First of all, how much protein do you want to get? I’ve heard arguments from the muscle blaster crowd that advocates one gram of protein for every pound of body weight. For me at 155 lbs. that’s 620 calories a day in protein.
I rarely get that much and I’m not a vegetarian. When I do, I find I pee constantly.
And it’s certainly arguable that we don’t need anywhere near that much. For example, Alexander the Great’s army tramped the entire known world and conquered it all on a diet of mostly beans and whole grain porridge.
Meat simply wasn’t available to those soldiers. Plant foods virtually all contain some protein that adds up over the course of the day. Perhaps the body becomes adept at using what it’s getting, just like the body can be trained to utilize oxygen more efficiently.
I spent years eating vegetarian and I wish that I had paid more attention to protein intake. When I was hungry, I would fill up on starches like bread or rice. That resulted in me being more than 25 lbs. heavier than I am now.
Too many starchy foods are a sure path to weight gain. Protein on the other had, keeps satiety levels high and is much slower reaching the blood stream. Hence, fewer insulin spikes. Alexander’s troops didn’t have any refined flour.
Knowing what I know today, I would have been a heavy user of whey protein. It’s very inexpensive protein, comes from milk, it’s easy to digest and it’s pretty tasty. I actually look forward to a favorite protein smoothie I make with a scoop of whey, a banana, a dash of stevia extract and a dash of vanilla extract.
It provides 18 grams of complete protein. For vegetarians looking to build muscle rapidly, whey protein might be your best friend.
I would also have used either whey or soy protein in hot cereal dishes. I find that whey actually improves the taste of my oatmeal concoction.
Textured vegetable protein is a great vehicle for ramping up the protein content of soups and stew-like dishes. TVP is essentially soy been meal that has been processed to have a ground beef like texture rather than a pasty texture.
Think of it as tofu with the water and oil removed. It tends to absorb the broth or sauce medium that it’s in and takes on that flavor. TVP can be as high as 70 percent protein.
I love nuts. I would also have eaten more of them and less bread when I was vegetarian.
The only way you are going to be sure about your protein intake is to start measuring. I use a free program called Cron-O-Meter. It will give you a complete breakdown of your protein intake as well as all of your other nutritional needs.
It gets its data from the USDA data base. I’ve used several food logging programs over the last ten years and this one is the best. In addition there are lots of websites that provide free food logging. Fitday, Daily Plate and Nutrition Data are a few among many.
Just about everything that we eat has some protein and over the course of a day, it adds up. Log your food and find out how much you are eating. Then you are in a much better position to decide if you need more.
About the Author
This was Harry Chittenden’s first post. Harry runs a quality website called BasicPursuits.com, which seeks ways to enhance ones health by optimizing eating, exercise, and relaxation.
Editors Note: If you’re looking for a no-nonsense approach to vegetarian eating, then I highly suggest grabbing a copy of Easy Veggie Meal Plans. As the title suggests, this eBook features tons of meal plans and tips to make vegetarian dieting easy and simple.