in most meats must be cooked before consumption due to harmful bacteria, most of the amino acids that would have been present in the meats are damaged or completely destroyed.
Not being the case with vegetables, you can eat vegetables completely uncooked, therefore all the amino acids stay intact and are readily available for absorption and distribution.
THE FAB 8 Essential Amino Acids
- Isoleucine: Essential in muscle development and repair as well as blood sugar regulation.
- Leucine: Assists in muscle breakdown during athletic performances and help with muscle recovery and other functions.
- Lysine: Lysine plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping to lower cholesterol. Lysine also helps the body absorb calcium and form collagen, a substance important for bones and connective tissue.
- Methionine: Methionine plays an important role in cardiac function and brain activity.
- Phenylalanine: Found in breast milk and helps to maintain healthy emotional health and fight against depression.
- Threonine: Threonine supports cardiovascular, liver, central nervous, and immune system function.
- Trytophan: Is a precursor to serotonin, which is why it helps to regulate appetite, sleep patterns and moods.
- Valine: Needed for muscle metabolism, tissue repair, and for the maintenance of proper nitrogen balance in the body.
TOP SOURCES FOR FAB 8:
- Isoleucine: Almonds, seeds and almonds
- Leucine: Sesame seeds, lentils and peanuts
- Lysine: Green beans, lintels and spinach
- Methionine: Whole grains, hemp seeds
- Phenylalanine: Seeds, avocados and almonds
- Threonine: Legumes, nuts and seeds
- Trytophan: Bananas, dried dates and chocolate
- Valine: Soy, mushrooms and peanuts
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT PROTEIN:
- Cells in the body are exposed to ammonia every time protein is digested, because ammonia is a by-product of protein syntheses.
- It is easier for the GI tract to absorb protein in smaller amounts.
- The second most abundant chemical in the body is protein.
- Proteins digest at a rate of 10g per hour.
- Hemp seeds contain all 8 of the essential amino acids.
Now that you got the scoop on protein, here are some simple all live recipes you can make at home, which include some of the above sources of the essential 8 amino acids.
Island Spice Sunflower Seed Do-Not Balls:
Makes 8-10 1” balls
- Food Processor
- 2 Cups soaked, sprouted and dried sunflower seeds
- 3/4 – 1 Cup pitted medjool dates ( 1 cup of dates makes for sweeter recipe)
- 1 tsp Jamaican allspice
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean or vanilla powder
- Blend in food processor until mixture lightly clumps together. Mixture should look and feel like sticky crumbs.
- Remove from food processor and form balls.
- Set in fridge for 1 hour.
- This recipe pairs well with fresh strawberries. Enjoy.
Creamy CoCo Sesame Seed Milk:
- Cheese Cloth or fine strainer
- 1 Cups soaked, hulled or un-hulled sesame seeds
- 3 Cups fresh coconut water
- 5-10 pitted dates
- 1 ripe banana (optional)
- 2 TBS raw cocoa powder
- 1 TBS raw carob Powder
- Rinse soaked sesame seeds and add to Vitamix blender of blender of your choice.
- Add fresh coconut water or filtered water to blender.
- Blend on high speed until mixed into a milk.
- Strain ingredients through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.
- Introduce liquid back into blender along with dates, banana, cocoa and carob.
- Blend on high until ingredients are well mixed.
- Remove from blender, you can either strain or not strain the milk.
- If you like it thick, don’t strain.
- If you don’t want any pulp strain again. Enjoy.